After finishing 11th in the 2007–08 season, Tottenham began the season under the leadership of Spaniard Juande Ramos, drafted in to replace Martin Jol mid-way through the previous season. However, after suffering the worst start of a league season in Tottenham's history, with no wins in eight league games and only two points, Ramos was sacked and replaced by seasoned manager Harry Redknapp, who quickly eliminated the continental structure that the club had established over the past seasons. Tottenham's league form improved and mainly remained positive with the final position of eighth a far cry from the relegation places Tottenham had occupied throughout the campaign. Spurs also reached the final of the League Cup, and, as the reigning champions, faced league leaders Manchester United but lost 4–1 on penalties. With an average attendance of 35,929, Tottenham had the ninth highest attendance in the Premier League.
Tottenham drafted in a total of 15 players through transfers and sold 19 players during the combined summer and winter transfer windows.
Luka Modrić – Tottenham's most expensive signing of the 2008–09 season
At the end of the 2007–08 season, which saw Tottenham finish 11th in the Premier League, the club announced the signing of Croatian playmaker Luka Modrić and reiterated that any club wishing to sign their Bulgarian striker Dimitar Berbatov would need to offer more than £30 million. Tottenham's transfer movement began immediately with Czech goalkeeper Radek Černý moving on a free transfer to QPR following the end of the season; Černý's loan deal had expired and was not offered a contract extension by Tottenham nor his parent club Slavia Prague. Little under a month later, Tottenham agreed a deal with Barcelona for 19-year-old Mexican forward Giovani Dos Santos for an initial fee of £4.7 million. Not long afterwards, Tottenham reached a deal with Dutch club PSV Eindhoven for Brazilian goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes, valued at around £8 million.
Following comments made by Sir Alex Ferguson indicating confidence over signing Dimitar Berbatov even though negotiations were not yet underway, the club issued a press statement on 18 July 2008 on behalf of Daniel Levy, saying that both Manchester United and Liverpool had been reported to the Premier League over comments their respective managers had made which were seen as unsettling both Dimitar Berbatov and Irish striker Robbie Keane with a view of enticing them away from Tottenham. Levy said of United boss Alex Ferguson:
"Today's public comments by Manchester United's manager, announcing that he has made an offer for Dimitar and is confident that the deal will go through with time working in their favour, is a blatant example of sheer arrogance and interference with one of our players. It is also probably one of the worst offences by any manager in the Premier League to date and is unbelievably hypocritical given his recent comments in respect of Cristiano Ronaldo and Real Madrid.
I have absolutely no wish to sell either player and to date we have not accepted any offer for either. However, when a player's head is turned and their commitment is absent, particularly when they occupy key positions such as that of striker, they become a negative influence in a team dressing room in which they were once a positive addition and influence. This is the situation we now have on our hands, with both Dimitar and Robbie having made it clear that they wish to leave for Manchester United and Liverpool respectively."
Throughout July, Tottenham parted ways with many first team members of the squad, On 23 July 2008, it was announced that the club had sold the services of Teemu Tainio. The Finnish midfielder joined Sunderland on a three-year contract, French defender Pascal Chimbonda followed him a day later, joining the same club for an undisclosed fee. The following day, former England goalkeeper Paul Robinson signed a five-year contract with Blackburn Rovers for £3.5 million, having played for Spurs for four years. Robinson joined the club from Leeds United in May 2004 and made 175 appearances for the club in all competitions, scoring once against Watford in 2007.
On 28 July 2008, Tottenham agreed to sell Robbie Keane to Liverpool for a total that could amount to £20.3 million. With the sale, Tottenham also agreed to drop its official complaint to the Premier League about Liverpool's pursuit of Keane after Liverpool issued a formal apology and made a donation to the Tottenham Foundation.
Dimitar Berbatov joined Manchester United within moments of the summer transfer window's closure
Levy issued a statement coinciding with the confirmation of the Keane transfer:
"I was incredibly disappointed when I first heard, not only that Liverpool had been working behind the scenes to bring Robbie to Anfield, but that Robbie himself wanted to go and he submitted a transfer request to this effect. I have already made my opinion clear on the nature of this transaction. I don't regard it as a transfer deal – that is something which happens between two clubs when they both agree to trade – this is very much an enforced sale, for which we have agreed a sum of £19m as compensation plus a potential further £1.3m in additional compensation."
