TOTTENHAM HOTSPURS’ YEAR OF RECKONING

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Spurs’ next season is the most important one in the club’s recent history. The 2019/2020 season is going to shape the future of the North London club and it is extremely important that Pochettino’s side wins some silverware.

These past few seasons, Spurs have been the bridesmaid but never the bride and this needs to change. Spurs have had numerous opportunities to win silverware but have always fallen at the last hurdle. The North London club have been strengthening their position within English soccer and are now regarded as an elite side. However, Spurs now have to capitalize on the foundations that they have built or they risk ruining all the amazing work they have done over the past 5 years.

THE MANAGER: MAURICIO POCHETTINO

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Next season will dictate Pochettino’s future at the club.

Pochettino is one of the game’s elite managers and he has worked wonders at Spurs. He has garnered the reputation of being able to develop young players into elite level performers. His Spurs career is littered with numerous examples of the Argentinian’s ability to develop talent. For example, Pochettino has moulded Dele Alli into one of Europe’s most productive attackers. He signed the young Englishman for roughly $5 million dollars and now the 22-year old is valued at over $100 million dollars. There are not many managers in the world who can develop players as well as Pochettino.

Spurs have become over-reliant upon Pochettino’s ability to develop young players. Spurs risk losing the Argentinian due to a lack of investment into the club’s playing eleven. Typically, Spurs sign young players who have tremendous upside and are predicted to have a significant resale value. This recruitment model has been successful in getting Spurs into the position they find themselves in now. However, the club will not be able to challenge the heavyweights of European soccer with this current recruitment model.

Spurs’ starting eleven is so good that only world-class players can improve it and the club’s recruitment style will not allow for such transfers to take place. How does the club expect to improve when they cannot bring in players that will immediately make them better?

The North London club have been conservative within the transfer market and their transfer strategy has been largely influenced by their other projects. Spurs have committed to building a new stadium that will cost the club, roughly, $1 billion dollars. As a result, much of Spurs’ finances are geared towards building the stadium rather than buying new players. Indeed, Spurs are expected to transition into their new venue much in the way that Arsenal did when they moved from Highbury to the Emirates. This means that the club will prioritize paying off their new stadium over spending major money on new acquisitions.

Pochettino will have even less money to spend in the transfer market next season; which is incredible given that Spurs generated record levels of club revenue, $495 million dollars, last year. The club has already started to tighten their finances as they have not signed a single player in the past two transfer windows.

The Argentinian is already working miracles with his squad; which begs the question. How do Spurs expect to improve? During Pochettino’s tenure at the club, Spurs have been significantly outspent by their rivals. Incredibly, Spurs have a net spend of only $38 million dollars during Pochettino’s tenure at the club. As you can see below, all of Spurs’ rivals have a higher net spend than the North London club.

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The current Spurs side have found their ceiling and the club needs to sign some difference makers if they are to win some silverware. Pochettino is an ambitious coach and Spurs must show that they are a club that matches the Argentinian’s ambitions. Currently, they are not doing so. Spurs would be foolish to waste these years with Pochettino and Daniel Levy, the club’s chairman, needs to give Pochettino some funds so he can compete for the highest honors.  

a wanted man

When the manager positions were open at Real Madrid and Manchester United, Pochettino was heavily linked with the vacancies. Though the interests in the Argentinian was serious, I never thought that he would leave Spurs for either of those clubs. Well, not yet anyway.

I was always of the belief that Pochettino wanted to spend at least one more season at the club. The prospect of managing an elite side in a new billion-dollar stadium captured the imagination of the Argentinian. With Zinedine Zidane and Ole Gunnar Solskjær filling those vacancies, Spurs have retained their manager for at least one more season. However, if Spurs fail to win any silverware next year or fail to make any major additions to their squad; then I believe that next season will be Pochettino’s last season with the club.

There is no guarantee that Zidane and Solskjær will succeed at their respective clubs, meaning that their roles may become available again. Indeed, there are other managerial positions, across Europe, that might become available by the end of next season. The manager of PSG, Thomas Tuchel, is under huge pressure after his side’s shock defeat to Manchester United in the Champions League. Another poor showing in the Champions League next season may see him lose his job. Also, Niko Kovač’s position at Bayern Munich is anything but secure and he might lose his job by the end of next season.

Conceivably, 4 managerial positions at some of Europe’s most elite and historic clubs may be available by the end of next season. If Spurs continue to show a lack of ambition in the transfer market, and Pochettino is unable to win some silverware with the club, then the Argentinian’s head may be turned by these vacancies.

THE PLAYERS

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I am a huge fan of the NFL and I have been watching debates surrounding the Dallas Cowboy’s quarterback Dak Prescott. The quarterback is almost due for a contract renewal and the Cowboy’s have made it clear that they hope Prescott will take a “hometown discount.” Essentially, the Cowboy’s hope that Prescott will accept a contract below his market value and this situation reminds me of Spurs’ wage structure.

Spurs target young players that can be signed to the club on relatively low wages and this is how the North London club assembled their current roster. However, many of these players have now become world-class performers. Spurs have shown a reluctance to sign players to massive wages as they prioritize protecting the integrity of their wage structure. Harry Kane is the only player who is signed to a contract, of $250,000 dollars per week, that is worthy of an elite player. Many of Spurs’ marquee players are approaching the end of their contracts and will be demanding an improved deal to stay at the club. These players know that the elite sides in Europe will be queuing up to sign them as free-agents.

Due to the stadium move, Spurs do not have the financial capabilities to overhaul their wage structure. Elite players want to be paid like elite players and Spurs’ wage structure prevents this from happening. As a result, Spurs will face an uphill battle to keep their star players beyond next season.

Spurs face a huge season next year and how they fare has the ability to drastically change their future. Given that next season is their first season in their new stadium; I do not foresee any major departures from the club. However, if three changes do not take place then I can see a mass exodus take place at the club.

If the club does not:

  1. Win any silverware
  2. Change their wage structure to pay their elite players a salary that is closer to their market value
  3. Give Pochettino funds to improve his squad

Then this iteration of Spurs will be over.

Their marquee players will leave and Pochettino will move to a club that matches his ambitions. The issue with Spurs is that their manager and players are in high demand. The 2019/2020 season is the year of reckoning for Spurs and if they are to keep hold of their players and Pochettino; then they must have an unbelievable season next year.

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