The current line on Tottenham Hotspur in the English football media isn’t “look how good Spurs are doing this season,” it’s “when are Tottenham going to start winning silverware.” That narrative is starting to annoy Mauricio Pochettino, and with Spurs perhaps edging its way back into the title conversation, he’s making that clear.
Tottenham’s manager, addressing the question of Spurs’ trophy aspirations ahead of their match against Swansea later today, suggested his team deserves more credit for what they’ve already accomplished.
“I hear people say that Tottenham must win a trophy this season or next, but come on. When you compare us with six or seven other clubs in the Premier League, you start to realize that we deserve a lot of credit.
“Nobody wants to win titles more than we do — the chairman, the players, the fans. But look at the other teams in the top six, look at the investment, look at the different things happening in the Premier League.
“Rather than talking about winning trophies, we need to see that Tottenham deserve full credit and to be shown more respect. We all want trophies but we need to be more realistic.
“Winning a trophy is not as easy as, for example, going to the shop and buying a pen.”
So, one possible response to Pochettino here is to say “tell that to Chelsea,” but he’s also not wrong. Spurs fans have been saying for a few years now that Tottenham has been punching above their weight with regards to both finances and resources as compared to their top four competitors.
In that light, Spurs do deserve a wealth of credit for what they’ve accomplished. Since I started following Spurs in 2007, the club has gone from one whose aspirations were just to qualify for the Europa League to one who wants to win Premier League titles. Go back a little further and Spurs are a mid-table club who sold their best players to Manchester United every offseason. Now Spurs have a talented team that’s built around a strong core of young players, a new stadium on the way, and a healthy future. Oh, and they’re also second in the league.
Pochettino went on to reference the oft-maligned comment by Arsene Wenger equating Champions League qualification with silverware.
“If at the end of the season we finish in the top four, it is good for us. I have heard both Arsene Wenger and Pep Guardiola saying that finishing in the top four of the Premier League is like winning a trophy elsewhere.
“It is very tough to finish in the top four. The competition is massive, so for Tottenham to be there, fighting, is a big credit to our players, the club, everyone. To be where we are is a massive achievement for us.”
As Spurs fans, we make fun of Arsenal a lot for Wenger’s “top four is a trophy” comment, and I can’t help but wince a bit hearing Pochettino say it too. The difference, of course, is that Spurs don’t have a twenty year history of qualifying for the Champions League to draw upon.
That’s not to say that Spurs fans should not set their sights higher than just qualifying for the Champions League. Pochettino certainly wouldn’t say that. His comments are more just a recognition that Spurs should not be held to the same kinds of standards that are reserved for clubs with enormous wealth like Manchester City, Manchester United, and Chelsea.
Yet. Let’s defer the question for a couple of seasons.