On 30 July 2008, French midfielder Steed Malbranque became the third player in a week to leave, following Tainio and Chimbonda to Sunderland for a fee of £7.8 million. Later the same day, Tottenham announced they had reached agreement with Blackburn Rovers for the transfer of David Bentley to the club for £15 million.
As part of their pre-season preparations, Tottenham held a training camp in Spain, along with numerous friendlies, in July. Their first friendly, against local side Tavernes, saw Spurs stroll to an 8–0 success, with Giovanni Dos Santos scoring his first goals for the clubs, Tottenham then faced two of Juande Ramos' former teams in CD Dénia and Hércules. Spurs beat Dénia 4–2 and then curtailed the Spanish section of their preparations with a 1–1 with Hércules.
Tottenham returned to England to play Norwich City, recovering from being a goal down to win 5–1, with Darren Bent netting four of the strikes. They later played Leyton Orient, again winning 5–1 with Luka Modrić scoring his first goal for Spurs and Darren Bent scoring a hat-trick to take his tally to nine goals in five games. Tottenham then embarked to Holland to play in the Feyenoord Jubilee Tournament, held in Rotterdam at the start of August, with a 2–0 victory over Celtic thanks to goals from Darren Bent and David Bentley. Spurs followed this with another win, over German club Borussia Dortmund 3–0 with goals from Bent, Dos Santos and Jamie O'Hara. Tottenham Hotspur were crowned the winners of the tournament on 3 August.
Tottenham finished their pre-season preparations with a 5–0 victory over Serie A giants Roma, which ensured they stayed unbeaten throughout the period, scoring thirty-three goals and conceding five in a total of seven games, with Darren Bent scoring 13 times.
Stamford Bridge was the venue for Tottenham's first point of the season
Tottenham Hotspur's league season got off to a bad start with a 2–1 loss to Middlesbrough at the Riverside Stadium, followed a week later by another 2–1 defeat to Sunderland, with debutant Djibril Cissé scoring the winning goal in the final minutes. The defeats against Middlesbrough and Sunderland were punctuated with the on-going transfer saga concerning Dimitar Berbatov and Manchester United; rumours that Berbatov had refused to play (later revealed to be true) began to circulate, along with the theory that this refusal from one of Tottenham's best players was hurting team morale. Tottenham got their first point of the season eight days after the Sunderland loss in a 1–1 draw at Stamford Bridge against title contenders Chelsea. With both the end of August and the summer transfer window approaching, the Berbatov saga ended with him making a transfer to Manchester United for £30.75 million and young striker Fraizer Campbell coming in loan for the whole season.Manchester City had tried to enter the fray in the final hours with a £30 million bid accepted but Berbatov rejected the move.Vedran Ćorluka also completed his move from Manchester City to join Croatian team-mate Luka Modrić and provide competition for the right-back position.
Tottenham's first match in September led to another 2–1 loss, at home to Aston Villa. This resulted in three losses in four and one point from a possible twelve, rooting Spurs to the bottom of the Premier League table. Tottenham achieved their first competitive win of the season in the UEFA Cup against Wisła Kraków, with David Bentley scoring his debut and the winning goal. Spurs returned to the league with a goalless home draw against Wigan Athletic and a tepid 2–0 away defeat to Portsmouth, with ex-Tottenham player Jermain Defoe scoring a penalty. At the end of September, Tottenham Hotspur were bottom of the league and officially suffering their worst Premier League start. However, Spurs were able to make a successful start to the defence of their League Cup title, defeating Newcastle United 2–1 at St James' Park to progress to the fourth round of the competition.
Roman Pavlyuchenko scored his first league goal in Tottenham's first win over Bolton Wanderers at White Hart Lane
October started with progression to the group stages of the UEFA Cup for Tottenham with a 1–1 draw in Poland against Wisła Kraków in their second leg tie, but Spurs' horrendous league form continued with a home loss to newly promoted Hull City, Geovanni's long range free-kick in the early minutes of the game condemning Tottenham to another loss, They then followed this match with another battle against a newly promoted side, Stoke. The match concluded with Tottenham conceding two penalties and having Michael Dawson & Gareth Bale sent off in a 2–1 loss. This loss meant that Tottenham had only two points from eight games, were bottom of the Premier League and now were amidst the worst start to a season in the 126 year history of Tottenham Hotspur Football Club. The ever-increasing pressure on manager Juande Ramos grew after a 2–0 loss in Italy to Udinese in the first match of the UEFA Cup Group stage.
