When Mauricio Pochettino arrived at Tottenham in the summer of 2014, playing regularly in the UEFA Champions League was the target for Tottenham in the next five years. No Tottenham fan would have dreamt even in their wildest dreams of playing in a Champions League final exactly about five years on.
While yesterday’s performance from Spurs was certainly a disappointing one because Liverpool were not even at their best on the day, Tottenham can be very proud of their march towards the final. Not because they had not spent anything and that context but because they have made their fans dream big again. They have given fans of the modern era something to brag about to their grandchildren.
Tottenham have been as a club that is irrelevant to the big European stages for a while now. Despite being one of the top ten most valuable clubs for some years, Spurs never really made an impact in Europe largely because of their inability to step up against bigger opposition. They were seen as ‘bottlers’ on the big stage.
Slowly, Pochettino has ushered in a new era for Spurs. They don’t just hold their own against big teams, they refuse to let them control games at all. They have a forward-thinking identity and a long-term project that binds everyone together to it. They might not have as big a budget as the other big sides, they have an identity and players who are thoroughly committed to the task.
Perhaps, the lack of signings over the last 12 months has helped them. It brought the players together and it did not disturb the connection they have. Sometimes, new signings disturb the morale at clubs. But not having a new signing helped Spurs in the respect of keeping the team together and sticking together even in the darkest of times.
The way Spurs have come up with big moments even when things did not go right for them shows how they have matured as a unit. They haven’t been at their sparkling best this season and because of that, they have won games in a pragmatic way. It speaks volumes for how this team has improved.
Even in the absence of their best player and leader Harry Kane, Spurs reached the finals and played well enough in it to score. If the World Cup would not affect their form, Spurs might well have won it as their players would have been much more fit and ready at the end of a campaign which has seen a lot of their players get injured on a consistent basis.
While the game had a disappointing result, the campaign was a very encouraging one for Spurs. If the context is taken into account, it was brilliant for a side like them to go that far and finish inside the top four in the Premier League too. That too in an era where the influence of money has become prime in the game.
It wasn’t the perfect ending, but the only way forward for Tottenham is up. And the future is bright.