Great expectations

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“I have been bent and broken, but – I hope – into a better shape.”

It’s been a while since my last article, which was published just before the start of the new season. In that time a fair amount has happened – much of which should give us Spurs fans reason to feel optimistic for the future.

During the summer the team lost an exceptional player for whom we rightly received a King’s ransom. That windfall was wisely used to bankroll an extravagant recruitment drive.

I’m pretty sure the thinking behind that splurge was that the new recruits would: help create a better all-round team – one that is not solely reliant on the talents and superhuman feats of a certain Welshman (as our neighbours are currently); add strength in depth; secure regular Champions League qualification; challenge the established top four; win silverware.

Given the players sold and loaned out, the squad has more or less remained the same size but it has improved with added steel, craft, flair and importantly, healthier competition for places – it’s no coincidence, in my view, that some of the better performances so far this season have been from the likes of Sigurdsson and Defoe.

What is apparent, particularly when under the cosh, such as in the recent defeats against Arsenal and West Ham, is that the new players need to settle and get accustomed to the physicality and pace of the Premier League. I have no doubts that the likes of Soldado and Lamela will come good; they are perhaps used to having more time on the ball and need to be more incisive. Maybe this is why we’ve done better in the Europa League where we have bossed games and been more prolific.

Unfortunately, the Premier League is unforgiving and so is the British football press; the new players simply don’t have the luxury of time and must acclimatise quickly, and given the massive transfer fees paid, the club is under greater scrutiny than usual. The reality is if Spurs were to miss out (again) on a Champions League berth, the club would get absolutely slaughtered, and deservedly so. In the summer the club spent more on players than Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester United, and as such expectations are sky high.

Heightened expectations need not be a hindrance, though. They could – and should – help to focus the minds and efforts of the players. Spurs players will understand now more than ever that we are not a mid-table club and nor is White Hart Lane a refuge for mediocrity and complacency.

I suppose the point that I’m trying to make is that the team, jam-packed full of supremely gifted players and ably led by a talented manager, is still a work in progress. As such, we need to be patient. But I really don’t think we’ll have to wait very long…

The future’s bright. The future’s Lilywhite.

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