Redknapp was unveiled as Tottenham manager the same day before the home match against Bolton Wanderers F.C. and gave the team talk, although the team itself was selected by Clive Allen and Alex Inglethorpe. Tottenham eased to their first league win of the season, with Roman Pavlyuchenko scoring his first Premier League goal. Tottenham then faced bitter rivals Arsenal in the latest installment of the North London derby, the match ended 4–4 and viewed as one of the best games in the long history of the North London derby. Tottenham took the lead with a stunning David Bentley volley from 35-yards, Arsenal then responded with a Mikaël Silvestre header and found themselves 3–1 ahead deep inside the second half, Darren Bent made it 3–2 before Robin Van Persie seemingly wrapped up the points making it 4–2 to Arsenal. With 5 minutes left, Jermaine Jenas made it 4–3 after capitalising on a Gaël Clichy slip, and then Aaron Lennon grabbed a point for Tottenham when he, four minutes into stoppage time, made it 4–4 with a tap-in.
Tottenham's revitalised form continued into November with a win over league leaders Liverpool,Dirk Kuyt blasted Liverpool into an early lead before a Jamie Carragher own goal and a Pavlyuchenko tap-in gave Spurs the three points. five days later, Harry Redknapp took charge of his first Tottenham UEFA cup match which ended with Tottenham thrashing Dinamo Zagreb 4–0, including a Darren Bent hat-trick, resurrecting the UEFA Cup challenge.
The first away win for Tottenham's season came on 9 November 2008, with a 2–1 win over Manchester City and Darren bent scoring his 5th goal in two games, Tottenham's fourth game in 11 days sent them to fifth round of the League Cup with a 4–2 win over Liverpool, which also included the first goals for on-loan striker Fraizer Campbell.
Tottenham's six game unbeaten run ended with a 2–1 loss to Fulham, A mistake from Heurelho Gomes helped Fulham into a two goal lead before Fraizer Campbell pulled one back. Tottenham recovered quickly with a 1–0 win over Blackburn Rovers, increasing the pressure on Blackburn manager Paul Ince and another 1–0 win over NEC Nijmegen in the UEFA Cup almost assuring safe passage to the next round.
Tottenham began December by putting themselves into the semi-finals of the League Cup with a 2–1 win over Watford F.C, Watford had taken the lead through a Tamas Priskin strike but a penalty from Roman Pavlyuchenko and a goal from Darren Bent earned Spurs a tie versus Burnley in the semi-final. Tottenham continued their decent league form with a 2–0 win over West Ham which also included Ledley King's first goal for three years.
Spurs then faced defending league champions Manchester United in a home tie which ended in a 0–0 draw, which meant that Tottenham were now unbeaten against the Premier League Top Four, Tottenham then completed their UEFA Cup group stage with a 2–2 draw with Spartak Moscow, they proceeded to the next stage in runner up place to face Champions league drop-outs Shakhtar Donetsk.
December ended the same as November with a loss, this time to newly promoted West Brom. The 2–0 win was controversial however, as defender Michael Dawson claimed that he had been fouled by Albion striker Roman Bednar while the latter scored the opening goal. The goal stood and Tottenham ended the year still very much in a relegation battle.
January Transfer Window
Robbie Keane returned to Tottenham only 6 months after his move to Liverpool
With the January transfer window opening on 1 January, Tottenham made movement in the market straight away. On 6 January 2009, Jermain Defoe returned to the club from Portsmouth in a deal worth an initial £9million with extras and the writing off of past transfer fees in Pedro Mendes and Defoe himself meant the media announced the fee £15 million, Just over 2 weeks later, Tottenham came to an agreement for the transfer of Wilson Palacios for a fee of £12 million from Wigan, the deal for Palacios was concluded on 30 January with the approval of a work permit. Tottenham also signed experienced goalkeeper Carlo Cudicini from Chelsea on a free transfer and also concluded a deal to re-sign Pascal Chimbonda from Sunderland for a fee thought to be around £3 million, On the final day of the transfer window, Tottenham resigned their third former player in a month, signing striker Robbie Keane for a fee of an initial £12 million, which, depending on circumstances, can rise to £15 million.
