Date: 21st February 2018 at 5:05pm
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Recently, we have been privileged to watch some of the finest football that any team in the Premier League has produced …. comparable, perhaps, to the 60/61 team. And that is HIGH praise. Unlike the ‘Double’ team we have yet to win silverware and I think there are good reasons for this.

The Double team were consistently brilliant across three or four seasons. Our current team is capable of football just as brilliant but has been less consistent. Why? The Double team had a much superior first eleven than any of their opponents. The stronger teams that threatened Tottenham for supremacy were fewer than we face today and the majority of the lower first division clubs were not as strong as they are today, and less likely to provide ‘upset’ results to the top teams.

Throughout the 60’s the clubs at the top of Division One varied. During the 60/61 season, Sheffield Wednesday, Wolves and Burnley were our main opposition …. none of which had been at the top for long, or would be at the top for much longer. Burnley were always a danger and beating them in the 61 semi-final and 62 final were special victories for me. But having a better team allowed Spurs to be more consistent and favourites to win trophies.

Another major difference between the two sides in the quest for silverware is that the 60’s team had the same, or better, financial capacity compared to the other clubs in the first division. Today, the ‘level playing-field’ that all clubs should ideally compete on is slanted in favour of three of our main rivals due to their financial capacity to buy glory.

It is far easier to win a competition when there are only three difficult opponents that challenge you than, from our perspective, when there are five and three of them possess a huge financial advantage! We may not have the best squad of players on paper but, because of the way we are managed and the players we have, we are capable of playing better football. The reality is, however, that all top six clubs are capable of beating anyone ‘on their day’.

Today, the lack of consistency of the top clubs can simply be the result of so many clubs in fierce competition rather than a specific fault in the way they perform. This wasn’t so difficult for the Double team. Surely nobody, nowadays, expects that any one of the top six teams will beat the other top six teams home and away on a regular basis, do they? And surely nobody thinks silverware is a god-given right to any club, do they?

City, this season, are very much in the same zone as we were in the 60/61 season. It will be interesting to see how long it lasts and how their PL domination this season will affect the other ‘money’ clubs who are capable of catching up with them through the transfer market should they feel the need. The time between the sixties and now has seen periods of success and additions to the trophy cabinet but I have just focussed on comparing the Double team with the current team.

Age caught up with the Double team, and the tide went out. With careful management, the current Spurs team should not suffer in the same way. The THFC project is about building a successful future that is sustainable. Because of the strength of the top six clubs at the moment silverware might not be claimed on a regular basis by any one club but, like the points they play for, could be shared between them. We, at least, should remain in contention for our share of the spoils for many seasons to come. In the meantime, and irrespective of where the trophies come to rest, we will be fortunate enough to enjoy the amazing football and incredible journey the THFC project is taking us on.


37 Replies to “Achieving Silverware; Then And Now.”

  • Very good and interesting read Geof… Since the late 60’s, when I started following Tottenham, we have had many very good players at the club. But only a couple of very good teams. But none as consistently good and as exciting as this one is right now. … I believe that a trophy is around the corner and fast approaching. Possibly this season. But come May, who knows? … Meanwhile, I shall as ever, enjoy the journey. And I expect some good, some bad and some ugly mugs along its road. More good than bad and not as ugly as a Gooner gurning and looking concerned and angry at a certain Arsene Wenger.

  • Excellent post but your asking Palmolive (Autocorrect so keeping it lol) to be along shortly to explain to us how it really works haha

  • There is nothing in the modern game that hasn’t changed from the doubles era. From the finances to the pitches to the number of games to the size of the squads and the need for rotation. Fans sometimes talk as if nothing changes, how it is now is how it will always be. But everything changes. The new stadium changes things for us. If FFP was ever properly enforced it would change things for City and PSG. If this years TV deal is a sign of things to come and TV money starts going down instead of up it will change things for the whole premier league. You just have to deal with whatever the circumstances you currently find yourself in.

