Admittedly I felt we looked exhausted. We returned from Switzerland in almost a worst case scenario position. We'd fought our way to extra time only to find ourselves, almost inevitably, crashing out on penalties. If there was such a thing as 'an ideal way to go out of a competition' then our rivals would've picked this way.
The finish line is a distant sight. We've teased and toyed with 3rd, flirted with 4th but the reality could be a rejection from both. I had my heart set on the Europa League, it looked as though we did as well. But it is how it is. I worried for our mentality upon the Europa League exit and we had Manchester City to play. The players found little life running through their veins in first half. Although this time around, footballing being a funny old game actually worked in our favour. I couldn't ever pin us knocking one past Hart, let alone three. Huddlestone's passing was something we've missed in patches, it's a shame he can't be a more complete midfielder. It seems an eternity he's had to develop his game into a complete holding midfielder but still lacks the fine art of tackling. He's stereotypically sluggish ways always weighing him down and soon enough his negatives out muscled his positives.
We approach 4 tough fixtures. 4 fixtures that should be approached with the same forward mentality. We just about have the quality in our first 11, the problem is we seem to have this niggling function born into the Spurs approach system that sees us lose our nerve whenever we have to depend on ourselves. Combine this with a side short of competition in key areas and genuine strength in depth and you find a mountain as tall as Everest to climb.
A starting 11 involving a midfield three of Huddlestone, Dembele and Holtby with Defoe leading up top could be the shape needed to limp over the line. This leaves Sigurdsson and Dempsey on the bench - Two very useful players. Two players that can impact games, our bench should have more. We were flat against Wigan. Neither side wanted it enough. You'd have been forgiven for believing that neither of the sides had anything to play for. We closed another door shut on an opportunity to exploit. With Dembele limping off, it almost compounded me to feel this'll be another season in which so much promise had been shown yet nothing to show from it.
Our first 11 is solid. We're one forward away from having a fantastic, balanced and competitive first 11. Lloris in goal. Walker right, Dawson/Kaboul, Vertonghen, Benny. Dembele, Sandro; Bale, Holtby/Sigurdsson, Lennon and a forward. That team needs little tinkering with it. It's our depth and competitiveness out wide that may leave us just too short of 4th this year. We need investment in quality depth. The trouble is most quality players don't want to be involved in a squad rotation role at a club that isn't challenging at the top of the Premier League every year. Chelsea exploited their ability to rotate quality players and have done so very well to balance their number of fixtures across their playing staff.
The obvious issue here is that we won't go out and spend £60m net in one window. I call it an issue but I'm happy our club is run sensibly. So we have to be clever. We need footballers that can alter our shape, change our direction if needed and those to simply replace like-for-like. Townsend's relative success at QPR will be like a new signing and hopefully his hunger and confidence will continue when he's in a Spurs shirt next year. I hope he uses this year as building blocks and steps up to our first 11. It's clear there is something there.
It's good to see stability at Spurs. Only one player has arguably been sold by the papers so far but, unlike the Modric fiasco, it seems far more underplayed and demoralising at this moment. Clever spending is a fine art form. We've done it successfully in the past and, should we find ourselves edged out of the running for 4th, it'll have to be a summer of shrewd purchases. We don't want to cause unrest, we just need to face the reality that we need the depth to compete in almost 2 seasons worth of games in a single football calender year.
Ben - You can follow me on Twitter here @InsideN17