If this generation of decorated talent such as Harry Kane, Dele Alli and Christian Eriksen doesn’t deliver a major trophy, then they will be remembered in a similar aspect to England’s “golden age”. They’re a team of potential, prospect and promise, who ultimately failed to live up to expectations.
This means Spurs need to learn how to sustain a title challenge for the duration of a season before their key players lose patience and move on to bigger and better things. As committed as Harry Kane is to the cause, another year or two without challenging at the top could tempt their talisman to jump ship. Here we delve into the factors that Spurs must address in order to turn a fairy tale into reality.
In October 2008, Spurs manager Juande Ramos was sacked with Spurs rock-bottom of the Premier League. One Harry Redknapp revival, several top-four finishes and some memorable European nights later, Tottenham find themselves on the verge of something special. Having laid the foundations to become serious title contenders, we take a look at what they need to lift that elusive first Premier League trophy.
Premier League 2018/2019
Building a fortress
The new £850 million Tottenham Hotspur Stadium (subject to naming rights) will boast a 62,062 capacity including the 17,500 seat South Stand based on Borussia Dortmund’s famous “Yellow Wall”. Designed to amplify the noise generated by those passionate home fans, this impressive piece of architecture will provide the atmosphere needed to intimidate the visitors.
When the temporary measures were announced that the Lilywhites would be moving to Wembley for the 2017/18 season, fans feared for the worst. Yet after taking a few games to settle into the home of English football and losing to rivals Chelsea in the process, they haven’t tasted defeat since. But it’s the unconvincing home draws against West Brom, Swansea City and West Ham which Mauricio Pochettino’s side need to convert into victories at their new home.
It’s no coincidence that all but one Premier League champion since 2002/03 has posted the top home record in the division. Ironically, the anomaly here was Spurs’ dominant farewell at White Hart Lane in 2016/17. Replicating this unbeaten home record will be a perfect catalyst to spark a proper title charge.
Defence against the dark arts
Mauricio Pochettino put this season’s Champions League exit, at the hands of Juventus, down to his players being “too nice”. He labelled the Italian giants as “specialists in the dark arts” as they silenced the Wembley crowd with a typically ruthless, yet irritating display. Lessons should be learnt from this performance and shaking their recent cliche of “playing football the right way” might not be the worst thing in the world for Tottenham.
It’s one thing being able to win games playing nice football, but grinding out a 1-0 win from a below average display is what champions are made of. What Spurs can take from the Juventus game is how to get inside an opponent’s head. The Old Lady proved that even the slightest annoyance can throw a team off their game mentally and it can be used as a handy plan B even if it means pushing the boundaries a little. An extra bit of pressure on the referee here and delaying an opponent’s free kick there can go a long way.
Daniel Levy has become known for squeezing every penny of value out of a big name sale. Most notably, the world record breaking (at the time) £85.3 million that took Gareth Bale to Real Madrid in 2013. With the foundations in place for Spurs to become strong title contenders, now is the time for Levy to make some record-breaking purchases of his own.
Tottenham’s current record signings are as follows:
- Davinson Sanchez (£36 million, Ajax)
- Moussa Sissoko (£31.5 million, Newcastle United)
- Roberto Soldado (£27 million, Valencia CF)
- Erik Lamela (£27 million, AS Roma)
- Son Heung-Min (£27 million, Bayer Leverkusen).
The latter, Son Heung-Min, has become a fan favourite amongst the Tottenham faithful after a slow start, he now averages roughly a goal every three games since joining from the Bundesliga. Whilst both Lamela and Sanchez have been valuable squad players and will continue to grow, the list doesn’t strike you as a selection of title-winning players.
The summer marks the perfect time for Spurs to splash the cash on a marquee signing, or two, who will create an instant impact heading into next season. With the proposition of Champions League football and debuting in the new stadium, even the biggest of names will be willing to listen. An influx of experienced talent could spark the extra fire needed to take Spurs to the next level.
Moreover, should Pochettino opt to bolster his squad, which can appear light at times, then signing tried and tested Premier League players should be the way to go. These aren’t the kind of additions that will excite fans but proven top-level performers will relish a new challenge and also aid the development of younger players in the process.
Keeping the current crop
Lloris, Vertonghen, Alderweireld, Dembele, Eriksen, Alli, Son, Kane. The backbone of an ever-improving squad. These Spurs stars have become some of the Premier League’s best and stand-out displays for their national teams in the World Cup will only increase interest from other clubs. Hence it is vital that Tottenham offer improved contracts to their top assets, before one of them leads their nation to World Cup glory.
Equally, if not more important, is manager Mauricio Pochettino. The Argentinian has taken Spurs from strength to strength since being appointed in May 2014. Rumours are circulating that Pochettino is set to be offered a new deal, making him one of the league’s best-paid managers. Real Madrid are expected to come knocking eventually and Chairman Daniel Levy should do everything in his power to make sure Pochettino has all he needs at Spurs.
The opportunity to take the club forward into a new era, marked by the move to the new stadium should be enough to convince anyone to stay. It’s an exciting time to be a Spurs fan and having finally earnt the title of north London’s elite club, finishing above Arsenal should be the least of their worries in the seasons to come as they look to push the Manchester clubs to the wire.