Why Tottenham Hotspur Face a Critical Four Months

LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 24: Eric Dier of Tottenham Hotspur is consoled by his team after missing his penalty in the shootout during the Carabao Cup Semi-Final Second Leg match between Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur at Stamford Bridge on January 24, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Chris Brunskill/Fantasista/Getty Images)

Under Mauricio Pochettino, Tottenham Hotspur have flourished. They have been a regular top-four side and have produced some of the most exciting young players in the Premier League. Yet, they still have nothing tangible to show for their endeavours. No trophies, no titles and questions over investment on the playing staff.

After another cup semi-final defeat (the eighth consecutive semi final defeat), Last Word on Football looks into why Tottenham Hotspur face a critical four months.

Tottenham Hotspur Face a Critical Four Months

Critical Time

The rumours surrounding the Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino have quietened somewhat due to the start Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has made at Manchester United. They have not, and will not, go away, though, no mater how much Spurs’ fans would like them to.

The loss on penalties to Chelsea in the Carabao Cup was hard to take. It was a squad torn apart by injury and at its bare bones. Consequently, the defeat again puts focus on Daniel Levy’s stubborn transfer policy. Mauricio Pochettino said in the summer that he was ‘so happy’ with his squad. In January he has again said the same. How can this squad get through the next four critical months and achieve success, though?

A Mix-Match of Fixtures

Between now and May, Pochettino’s men have what look like some favourable fixtures. League games against Watford, Burnley, Southampton, Brighton, Crystal Palace and Huddersfield are all games where, even with injuries, three points should be on the cards. Around those games are two legs of the last 16 of the Champions League against Borussia Dortmund, away trips to Manchester City, Chelsea and Liverpool as well as the small matter of the North London Derby, which looks likely to be played at Wembley stadium rather then the new White Hart Lane.

The North London side’s next game is away to Crystal Palace in the FA Cup. So why is the next four months critical?

Overachieving Can Only Last So Long

With a low net spend, a strong academy and a manager who nurtures youth, Tottenham are considered to be overachieving; punching above their weight in terms of money spent and playing staff. Just how long can ENIC run the club keep using that as an excuse, though? An excuse for a lack of success on the pitch. The way that Daniel Levy runs the club is seen by many as commendable and a business model to be admired. In an era where clubs are run on large debts, it is refreshing to see a Premier League club show caution and not place itself on the brink of bankruptcy.

Yet, there is also an argument that without investment in the squad, it will be hard to take the next step. The new stadium will be ready for next season, if not before the end of this season, and it will generate extra revenue, but will that be guaranteed to be put back into the squad? A new stadium, and one that looks outstanding, is all well and good but what if when Tottenham get there, they are not in the Champions League? Will fans, the club, turn round and say it doesn’t matter because we have overachieved? Surely the overachievement would come once Spurs become winners of cups and titles.

Winning is a Habit

The word ‘loser’ is a harsh word. ‘Winner’ is much more palatable. Tottenham have a team who win lots of games; a squad that has created memorable nights such as beating Real Madrid at Wembley last season and playing Barcelona off the park in their own back yard in this season’s Champions League.

Winning, though, also needs to have substance. As good a manager as Pochettino is, he is yet to win a trophy with Tottenham. This squad is yet to win a trophy. They need to show they can take the next step. One trophy was the springboard for Sir Alex Ferguson and Manchester United. Just one trophy can set a club on the road to sustained and glorious success. Tottenham Hotspur are close but fall at the last hurdle too often.

Four Months to Glory?

Mauricio Pochettino’s side have a glorious chance to really overachieve this season. The FA Cup is still there to be won and the Champions League must be a target. There is no point being in any competition in sport and thinking ‘we can’t win that’.

Would Pep Guardiola, Sir Alex Ferguson, Jose Mourinho have won so many trophies without the masses of investment at their disposal? We will never know but as talented a manager as they all were/are, they were backed continuously with transfers- especially when they were so clearly needed. Nobody is saying that Levy should stop focusing on youth. Pochettino believes in that philosophy passionately.

Tottenham have four months in which to show they really are winners. Four critical months to take Champions League football ‘home’, put some silverware in the cabinet for the first time in nearly 11 years and also prove to their best players why they should stay and, more importantly, show the manager why he should stay.

Yes, Spurs may have overachieved, but they have done so on a budget that they have chosen to operate under. With a billionaire owner in Joe Lewis, it is surely not the case that money isn’t there. Prudence is fine. Surely though, some investment is needed to help Pochettino bring serious glory back to the white side of North London.

Make no mistake, the next four months could not only define a season. They could define an entire future for one football club. Maybe there is no better time to follow their motto: Audere Est Facere – To Dare is To Do.

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