Sunday, September 23, 2018

Has Tottenham progressed this season?

David Nugent in Editorial, English Premier League 11 May 2018

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Tottenham will finish in the top-four of the Premier League for a third straight season after a narrow 1-0 win over Newcastle on Wednesday night. All Spurs have to do to ensure a spot in the Champions League group stage is to beat Leicester at home in the final game of the season.

Have Spurs really progressed?

Spurs are often praised for their style of play. The north London side does play a good brand of football. They have no doubt progressed in the last four years under boss Mauricio Pochettino.

However, some would say what do Spurs have to show for their efforts this season. They are now a decade without a trophy. The north London club has also not progressed from last season, despite what club insiders say.

Last season Spurs accrued 86 points and finished second to champions Chelsea. They looked like the real deal when it came to challenging for the title. However, this season their upward trajectory has somewhat stalled on the field. Star striker Harry Kane has recently stated that he believes that finishing in the top-four in the Premier League this season is Pochettino’s biggest achievement. That is highly debatable, though.

This season has been one of the worst in recent history for the quality of teams. Manchester City have stood above the rest, while the others have been playing catch up. Even second-place Manchester United have not pulled up any trees. Goalkeeper David de Gea has had to be at his best to keep the Red Devils in their lofty position.

Then there is Liverpool, fantastic in attack, but at the start of the season couldn’t defend to save their lives. On paper, Tottenham are probably the second-best team in the league in terms of balance, but it could be argued that they have stood still this season. If you are standing still then you are not moving forward.

Maybe Pochettino has taken them as far as he can

In terms of achievement, Pochettino guiding Spurs to three consecutive top-four finishes is a big one. The Argentinian is highly-rated and has maybe been a victim of his own success.

As an outsider, I was hoping that Pochettino could win the title with Tottenham. The main reason for my hope was that it would be against the financial odds. The likes of Manchester City, Manchester United and Chelsea spend far more money on signing players and even wages than Spurs.

To steal a line from David Moyes, Pochettino has been bringing a knife to a gunfight at times in recent seasons. However, as he has produced such good results everybody keeps expecting more.

That is where I am with Tottenham. I am not a Tottenham fan, but it would be great to see the north London side beat the moneyed sides to the title. I actually feel frustration for Spurs as an outsider, which is quite strange.

Maybe Pochettino has hit a glass ceiling and he cannot win the title. Maybe the odds are just too great against the Lilywhites overcoming such financial might elsewhere. Tottenham is run as a business, so the club are never going to be lavishing money on players, especially as they are also building a stadium.

If I were Pochettino, I would be looking at bosses of clubs with bigger resources and thinking ‘What could I do with that sort of money?’ or ‘What sort of team could I produce with resources like that?’ It is no wonder that Pochettino has been linked with a number of high profile jobs at clubs willing to spend more money on players.

Third-place is a decent finish in the circumstances

Tottenham are odds of 1/3 to beat Leicester on Sunday and claim third spot this season. The north London team have maintained their top-four spot against the odds through good management from Pochettino mostly.

The fact that Spurs’ net spend since Pochettino took over in 2014 is just £50million, shows just how well the club has done to maintain such a lofty position in the table. It is difficult to quantify progress. However, the bare statistics suggest that Spurs have not progressed from last season, yet they continue to challenge the big spenders at the top of the table.

No doubt, there is frustration in some quarters that Spurs have not yet kicked on to winning silverware. However, Pochettino has pushed the club and team forward in his four years in charge. Unfortunately, unless the club decides to back him in the transfer market, then I fear that the Argentinian may decide to chance his arm elsewhere in an attempt to win the big trophies.

Has Tottenham progressed this season?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

David Nugent


David is a freelance football writer with nearly a decade of experience writing about the beautiful game. The experienced writer has written for over a dozen websites and also an international soccer magazine offline.
Arguably his best work has come as an editorial writer for Soccernews, sharing his good, bad and ugly opinions on the world’s favourite sport. During David’s writing career he has written editorials, betting previews, match previews, banter, news and opinion pieces.

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