Lessons from ‘magnificent seven’

Hidden in the middle of the cliché nonsense of modern football language, hours and hours of interviews where absolutely nothing is said, you get one or two lumps of wisdom.

A personal favorite is managers who insist on using “in this moment” as a timestamp. It’s usually from coaches whose mother tongue is not English, and yet it’s somehow a clearer and more coherent saying than what British coaches and players come up with.

But the ultimate football cliché is that “anything can happen”.

We are repeatedly forced to believe that nothing is impossible in life and in sports, and that this is what makes the beautiful game so beautiful.

Before this becomes all philosophical for no reason, let’s limit that view again. It’s so hard to plan in football. There is no model club, no right or wrong way to run your business on the pitch or in the transfer market. A football’s timeline is not as simple and linear as fans think it is.

When Tottenham replaced Gareth Bale with seven signings from all over Europe (selling Elvis to buy The Beatles, as it was otherwise called), Spurs were expected to continue and become Champions League regulars with their new core, the burden now removed by a star player and spread across the field.

Spurs entered the October 2013/14 season with the chance to be top in the Premier League.

Just over two months later, manager Andre Vilas-Boas was fired.

Well, it did not go according to plan, right?

You can also rationalize all seven signatures. Paulinho was one of the stars of the 2013 Confederations Cup; Nacer Chadli came a great season in the Eredivisie; Roberto Soldado was seen as one of the deadliest strikes in Europe; Etienne Capoue looked promising in France; Vlad Chiriches had a fantastic Europa League campaign with Steaua Bucharest.

And then you had the two signing marks, the two that eventually passed the party: Christian Eriksen and Erik Lamela.

While Eriksen was the only undoubted success, Lamela’s resignation on Monday raised questions about his own legacy after failing to meet his concrete expectations.

But Spurs’ terrible attempt to replace Bale should give them hope for the future, even if the club chooses to sell Harry Kane this summer.

The realistic best case scenario to come from a team containing the “magnificent seven” would have been a side that was still worse than the one Mauricio Pochettino collected in the following years. They would have done very, very well to earn more than 86 points in a Premier League season and reach a Champions League final.

Football is cyclical. Sir Alex Ferguson preached it (and Pochettino tried to follow but his foundations fell on deaf ears). Tottenham would not be overwhelming forever, and they will not be overwhelming for the rest of their existence. They’re just in a bad way “right now”.

In any case, the winners of the transfer window rarely meet expectations – Spurs topped our ranking after the window in the summer of 2020 and continued with their worst season since 2009.

Spurs are rebuilding under Nuno / Paul Harding / Getty Images

Spurs fans have to look at the positive, because believe me, it has been exhausting to have a negative puncture in the last 18 months.

Nuno Espirito Santo is at least a proven head coach. Fabio Paratici works day and night to improve the player group. For all of Daniel Levy’s shortcomings, the new arena will help the economy and reputation far into the future.

Eight years after the arrival of the “magnificent seven”, the lessons for Tottenham fans are that good times will come again. We just do not know when and in what form.

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