Mauricio Pochettino has warned Tottenham fans the club’s new stadium means facing up to a lean period of spending similar to the one Arsenal have endured under Arsene Wenger.
Spurs chose not to sign any senior players in the January transfer window, despite their almost complete reliance on Harry Kane up front, with only Ebbsfleet United’s 17-year-old midfielder Shilow Tracey joining the club’s academy.
It continues a marked change in policy under Pochettino, who has stayed faithful to a strategy of either buying younger players with potential or promoting from within, rather than splashing large fees on higher-risk signings.
Son Heung-min and Toby Alderweireld both arrived in the summer for a combined fee of just over £30million, but that outlay was offset by the sale of fringe players including Etienne Capoue, Paulinho and Roberto Soldado.
Last month Andros Townsend was sold to Newcastle for £12million.
Pochettino maintains he is happy with the balance of his squad, but he also points to Arsenal’s period of prudence before their new stadium was opened in 2006 and insists Tottenham must now go through a similar process.
“We have in front of us a very tough period,” Pochettino said.
“I hear a lot, because I read a lot, always Google translate English to Spanish, that Arsene Wenger says the most tough period of the club was in the period that we built the stadium.
“And now I think that you need to know and the people need to know that this is a very tough period for us.
“I think that the people are excited to see how we play and we need to be careful, because we need to arrive to the new stadium in a very good condition to try to fight for everything and try to show that we are one of the best clubs and teams in the world.”
Tottenham host Watford on Saturday, sitting third in the table, five points behind league leaders Leicester and above Arsenal on goal difference.
The last time Spurs were in a comparable position of strength was 2012, when Harry Redknapp wanted January signings to sustain his side’s title push. Instead Louis Saha and Ryan Nelsen were brought in on free transfers and Tottenham slipped to fourth.
Pochettino argues his team’s goal record is excellent – only Manchester City have scored more in the Barclays Premier League – and believes fans understand the club has now changed its approach.
“For me, I don’t feel that our supporters are worried about the team,” Pochettino said.
“If we can see the stats, we are plus 25 goal difference. I think we are in a very strong position when you compare to other teams. Football is about players, positions, but I think that it’s about balance and we have a very good balance.
“Today, our people need to understand that Tottenham change the vision, not of the football, but in the way that we take decisions.
“For us today, to keep the balance, to find the right player, not only the striker but in different positions, is very important for us.
“You need to realise and the people need to realise that today to improve our squad is a very difficult job and it’s easier to bring from the market different names and to pay money.
“But it’s not the way we (decided to) take 18 months ago.”
Kane has played every one of Tottenham’s 24 league matches so far and only once has Pochettino substituted the striker before the 80th minute.
Concerns remain about how Spurs would cope without their star striker, but Pochettino insists the long-term vision is most important.
“If in the end we achieve big things, okay, all happy, but if not I think that we create a very good basis to achieve in the next season,” Pochettino said.
“It’s easier for me to say, ‘Okay, we bring this and this and this player’, but if we don’t believe that can improve our squad, why?
“We have a lot of young players, we have many players that can play like a striker like Sonny (Son) or (Nacer) Chadli, that show they can score.
“And after we have younger players that train with us like Shayon (Harrison) and, in behind, (Kazaiah) Sterling and different players.
“We need to give the chance to believe in the younger players because for our future, they will be very important players.
“But now we are in February, and we have in front three months of competition. It’s always difficult to bring players who always need time to settle. I think that we have a perfect balance now.”