When Mauricio Pochettino and Tottenham failed to sign a single player in the summer, many wondered how the team will cope with the competition heading into the new campaign.
After London rivals Arsenal and Chelsea reinforced starting from the dugout, to prevent a recurrence of last season’s failure to make the top four, others especially Tottenham were expected to make signings of their own in response.
But despite making an approach for a few targets like Aston Villa’s Jack Grealish, the club was not able to make any new additions to the squad.
Hence the side was expected to struggle this season. To make matters worse, several key players have spent time on the treatment table so far. From Dele Alli to Christian Eriksen, Jan Vertonghen and Davidson Sanchez, they’ve all been sidelined at one point or another.
Yet, Pochettino has found a way to get the best from the available players. To put that into perspective, all of the top six candidates spent considerable amounts in the summer. League leaders Liverpool spent the most and even broke club records with transfer fees paid. José Mourinho moaned all season of his inability to reinforce his defence blaming it for the team’s woes. This was despite the fact that United signed a couple of players including Fred for about £52 million.
The Argentine manager took the opposite approach. Instead of complaining about the lack of reinforcements and using it as an excuse for poor performance, he set out to manage his available players and get the best out of them. These are players who were assembled with far less resources than those at Old Trafford.
Spurs went to Manchester United and humbled the Red Devils 3-0 as if to make a point. But the team did not stop there. With only four defeats in 18 matches so far which has enabled the side to reach 42 points so early, the team is exceeding expectations. Spurs now sit third on the league table just two points behind reigning champions Manchester City and six behind leaders Liverpool.
That puts the team firmly in the title race. And surprisingly too. But perhaps the biggest surprise this season has been qualifying for the knockout stage of the Champions League against all odds. Needing at least four points to progress in the competition with two games to go, the team defeated Inter Milan at home and held Barcelona to a 1-1 draw at the Camp Nou to make it through.
A date with in form Borussia Dortmund now awaits in the next round. Spurs will fancy their chances against the German side.
However, the League Cup presents the biggest chance to end a decade’s trophy drought. Coincidentally, that’s the last silverware won by the club. Spurs are now in the semi-finals and got there in dramatic fashion thrashing bitter north London rivals Arsenal 2-0 at the Emirates Stadium to inflict only a second loss to Unai Emery’s side in 24 matches.
They will face Maurizio Sarri’s Chelsea in the semi-finals and given the Italian manager’s inexperience having never won a trophy before as well, that can go any way.
Going by the progress made by the Lillywhites this season, Pochettino has a good chance of winning his first trophy both with the club and as a manager. Tottenham remains a contender for a trophy in all competitions and the manager and players have done a good job so far that deserves silverware. It will signify a deserved crowning of their efforts with the appropriate reward.
It will also break a cycle of disappointments that has lasted over a decade giving the supporters, players and club hierarchy alike assurance of a more successful decade ahead.