The Challenge to Liverpool and Arsenal’s top four positions is likely to come from Tottenham next season.
Under Martin Jol a quiet revolution has been taking place at White Hart Lane that is taking shape to launch Spurs into the Champions League equation over the next few years. Two seasons they came close to that elusive fourth place finish; however that was perhaps premature in their increasing status, and owed more to Arsenal struggling, then to their own improvement. Things are starting to take shape nicely for Spurs, and the new season may see them announce themselves as a serious contender to the latter half of the big four.
While Arsenal’s team are a young up and coming outfit, that are lacking in experience rather than talent, and Liverpool have just reached their 2nd Champions League final in three years, the job Martin Jol has been overseeing in London is perhaps the one that may have the best chance at long term effectiveness. He seems to have taken a leaf out of Sir Alex’s book and has gone about constructing a team that has at its core a strong British nucleus with a heavy weight on youth. Jermain Jenas, Ledley King, Michael Dawson, Jermain Defoe, Aaron Lennon, Paul Robinson, Tom Huddleston and Robbie Keane have been together for a few seasons now, building an understanding, camaraderie and team spirit. Last season saw the introduction of Didier Zakora to add some steel to the midfield that had just lost Michael Carrick, another young British player, to Manchester United. Zakora showed glimpses of the talent that saw him a much sought after player after some good seasons in France and an impressive World Cup for the Ivory Coast, but the consistency that is needed should come in his second season. The pivotal capture was however that of Berbatov from Bayern Leverkusen, in retrospect a bargain at 10 million pounds. Berbatov has added class and flair to a hard working outfit that has relied on the unorthodox Keane as their leading man over the years. The combination of Keane and Berbatov has been the highlight of a steady if not spectacular season for Spurs. The two have forged a quick understanding that has seen Keane having his best scoring season for Spurs, and Berbatov having the likes of Manchester United, Chelsea and Liverpool hovering with bids said to be in the 35 million pounds plus region. Generally with strikers it is the second season where they come alive, having taken the first season to settle in, get used to the pace and physical nature of the English game and get to know their role in the team, Didier Drogba is a case in point. With that in mind Spurs fans may have a lot to look forward to in the new season from Berbatov, should he stay. Inclinations are that he is happy at Spurs and may follow in Keane’s footsteps by committing himself to White Hart Lane with a new improved contract. Keeping the nucleus and star players is what will take Spurs from an almost club to competitive force.
They have recently completed the signing of young Welsh wunderkind, Gareth Bale, from Southampton. Manchester United were said to be favorites to sign the young left back, but just as in last year with Berbatov, Spurs acted quickly and decisively in acquiring the young star in a deal that could be worth as much as 10 million pounds. Bale fits the young, talented and British mould that Spurs are looking for in the core of their squad. They are also said to be looking at the impressive Giles Barnes of Derby, who played a significant hand in his team gaining promotion to the Premiership next season. Their targets also include the latest Portuguese boy wonder, Nani, who is also on Manchester United’s wanted list. This shows that they are prepared to rival the big boys in the transfer market and is a clear indication of their intentions to catch Arsenal and Liverpool. Their transfer policies could see them move ahead of Liverpool in the near future, as they have shown a greater understanding of what is needed to be a consistent league team and not just a cup team. While Liverpool have won a Champions League, FA Cup and reached another Champions League final in the last 3 years, their league form has shown that they are moving backwards rather than forwards. Benitiz transfer policies are primarily foreign based, and although they may be good players, they don’t have what is needed in the day to day jungle of the English game. This is why Liverpool have been a far more effective cup team and ineffectual in the league. Spurs British core, with the talented foreign investment playing around them is a recipe for success that has eluded Liverpool.
Spurs are on the way up, and while they may not be challengers to Manchester United and Chelsea for the title, they are moving in the right direction, and Arsenal and Liverpool will be casting a nervous look over their shoulders in the forthcoming season. Unless they act soon they may risk falling behind, and missing out on the Champions League, and all the money that comes with it. The Spurs revolution is gaining momentum. Next season can’t come soon enough for the Tottenham team.