Tottenham Hotspur – The Cheap Road To Greatness.

Written by Max Hardy.

 

History.

Tottenham Hotspur Football Club, who are also referred to as Spurs, is an English Football Club who are based in North London that compete in the Premier League. Founded in 1882, since 1898, the club traditionally wear a white top with navy shorts and train in the London borough of Enfield. In 1884, the lilywhite fans climbed onto the roof of a refreshment stand in their rented stadium in a game against Woolwich Arsenal, where the structure gave way and dozens were injured. This meant Spurs had to find a new home.

Fast forward 3 years and Spurs moved to a site which was soon to be called White Hart Lane, where just 3 years later, in 1901, the club who wasn’t in the top-flight of English Football won the FA CUP, becoming the first non-league side to win the tournament… an achievement that’s never been repeated. Arsenal soon relocated from South London to North London, only 6.3km away from each other. Although Arsenal were in the second division and Tottenham were in the first, Tottenham were relegated in 20th place in 1915, but just a few months later, the league size was expanded from 20 teams to 22. Arsenal, who finished in 5th place, were promoted due to them being voted in, but Spurs fans, including myself, think this ‘vote’ was rigged.

Currently, on the 7th of February 2022, Tottenham sit in 7th place in the premier league on 36 points which is the same amount of points Arsenal have. Arsenal sit in 6th place due to Tottenham playing one  less game than Arsenal because of COVID stopping a large amount of games. The rivalry will forever live on.

Tottenham’s Seeds.

In 2008, the lilywhites brought in manager Harry Redknapp who planted the seeds for Tottenham’s recent stature. Under Redknapp the team benefitted significantly with key players such as Aaron Lennon, Kyle Walker, Gareth Bale and Luka Modric proving to be crucial to the club. These key players managed to get Champions League Football in the 2009/10 season, as Spurs beat arsenal in the league, which was the first time in over 10 years! After years of hovering under the big successes, Tottenham appointed Mauricio Pochettino as manager in 2014, who made great tactical signings and boosted the clubs overall morale. Poch signed under the radar names at the time, such as Son Heung-min and Dele Alli, who became huge talents in the world of football and taking Spurs to that next level. The most surprising player at the club was a striker called Harry Kane who scored 21 goals and 4 assists in 34 appearances; in his first season in the Premier League it made clubs fear him. Within no time, Tottenham didn’t just progress, but we were challenging for the title in the 2016/17 season where they finished 2nd for the first time since 1961.

Immediately after the 2016/17 season, Spurs bid for a new reconstruction of their stadium, moving into Wembley until completion. In the summer of 2018 Tottenham became the first team in history to not make a single signing in the transfer window. The lack of reinforcements with an injured Harry Kane and Son proved how key these players were but the lilywhites still managed to finish 4th that season. Although 4th is still impressive, Spurs managed to get to the Champions League final in dramatic fashion, beating the likes of Manchester City, Ajax and Dortmund, all of which was classed as the best Champions League season ever. Losing 2-0 to Liverpool in the Champions League final was heart break for fans like myself, as Tottenham fans felt robbed. An early questionable handball from Moussa Sissoko gave Liverpool a penalty in which Mohammed Salah stepped up to score for the reds. With confidence low and true heartbreak near, the Tottenham squad failed to get back into the game before Liverpool’s Divock Origi delivered the final devastating blow. After 5 years in charge, Pochettino was sacked 12 games into the season after a poor start to the season.

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Current Tottenham.

After the sacking of Pochettino, Daniel Levy brought in Jose Mourinho, who stared as the main manager in Tottenham’s documentary ‘All or Nothing’ on Amazon Prime. With Jose liking to spend money and Levy not, the pair just didn’t mesh, and after a year-and-a-half the Spurs manager was sacked. Unfortunate or not, the team wasn’t performing, and with COVID and lockdowns happening, clubs were reluctant to spend money. Tottenham were top of the list in club debt across football, with a total of 1.1billion pounds owed, the majority of which was spent on the stadium.

The Wolvesman, Nuno Espirito Santo, later took over as manager and whilst starting the season well, where the Spurs were sitting in 1st place. Tottenham fans were ecstatic, but it was soon met with disappointment as the team struggled to win games, players such as Harry Kane, who wanted to leave the club in the summer, showed no ambition and didn’t play the first 3 games due to being unhappy that a £125million pound move to Manchester City was unsuccessful.

