They say the league table doesn’t lie. After 38 games, Manchester City finished with 100 points, a feat not managed by any other English team ever – even if you account for three points for a win during the days when it was only two. They are deserved champions.
Lagging 19 and 23 points behind come second and third: Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur. It has already been well documented that United have flattered to deceive, but much less has been said about Spurs. They are a side who have been far more disappointing than their league position suggests.
It was written here a year ago that their cumulative points total over those past two years was the highest in the league. Their challenge was to finally make this impressive form count over one season: iron out those disappointing draws and stop choking when the pressure was really on. Their team lacked depth and their money had been squandered on squad players who would never be good enough to hold down regular starting spots.
One year on, the same problems persist. The club didn’t support Mauricio Pochettino well in the transfer market and failed to mount a title challenge while lumbering to home draws against Swansea, West Brom and West Ham. Granted Manchester City’s record-breaking season meant no one was ever likely to beat them to the title, but Spurs should have at least been closer than 23 points away. They certainly should have finished above a Manchester United side so boring that even the BBC didn’t want to show them on TV.
It may seem a harsh to criticise Spurs, whose wage bill and transfer outlay is far lower than their top-six rivals, but with the potential of their club, taking into account the manager, players, new stadium and financial power, it is all the more justified. Any side that has three players in the PFA team of the year, England’s finest goal scorer and England’s highest-scoring midfielder simply must be doing better than finishing third and crashing out of competitions early.
Since Spurs’ ending to the season and poor performance against Man United in the FA Cup, Pochettino has been uncharacteristically evasive in answers to questions about his future. “Tottenham needs more time – with me or another [manager],” he said after their FA Cup loss at Wembley. After Sunday’s game against Leicester, he added “They [the board] have a clear idea of what we need to do and I don’t know if the club will agree with me or not but we need to talk next week.”
Spurs need to do all they can to keep their current manager. Pochettino has a skillset matched by few: he plays attacking football, is a champion of young players and knows how to organise a defence. If Spurs don’t support him, there will be no shortage of suitors for Pochettino’s signature and no club should fight harder for him than Arsenal. He’d be perfect there.