Spurs Euro vision, nul points
So that's that. Another season over, this one wonderfully summed up by the empty seats after the final whistle as the remaining supporters waited for the lap of (dis)honour for what has been a stunningly underwhelming season of not very Spursy football. We've been treated to a distinct lack of style and swagger with accompanying disjointed support from the start that has seen a long running blame game drag us down and down. Perhaps not with point accumulation but most definitely with morale and confidence. Blame Andre Villas-Boas, Franco Baldini, Tim Sherwood, Daniel Levy. Blame one, blame them all. Be thankful we can finally cleanse ourselves from this empire of dust and pray we don't repeat the same errors next season.
The game itself, the first half especially, was pretty good viewing. Spurs, composed and controlled looked to sweep Villas away with no pressure weighting down on the players. Anyone would think this was the final game of a season with nothing to play for. Almost nothing.
Sandro returned to our midfield and marshalled it perfectly to allow others around him to be more expressive rather than constrained to unnatural disciplines. The prime example being Paulinho. He was not glued to a holding position or asked to craft beyond his abilities as a central playmaker. What we got was more of the alleged Brazilian 'Frank Lampard' (as far as getting in amongst it is concerned), surging forward and reacting to everything in and around the final third and the penalty area. Cynically, some might say he was playing with Chelsea in mind - if you believe the agent fuelled rumours of a transfer to the West London club.
Sandro proving we need a lynch-pin in the middle. The brick wall. Gandalf with staff. Someone to tidy up, break up play. We've been here before right? Structure, shape. I seem to remember it from days of yore.
Spurs scored within 15 minutes thanks to this newly discovered fast tempo transitional play connecting the midfield and the attack. That was the first time we've managed to grab a goal that early in a game. So many of this seasons soundbite stats are utterly depressing. This one in particular highlighting our lack of urgency from any given kick-off.
It was two-nil thanks to an own goal. Nathan Baker heading past his own keeper with Emmanuel Adebayor breathing down on him. Danny Rose assisting. Spurs generally looking good all over the pitch against poor opposition.
It was soon three-nothing with Gabriel Agbonlahor handing a shot from Sandro, ref points to the spot. Adebyaor burying the penalty with conviction, for once. No pressure, means no worry.
It finished 3-0 with the second half being less than exciting and far less fluid with our movement. Spurs sat ahead of Manchester United for the first time in a generation.
Tim Sherwood's parting gift is Europa League football - a competition that next season will bestow the winner with a spot in the Champions League the following year. Some would have preferred to concentrate solely on the league and be blessed with the energy Liverpool displayed this season to come within a slip of winning the title themselves. United's absence might serve them well for recovery. To forge a winning mentality, you have to seek to win competitions. The Europa is winnable but only if the belief within is genuine. Fact is, we all want a day out, we all want silverware and we all pretend we're up for this less than elite competition thanks to our thirst for glory but then dismiss it when we realise that we're never going to succeed because the players are not seeking to clench their own thirst.
A club like Spurs needs European football and yet we're always brushing it off because it's not the European football we desire. Too busy chasing something that has to be fought and won rather than earning our Spurs in the cup we've got because it's all we deserve. The excuse is that the EL is a distraction, pushing games out to Sunday and stretching the squad's resolve. It's an excuse. The right state of mind will produce the performances and if we've learnt anything from it, the early stages are manageable with rotation. The latter become far more glamorous when only the giants remain standings. Usually the fallen giants that drop in via the Champions League.
Spurs need to get their vision right. It should be simplistic. Every competition has to be seen as a winnable one otherwise we're making up the numbers. Our abject cup displays in recent years is because there is no hardened bullish focus.
Ha! Listen to me, already rationalising the EL because it's what we face next season. I bet half way through the group stages we're all cursing it again.
Other highlights from the game?
A Brad Guzan save from Michael Dawson's header. Kane colliding into Guzan. Alex Pritchard coming on as a sub. Villa's first shot on goal in the 81st minute. Sandro substituted and then shaking hands with Sherwood, with the latter smiling, cock-sure, perhaps for one final time. Post-match he's citied that his future is unclear and that he hopes to remain in management - perhaps not with Spurs. Strike out 'perhaps'.
The defining moment from the game that eclipsed all of the above and sums up the circus we've been treated to was when Sherwood gave a dashing looking West Stand supporter his Gilet having invited him down to sit in the manager's seat next to Les Ferdinand, beaming with a smile wider than Tottenham's goal difference, before taking his place back up in the stands. Surreal. Silly. Spurs. It's enough to make you laugh out loud whilst crying.
So long 2014. Don't call me, I'll call you.