Tottenham Hotspur are a good team. An excellent team, even. But are they at a place where they should be expecting to win trophies?
Not quite yet.
Because to win trophies, you need a lot of factors to be on your side, and that doesn’t seem to be the case this season.
First, let’s look at some positives. Tottenham’s transfer window this past summer seemed to target almost all of the positions where they needed support. Fernando Llorente from Swansea finally gave Spurs a backup striker who was proven in the Premier League, while the arrival of Davinson Sánchez from Ajax could give fellow center-backs Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen some much-needed rest.
Serge Aurier from PSG was another excellent signing that allowed Spurs to immediately replace the vacancy left by Kyle Walker’s move to rivals Manchester City. Although the loss of a key player to a title rival was a hit to Tottenham’s status as a top team in England, the signing of a top player from a European giant helped reinforce their place amongst the best.
So, going into the season, after finishing 2nd the year before, things looked good for Tottenham. Now that we’re about a third of the way through the 2017-18 season, let’s look at Tottenham’s chances of lifting a trophy.
Yikes, I picked a rough starting point. After defeating Barnsley 1-0 in their first round of the cup, Spurs fell to West Ham, losing 3-2 at home. So I would say their chances in this competition aren’t looking good for the season.
It could easily be argued that this cup is nowhere near Mauricio Pochettino’s top priorities for this season, so a loss here is nothing to lose sleep over.
Fun fact: Tottenham’s last trophy actually came in the League Cup in 2008, when they defeated Chelsea 2-1 in the first League Cup final played at the new Wembley Stadium. Looks like there won’t be a ten-year anniversary.
Tottenham have had a very solid start to the Premier League. Six wins, two draws, and two losses leaves them in third place behind the Manchester clubs. 19 goals scored and 7 conceded with an average possession of 58% shows that they have not struggled with playing at Wembley as much as some might have thought.
Before a recent 1-0 away loss to Manchester United, Spurs had won four in a row. The strong defense that characterized Spurs last season has yet to return in full force, but the club are hitting their stride at an important stage in the season.
Their only two losses came against their title rivals (United and Chelsea), so Tottenham need to turn their draws at home into wins and they’ll be on the right track.
The big blue obstacle standing in their way is none other than: Manchester City. And what an obstacle they are. The current league leaders have incredible depth, the ability to score a boatload of goals from every position, and a manager who only knows how to win in Pep Guardiola.
And if Spurs somehow manage to overcome those titans, then they will have the Red Devils to contend with. Injury problems have held them back recently, but Jose Mourinho is a manager who knows how to navigate a long Premier League season, proving another massive title rival to the North London club.
Tottenham are one of the best teams in England. But sometimes, you just fall short of a team that’s bigger and better equipped than you. And that’s okay for now.
We’re really setting our sights high here, aren’t we.
But Tottenham have actually done really well in Europe, especially compared to last season’s group stage exit. They currently lead their group with 10 points from 4 games, including dominant 3-1 home wins against Borussia Dortmund and defending champions Real Madrid. A 1-1 away draw against Madrid also helped Spurs stake a claim as a legitimately top team in Europe.
But now that they’ve booked a spot in the knockout rounds, where do they go from here? While England is seeing a resurgence in quality in the Champions League, winning the darned thing is a lot to ask of even the best teams in the world.
Even though some of the historically top teams have struggled this season, and even if the luck of the draw was on their side, Spurs will have trouble realistically challenging for the Champions League this season against the best teams in Europe. Their positive results are quite promising for the future, though, so I guess there’s always a silver lining.
Recently, the FA Cup has been a sort of fallback competition for a certain other North London club, but there’s no reason why Spurs couldn’t challenge for this trophy as well.
Anything can happen in a cup, so even though the likes of United, City, and Chelsea will be lurking in the draw, Tottenham can rely on their quality and a little luck to pull out some results against anyone they come up against.
And if Spurs do encounter one of the big boys, perhaps the FA Cup will be lower on their priority list, allowing Tottenham to capitalize.
The FA Cup is the competition that’s hardest to predict at the moment, but as the season goes on and as we reach the later rounds, it will become clearer which teams are taking it seriously and which have a realistic shot at winning it.
“Okay, Michael. I get it. But since you’re such a know-it-all, what do Tottenham need to succeed?”
You got me. That one’s a bit harder to nail down. But what I do know is that overall, Spurs have a thrilling team full of youth and talent. While titles might not be in their immediate future, I would argue that it’s perfectly okay. As the team continues to impress and remain amongst the top teams in England, they will gain momentum and their ambitions will become reality.
Because what this team has more of than most teams is not money or flashy players, but consistency. The club has a clear vision and they have been working towards achieving it for a while now. And they never take steps backwards.
So, as long as that’s the case, what does it matter how long they take to move forward? After 10 years of growth, with a new stadium on the way, some of the hottest English talent around, and one of the best tactical managers in Europe, what is one more year without a trophy going to matter in the long run?
Only time will tell (Aren’t clichés fun?).