It goes a little something like this.
The season starts with scintillating attacking form. Harry Kane is on fire, and Son Heung-min is scoring and assisting for fun. There is a 6-1 demolition job at Old Trafford.
Tottenham were showing their credentials as title contenders under Jose Mourinho, as they went to the top of the table in November.
Then came a humbling defeat to Leicester City, followed by more silly points dropped at Wolves, and an embarrassing display last time out, going down 3-1 to Liverpool.
This recent decline is cause for concern, as the North London club has dropped from table toppers to sixth place in the space of just a month.
Oh, and Kane is injured again.
Sound familiar? These are the woes of being a Tottenham Hotspur fan.
Unfortunately, this isn’t an original story with Spurs. Their roots as perennial nearly men can be traced back to 2016, the year they lost the title to Leicester City. That season they were in the mix as title challengers, right up until they blew a two-goal lead against Chelsea in the infamous battle of the Bridge to drop points and hand Leicester their maiden title.
No fan worth their salt could argue Spurs are not a fantastic side. They have finished in the top four in four of the last five seasons, and have a Champions League runners-up medal to their credit. Not to mention the attractive style of play they have consistently showcased, particularly under Mauricio Pochettino.
Make no mistake, Tottenham are a talented team, and this is exactly why it is so frustrating for fans of the club. Spurs are always good but not quite great. They are second place but not quite first. They are always one or two signings away from being legitimate challengers.
They are the definition of nearly men.
If Tottenham want to shirk the bridesmaid tag and start winning trophies, they must spend big in the transfer market to strengthen the squad. Pochettino overachieved with a talented though very limited set of players, and Mourinho is simply carrying on the work of his predecessor.
The team needs juice to get to that next level. It needs a striker to help out Kane, it needs a better midfield, and Eric Dier is not a top-level defender.
Sadly for Hotspur fans, the kind of dramatic investment required to elevate the club to winning heights will never eventuate. If Amazon’s All or Nothing fly-on-the wall documentary taught us anything, it’s that chairman Daniel Levy is as pragmatic as they come. He is not a free-spending Roman Abramovich or Sheik Mansour.
Levy only spends money on a deal if it is good value. The problem with this philosophy is, as Arsene Wenger said in 2015, there is no value in the transfer market. The fact is clubs must overspend to achieve anything in the modern game.
Until Tottenham Hotspur are willing to bust the purse strings and spend big, the fans will painfully lament what could have been with a squad full of talent, and the trophy cabinet will continue to glisten with nothing but dust.