Cape Town - An impending sixth season without any silverware for Tottenham Hotspur coach Mauricio Pochettino could spell the loss of more star players, writes Tashreeq Vardien.
The Lilywhites suffered a shocking third round defeat to Colchester in the League Cup on Tuesday evening.
Despite Tottenham’s 19 shots at goal (four on target), 75% possession and 88% passing accuracy, League Two outfit Colchester dragged their visiting opponents to a penalty shootout - which they won 4-3 - at their 10 000-seater home ground.
The U's scalp puts Pochettino further under pressure to end Spurs' 12-year trophy drought with the League Cup, ironically, being their last piece of silverware when then-captain Ledley King raised the shining trophy in front of a roaring Wembley Stadium crowd in 2008, following a 2-1 win over Chelsea.
After club chairperson Daniel Levy lured the Argentine from Southampton to London in 2014, Pochettino inked a five-year contract with Spurs. His promise was silverware and they came close in his first season, only for Chelsea to defeat Spurs 2-0 at Wembley in the League Cup final.
Spurs continued to show improvement under his tutelage and in 2016 the 47-year-old extended his stay until 2021.
Spurs broke regularly into the top four for an all-important spot in Europe's biggest club competition - the Champions League.
Last season, Pochettino was 90 minutes away from collecting a winners' medal against Liverpool at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium in an all-English Champions League final, but had to settle for silver after a 2-0 defeat.
It certainly was a bitter pill to swallow after the amount of time he has invested in making Spurs competitive on all fronts.
One wonders if he rues the decision to select a returning Harry Kane, who was out injured, for the in-form Lucas Moura, who single-handedly guided Spurs to the final in Spain.
A feat that should not go unnoticed is that Pochettino had to ignore two transfer windows as the club invested over a billion pounds in building the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
Now in his sixth season at the club and with restless stars wondering whether it is worth sticking around at Spurs, is Pochettino's time at the club heading to a point where he is eventually sacked?
Gareth Bale left in 2013 for Real Madrid - a season before Pochettino's arrival. Spurs then accepted a £50 million bid from Manchester City for Kyle Walker in 2017 and last season, Kieran Trippier made the surprising switch to Atletico Madrid for £21.1 million.
Now, Christian Eriksen has his sights on making a move too.
The Dane is admired across Europe with Manchester United and Madrid rumoured to be interested as he has a year left on his current deal.
Former Red Devils defender turned football BT Sport pundit, Rio Ferdinand, said that if he was Kane, he would have left Tottenham for a club that can potentially win trophies.
"I've got to be honest with you, I'd be gone because I've not got time to hang around. I could get injured next season, I could lose form etc. I want to win now," Ferdinand said after Spurs let slip a two-goal advantage against Olympiakos in last week's 2019/20 Champions League group match.
Former Spurs striker Peter Crouch’s rebuttal was that the London outfit has come far under Pochettino and would not have been where they are without his managerial expertise.
"Everyone talks about 'they need to win silverware, they haven't won for so long'," Crouch said.
"But people forget where Tottenham were before Pochettino and where they are now.
"He's moved the club on so, so far and now people expect them in the Champions League and they now expect the possibility for them to win the Premier League and they were a million miles away from that before he arrived."
A stalwart between the goalpost, Hugo Lloris, also spoke of his desire to play in the Major League Soccer (MLS) suggesting France’s Soccer World Cup-winning captain is harbouring the same thoughts as he fellow team-mates.
Getting rid of Pochettino shouldn't be considered an option, but an early League Cup knockout against a minnow English side should raise eyebrows.
The League Cup, now known as the Carabao Cup, has always been a starter to any three-course meal. A mouth-watering starter that gets your taste buds yearning for the main course feast - the English Premier League and Champions League.
Top clubs tend to use the little-known competition to nurture academy prospects and give fringe players much-needed game time, but it has also given a certain champion winning team the right kind of push.
After Manchester City's triumphant League Cup win last season, they went on to complete the first-ever domestic treble as they added the Premier League and FA Cup trophies to their cabinet.
If Spurs do opt to let go of the former Espanyol manager, Levy will soon discover finding a replacement who can win trophies isn't an easy task.
With the FA Cup, Premier League and Champions League still up for grabs, Pochettino desperately needs silverware.
Tashreeq Vardien works at Sport24 and is a paper basketball dustbin champion... Follow Tashreeq on Twitter.