Tottenham 2019/20 Review: End of Season Report Card for the Lilywhites

Harry Kane, Giovani Lo Celso
It's been a difficult campaign for Tottenham | Warren Little/Getty Images

What a season, eh!? From the crushing lows of being three points away from fifth place under Mauricio Pochettino, to the dizzying highs of finishing three points away from fifth place under José Mourinho, Spurs fans have been treated to an emotional rollercoaster worthy of any Amazon documentary.

It felt like the end of an era for Spurs supporters after the sacking of Pochettino, but Mourinho has come in and shown everyone that he still belongs in European football - shame that European football will be against BATE Borisov instead of Borussia Dortmund next season.

Here's a look at a strange season for Spurs, with a report card grade at the very end (clue: anyone expecting an A+ will be disappointed).

League Performance

Premier League - 6th

Hugo Lloris, Neal Maupay
Spurs have struggled with injuries, form and everything in between | Bryn Lennon/Getty Images

When Tottenham added Ryan Sessegnon, Giovani Lo Celso and Tanguy Ndombele to their ranks in the summer of 2019, expectations were tempered, yes, but still fairly optimistic.

Perhaps they wouldn't break into the top two of Liverpool and Manchester City, but under Pochettino's steady stewardship they could certainly make a dent in it! At least they were well-equipped enough to avoid a repeat of last year, where they were scrambling around to secure their Champions League status on the final day of the season.

Oh, Tottenham fans, how naive you were...little did you know that by the final day of this season your coaching staff would be celebrating a sixth-placed finish like it was that Premier League title you were dreaming of.

FBL-ENG-PR-TOTTENHAM-SHEFFIELD UTD
Spurs' draw against Sheffield United was the final nail in Pochettino's coffin | IAN KINGTON/Getty Images

A reasonable enough start for Pochettino's Spurs couldn't mask the fact that something wasn't working. Between crucial new signings struggling with fitness, a defence which fell apart at the smallest sign of pressure, and just plain bad luck, a five game winless run in the league was all it took to engulf one of Tottenham's greatest ever managers, and Mourinho was brought in after a 1-1 draw with Sheffield United.

Mourinho was Levy's white whale, the trophy he'd always wanted and could only now get his hands on, and in the initial stages of his reign he delivered in the league, stabilising Spurs with five wins from their first seven.

Up and down results followed - a stunning victory over Manchester City here, a dire 0-0 without a single shot on target against Bournemouth there - but by the end of the season Mourinho had dragged a functional, if extremely dull Tottenham side to that all-important spot in Europe's second-tier competition.

Domestic Cup Performance

Carabao Cup - Third Round

Christian Eriksen, Kyle Walker-Peters, Dele Alli, Ben Davies, Erik Lamela, Eric Dier, Heung-Min Son
Colchester stunned Spurs in the Carabao Cup | Stephen Pond/Getty Images

You can bet many Spurs fans didn't give Colchester much more than a second's thought when they were drawn as Tottenham's opponents in the third round of the Carabao Cup.

A good chance to give Troy Parrott some minutes and bed in some new signings, not too bad a round trip from north London either. A nice chance to get back on track after a disappointing game against Leicester, right?

Wrong. Spurs were utterly dreadful in their one Carabao Cup match this season, and seemed almost to be waiting for the inevitable loss on penalties. After Lucas Moura's appalling spot kick all but sent them packing from Essex empty-handed, the dark clouds began to gather even more intensely for Mauricio Pochettino.

FA Cup - Fifth Round

Todd Cantwell, Michael Vorm
Spurs and penalties have not been a good combination this season | Sebastian Frej/MB Media/Getty Images

While Pochettino had always regarded the FA Cup as an irritant which got in the way of the real trophies, Mourinho made it clear from the beginning that he was going to embrace the competition in an effort to deliver some silverware to the Spurs supporters.

