With each passing visit to White Hart Lane last season, Tottenham Hotspur’s new stadium – which is on the exact same site as the now-demolished ground that the club called home for 118 years – was larger and more impressive than before. Work will accelerate over the coming months, with Spurs hoping to move into their new home at the start of the 2018/19 campaign.
It is an exciting development for the north London outfit, who are looking to establish themselves among England’s elite. A 61,559-capacity arena, together with regular Champions League football, will help the club grow off the pitch, which is vital if they one day wish to be considered alongside fellow capital sides Arsenal and Chelsea in terms of support base, revenue and pulling power.
Mauricio Pochettino has created a fantastic Tottenham team in the last three years, but neither the manager nor star players such as Dele Alli, Christian Eriksen and Toby Alderweireld will be around forever. Tottenham are right to seek an improvement in infrastructure if they want to continue fighting for major honours long after the current coaching and playing staff have departed the scene. In that regard, the move to a new stadium has come at just the right time.
Yet, in the shorter term, the exact opposite is true; Tottenham’s forced relocation to Wembley for the 2017/18 season could not have come at a worse moment.
Pochettino’s charges mounted a surprise challenge for the Premier League title two terms ago and, although they ultimately finished third that year, they were arguably the division’s best side for a significant chunk of the campaign. Spurs then finished behind champions Chelsea last time out, but their final tally of 86 points was easily enough for second place ahead of Manchester City, Liverpool, Arsenal and Manchester United – clubs with larger wage bills and higher net spends in the transfer market.
It is notable, though, that Tottenham relied heavily on their home form as they sought to chase down Antonio Conte’s Chelsea. Spurs won 17 and drew two of their 19 Premier League matches at White Hart Lane, scoring 47 goals and conceding just nine. No team came close to matching such a strong record, but Spurs were only the division’s fifth-best side on the road.
Their experience at Wembley in European competition was not great, either. Tottenham’s early exit from the Champions League was at least in part down to a return of only win in three home matches, while Pochettino’s side were also unable to beat Genk at England’s national stadium in their Europa League round of 32 clash, as well as Chelsea in the FA Cup semi-finals. It is a small sample size, but last season suggests that Spurs may struggle to be as dominant at Wembley as they were at White Hart Lane.
And therein lies the problem. Tottenham will not be able to keep this squad – and the manager who leads it – together forever, so they will need to win a trophy soon if the team is to fulfil its potential. Moving to a new stadium will benefit the club in the long run, but a year at Wembley could be detrimental to Spurs in the short-term.