Like 10,000 others, I will be attending White Hart Lane on Thursday night to see our Academy side take on the prodigious talents of Barcelona’s illustrious La Masia development centre. But really the result of the game holds no importance to the home faithful, and you can be assured not a single boo will be heard. Instead the night will be a celebration – a pledge of allegiance to the shirt, and all it represents. Perhaps fittingly, this celebration takes place at youth level and even more apt is the name, 1882, because this game takes place within a week of our 130th birthday at White Hart Lane and can appropriately act as a tribute to a glorious past and a chance to witness our future.
Everything that can be said about Barcelona’s youth system is common knowledge, imperatives have lost all meaning with regards to their style of football and witnessing it at any level will be a pleasure. What should not be forgotten is that at Spurs we have an academy, a club, and a spirit which can compete against the best. For the first time in a number of years there seems to be honest positivity towards our academy and policy, rather than the false optimism we shared in believing Lee Barnard would fire us to the top table. No, now we have a selection of players, a manager (or Technical Coordinator), and the beginnings of a footballing philosophy from first team to foundations.
Tim Sherwood is the man with the keys to our youthful engine, the man whose job it is to spread and foster this philosophy in accordance with a new evolved style of football, very much mirroring AVB’s infamous ‘project’. He himself has stated that Next Gen will be the vehicle by which we can tactically develop and it will become the vehicle for the transition to senior football. The club now emanates a shared vision, from Levy to Luongo it seems that everything is moving in the same direction.
Now we have a selection of players, a manager (or Technical Coordinator), and the beginnings of a footballing philosophy from first team to foundations.
On top of this we now have our very own state of the art, La Masiaesque training facility – the perfect atmosphere for breeding our own talents as well as perfecting others. The new training facility will not only act as an attraction for any would-be acquisitions, but is a physical representation of how the club hopes to evolve and cater for players at all levels. There can be no doubt that a training facility to compete amongst Europe’s elite harbours a glimpse at a positive future for the club.
However, all of the above are frankly useless if you don’t have the necessary talent in your squad to succeed. But yes, we have that too. The greatest factor of the Next Gen series is that it gives academies, like the senior sides a chance to compete against Europe’s elite, and the young Spurs certainly do. In the inaugural competition, the Spurs academy side won their quarter-final and would have progressed to the semi-finals had it not been for a mistake regarding player eligibility. Had we progressed we would have been in the last four with a tie versus Ajax, and we would have undoubtedly achieved better than our replacements Liverpool who lost 6-0 but then bounced back to win against Marseille in the third-place-playoff. Had it not been for a registration faux pas, who knows how far we could have advanced? This year we will be hoping to surpass our achievements last year with the likes of Coulibaly, Coulthirst and Gallifuoco in our ranks we will be a formidable force in the series once again.
Remember everything isn’t as doom and gloom as the red tops would make it seem, be thankful we are well run club showing promise at every level and at one level, at least, we stand a chance to beat the mighty Barcelona.
So if you are attending Thursday evening- forget any frustrations you have about the first team, Levy or AVB, forget our league position, even forget the names on the back of the shirt – but do not forget the badge on the front. Sing and support the club, in victory or defeat, and celebrate the fact – We Are Tottenham, Super Tottenham...(Continue until hoarse)