By the metric of Premier League performances, Tottenham Hotspur are having an excellent start to the season. Spurs’ 21 points from 9 matches represents the club’s best ever start to the Premier League, and they find themselves one win over Manchester City away from leaping over the defending champions into a tie for second place in the table. That’s good!
And yet, the feeling remains that this has been an off-year for Spurs. It’s not just fans that are feeling it — Mauricio Pochettino is as well. In comments to the media last week, Spurs’ manager said that despite the good start in the league, this is the worst he’s felt about his team in the five years that he’s been at Tottenham.
“The season so far, it’s strange because my feeling is the worst feeling I’ve had in the five years that I’ve been here. It’s the worst. My feeling, but it’s the best start ever for the club in the Premier League. It’s strange, no?
”This season, my feeling is the worst. I don’t know, it’s so difficult to explain, because the circumstance, because many things happen, I am disappointed we are still waiting for the new stadium when the expectation was to be there at the beginning of the season.
“I don’t know, many things happened in the summer, many things that make myself not in my best mood or best humour. I know I always have a good relationship with you [the media], but my feeling is not the best feeling, I had better feelings in previous seasons.”
There are probably multiple factors that are contributing to Poch’s “worst feeling,” but I’m not sure you can lay it down to any one thing Being the first club in Premier League history not to make a summer signing is probably one factor. Having most of his starting 11 return late and exhausted from the World Cup is another one. The disappointing run in the Champions League is probably a huge factor as well.
And of course, there’s the delays to Spurs’ new stadium, which has contributed to the ongoing instability of when Spurs play their matches and where. Despite their use of Wembley Stadium, Spurs are still somewhat “homeless” and will be until the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium opens its doors, hopefully in January. In his comments, Pochettino seem to hint that Spurs chairman Daniel Levy is focused more on finishing the stadium and less on making Spurs the best club in the Premier League.
“We were talking about establishing a new stadium, to be focused with the only priority to win games. The circumstance that happened in the last years, I think the club is not focused completely in winning titles or winning games.
“We have a lot of focus and you know very well when you are competing with sides like we are in Champions League and Premier League, the most important thing is to fight in the same conditions as others.
”Today, we spend a lot of energy in many things. One is to win games, but the club needs to be all focused in trying to win titles. Because today we need to fix other problems and different circumstances that happen that don’t help the team or the club to only be focused on winning titles.”
The lazy media narrative is to use this as a wedge to suggest that Pochettino is ready to move on from Spurs. The ongoing managerial saga at Real Madrid isn’t helping matters, and whenever Julen Lopetegui is let go, Pochettino will again be the subject of intense media scrutiny as his replacement in Madrid. There’s probably going to be actual, real approaches from Madrid when that time comes as well. This Tottenham drama is feeding into that in a way that makes a lot of fans nervous.
I don’t have a lot of evidence to disprove that, except to suggest that, while Pochettino is clearly frustrated by Spurs forced into another challenging year in limbo when it was not supposed to be one, his sense of loyalty to his players and to the project he has started at Spurs could carry him through a challenging time. Despite everything, the stadium WILL open, and with it starts a new era at Tottenham Hotspur. I can’t imagine Pochettino wouldn’t want to see at least that part through.
The implication is that once the stadium is done, Levy will no longer have his attention split and will turn his focus back towards the club. Spurs are best when Levy is fully engaged in improving the team and not the infrastructure around the team. And while Poch might be frustrated with the way things are, it doesn’t necessarily mean that he doesn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel.