Video of the Day: Manchester City vs Tottenham Hotspur, May 1977
The New Premier League season starts this weekend, so we’re going to spend the week looking at old match-ups from the top flight of significance but which have become forgotten about in the mists of time, kicking off with this match from the very end of the 1976/77 season. They might not have won the league or the FA Cup during this decade, but Spurs hadn’t exactly had a completely unsuccessful decade to this point. They’d won the League Cup in 1971 & 1973, the UEFA Cup in 1972 and finished losing finalists to Feyenoord in 1974.
At the end of the 1974/75 season, however, with the club still trying to find its identity again following the retirement of legendary manager Bill Nicholson, Spurs only narrowly avoiding dropping from the top flight for the first time since 1950, and while the following season saw them back in mid-table, the 1976/77 season saw a return of the flaws of a couple of years earlier. The problems seemed to stem from a legacy inherited from former manager Terry Neill. Neill, who had jumped ship in the summer of 1976 to join Arsenal, had sold the likes of Mike England, Martin Peters Alan Gilzean and Martin Chivers and replaced them with inferior new signings, and his departure left new manager Keith Burkinshaw to pick up the pieces.
Spurs rallied as high as eighteenth place in the spring – two places above the relegation spots in a twenty-two team division – before slumping back as the season reached its end. By the penultimate weekend of the season, they travelled to Maine Road to play a Manchester City team that was still chasing Liverpool for the league title needing a win and other results to go their way in order to stand a decent chance of staying up on the last day of the season. Not only did they lose disastrously, but everyone else around them picked up at least a point. A week later, dependent on others losing and with a significant goal difference to make up, they were relegated in bottom place in the table. It is difficult to see such a set of circumstances playing out again this season.
You can support independent football writing on Twohundredpercent by subscribing with us through Patreon.