Tottenham 2019 – a classic if-if situation
Although he pays salaries like VfL Wolfsburg and waits even longer for a title, BVB opponent Tottenham believes he is on the final step to becoming Europe’s elite. About a club that finally doesn’t just want to be close.
It goes in the direction of “Vizekusen” what is said about the Tottenham Hotspur. Only a few weeks ago, a TV expert described them as “nearly club” again, as “near-dran club”, i.e. a club that has already reached a cup semi-final or second place in the Premier League, but has been untitled for almost eleven years. And indeed, this club seems to be really close, a promise that has been growing and growing for years. But will it ever be honoured?
The impatience is growing, and you have to imagine that: When he started at White Hart Lane in 2014, coach Mauricio Pochettino once said that club owner Daniel Levy had a vision of turning Tottenham, who had only been in the premier league twice in the previous 50 years, into a top four within five years. Since then, the Spurs have finished fifth, third, second and third, currently only five points behind Liverpool and Manchester City (one more game) and are unlikely to be without a chance in the Champions League round of 16 against Borussia Dortmund. They play attractive football and also trained half of the English national team.
Pochettino has managed to surpass expectations to such an extent that many would resent him if he did not also fulfil the expectations he had created. “We know the reality,” says the 46-year-old Argentinian, “but we can’t expect people to live in the same club and know as much about what’s going on inside the club.” And there’s a lot going on right now.
The transfer balance under Pochettino is not the only unreal value
Although the World Cup in Russia had not put as much strain on any squad in the world as the Spurs’, they were the first team in Premier League history to refrain from any summer transfers and did not upgrade in January when Harry Kane and Dele Alli dropped out and Heung-Min Son now had to play the Asian Cup after the World Cup and the Asian Games. During Pochettino’s tenure, they only spent 40 million euros more on players than they earned – it’s not the only unreal value for a permanent Champion’s League guest from England.
The current UEFA financial report, for example, shows that Tottenham, with 148 million euros, paid only nine million euros more for salaries in the 2017 financial year than VfL Wolfsburg, less than Inter Milan or BVB, around 100 million euros less than Liverpool or Chelsea and almost 200 million euros less than ManCity. Even more eye-catching: Spurs received only 41 percent of its total revenues in salaries, while AS Rome received 83 percent.
The new stadium is still not finished – everything is subordinated to it
And everything has to do with this unspeakable construction site, which has devoured millions and is still devouring them because it simply doesn’t want to be finished and may not be finished this season either: The new – revolutionary – White Hart Lane is the showpiece of this “near-dran club”, which is supposed to close the gap to the Arsenals and Chelseas financially and raise Tottenham to a whole new level: to one of the last clubs missing to be a top club in Europe. Since Pochettino’s arrival, everything has been subordinated to the new stadium: financial and cadre policy and, although it hurts, even title policy.
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“Titles only make you feel good for your ego,” said Pochettino, who hadn’t won a single title as a coach when his team had just been kicked out of both cup competitions within four days. “The most important thing is to play consistently in the Champions League, that helps the club make the last move.” Everything for the Wenger trophy? The headwind that followed was hurricane-like, but Pochettino must have simply understood the modern football world, where you’d rather gamble away the FA Cup than fourth place. (How suddenly the lack of Champions League revenues reduces the possibilities on the transfer market can be seen wonderfully over at Arsenal.)
We’re creating a legacy right now. I see a future where Tottenham wins the title.
But you can’t get rid of the “nearly club” image and have to console yourself with what’s going on: “We’re on the right track because we’re improving every season,” Captain Hugo Lloris just formulated the Tottenham mantra in the “Guardian”. “I hope that we will be rewarded for all these efforts – maybe not this season, maybe next season, maybe the next but one.
Once the stadium is ready for occupancy! When the millions can be put back into the team! Tottenham 2019 – it’s the classic if-if situation. Just a little patience, please. “We’re just creating a legacy,” says Pochettino. “I see a future in which Tottenham will win the title.”
Will Pochettino really let someone else reap what he has sown?
But will he still be there at all? Pochettino, as he himself points out, understands football in “chapters, periods, projects”. And the current project, his project, about which Lloris says “either you like it or you don’t”, is not yet finished. The fear is growing that he will leave it anyway in summer. Even though he extended until 2023 last May, officially wishes to “stay 20 years”, and nobody can quite imagine that he doesn’t want to reap everything he sowed, he never denied the rumours about a farewell to Manchester United or Real Madrid.
And it will be clear to him: if he were to leave now, he might have been close again.