Thursday 22 March 2018

Berbatov puts Spurs' old failings under new spotlight

TOTTENHAM hotspur 0 FULHAM 1 Gordon Simpson

Tottenham manager Andre Villas-Boas insisted his team would not let past failures affect them after the club's former striker, Dimitar Berbatov, returned to put a significant dent in their Champions League hopes.

The Fulham forward struck early in the second half to earn the visitors all three points and add to what Villas-Boas described as a "difficult month" at White Hart Lane.

Defeat means Spurs slip to fourth in the table, just four points clear of bitter rivals Arsenal, who now have a game in hand on them.

Late-season struggles are not uncommon here and the scars of last season's dramatic collapse that allowed the Gunners to snatch the final Champions League spot from them have not yet healed.

But Villas-Boas insists Spurs will tackle the weight of history head-on and he will be hoping for a similar response to the last time they suffered consecutive league defeats, when they went on a run of just one loss in 16. "You can't hide from what has happened in the past with Spurs," he said. "You can just have another opportunity to fight what is written compared to the past.


"You just have to make sure that we are able to fight against it. It has been a difficult month for us. If we are able to find our form, our confidence, our wins, then we can end that cycle that Spurs normally have. We just have to work hard.

"After our last two Premier League defeats in a row we went on an amazing run. I just hope that it shifts somewhere. We just have to wait for a game that enables us to build on our confidence."

This was certainly a bad end to a difficult week for the north London club. After defeat at Liverpool last week, Spurs unconvincingly edged past Inter Milan in the Europa League on the away-goals rule after a 4-1 extra-time loss in the San Siro last Thursday, but it was this lacklustre display that was perhaps the most concerning of all.

Spurs were bereft of ideas for much of the afternoon, and were eventually undone by a rare Fulham attack, finished off, typically, by Berbatov, who swept home Sascha Riether's low cross shortly after half-time.

Fulham manager Martin Jol, who was also returning to his former club, revealed that the Bulgarian striker had told him to "trust" him ahead of this match. True to his word, Berbatov netted his 11th of the season to ease any lingering relegation fears for the Cottagers.

To make matters worse for Spurs, they lost defender Michael Dawson to a hamstring injury, which could rule him out of England duty along with his team-mate Aaron Lennon, who has definitely pulled out. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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