Us Spurs fans are a tough bunch to please. Some of us crave an invite to the top four, some of us want trophies and days out at Wembley, some of us want European recognition, some of us want the title, some of us just want to watch entertaining football, and most of us are downright greedy!
As we get to the business end of the season it’s been the first for years that Tottenham Hotspur seem to be appearing on many radars we thought they’d gone under, undetected until now.
With the Lilywhites being tentatively earmarked for a title challenge I asked myself, what is success in N17?
What do we expect from our boys? When are we happy? And how realistic are our expectations?
For some being in the Prem is enough
Amid our current success it’s easy to forget the tough times, like the late 90s. In ‘97 we were delighted to see the return of Jurgen Klinsmann, who was prepared to dive into a relegation fight and eventually save us from the drop.
Being relegated. An unthinkable proposition for many younger fans who’ve grown up with Europa League and Champions League memories and older Spurs fans, those who remember the glory days of the 60s and 70s – for Tottenham Hotspur to be a Division 1/Championship team is just not acceptable.
Thankfully now we’ve established ourselves in a secure Premier League position and our sights are set much higher than simply staying in the division, but it’s worth a thought that back then, in darker times, we’d have given anything to be where we are today.
For some it’s about European football
Tottenham Hotspur is a name that should be feared across Europe. We want to be ‘that team’ that people are avoiding in European cup draws and that no one wants in their group.
At 22nd in UEFA’s Coefficient ranking, with a score of 70.5, makes Tottenham the 5th highest English club on the list, ahead of the likes of AC Milan, Inter Milan and Ajax to name but a few. Albeit UEFA’s coefficient rankings might mean bugger all to most people (and myself) it’s out on the pitch that the big teams make Europe take notice.
The balance between domestic and European demands is something the bigger boys have had experience with but it’s a problem across the board - unfortunately you can’t have European success without domestic success. Having featured within our fixture schedule for the past 6 seasons, two games a week has been something the club is used to and been trying to build a squad that can cope with it.
So why when we don’t see the first XI playing every game do we get the hump? Because we need to show our best to make Europe take notice, but let’s be realistic when we need to perform on five different fronts, that’s just not possible.
For some we need to be in the top four
The top four. A noun coined around the mid-noughties as an exclusive members club where 5th placed peasants and below were not allowed, has dominated so much attention, especially from Spurs fans. And rightly so.
An achievement without the glamour, tradition or heritage of a cup final, but double the financial and European recognition gain. Champions League qualification is key to growing the club, attracting new players and more importantly, affording them. It’s the pinnacle of club football and there is no manager, player or fan that doesn’t sit at home watching the CL on TV and wish it was his team in their boots.
As hard as we’ve tried, we’ve been mighty unlucky. Ever since we tasted the Champions League back in 10/11 we’ve been really close to qualifying again, but no cigar. Whether that’s being pipped to the post on the final day of the season on goal difference or finishing fourth and our old chums from West London go and win it, demoting us to Europa League gloom.
Each and every season it’s a target, and a realistic target at that. We happy with top 4 every season?
For some we need to win trophies
Would you rather finish fourth without a trophy or would you rather finish sixth and win a domestic cup?
Tough question. As mentioned above the rewards of CL football is so great that every club craves it, but football is about winning trophies. It’s the Wembley days out we remember when we’re old and grey, not how we drew away to Stoke to secure fourth place for another year.
There’s definitely a case, especially from the old school supporters, that the cups are priority and exclaim that modern day football is broken, but that’s exactly what it is, ‘modern day’ and the game’s changed, or should I say ‘the business’ has changed.
For some, we should be winning the title
That’s the usual reaction you’ll receive when telling someone Spurs could win the title – but this season’s the best chance yet. Yet? EVER.
Whilst there is a chance this season of Spurs looking to seat themselves at the head of the table, we’re talking expectations, and no one should expect Spurs to win the league. The title has always been just too far of a stretch for our financial arm and been left to the Cities, Uniteds and Chelseas of this world to throw cash at, but 2015 saw a change.
As Chelsea falter, United bore to draws and City can’t get going, the door has opened. It opened for the young and hungry squads at Tottenham and Leicester to steal the show and a march into the top four – now serious contenders for the title.
Although unlikely, it’s a possibility, and as Spurs fans that’s all we need to start dreaming.
Right there’s the full spectrum - from a bloody awful season (Chelsea-like in fact), to a week-long party on Tottenham High Road – but it’s how we as fans look at the team and what we deem successful that matters.
The Manager and players have their own agenda and so do all of us, we all have our own preference of what we think is a good season, from silverware to silky football – but let’s be realistic.
We’ve established ourselves as a European club and the days of mid-table mediocrity and the drop looming are long gone, we’re now a force in England and put forward a meaningful challenge for the domestic and European cups but are competitive in the league. Personally, I’ll be happy with a top four finish and see anything beyond that as a very, very good season.
With such a young squad I think we all need to keep our feet firmly on the ground. We are all guilty of getting a little carried away at times and begin to believe the media when they inflate our egos and tell us we’re going to win the league.
Let’s remember where we’ve been as we look forwards and make WHL a place to enjoy football, for us and the players, not a gladiator’s arena with a crowd baying for blood upon one mistake or a bad result.
So what does success look like for you? Would you be happy with fourth, a trophy or do you want the title? One thing’s for sure, it’ll be entertaining and we’ll do it the Tottenham way.
Hold on tight.
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