Now that the sun has set on the 17-18 season and we’ve all had time to evaluate what transpired, the season can be realistically assessed (with the aid of hindsight) to determine if any of our pre-season expectations were achieved. Defining the 17/18 season isn’t strictly possible. There will be as many different views as there are people connected to THFC. It will depend on comparisons to previous seasons, what individual expectations were when the season started, and the meaning of progress.
My expectations, from memory, were to finish the season in the top four and have a decent run in the Champions League and at least one of the cups. I also expected to enjoy the football we produced on the park, see some memorable games, and that we would be competitive whenever and wherever we played. And I thought it would be nice if our new stadium stayed on track to open for the 18/19 season.
Now the question I am faced with is …. were my expectations met?
Probably the most important expectation was to retain our position in the top four. We exceeded that expectation by ending the season in third place. By doing this we have overtaken Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool …. at least temporarily. The money generated by finishing in a higher league position (36m), and qualification for the CL, is crucial in terms of competing with our rivals in attracting new players.
As far as the cups are concerned, we made an early exit in the League Cup and reached the semi-final of the FA Cup. Although the run in the FA Cup satisfied the ‘decent-run-in-one-of-the-cups’ expectation, to come so close before failing at the penultimate game was disappointing.
The Champions League journey resulted in some memorable games and topping such a difficult group was a worthy endeavour and should have instilled a sense of pride in all of us. Playing well but losing to Juve over the two legs was disappointing but our overall performances enhanced our growing profile and reputation on the European stage. The achievement of three consecutive years in the Champions League cannot be overstated.
In terms of our league performance, by finishing in third place on the table we have demonstrated consistency throughout the season …. both at home (?) and away. Throughout the season, we have been able to maintain the two points per game average that normally results in CL football. Comparative results in terms of win/lose/draw, and goal difference, suggest we were on a par with the teams at the top …. apart from City. There were many great performances to enjoy along the way, including the crazy final game of the season. There was also the odd disappointing result, which most clubs experience at some point of the season, but we recovered from them well. And the mantle of being the top London club feels rather comfortable.
Only twice before in our history have Tottenham achieved three top four finishes in consecutive seasons …. they were achieved by the great team of the early fifties and the even greater team of the early sixties (which managed four in a row)! I suspect that it was even harder to achieve this time around than it was on both previous occasions. Certainly, no-one expected us to do it.
The progress of our new stadium is, according to latest reports, pretty much on track although there is provision to play the first games of the season away from home should any last minute issues arise. Some things are beyond our control and can’t be helped.
Have we progressed from last season? We went further in the CL. We reached the FA Cup semi-final. We finished in the top four again. If that is not progress, it’s certainly not going backward. Perhaps it could be viewed as consolidation. Of course, there are many other variables which affect the definition of progress, and supporters will no doubt employ them.
The choice every supporter has to make is whether to be satisfied with the positives of the season, or be disgruntled by any perceived negatives …. such as the failure to win silverware. We can be viewed as a ‘nearly-team’ or an ‘improving-team’, either of which is better than being the ‘not-even-close-team’ that we were for so long. Looking ahead, there is every reason to feel optimistic Although nothing in football is guaranteed, by remaining in the mix we increase our chance of trophy success in the future.
All things considered, and taking into account my pre-season expectations, I have to say that, for me, 17/18 was another roller-coaster ride of emotions …. resulting in a truly satisfying and enjoyable season. What about you?