West Brom captain Darren Fletcher has suggested Tottenham may need to wise up and add more experience if they are to win the Barclays Premier League.
Spurs’ chance appears to be over this season after their surprise draw against the Baggies left Leicester just three points away from being crowned champions.
Mauricio Pochettino’s men have won many admirers for their verve and vibrant style of football, but points dropped at home against the likes of Stoke, Swansea and Newcastle, as well as West Brom, look to have cost them dear.
Spurs missed several chances to put the result beyond doubt on Monday night and then seemed shell-shocked when Tony Pulis’ side equalised, failing to respond in the 18 minutes thereafter.
Fletcher, who won four league titles with Manchester United as well as the Champions League in 2008, says title-winning teams are more ruthless.
“You’ve got to rise to the pressure and thrive under it,” Fletcher said,
“You’ve got to see it as a challenge and win games ugly. You’ve got to throw people in the box and see games out when you’re winning 1-0.
“Passing the ball out from the back is nice and it’s pretty on the eye but when you’re winning 1-0 against West Brom, you shut up shop, see the game out and hit on the counter-attack.
“Who knows? It’s not for me to say because Tottenham have had a fantastic season. They’ve been a credit to the league and playing against them is really difficult.”
Tottenham’s time may yet come again, given Pochettino is in charge of the youngest squad in the division, with blossoming talents like Harry Kane, Dele Alli, Eric Dier and Christian Eriksen all set to improve even further.
There may be a case for adding extra experience in the summer, however, particularly if Spurs have to balance a renewed challenge with a tilt in the Champions League next season.
“To be honest at Manchester United we always had experience – we had Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes, Gary Neville, Roy Keane,” Fletcher said.
“They’d been there and done it, they were calm, and the manager had been there and done it. We were very fortunate to be around such people.
“It isn’t easy. You do have to take one game at a time and you do have to realise sometimes the last three of four games are the most important in the whole season.”
Tottenham’s blip means Leicester are on the cusp of completing their fairytale campaign. They need a maximum of three points from their three remaining matches and will win the league at Old Trafford on Sunday with a victory over Fletcher’s former club.
“You can’t comprehend it, it’s unbelievable but at the same time they thoroughly deserve it,” Fletcher said.
“They’ve got quality, desire, they can sit in and defend for their lives. They’re dogged, they can play, counter-attack, they’ve got a lot of attributes and it’s just all seemed to come together for them.
“They’ve played some fantastic football. You know how they’re going to play but you can’t stop it.”