Former Tottenham star disses club’s ‘big-six’ Premier League status

Date published: Sunday 19th September 2021 9:56 - Rob McCarthy

Tottenham forward Son Heung-min celebrating with his team-mates after scoring against Watford

Former Tottenham midfielder Danny Murphy no longer believes the club are part of the so-called Premier League ‘big six’ after a massive downturn in their fortunes over recent years.

Spurs have not qualified for the Champions League since reaching the final in 2019 and replaced Jose Mourinho with former Wolves chief Nuno Espirito Santo over the summer. A promising start to the new campaign was also met by a rude awakening at Crystal Palace last weekend, when 10-man Tottenham were thumped at Crystal Palace.

And Murphy fears that his old club are on the slide, as they prepare to face Chelsea on Sunday.

He told the Daily Mail in his exclusive column: “It is possible for Tottenham to shock Chelsea in a one-off London derby. But to talk about them as being part of a Premier League Big Six doesn’t make sense any more.

“We’ve got to the stage where realistically there is a Big Four. Manchester City, Manchester United, Liverpool and Chelsea have been our Champions League qualifiers for the last two years and I’ll be gobsmacked if that is not the case again.

“And I can’t see the situation changing for a few years yet given the strength in depth of those clubs already at the top and their ability to spend when required.

“In contrast, the aspirations for Tottenham and Arsenal this season will be along similar lines to Leicester’s, West Ham’s and maybe even Everton’s: a run for the Europa and hope to reach a domestic cup final.

“Even their own supporters accept it. When the north London clubs signed up for the European Super League, most of the mickey-taking came from their fans who found it laughable their clubs would be considered good enough.

“Tottenham have a great deal of prestige and history but it’s irrelevant to call them part of a Big Six when they finished below Leicester for the past couple of seasons.

“To be part of a group that’s elite, you have to be competing for the major trophies. Spurs are on a different playing field at the moment. Qualifying for the Europa will be regarded as a good first season for Nuno Espirito Santo.

“Predicting the top four nowadays doesn’t take much working out, and of course Chelsea are in there. The squads of those clubs are so much stronger than elsewhere. Even Liverpool, considered the lightest back-up, were able to beat AC Milan without Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino last week.

“There is a train of thought that Tottenham should have taken £120million for Harry Kane to start a rebuilding job but I’m not so sure.

“Money in the bank doesn’t automatically result in wise spending, and Kane’s personality and attachment to Spurs means he’ll guarantee goals and assists.

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Nuno a surprise choice

“It’s a tough job for Nuno, who I thought was a surprise choice to replace Jose Mourinho. Not because I don’t rate Nuno — he is a well-organised coach who did outstanding work at Wolves — but because he’s also a pragmatic manager who doesn’t naturally play on the front foot as Spurs supporters want.

“Personality-wise, he is different from Mourinho — humble and understated, which I am sure Daniel Levy appreciates. But Spurs fans like their team to take the initiative to try to win games. I know it was a different time but I remember the enjoyment they got from the Martin Jol side I played in with Robbie Keane, Dimitar Berbatov and Aaron Lennon.

“Attention on Sunday afternoon will centre on Kane and Romelu Lukaku. They are both 28, less than three months apart in age, and I find it hard to think of two strikers who have been so consistent without collecting a mass of medals.

“For me, that means they will both be very hungry to achieve. But Lukaku will be skipping into training at the moment. In midweek he scored a Champions League winner, while Kane was running around Rennes in the Europa Conference. Not the status that defines a Big Six club.”

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