Tottenham Hotspur have been transformed in the last 5 years from a struggling mid-table team with a successful history into a top-four superpower.
1) The Manager
Back in October 2008, Harry Redknapp took over from Juande Ramos at Tottenham Hotspur who were stuck in a relegation fight at the bottom of the Premier League. Under Redknapp, Spurs finished out that season inside the bottom half of the table in 11th place.
After marching up the table (via 8th place in 2008/09) they have now become a top-four regular fixture and this season is currently following suit as they sit 4 points clear of North London rivals Arsenal in four position, just one point behind Chelsea in 3rd.
Since sacking Redknapp, new manager Andre Villas-Boas has proven himself arguably the most ‘progressive’ manager in the league. His style of management, as much as his mode and style of play, are every bit as continental as he is.
Unlike Redknapp who deserves credit for Spurs’ progression every bit as much as his replacement, Villas-Boas is a cultured and composed figure – he handles himself with diplomacy and decorum that surpasses that of many of his seniors at other Premier League clubs.
Redknapp got Spurs playing very good football and they were effective but they lacked the verve and versatility they now have under the Portuguese boss. They adapt their shape so fluently and their formation so confidently that oftentimes one would, from watching them, assume they were playing in La Liga or Ligue 1.
2) Speed of ascendance
Their ascendance to the top has been done so masterfully (again Redknapp deserves the credit, here) that it hasn’t felt even remotely surprising – it’s been an organic process by which, unlike their super-rich counterparts Chelsea and Manchester City, has felt like consistent growth and development, rather than instant impact from overnight overhauls.
They’ve made a gradual ascent from 11th to 8th to 4th to 5th to 4th – other than the 2010/11 season, they’ve made continual progress and their team improvements have followed suit.
3) Transfer business
Which brings me to their dealings in the transfer market. Although Redknapp earned himself a reputation as a wheeler-dealer he actually made very reasonable and sensible purchases whilst in charge at White Hart Lane.
If you look at the ‘silly money’ spent by City and the Blues, not to mention the catastrophic purchases made by Liverpool in recent seasons, Spurs have faired very well in the transfer market. They’ve not only bought well but sold well too – who would pay £33 million for Luka Modric now?
In 2007 Spurs bought Gareth Bale for £2 million – he’s got to be worth more than 30 times figure that now. The likes of Rafael van der Vaart, Jermaine Defoe, Sandro, Lewis Holtby, Hugo Lloris, Moussa Dembele, Clint Dempsey and Jan Vertonghen represent quality for the right price.
You look at the £500 million City have spent in a similar period or the £1 billion Chelsea have spent on transfers and wages in the last decade and yet Spurs are right up there with them season after season.
Had it not been for one night in Munich, Spurs would have beaten Chelsea to Champion’s League football last year and they look likely to knock Arsenal out of next year’s contention for it this time around. Yet they’ve done it all within a modest budget (as far as Premier League spending goes).
Daniel Levy has done a fantastic job season after season of securing the very best for nothing more nothing less than they’re worth and he’s given his managers what they want without compromising his own standing or bowing to external pressures.
They don’t take on the economic policy of Arsenal but borrow from the same socialist principles that the Gunners do. However, as is clear more than ever this season, their implementation of this philosophy is far more effective than their neighbours.
Levy ensures the club operates within it’s means and expands at the same rate of its’ growth – a simple but intelligent business management plan.
The next step may be a new stadium or expansion of White Hart Lane but, either way, this club is growing in terms of its appeal worldwide – in terms of sponsorship, revenue, commercial appeal, and fan-base and that is what will drive these impending adaptations.
5) The Table Doesn’t Lie
It’s a football cliché but it’s apt in this instance – the table and, synonymously, the results don’t lie. Tottenham currently sit 4th just one point behind Chelsea. I may be a little premature but I firmly believe they can (and will) finish 3rd this season and I certainly can’t see them falling away as spectacularly as they did last time around.
Champion’s League qualification will only re-enforce their ambitions and development as a club – they will remain, if they continue to operate in the manner they have been, a staple of the top-four big clubs in English football.
They've beaten Manchester United at Old Trafford this season and managed to hold them to a draw at White Hart Lane. There is no co-incidence or luck in that. The results simply reflect their ability and application.
The extra income generated by the continent’s most elite competition will only enhance their ability to grow their brand and prosper long into future and, as it stands, no other club in the league can claim to be even half as progressive as Tottenham Hotspur FC.