The summer of 2018: When Tottenham Hotspur signed… no one


Tottenham Hotspur have, in recent years, become a side of English football that consistently challenge for European football. It was a trend that began to take shape under manager Mauricio Pochettino. Spurs consistently punched above their weight off base under the excellent coaching of the Argentine manager. Yet it is fair to say that he hasn’t always found the support he wanted or needed in the transfer market. Spurs pride themselves on being self-sufficient, meaning they spend what they earn. Thus, generating revenue from transfer expenditure can and often does shape their budgets. This was never more apparent than in 2018. Why? Because the club did not sign at all in the summer window.

That’s right. It still sounds incredible to think about, but there wasn’t a single inking that year. And its effects are still being felt today.

Three years later, let’s look at the circumstances that led to this.

background

There were many, many, many notable deals in the 2021 transfer window. This is despite the fact that the clubs were feeling the prickle of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Anyway, in 2018 the Spurs were facing a very different situation. The club had difficulty transferring some players. And there were minor issues of building new stadiums.

Publicly, there were expectations that some would be signed. After all, Spurs were steadily establishing themselves as top 4 contenders at the time.

Even staying in that position would require strengthening the squad to some degree. The likes of Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal lurked in the background, as did clubs such as Leicester City.

Pochettino did wonders with the squad in hand, but he was no miracle worker. Every manager needs to gradually refresh his team every few years.

Of course, this did not happen.

Tottenham Hotspur – making history for the wrong reasons

As such, Spurs became the first team in history to sign someone since the inception of the transfer window. However, publicly, the club opposed this and they took a written decision.

In a meeting with the Tottenham Hotspur Supporters Trust, chairman Daniel Levy said the decision made sense. The minutes of the meeting uploaded on the website of the Trust made this clear.

“Daniel Levy explained that the club had based the summer window on certain assumptions that some players could leave and that some targets would be available,” read the minutes.

“Mauricio Pochettino didn’t want to sign anyone for that. He felt there were enough players in the team, and those coming back from injury would be like new signings.

Daniel Levy said that, with regard to the budget, the stadium would not directly influence transfer policy. There is a fixed amount set aside for transfers and the club can only spend what is available.

Levy made it clear that Pochettino did not want to sign anyone. Nevertheless, it was Spurs’ transfer policy that ultimately led to a deterioration in relations between the two – and a drop in results as well.

Everyone remembers that Tottenham Hotspur reached the final of the Champions League at the end of the season. Little do people remember that their league form had dropped, and they nearly managed a fourth-place finish.

The poor form continued into 2019 – despite Spurs actually signing a few players. That’s because the players they wanted to move on mostly stayed.

As such, the long-awaited squad refresh was not happening. Spurs’ results continued to decline. And Pochettino’s job is gone.

Result

After Levy sacked Pochettino, he brought in José Mourinho to replace him. Special One couldn’t help him break into the top 4 in 2020, but he got a lot of support in the summer window.

Still it wasn’t enough to stop him from getting the sack. He took them to the final of the League Cup but league form – once again – took a nosedive.

Now, under the leadership of Nuno Espirito Santo, the club is hopeful of another rebuilding which will see them back to the Champions League places as soon as possible.

The issue with this, of course, is that the clubs above them are now in significant positions of strength.

Manchester City, Manchester United, and Chelsea and Liverpool are well established as the new top 4 of the league. Leicester City are currently in the position Spurs were in, as a side that can cause the top sides a lot of issues.

Will Spurs ever get back to that position? it remains to be seen.

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