It has been a long time in the waiting but finally fans around White Hart Lane are entering a Premier League season without having to console themselves with the mantra ‘don’t worry, this is just a transitional season anyway’.
Finally Tottenham Hotspur aren’t the club with the new boss, they aren’t the club recovering from the loss of their star player and they aren’t the club without Champions League football. This year, unlike any in recent memory, Spurs are the side with the settled squad and a coveted manager with his own distinctive brand of exciting football.
Despite the overwhelming pessimism ingrained by 20 years of being a Spurs fan I am, for once, inclined to be optimistic. If there is one thing i’ve learnt since the tragic sale of Gareth Bale to Real Madrid it is that forcing many expensive signings into a Premier League side is far from a guarantee of success. I am sceptical, therefore, of the big money being thrown around up in Manchester and the three new managers who are all expected to take this years league by storm.
The Premier League is perhaps the toughest division to win in world football, the disparity between the top teams and the chasing pack is minute in comparison to the dominance of the European greats in France, Germany and Spain, you don’t have to look past Leicester’s unbelievable feat last year for evidence of that. As Spurs know all to well, this is not an easy league for clubs in transition.
Although undoubtedly world class managers, I do wonder at Conte and Guardiola’s ability to adapt so quickly to a league so different to any they have previously encountered. As for Jose’s spend thrift project at the Red Devils, I am still to be convinced as to the significance of his immediate impact, even if he lands a world record deal for Juve’s Paul Pogba. The record of the Portuguese suggests he is always far more successful in his second season at a new club. At Porto and Inter Mourinho delivered both the domestic and Champion’s League in his second year. In his first stint at Chelsea Jose won the Premier League in both of his first two years but in his most recent shift in West London Jose succeeded only at the second attempt. To me this suggests it takes Jose some time to put across his winning mentality to a new squad, and I see no reason for this to change in a turbulent United side full of new faces.
So what does this mean for Pochettino’s young Spurs side? Whilst far from likely that each of Chelsea, City and United all struggle next season, I see no reason why Tottenham can’t build on their successful 2015/16 campaign and take advantage of some much needed stability. Although only two new players have come through the door at White Hart Lane so far this summer, Spurs look to have a strong squad capable of dealing with the intense pressures of both European and Premier League football. Perhaps even more importantly Pochettino has now found some cover for Harry Kane, with 2015/16 Eredivise top scorer Vincent Janssen looking to be a strong attacking option for the Spurs staff.
Although faltering at the Euros, Tottenham and England’s young guns now all have at least one year of Premier League experience behind them. Harry Kane goes into the new season with last years golden boot safely in his locker and Dele Alli does the same with his young player of the year award. The unbelievable quality and consistency of these two starlets will be vital to Spurs again this year, and there is no doubt in my mind that Pochettino will get the best out of his star performers again this campaign. There is much to be hopeful about in the white half of North London this footballing year, but it is the stability of the ‘Pochettino project’ that, in my view, makes Spurs clear candidates for the 2016/17 Premier League title.
By Freddie Stuart.