Are Tottenham Hotspur A Big Club?

Tottenham Hotspur

Tottenham Hotspur is a club which is often denied the respect which it actually deserves in the modern game. Whether you talk about being overlooked by people who talk about- “The biggest London based clubs” or talk about people who support other powerhouse clubs. Time and time again, we are used to seeing them toil hard to carve out a reputation for themselves among the big clubs of the English Premiership. But, no matter how hard they try, they keep coming up short of making it.

It’s become a monotonous routine of theirs to finish 5th or 6th in the table behind Chelsea, United, City and Arsenal despite of possessing players packed with potential and talent. Good times and convincing victories have been few and far, here and there in between and it’s common to see them faltering against the best in the League. But, still some regard them as a ‘big club’ on account of finishing around the dominating powerhouses and troubling or pestering them persistently. So, can Tottenham Hotspur be called a big club?

Luck and Fortune go a long way in shaping the position of clubs in the Premier League. But, in Tottenham’s case, luck has been associated with words betrayal and ‘running out of it’. When Harry Redknapp took over back in 2008 and took major steps to resurrect a forgotten club, it seemed good times of the 50’s and 60’s were about to come back. Within an year of his taking over, Redknapp helped  them to a 4th  spot in the Premier League, above Aston Villa, Liverpool Manchester City. After comfortably making it to the Group Stages of the Champions League, Spurs outdid Inter and Werder Bremen to top their Group.

A date with Italian giants AC Milan awaited them in the Round of 16, which many believed would be a cakewalk for Milan. But Redknapp’s men thought otherwise. Peter Crouch’s goal earned them a 1-0 aggregate victory over Milan and it seemed as if a dream journey was about to unfold for the Lilywhites. But the journey ended just when it started to take shape. Spurs were handed a daunting task of overcoming Real Madrid  in the Quarter Finals. And the rest is a mere history of struggles and desperation full of agony.

It never really materialized for them, after that. Although they did manage to finish 4th in the 2011-12 season but Lady Luck wasn’t by them when Chelsea took on Bayern Munich in that years Champions League final. Lack of luck has meant that they have consistently failed to make it to the Champions League and it serves as a major reason as to why they’ve failed to hold onto some prized assets of theirs. Imagine Gareth Bale,Dimitar Berbatov, Luka Modric, Rafael van der vaart, Giovanni dos Santos and Michael Carrick wrecking havoc in the opposition defenses for them. Although, this thought seems ‘hard to imagine’ for some but watching these players play would have made a chill run down the spines of the Best teams in the League.

Moreover, there is one thing every team needs to transform itself into a ‘giant’- Having a uniformity in managerial positions. It’s something Tottenham haven’t had for the past 10 or 15 years. Gaffers came and gaffers went, but not even a single one of them, except for Harry Redknapp couldn’t stamp their authority over the team in a substantial manner.

Teams like Manchester United and Arsenal did so when they were mere Premier League teams with hardly any venom to compete for the title. Arsene Wenger and Sir Alex Ferguson didn’t just build a team, they strived to build up a superpower which was capable of competing at the very top. When talking of Tottenham, they’ve appointed 27 managers in 40 years which includes David Pleat’s 4 short reigns and also includes Harry Redknapp’s 4 year reign, which is the longest since Bill Nicholson’s 16. New managers bring in new techniques and styles of play which usually differ from one another in a variety of ways. And if these things change consistently, there will be disturbances and interruptions in the functioning of the club. That’s what Tottenham have gone through since Bill Nicholson’s exit.

What most don’t know these days is that Spurs were a team who first won an English double in 1961 under Nicholson himself. On top of that, they were the club who taught us how to win titles and win them in sublime fashion. Evident from the fact that they scored a total of 115 goals in that particular season, which is a record till date. Spurs did finish top that year but ever wondered where the current big guns were at that time? United finished 7th, Chelsea finished 12th while Arsenal managed to hold onto 11th. Everton finished 5th, while City followed Chelsea and Arsenal at 13th and Liverpool finished 3rd in the Second Division. That effect has somewhat faded, going by the status quo where Spurs have to fight hard to gain a Champions League spot. They were pipped by Arsenal in their bid to do so and even gave a tough time to United and Chelsea.

Their 3-1 win(in 2013) over the then Champions Man City is a testimony to how much potential Spurs possess in their ranks but despite remaining unbeaten against United that campaign, they failed to make it to the Champions League. They were pipped by Arsenal again and as a result, Europa League awaited them next season.

Daniel Levy has become a very ‘hard to impress’ since his taking over and no one has evidently made a strong case for himself as a manager. Redknapp finished 4th but Chelsea’s Champions League triumph triggered off his exit and Andre Vilas Boas’ arrival. AVB was a decent manager, with impressive credentials (who did fail to deliver at Chelsea) but he himself provoked his sacking by spending heavily but in a senseless or mindless manner.

Mauricio Pochettino

QPR’s sauntering at White Hart Lane once again shows what Spurs can be capable of on their day, but their days hardly come. In fact, Nacer Chadli’s second goal consisted of a build up of an astonishing 48 passes and it was nice to see a club which has taught us how to contest the league in dominating fashion play well. It seems Mauricio Pochetinno is getting along well with the team and his elegant, on the ground passing style is settling in well at Tottenham, much like how it did at Southampton. They top the League now and ask me, they can be considered to be some favorites to upset the odds and win the title, let alone making it to the Top 4, provided they fulfill their potential.

As far as being considered to be a big club is concerned, if there’s a Big 7 in existence in the Premier League, Spurs would make the cut. They would do so even in a Top 6 but as that list shortens, Tottenham find it tougher and tougher to sneak in. City, Chelsea, Liverpool, Arsenal have that cutting edge in them to be referred to as a giant. Spurs have the players to do it, but regular managerial changes have taken a toll. They don’t have a history convincing enough to labelled as ‘giants’, taking into account the history clubs like Aston Villa and Newcastle have, which is somewhat glorious. For me, they are another club who can be pitted alongside Man City in history but with a side like Southampton, going by the abilities. Can they be labelled as a big club? -Yes and No. But as of now, there’s a tilt towards a Yes.


Written by Dinesh V

Co-founder of Soccersouls. Living a start-up life 24/7
Follow @dineshintwit

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