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Standing proud as league leaders going into the international break, Tottenham celebrate 1000 days at the top today. In doing so, they join illustrious company…
Tottenham celebrate 1000 days at the top
- 1 Tottenham celebrate 1000 days at the top
- 2 Which English club has led longest?
- 3 How long can Spurs stay top?
How they arrived there
Exactly 15 years ago, Tottenham were propping up the Premier League after a 2-1 loss at Stoke condemned them to their worst-ever start. Today, the emotions around London’s football-mad Haringey district couldn’t be more different.
Ange Postecoglou’s team has been delighting fans and surprising opponents alike, with an unbeaten start to 2023/24 standing in stark contrast to the miseries of previous permanent coach Antonio Conte’s endgame last spring.
However, their road to this momentous occasion spans back multiple generations.
Admittedly, most of Tottenham’s time at the top is from their golden era in the 1960s – a decade which began with their most recent league title in the 1960/61 season. Other than the first week, Spurs were at the summit for the whole season.
Despite not picking up any more league silverware in that period, they spent over 500 days looking down on the rest of the pack during the 1960s.
Their spells at the top over the next six decades would be sporadic and fleeting, with several dynasties emerging elsewhere – Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester United, Chelsea and Manchester City in the 70s, 80s, 90s, 2000s and 2010s respectively.
The Special One provides a boost
Although Tottenham were league leaders for just a single match day in the last two seasons, their most recent run of matches at the top was in 2020/21. Three-time Premier League winner José Mourinho (pictured below in 2019) had the Lilywhites as league leaders for four consecutive matchdays.
Which English club has led longest?
Tottenham’s millennium of days at the top of England’s elite tier makes them the tenth side to attain this feat since the inception of the Football League in 1888. These are the other clubs that have reached this milestone.
9. Leeds (1,104 days)
Though Tottenham celebrate 1000 days at the top today, there will also be many Spurs fans wondering who the Lilywhites’ next target in this particular ‘top ten’ are. The answer is Leeds United, who sit ninth thanks to the golden era of Don Revie.
Led by the lion-hearted Billy Bremner to every success but the European Cup (now the Champions League), Revie’s men – though often referred to as ‘Dirty Leeds’ for their physical playing style – finished runners up in 1970, 1971 and 1972 before winning the title in 1973/74.
The Yorkshire club last won the league in 1991/92 – the last of the old ‘First Division’ era, before rebranding as the Premier League.
8. Sunderland (1,146 days)
This might be a shock to some, but the Black Cats had won the league six times by the mid-1930s. Even though they finished as high as seventh in 1999/00, and had top scorer Kevin Phillips in unstoppable form despite their newly-promoted status, the Wearsiders didn’t get higher than second at any point during that season.
7. Manchester City (1,535 days)
It is no surprise to see Manchester City on this list, having dominated the Premier League in the last five seasons. They’ve accumulated plenty of days at the top over the previous decade, and will surely swap places with #6 on this list sooner rather than later.
6. Aston Villa (1,573 days)
The Villains can attribute most of their time at the top to the 19th century, as they won the old first division five times between 1894 and 1900. They were also the Premier League’s inaugural runners up in 1992/93.
5. Chelsea (1,861 days)
Only founded in 1905, the Blues have had less seasons than other sides to be number one. However, the two José Mourinho eras – especially the first one (2004-07) – undeniably gave them a boost.
In 2014/15, they spent a then-record 274 days top of the table, only finishing matchday two away from the perch.
4. Everton (2,123 days)
Another historic side that padded their numbers prior to the Premier League, the Toffees won league titles in the 1960s, 70s and 1980s.
In total, the blue half of Merseyside has celebrated a league title on nine occasions, with the last coming in 1987. However, their last day atop the Premier League only dates back to 30 October 2020.
3. Arsenal (3,075 days)
The third most successful team in the country are in the expected spot on this list, with their cushion on this podium bolstered much by three Premier League titles (1998, 2002, 2004) and promising title challenges in 2007/08 and 2022/23.
In the latter campaign, Tottenham’s North London rivals set an unwanted record of the most days on top during a season (248) without winning the title.
2. Liverpool (4,038 days)
Liverpool’s long-standing time at the top in the 1970s and 1980s saw them tot up 1,750 days in those two decades alone. They were top when the Premier League stopped for COVID-19 in March 2020, and spent 96 lockdown days at the summit before ending a barren spell of 30 years without a league title at an empty Anfield on 25 June.
1. Manchester United (4,486 days)
Manchester United hold both the Premier League record (2,362 days) and the overall one, with the majority coming in the 1950s and 1960s, when the ‘Busby Babes’ were busy putting the Red Devils on the map.
A lot of teams have been gaining ground on United since 2013/14 – the first campaign after Sir Alex Ferguson’s trophy-laden 26-year reign as manager ended – but they are still at more than a season’s length from everybody else.
How long can Spurs stay top?
While there is a long way to go to knock Manchester United off their perch, everything is pointing in the right direction right now. All Spurs fans can do is enjoy the moment and wait, while ignoring the very many jibes on social media about their ongoing 15-year trophy drought.
As for this weekend, the North London side will be watching their rivals play first, before taking on fellow capital club Fulham on Monday night. The 2019 Champions League finalists have a perfect record at home so far, so they will be expected to win and stay in first place going into the final weekend of October.
The tipping point could be a few games down the line in December, when they face Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City at the Etihad. The defending Premier League champions are just two points behind league leaders Tottenham at the time of writing.
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