Why Spurs Must End Their Trophy Drought Under ENIC’s Ownership
When Daniel Levy became chairman of Premier League side Tottenham Hotspur in February 2001, he did so with a promise to make Spurs one of the country's best clubs within five years.
As we approach the 19th year of ENIC's ownership of the north London club, the jury is still out as to whether that dream has been fulfilled.
Since buying 29.9 per cent of the club from Alan Sugar for £22m at the start of the century, Tottenham have won just one trophy having beaten Chelsea 2-1 after extra time to win the League Cup in February 2008.
ENIC bought the remainder of Sugar's shares for £25m in 2007 and with the opening of their new state-of-the-art, 62,000-seater Tottenham Hotspur Stadium last April at a cost of £1billion, the club is in a solid position off the pitch.
However, it's on the pitch the club is judged and one trophy since ENIC’s takeover is not good enough, especially as they have seen clubs like Manchester City overtake them in terms of trophy tallies, while bitter rivals Arsenal have pulled further away in that regard.
Those clubs have had greater investment than Tottenham but Spurs supporters may look at what Leicester achieved in winning the Premier League title in May 2016 and ask why that couldn't that have happened to them.
ENIC's takeover should have seen Tottenham kick on and make the next step up to becoming regular trophy winners. Under Sugar's ownership, Spurs managed to add the Charity Shield in 1991 and another League Cup in March 1999.
Spurs A Traditional ‘Cup Team’
Spurs have been pioneers of the English game. They were the first British club to win a European trophy when they won the Cup Winners’ Cup in 1963, two years after becoming the first side to win the league and cup double in the 20th century.
They were the first team to win the League Cup for a second time and became known as a great ‘cup team’ because of their success outside of their two league titles (1951, 1961).
Reaching last season's Champions League final under Mauricio Pochettino was seen as a stepping stone towards bringing a first trophy back to their new stadium, but defeat to Liverpool put paid to those dreams.
Their hopes of winning the league this season have long gone – 2000/1 odds according to some online bookmakers – as has their chance of winning the League Cup.
That leaves the FA Cup and Champions League as their only hopes of winning a trophy with Southampton and RB Leipzig next up for Spurs in those respective competitions.
However, with Harry Kane sidelined until April because of a hamstring injury, this could be another season where Tottenham fans watch other clubs celebrate success.
For a club with the history Tottenham have, one trophy in 29 years is simply not acceptable, but replacing Pochettino with Jose Mourinho is a signal of their intent to become winners again.
Mourinho has won trophies at every club he has managed and there is a belief he will be the man to deliver the first piece of silverware to the new trophy cabinet at the new stadium.
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The last time Tottenham won a trophy, the squad believed it was the beginning of what would become a triumphant era for a club heading in the right direction.
Although Champions League football followed within two seasons, another trophy never materialised, with the club having only reached one final since then – last year’s Champions League final which they lost 2-0 to Liverpool.
“When we won the League Cup in 2008, we thought that was going to be the start of something big for Tottenham,” Pascal Chimbonda, who played in the 2008 League Cup final win over Chelsea, told Gambling.com.
“When you finish your playing career, people always ask you ‘how many trophies did you win?’
“We felt that taste was enough to go on and inspire more success, but in reality Spurs haven’t actually come close to anything since, other than the Champions League final last season.
“That defeat will have hurt the players, but maybe in time it will make them stronger – look at Liverpool, who lost the 2018 Champions League final and came back to win it the following season.
“It’s going to be tough for Tottenham to get back in the final this year, but in football anything is possible, so who knows.”
FA Cup Should Be Target
For Chimbonda, the FA Cup is a more viable route to success and he has no doubts Mourinho – who has always seen cup competitions as an opportunity to develop a winning mentality – will look to win the competition for the second time in his managerial career and the ninth time in Tottenham’s history.
“They have to win a trophy soon,” he said. “Mourinho will definitely want to win a trophy and I can see him targeting the FA Cup. For him, if he can win a trophy after only coming in mid-way through the season, that will be a big success.
“It’s going to be difficult because some of the biggest teams are still in the competition – Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United – but if he really puts his mind to it they can win it, definitely.”
Chimbonda, a World Cup finalist with France in 2006, was a right-back by trade but started the 2008 League Cup final at left-back, showing his versatility.
With Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson taking the full-back role to a new level at Liverpool over the past 18 months, Tottenham potentially have a gem in their armour in the form of Ryan Sessegnon, a summer signing from Fulham last year.
Although the youngster has endured a frustrating first season at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, Chimbonda believes bad luck is to blame and has called for patience while the 19-year-old finds his feet.
“With Sessegnon it’s difficult for him to get some confidence because he’s not playing every week,” said Chimbonda. “You need confidence to express yourself but you can’t get confident unless you get on the pitch and show what you can do.
“When you’re in-and-out of the side, you tend to lose confidence because you’re not sure if you’re impressing the boss or not.
“When he first came to Spurs he was injured – that hasn’t helped him settle – and then of course there was a change of manager which can go one way or the other for players. He still has to prove himself, but he’s only 19.”
'Sell Danny Rose Now’
However, one full-back who Chimbonda has given up on is Danny Rose, with the Englishman dragging out a contract dispute, despite having 18 months left to run on his current deal.
“He’s done his time at Spurs,” said the Frenchman. “They should sell him otherwise he’ll just leave for free. Many times he’s said he wants to leave and nothing is going to change that it seems.
“Now it’s time to just let him go because keeping him on the books isn’t helping anyone out. Spurs have got good options at left-back, they don’t need Rose anymore, he’s done his time at the club and needs to go elsewhere to start enjoying his football again.
“I think it all comes down to money. He’s heard what other players earn and he wants the same, but he knows he won’t get that at Spurs because they run a tight ship.
“Maybe he genuinely wants to win some trophies and that’s why he hopes to get a move to Paris Saint-Germain or somewhere abroad like that, but there doesn’t seem to be too many takers.”
In the meantime, Spurs will continue their faltering quest to finish in the Premier League’s top four, while an FA Cup fourth round tie against Southampton offers intrigue, not to mention their Champions League last-16 tie with RB Leipzig next month.
For the bookmakers, their chances in all three targets are rather slim. They’re 6/1 outsiders for the top four, fourth favourites (9/1) for the FA Cup and 25/1 also-rans in the Champions League.
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