Lifelong Spud Steve Maine writes a guest piece for ClaretandHugh ahead of this weeks London derby – and he’s a rather worried man!
Spurs’ next encounter now has all the importance of a cup final!
Taking on West Ham is always a big deal for Spurs, it’s the London derby we dare not lose, and it’s never been truer than ahead of this Wednesday’s clash.
After losing to Man City on Monday, Spurs are fifth, but this has been a difficult season, filled with embarrassing moments.
The new stadium is still not finished, meaning Spurs had to take on the champions on what resembled a Hackney Marsh pitch sponsored by the NFL, and home games are to be played at Wembley until the new year.
In Europe, Spurs have thrown games away against Inter, to lose, and PSV, to draw. A Lionel Messi masterclass meant Barcelona breezed their way to victory at Wembley, too, and it means that an early exit beckons. The scheduling boogeyman that is the Europa League beckons.
Mauricio Pochettino has admitted that he is unhappy, having failed to sign a single player in the summer. The likes of Moussa Sissoko and Fernando Llorente – both so clearly unsuitable for the way Spurs play – have thus been given genuine game time this season.
Defeats to City, Liverpool and Watford have underlined that this team, which has gone so close in recent years, is not yet ready to have a genuine tilt at the title.
And so we come to that ever-circulating argument; do Spurs have to win a trophy?
The simple answer is yes. Pochettino is a man in demand – it is hardly surprising, as he has a shoestring budget to work with, yet regularly performs near-miracles – and it would not be a surprise to learn that Real Madrid are trying to lure him to Spain right this very second, so he needs something genuine to keep him at the club.
It is all very well coming out with buzzwords like ‘net spend’ and ‘youth development’, but trophies are what keep players around. Harry Kane is world-class, but he does not want to be finishing second his entire career. Ditto the likes of Christian Eriksen and Toby Alderweireld.
This, then, is the most important game against the Hammers in years. The Premier League game was a let-off for Spurs, as Hugo Lloris kept his side in the game, saving multiple times from Marko Arnautovic. The Irons were good value for a point, at the very least.
Spurs must be careful this week, then. Defeat would surely mean crisis, another season without a trophy (unless, of course, Pochettino decides to break the habit of a lifetime and tries to win the FA Cup), but a victory would lift spirits and have fans dreaming of a first piece of silverware since 2008.