January began well for Tottenham, advancing to the next round of the FA Cup with a 3–1 win over Wigan and then following that with a 4–1 win against Burnley in the League Cup semi-final first leg, however Tottenham's league form again suffered when in the next game, against Wigan, Spurs lost 1–0 when Maynor Figueroa powered in a header in stoppage time to confine Tottenham to another loss from last minute goals.
Tottenham responded seven days later with a 1–1 draw against Portsmouth, at White Hart Lane, The match had massive publicity because of the return of Harry Redknapp and Jermain Defoe, In the match, David Nugent scored a deflected goal before Defoe returned to haunt his old club by scoring the equaliser.
Tottenham, then, faced Burnley in the League Cup semi-final second leg. Burnley could only progress by winning by three clear goals and it was widely seen as unlikely that Burnley would offer much in terms of opposition, however after 90 minutes, goals from Robbie Blake, Chris McCann and Jay Rodriguez took the game to extra time and if they held on they would progress thanks to the away goals rule, but facing elimination with under three minutes left to play, goals from Pavlyuchenko and Defoe saw Spurs progress to the final 6–4 on aggregate.
Three days after the extra-time tie, Tottenham faced Manchester United in the FA Cup, losing 2–1, having taken the lead through Pavlyuchenko before a deflected goal from Paul Scholes and a strike from Dimitar Berbatov ended the FA challenge for the 2008–09 season.
Thre days later, Tottenham got their first league win in 6 games with a 3–1 home win over Stoke, brilliant play saw Spurs take a 3–0 lead in the first 30 minutes before James Beattie scored a consolation goal for the visitors, January ended in defeat for Spurs with 3–2 loss to Bolton, Bolton took a 2–0 lead before a Darren Bent double levelled until another last minute goal from Kevin Davies claimed the points for the home side.
February for Tottenham Hotspur started with a North London derby against fierce rivals, Arsenal. The highly anticipated match ended 0–0 with Spurs enjoying the dominant moments in the game thanks, in part, to the first half sending off of Arsenal midfielder, Emmanuel Eboué. An eleven day rest, ended with a trip to Ukraine to face champions league drop-outs, Shakhtar Donetsk in the Last 32 of the UEFA Cup. Tottenham lost 2–0, thanks to late goals from Evhen Seleznyov and Jádson. The match incurred much criticism from some quarters, due to Tottenham playing a weakened side, however the criticisms were brushed aside by Harry Redknapp, emphatically prioritising the Premier League and League Cup over the UEFA cup. On 23 February, Tottenham faced Hull City at the KC Stadium in the Monday night fixture. Spurs eased to a 2–1 win with goals from Aaron Lennon and Jonathan Woodgate sealing a valuable set of points.
Tottenham ended the February set of fixtures only three days later with the return leg of Shakhtar Donetsk, Tottenham again fielded a severely weakened team, due in part to the 2009 Football League Cup Final being only three days away, and earned a valiant 1–1 draw, with Giovani Dos Santos scoring his first Tottenham goal before a late Fernandinho goal sealed the leg for Shakhtar in the dying moments to eliminate Spurs from the European competition.
Tottenham visited Wembley two years consecutively, In 2008–09 they entered as incumbent League Cup Champions
March began with the 2009 League Cup Final against Manchester United, the frantic final ended 0–0 and resulted in a penalty shoot-out, which Manchester United won 4–1 to win the first major trophy of the 2008–09 season.
Tottenham rebounded from the heart-break of the final loss, three days later, with a comprehensive 4–0 win over Middlesbrough to ease the immediate relegation concerns. The unbeaten run continued with a 1–1 at Sunderland on 7 March, the tense match began with an early goal for Kieran Richardson and remained so until in the dying embers of the game, Robbie Keane struck a volley to earn Spurs a point. Eight days later, Tottenham faced fourth placed Aston Villa at Villa Park, an early goal from Jermaine Jenas gave spurs the lead until early in the second half when the lead was extended thanks to a Darren Bent tap-in, John Carew stuck a consolation goal as Tottenham took the three points. Days before the last match of the March fixtures, Tottenham announced a record amount of profit in the 2008 fiscal year.
Tottenham faced Chelsea in the final match in March at White Hart Lane, In a thrilling London derby, Tottenham took maximum points, thanks to a second half goal from CroatianLuka Modrić and a much improved performance by goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes, putting Tottenham only three points behind a European place.
