Moving into a new stadium is tough at the best of times. One need only ask Arsenal, Manchester City, Southampton and West Ham, who have all moved into new homes this millennium and experienced immediate blips in results. Since 2000, Fulham and Spurs themselves have been forced to make temporary arrangements before shifting into an arena of their own and while Loftus Road proved to be kind to the Cottagers in 2002-03, Tottenham suffered a 10-point slump in home form from the previous season when they used Wembley stadium in 2017-18.
All of this does make sense. It takes time for a team to bed into new surroundings and home advantage only kicks in once players get a feel for the place. Cardiff City boss, Neil Warnock, has already voiced his concerns about the advantage relegation rivals will have facing Spurs at their new stadium in April and May. The Bluebirds lost at Wembley early in the season and Warnock would obviously not have allowed the move mid-season if he had anything to do with the decision. Which begs the question. Why are Spurs placing their top four hopes in jeopardy by choosing to make the move at such a pivotal point in the season when conventional wisdom says that they have little to gain and everything to lose?
For starters, their performances have flown in the face of conventional wisdom all season. With many of their players playing deep into the latter stages of the World Cup, they were expected to struggle off the blocks and yet won their first three fixtures and seven of the first nine. When they lost Harry Kane to injury against Manchester United, many expected that to be the end of the title challenge, but they won all four games without him. And the supposed boost from having him back hasn’t materialised, in fact they have taken one point in twelve since he has returned. There is probably, therefore, a case for ditching data points from the past, never mind that West Ham are the only team since 2000 to win their opening game at a new stadium.
Their form at Wembley has hardly been scintillating anyway. They are sixth in the home form table while being second best away behind table toppers, Liverpool. More pertinently, Spurs are desperately in need of a fillip. For some time now the stories emanating out of Tottenham have been about deadlines missed, misfiring players or the suitability of their manager to other teams. They have allowed themselves to be dragged back into the race for the top four, a situation they were far removed from only a month back. A joke about Tottenham coming fifth in a three-horse race has already started doing the rounds and a dream stadium move might just provide the impetus needed for them to carry over the line.
On Sunday, the U-18 team took on their counterparts from Southampton in the first game to be played at the new arena, to be called Tottenham Hotspur Stadium until the club finalises a naming rights deal. Mauricio Pochettino looked on with nearly 30,000 people in attendance at the test event and he had no doubts about the effect the move would have on his squad.
They’ll be ready when Crystal Palace come calling on the 3rd of April. The 62,062-capacity stadium, second only to Old Trafford in the Premier League, will be a cauldron of positive energy and a win could galvanise the team for the remainder of the campaign.