Nuno spent just 17 matches as the Spurs manager before Levy sacked him; however, this was unsurprising to fans including myself as his style of football didn’t fit the Tottenham fundamentals, but our love for poor Nuno will always be there. It wasn’t his fault that he took a job no manager in the world wanted to take. Nevertheless, Daniel Levy realised his mistake, and to rectify it he chose to bring in Antonio Conte, the current Inter Milan manager and one of the best managers in the Italian League. Conte won the Serie A with Inter Milan stopping Juventus from winning their 10th title in a row. With Conte at Tottenham’s wheel, it excites fans like myself, as the owners have a manager they can truly back. This is key to a football club as the manager can sign any player he wants, but also has a successful portfolio of his previous club signings. Conte took players to that next level, with examples such as Lukaku and Martinez, being an amazing striker duo for Inter Milan. With Conte bringing the best out of his strikers it makes Tottenham fans ecstatic for how Harry Kane will improve.

 

The Business.

Lifelong Tottenham fan Irving Scholar was a successful property developer who bought out the club in 1982, deciding to put Tottenham on the London stock exchange. Spurs used their commercial principles to promote their football kits and club merchandise to maximise profit, running the club like a business. This later paved a path for commercialisation in the English game (Sky, BT sport), as many other clubs followed Tottenham’s initiative. By 1991, the lilywhites fell £20,000,000 into debt, but despite the club’s issues in the 80’s, Tottenham won an FA cup with iconic players, such as Paul Gascoigne and Gary Lineker.

Former Tottenham player Terry Venables and Alan Sugar decided to have a stake in the club, where Sugar paid off Tottenham’s club debt. Both men had a huge part in Spurs’ history but Alan Sugar more heavily, this happened as Sugar slowly owned more and more of Tottenham until becoming chairman of the club from 1991-2001. The so called ‘Tottenham saver’ sacked Terry Venables, then went on to invest as little as possible into the club and was indefinitely running the club as a business. This was later backed up by the fact that Sugar was unaware of Tottenham’s FA cup double and didn’t know who club legend Bill Nicholson was. “Double? What Double?” – Alan Sugar          

Terry Venable commented on the way Sugar was operating the club and said his point in a statement to the press, “You are messing with people’s religion and people are not going to accept that easily.” Sugar later went on to say that ‘the biggest mistake of his life was giving 10 years to that football club’. A few years on and Sir Alan Sugar sold his stake in the club for £21.9m to ENIC in 2001, which is owned mainly by Joe Lewis and Daniel Levy. This was great for fans as it gave us hope onto the future.

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Tradition.

Nothing beats walking to the Tottenham Hotspur stadium late at night to a midweek game, with fans chanting songs and music blaring in pubs. The true happiness surrounding us and access to a wide array of great food, boosting fans spirits. Seeing the £1 billion stadium lights shine into the fan’s hearts, inspiring the generation to come with hopes of huge ambitions. The fans nervously await the game to start, and the goosebumps from our walking out song is unmatched (Duel of the fates). Club merchandise everywhere in a community where we all share the love for the same thing… Football. Iconic chants ring around the stadium, COYS (Come On You Spurs). The roars as the players arrive, and even louder roars when we score is a feeling you wish lasted forever. Adrenaline pumping and heart stopping moments reminds me of just how much I love the beautiful game. COYS.

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The Rise And Fall.

In 1946 football resumed and in the 1950/51 season Tottenham made a dramatic return to the first division. They not only had just been promoted, but also went on to win the first division in their first season back. Tottenham were so good due to a player called Arthur Rowe, who revolutionised football with his concept called ‘push and go’, commonly called a ‘give and go’ or a ‘1-2’. This is where the player offloads the ball and makes a forward run expecting the ball back to his feet. Sadly, Tottenham didn’t retain the title next year or years after that but a decade later Tottenham’s golden era was about to start. Bill Nicholson who is Spurs’ best ever manager had won the first division and FA cup in his first three years and following the club’s successes Tottenham signed Jimmy Greaves who went on to become one of the most prolific goal scorers in English history. Jimmy Greaves was signed from AC Milan for £99,999, which would’ve been £100,000, but Nicholson didn’t want to put too much pressure onto the player. ‘Greavsie’ played 379 games for the lilywhites, scoring 266 goals for the club, but unfortunately never won the league throughout his career. Although he didn’t win the league, he was involved in winning two FA cups and a European cup in 1963 before leaving in 1969. It’s typical from Tottenham really, having one/if not the best strikers of all time, and still not winning the league!

