There’s a school of thought that says Tottenham need to win a trophy very soon. It’s more than just a school of thought, in fact: it’s become received wisdom.
Probably this season, they say, Spurs must lift silverware aloft or risk losing what may well be described as their greatest generation – certainly for quite some time.
There’s a grain of truth in that. Mauricio Pochettino has created a team which is now the darling of the media. I say that with no bitterness: it is a fact and one which comes about because people love it when football teams are created through building from the ground up. The more pertinent question would be how could you not love Spurs and what they’re doing?
But that just makes them high-profile: clubs and players with profiles inflated by their last few great season like Spurs are ripe for picking off in the transfer market. Just look at last season’s Monaco side, who lost the majority of their team in the summer. They made it all the way to the semi-final of the Champions League last season and won Ligue 1 along the way. This time, they crashed out of Europe before Christmas and are in a battle for second place in the league, miles behind the leaders, PSG.
And yet, Spurs are not Monaco.
For one thing, the Premier League was the destination for Benjamin Mendy, Bernardo Silva and Tiemoue Bakayoko. Spurs are already in possession of that particular draw – and at this precise moment in time, the Premier League is a draw. They are also a London club, and rightly or wrongly, football clubs outside the capital have a more difficult time attracting players.
But more importantly, football has reached an extreme that it can’t get comfortable in. These days, everyone seems to think that a trophyless season is a disaster which could lead to a managerial sacking. Even one trophy is often not enough – had Manchester United won only the League Cup last season, there would have been untold pressure on Jose Mourinho. Arsenal’s three FA Cups in four seasons is enough to see their fans break down in sobs on radio phone-ins. It’s too much.
Spurs, though, are the pushback against the tide. They are a team who, despite no trophies in what is now over a decade, still manage to make others envious of what they currently have. They are the antithesis of short-termism, a club who are willing to build for the sake of the game, not the trinkets victory brings.
There shouldn’t be the usual pressure on such a team to win a trophy. But there should still be pressure.
If we reach back to Monaco’s Ligue 1 victory for another example, the problem isn’t that Tottenham will be stripped bare of their best assets and left to rot, like a car on bricks with no engine or interior. The problem is that this is Tottenham’s best chance of silverware in quite some time.
The squad is there and it’s growing together. The manager is one of the best around. The excitement about the new stadium and the general health of the club is palpable. And Harry Kane is the best striker in the world.
The pressure on Tottenham isn’t ‘win or else’. It’s more profound than that. It’s the fact that the golden generation may not win a trophy. But wouldn’t it be better to remember them for the football than the trophies anyway?