Premier League Preview - Tottenham Hotspur
MANAGER: Andre Villas-Boas
STADIUM: White Hart Lane (36310)
LAST SEASON: 4TH
Tottenham managed to secure a respectable fourth last season besting the likes of Chelsea and Liverpool. Gareth Bale had another impressive season, and Scott Parker provided that much-needed consistency and solidity in the heart of midfield.
Tottenham had kept the majority of rivals at bay, apart from their local rivals Arsenal who surged above them into third place, despite their own torrid spells in 2011-12. Despite initial positives and excellent football, a poor patch of results ultimately cost them their Champions League space, prompting a change in management.
IN: Jan Vertonghen (Ajax, £10m), Gylfi Sigurdsson (Hoffenheim, £8m)
OUT: Vedran Corluka (Lokomotiv Moscow, £5m), Steven Pienaar (Everton, £4.5m), Niko Kranjcar (Dynamo Kiev, £2m), Ryan Nelsen (QPR, free), Ben Alnwick (Barnsley, free), Louis Saha (released), Bongani Khumalo (PAOK, loan), Massimo Luongo (Ipswich, loan), Ryan Fredericks (Brentford, loan)
It would be fair to assume that not many expected the departure of Harry Redknapp, for whatever reason, after what was a relatively good season by Spurs' recent expectations. Nevertheless Harry bit the bullet and former Chelsea flop Andre Villas-Boas has been the man charged with bringing Champions League football to White Hart Lane.
He has already spent approaching £20m on two new players, given the backing of Daniel Levy to improve a squad on the verge of the Champions League. Quite whether Villas-Boas can organise and motivate the squad as Harry did previously remains to be seen, but this season will be a genuine acid test for the Portuguese boss.
KEY PLAYER: Gareth Bale
Bale has displayed all too often what an asset he can be - pace in abundance combined with a deadly left foot and an eye for goal - the wide man is a complete package and Spurs will be hoping that he can remain consistent at the top level. His prowess from a dead ball situation can be a genuine difference maker. One can only hope that Villas-Boas can get the best from Bale and let him maintain that same level of performance.
To my mind there will be a period of bedding in for Villas-Boas and success may not be the instant result of Mr Levy's managerial gambit. If he's hoping for a quick reward he may well be disappointed as the reason he was employed at Chelsea in the first instant was to build a legacy, a legacy albeit that was short-lived.
I do expect Tottenham to be competitive once more however - just not quite living up to what will be a stronger Chelsea set-up in a league that will inevitably provide them more challenges. As a squad they will still be coming together and learning the methods of their new manager - patience will be the key for Spurs supporters and hierarchy.