Spurs have 474 days to remain relevant
Published by Dodsy.
The clock is ticking.
As soon as Andros Townsend tucked in the penalty that sent Spurs flying out this year’s FA Cup, it set the pendulum into motion; a countdown to their judgement day has officially begun.
In the space of a week, Spurs were dumped out of both domestic cups, also losing on penalties to Chelsea in the semi-finals of the Carabao Cup. In doing so, it forced all the players, the fans and most importantly the manager, Mauricio Pochettino, to face the universal truth.
The Universal Truth: Football careers, both for players and managers, are judged on trophies.
In 474 days’ time, the 2020 Champion’s League final will have been played, bringing with it the end of next year’s season. Plainly put, if Spurs still haven’t won a trophy by then, it will spell the end of their recent ascension into the highest end of English football.
There is a lot of respect to be given to the way Tottenham have tried to build sustained success and there is no denying this is one of the most talented squads they have ever assembled. They can finally compete with the big boys. But competing is not the same as beating, especially on the biggest stages. This is a squad full of gifted individuals who have never learnt what it takes to win something. In Harry Kane, they possess arguably the best striker in world football. But even he, with his two golden boots in the Premier League and one in the 2018 World Cup, has no trophies yet to show for glittering talent. Something has to change. And soon.
The Icebergs Ahead
The obvious danger here. Players like Harry Kane and Dele Alli could walk into any team in Europe. There are plenty of teams with deep pockets and itchy fingers just waiting to entice Spurs’ talent away. By the end of next season Kane will be approaching 27, with almost a decade in the game and nothing to show for it. How could he (or others) turn down the chance to play for a European superpower, virtually guaranteeing themselves trophies in the process?
— Harry Kane (@HKane) August 30, 2018
Of course, it is not just the players other powerful clubs are eyeing up. Pochettino is viewed by many as one of the most talented managers in Europe right now. As loyal as he appears now, give it 2 more years of failure and a phone call from Real Madrid and the Argentinian may be on the first flight out of here.
Spurs may be selling the line that building a new stadium is not impacting their transfer budget, but no one is buying. They have gone through 2 transfer windows buying no players at a time when small improvements may have put their squad in a competitive position. This cannot be a coincidence. And even if they were to rake in £150 million selling Kane, there is no guarantee they will replace him with quality. Anyone who remembers how they reinvested the Gareth Bale money will attest to this. £26 million was blown on Roberto Soldado who returned 7 league goals in 2 seasons. A new stadium consumes money greedily and Spurs may find it hard to compete with the big teams for the foreseeable future.
But here’s the upside…
Winning a trophy is a bonding experience like no other. Winning something, anything, could provide a springboard for a close-knit bunch to commit their futures to the team and believe they can grow as a unit. With time running out, what chances have they got of remaining relevant?
The Premier League
It is unlikely to say the least that we will see Spurs mount any serious challenge for the league title either this year or next. Both Man City and Liverpool have stronger and deeper squads and with a resurgent United and a year of development for both Chelsea and Arsenal, top four is probably the most they can hope for.
The Champion’s League
Spurs pulled off one of the escapes of the century when they qualified for the last 16 of the Champion’s League this year but a tough draw against an inspired Dortmund team (without the aid of Harry Kane) may be as far as it goes. It is possible this is the trophy that opens the floodgates…but I doubt it.
The Carabao Cup (next season)
One to be taken seriously. Yes, it is the worst trophy going but if it starts the ball rolling for their success then committing to a cup most teams don’t bother with may be the sensible route to go. Spurs last trophy was the league cup 11 years ago and winning it once more might be the catalyst they need to
The FA Cup (next season)
Pochettino should go all out for this trophy. For a team like Spurs, surviving the early rounds and riding a lucky draw will be essential but playing a full-strength squad would help. Spurs have been guilty of underestimating lower-ranked opponents in the past and this needs to stop.
The Champion’s League (presumably next season)
Spurs are not the best team in England, yet alone England and even presuming they get a place in next year’s Champion’s League, a plucky defeat to Bayern or the like in the quarterfinals is all they can hope to achieve.
The Dilemma: Do you dedicate a team to peak only in cup competitions, knowing it may impact league positioning? Or should you focus on league form, resting players in the early rounds of the tournaments, and aiming for the top four?
There is no easy answer (just ask Arsene Wenger) but Tottenham’s squad is too thin to compete on four fronts throughout the year. Spurs need to organise their priorities quickly and realise the dangers ahead. They have to act…and fast.
The clock is ticking.