Tottenham put in another turgid performance on Thursday night as they slumped to a 1-0 defeat to Dutch minnows Vitesse Arnhem in the Europa Conference League. Manager Nuno Espirito Santo opted to change his entire team from the side that beat Newcastle 3-2 in the Premier League at the weekend, giving some of the reserve players the opportunity to shine.
But they failed to do so, and were largely woeful as they fell to an uninspiring loss courtesy of a 78th minute Maximilian Wittek strike.
A lack of strength in depth has been an issue which has afflicted Spurs for some time now, and they just do not seem to have enough quality on the bench.
However, some fans may suggest it is the attitude of the players that is the main issue, and their left-back Ben Davies seemed to sum up this malaise in a post-match interview with BT Sport.
Rather than taking responsibility for the poor showing, Davies instead looked for excuses, pointing towards the artificial surface and some questionable refereeing decisions as the reason for the defeat.
“It was a very tough game for us, a tough atmosphere to play in and we didn’t give the best account of ourselves,” Davies said. “The effort was there but it was a shame the way it ended. It was tough to get going. We lost a lot of second balls. We were under the cosh a lot.
“Most of us needed minutes and it was a good opportunity to get them. The result wasn’t what we wanted, but we have to go again.
“I don’t think the pitch helped, we didn’t have any decisions going our way.”
Spurs supporters will not show too much sympathy towards Davies, and may question why, for example, the team were unable to win second balls against vastly inferior opposition.
Speaking on punditry duties, Chris Sutton and Glenn Hoddle were left fuming with Spurs’ application, and could not believe how badly they played.
Club legend Hoddle said: “It’s a very, very poor performance. The attitude was wrong, they have to look at themselves in the mirror. There are Spurs fans who have travelled across here, they deserve better.
“Nobody really wanted to run the game out there or stamp their authority on the game, and say to Nuno ‘I am your man, I can get in your first team but also go and win this game, an important game for them. They weren’t up for that test. I am very, very disappointed.”
Sutton added: “I’ve got to say, I thought the goal was really well worked; a lovely technique on the volley. Vitesse were hungrier, they out-thought, outfought and out-ran Tottenham, and that will be the biggest disappointment from a Tottenham perspective.
“You could say that was a Tottenham second team but how many of those players have come off the pitch tonight with Nuno thinking ‘Do you know what, I can think about chucking him in into the first eleven.'”
Indeed, Nuno is unlikely to have seen anything to change his mind over his starting XI going forward.
And it will be no surprise to see an unchanged side from the team which beat Newcastle when Spurs take on London rivals West Ham on Sunday.