Out of the ‘Big Six’ in the Premier League last season, Tottenham can claim they over-achieved the most.
The North-London side managed to finish in second despite having the youngest average age in the league and losing top scorer Harry Kane for eight games due to injury.
Only Chelsea, a side with considerably more resources and a talented squad (albeit one which miserably underachieved under Jose Mourinho) have the bragging rights of finishing above a Spurs side that seems to be growing in stature and confidence yearly under Mauricio Pochettino.
Only Liverpool – back in the Champions League for only the second time in eight seasons – will look back on their 2016/17 league campaigns with similar pride.
Manchester City failed to win any trophies under Pep Guardiola and would have hoped for more of a title challenge under the decorated Spaniard, while both Arsenal and Manchester United missed out on the top four – the former for the first time in two decades.
Yet while things looked miserable a few weeks ago for the Gunners and Red Devils, their respective FA Cup and Europa League successes have added a sheen to their seasons. For Mourinho, qualifying for the Champions League by beating Ajax even vindicates an unspectacular league campaign that clearly became a nuisance rather than a priority.
Despite their success on the pitch, Spurs fans may well, ironically, be looking at next season with the least optimism.
Chelsea, who looked a shadow of their former selves just 12 months ago, look reinvigorated and ready to challenge at the top for years to come under the passionate and fiery manager Antonio Conte. The Italian has won the league in each of his last four club seasons and – despite the added rigours of European football at Stamford Bridge – will add to his talented side and challenge domestically and abroad.
City fans – the most disappointed with their season bar possibly Arsenal – seem to have acknowledged their project under Guardiola will be a long term one and will be confident of challenging next season – particularly with the additions of Bernardo Silva and Ederson alongside emerging young talent like Leroy Sane and Gabriel Jesus.
Their rivals on the red side of Manchester will be looking forward to Champions League football, qualifying for the first time since Sir Alex Ferguson retired, and will be hoping to add big names to an already expensive squad in the aim of mounting a challenge under their trophy-laden manager.
Liverpool will be excited to see what they can produce under the popular Jurgen Klopp as they take to the European stage. Despite having the weakest squad on paper, they boast the last manager in the Premier League to reach a Champions League final (Klopp was on the losing side with Dortmund in 2013) and were just one step away from winning the Europa League final last year.
Spurs’ North London rivals, Arsenal may not have had too much to shout about lately, but with a trophy under their belt, Wenger signing a new contract and pledging to mount a title challenge and signals pointing to Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil remaining at the club, there are at least whispers of optimism.
While everyone has something to shout about, Tottenham have had little to celebrate and will worry about regressing should the big boys around them improve. They also have the move to Wembley to contend with.
Spurs had the best home record in the league last season at White Hart Lane – winning 17 and drawing two games of 19 and conceding only nine goals in the process – but would do well to repeat that in their new surroundings, particularly when you consider they won only one European game there this season and drew with lowly Gent in the Europa League before being dumped out.
They’ve struggled domestically too, losing 4-2 to Chelsea in the FA Cup semi finals – their fifth consecutive cup loss there since 2009.
With that in mind and no real news of big names looking to join the club, Spurs fans may now be looking at the next season with trepidation rather than excitement. Something that seems almost unthinkable considering how much they’ve achieved.