FIRST things first, the progress.

A stronger team mentality, a litany of negative records ended, the improvement of a whole host of players and one of the best defensive records in the Premier League over the last three seasons.

Then, of course, there are those three successive top-four finishes after years of watching the Champions League on TV and an impending move into a new stadium. 


Yes, Spurs are making a mess of that particular phase of their development but overall the idea that they are either treading water or - worse still - going backwards just doesn’t hold water.

There can be few arguments about that fact that they’ve had a disappointing European campaign this season, underlined by that madcap climax to their trip to PSV this week.

A closer look at Tottenham’s games so far in Europe however, reveals there is no shame to losing to a Barcelona side inspired by one of the great Champions League performances from Lionel Messi this month.

Nor does the form of their last-gasp defeat at Inter Milan look too bad considering the Italian giants went on to win their subsequent six and have only had the stunning run ended by Barca on Wednesday.

Even PSV are no slouches this season, victorious in 12 of their 15 games so far. Despite all that, Spurs would have won had Hugo Lloris not had one of his rushes of blood with eleven minutes left.

Clearly they’ll be back. In the meantime they are having to field questions about the lack of spending they were being praised for after their 3-0 win at Manchester United back in August. The critics can’t seem to make up their minds.

Spurs can take heart from Liverpool in the transfer market. Last November, after the Reds threw away wins against Sevilla and Chelsea, they were criticized for waiting for Virgil van Dijk to become available instead of throwing money at another defensive solution a few months earlier.

The Anfield giants held their nerve and enjoyed the last laugh after landing Van Dijk, surging to the Champions League Final and showing themselves to be the biggest threat to Manchester City’s title this season - despite not even starting that well.

Like Liverpool, Spurs are at a stage where only top quality will improve them. They’ve dabbled, since Pochettino’s arrival, with the Georges-Kevin N’koudous and Clinton N’jies of this world. Now they need to hold their nerve for players that will make it into their first team and stay there.

The likes of Vincent Janssen and Fernando Llorente, for example, have not shown enough quality to challenge or even support Harry Kane.

City have Sergio Aguero and Gabriel Jesus. Liverpool have Daniel Sturridge supporting Roberto Firmino. Arsenal have Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang while Manchester United have Marcus Rashford and Alexis Sanchez to back up Romelu Lukaku.

Spurs need that calibre of player to take them to the next level.

First, though, they need to move on the stars ready for new challenges. Players like Toby Alderweireld, Mousa Dembele and Toby Alderweireld. Both of whom were expected to be sold for big money at the start of this year’s summer transfer window. 

Both ended up staying as rival clubs decided they didn’t want to spend big for them. In that regard you have to sympathize with Spurs chairman Daniel Levy.

Why would he want to have A-listers earning big money sitting in the reserves as their contracts run down, just so that he can appease critics by splashing the cash?

Levy and the club have had to accept the brickbats for a shambolic start to a campaign which should have been landmark period in the club’s history.

What is slightly unfair is the claim that Spurs are going backwards. They remain a club punching above their weight in the Premier League. City are well aware that they will have their work cut out at Wembley on Monday.

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