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Tottenham ignored the warning signs for too long and now they will pay a heavy price

Kevin Palmer


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Jose Mourinho (left) is pleased to be working with Daniel Levy (right) (Martin Rickett/Peter Byrne/PA)

Jose Mourinho (left) is pleased to be working with Daniel Levy (right) (Martin Rickett/Peter Byrne/PA)

Jose Mourinho (left) is pleased to be working with Daniel Levy (right) (Martin Rickett/Peter Byrne/PA)

It may seem like Tottenham's house of cards has collapsed in rapid fashion after their appearance in last season's Champions League final, but the truth is somewhat different.

Back in March 2017, Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino attended a meeting with Spurs chairman Daniel Levy to map out his vision of what he believed was needed to take the club to the next level.

At a moment when Pochettino was operating with the seventh biggest wage bill in the Premier League and the club were failing to fund big-money transfers, the notion that he could keep Spurs in the top four and qualifying or the Champions League every season was fanciful.

"When you play in the Premier League and Champions League, you need quality and numbers in a squad," Pochettino said at the time. "To create a winning team and try to win trophies, you need to feel the pressure.

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Mauricio Pochettino was sacked by Tottenham last November (Adam Davy/PA)

Mauricio Pochettino was sacked by Tottenham last November (Adam Davy/PA)

Mauricio Pochettino was sacked by Tottenham last November (Adam Davy/PA)

"If I'm Harry Kane, Dele Alli or Christian Eriksen, if there's no competition behind, it's normal to drop your motivation, it's normal to drop everything that you do."

In the three years that have passed since Pochettino felt the need to make those comments, little has changed under Levy's watch.

The club's miracle run to last season’s Champions League final and qualification for Europe’s elite competition for a fourth successive season are a legacy Pochettino took with him as he was ruthlessly sacked by Levy last November, but now the Spurs chairman is exposed again.

Ahead of Tottenham's attempt to overturn a 1-0 first leg deficit in their Champions League last-16 tie against Red Bull Leipzig, Jose Mourinho is the manager now fighting the fire Pochettino could not put out and yet the arsonist behind the inferno is not stood on the touchline.

While Levy seems content to be lauded as the man who delivered on a stadium project that concluded with Spurs moving into their magnificent new home last April, he is now in danger of failing to put a team on the pitch to justify the venue they now call home.

Christian Eriksen may have set a trend when he could not win trophies and realise his ambitions at Tottenham last summer before the Denmark midfielder finally left the club in January and the fear for Spurs fans has to be that his exit is the start of an exodus.

Stories suggesting Spurs talisman Harry Kane will consider his future at the end of this season are hardly surprising given the alarming decline in the side's fortunes over the last 18 months, while Mourinho's already fractious relationship with Dele Alli suggests future could be under a cloud sooner rather than later.

To witness Tottenham's FA Cup demise at the hands of the Premier League’s bottom team last Wednesday was an experience Levy could not have imagined as he cut the ribbon to open what many believe is the world’s finest sports arena almost a year ago.

Tottenham looked broken before Mourinho arrived and while the manager who has won substantially more trophies in his own career than Spurs have won in their entire history will shoulder the blame if they crash out of the Champions League, this is a story of a chairman losing his focus when opportunity knocked.

Pochettino tried time and again to put pressure on Levy to raise the club’s expectations in a bid to move to the elite level, but healthy balance sheets have always been Levy’s priority and the dam his now departed former manager helped to plug has burst in alarming fashion.

It's hard to imagine how Mourinho - a manager who has built his success on big money signings and short-term fixes - can inspire his jaded and battered squad to overcome a vibrant and youthful Leipzig in Germany on Tuesday night.

With that in mind, few could blame Kane and the rest of Tottenham's remaining stars for thinking the time has come to leap off their sinking ship.

Online Editors