Tottenham: Why Pochettino should target the domestic cups

Spurs kick off their Carabao Cup campaign against Barnsley, but Pochettino hinted that he views the competition as a distraction.

Tottenham welcome Barnsley to Wembley tonight in the Third Round of the Carabao Cup, a competition they’ve not won since 2008. In fact, the Carling Cup -as it was known back then- is the last major trophy the Lilywhites have won.

For a big team to win trophies, it means the Premier League or Champions League. Wigan won the FA Cup. Where is Wigan now? League One. That is the most important example. – Pochettino speaking ahead of tonight’s game.

Despite failing to pick up any silverware since taking charge in north London, Mauricio Pochettino has set his sights higher than the domestic cups, with the Premier League and Champions League his focus.

Is that the correct way to view the domestic cups, however?

The Premier League’s nearly side

Over the past two seasons, Spurs have accrued more points than any other Premier League side with 156, (not including points gained this season).

However, they have not won a Premier League title in either of those two seasons, despite being the only real challengers to the last two champions, Leicester City and Chelsea.

Nobody could halt the Leicester fairytale as they raced to the Premier League title in the 2016/17 season, whilst Chelsea were Premier League champions last year, accumulating a record 30 wins in Antonio Conte’s first season in England.

Despite the label as the ‘nearly side’, Spurs’ total of 86 points would have seen them finish first eight times out of the last 22 years.

There is definitely a feeling of being hard done in that this magnificent side Pochettino has assembled in the last three years is yet to win Spurs’ first ever Premier League title or a trophy of any kind.

Pochettino lacking silverware

They came closest to winning a trophy in 2015, Pochettino’s first season at the club where they lost out, again, to Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea in the Capital One Cup final.

However, since then, Spurs have failed miserably in the cups, despite reaching the FA Cup semi-final last season where they, yet again, lost out to Chelsea.

The lack of trophies, despite the significant progress Spurs have made under Pochettino has brought question marks over how good they really are if they are yet to win a single trophy

Will Spurs become one of football’s nearly teams, so close to greatness but unable to get over the finishing line? As of now, you would say unless they win a trophy soon, that will become a very real possibility.

Bigger and better things?

It makes Pochettino’s remarks about the FA and Carabao Cups taking a back seat rather strange, even if a tad brave. The former Southampton manager sees the Premier League and Champions League as viable opportunities for success.

The pressure is to win the Premier League or Champions League. They are the two big trophies. I’d love to win a cup for our fans but Tottenham must build a project for the Premier League and Champions League.

He is proving himself to be one of the finest managers of his generation who has assembled a brilliant squad capable of winning major titles.

However, to win a Premier League and Champions League, you must have something more than just being brilliant. There is a know-how and resilience to winning the biggest titles, along with the ability, and Pochettino’s Spurs are yet to prove they have this resilience.

It may never come. That is something time will only tell. Surely then, the domestic cups must have a certain significance?

The longer Spurs go without silverware, the more questions will be asked.

The first of many

It can lead to the departure of some of their finest players, who believe they will have a greater chance of titles at some of the top clubs who have proven time and again they have what it takes to get over the finishing line.

A Carabao Cup or even FA Cup may not count for much in terms of long-term success and stature, but winning can be an infectious habit. Once the first trophy is won, who’s to say the next won’t immediately follow?

This Spurs group will have proven they have what it takes and that confidence and assurance know no bounds.

Cementing progress

Pochettino pointed to, in no disrespectful terms, the Wigan Athletic FA Cup success in his second season at Southampton, asking where the club are now. He has a point, but if you ask Wigan fans the proudest moment of their supporting lives, the FA Cup will top it all.

A day they will never forget and something to look back and say, ‘we won it’. Pride and a warm feeling of success outweigh the misery of relegation for a club like Wigan.

Spurs are in a different scenario, but it is time some of the younger, or even middle-aged generations of fans had real success to look back on and cherish.

So whilst it is bold, and sensible in terms of what the board will seek, for Pochettino to target the Premier League and Champions League, and see the domestic cups as a hindrance is perhaps at the least short-sighted.

You have done an amazing job so far Mr Pochettino, however, if a trophy is not won soon, serious questions will be asked.

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Harry Brooks

Harry graduated from UAL in Elephant and Castle with a 2:1 BA Hons degree in sports journalism.

He has an NCTJ diploma and also coaches football and teaches PE in schools.

Harry loves to talk football tactics!