From Nigel Keng
Festive greetings to you (still doesn’t feel like Christmas to me!). Rhys points out Spurs improvement since last year’s squad.
However I will counter that “improvement” isn’t only relative to your squad last year, it’s relative to other teams.
Why did the media slag off Spurs off for not signing anyone? Because if you don’t sign anyone it says that you believe there’s not a footballer in the world who can improve your squad. And that quite frankly is a ludicrous thing to believe. Wenger only signed Cech a few seasons ago and no outfield players.
I slagged him off at the time for this. Even Man City and Barcelona can improve their squads by bringing in players.
As I said of Wenger then, as a manager if you have money to spend on players then it’s your duty to spend it and if you don’t meet your objectives then that’s on you. If you don’t have the money then that’s on the board/owner. Did anyone in the media actually call the Spurs squad useless btw?
So Spurs have a higher points total than last year but as I said this is only part of the story and one needs to consider how other teams are doing.
Looking at the teams around them:
Man City, weren’t ever going to be caught by a non spending Spurs
Man Utd, finished 2nd last year, whilst some may have predicted they would struggle with their internal problems, no one realistically expected them to be this far off the pace.
Liverpool, with their Champions League exploits last year it was clear for all that they would be more competitive in the league this year
Chelsea, the last time they finished outside of the CL spots they then won the league
If I’m Poch then over the summer I’m thinking that in Liverpool and Chelsea here are 2 teams who finished below me who are going to be better next year. So my squad improvement needs to at least match their squad improvement.
And that’s just to maintain our position, in order to actually improve it then I need to be looking at how to finish first or second. I also know that most of my key players are at the World Cup and have gone to the last weekend of the tournament so not signing any players really is suicide.
Where Spurs (and Arsenal and Chelsea) have been lucky is Man Utd’s form. But whilst Man Utd’s demise wouldn’t have been predicted, Arsenal’s good form wouldn’t have been predicted either.
There is a genuine contest for 3rd and 4th place now and 3 into 2 doesn’t go. The reason the media doesn’t praise Spurs record start is precisely because of this. Even the most ardent Spurs fan isn’t praising this start, they’re thinking, damn, a supposedly transitional Arsenal have just beaten us and are neck and neck with us in the league. They’re also looking at Liverpool. They’ve improved by getting rid of their defensive weaknesses to the point they’re now top of the league, ahead of an incredible City team!
They’re thinking Klopp has been building this team for less time than Poch has. When we finished second to Leicester in 2016, Liverpool finished 8th…now that’s real improvement!
As with Arsenal a few years ago, Spurs need to work out their raison d’etre; what represents a good season for them? Simply finishing in the top 4? That would represent the status quo not improvement. And yet it’s probably at best only a 65% chance of this happening. Winning a cup? Despite the consistency of their squad and their growth under Poch for a few years now they still haven’t reached an FA Cup final for decades and have been at one League Cup final 4 years ago which they lost. They couldn’t even win a semi-final playing at “home”.
Does their “improvement” so far this year tell me that there’s a strong likelihood this will change? No…this is why they got slagged off for not spending money and why their “improvement” isn’t actually improvement.
What you say about Leicester in 2016 is right.
But each of us is a lens. We see as we are, from where we are, especially if we are Gooners.
As you know, I’m not a Gooner, I’m just a football fan who became a journalist and got to know a lot of Arsenal fans,
Please don’t compare what Wenger inherited to what Pochettino inherited. . The Frenchman inherited Dennis Bergkamp and David Dein, two of the best players in Europe. He also inherited the best back five in Europe.
Liverpool were ambitious before the Fenway Sports Group owned the club and they’re still very ambitious and that’s why they’re top of the table now and why they reached the Champions League Final in Kiev, where they were fouled out of it by the vicious Sergio Ramos.
When you build a stadium, you can’t spend money you don’t have on improving your squad.
In the Europa League, Arsenal have not played any teams as talented as Inter Milan or Barcelona or Real Madrid. Or any teams as good as Borussia Dortmund, Napoli or even Ajax, who this week drew 3-3 with Bayern Munich.
I’m still expecting Chelsea to play Arsenal in the Europa League at some point. Not much travelling for those games. No plane needed.