These are indeed great times for Tottenham Hotspur, both on and off the field of play — the first team currently sits third in the Premier League and has an outside shot at this season’s title, while the club pushes forward with the construction of a brand new, 60,000-seat stadium in north London.
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If you’re a Tottenham supporter, you’re undoubtedly giddy with excitement over what the future may hold for your club.
Spurs fans may want to pump the brakes just a bit, though, Mauricio Pochettino cautioned on Thursday, for as brilliantly as the 2015-16 season has been thus far, “a very tough period” awaits the club ahead and following its move to the new stadium — quotes from Ham & High:
“We have in front of us a very tough period. From Spain I hear a lot – because I read a lot, always using Google Translate from English to Spanish – that [Arsenal manager] Arsene Wenger says ‘the toughest period of the club was in the period that we built the stadium’. And now I think that you need to know, and the people need to know, that this is a very tough period for us.
“I think that the people are excited to see how we play but we need to be careful, because we need to arrive to the new stadium in a very good condition to try to fight for everything and try to show that we are one of the best clubs and teams in the world.”
The above passage is but a tiny excerpt from a four-and-a-half-minute quote from Pochettino, which was mostly unsolicited and prompted by a question about why the club chose not to, or failed, to sign a backup striker during the recently concluded January transfer window.
In short, it wasn’t for a lack of funds or the stubbornness of chairman Daniel Levy, but for Pochettino’s unwillingness to unsettle a squad with a player that can’t actually improve the team, for the sake of signing someone: “It’s easier for me to say ‘ok, we bring this and this and this player’, but if we don’t believe that it can improve our squad, why?”
As for the stadium, Pochettino and Co. are right to look no further than their north London rivals to realize the many effects building a new stadium will have on the club, from the very top to the very bottom. That Arsenal were able to remain a UEFA Champions League qualifier every year before, during and after the construction of the Emirates Stadium — emphasis on the “after” and the hundreds of millions of dollars required to pay it off, meaning they were seriously strapped for cash in the transfer market — is truly remarkable and a testament to Wenger’s abilities as a manager.
Have Spurs found their Wenger? Only time will tell, and Pochettino has a long, long, long way to go in order to be compared to his north London counterpart, but the early returns have been promising. To do it during the good times is one thing; to do it during the lean years a whole other challenge that’ll test Pochettino, and Spurs, in ways they’ve never before known.