March ended with three call-ups into the England squad with Aaron Lennon in, thanks to being in mercurial form during the month of March and Ledley King earning a shock call-up, however with the constant injury situation surrounding the goliath defender, King had to pull out three days later.Darren Bent also received a call up, on 28 March, after an injury to Carlton Cole ruled him out of the world cup qualifier against Ukraine.
The penultimate month of the Premier League season began with a trip to Ewood Park, on 4 April, to face relegation-battlers Blackburn Rovers, Tottenham took the lead through a Robbie Keane penalty and led until the 80th minute, when the contentious sending off of Wilson Palacios swung the game back in Blackburn's favour and two late goals from Benni McCarthy and Andre Ooijer gave the three points to the home side.
Seven days later, Tottenham faced West Ham in a London Derby, the match ended 1–0 thanks to a solo effort from the returning Roman Pavlyuchenko. The win ignited Tottenham's charge into the final Europa league place which was consolidated eight days later on 19 April, with another 1–0 win, this time over struggling Newcastle. An early Darren Bent goal was enough to secure the points and help steer the club further towards European football.
April ended with a defeat to league leaders, Manchester United, At Old Trafford. Tottenham led 2–0 through two quick-fire strikes from Darren Bent and Luka Modrić, but in the second half, Manchester United were awarded a penalty by referee Howard Webb, and went on to win the game 5–2. Webb later admitted that he had got the penalty decision wrong. The loss damaged Tottenham's hopes of 7th place.
Against the norm, there were four Premier league fixtures in May. Tottenham took on relegation strugglers West Bromwich Albion at White Hart Lane, looking to bounce back from the heavy defeat at Old Trafford. The game was settled by a well placed Jermaine Jenas effort from just outside the area on the stroke of half time, and secured Spurs' fifth home win a row. It was their fourth 1–0 win at home in a row, and sixth consecutive home clean sheet, leaving them on the verge of a club record of the fewest goals conceded at home in a season.
A week later, Tottenham travelled to Goodison Park, The game was marred by the pre-match news that the brother of Wilson Palacios had been confirmed dead in his native Honduras, causing him to leave the team hotel hours before the game. This was one of many factors that caused Harry Redknapp to go with an unorthodox 3–5–2 formation, notably bringing in Gareth Bale at left wing-back for the Welsh youngster's first league start for four months. A game that finished 0–0 for the second consecutive season earned Tottenham a point in their European quest.
The following Saturday, Tottenham went into their final home game of the season against Manchester City, with a target of setting a new club record for goals conceded at home. They simply had to concede no more than a goal to break the record of eleven which had stood since 1920. Spurs could also end Manchester City's hopes of Europe next season, while increasing their own slender hopes. Tottenham took the lead in the 29th minute, when Jermain Defoe improvised with a back heel from close range from Tom Huddlestone's cross. In the second half Spurs were forced to rue their earlier missed chances when Valeri Bojinov grabbed an equaliser, in the process scoring the first away goal at the lane since James Beattie's consolation in January. A draw was looking increasingly likely until Fraizer Campbell was brought down to win a penalty, which was converted by Robbie Keane. The game finished 2–1 and Tottenham, having conceded just ten goals at home all season, broke their own club record and ensured ending the season with the best home defence in the 2008–09 season.
Tottenham went into the final game of the season at Anfield, with a small chance of making 7th place and Europe, needing to beat Liverpool, and hoping that Everton could get three points against Fulham at Craven Cottage. Everton won 2–0. Fernando Torres and an own goal by Alan Hutton had Liverpool 2–0 up. A goal from Robbie Keane on his return to Anfield gave Tottenham a glimmer of hope, but just three minutes later allowed Yossi Benayoun to sew the game up for the home team with Tottenham Hotspur finishing the season with a 3–1 loss.
Spurs finished the season in 8th place, a turnaround in form pushing them into higher reaches of the league, when they were as low as 19th place as recently as January and 20th for a part of the season. Having made their worst start to a league season in their 126 year history, Tottenham made a three place improvement on the 2007–08 season.
Updated to games played on 24 May 2009.
Source: Barclays Premier League
Rules for classification: 1) points; 2) goal difference; 3) number of goals scored. (C) = Champion; (R) = Relegated; (P) = Promoted; (E) = Eliminated; (O) = Play-off winner; (A) = Advances to a further round.
Only applicable when the season is not finished: (Q) = Qualified to the phase of tournament indicated; (TQ) = Qualified to tournament, but not yet to the particular phase indicated; (DQ) = Disqualified from tournament.