Tottenham's thrashing by Bayern Munich is new low in Mauricio Pochettino era

Is the Mauricio Pochettino era nearing its end game? Tottenham's 7-2 loss to Bayern Munich raised more questions over their direction

Tottenham players look dejected during the capitulation on Tuesday night

For the opening half an hour at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, Mauricio Pochettino's side seemed to be back to their old selves. All the intensity that had been lost in recent months came flooding back as they overwhelmed Bayern Munich with a frenzied display of pressing.

Heung-Min Son's opening goal arrived after 12 minutes, but it could have been three by that point. And while Joshua Kimmich equalised soon afterwards, Spurs just kept coming, carving the visitors open repeatedly only to be thwarted by Manuel Neuer's alertness in the Bayern goal.

By the end, though, those early stages of the game, when the South Stand was a wall of noise and Spurs seemed set to put their recent troubles behind them, were long forgotten. Boos rang out at the final whistle. They would have been far louder had the stadium not already been half empty.

Mauricio Pochettino's side were defeated 7-2 by Bayern Munich
Image: Mauricio Pochettino's side were defeated 7-2 by Bayern Munich

An evening that started so promisingly ended up reinforcing all the fears which have surrounded this side recently. This group of players made history with their run to the Champions League final last season. Now, they are in the record books for the wrong reasons.

Spurs' night of humiliation in stats

Tottenham Hotspur are the first English side to concede seven goals in any European competition since Spurs lost 0-8 to FC Koln in the UEFA Intertoto Cup in July 1995.

The 7-2 defeat was the biggest ever margin of defeat by an English team at home in European competition.

Spurs conceded seven goals in a competitive match for the first time since December 1996 versus Newcastle United in the Premier League (1-7).

Spurs' 7-2 defeat to Bayern was Mauricio Pochettino's joint-heaviest ever defeat as a manager in all competitions alongside a 0-5 loss to Real Madrid in March 2012 with Espanyol.

Even more troubling than the scoreline itself, though, was the manner in which Spurs capitulated. A side once known for their resilience and strength of character under Pochettino have become alarmingly brittle. "It's like the team was tired and gave up a little bit," said Pochettino afterwards.

Robert Lewandowski gives Bayern Munich the lead at Tottenham
Image: Robert Lewandowski scored once in each half

He was referring to the final 10 minutes, when Serge Gnabry added his third and fourth goals either side of Robert Lewandowski's second, but the same issues were apparent earlier in the half, when Gnabry struck his first two in the space of two minutes to leave the home fans stunned.

Pochettino later bemoaned the Lewandowski goal that put Bayern ahead on the stroke of half-time. "The goal arrived in a moment that was massively crucial and had a big impact for us," he said. But it can be no excuse. It was a setback, but it was hardly insurmountable. "No one expected that in the second half," added Pochettino. Nor should they have.

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The reality, though, is that the warning signs have been there all season. After the Arsenal, Olympiakos and Leicester games, this was the fourth time in just 10 outings that Spurs have thrown away a lead. It is already more times than in the whole of the 2016/17 campaign. Their latest capitulation broke new ground, but the root causes were the same.

Son Heung-min looks dejected after Bayern Munich score their sixth
Image: Heung-Min Son looks dejected after Bayern Munich score their sixth

Any hopes that Saturday's gritty win over Southampton might prove a turning point have been shattered. Pochettino has made no secret of the issues within the dressing room following a turbulent summer transfer window, and the lack of cohesion in the side was more apparent than ever in the second half against Bayern.

The biggest issues are in defence. Against Bayern, Tottenham's backline was made up entirely of players whose futures either have been or remain uncertain. Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen have entered the final years of their contracts. Danny Rose has said he expected to depart during the summer and so too has Serge Aurier.

Tottenham

The latter was the main offender on Tuesday night - his error-strewn performance coming just days after he was sent off against Southampton - but they all struggled and, given the uncertainty that preceded this season, it should come as little surprise that they have lost their focus. Spurs have only kept two clean sheets all season - and one of those came before they were defeated on penalties by Colchester United.

Christian Eriksen, benched again on Wednesday, is similarly problematic, and an even bigger concern is that the issues have spread across the team. Against Bayern, even the usually reliable Harry Winks could be seen losing possession repeatedly. Tanguy Ndombele, the only summer signing in the matchday squad, veered from the awesome to the awful.

It is the first time Tottenham have conceded seven at home in any competition
Image: It is the first time Tottenham have conceded seven at home in any competition

Sir Alex Ferguson used to say a four-year cycle was the limit for a successful team, insisting his sustained success at Manchester United depended on freshening things up behind the scenes and on the pitch.

Into his sixth season at Spurs, then, and the worry for Pochettino is that the freshening up has not gone nearly far enough.

He has not been helped by injuries to Giovani Lo Celso and Ryan Sessegnon, of course, but was a total of three summer signings ever going to be enough to create a new impetus? His unhappy mood in the early stages of the season suggests Pochettino knew the answer then.

He talked about beginning a "new chapter" in his post-match press conference on Wednesday night and he has already hinted at a January overhaul, but there are months to go before the window opens. The absence of any fresh faces from the academy in the squad to face Bayern suggests he does not view youth as an immediate solution.

Where, then, does he go from here? His Spurs side have only won nine games out of 28 since late February, losing 13, and the worry is that things could get worse before they get better. That frenzied first half-hour against Bayern Munich was a reminder of their past. It is the rest of the game, though, that could be more indicative of their future.

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