Tottenham Hotspur: Is 2018/19 their season?
Over the years, Tottenham Hotspur have been looked upon as the Premier League's 'almost' club. 10 trophyless years have passed by since Spurs lifted the League Cup in 2008. Since then they have recorded some respectable feats, reaching the semi-final of the FA Cup four times, being runners-up in the League Cup twice and reaching the quarter-finals in Europe twice.
Let's not forget Spurs having just fallen short of winning the league in 2016/17, finishing second to eventual champions and former London rivals Chelsea. Having been on the brink of success for so long, the question must be asked, is this the season that Tottenham Hotspur finally achieve trophy-laden success?
Prior to the first game of the season, even the staunchest of Tottenham Hotspur supporters would have had doubts over just how things were likely to go this year. With the completion of the brand new Tottenham Hotspur Stadium being delayed, Tottenham found themselves returning to Wembley sooner than they'd have hoped.
The new stadium was due to be finished in time for the visit of Liverpool on September 15th, but has now been pushed back and it remains to be seen whether or not it will be ready in time for the significant battle with title rivals Manchester City on October 26th.
The building of a new stadium was always going to have an impact on the club's abilities in the transfer market; we saw with Spurs' rivals Arsenal in the era of the building of the Emirates that funds for recruitment of players play second fiddle to the hundreds of millions, potentially running into the billions, that building a new stadium requires.
No reasonable football fan would have expected much of Spurs in the transfer window, but it surprised many to find that not a single player was recruited by Chairman Daniel Levy, leaving Pochettino with the same squad that finished third in last season's Premier League campaign.
Three out of three
Having quickly and emphatically sweeped the pre-season doubts aside, the start of the season for Spurs has been promising. With three games played Tottenham find themselves one of only four teams in the Premier League with a 100% record, and with one of those games being a 3-0 victory away vs Manchester United, Mauricio Pochettino would certainly consider the perfect start as being above even his expectations. In the past six seasons, this is the only one in which Spurs have managed to take maximum points.
It may yet be very early in a long and unpredictable Premier League campaign, but the signs are there that this Tottenham team have more than the ones that have gone before it. Let's take a look at some of the key factors that may play a part in Spurs achieving success this season.
The World Cup effect
To many clubs, the World Cup has been seen as a cause for fear, failure and fatigue in their current campaign. At Spurs however, it may have just the opposite effect. From the team that faced Manchester United, a staggering nine of the 11 players reached at least the semi-finals of the tournament, with goalkeeper Hugo Lloris coming back to Tottenham with a winner's medal and Harry Kane receiving the Golden Boot.
The success of the tournament for these players can only bring with it further motivation and desire to achieve great things at club level having returned from a tournament in which so many of their players had a starring role.
One of the great successes of Tottenham Hotspur's campaign so far has been the ability to hold on to all of their star players, not least Harry Kane. On the back of a World Cup in which he managed to outscore the likes of Kylian Mbappé, Antoine Griezmann and Cristiano Ronaldo, there would have no doubt been many clubs fishing for Kane's signature.
Having managed to retain his services, Kane is already setting a marker for the season ahead, having ended two hoodoos in never having scored at Old Trafford and scoring in August in the match against Manchester United. The striker scored 30 goals last season, and with the likes of Dele Alli, Christian Eriksen and the rejuvenated Lucas Moura providing the creativity, there is no reason why that goal tally won't be surpassed this season.
Like the Eye of Sauron in the Lord of the Rings saga, the media's attention is firmly fixed on the doom surrounding José Mourinho at Old Trafford. The man in the opposing dugout at Old Trafford on Monday evening will have no qualms with that, and neither will Daniel Levy.
The job that Mauricio Pochettino has done at Tottenham Hotspur deserves plenty of plaudits, and if success stories sold more copies than the crisis at Old Trafford then we may well have seen much more publicity for Pochettino's evolution of the Spurs side than there has been.
It only seems a matter of time before one of the elite clubs across Europe take the chance on Pochettino, with his name being thrown in the ring for the Real Madrid job prior to the announcement of Julen Lopetegui, as well as being touted as the eventual successor to Mourinho at Manchester United. The situation for Tottenham Hotspur this season is somewhat of a catch-22.
If Tottenham Hotspur achieve more success, Pochettino will attract more attention, and if that's the case then this season could very well be his last. All the more reason for Spurs to make the most of his talents while he's at the helm.
The 2018/19 season feels like a do or die campaign for Spurs. With the team reaching its peak, can success be achieved before the inevitable cherry picking of their star players and manager by elite clubs throughout Europe? The next nine months will tell.