An invigorating season ended with a whimper for Tottenham Hotspur as a 5-1 thrashing at relegated Newcastle United cost them second place in the Premier League and forced manager Mauricio Pochettino to apologise to fans.
Tottenham, for so long champions Leicester’s closest pursuers, only needed a point from their last game to seal runners-up spot, but collapsed to their worst defeat of the season against a side reduced to 10 men after the break.
While finishing third and sealing a place in the Champions League group stage next season would have been beyond the club’s expectations at the start of the campaign, there was a sense of deflation as they finished a point below bitter north London rivals Arsenal.
Having seen their chance of a first title since 1961 evaporate when they drew 2-2 at Chelsea on May 2, finishing above Arsenal for the first time since 1995 would have given the fans plenty to smile about during the summer break.
But it was not to be as Tottenham’s last four matches ended with two draws and two defeats.
“First of all I would like to apologise to our fans,” Pochettino, who signed a new contract extension in the week, said. “I think they don’t deserve all that happened today on the pitch and I apologise.
“It was a shame and difficult to understand. In the last couple of weeks when you do not play with 100 percent it is impossible to win games and after Chelsea something happened.
“We had the possibility to stay second. It is the worst day as a manager and I feel very disappointed.”
Tottenham were trailing 2-0 at halftime to goals by Georginio Wijnaldum and Aleksandar Mitrovic but reduced the deficit through Erik Lamela after the break.
Mitrovic was sent off after 67 minutes for a bad foul on Kyle Walker but just when Tottenham fans thought their team had an escape route, they capitulated after Wijnaldum converted a dubioulsy-awarded spot kick.
Tottenham will still take many positives from the campaign in which Harry Kane finished as the Premier League’s leading scorer with 25 goals and Dele Alli emerged as a genuine star.
But the final day will leave a sour taste.
“We need to be sure that never happens again and we need to improve our mentality,” Pochettino said. “We were on holiday and that is the reality.”
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