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May 23, 2014

Can Arsenal's FA Cup win serve as motivation for Spurs?

One of the enduring pleasures for many Spurs fans in recent years has been the website Since Arsenal Last Won A Trophy.

You could watch the seconds tick by, and before the FA Cup final it stood at over nine years. Now it's back down to under a week, and some Arsenal fans are suggesting there should be a website dedicated to the last time Spurs won a trophy; it would currently be clocking in at six years and counting. Believe it or not, I'm with the Arsenal fans on this.

Not that I wanted Arsenal to win the FA Cup. Like most Spurs fans I was hoping Hull could pull off an unlikely win. But credit where credit's due. Arsenal were by far the better side on the day and deserved their win. So good luck to them. And hopefully there will be some knock-on benefits for Spurs.

It's been too easy for Spurs to take comfort in their North London rivals' failure.

Every Arsenal Cup run that ended, every Arsenal Champions League campaign that fell apart was greeted by some Spurs fans as a triumph for White Hart Lane. In the absence of any cups in Spurs' trophy cabinet, then a good season was one in which Arsenal failed to win anything too. It's an understandable, if curiously negative, measurement of success.

That option is no longer available.

Rather than waiting for Arsenal to mess up, we are going to have to think a great deal more about how we are going to win something. To think closely about what a winning club might actually look like. It certainly doesn't look much like the current Spurs setup. Imagine Spurs retaining a manager who hadn't won anything for nine years. You can't. It's unthinkable.

If Arsene Wenger had been in charge at Spurs he would have been sacked four or five years ago by Daniel Levy. Wenger's continuity, nous and intelligence would all have been sacrificed for an imagined short-term gain; Arsenal had the confidence to keep their manager and it paid off.

Having sacked manager Tim Sherwood just days after the end of the season, the Spurs board has another chance to pick the right manager. Only an optimist would imagine they would definitely make the right choice. Mauricio Pochettino appears to be their top choice, but the Argentinian is far from being obviously the best man for the job.

He's done well at Southampton over the last 18 months but he's still comparatively young and untested. You wonder just how long the Spurs board would give him to make a mark. Two years at the absolute max, I'd reckon. Trouble is that were Pochettino to do well, he'd probably move on to a bigger club after two years anyway. What we need is a manager prepared -- and backed -- to stay for the duration. To get Spurs back on track and keep them there.

Spurs have to face the unpleasant and disturbing reality that we just aren't a big enough, or successful enough, club to attract the crème de la crème of football managers.

Louis van Gaal was never really considering Spurs; we were just his fallback position if he wasn't offered a better job at a bigger club. The offer came from Manchester United and off he went. Frank de Boer and Rafa Benitez -- two other top managers linked with Spurs -- are almost certainly playing the same waiting game. Their only interest in Spurs is if nothing better turns up.

We have to accept our place in the food chain. We are currently comfortably adrift of the top European clubs. We are among the best of the rest. No more, no less. It's not a great place to be -- most Spurs fans have trouble seeing us as anything other than a top-four club. But all the evidence suggests not.

We are stuck in a catch-22. We won't attract the very best managers and players until we start winning something, and we will struggle to win anything without the best manager and players. We will remain what we are, a club perpetually lurching from one mini self-imposed crisis to another.

Reversing the trend is no easy task. But the club only stands a chance if it is prepared to accept realities. The first of which is to keep our eyes firmly set on our own problems rather than the failings of others. Which is why Arsenal winning the FA Cup might -- just might -- be the best thing that has happened to Spurs all season.