Having missed out on a Champions League spot, it was inevitable that Tottenham would face a period of speculation about the future of star man Gareth Bale. Early optimism that he would stay has given way to growing uncertainty and a record-breaking switch to Real Madrid is a possibility. Franco Baldini has arrived as technical director and Spurs have shown they are ready to spend with the exciting signings of Paulinho, Roberto Soldado and Nacer Chadli, although the team's pre-season form has been uninspiring.
Andre Villas-Boas arrived back in London with a point to prove last summer after being sacked by Chelsea, and he repaired his reputation with a strong campaign. Unlike at Stamford Bridge, where his relationship with senior players was strained, Villas-Boas was a popular figure at Spurs and he deserves a great deal of credit for helping Bale take his game to new heights. A calmer figure on the touchline, there were still question marks over some of his selections and substitutions, but Tottenham are good to watch.
Ins and Outs
- Roberto Soldado - £26m
- Nacer Chadli - £7m
- Paulinho - £17m
- Clint Dempsey - £6m
- Steven Caulker - £8m
- William Gallas - Released
- David Bentley - Released
The signing of Soldado has increased competition and Defoe was not always a regular starter last season, but he remains a deadly finisher and will be desperate to shine ahead of the World Cup.
Apart from the world-class Bale, Dembele is perhaps the player who can really make Tottenham tick with his all-round midfield game. Passing, tackling and dribbling are all strengths of the Belgian.
Hugely impressive in his debut season at White Hart Lane, 26-year-old Vertonghen is quick, strong and versatile. The classy defender also has all the skill and energy to contribute going forward.
Strengths & Weaknesses
In Bale they have the Premier League Player of the Year and a man capable of transforming a decent team into a very good one, but Tottenham were so reliant on him last season and if he leaves it is hard to see how they could improve on a fifth-placed finish. Spurs have pace in attack and one of the most dynamic midfields in the Premier League with new boy Paulinho complementing Sandro and Mousa Dembele. They can be guilty of wasting chances and also look vulnerable at times in defence, while they lack the experience of their rivals for a top-four spot.
The Bale saga will have to be resolved and if he goes Tottenham would love to have time to bring in replacements. Another striker may be needed and Roma youngster Erik Lamela has been linked with a move. A deal has been agreed for Toulouse's highly-rated defensive midfielder Etienne Capoue, which could spell the end of QPR target Scott Parker while Tom Huddlestone has joined Cardiff. The main worry is at the back, where the departures of Steven Caulker and William Gallas have left Villas-Boas short of central options and doubts surround who will line up on the left, with Real Madrid's Fabio Coentrao reportedly a target.
"We must grow something better at Tottenham because our reality is different from some of the other top clubs. There are four or five fighting for the title and the story of the achievements of Tottenham recently is short."
"We missed out on the Champions League last season so our aim at the start of this campaign is to make sure we are in it next year. We have to fight for that."
Facts and Figures
Tottenham were not awarded a single penalty kick in 2012/13 - along with five other sides
Tottenham scored 16 goals from outside the box (Bale with nine of them), more than any other side
Gareth Bale scored more goals from outside the area than any player in Europe's top leagues
Tottenham's total of 72 points is the highest ever total for a top-flight team outside the top four
Tottenham had the best shooting accuracy in the Premier League season in 2012/13
Spurs have got to hold their nerve in the last two months of the season. In my two years working at Sky we've got to a point in March where you were thinking they were going to get into the Champions League - and to be fair they did it under Harry Redknapp the year before that - and it wouldn't be fair to say that they blew up, but they certainly lost a little bit of nerve. Last season they lost at home to Fulham and drew at home to Everton and those results cost them in the end. So they have to hold their nerve in the final two months and also keep their players fit. They lost Sandro in January last year and that proved to be a big miss for them.