Spurs aim high as life without Bale begins
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 ($132.5 million, 100 million euros) 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.
"We will compete, as usual, for the Champions League places, providing we assume the responsibility of having failed that objective the season before, and we want to do better this season."
Erik Lamela is in line for a first appearance at White Hart Lane following his arrival from Roma and Christian Eriksen, recruited from Ajax, is hoping to make his debut, but a third newcomer, Romania defender Vlad Chiriches, cannot play as he has yet to be granted a work permit.
Lamela is unlikely to start as he only returned from international duty with Argentina on Thursday morning.
"He is going to suffer problems of adaptation because he doesn't speak a word of English," Villas-Boas said.
"He has to adapt to a completely different culture and mentality, which we are sure he will, but we're unsure of how much time it will take."
Another absentee will be Emmanuel Adebayor as the striker is still in Togo on compassionate leave following the death of his brother.
Tottenham will kick off in sixth place after picking up six points from their first three Premier League fixtures, with Norwich three places below and two points worse off.
The Canaries have also spent a club-record amount on new recruits, including Netherlands striker Ricky van Wolfswinkel, in the hope of avoiding being sucked into the relegation equation like they were last season.
Norwich are managed by Chris Hughton, a former Tottenham player and coach, as well as a one-time Republic of Ireland international.
His name has been linked with the vacant managerial job across the Irish Sea but he made it clear he saw his future at Norwich.
"I'm Norwich City manager," he said. "The fans and the board have been incredibly supportive and I'm very happy here."
Norwich will hope to be able to hand a debut to striker Gary Hooper, who was injured in pre-season shortly after a �5 million switch from Scottish champions Celtic.
The 25-year-old comes from a family of Spurs supporters and was on their books as a youngster.