Tottenham Hotspur have gone from losing Champions League finalists to potentially not even making next season’s Europa League if results in the final few Premier League fixtures conspire against them.
It makes the decision to sack Mauricio Pochettino and replace him with Jose Mourinho look like a knee-jerk one from Daniel Levy, but Toby Alderweireld believes that the Lilywhites are on the right track.
“I don’t want to be compared to another team,” he said, cited by football.london.
“This team is taking steps and we have a nice big stadium and stuff like this.
“Even the team and the manager that we have is a massive difference from a couple of years ago. It had better be.
“Everybody has worked so hard for it. It hurts that we are maybe not going to reach it this season, but it gives us more motivation to go next season.
“But our first focus is on the remaining games this season and then we will reflect ahead of next season.
“[…] It is not a case of ‘oh no, everybody is being negative – now we have to work harder.’
“Everybody is working as hard as they can. During the isolation, we did not take any holiday or go home to our families, we just continued to work hard to be ready for whenever the Premier League was ready.
“The criticism hurts because we gave everything. It is not a lack of this or that, everybody is putting everything into it.
“Take Jan [Vertonghen] – we did not know if he was staying or not but here he is and that says a lot about him. That is very positive.
“Of course it hurts because it is not true – what they say about our ambitions. Of course it affects us but that is normal because it is something you love.”
It stands to reason that when a new man comes in, it will take time to produce consistently good performances, with results following on from those.
Even without the coronavirus pandemic to contend with, and despite his famed powers of man-management, Jose Mourinho would surely prefer to take stock of how things have progressed under him a year to 18 months after his arrival.
Looking at how well Liverpool are playing at this point, it could be argued that the club have allowed Jurgen Klopp to build things as he saw fit, and though success was desired, setting a blueprint for the future appeared just as important.
If the Spurs board can be similarly patient with the Portuguese, then the hope will be that the Special One can reward them in the same way as Klopp has for his paymasters.