Unfortunately, he didn't quite embrace it hard enough, and though respective replay victories over Middlesbrough and Southampton in the third and fourth rounds of the competition were hard-fought, and even exciting at times, the Premier League's 20th-placed club proved just a step too far as Spurs went out to Norwich on penalties.

Continental Cup Performance

Champions League - Round of 16

FBL-EUR-C1-LEIPZIG-TOTTENHAM
Spurs were no match for a dynamic Leipzig side | ODD ANDERSEN/Getty Images

As the hush descended over this season's first Champions League fixture in the Tottenham Hotspur stadium, everyone was wondering the same thing - could Spurs, who came so close to the pinnacle of European glory last season as Champions League runners-up, go one better this year?

As Serge Gnabry scored Bayern Munich's seventh (7th) goal of the evening, the answer was no, probably not this season lads.

Spurs didn't have the hardest of groups, and Mourinho didn't have a tricky job getting them out of it, but further German-themed humiliation was yet to come at the hands of Julian Nagelsmann's RB Leipzig.

The young pretender versus the master, Nagelsmann versus Mourinho - the Special One always wins these, right? Well, not quite this season, where a shocking error from Ben Davies meant that Spurs' (rather negative) gameplan was undone in the first leg of their round of 16 tie against Leipzig, before
Die Roten Bullen had their way with Spurs in a second leg 3-0 mauling in Germany.

Best Player

Jose Mourinho, Heung-Min Son
It's been business as usual for Son Heung-min | Pool/Getty Images

As someone who had mandatory military service looming over him for a sizeable proportion of his career, it's no surprise that Son Heung-min largely ignored the managerial chaos at Spurs this season and just got on with things.

11 goals and 10 assists in the league this season is actually a pretty decent return by Son's illustrious standards in a season which has seen the likes of Dele Alli, Harry Kane and Lucas Moura fall well below their regular attacking returns.

Two-footed, lightning quick and good at finishing to an unfair extent, Son is just getting better with age at the moment, and Spurs fans will have to hope that Barcelona never realise just how helpful such a player might be for them...

Worst Player

Jose Mourinho
Crystal Palace v Tottenham Hotspur - Premier League | Pool/Getty Images

It's rather difficult to single out any one Spurs player for the failures of this season - Serge Aurier struggled at times defensively but played an important role as an attacking outlet under Mourinho, Sessegnon hasn't featured regularly since signing but are still young and supremely talented enough to turn things around, and Dele Alli has put up some decent enough numbers despite repeated injury problems.

With this in mind, it's tempting to blame the whole team for a season that has occasionally been downright ugly - from dressing room unrest and defensive collapses under Pochettino to some unbelievably turgid attacking play under Mourinho.

At the same time, a lot of pressure has been put on the squad by decisions made at board level, with Daniel Levy failing to adequately refresh the side which had fought so hard to get to the Champions League final, or reward some of Tottenham's highest performers with new contracts. All in all, I suppose you could say this season was a total failure for Spurs from top to bottom.

The Manager

Jose Mourinho
Is this Mourinho's last big contract? | Sebastian Frej/MB Media/Getty Images

A serial winner to some, to others, a man who has been left behind by the modern game. Either way, at a smaller club than he usually favours, with a smaller budget than he is accustomed to, this might be the last chance Mourinho has to prove that he can still manage with the best of them.

He's stabilised Spurs for sure, and previously alienated, unfit or out-of-form players like Toby Alderweireld, Harry Kane and Eric Dier are now at their best again. But certain Spurs fans might ask: at what cost?

Gone is the vibrant attacking play of years gone by, and more pragmatic options like Ben Davies and Moussa Sissoko are preferred to younger, progressive signings such as Sessegnon and Ndombele. It might be good for a quick 3-1 win over Newcastle, but whether it's sustainable is another question entirely.

Overall Grade

Failed to apply themselves in autumn term, but bucked up their ideas just in time. Must seriously improve next year.

C+