Football is a funny old game, and in the case of Tottenham Hotspur, they are being reminded of the inevitable ups and downs of professional sport.
A few months ago they were riding an exciting wave that left them one game away from winning the Champions League, but they now face an internal crisis that has left them thirteen points behind Jurgen Klopp’s high-flying Liverpool side.
Towards the end of last season, it seemed like a very promising time to be a Spurs fan. Their breathtaking European run, which included wonderful comeback victories against Manchester City and Ajax, nearly brought them continental glory, and the completion of their new stadium meant that there were plenty of reasons to be optimistic heading into the new season.
However, as we approach mid-October, the overall picture of Tottenham’s fortunes has taken on a more miserable look. Wounds have been reopened, ones that have traditionally plagued the club but which fans must have thought healed long ago.
The first couple of weeks of the season brought the usual inconsistencies that most teams confront early on in a campaign, but with convincing victories against Crystal Palace and a spirited away performance at the Emirates, Spurs fans were justified in expecting their side to at least challenge for the top four again.
However, an awful few weeks which culminated most recently with a 3-0 defeat to Brighton have seen Pochettino’s men seemingly spiral out of control.
This most recent defeat was merely a continuation of a run of dire performances that saw Spurs knocked out of the Carabao Cup by Colchester United, and then capitulate in the Champions League to lose 7-2 to Bayern Munich, two of their most embarrassing defeats in living memory.
For a team that has not had big influxes of players and which prides itself on stability, this is a serious concern, and perhaps marks the end of an era in Tottenham’s history.
Senior players such as Christian Eriksen and Toby Alderweireld are out of contract in the summer, the future of Harry Kane remains uncertain, and doubts about how long Pochettino himself will stay at the club paint a gloomy image for Tottenham’s future.
Unfortunately for Spurs fans, this is all too familiar a story, and harks back to three or four years ago, when their main issues were twin failures to keep their best players and then invest in worthy replacements.
The development and success of players like Kane and Eriksen, alongside a brand new stadium and an enthralling Champions League run, may have led Spurs fans to believe that such demons were behind them, but it is now clear that any cracks were merely papered over.
Pochettino, who has been at the club since 2014, is generally considered to have overseen a successful tenure as Tottenham manager. When he was appointed the club was still struggling in the aftermath of losing Gareth Bale the year before, but just two years later he almost took them to a Premier League title.
Moreover, he’s been responsible for giving stars like Harry Kane and Harry Winks their first opportunities in the side, despite the initial criticism this attracted at the time (which now seems astonishing, especially in the case of the former).
Nonetheless, one cannot deny that Pochettino may now look around and feel that he has gone full circle with Spurs and taken them as far as he can. Now they need to go through another set of changes to get back to where they were last year.
Football, like most things, goes in cycles. The time of Mauricio Pochettino’s Tottenham challenging the top two spots may be over, unless things change very quickly.
Image: Hzh via Wikimedia Commons