Football: Spurs aim high as life without Bale begins

Football: Spurs aim high as life without Bale begins
New Welsh striker of Real Madrid Gareth Bale.

LONDON - Tottenham Hotspur will start the post-Gareth Bale era at home to Norwich City on Saturday in search of a performance that suggests they are on course for Champions League qualification.

The sale of Bale to Real Madrid for a reported fee of £86 million (S$167.4 million) dominated Spurs' close season but also provided the bulk of the funding for a £110 million spending spree that saw seven new faces arrive at White Hart Lane.

In 2012-13, Bale was named player of the season by both his fellow professionals and football writers in England, but Tottenham could only finish fifth and missed out on the Champions League.

Now manager Andre Villas-Boas is hoping his new recruits can blend together quickly as he knows a top-four finish is expected of him after he broke the club's transfer record three times in the close season.

"Our objective is the same: it's Champions League qualification," he said.

"It never crossed our mind to do anything different, bearing in mind the changes we have made. This is the minimum requirement towards what we want to achieve.

"Our level of expenditure in the transfer market raises expectations, but they have to be real, not false expectations.

"We don't have the experience to deal with the pressure of a team that plays for a title. We have never done it in recent years.

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