Tottenham and Liverpool. They are two clubs with long traditions of top flight football in England. And that’s about where the comparison ends.
Despite endless articles on the blogosphere and banter on the Twittersphere, there’s just no real rivalry between the clubs. The two sides have not faced off against each other when fighting for the biggest trophies. Hell, they haven’t faced off against each other when fighting for the smallest ones (and no, we’re not counting We’ve Finished Above Liverpool X out of Y Years as a trophy, even a small one).
And yet, some want to continue to make this rivalry a thing, including (apparently) Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino.
“I was talking with Daniel after the Liverpool game and sometimes people compare us with Liverpool,” Poch said before taking a wild diversion into transfer fees.
“(Virgil) Van Dijk was £75 million 18 months ago. The keeper (Allison) was £70 million. They had two midfielders on the bench who they spent more than £100 million on in the summer.
“The people sometimes say an opinion of Tottenham is like Liverpool. In what? Yes, now we are going to be better than Liverpool because we have a better stadium and better training ground.
“But now is another thing to compete as we need to operate maybe similar to them in the future or not. We will see which is the project.”
Listen, Poch is a brilliant manager, but I haven’t the foggiest clue what he’s getting at here. Yes, Spurs have a new stadium (finally! and congrats! it looks great!), but that stadium has come at a high cost—both short term, and likely long term.
And a nice, new stadium does not a big club make. Just ask Manchester City.
There are perceptions of clubs, and these perceptions can take years to overcome. Moreover, those perceptions can be self-sustaining. Liverpool’s success in Europe is a positive example of this phenomenon. City’s relative lack of success, with one semifinal to their name, despite pouring massive resources into it (far more than Liverpool’s outlined expenditures above), is a negative example.
When Liverpool play in Europe, the fans expect advancement. They expect to challenge for the biggest trophies, including when they’re at or near the top of the league this time of year.
Can the same be said about Spurs? The “Spursy” label is definitely overplayed, and that’s not what I’m getting at here.
However, it isn’t just money that Liverpool can offer players. We can point to on-field success (even our close misses) and say “Do you want to experience European nights at Anfield? Do you want to play in finals? Do you want to play in one of the most storied and famous football stadiums in the world?”
From the outside, Spurs seems a less attractive option for incoming players, even with a brilliant new stadium and a top, top manager.
Moreover, Liverpool’s storied history is something Tottenham simply cannot come close to matching. Yes, Liverpool have a 29-year title draught. But Spurs are coming up on 60 years without a top flight title. Liverpool have 5 European Cups. Spurs have zero. There are levels.
This is not to say that Spurs haven’t been the more consistent of the two sides over the last decade. However, even in these “down” years, Liverpool have come far closer to winning the top trophies than have Tottenham, and have a more recent trophy to their name (the 2012 League Cup, to Spurs’s 2008 triumph in the same competition).
But sure, that new stadium does look nice.