Saturday’s 2-1 defeat to Manchester United was a hard one to take for Spurs fans. An eighth successive loss in FA Cup semi-final appearances had many fans reeling with anger and disappointment. The disappointment is justified. However, perhaps the reactions were not. Both Pochettino and Levy received hefty criticism. Pochettino for his pre-match comments playing the importance of the cup down, as well as leaving both Lloris and Alderweireld out of the team. Levy received even more criticism. Levy is said to be holding the club back due to insufficient funding given to Pochettino. However, fans must remember Pochettino’s progress at Tottenham.
Pochettino’s Progress Must be Respected
When analysing the criticism, it is important to look at the condition Spurs were in before the arrival of Pochettino. The 2013-14 season saw Spurs finish sixth. There were some notable results along the way. Spurs lost both North London derbies, also losing 4-0 and 5-0 in their games against Liverpool. Spurs also lost 5-1 and 6-0 to Manchester City, whilst also being thumped 4-0 Chelsea. Perhaps most shockingly, they lost 3-0 at home to West Ham. It’s fair to say that the club were significantly below the standard of the league’s top teams, both in terms of quality and mentality. The lack of quality is understandable when you look at the names within the squad. The bench Tim Sherwood selected for his final game in charge included Friedel, Soldado, Fryers, Pritchard, Bentaleb and Velikovic. There were also starting places for Kyle Naughton, Vlad Chiriches and Paulinho.
Pochettino’s arrival has resulted in continuous progression. The quality of the squad is on an entirely different level to the one he inherited. In addition, the mentality has changed. This season Spurs have beaten Arsenal, Chelsea (away!), Liverpool, Manchester United, Real Madrid, Dortmund and drawn away at Juventus. Spurs are also odds-on to finish in the top four for a third successive season. This is all away from White Hart Lane, which provided form of 17 wins and two draws from 19 league matches last season. This is also without Walker, and largely without Rose and Alderweireld. This season was going to be a transitional one from the start. However, no one should discount the success Tottenham currently enjoys. Pochettino’s progress in North London is impressive.
The argument many Spurs fans are presenting is not that the club has had a poor season. Rather, that potential is being wasted. This is a view largely driven by the media, who persistently analyse the need for Spurs to win a trophy under Pochettino to be considered a success. Modern day media and the introduction of social media outlets, such as Twitter, have distorted the criteria for success. Trophies are important, of course. However, Spurs are now stable. This is real success. The new stadium will increase revenue and will attract players. The current squad’s value is up there with the elite in Europe. Champions league football is becoming a formality. Spurs also possess a manager of whom any young player in the world would be desperate to play under. Spurs are undoubtedly moving in the right direction and trophies will come.
Pushing On For Next Season
Whilst stability is here, it is time now to push on. By moving into the new stadium, Spurs are entering the next stage of the “project”. With the foundations set, Tottenham could reach the next level through investment. Arguably, Spurs are just one or two world class players away from seriously contending on all fronts. The club needs to invest. However, fans shouldn’t get too carried away. The £42m purchase of the 21-year-old centre back, Davinson Sanchez, shows Spurs are willing to spend. Yet thinking Spurs are financially capable of matching the spending of Manchester City or Manchester United is living in a fantasy world. The funds are simply not available. The earlier close of the transfer window will benefit Spurs, however. Tottenham should look to get deals done early to avoid another sloppy start to the season and continue Pochettino’s progress.
Taking Some Perspective
Ultimately, the club’s success under Pochettino has driven expectations to an all-time high. This isn’t necessarily a negative. High expectations keep the club from stagnating. However, when slating Levy and Pochettino, fans should remember we are entering the most exciting period of Spurs’ Premier League life. Fans were jubilant when Martin Jol delivered Europa League football. This would now be a disaster. Yes, Spurs haven’t won a trophy for another year. Sir Alex Ferguson didn’t win a trophy for three years at Manchester United. Establishing a quality team built for longevity takes time. Simply piling money in gaining initial success isn’t always the best model. Just look at the damage Mourinho has left behind at a number of clubs.
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