In the past 18 months there has been a massive overhaul at White Hart Lane. Mauricio Pochettino has come in and had to address several problems which hindered the club’s progress in recent seasons. Some of these problems included players who didn’t care for Spurs, individuals who chose when they wanted to put effort in and certain players who simply weren’t good enough to take the club to where they wanted to be. Fans were continuously, not only let down, but embarrassed by Spurs’ performances. From losing three times in the same season to London Rivals Arsenal and West Ham, to being humiliated home and away to Manchester City, to being thrashed twice at the hands of Liverpool – quite simply, not being good enough to compete with the big boys.
Fast forward two seasons.
Now things are different. Almost unrecognisable to the Tottenham of two seasons ago. Almost unrecognisable to the Tottenham that have continuously let fans down. Almost unrecognisable to the Tottenham that would give up as soon as the going got tough. Almost unrecognisable to the Tottenham that the bigger clubs would look at and say ‘three easy points.’ A new identity. A team that is now fearless, hardworking and gives their all whenever they put on the famous Blue and White colours. The supporters have never felt so close to the club in years, and as a younger Spurs fan, I’ve certainly never felt this attached to a Spurs side in my life. One thing Mauricio Pochettino has certainly done is that he has laid the basic foundations for the club to be seriously challenging in every competition they’re in, whether that is domestically or in Europe.
For seasons upon seasons, the White Hart Lane faithful have gone into the Premier League campaign hoping for Spurs to finish in the top four, even when it seemed like we were punching slightly above our weight – especially with the likes of the two Manchester clubs, Chelsea and Arsenal having stronger sides and having good depth in their squad.
Not this season. With so many teams in the league being as inconsistent as they are, Spurs can definitely sense their biggest opportunity to finish in the top four and bring Champions League football back to White Hart Lane for one last time before moving to their new stadium in 2019.
But can we finish higher than just fourth?
The inconsistency amongst many teams in the league this season certainly suggests we can. Arsenal, Leicester, ourselves and City are currently in the top four as we enter the turn of the year. Halfway through the season and we consolidated our place in the top four with a win at home to Norwich and a hard fought victory away at Quique Flores’ Watford, whilst Crystal Palace drew two straight games and Manchester United were comprehensively beaten away at Stoke before their annual 0-0 bore fest with Chelsea at Old Trafford.
Now we only look at the places above us in the table.
Anything is possible in football with just a little bit of belief, especially if you have a team full of warriors that are willing to do everything it takes to win each and every game. The mentality that Pochettino has instilled in these players is immense – the never say die attitude that we saw numerous times last season and in the recent win at Watford and outrunning most of our opponents over the course of 90 minutes this season.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that I think Tottenham will win the title this season, but I definitely believe we have enough quality in our team to challenge for it. A certain wise man once said, “It’s better to fail aiming high, than to succeed aiming low” and I think the players should take inspiration from that.
Realistically, I believe that we are one back up striker for Harry Kane and another (experienced) defensive midfielder away from standing a very good opportunity of finishing in the top three. At the moment, we are one Harry Kane or an Eric Dier/Dele Alli injury away from being in serious trouble. If we address these issues in January and make one or two additions in certain areas of the team, I honestly believe we will put ourselves in a very good position to be in and around the race for the title in weeks and months to come.
However, our involvement in the FA Cup and our participation in Europa League could play a deciding factor in regards to us being in the title race in the coming months. Whilst we have squad depth, I do think that we lack quality in depth. Playing Thursday night games in the Europa League and then playing on the following Sunday in the Premier League could prove to be a tricky test for Pochettino and his players. Usually, I’d always want to see Spurs battle in Europe as well as in the league, but I don’t think we’ll be able to mount a challenge for the title whilst being involved in the Europa League. For this reason, and for the first time ever, I wouldn’t mind seeing Spurs exit the Europa League if it means that we’ll be in the title race towards the end of the season. I usually fancy our chances of qualifying to the Champions League through winning the Europa League, but because of the inconsistency of many teams in the league this season, I think the league is a much less complicated route for us to take into the Champions League.
If we aim for the moon and fall amongst the stars, I’m sure not many of us will be too downhearted by that.
After an amazing 2015 filled with plenty of memories and learning curves, here’s to an even more exciting 2016.
Up the Tottenham!