Tottenham Hotspur

Tottenham were outplayed by Man City in the Carabao Cup final, but there's no shame in that

Jude Summerfield
Apr 25, 2021, 8:45 PM GMT+1
A scene of despair for Tottenham and jubilation for Man City
A scene of despair for Tottenham and jubilation for Man City / Clive Rose/Getty Images

Tottenham fans. We're just not allowed nice things, are we?

Self-pity aside, it was another cup final defeat for Spurs on Sunday, as this time a monstrous Manchester City dominated at Wembley, winning thanks to Aymeric Laporte's header.

No one likes losing a cup final. You'd think Tottenham would be due a showpiece success pretty soon, given they've lost the League Cup final in 2009, 2015 and now 2021, as well as the Champions League in 2019.

But football doesn't work like that. It's tough, but you need a little luck on these days and for your players to play out of their skin, but on these four occasions, that hasn't happened.

On Sunday, Ryan Mason's side actually acquitted themselves pretty well. They looked more comfortable defensively than they have in months - though it was still a pretty sketchy existence against wave after wave of City attacks - and they had their moments in transition where had things just fallen their way, a gilt-edged chance might have materialised for either Harry Kane or Son Heung-min.

It didn't. City were full value for their victory and deservedly lifted their fourth Carabao Cup in a row and their eighth in total, a joint record. They were absolutely brilliant.

Which is why the criticism of Tottenham from some corners just seems to make such little sense. Things naturally get emotional after a cup final defeat, but the time for criticism really isn't now.

Sure, interim head coach Mason went with a pretty odd starting lineup. Tanguy Ndombele not even getting on the pitch definitely caused a stir. The heartbreakingly half-fit Kane was obviously pushing the limits on his body, to little avail.

But for as much as we love the narrative of a former player taking over his boyhood club at the age of 29, sometimes football doesn't read your script. A manager like Pep Guardiola, who has about seven billion games in the bank in contrast to Mason's one prior to Sunday, was always likely to come out on top.

Ryan Mason
Guardiola and Mason during Sunday's Carabao Cup final / Clive Rose/Getty Images

The gap between the two clubs is massive and a more critical view of where Tottenham can go from here, how they can rebuild and what they need to do in the summer is needed.

Slagging off Son Heung-min for not having a great game on a day where he had very little of the ball, during what is very likely to be his best ever goalscoring season for the club, is very shortsighted.

Hoping Kane will be sh**hot in his first game back after yet another ankle injury is just pie in the sky thinking.

Vigorously holding Mason to account against one of the greatest managers and priciest squads ever assembled is folly.

Of course there are areas for criticism, like we've seen over the past week or so. Ridiculous greed rearing its ugly head again in the football world, but this time so blatantly that it required fans all across Europe to call it out for what it was and stop this Super League before it could ever properly get going - or that's the hope, at least.

But Sunday was another improvement in performance and aesthetic upon what Mason inherited. The nervousness and fear that had been present in Tottenham's defence for months wasn't there. The performances from that back four weren't perfect, but it was so much more assured and ambitious than it would have been.

The score most likely would have been catastrophic at half time had the old manager been in charge for Sunday's fixture.

Harry Kane
Tottenham's dejected players / Clive Rose/Getty Images

The summer would still have been a massive period for the club regardless of Sunday's result, with a new manager and plenty of squad rebuilding needed. That's the time where they have to be held to account.

But after they've been beaten by one of the greatest teams this country has ever seen in such emphatic style - perhaps not in scoreline but in performance - is not the right time. It just comes across as overly emotional and short-sighted.

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