Spurs ran Leicester City so very close in the 2015-16 season and they have the tools to go again this term, despite the massive investment of the likes of Manchester United
Tottenham’s aim this season is simple: win the Premier League title.
Spurs came so close in 2015-16 and yet finished so far behind Leicester City that the history books will show it was Arsenal, those bitterest of rivals, who actually ran the Foxes the closest in the most ridiculous season in living memory.
That doesn’t quite tell the whole story, however. Spurs may not have captured the hearts of those who flocked behind Leicester as they clamoured to see Claudio Ranieri’s miracle men upset the established order, but they played some intoxicating football throughout the 2015-16 season, dishing out thrashings to Manchester City and Manchester United and developing such precocious young talents as Dele Alli and Eric Dier.
Ultimately a failure to take points off mid-table teams cost Mauricio Pochettino’s men; Spurs lost twice to a wretched Newcastle United side, including a humbling 5-1 thrashing on the last day of the season, and were also beaten by West Ham – on a night when Spurs could have gone top – and Southampton. Spurs also drew twice with West Brom, and had to settle for a point against Stoke City, Everton and Swansea City.
‘Spursy’ is a term often bandied around by rival supporters with the art of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory has become a Spurs staple and the most disappointing results came towards the end of the season. Before the club’s fatal 1-1 draw with the Baggies at White Hart Lane in April, Spurs had lost just four games all season. They then conspired to collapse at St James’ Park and lose on their home farewell to the Saints.
A third-placed finish will have stung Pochettino and his players, but the building blocks are in place for Spurs to go again, and to do it better. The club have recruited smartly this summer, signing Victor Wanyama and Vincent Janssen for a combined fee of £28 million, proving that value for money still exists in a transfer market inflated by the biggest clubs.
They also have the youngest squad in the league, and Alli, Dier and Harry Kane provide a fearsome English core, while Hugo Lloris remains one of the best goalkeepers in Europe. Toby Alderweireld, too, now has a season under his belt and will hope to further his claim to be one of the best central defenders in the Premier League after an almost flawless debut campaign.
Pochettino is a progressive manager and demands fierce loyalty from his players; he has jettisoned the likes of Nabil Bentaleb and Andros Townsend for failing to fall in line, and his ruthless streak has only served to impassion, rather than alienate, his squad.
Of course it must be noted that Tottenham still have deficiencies; Christian Eriksen is a terrific, if inconsistent, playmaker and could do with being rotated more throughout the season such is his habit of fading as the campaign progresses. And though Kevin Wimmer proved himself a more than adequate deputy for Jan Vertonghen last season, the inexperienced Cameron Carter-Vickers is untested at the highest level and appears the next in line should an injury crisis befall the club’s defence. Further investment would not go amiss.
The fees within the Premier League are now bordering on the ridiculous – Paul Pogba and John Stones have moved to Manchester United and Manchester City for a combined £136.5m – but Spurs must look to recruit from a position of strength.
The staggering investment of their rivals, however, may well prove somewhat pyrrhic when the season begins; Pochettino has the blessing of a settled squad and will already have a good idea of what his starting XI will be when his players visit Everton this weekend.
As such, it is vital that Spurs start quickly and do not look back. Their title rivals will indeed need time to gel, but once they click it is hard to envisage them all reliving their disappointing 2015-16 campaigns.
Should Spurs get out in front early on then they have a very real chance of competing for and, maybe, just maybe, winning the Premier League.
The transfers may be grabbing the headlines ahead of the start of the Premier League, but Spurs have built quietly and efficiently and are champing at the bit to get going again.
After Leicester City’s remarkable triumph, Spurs will feel emboldened to go again and launch another assault against the establishment.
It remains to be seen if Pochettino’s young side can prove that money does not buy you glory, but they will certainly give it their all.