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Tottenham sink to appalling but familiar low as FA Cup chance slips away to extend trophy drought


Of all Spurs’ near-misses and capitulations over 15 years without silverware, this will go down as one of the most frustrating given the circumstances and could have far-reaching consequences, not least for Harry Kane’s future.

In good form and against a weakened Sheffield United side, who have made eight changes as they prioritize promotion from the Championship, Spurs were in a promising position to be included in a quarter-final draw which is wide open. .

Of the teams remaining in the competition at the start of the evening, only Manchester City and Manchester United were above Tottenham in the pyramid, and no team knows how to beat the champions better than Spurs.

But Spurs, who have not won the FA Cup since 1991, replaced Iliman Ndiaye’s late goal to cap a dreadful but familiar performance at Bramall Lane.

Indeed, the occasion looked almost identical to Spurs losing by the same scoreline at the same stage as Championship opposition exactly a year ago to the day at Middlesbrough, providing a damning indictment of their progress over the 12 last months.

That night at the Riverside, Antonio Conte went with his strongest side, but that defeat was further proof that Spurs simply cannot make changes and expect to win any game comfortably. Their team is just too thin.

The absent Conte, who was still recuperating in Italy, and his assistant Cristian Stellini completed a series of rotations with Kane, Cristian Romero and Oliver Skipp among rested players, and rare departures for Davinson Sanchez and Lucas Moura. Pedro Porro made his second start, with Emerson Royal nursing a minor issue.

First-choice side or not, Spurs should have still had more than enough quality to win the game, especially with a top three of Richarlison, Heung-min Son and Lucas, but they looked disjointed and too often disinterested. for a man.

The result is the first black mark on Stellini’s previously spotless record in charge and will raise further questions about Conte’s tactics and selections.

Another year without a trophy will also make it harder to convince Kane to commit his future to the club with a new contract at the end of the season.

The England captain replaced Richarlison in the 65th minute and, in hindsight, it was easy to wonder why he wasn’t started given the scale of the occasion. Spurs might not find such a draw for years and they should surely try to capitalize on those opportunities.

As things stand, they will now have to focus on a push for the top four and fight to overturn a first leg deficit against AC Milan in the second leg of the Champions League Round of 16 next Wednesday. .

Lose that game and all the optimism generated by wins over West Ham and Chelsea in Stellini’s interregnum will have evaporated.

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