The Biggest ‘Spur-rises’ of the Season

Well, now that my massive hangover from St James’ Park has finally diminished, I thought it is about time to put the vintage Spurs scarf back on and look back at what an excellent season for Tottenham 2015/16 was. In particular, I would like to examine what shocked me this season, what surprised and surpassed my pre-season expectations. Quite a lot really! Might have to do a couple of these articles…

Article by Lachlan Peters @loque91

Spurs finish season tied for best defence

Sorry, what? The same Spurs that were regularly getting bashed by three or four goals last season? Well. Ain’t that a thing.

This one was quite the shocker, basically all season. I would like to not mention that dark day at the end there – which in itself was probably the shock of the season – but going into games, not just hoping – but expecting to have a really solid defence; a calm, considered and productive back line. Wow. Who saw that coming at the start of August?

There a few reasons for this surprise gift for the fans. The most obvious being what some have touted the signing of the season – Toby Alderweireld. What a massive boss. The man is what we have needed for a long time at Spurs, someone calm who rarely puts a foot wrong and is not prone to fouls. The “Battle of the Bridge”, aptly named, was a testament to this. While everyone else seemed intent on testing the referee for a red card, Toby kept his cool amongst utter madness.

His telepathic relationship with fellow Belgian and long time teammate Jan paid off almost immediately. They compliment each other beautifully; one left footed, one right – when one makes a run, the other covers. It has been a revelation and a centre-back pairing that is surely making other teams in Europe a tad jelly.

Other defensive surprises include the return of Kyle Walker as a confident choice for first choice right back. The guy was probably among a few who had begun losing the favour of some Spurs fans pre-season. He was brilliant in the opening game against United - apart from that own goal of course - which he could have only scored by utilizing that impressive speed he possesses to get back and challenge for the ball.

In my opinion the guy is nearing the level he was at when he won player of the year. It is no surprise now that he and Danny have to be Roy Hodgson’s first choice for the European Championship. But who would have seen that a year ago?

We already had our perfect holding midfielder?

As the transfer window opened after a fairly dreary campaign last year, most people could see exactly what they thought Spurs needed going forward. Obviously there had to be another striker, a defender that could step right into the first team and more importantly a proper defensive minded midfielder acting in the double pivot that Poch was so keen on. We got Toby, we missed out on Berahino (more on that in a moment) and players like Schneiderlin and Wanyama slipped through our fingers, or didn’t stick to them.

So when Eric Dier slipped into that role in front of the defence, most people assumed it was just a stopgap solution. This lad surely couldn’t do the job right?

Wow. It probably took about three games to sink in but... Saved a few quid there ay Mr Levy?

Eric Dier was another massive surprise this season. Obviously having a mind for tackling and moving into defensive areas, the way he has transformed the team is immense. Rose and Walker are free to bomb forward, Jan and Toby have the confidence that there is a bit of weight in front of them. It would be interesting to see how much praise we would be singing for Toby if Dier had not been protecting the back line to such a fine degree.

He also can also score a pretty good goal when he feels like it. The one he smashed in against City was so important. Bagged a good winner against Germany too.

He is an absolute asset. Has to be one of the first names on the line up. And who would have guessed that the answer to so many of our problems last year was right under our nose.

Mason and Bentaleb won’t get a look in...

The midfield was full of surprises this season, Dier being the first. The lack of need for Bentaleb and Mason was something that most fans wouldn’t have grasped as such an immediate reality, down to the completely stunning form of two guys - one a newcomer, one who we almost let go.

The latter, Dembele, was another player who some had given up on seeing get back to his best. It felt like an age had passed since his brilliant debut, I remember being in complete adoration of that clever turn and expertly taken shot against Norwich in 2012. It really felt like that had been his last great moment for me.

Until this season, wow. He has finally found his place in the team, and now it barely works without him. His unfortunate actions against Chelsea may have been the catalyst for the club’s mini-meltdown in the final run in of the season, but if you’d told a fellow Yid pre-season that we would basically lose or draw every game we played without Moussa Dembele they would have probably taken it as jest.

Now, the other guy that I was referring to back there – you already know who it is and you are probably already smiling at the thought of his goal against Palace. We had a little bit of an idea what we were in for with Dele Alli; I remember a great performance while he was still at MK Dons against United in the cup, there was that cheeky nutmeg on Modric pre-season. But yeah, I mean… he couldn’t be that good right? Not yet anyway?

What a stellar season. We have got a genuine diamond on our hands. Who thought he would start performing so impressively but also so consistently? Then the national team beckoned and he smashed one in against Loris with such audacity. He simply can. He can do it all, and he can do it now. He only looks like he will get better, and hopefully add just a slight amount of what you could call ‘finesse’ to his ‘judgement’, to avoid future (potentially season crushing) suspensions.

What more is there to say about the lad? You love him, I love him. He has been a dream come true this season, and a huge, brilliant, lovely surprise for all of us. And for Eric Dier too (awh those guys!)

Its just too bad for the duo most of us thought would be carrying us forward. Many see both Mason and Bentaleb to be surplus to requirements as the squad looks to be strengthened for the return to the Champions League. It is unfortunate for them, as injury has played its ugly part, particularly in Mason’s case as he sustained his while finishing off a great team goal. We will wait and see how that turns out, but it was a surprising revelation in the centre of the park.

Harry Kane, one of our own, on his own?

Another aspect that was almost universally acknowledged to be a problem for Spurs was a lack of attacking threat, outside of Harry Kane. Eriksen was a brilliant creative force, Chadli would chip in with the odd goal and most had given up on Lamela living up to his impressive price tag – a second striker was imperative. Surely we couldn’t go into another season, sell Soldado and expect Harry to back up his breakthrough season all on his own? Yet this is what happened and no one came… twice!

It was one of the bigger surprises for me and no doubt many others who thought it such an obvious course of action to bring in a backup for Harry. If not pre-season then surely in January once the challenge for the top four and perhaps even the title was taking shape. Names were thrown about ad-nauseam; Pato, Berahino, Austin, Dembele, Batshuayi. Nothing seemed to stick.

This was a surprise in itself, but perhaps more astounding was that Harry Kane basically could carry the attack as the only recognised striker. Sure there were cameo fill-ins with Lamela, Chadli and Son (in the Europa League or Cups). But essentially Harry stuck it out and won the golden boot with no backup – what? Who does that? In his second season? I think few of us would have expected such an exponential rise from Kane when he started scoring for us in 2014. But here we are. I guess it’s just a spursy miracle he didn’t get injured.

So that is about half of the things I considered to be big surprises this season, stay tuned for part two where I will get into tactics, score lines, title contention and Erik Lamela!

You can find me on Twitter @loque91 and for all your Spurs needs follow e-Spurs on Twitter, Facebook and all other internet platforms! The e-Spurs Podcast is also out twice weekly, so get on board!

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