Tottenham Hotspur are on the cusp of something very special. Much as I love them, you have to be honest about their history and remember that they are a club who have won the League title only twice.
That’s fewer than Huddersfield Town.
And it will have been 57 years since that last title by the end of this season, meaning even I can’t (really) remember it.
So what has happened in the last two seasons, in finishing third and then second and challenging for the title for the first time since the Eighties, has been truly tantalising. For some Spurs fans, this is something they have never seen before. The excitement has been palpable.
And that’s why people are beginning to express their frustration at what hasn’t happened this summer. And it’s also why Danny Rose will not have walked into an angry dressing room on Thursday morning, following his now infamous comments about signings and salaries at Tottenham.
In fact, deep down his team-mates will be thinking, ‘Well done, Danny. You’ve put your head above the parapet but you’re only saying what we’re all thinking.’
We can all agree that the timing was wrong, coming at the start of the season and after six months of injury. Few would argue with the sentiment.
Mauricio Pochettino has done a tremendous job considering the resources he has available
To be clear, you have to give enormous credit to Daniel Levy for rebuilding the infrastructure of the club. The training ground came first, but at the same time they remodelled the academy and youth development under John McDermott.
Now the stadium, which looks extraordinary, is coming.
On top of that, he’s got a superb young manager who has nurtured an excellent young team. In fact, the starting XI is among the top two or three in the Premier League.
But it really is a case of ‘What now?’ The last few years have been marvellous, though, of course, there hasn’t been a trophy.
Now Tottenham have this transition season at Wembley, which they have to embrace before moving into what will be one of the iconic stadiums in Europe.
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The question is what kind of team will there be to play in it? Will it be a team to win the Premier League, to sustain a Champions League run into the spring? Or will it revert to what was becoming the norm for Spurs — a good bet for the top six?
There is a moment to be seized here and I had hoped it would be grasped in the spring and that leading players then might have considered Tottenham as a future project. I spoke about Kylian Mbappe and Isco.
Of course, it’s too late for those kind of players. And, the danger is that whoever Tottenham sign now, it might smack of desperation. But what Rose pointed out in his interview — and it’s instructive to remember that he has been watching the team for six months and so, perhaps, has a different perspective — is that Tottenham don’t have the depth to kick on.
The squad I see, which has done so well, is good enough for the top six. But what is exasperating for the fans is that they sense they are on the cusp of a third title, with a few additions.
I think the players know it, too. They feel there might be something special. And, given the camaraderie, I expect they would love to stay to achieve it.
You have to give enormous credit to Daniel Levy for rebuilding the infrastructure of the club
But once you begin to doubt that the club’s owners think the same, things can fall apart quickly. And it won’t be a small undercurrent of discontent, it will be a groundswell of dismay. They’ve seen the club sell Kyle Walker. If they don’t see that money reinvested, as well as additional money spent, confidence will go.
They will know about the salaries being paid by West Ham, Watford and Palace. All have signings who are thought to be on more than £100,000 a week. Clubs that were involved in relegation battles last season.
So what price a player who is helping his team challenge for the title?
They know they can get more money elsewhere but probably more importantly they will look at Manchester United and Manchester City and feel there is an intent to win trophies. The charisma of Mauricio Pochettino can only hold this together for so long. Promoting players from the ranks has been superb and the fans enjoy the rise of the likes of Harry Kane more than anything.
Let’s hope the academy’s current big hope, Marcus Edwards, gets a few appearances this season.
But those players aren’t ready to go week in, week out in a Premier League that has never been so competitive.
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At some point the goals Tottenham aspire to have to be backed up with ambition and cash. Levy has shown he’s good at selling at the top of the market. Now he needs to show he’s willing to buy at the top of the market. We all know there will be money needed to finance the stadium. But the reality is that Tottenham are so close to a squad that can challenge.
And if they don’t get those players, moving into the new stadium will be like building a grand mansion but not finishing it by putting on the roof.
Deals should have been tied up months ago. The old way, waiting for deadline day to drive the price down, shouldn’t be Tottenham’s way now. Straight away I’d like to see a signing in Ross Barkley or Gylfi Sigurdsson.
The latter is ironic, given that Tottenham let him go two years ago for £7million, so you baulk at paying £45m. But he was played out of position at Spurs on the left. He has developed in his proper role and is a better player.
He’s a set-piece specialist, he’d score more goals than Christian Eriksen, he gets into the box and he has presence. He would put pressure on Eriksen, not to replace him, but to drive him on.
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The point Rose made about the Chelsea bench in the FA Cup against them is also valid. Chelsea brought on Cesc Fabregas, Eden Hazard and Diego Costa. Tottenham don’t have anything like that. And to compete across the competitions, that is what you need.
With Erik Lamela hopefully coming back from injury, there would be an array of talent up front. I’d love to see Barkley playing with Alli, and Eriksen behind Kane.
I keep hearing Tottenham are good enough. And maybe they are for what they were. But they’re not good enough for what they could become.
Because I believe they can win the Premier League in the next few years. We need to see that the club hierarchy believes that too.
Even before Arsenal’s superb contest with Leicester, I had a feeling that the season might be a bit special. The topsy-turvy nature of that game has only increased that feeling.
A couple of years ago Jose Mourinho pointed to the money that clubs such as Crystal Palace were spending to indicate that the ‘other 14’ were closing the gap on the ‘big six’.
You could add clubs like Bournemouth to that mix now. Everton are clearly making a play, West Ham are spending freely and recruiting well. The trend has been for more of the big six teams to slip up against so-called lesser teams in recent years.
I expect that to become the norm this season. If it does, we’re in for an excellent year.
Arsenal beat Leicester but it seems clear the ‘other 14’ are closing on the top six teams