Unfortunately, Nicholson stepped down as the manager, and despite being relegated and promoted once more Tottenham went on to win back-to-back FA cup trophies in 1981 and ‘82, as well as another European cup in ‘84. Spurs didn’t win anything from then onwards in the 80’s but this could’ve been down to financial decisions rom the club. Tottenham had 18 managers between 1984-2008 who included popular names such as: Ray Clemence, Glenn Hoddle and last title winning manager, Juande Ramos. Spurs last won a trophy in 2008, beating Chelsea 2-1 in the final, but also only finished 11th in the league, even I don’t remember that season as a particularly successful one.

Meet The Chairman.

Daniel Levy was appointed chairman and has been in the role ever since, and is currently the longest-serving premier league chairman (21 years). Levy is also part of transfer negotiations of the club and Sir Alex Ferguson claimed that “dealing with Daniel Levy was more painful than my hip replacement,” when trying to buy Berbatov from the lilywhites. Daniel Levy who is a Jewish businessman who was born in Essex on the 8th February 1962, he’s been a lifelong Tottenham supporter. He gained his business stature from his father who owned a business in retail, more specifically clothing. Levy has got Tottenham where they are today and although he isn’t liked by the majority of fans, he is a better chairman than Irving Scholar and Alan Sugar. After graduating university, Levy formed a business association with Joe Lewis who became involved in an investment called ENIC. ENIC was a specialised sports and entertainment company which Levy owned 29.4% of; the other percentage was owned by Joe Lewis 70.6%.

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Conclusion.

I’ve been a huge Tottenham Hotspur fan since the day I set my eyes on football. I remember going to my first game when I was 6, I loved the energy and passion of the fans; the chanting and roars of the crowd indulged me into the culture. I eat, sleep, and breathe Tottenham and will forever back my club. Walking from the station to the stadium and trying to peek your head around houses to get a glance of the stadium is an indescribable feeling. My one real happy place. The fact we have been trophyless for 13 years, only 20 days away from becoming 14 years, is unacceptable but adds to the drama of football. We arguably have the best striker in the world who is a prolific goal scorer for the club but have absolutely nothing to show for it. This situation is extremely familiar for Spurs fans as we all remember Jimmy Greaves, who played for the club back in 1961, he was the best striker in the world, but had little to nothing to show for it. Why is it unacceptable? The reason that its unacceptable is that Tottenham Hotspur are considered to be one of the top 6 teams in the premier league. The others in the top 6 include Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea, Liverpool and Arsenal who have all won a trophy in the past 5 years. We are considered to be part of the top 6, but haven’t won a trophy in 14 years!

Any football fan would tell you how much they want their football club to succeed and do well, but being a Spurs fan, this is a feeling not many supporters have. It’s the feeling of excitement that we have beaten a top 6 team of even getting into a final of the champions league, but it’s met with disappointment. Every year Tottenham have a good spell of games, where it looks like we could win a trophy, but we forget just how cursed our club is. Can money even win us a trophy? Tottenham have the 4th least net spend in the past 5 seasons, and that really shows you how the club is run. Spend more, win more. Spend little, win little.

The January Transfer Window was an odd one for Tottenham as we were linked with many players such as Dybala, Adama Troare and multiple other players. Tottenham managed to mess up these deals as Chairmen Daniel Levy was reluctant to spend money. This is a recurring issue with Tottenham and fans were so unhappy about the situation, they planned to storm the Tottenham training ground. It’s a constant cycle and shows that Tottenham need to spend money to win trophies. Spurs did sign Bentanceur and Kulusevski, but these aren’t big names in the world of football; I really do hope we win a trophy in the next 5 years and not drop off.

Do you think Tottenham need to spend large amounts of money to win trophies?

 

Credits.

Photos from:

-Tottenham Hotspur FC on Getty Images – Heung Min Son.

-Mike Marsland on Getty Images – Alan Sugar.

-Visionhaus on Getty Images – Golden Bird.

-Robin Jones on Getty Images – Daniel Levy.

-Nmr Hrd on Pexels – Lead Photo (Pitch Lines)

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