Tottenham play mid-table football in a shiny new stadium and fail to bridge the gulf to the rich elite – just like their derby rivals

The phantom slowly, gravely, silently approached Spurs. It was shrouded in a deep black garment, which concealed its head, its face, its form, and left nothing visible save one outstretched hand. It pointed to the south-west and in that moment Spurs understood. Spurs looked at Arsenal and saw not a rival but their own future. Could it be that Arsenal are a vision of Tottenham yet to come?

This is a tale of Daniel Levy, of course, and of Mauricio Pochettino and Harry Kane and dozens of others, but it is also about the broader sweep of history. Football, as we know it today, may have been born in London with the formulation of the Football Association at the Freemasons Arms near Covent Garden in 1863 and the codification of the laws that still form the basis of the modern game, but after professionalisation it quickly left.

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