Tottenham Hotspur: A Fine Line Between Progression And Disruption

Tottenham Hotspur: A Fine Line Between Progression And Disruption
Jun 23, 2017

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For a second successive season, Tottenham came up short for the title as they saw a formidable Chelsea side clinch the Premier League trophy by seven points. They can, however, point to progression this season having comfortably beaten last year’s points tally of 70, finishing above their north London rivals Arsenal in the process. They also finished their last season at White Hart Lane unbeaten at home, having scored the most and conceded the least amount of goals over the course of 38 games. But, instead of pondering on another ‘nearly’ season, plans must be put in place to improve the team to address any weak areas of depth.

What’s That Danny?

Last month, while Danny Rose was on BBC Radio 5 Live’s Friday Social he said that Spurs needed a marquee signing, a big name that could enable them to “push forward” and win a first trophy since 2008. Tottenham’s last ‘marquee’ signing would arguably be Rafael van der Vaart, who arrived from Real Madrid back in 2010 and later became a fans favourite. Spurs had already qualified for the Champions League before van der Vaart’s arrival, but no one can question the quality he added to the team, as well as the buzz and excitement he added to the fanbase (it wasn’t a regular thing to see a Galactico at White Hart Lane for the Spurs faithful).

Next season, Spurs will be hoping for a much improved Champions League campaign, so squad depth will be key, and with a heavy reliance on Kane, Alli and Eriksen to produce the goods in the final third, a big signing in this area could be the difference between a nearly season and a trophy winning one. Losing talisman Bale for a then world-record £85.1 million fee in 2013 would have been hard for any team, but as Spurs tried to replace the void left with the £26 million signing Erik Lamela, that only further infuriated their fans as he had a poor season, failing to adapt to the Premier League.

But whereas 2013 was a year of heavy reliance on one player, Pochettino has built a team of strong, powerful players, each with a skill set perfect for how Poch wants his team to play. Now obviously adding a star name to the ranks will improve the team, especially with names such as Thomas Lemar and Douglas Costa being touted as possible recruits, but will it have a negative impact on the team in the long term?

The Importance Of Squad Harmony

It is no secret that not only are a lot of the Spurs players very good friends away from the pitch, they are also confined to a strict wage budget designed to allow them to compete with teams who are better off financially. Why am I telling you this? That’s because a marquee signing could destroy all the hard work Pochettino and Levy have done over the past three years. A key factor to why Pochettino has got Spurs playing so instinctively with each other is the way he’s man managed the team as a whole off the pitch. Many have been impressed with how he’s bonded the squad with away days, shaking every player’s hand before training every day, and it’s all evident when you see the emotion between player and manager after the final whistle…usually in the form of an extended hug.

The second point I made was the strict wage budget the club abides by, but it’s not because Levy is a stingy git, he’s just trying to allow Spurs to compete with its rivals when their financial structure towers above the Lilywhites. And their approach to talent management is a lot better than it was a few years ago. One example is when Luka Modric was at the club, he was on £16,000 a week for the first two years of his contract, with it being improved only after they achieved Champions League status. By that time, the relationship between club and player wasn’t the most positive, and he left not long after.

Nowadays, Levy’s approach to talent management has vastly improved, as players are regularly rewarded with small improvements to their contract, which not only keeps them happy and motivated but also ensures the player feels there is always progression in the team. Now if a top player is signed they will want top money, and that would go against the wage model the players are so invested in. A player coming in and immediately taking home the same, if not more money than the team’s biggest stars, some players might not be happy. If a player has been working to £100,000 a week for the past 4 years, only to see someone earn that as soon as they arrive, they might question their own loyalty to the club.

This, in turn, could disrupt the squad as a whole as it divides opinions on the matter. Danny Rose said himself that he would be happy to see an amazing player arrive for a hefty fee, as it shows the club’s intent. Other players would, however, disagree, feeling let down that the club hasn’t rewarded them with a contract to match their form and ability, and could be the catalyst for the main men leaving North London to find a club willing to match their pay packet to their ability.

So Tottenham, Levy, and mainly Poch have to decide whether a world class signing will be able to adapt to the squad without disrupting the togetherness, otherwise, the days of almost winning the title might well be exchanged for mid-table mediocrity…and what Spurs fan really wants to go back to those days of darkness?

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