  • Excellent article and some excellent perspective. At 33 I’m too young to really remember a truly dominant Spurs side. I have always known the team to be capable of beating anyone on their day, but also be hugely inconsistent. However as Geof points out, maybe it’s difficult to be consistent given the overall strength in depth of the modern PL. When even the relegation-threatened clubs are teams full of internationals, it’s a lot harder to walk the PL. Which makes some recent title-winning performances all the more impressive (starting with City this year).

  • 33! I remember being 33… Well, I can remember that it comes just after 32 and a little before 35… Damn, I forgot 34! Must have been a bad year for me…

  • Geof, a lovely article. Alas, I can’t remember the double winning era as my affiliation to Spurs started in 72. So whilst I am not in Frank’s category nor am I in Belgian’s spring chicken group, I have still witnessed the ups and down, I have enjoyed every minute of my life in Lillywhite land and have witnessed amazing progress on and off the field.

    Your last paragraph summed up everything for me, especially, “The THFC project is about building a successful future that is sustainable”. With the exception of finding a long term solution to an able deputy/replacement for Kane, I like the way we are future planning for likely exits, e.g., if Rose were to leave, we have Davies who continues to impress me, Walker’s departure has not been overly missed by me as Tripp, Aurier and KWP maintain some continuity. With Toby’s future uncertain, I feel Sanchez has been a great addition, a younger player with a lot to offer in future and Foyth biding his time. Lucas now offers us great comp with Lamela, Sonny and even Dele. The stadium is a great foresight to bring the revenues to maintain that level of squad tuning. The sticking points will remain the trophy draught and wage cap, but I am convinced if we stay on the path, both the obstacles can be overcome. I hope we never see another squad rebuild process and are able to retain the core members of the management + players. That is the biggest ask. COYS!

  • The better we go, the more expectation rises, we have come along way since the eighties (since I started supporting Spurs). Things are progressing nicely but eventually to satisfy everybody we need to win trophies and regularly too. I think clubs needs all kinda supporters, those that are never satisfied, those happy clappers and the those that like to keep their feet on the ground.

  • I guess it’s just a matter of ‘in Levy and Poch we trust’. It seems to be working well so far and, anyway, we don’t have much choice!

    CS …. The one period of our history that I completely missed out on since the 60’s, was relegation. I knew nothing about it until we’d returned to the First Division because I was in a remote area and could not access UK football news …. how lucky was that?! 🙂

  • Money and owners and CL obsession has taken over, you enter a competition to win it simple as, we are great to watch and play great football, and we have nothing to show from it.

  • Too young to remember the 61 double side. What I did pick up from my dad though is that every player that was replaced out of that side was a step down in quality. In a nutshell, that’s what we need to be careful of. It’s already happened with Walker, not that we could compete with the transfer fee, salary and player power involved there. Within 18 months, our full-backs have gone from the most feared in the Prem to just goodish. Aurier might take a step up if he listens to the coaches and irons out his weaknesses like Walker did before him. Trippier has probably plateau’d. Davies, at 24 years old, has been the pick of them but he’s not hit the heights that Rose did when he was tearing into sides using his pace and skill. As for Rose, he’ll probably only get back to his best if he gets a full pre-season behind him and my guess is that won’t be in a Spurs shirt.

    In a nutshell, this is what my dad was on about. I get it now and will be watching carefully as Vertonghen and Dembele move into their thirties and Toby’s contract keeps making the headlines. I’ll continue to worry about Eriksen being the eventual successor to Iniesta at Barca and also Levy’s eyes lighting up as a new world record fee is offered for Kane. That won’t stop me enjoying the moment and being ever optimistic. Poch created a great side in the last 5 years with limited budget, he can do it over and over again with more budget at his disposal.

  • muttley …. Eventually, that’s the problem every team with good players face. A like-for-like replacement is far easier to procure for the clubs who aren’t so financially challenged …. and if they get it wrong the first time, they can try again.

