Tottenham and the Changing Definition of Progress

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - MARCH 7: coach Mauricio Pochettino of Tottenham Hotspur during the UEFA Champions League match between Tottenham Hotspur v Juventus at the Wembley Stadium on March 7, 2018 in London United Kingdom (Photo by Laurens Lindhout/Soccrates/Getty Images)

This week, Juventus knocked Tottenham out of the Champions League by an aggregate score of 4-3. As is the nature of modern football and social media the club have been mocked mercilessly by rival fans. However, considering the progress the club has made in recent years, going from a mid-table side to champions league regulars with a relatively small budget, should the club not be commended for getting themselves in that position?

The New Progress Barometer

League rivals Manchester City also began to progress at the same time as Tottenham. The Manchester club has won two league titles and five domestic cups since 2008. During the same period, Tottenham have not won a single trophy. The main difference between the sides is the Arab sheikh funding the Manchester side.

In the decade since Sheik Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan purchased the club, they have spent around one billion pounds on transfers. This is nearly £200 million more than Tottenham have spent since the Premier League began in 1992. There seems to be a smugness about their club and many are quick to forget that before the Arab takeover they were a mid-table side who were in regular relegation scraps and were even a league one side as recently as 1998.


The idea that the likes of Tottenham and Man City are comparable is ridiculous. They are on two different planets financially. It would be impossible for Tottenham to follow a PSG, Man City or Chelsea model without a third world dictator financing the club. Tottenham should be applauded, not mocked, for their transfer dealings. Targeting youth players, like Alli and Eriksen, and bringing academy players through, like Kane and Winks, is savvy business.

Liverpool is the club who are most credited with a style similar to Tottenham’s in terms of philosophy and spending. Yet, even they have blown the North London side out of the water financially. Spending £75 million on a centre-back in January and nearly equaling Spurs transfer record by signing Chamberlain. Chamberlain was an Arsenal bench player and struggles to make the Liverpool first XI.

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Following the defeat to Juventus, the usual suspects were quick to jump onto the Tottenham players backs. “Bottlers”,”put the pressure on”, “x,y and z are off to Madrid” and the usual nonsense was spouted. For some reason, there seems to be no patience with clubs anymore. When a club like Spurs begins to make progress, there is an instant expectation of silverware. The likes of PSG and Man City only achieved that due to their transfer spending. It allowed them to buy already world class players straight away. In contrast, Tottenham still cannot afford to buy this calibre of player and instead must focus on young players with potential.

For the moral smugness that many rival fans, players and managers take when berating the perceived “diving” by Tottenham players, it is unusual that so many of them and people in the media seem to want the club to fail in their attempt to build a great side as opposed to following the modern approach of simply buying success.

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