Thursday 14 December 2017 / 02:02 AM

SPURS STEP FORWARD IN EUROPE, BACKWARD AT HOME

If you tuned into the Borussia Dortmund v Tottenham Hotspur game last Tuesday, you’ll know that Maurico Pochettino’s side showed great character to come from behind and beat the German heavyweights.

It was their fifth unbeaten result in the Champions League this season – a stark contrast to their disastrous campaign last time out, which saw them making a rapid exit from the competition that they’d spent years trying to get into.

They are into the last 16, and as group winners, they should avoid Europe’s big guns in the first knockout tie, making the chances of a quarter-final very positive indeed.

But, unfortunately for all Tottenham, this form hasn’t quite transferred itself onto the domestic stage.

Spurs’ draw at home to West Brom saw them drop out of the top four and one point behind arch rivals Arsenal, and although it is fair to say that Pochettino’s side no longer measure themselves in comparison to Wenger’s – it is the Manchester Citys, Manchester Uniteds and Chelseas of this world that Spurs now aspire to compete with.

And in the last couple of seasons they have done so admirably, but this season looks like a different kettle of fish.

Spurs are already 13 points behind Manchester City – there may be a long way to go, but it is a gap that feels insurmountable.

Tottenham are the only side in the top half to have been involved in the last two title races, but it seems they will be a spectator in this one, despite the ambition to progress and begin to match the league’s top clubs.

So, I guess the question is: what next for Tottenham?

One thing is for sure: they need to return to (the new) White Hart Lane with Champions League football, and if the season ended right now, they wouldn’t have it.

It is fair to say that Spurs cannot yet compete with the financial might of Chelsea and the two Manchester clubs, so it is no shame to come up second best to sides that have had many more hundreds of millions spent on them, but what is clear is that Spurs have made significant progress, and if they go backwards, then a couple of things will happen:

1. Pochettino may well leave – the manager is well-regarded in Europe, and is surely currently coveted by some of the biggest clubs. Should Spurs fail to secure Champions League football, it’ll make it much easier for the Argentine to leave.
2. Spurs’ star players may leave, too – Toby Alderweireld has stalled on a new contract, every club in the world would want striker Harry Kane, and Dele Alli is highly regarded by some of Europe’s best. Without Champions League football, it’ll be difficult for those players to reconcile being at a club that’s not even the fourth best in England, when there are better offers on the table.

What will happen?

Only time will tell, but it’s fair to say that it’s vital that the bottom doesn’t fall out of Spurs’ season – the repercussions would be significant.

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About the author

Seb Greenwood

CBS’s longest-serving contributor, Englishman Seb is our leading football correspondent, pulling no punches with his opinions on the Premier League and the international scene.

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