For any of you who know your way around the internet or frequent any of the infamous Tottenham Facebook groups, you will already be well aware that yesterday’s defeat to Leicester City has unfortunately triggered the end of the world as we know it and you will no doubt be reading this blog from the safety of your nuclear bunker and/or panic room. I always knew that I was Tottenham ‘til I die…..I just never realised that I was Tottenham ‘til they kill me! Admittedly, watching Spurs is rapidly turning in to a fairly painful ordeal nowadays. Almost as painful as having to sit through your nephew performing that bloody “baby shark” song for an hour, uninterrupted, without even the hint of a toilet break. However, unlike my dim-witted nephew, Spurs cannot be silenced simply by flinging a Converse at them from across the room. Life would be much simpler if they could. And honestly, right now there are plenty of players that I would love to throw my shoe at. I think Mauricio Pochettino feels much the same, judging by his recent press conferences. But let’s try to put this alleged doomsday prophecy into context, shall we? We lost a very tight game to an exciting young team, that press high up the pitch and would run through walls for their manager…..essentially, we lost to the Tottenham team of 3 years ago!
Now don’t get me wrong, much like an ill-fated Siegfried and Roy performance, it was soul destroying to watch our beloved VAR turn on us like that, in front of all those people, and rip our metaphorical faces off. Now I finally understand what we have been doing to all those Man City fans for the last 6 months……it really hurts. We are monsters. Obviously, this was very much the “sliding doors” moment of the match. Had Serge Aurier’s goal been allowed to stand, we probably would have gone on to win the match quite comfortably. That being said, we are throwing away more leads than a South Korean restaurant nowadays, so I guess nothing is ever guaranteed. Instead, it merely galvanised the Leicester players, who took advantage of our disappointment and went for the jugular. Of course, it doesn’t help that Victor Wanyama came off the bench to put in the worst cameo performance I have seen since Ed Sheeran inexplicably appeared in season 7 of Game of Thrones. That being said, Ed Sheeran is probably the better defensive midfielder of the two right now.
But there you go. You win some, you lose some. Even Man City managed to lose 3-2 to an unfancied Norwich team last weekend. Still, you know what they say; “a little Norwich can be a dangerous thing”. And to be fair, it’s genuinely heart-warming to see Norwich finally become famous for something other than Delia Smith, farming and incest. Anyway, back to Spurs. On the face of things, you could be forgiven for assuming that the level of panic amongst Spurs fans is just another example of modern day, social media driven hysteria…..much like global warming or the rumour that the entire cast of Love Island were actually all lizard people. Especially when you consider that last season, we finished fourth in the league and made it to the Champions League Final. And this season, we have already drawn away from home against Man City and Arsenal, two of our biggest rivals and we have scored 7 goals against Aston Villa and Crystal Palace at home. So when you look at the two seasons in isolation, everything appears to be in order, right? Are we really going all Arsenal Fan TV over a 1-0 defeat to Newcastle and a controversial 2-1 defeat to Leicester? Of course not blud, we still have plenty of time to turn this season around, fam. But what if we have already had 9 months to turn it around and Poch is yet to come up with anything even resembling a viable solution?
If you dig a little deeper and combine the two seasons, looking at our form in 2019 as a whole, a worrying pattern emerges. Not to put too fine a point on it but we have now lost 11 of our last 17 away games since the turn of the year, conceding two or more goals in 9 of those defeats. That is bottom half of the table form. Compare that to the beginning of the 2018/19 season, where we won 9 of the 11 away fixtures up until Christmas and you can see why talk of a crisis is intensifying. Somehow, we have inadvertently become the Prince Philip of the Premier League……we are utterly disastrous on the road! But at least we aren’t casually racist to tourists yet, so I guess we still have that to look forward to.
Putting results aside for a minute (because football isn’t really a results driven business anymore), my biggest concern is more about the body language of the players and the change in our style of play…..or more accurately, the apparent lack thereof. With the exception of the Crystal Palace game last week, which was like a nostalgic trip down White Hart memory Lane, we haven’t played the sort of football that we know this team is capable of since we dominated and somehow lost to Manchester United at Wembley in January. Over that time, we appear to have abandoned the “high-pressing” game that Poch made his name with and the players seem to approach each game with the sort of passion and enthusiasm that one would expect from Michael Jackson on his wedding night.
It looks to me as if we have abandoned the principles that made us great in the first place. And from a purely selfish perspective, it would be really nice if we could go back to challenging for the title again, as life is so much more enjoyable when I can observe the misfortune and misery of our rivals from the relative safety of my exceedingly high horse. For example, we may be bad defensively right now but Arsenal just paid actual money for David Luiz! Every single one of his performances this season have been slapstick! He truly is the gift that keeps giving……and tripping and falling. And then there is our old mate Fernando Llorente, signing for Napoli and taking his revenge out on Liverpool by condemning them to an opening day defeat as they look to defend their ill-gotten European crown. These are the little moments in life that are made all the sweeter when we are playing good football and more importantly, winning. So sort it out lads, for the sake of our mental health and more importantly……our workplace banter!
For what it is worth, I think rumours of our demise have been greatly exaggerated. If anyone knows how to get this team ticking again, it is Mauricio Pochettino. He did build it, after all. The only question is…..does he want to? There has been an undeniable link between our dip in form and Poch’s increasingly detached and bizarre behaviour, both on the touchline and in press conferences. I totally understand his frustration with the likes of Christian Eriksen, Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen potentially leaving on free transfers at the end of the season, meaning that we will have to spend around £250m just to replace them and remain competitive. However, if a leader no longer believes in his own vision and philosophy, then it is no surprise that the players don’t either. Whatever happens, Poch has built up enough goodwill to know that the decision is well and truly in his hands, should he wish to embark on building Tottenham Hotspur, version 3.0. And if not, then I suppose the naysayers were right and it really is the end of the world. Oh well, at least we had a good run while it lasted and the one silver lining to this whole situation is that we will all be dead before we have to suffer the ignominy of Liverpool finally winning a Premier League title during our lifetime. Can you imagine? We would never hear the end of it. COYS.