The spring months are more often than not the definitive ones for Tottenham fans, often well placed and ready to kick on, they slowly and painfully watch on as their season disintegrates before them. If Premier League football were a video game, Spurs would undoubtedly be pressing that save button with haste at the turn of the year.
Spurs may well be out of both domestic cup competitions, but they are again set for a tilt at the league crown as well as an appetising European adventure. With fans of Spurs notorious for their volatile swings between optimism and cynicism, what should the club’s focus be as we begin the run in?
It is the same question that has been nagging the club for years; do they go all out for that coveted fourth place or focus on cup success and silverware. The upbeat may well suggest that Spurs have the squad to achieve both, but given the misery of previous seasons I think this a little hopeful. The issue is divisive with some longing for a return to big time European football with the promise of financial riches, whilst the traditionalists still hang onto the lure of eternal footballing glory.
They’ve had a taste of Champions League, they liked it and they want more of it, but for me it shouldn’t be a case of qualification at all costs. The White Hart Lane faithful cling nostalgically to the fact “the game is about glory”, doing things in a certain way and achieving acclaim and recognition in the process, it is far more than about just finishing in the top four. The problem with AVB wasn’t so much results, although defeats to City and Liverpool would have stung, it was more the way in which things were done, there wasn’t the same vim and vigour of past regimes.
It seems apt in the week that Bill Nicholson would have turned 95th that we look at what being ambitious really means for Spurs. My view is that winning trophies always comes first, a fixation with finishing fourth is something you are more likely to see from the red half of North London, and if Spurs fans are going to be so quick to belittle their neighbours they need to take a hard look at themselves.
Spurs teams of the past have rarely been applauded for their league exploits but the view has always been to succeeding in cup football, especially on the continent. Of course the double winning side of 1960/61 are held in the highest regard, but in general the teams that make up the clubs prominent history are grounded in cup success.
Spurs fans that put Europa League success ahead of Champions League qualification are goaded and treated as clueless, but I think they have a point. The Redknapp Champions League charge was great at the time, but will it really live all that long in the memory?
The League cup is often treated with distain, but if anything that 08 success under Juande Ramos is likely to be remembered just as long as Redknapp’s exploits.
The press and media continue to say how important it is to be in the Champions League, and from a financial point of view I can accept that. But as a football fan aside from the threat of bankruptcy, you shouldn’t care about the balance sheet anymore than you do about what your side does on the pitch.
Tottenham fans keep telling us how different they are from Arsenal, but if this obsession with 4th place continues they are going to be exactly the same. Trophies are what really should matter in football, and if I were a Tottenham fan I would far rather see my team celebrating Europa League football in Turin, than have a summer looking forward to another Champions League playoff somewhere in the frozen depths of Eastern Europe.