After the gut-punching low of last week’s stoppage-time defeat to Bournemouth, Tottenham reached a new humiliating nadir this past weekend at St James’ Park in a result which has led the club to sack interim coach Cristian Stellini.
In the space of 21 minutes, the diminished hopes of qualifying for the Champions League were all but snuffed out for Spurs as a tactical shift to a back four backfired. Stepping away from Antonio Conte’s 3-4-3 system, which had been adopted by Stellini, for the first time since January 2022 was swiftly exposed by Newcastle scoring five goals.
Stellini pulled Pape Matar Sarr from the action and introduced Davinson Sánchez, himself substituted as a substitute in the 3-2 loss to Bournemouth last week, in a reversal to a back three and a bid to simply get over the line and be spared any further embarrassment.
A Harry Kane goal and Callum Wilson scoring with his first touch of the ball after replacing Alexander Isak left 6-1 as the final scoreline. A result which leaves Ryan Mason now in charge ahead of Manchester United’s visit to the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Thursday and led captain Hugo Lloris to publicly apologise to fans.
Tottenham have sacked interim coach Cristian Stellini, per @FabrizioRomano ???? pic.twitter.com/TOUbCJx3Yx
— PFF FC (@PFF_FC) April 24, 2023
Lloris had followed Pape Matar Sarr in spending the second half watching from the away team dugout, saying afterwards that he had suffered a slight hip injury. But while Sarr is still at the beginning of his career at Spurs, Lloris’ future continues to be clouded in doubt after 11 years as the team’s trusted No.1.
Lloris’ current contract runs out at the end of next season, by which time he will have turned 37, and the next permanent head coach at Spurs will have to weigh up his role as the ninth-highest graded goalkeeper in the league this season. Of players at the position to have made over 100 saves, Lloris has generated a shot-stopping grade of 71.2 overall this season and is plotted between Wolves’ José Sá (73.4) and ahead of Everton’s Jordan Pickford (67.4) in the rankings.
For his performance against Newcastle, the Frenchman finished with a shot-stopping grade of 68.0 from the six shots on target he faced in 47 minutes of play. In that time, he faced a total of 17 shots, more than ten other goalkeepers in the Premier League this past weekend who played the full match for their respective teams.
It was, however, by no means Lloris’ worst game this season from a shot-stopping perspective. On five occasions in 2022/23, he has finished with a grade lower than 50.0 – no other team in the top 12 of the Premier League has a goalkeeper with more than three (Kepa, Chelsea).
|Opponent (matchday)||Shots on target faced||PFF shot-stopping grade||
Weekly position rank
|Manchester City (22)||3||60.3||13/20|
For Fraser Forster, who replaced Lloris for the second half at St James' Park, he faced a total of nine shots, three of which were on target, and ended the match with a grade of 71.9.
Like Lloris, he is under contract until the summer of 2024, and is limited as an option beyond that together with an overall shot-stopping grade of 65.2.
If not through a drop-off in performance or age, the long-term successor to Lloris lies away from the team's current squad. It will be a tall ask for the next head coach of Spurs in replacing Lloris, a player who has made a remarkable 447 appearances for Spurs.