The top four is up grabs - it's time for Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy to loosen the transfer shackles for Mauricio Pochettino in January window

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Show me the money: Pochettino has surely earned his managers' backing (Source: Getty)

If there’s one thing Mauricio Pochettino’s time at Tottenham has demonstrated, it’s that team-building in the Premier League doesn’t start and end with the transfer window.

Spurs’ impressive start to the season has been based not on the purchase of any marquee summer signings but instead on a foundation of a young squad willing to osmose Pochettino’s vision of a high-energy, imposing playing style.

After Tottenham drew 0-0 with Chelsea at White Hart Lane on Sunday, Pochettino said he felt their guests looked “like a small team”. “It’s good you get the feeling that we are a bigger club than Chelsea,” crowed the Argentine.

Yet if Spurs want that feeling of superiority over the Premier League champions to continue in the long term, there may never be a better time for chairman Daniel Levy to give his manager the financial backing he needs to be similarly swaggering about the club’s capabilities in the transfer market as he is of their performances on the pitch.

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That has not been the case in recent years. Since Pochettino arrived in North London in summer 2014, Spurs are one of just two clubs with a positive net spend recorded in the period.

The 2013 summer window - memorably dubbed "selling Elvis and buying the Beatles" by pundit Garth Crooks - saw £85m splashed out on seven new players to varying success.

Yet even that year the club's transfer activity ended in the black, thanks to the world-record sale of Gareth Bale, as it has done in three of the last five seasons - all of which have seen the club's net spend fall well below the Premier League average.

In January transfer windows, the club have been even more frugal, with a net spend of - £10.6m over the last five winters.

Spurs twice missed out on Champions League qualification by just a single point in that period - in 2012 and 2013 - and on both occasions had enjoyed a lead on their rivals at this stage in the season.

Levy, renowned for driving a hard bargain, is keeping finances tight as the club embarks on developing a new 61,000 capacity stadium expected to cost £400m.

Yet the strain of funding the project will be eased significantly if Spurs can establish themselves as a regular Champions League side by the 2017/18 season when it is expected to be completed. Premier League teams made an average of £27.3m last season from the competition prize money and TV fees, despite none of its representatives reaching the quarter-finals.

Spurs' intensive pressing style and punishing Europa League commitments - noticeable in a lethargic final 20 minutes on Sunday - is also likely to wear down players and their bench is noticeably short of the heavy artillery capable of swinging a game in their favour.

Pochettino missed out on key targets this summer, such as West Brom striker Saido Berahino, as Levy played hardball in negotiations. But with such a rare opportunity now standing before Spurs to enter the elite, perhaps it's time for the chairman to once again loosen the spending shackles.

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