For all the excitement surrounding Tottenham in the last three or four years, in some aspects they’ve really not made much progress.
A go at the title in 2011/12, along with what now seems a souvenir appearance in the Champions League, is little to shout about in the long term. And when they were pipped to fourth by Arsenal on the final day of the Premier League, Spurs fans must have felt a horrible sense of deja vu.
For an improving side, the next step up is to maintain Champions League football, but the Europa League should not be dismissed. Manager Andre Villas Boas has been keen to emphasise that point.
Many talented players and teams have cut their teeth in Thursday night’s football festival, from Falcao to Fenerbache, and the tournament offers the chance for your side to accustom to the balancing act of league, cup and Europe. It is far from an easy trick.
Many will point out Spurs have yet to overtake a beleaguered Arsenal, but momentum distorts the equation. A stalling car is different to one going through the gears, Spurs have simply missed fourth on this occasion.
Despite these recent failings, they are still improving, which offers them a real selling point in the transfer window. Is it any wonder one of Brazil’s finest has chosen to go to the Lane? Paulinho is one of the better signings of the summer so far, but it’s up front that requires greater focus. Emmanuel Adebayor and Jermain Defoe cannot be considered world class.
Many of Tottenham’s goals came from wonder boy Gareth Bale, who developed an uncanny knack of scoring crucial and sensational strikes simultaneously. If he stays, fantastic for Spurs, but should he go, there will be more than crumbs of comfort for Mr Levy, with the reported price of £50-100 million.
That is big reinvestment money, and could afford a world class core to a team already in possession of a good squad.
For now though, the work is all there to do. Until Spurs find a regular seat at Europe’s top table, their progression as a club will be in question.