There comes a time when analysts and fans alike have to admit that a squad that is in the process of getting to an elite status is, in fact, never going to arrive at its desired destination.
Whether or not Tottenham Hotspur have hit that point is up for debate. After all, it's still very early into the 2013-14 Premier League campaign. The difference that separates the top of the table from eighth place in the league is but six points. Southampton are currently a Champions League side. A lot is going to happen between now and May.
What we do know about Spurs is that they're not scoring goals in Premier League play. Tottenham have thus far netted nine tallies in eleven matches. Only Sunderland, 19th in the league, and Crystal Palace, who are dead last in the table, have scored fewer goals.
At least part of Tottenham's lack of scoring can be attributed to plain old bad luck. Who could have guessed, for example, that Newcastle United goalkeeper Tim Krul would almost literally stand on his head in denying Spurs a total of 14 times on Sunday? Roberto Soldado, Christian Eriksen and Younes Kaboul all would have found the back of the net on a different day against a different 'keeper.
You also have to look at the performances of certain players over the past two months. Andros Townsend is consistently inconsistent. Neither Lewis Holtby nor Gylfi Sigurdsson can grab and hold onto a starting XI spot. Soldado cannot buy quality service at the moment.
Then there's the case of Erik Lamela. Lamela's woes since joining Spurs have been well documented, but he appeared to have put those struggles behind him in Tottenham's victory over Sheriff last Thursday night. Lamela was the man of the match on that Europa League evening, and yet he was relegated to the bench for the start of Sunday's affair.
Lamela ended the game as an unused substitute.
Tottenham's most recent defeat is hardly the first time manager Andre Villas-Boas has been criticized this fall. Lamela not taking the pitch against Newcastle and a clearly concussed Hugo Lloris being allowed to continue to play on against Everton on November 3 were one-offs. No coach/manager gets everything right. More concerning is Villas-Boas failing to accept what has been obvious since October to anybody who has been paying any real attention.
The solo striker approach isn't working for Tottenham. It just isn't. I have been quick to defend AVB throughout his Tottenham term, but the very idea that only Soldado or Jermain Defoe can start is one that is becoming more infuriating with every game.
It was all well and good when Spurs were winning ugly. That hasn't happened in two straight, and this team with the amount of talent that it has shouldn't be dropping points at home to Newcastle. Villas-Boas has done well in rotating squads in an attempt to keep guys happy and match fit. It's now time for him to try a different formation.
Who features up top for Spurs in such a team is a debatable topic. I wouldn't have all that much of a problem with Villas-Boas partnering Soldado up with Harry Kane or even the unofficially banished Emmanuel Adebayor let alone with the previously mentioned Defoe. This doesn't even have to be a permanent solution. Sometimes, an experiment is all that is needed to inject some life into a group of players.
AVB not wanting to shake things up too much when Spurs are away to Manchester City following the current international break is understandable. Tottenham will be away to Tromsø on November 28. Spurs are already through to the next round of the Europa League. It's an ideal time for a tactical switch.
Things are far from being out of hand at Spurs. It's on Villas-Boas to make sure the team never reaches that point.