A message to Mauricio Pochettino: Chelsea isn't for you, Tottenham's your place
Let's be straight with one another. We've both heard the rumours. And however strong your public denials, neither of us are naive enough to pretend that you being linked to the Chelsea job isn't flattering.
Your salary is likely to be at least double what you are currently earning and -- much as it sticks in my throat, and I've been a Spurs fan for well over 50 years -- Chelsea have a proven track record of winning big trophies. The chance to work for a club that is prepared to put its money where its mouth is and crown your already successful career with silverware must be tempting.
But -- you knew there was going to be a but, didn't you? -- I respectfully suggest you think twice about any move to west London. Not every opportunity is all it's cracked up to be. For one thing, there's the owner. Roman Abramovic hasn't yet found a manager he couldn't fall out with. You know their names as well as I do. Antonio Conte managed to take a fairly average Chelsea side to the Premier League title last season; this year he only manages fifth place and an FA Cup final and his reward is to be shown the door. Do you seriously want to work for someone like that? Someone who has the capacity to make every working day hell.
Then there is the Chelsea side. Let's be honest here. How many of the Chelsea squad would make it into a fully fit Tottenham starting XI? We can agree on Eden Hazard and, probably, Marcos Alonso. But after those two, I'm struggling to come up with any Chelsea players who are -- man for man -- better than the footballers you are working with at White Hart Lane. So you'd be starting out at Chelsea with a worse squad than you currently have and an owner who expected miracles. At least at Tottenham, Daniel Levy only asks the impossible.
That's enough about Chelsea, though. This letter isn't written just to stop you moving to Stamford Bridge. It's to stop you going anywhere. I want you to stay at White Hart Lane. We both know your career at Tottenham is unfinished and no person who takes pride in their work leaves a job half done.
I know that many fans -- hands up, I count myself among them -- have been impatient for success. We miss the big cup finals and get frustrated when your team crashes out of tournaments when glory is in sight. But here's the truth. You have achieved more -- far more -- than any of us expected when you first arrived at Tottenham four years ago.
If you'd told me that Tottenham would qualify for the Champions League three seasons in a row, finish above Arsenal in two successive seasons and be 2017-18's top London club, I wouldn't have believed you. Best of all, you have done it playing the Spurs way. Attractive, attacking football. Success hasn't come at the price of a playing like a Jose Mourinho team.
You have already achieved more than any Spurs manager in the past 60 years, save for Bill Nicholson and Keith Burkinshaw. Make no mistake, you are already a Spurs legend. But you have the potential to do so much more. In many ways the hard work is already done. You have assembled a team in your own image and got them playing better than the sum of their parts: to have done so on a budget that is far less than any of the other top six clubs is even more impressive.
Which isn't to say there isn't more to do. The squad does need to be improved. When key first team players have been unavailable, their replacements have often struggled. No wonder that by the end of the season, it was a struggle to get over the line to clinch Champions League football. Both you and the team were exhausted.
But here's the thing. You are now in a position of strength at Spurs. And not just because of your proven track record. The club is moving into the new stadium and Levy will be hungry to mark the occasion with a trophy. Now is the time for you to insist he digs deep into the club's coffers to deliver the marquee signings to take Tottenham to the next level.
As a sentimentalist, I would love to see Gareth Bale make a return from Real Madrid. Bale remains the best player it's been my privilege to watch play in a Spurs shirt. And I'm including the likes of Paul Gascoigne, Jimmy Greaves and Glenn Hoddle here. And I'd also quite like it if you could persuade Toby Alderweireld to stay. Spurs almost always look a better unit when he is in the team and you'll be hard pushed to find a better replacement. But you're the boss. You know the players you want so I'll leave that side of things to you.
So that's all from me. Have a great summer, enjoy the World Cup and I hope we see you at the new stadium in August.
With best wishes, John.
John Crace is one of ESPN FC's Tottenham bloggers. Follow him on Twitter @JohnJCrace.