So Tottenham Hotspurs’ FA Cup curse continues.
Goals from Alexis Sanchez and Ander Herrera consigned Mauricio Pochettino’s side to a narrow defeat against Manchester United on Saturday and means that Spurs have lost all of their last eight FA Cup semi-finals. It is a bizarre statistic that underlines the club’s struggle to secure regular silverware in the modern era.
Furthermore, defeat at Wembley consigns Tottenham to another season without a trophy. It is now a decade since the club last won a major honour, the 2007/08 League Cup under the stewardship of Juande Ramos, and over half a century since they last secured a top-flight championship.
However, more importantly, the lack of success is now threatening to undermine Pochettino’s reign.
There is little doubt that the Argentinian has overseen a significant improvement in the club’s standing since being appointed as manager in summer of 2014.
He has built a young, dynamic squad that produces fast, pacey, attacking football which, at times, is exhilarating watch whilst also cementing Tottenham’s place as one of the four leading team’s in England.
One of Pochettino’s strengths is his ability to find solutions and bounce back from setbacks.
A couple of years ago, it was widely claimed that Tottenham could not finish above Arsenal, yet this will be the second successive season that they have finished above their North London rivals.
Furthermore, it was only twelve months ago that Pochettino was criticised for overseeing Spurs’ poor Champions League campaign, yet this year the team have proven the doubters wrong by beating Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund whilst progressing to the knock out stages of the competition.
However, the Argentinian now needs to find a solution to Tottenham’s inability to secure silverware.
There is a danger that all of the good work that Pochettino has done will be slowly eroded away with each season that the club fails to secure a major honour. He needs a trophy not only to validate his own achievements at the club but also to keep the current squad of players together.
The warning signs were there for all to see in the summer.
The departure of Kyle Walker could be an early precursor to the dismantling of the current Tottenham side. The defender opted to join Manchester City in search of silverware and it will not have gone unnoticed in the Spurs’ dressing room that he has won both the Premier League and League Cup in his debut season at the Etihad.
Big-name players want to be challenging for major honours and when their career culminates they want to have a trophy cabinet full of winners’ medals rather than a loose claim of finishing in the top-four on a regular basis.
Walker’s success may already be raising questions in the back of the minds of some of Tottenham’s star names. At 24 years of age Harry Kane has already scored over 100 goals for Spurs and has emerged as one of the best strikers in European football, yet he has no trophies or winner medals to show for it.
However, Kane does have a natural connection and affinity with the club and he is unlikely to leave any time soon, but others, such as Mousa Dembele and Christian Eriksen, may not be so patient. If one of European football’s ‘big-hitters’ come knocking then it will be incredibly difficult for Tottenham to keep hold of their star names.
What is certain is that Pochettino needs to find a way of securing silverware, otherwise he may run the risk of the squad, that he has done incredibly well to build, begin to crumble as players go in search of trophies.
It could be argued that winning silverware is not the be all and end all for Tottenham – you would struggle to find any supporters who would believe that Ramos’ spell at the club was more successful than Pochettino’s reign, simply because he was able to win the League Cup.
However, Spurs can produce all of the exhilarating football that they want, but it loses its impact when it fails to culminate in a trophy.