If you take Spurs at face value, they have just built a state-of-the-art stadium, a fantastic manager and a squad that has some exceptional talent with some promising youngsters coming through. Therefore, at face value, you’d have to say the club is in a strong position. The issue with Tottenham though, is that their squad can appear stable once the cracks are papered over but look beneath them and you fear a single injury, departure or even a defeat can be the catalyst to the club fading back into mediocrity. This has been evident with injuries to key players revealing a razor-thin squad-depth; and with Pochettino’s future uncertain, it’s easy to foresee a mass exodus of players if he leaves.
This is why Tottenham making no signings in either of the previous two transfer widows could pose a massive problem for their squad for the next few seasons. Of course, transfer windows are there to add quality, but adding depth to the squad and enforcing competition amongst players for every position is equally as important, especially for a Champions league side like Spurs. The fact that they’re sitting third in the table is a remarkable achievement, but a frustrating example of where Tottenham could be had they invested in their squad.
Given the how many Internationals Tottenham have in their squad, the World Cup should have severely hindered their efforts this season, so it’s a credit to how good this group of players is that they keep turning out result after result. However, it is the tail end of the season where this World Cup hangover may start to set in. Many of their most important players went to the later stages and you’d have to say this may eventually cost them.
In an ideal world you’d imagine in the next transfer window Tottenham would be looking to sign a replacement for Lloris, who following on from a World Cup triumph has been poor by his high standards. They could also sign an elite midfielder to orchestrate their attacks from deep and sign a back-up striker who can give both an option off the bench and rest to Harry Kane when needed. They could take a look at Alban Lafont of Fiorentina in goal, Thiago Alcantara in midfield and Callum Wilson up front. This brings enormous potential, world-class experience and proven Premier League goals into an already well-equipt team. This would give Tottenham a good chance at winning the Premier League in 2019/20, yet in an ever-inflating market and with their non-existent transfer budget, this simply is not currently possible for this club.
So, how can they can they improve this team?
Pochettino has done an incredible job, he’s turned Spurs into a side that is expected to win on a weekly basis; but can he turn them into a successful side? To be a truly successful side you have to be competing and winning the biggest trophies every season and Pochettino, arguably through no fault of his own, has failed in this respect. It’s clear that Spurs lack a winning mentality, no one bar Lloris has won a significant trophy in their career, including Pochettino. So bringing people in, whether it’s backroom staff or players who’ve tasted true success would make a massive difference. Pochettino is still the man to take the team forward but clearly needs some backing from the board. This project is more than just the manager and his team.
When I say this I do not mean solely Daniel Levy. He has taken the club this far and deserves enormous credit for doing so in a period where the market has gotten so out of hand. I’d argue the ones who have to look at their ambitions within the club are Joe Lewis and ENIC.
ENIC currently holds 85.55% of the issued shared capital within the club, with Lewis owning 70.6% and Levy and his estate taking ownership of the remaining 29.4% of ENIC’s shared capital. Taking this into account, you have to imagine that as chairman, Levy has sovereignty over the direction of the club, but under the constraints of a non-negotiable budget agreed with Lewis. So, there seems to be a lack of understanding from Lewis and his team as to the investment required to make make a successful club. An alternative is that he is simply not willing to invest anymore into this project, having just built Tottenham a new stadium. However, why build an exceptional stadium for a mediocre team? Why not ensure that investment pays off by committing to the long-term success of an already talented side?
Spurs are now severely limited in future transfer windows by a £600million black cloud lingering over their new stadium. This enormous debt means transfer investment will be sparse and any future success unlikely. So what, if anything, can be done?
As a majority shareholder, ENIC has given the club an incredible platform in which their current success has been built on, but if they want to compete at the next level, they have to double down on what has already been invested. Levy may be savvy but he cannot perform miracles in the transfer market. Therefore, if there isn’t an injection of new players, the squad will either move elsewhere or decay. It is entirely possible this money may have to come from elsewhere. At 81 years old it is not unreasonable to suggest Lewis may look to sell his shares and cash in on what is an attractive investment. After all, Tottenham is a London-based club steeped in tradition so you’d imagine there would be investors queuing up to buy, but time is of the essence. Too late and the squad would be either too old or depleted and Pochettino would leave and the project would fail. However, if such a sale was possible, the project would be alive, the investment would be realistic and a legacy could be built. It all seems so simple, yet for Spurs nothing ever is.
Such thin margins can define the success or failure of Tottenham’s future, but if there is a certainty, it is that Tottenham cannot move forward without re-energising this squad. This means backing the manager and giving him the players he desperately needs. Tottenham can already compete on the pitch, this will win them games, but compete in the boardroom and they will win trophies.