By Friday 30th August 2013, Chairman Daniel Levy had sanctioned spending of 109 million GBP for 7 players to join the North London club, with the ‘fire-buy’ curtailed once the £11.5m purchase of Christian Eriksen had been confirmed at a little before 9 o’clock that evening. Just 2 days later, the Lilywhites – now happy that they had catered for the imminent departure of Gareth Bale – made the short journey across North London to take on Arsenal at the Emirates. Instant fireworks were widely expected of the new septet at Spurs.
But that was never going to be the case. Christian Eriksen and Vlad Chiriches were unavailable for the fixture and Erik Lamela could only realistically make a cameo appearance after his move from Roma. The other new signings – Paulinho, Nacer Chadli, Roberto Soldado and Etienne Capoue – all started the game but were yet to settle into their new surroundings. And as should have been expected, despite impressive possession football at times from AVB’s side, the settled Arsenal triumphed over the disjointed Spurs.
This led to Arsenal fans proclaiming that Spurs had bought a load of rubbish and that they would be forever in the shadow of Arsenal; they were opportunely ignoring the fact that when a side is altered as much as Tottenham was this summer, they will take time to bond and function optimally.
But it is extremely frustrating when you spend over £100m on acquisitions and they don’t hit the ground running. Perfectly understandable, but still extremely frustrating. And even now, a month after the 5th, 6th and 7th signings were announced, Tottenham are not firing on all cylinders. AVB’s men demonstrated glimpses of their quality and potential in their 1-1 draw with Chelsea at the weekend, but to say they were near their best would be an exaggeration. Christian Eriksen and Roberto Soldado drifted in and out of the game and, for one reason or another, Erik Lamela, Etienne Capoue and Vlad Chiriches didn’t make an appearance. Sandro and Younes Kaboul – from the ‘old guard’ – also did not figure on Saturday.
Chairman, directors, coaches, players, fans; everyone involved with Spurs knows that they can win the league. When you spend over £100m – with a positive net spend or not – you naturally expect a meteoric return. But Rome was not built in a day. On current ability in the squad, Spurs have the 4th or 5th best side in the league; but on potential, we are second to none. Our squad doesn't possess a midfielder over the age of 26. Top-class – bordering on world-class – players Erik Lamela and Christian Eriksen are only 21 years old. The core of our team, those that we rely on week-in week-out, such as Hugo Lloris, Jan Vertonghen, Paulinho, and Mousa Dembele, are just entering their peak. We've spent £100m+, and this most likely will not be our year. But next year might. Or the year after. We could conceivably have the same starting XI now as we could in 3 years time. Imagine how good they will be then.
Tottenham won’t know if they have fulfilled their potential by the end of this season. We mightn't even be able to judge whether our new signings were flops or successes. 2014-15 will be the year in which we discover that AVB has built, nurtured and developed a Premiership-winning side, or whether we will yet again be nearly men for the top 4. But look at our squad. Look at the ages of our key players and our future stars. And look at the open-top bus rides around Tottenham when we finally achieve glory again, and we make Sir Bill Nicholson proud.