Having been at the King Power Stadium on Wednesday, January 19, 2022, I now have a claim to fame.
I have seen Tottenham Hotspur win a trophy. Hey, it was only the Premier League Oracle Most Improbable Comeback award – yep, there is such a thing – but beggars can’t be choosers, and all that.
Actually, they were probably a bit lucky to win that pot. Two goals late in added time from Stephen Bergwijn did earn Spurs a dramatic 3-2 victory, and no team in the top 10 had a defensive record worse than Leicester City’s last season… but Tottenham will take it.
And, next season, Spurs might well take a proper trophy. Antonio Conte and Harry Kane look like they are going nowhere and the club’s owners, ENIC, have announced an injection of £150million into club funds. The club announced that “the equity injection provides the Premier League Club with greater financial flexibility and the ability to further invest on and off the pitch.”
Presumably, if Conte is as content as a lot of people claim he is, most of that investment will be on the pitch. And with a few additions, this is a Spurs squad that can have ambitions of bridging the gap to the ‘Big Two’.
Obviously, their Premier League results against Manchester City (two wins) and Liverpool (two draws) last season show they can compete in one-off contests, but to have the consistency of those top two requires a deeper squad in terms of both quality and numbers.
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That is what the extra money should help provide but Conte already has a lot of excellent raw materials to work with, not least going forward. Liverpool’s success over recent years has been spearheaded by a trio of players whose combinations and understanding just got better and better: Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino. The latter has not featured as much recently but it was that trio that was the attacking bedrock of Liverpool’s long-term competitiveness.
And in Kane, Son Heung-min and Dejan Kulusevski, Spurs have a combination that is looking as though it could be as productive as any in the Premier League. Whether Kulusevski remains on loan from Juventus or signs permanently, he will be a key player for Conte, complementing Son – in the form of his life – and Kane, whose desire for a move to Manchester City last summer now seems a very distant memory.
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There is now a real spring in the step of the Spurs skipper. But, of course, the most convincing reason for Spurs optimism is that Conte seems happy. Having wound up Jurgen Klopp towards the end of the season, he looks like a man who will love trying to get into a proper fight with the Liverpool manager, Pep Guardiola and Thomas Tuchel.
You can be certain that if he gets most of that £150m to spend and his main men are still there, Conte will be closer to the top two than he was last season. And you can be certain that the Most Improbable Comeback award will not be the only trophy in his sights.