Before Martin Jol became the first Spurs manager to take the club within touching distance of the Champions League, we could only look forward to mid table finishes and the occasional distraction of a relegation battle. The big, jovial Dutchman was much loved by the White Hart Lane crowd but an inability to take points on a consistent basis from the top four sides eventually lost him his job.
Jol became one of Levy’s casualties – another man who had taken Spurs ‘as far as he could’ and while Champions League football has remained almost as elusive, our record against the big teams improved under Redknapp and Villas-Boas.
Take 2012-13 as an example when AVB, in his first year in charge, took eleven points out of a possible 24 in eight games against Manchester United, Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester City. None of those did the double over us as we finished the campaign with our record Premier League points tally.
Sadly it wasn’t enough to finish in those Champions League slots but it was sufficient for the club to avoid becoming the laughing stock that we are today – just as we thought the days of mid table finishes and revolving door managers had gone.
Now contrast that record with seven games played against the teams likely to finish in this season’s top four. 21 points have been on offer and we have claimed just one but the stats get worse in terms of goals for and against.
Heavy defeats against Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester City contribute to a total of 23 goals conceded. In reply we have managed two – both from midfield. It’s maybe no surprise to see two rescinded red cards in two of those matches but even so, that makes for poor reading.
Naturally there are other games that have got in the way of our top four quest including Norwich away and West Brom at home. However, this does underline a real gulf under both coaches and we can only hope it isn’t the start of a once familiar trend.