In the summer of 2018, Tottenham infamously did… well nothing.
On the verge of being elite in England and Europe, Spurs didn’t bring in a single new player.
According to the brass at White Hart Lane, no one on the market could improve the squad. Or, more likely, no one on the market could improve the squad at a price Daniel Levy liked.
In 2018-19, the Lilywhites reached the Champions League final and finished fourth in the league. They won no trophies.
That campaign was the high-water mark for Pochettino’s tenure, and the last two seasons have seen a regression in both domestic and European campaigns.
Spurs are further away from silverware now than they have been for years, as evidenced by the showing against Man City in this season’s League Cup final.
Would this have been different if Spurs had brought in a player or two during the summer of ’18?
Jack Grealish was rumoured at the time, and while he may not have been the difference in the UCL Final, he has improved the last few years and could have been a major factor in keeping Spurs at the Premier League heights from which they’ve fallen.
Mateo Kovačić ended up at Chelsea that summer, and while he may have seemed a bit surplus to requirements at the time, since Tottenham had Eriksen, his creativity and energy are needed right now – Ndombele isn’t as consistent and Lo Celso hasn’t yet reached that level of quality.
And then there is the perennial search for Kane’s backup, which was no different in 2018. Kane wasn’t fully match fit for the UCL final, so a real backup could have made the difference in that match, not to mention in the matches he has missed since.
Any one of these moves had the potential to change an almost magical season into a legendary one, but also would have kept the squad strong during the following campaigns.
Holes in a football team are rarely patched after they appear—the elite clubs see them coming and have replacement players ready and already adapted to the style and culture of the squad.
Additionally, new players keep competition for spots high. There’s a lot to say for team continuity, but complacency is an issue even with elite players, and that may have been the downfall of Pochettino and his 2019-20 Spurs.
Despite his rhetoric at the time, there’s no doubt that Poch wanted players in that barren transfer window. He likely knows that the right signing could have changed his fate in North London.
When Levy brought in Mourinho, transfers didn’t improve much…
Bergwijn was brought in during Mou’s first window, and the Portuguese readily admitted that the Dutch winger wasn’t his first choice. There aren’t too many signings short of Messi that would have saved Mourinho’s tenure, but he never really got what he wanted.
In fairness, Joe Rodon looks like a great long-term investment at the back, a replacement for Alderweireld a few years before that’s necessary. And if Reguilón stays in North London, he could be a terror on the flank for years to come.
One hopes they’ll start a trend, but right now they are, unfortunately, an anomaly.
Whomever Levy brings in to manage the club next year, the man will need 100% support with consistent transfers.
The new stadium is built, fans will hopefully return in August, lucrative TV rights deals have been signed – there are no excuses anymore from the boardroom.
One wrong window can affect several seasons going forward. It’s time to learn the lessons of the past few years and give the new manager a real chance to end the trophy drought.
Have something to tell us about this article?