Go wild – you finished fourth

OPINION: Let’s not begrudge Spurs’ celebrations – but the gulf to the top two remains

Thursday, 26th May — By Richard Osley

spurs tottenham flag pixabay - no attribution needed

CONGRATULATIONS once more then the runners-up to the runners-up to the runners-up.

To Spurs, not a trophy – they never win an actual trophy – but a well-deserved fourth place.

Let’s not begrudge the wild celebrations at finishing more than 20 points behind the leaders. Arsenal were ready to do the exactly the same.

The only real prize for either club was finishing above their rivals, and the joy of that rubs off pretty quickly unless there is some silverware to go with it.

Antonio Conte actually said it did feel like a trophy, but let us not forget how hard Arsene Wenger was laughed at for such a suggestion.

In truth, Tottenham warranted a higher place finish than Arsenal because they beat the champions Manchester City both home and away and this is a time when City and Liverpool are on such a higher plain that they can normally barely be seen from north London.

Luckily, the reason these victories were so impressive is also the safety harness that will hold back Conte and his Lilywhites.

There was celebration this week that Tottenham would have an extra £150million of fantasy football to improve the team.

And no doubt they will get even stronger, possibly even to the extent that they can play Bayern Munich next season without letting in seven goals.

But even that astronomical figure would not be enough to bridge the gulf to the top two. Spurs will be close and see what they want, but it will always be just out of reach while City and Liverpool are operating as they have.

And that problem is one shared with Arsenal. I am not convinced, as you may have gathered from previous columns, by Mikel Arteta’s reported coaching genius but even if you are it would take twice as much as £150million to turn the club into actual title contenders.

Arsenal and Spurs can pick around the edges but careful scouting and bargain finding is not enough on its own.

It wouldn’t be totally unthinkable that in the minds of Arsenal’s owners they realise they need to spend even greater sums to match Pep Guardiola’s spending and perhaps even the outlay Newcastle United may soon be ready to spend.

If they have realised it, only the blindest “trust the process” guy is going to think they will one day stump it up.

Not while fifth place is considered progress, a good season. People still bought replica shirts, a few matches were won and they didn’t have to spend a billion pounds.

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