Spurs Champions League Not Enough?

LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 07: Tottenham Hotspur's Son Heung-Min celebrates scoring his side's first goal during the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 Second Leg match between Tottenham Hotspur and Juventus at Wembley Stadium on March 7, 2018 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Rob Newell - CameraSport via Getty Images)

Another Spurs Champions League Qualification? Ho-hum.

Tottenham Hotspur are back in the Champions League for the third consecutive year. Oh, didn’t you hear? Well, I’m sure most of you did, but I suspect many of the ‘fans’ who delight in sneering at Levy, doubting Pochettino, hammering the team and moaning about the absence of trophies are covering their ears while we happy clappers celebrate. That lot come out to spew their vitriol every time Spurs fail to live up to their expectations, mercifully scurrying back into their holes when Real Madrid or Liverpool get a hammering. But, it seems, even the Champions League isn’t good enough for some.

Expectations

You see, to an old Spurs fan like me who’s lived through endless mediocrity, the Second Division, and suffered John Lacy, Ian Moores, Barry Daines and a hundred other nomarks in the Lilywhite shirt, my expectations before Levy finally got it right (and it took him a while) and hired magic man Poch were pitched no higher than a mid-table finish, the odd FA Cup quarter final and a cheeky run in the League Cup. Yes, we’ve won trophies since I started going in 1970. Nine, to be exact. 48 years. Nine, FFS! No dynasties have been created, no enduring competitiveness, the great players (Hoddle excepted) leaving before becoming true legends. And all the while, we’ve been labouring out of a small, tired old stadium not fit for 21st century purpose.

You Don’t Know Suffering

Maybe it’s the younger fans who are so ready to criticise. They haven’t suffered, you see. They remember the flying Bale and the Champions League quarter final, not the plodding Andy Sinton and relegation. They moan about the new stadium as though it evinces a lack of focus, the absence of star buys, the wage structure that means Spurs will lose the odd star. They don’t buy into ‘the project’. All they want is silverware. I suspect some would settle for an FA Cup win every ten years, a knackered stadium and a managerial revolving door.

Wealth and The Master Plan

Of course Spurs is a rich club, but it is also sensibly run. That’s why it’s rich. Duh. And it’s continuing to accumulate the value, heft and kudos which will enable it to compete with the best. Yes, Levy will sell up one day, but the idiots who accuse him of being tight, of prioritising profit over success, miss the point. It’s in his interest to turn the club into a European giant, one that customarily wins major trophies. That’s the only way to maximise profits and sell high.

Superstars or Development? Or Both?

But oh how we all yearn for a superstar. Or two. We recognise the need to go big, to take the next step. A returning Bale or a Griezemann might tip Spurs over the edge towards greatness. And Pochettino’s recent mumblings about ‘me or the next one’ suggest that his continued commitment is dependent on the club going the extra mile. That said, there’s something romantic about buying promising players, developing and improving them within the context of a successful team – Alli, Sanchez, Trippier, Dier and Eriksen come to mind – and giving home grown talents a chance to shine.

Poch And The Project

Do the Levy haters really want to watch a characterless bunch of zillionaire mercenaries? And should the club bow to pressure from existing squad members to double their pay? I don’t blame any footballer for wanting to maximise his income. It’s a short career, after all. But Toby Alderweireld and Danny Rose have evinced an absence of loyalty, while Alli, Kane, Eriksen and others, who could easily agitate for big money, super-salaried moves, are still there. Why?

I may be wrong, but I sense that most of the Spurs squad actually love being part of the ‘project’; they’ve bought into the bigger picture. And they’re playing for the shirt. We sing about Harry being ‘one of our own’ because we feel his connection with the club, recognise it as being as heartfelt as our own. We can spot the venal, vacuous, badge kissers from a mile off. So, yes, a Griezemann or a Bale would be welcome, but only if they buy into the project. It’s all about the team.

A bit of video pitched up on Twitter showing Kyle Walker-Peters and Paulo Gazzaniga, respectively Spurs’s third choice full back and goalkeeper, waiting at the side of the pitch following the win against Newcastle to congratulate every member of the side. They get it, you see.

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