It's make-or-break time for Tottenham and Mauricio Pochettinoby Andy Dillon / 13 July 2017, 14:31Tweet
TOTTENHAM finished above Arsenal last season but nobody with any sense should claim they are London’s second club yet.
This is the season when upwardly mobile Spurs and their charming manager Mauricio Pochettino must answer that pertinent challenge.
It’s been three years now since he walked through the door at White Hart Lane and yet there is still just a dusty, empty circular patch of green felt on the trophy shelf waiting for a cup to be placed upon it.
Say what you like about Arsenal but they have won the FA Cup twice in that period.
Pochettino hasn’t won a trophy since he started work in England in 2013. At Southampton where it all began for him they are used to being patient.
At Tottenham that patience is running out. This is make-or-break time for Tottenham and their boss.
For the past two seasons Pochettino has enjoyed the benefits of a young, hungry squad of players committed wholly to the cause.
Persuading Harry Kane, Dele Alli, Christian Eriksen, Eric Dier, Jan Vertonghen and Danny Rose to sign new contracts is some statement of loyalty and built on a belief in the boss.
But players’ careers are painfully short and they won’t hang around for long trusting in promises and ambition.
The cracks are already starting to appear. Dier is a firm target for Manchester United, England right back Kyle Walker wants out and will probably be allowed to go to Manchester City.
The optimism of the past years at Tottenham is starting to creak and groan under the weight of under-achievement.
Another let down and this wonderful team will break up like an Antarctic ice shelf.
If anything it is going to be even harder for them this coming campaign. Spurs did not lose a game at White Hart Lane last season - dropping just four points on their tiny pitch in an intimidating arena.
Meanwhile, their European hopes disappeared into the mist on the vast expanses of Wembley, where they will be playing all their home games this season while their new home ground is completed.
While they have a great first team, they need more from the squad as a whole, which will be playing Champions League football again.
Tottenham lost their bottle twice in the past two seasons when they blew their title dreams in away matches at Chelsea and West Ham respectively.
Each time Pochettino has been given a get-out that he has a young, upcoming squad which will learn from the experience.
If they haven’t learned from the disasters of their European disappointments at Wembley last season or found a way to stop their jelly legs giving way at crunch time in the Premier League there will be a huge price to pay.
The time for learning is over for Tottenham and for Pochettino. If there is not a cup on that sideboard next May then the Spurs bubble will burst along with the perennial chat about wondercoach Pochettino.