Under Mauricio Pochettino we know how Tottenham will play and how they will set up next season. We’ve learned a lot about the north Londoners over the past year. From the fact that they’re one of the fittest teams in the league who like to press and make life difficult in the midfield, to the fact that they also have a streak of being pretty to watch.
They are a good team filled with good young players, but there are dangers there. And that’s something we learned, too. In that violent game against Chelsea when Spurs realised that their title challenge was slipping out of their grasp, we saw an indiscipline, too. But they’re young and will learn. It’s an exciting time to be a Spurs fan, even if next season will be tougher.
It was both thoroughly unexpected and also Tottenham’s best season in years, but Spurs will have to prove that last season wasn’t simply an anomaly; that they can establish themselves as Champions League regulars and challenge for titles.
The problem is, it’s harder now. In many ways last season was an anomaly, even if Spurs can prove that their league position and the level of their performances weren’t a one-off for them.
It wasn’t just the identity of the champions that made last season anomalous, it was the fact that the top teams underperformed so thoroughly over the course of an entire season. This season, even if Spurs progress and play even better, they could still find themselves fighting tooth and nail for a Europa League place come the end of the season. That’s the nature of the Premier League these days.
That makes success much harder to define at Spurs this year. Usually progression is the big demand; and after a third place finish last year, second or better would be the logical progression. But this team is so young and has so much potential that just playing better football that last year, and being more consistent will be a success. The aim is to learn, not necessarily to win.
They might, however, target a cup competition rather than the league as their best chance of a more tangible success than simply making their good young players better. A good showing and a cup to show for it should be the aim.
Whilst the big teams who finished below Spurs are investing heavily and throwing money at their considerable problems, Tottenham are investing quietly in areas where they needed more depth.
Victor Wanyama is an astute signing, though Pochettino may have to iron out the discipline wrinkles in his game. On his day, though, he is Mousa Dembele and Eric Dier rolled into one.
Vincent Janssen is the stand out signature so far this window for Spurs, though. Harry Kane can’t take all the responsibility to score all the goals every season, so more firepower is needed, and if Janssen’s meteoric rise continues, he’ll do the trick.
There isn’t always one stand out player at Spurs, but there certainly is a reliance of sorts on Harry Kane’s goalscoring ability, even if it’s not as bad as it was the season before last.
Kane will once again be the main man, however, and whilst there are no doubts over his ability to score – as there were this time last year – there are certainly doubts over Tottenham’s ability to get goals if Kane does drop off in form as all players do from time to time. They’ll be hoping Janssen is worth the money.
For the outlay spent on him in the wake of the Gareth Bale transfer, and for his high profile before signing, Erik Lamela still needs to produce more consistency than we’re used to seeing of him in a Tottenham shirt.
We do see glimpses of his ability from time to time, but with players like Dele Alli coming through the ranks, glimpses won’t be enough for much longer.