It was a disappointing way to end a super season. Spurs needed to match Arsenal's result to retain fourth place but the team who competed heroically throughout, despite the players obvious problems suffering from the affects of food poisoning, they couldn't find the strength to win against a fully committed West Ham side.
A few hours before the game, news broke that ten Spurs players were suffering from food poisoning and the game may be postponed. However, Tottenham were under considerable pressure to complete the fixture or risk having points deducted by the Premnier League. The club wanted a postponement but were offered a two hour delayed kick-off. This would have done little to restore the health or strength of the players and in spite of some players reportedly sick during their warm up and prior to the game, Spurs had to play on.
Those affected were Dawson, Davids, Carrick, Tainio, Lennon, Keane, Davenport, Cerny, Huddlestone and Martin Jol. All deserve credit for the way they battled through and gave their all for the cause. From the start Dawson looked wretched and on occasions the players looked lethargic and did not have the strength to run in support play. On one occasion as Defoe broke clear he held the ball waiting for support but none came. On the stroke of half-time as a player was receiving attention, all the Spurs players were drinking water to help them. Lennon showed little of his usual vitality and Carrick went off midway through the second half, totally exhausted and as they struggled to try to come from behind, it was obvious that the players had nothing left in the final minutes. It is reported that Tainio and Lennon were sick after the game and had to go to hospital. The full recovery of all the players is our first priority.
West Ham took the lead after nine minutes from long range and Defoe equalised after thirty five minutes with a well worked and finished goal. West Ham were full of running and Spurs struggled to match them throughout. Teddy Sheringham had his second half penalty saved by Paul Robinson but nine minutes from the end the winner came and Spurs couldn't respond. With news that Arsenal were winning, Spurs knew that they had lost fourth place and would be playing in the UEFA cup next year.
In the end, injuries to key players, missed opportunities during the season and sickness for their most vital game in two decades prevented Spurs fininshing fourth. However, don't let that disappointment cloud the fact that Spurs have had a super season, have made tremendous progress and if we had been offered a UEFA place last August we would have grabbed it with both hands.
Congratulations Spurs on a great season, there's more to come and we're going on a European tour next season. We've got our Tottenham back.