It was hardly a surprise to see Nathan Ake put the ball past Hugo Lloris in the second minute of stoppage time at the Vitality Stadium for Bournemouth.
This was Tottenham’s fifth defeat in six outings away from home- a run worse than 18 other Premier League sides.
As the fuse of Son Heung-Min and Juan Foyth blew off when it should not have, Spurs were left without two players in a season where they already have a mightily hamstrung team.
And that’s why this was coming. If not for the inefficiencies of Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester United, Spurs could well have been out of the race for top four by this time. But looking at that, it makes you wonder if any of those sides deserve to get there.
For Spurs, it should embarrass the others that they’re above United, Chelsea and Arsenal. It should make those three clubs question themselves and their standards. Because much like Spurs, they should have been out of this race if Pochettino’s men had done slightly better.
But that seems easier said that done. Coming at the back of the World Cup campaign, a vast majority of Spurs players went far in the tournament. The key ones, atleast. They came back for the season early and played from the first day of the season, having not played the pre-season friendlies.
But some of the players in there have been playing football once or twice a week for the last two years, because of that. They’ve hardly had a break at all. Be it Harry Kane, Dele Alli, Christian Eriksen, Son, Eric Dier, Toby Alderweireld, Jan Vertonghen or Hugo Lloris. They’re all suffering from it.
Then, there’s people on the social media who criticise them for ‘bottling’ the league. But they fail to realise that the situation they’re in, its a big thing in itself to stay at third despite all the amputations and disabilities. But if they had made some signings in the summer, they would have been challenging for the title already.
Its unfair to expect a side as hamstrung as them to challenge for the title when teams as brilliant as Man City and Liverpool are in there too. And as the season now comes to a close, the inevitable is happening. Like it was meant to happen. And it will be tough to blame Pochettino for that, despite the fact that he’s made some errors of his own.
It seems bleak that Spurs will go past Ajax in the second leg. Not because they’re not a good team. But they’re already run out of steam. Against a team that plays breathtaking football and had a week off before the first leg, they could be out of sight by half time on Wednesday. And it won’t be a surprise.
The positive thing though, is the fact that they might get Champions League next season. And the fact that the new stadium is already in. If they get Champions League, the foundation for going one better will be set for next season.