AS you looked around Bournemouth’s bijou home you could not help but wonder where it had all gone wrong.
A team recently regarded as one of the most entertaining in the Premier League reduced to slugging it out in a scrappy stalemate that will go down as one of the worst matches of this – or any – season.
0 – Bournemouth’s 0-0 draw with Spurs was the first time in 186 @premierleague games that the Cherries have faced zero shots on target, while it’s the first time a side managed by José Mourinho had no shots on target in a PL match since April 2007 (Chelsea v Newcastle). Blank. pic.twitter.com/nU7ZXUDFfC
While their manager, once hailed as one of the brightest young coaches in the world, looked a shadow of his former self as he struggled to inspire his players once more.
But enough about Spurs, let’s talk about Bournemouth.
Eddie Howe’s relegation-threatened Cherries were denied a late winner as VAR Michael Oliver made a call in Tottenham’s favour this time.
Captain Hugo Lloris’ came to the visitors’ rescue with a stunning stoppage time block from Harry Wilson.
Victory was no more than the hosts deserved as Tottenham failed to register a single shot on target.
It would be unfair to blame manager Jose Mourinho for their slump this season after he only took over in November – but he has hardly improved them, has he?
He badly needs a win in Sunday’s North London derby at home to Arsenal to restore confidence and show he is the man to lead Spurs forward – because at the moment you would not bank on it.
As for Bournemouth, this point will give them plenty of heart in their bid to beat the drop – even if they are still searching for their first win since February.
The last time the Cherries won a match Britain’s economy was thriving.
Some 160 days later the nation is in the grip of a post-Covid recession and nowhere is the depression greater than at the Vitality Stadium.
It was not so long ago that Howe was being touted as a future manager of Tottenham.
Spurs fans probably do not know whether to laugh or cry at that now.
You wonder what is next for Howe – apart from relegation, obviously.
Does he stay with the Cherries and try to pull off another miracle promotion – or does he cut and run?
Either way, his reputation will be tarnished and he will have to do a lot of work if he is ever to be mentioned as a future England manager again.
Both of these clubs may not have had much to smile about recently, but someone at the PGMOL clearly has a sense of humour.
Why else would you appoint Oliver as VAR for this match – just seven days after he controversially chalked off what would have been a Harry Kane equaliser for Spurs in their 3-1 defeat at Sheffield United?
Predictably, it did not take long for Oliver to send Tottenham around the twist again when he decided not to award a penalty after Kane was clearly pushed to ground by Josh King at a fifth minute corner.
Mourinho was incandescent with rage as he complained about his team’s latest injustice to fourth official Steve Martin.
And Kane was still moaning to ref Paul Tierney during the drinks break.
The England captain had just denied Bournemouth defender Nathan Ake a tap-in by clearing a Jefferson Lerma header from his own goalmouth after a Diego Rico free kick caused problems in the visitors’ defence.
The novelty of not still being in a game after 30 minutes clearly gave the Cherries confidence and they almost snatched the lead on the stroke of half time as Junior Stanislas’ shot had Tottenham keeper Hugo Lloris scrambling down to his right to turn the ball away for a corner.
But playing against Spurs these days can give even the poorest opponents hope.
Mourinho, who had made three changes to his starting line-up following Monday’s 1-0 win over Everton, made two more at the break as he replaced Steven Bergwijn and Giovani Lo Celso with Son Heung-min and the club’s record £65million flop Tanguy Ndombele.
But it was former Spur Adam Smith who was in the wars at the start of the second half as he was poleaxed by a Kane free kick and then KO’d in a full-bloodied aerial challenge with Ben Davies.
The latter, a totally accidental clash, resulted in the full-back requiring oxygen as he left the field on a stretcher.
But nothing can stop football’s macabre dressing room humour and as Smith was carried off, his ex-team-mate Kane quipped: “Don’t worry Smithy, you’re still ugly.”
Smith’s injury highlighted there was no shortage of effort – even if the quality was sorely missing.
And Erik Lamela’s 79th minute header wide from Serge Aurier’s cross summed up the lack of attacking prowess on show.
Callum Wilson thought he had won it for Bournemouth with an overhead kick in the 89th minute – but Oliver spotted the ball brushed his team King’s hand on the way in.
Harsh, but fair.
Cherries sub Wilson was then sent clear at the start of 12 minutes of stoppage time – due to Smith’s injury.
But Lloris brilliantly blocked the winger’s shot to Tottenham and Mourinho’s blushes.