With hopes of securing a top four finish all but extinguished for another season, fans and pundits are already beginning to conduct a post-mortem of Tottenham Hotspur’s season.
In just over a week, an aggregate defeat to Benfica and a painful loss to Arsenal have all but curtailed Spurs’ ambitions for the rest of the campaign.
Too many of those that arrived as a result of Gareth Bale’s departure to Real Madrid have failed to deliver upon their respective price tags. But how far are they responsible for the club’s current malaise?
Sky Sports pundit and former Gunner Paul Merson stated in the aftermath of the North London Derby that Spurs had completely wasted the £100 million invested in the summer.
The most spectacular of these flops so far has to be Erik Lamela, the club’s record £30 million signing from Roma. Heralded upon his arrival as the direct replacement to Bale, the Argentine winger has made just nine league appearances in a campaign blighted recently by injury.
With Lamela largely being absent from the first team picture, Roberto Soldado has come to symbolise everything that was wrong with Tottenham’s transfer policy this summer.
The 28-year-old was signed for £26 million from Valencia in the summer but has so far mustered just six league goals and is rumoured to be on his way out of the club, having recently lost his position as the number one striker at the club.
Fellow summer arrivals Etienne Capoue and Nacer Chadli have also struggled to adjust since making the move to White Hart Lane.
There are signings, such as Christian Eriksen and Paulinho, that have at times demonstrated the quality which prompted the club to splash the cash. But these moments from their summer recruits have been too few and far between.
As it stands, Spurs have indeed wasted £100 million. But how far are these players really to blame?
Any club would struggle following the sale of their best player. But since Bale’s departure, Spurs seem to have repeatedly shot themselves in the foot.
Even at the time, many questioned Daniel Levy’s wisdom in overhauling the squad to such a massive extent. Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger argued ahead of their first meeting this season that his rivals had risked the unbalancing the squad.
With so many of these players coming from overseas, the adjustment period to the pace and physical demands of the Premier League has been exacerbated by the sheer volume that have been brought in.
With such an overhaul, surely the club would seek to provide a stable environment to allow these new acquisitions to “bed in”?
If that was the plan, nobody told Levy. By Christmas, the chairman had sacked Andre Vilas Boas for suffering the teething problems that one should reasonably expect when so many of your playing squad are new to the division.
Considered by many to merely be a stopgap until the summer, the appointment of Sherwood and the likely pursuit of a new manager in the summer will continue to unbalance a squad which is evidently yet to settle.
This entire season for Spurs represents a series of mistakes. It was foolish to re-invest the entire funds from the sale of Bale to that level in a single window.
But once this decision was made, time should have been given to allow these players to adapt to AVB’s ideas and the rigours of the Premier League.
Instead, more changes were made and uncertainty continues to linger over the club’s long term direction.
With Champions League qualification seeming unlikely, further upheaval is expected this summer with the futures of players such as Eriksen and Jan Vertonghen coming under scrutiny.
Sherwood’s recent declaration that many were playing for their futures at the club means that some of the new signings may be deemed surplus to requirements before long.
How can these players be expected to thrive when formations, ideas and even managers are in a constant state of flux? For players like Soldado, accusations that they are not up to the required standard for the club appear to ring true.
But for many of the other signings, judgements on this scale seem a little premature. Next season, many of these acquisitions could prove to their sceptics that they are indeed worth their respective price tags.
If these summer recruits had been afforded the stability and time to settle properly, who knows what we would be saying about the club’ summer business right now.
Tottenham’s decision to invest to that extent in the summer was foolish. But it is their actions since which have seriously threatened to make the £100 million spent a complete waste.