  • The thing is, the concept of a like for like replacement is only necessary if you play the same system all the time. If you’re willing to change your tactics to suit the players you have, you can buy different players to the ones who left and still play at a high level. When we lost Bale, for example, what we were really losing was an energetic winger, keen defender, set piece expert, goal threat and pace to worry opposing defenders. Taken individually, all of those things can be replaced adequately by several players (what we have eventually achieved with Son, Alli, Eriksen, Kane and Rose). The tactics are different to when Bale was here, but just as effective overall. Where we have failed, in my opinion, is not necessarily in replacing the production eventually, it’s replacing it immediately. If you sell a battle-hardened top performer and buy promising youngsters to replace him, even if after a few years they can become just as effective as the player who left, you still have to deal with 1, 2 or 3 “down years” in the meantime. If all of our players are going to peak at the same time, you can go through cycles, but if the peaks are offset (ie Jan being over the hill by the time Winks has turned into a good player, for example), you risk always being 1 or 2 immediate contributors away from trophies. That’s what we should be monitoring closely – windows of opportunity. Realistically, Jan, Mousa and Hugo are likely to go downhill in the next 3 years. If we decide that we’re 1 or 2 players away from trophies right now, we’d be better off getting them in sooner rather than later. Waiting for Aurier/Davies/Trippier to eventually pan out is risky, because if they take another 2 years to become the players we want the to be, we may be looking at other holes by the time they have hit their peak.

  • BS …. Well, I agree, and you’ve illustrated how difficult it all is to sustain a momentum in football. I guess the one thing that’s happening now that hasn’t happened for a very long time, is that our Chairman and Manager are completely on the same wavelength. Poch has his own blueprint for success and Levy, at last, seems to trust his judgement and appears willing to give him more backing than he has given to any previous manager. Neither of them are stupid and I’m sure they both understand what they need to do to keep the club progressing so, as I said, we just have to trust them in the way that they appear to trust each other.

  • Lol Geof not at all 🙂 I for feel we are going in the right direction. And as a spurs fan only from since the early 90’s anything is better than say Sugars “Dark” era haha. But I really do for the first time envision us lifting the PL at some point in the near future. Onwards and upwards 🙂

  • The other thing I would add here is about being agile in the transfer market and having a squad strategy. When Harry was in charge we were anything but agile. We stockpiled players like crazy and spent 3 consecutive summers starting with 35 over age players. It was as if Harry never checked any birth certificates of the free picks in the squad and then panicked when he realised they were over age and needed to be in the 25 the next season. We would then spend every summer trying to shift the unwanted and leave our new signings too late because of cashflow. That also meant our wage bill was over inflated on quantity rather than pay the quality higher salary. Whilst we had some joy on the pitch, it was a completely flawed model.

    Geoff – your point is so valid about the manager and chairman being in harmony. I think Levy learned a lot about how not to let your manager run riot with squad numbers under Harry. That probably hit home when Harry had the audacity to then blame his chairman for no big signings when the camera was shoved under his nose. He then saw Bale and Caulker leave to be replaced by 7 new faces under AVB which undid the good work he had done rationalising the squad. Painful lessons I’m sure for a chairman. It had to change after the clown Sherwood left.

    Poch will only ever have an agile squad. Today, he has 24 players only of which a couple like Foyth and Sanchez are free picks. He can manoeuvre easily in the transfer market and is not wasting salaries on players not pulling their weight. He is also ruthless enough to move players on like Bentaleb or Fazio regardless of age. It’s about ability, work ethic and commitment to THFC first and foremost. Happy days and long may it continue (obviously, with some trophies!!!).

  • Good article Geof and very true. The only thing I would say is it is still disappointing that we have only won the LC in 2008 to show for the ENIC era. You would think that we could have emulated the likes of Wigan, Portsmouth, and Leicester in sneaking up and winning an odd major trophy in that period. Yes we will always be more consistent than these teams, but they still have their bit of history for the memory. Hopefully MP will overcome the “false dawn” scenario, and actually deliver a trophy or two to try and persuade our better players to stick around, something that hasn’t happened since the Billy Nicholson era.

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