Please Cry For Me, Tottenham Hotspur

In the aftermath of Chel**’s Champions League semi-final on Wednesday night, the cameras lingered with voyeuristic glee on John Terry as the pain of defeat caused his tears to flow. And to think that ITV’s football coverage has been criticised.

Let’s just say I’m not a fan of the alleged racist and leave it at that. Whatever my opinion of the man, there’s no doubt that he was genuinely affected by losing. Although he didn’t play in his club’s winning final and therefore missed out on a chance to win a medal by taking part rather than for bringing his kit along, this emotional reaction went beyond the personal. He deeply cared about his club and the result.

It made me wonder. Of our current squad, in the frankly preposterous eventuality that we had reached a CL semi-final, would anyone cry for Spurs?

In contemporary football discourse, any mitigating empathy is interpreted as an excuse for disreputable behaviour and in Terry’s case there’s plenty to choose from, never mind scenes at White Hart Lane where he has taken great delight in letting us know what he thinks of Spurs fans. Therefore let me say – this is not an excuse for him or his past, it has not altered my opinion of him one jot.

So this is about Spurs. Terry cares about his team – who of our lot feels the same, and does it matter? Michael Dawson comes to mind first, interestingly like Terry a tough centre half who makes up for a lack of top-level on-the-ball skill with physical presence and unswerving commitment. Daws feels like one of ours after so long at the club, although of course Terry has been with his club all his life.

He has always had something to prove. Originally the junior partner in a deal that brought Andy Reid to Tottenham, he’s had to fight hard to be first choice regardless of several managers who had notably different preconceptions of his worth. AVB, for example, nearly sold him because (again like Terry) he didn’t suit the manager’s preferred high defensive line, yet was compelled to revise his opinion.

My contact book is as thin as a sheet of rice paper rolled through a mangle but I’ve been told by journalists who have met him that his passion and honesty is completely genuine. He really feels the heritage of the white shirt with the cockerel-on-the-ball badge.

Tissues on standby for anyone else? Kyle Walker is unfairly maligned because, one, he’s better player than many give him credit for, and two, if we are behind in a game he will fight with determination to put it right. Kaboul and Lennon too for that matter. And a surprise late entry, no one has put more into the second half of this season than Adebayor. Holtby, if we ever see him again.

A caveat again – I’m not saying that they do this well every time or that it works. For example, Spurs conceded a third against West Brom a couple of weeks ago because of Kaboul’s recklessness in surging up the field. Walker was all over the place late on versus Chel**a.

All I’m saying is that I reckon they care. From a combination of what they do and looking into their eyes, they care. But to the point of being heartbroken at defeat in a big match? Not sure. Whereas Paulinho and Chadli, two skilful players, don’t feel it, and haven’t contributed enough this season.

The real question is, does it matter? Supporters and players will always be separated by this great divide. We support the shirt and expect players to do the same, but players are professionals, with professional pride but not necessarily an emotional attachment to whatever club they happen to play for.

This may not affect their performance. Lloris and latterly Eriksen are playing extremely well, giving everything, but there’s no evidence of an undying emotional commitment to the club. In response to the accusation that modern players are so cushioned and cosseted by their inflated salaries, my response is that I don’t mind provided that they give everything when they play for my club.

The Lane has felt like a passion-free zone since Sherwood was appointed. Not his fault – that’s an uncomfortable consequence of Levy’s short-termism both in dumping managers before they have a real chance and in creating his second caretaker role. We’re marking time until the summer. The players can’t play for their place or their manager because the new guy will rate them all differently.

Playing for something more than professional pride therefore does matter in my view. For a few, Ledley King being the shining light here, it means everything and sustains a level of performance and dedication against all the odds. Others come and go. For the majority, that extra commitment to the club provides just that little bit more of an incentive, and it’s that edge that makes in the difference in a league where margins between success and failure are narrow.

Good players can be made as well as born. This is yet another reason why any summer appointment must look to the medium and long term, to build continuity that includes a strong attachment with the club. Don’t just tell them their future is with Spurs, keep them and build a team where their talents can blossom. Explain the heritage. Let them come into contact with the fans regularly and in relaxed, ‘real’ situations not a Q&A, where they can absorb what it means for us.

There’s nothing of John Terry’s that I envy, he can even keep his money, but I wish for a few Tottenham players who feel the pain of defeat as much as he does.

 

Two intrepid Spurs fans are trekking in Wales this summer to raise funds for the Tottenham Hotspur Supporters Trust. Go on, give them a couple of bob, good lads both. Click here for more info

 

 

16 thoughts on “Please Cry For Me, Tottenham Hotspur

  1. I understand the point you are making Alan, and it is a very important one. We could certainly do with players that feel as deeply about the club as we do. They would feel the pain as much and it would accentuate their joy on those rare occasions we do well.

    However, in football, I think you should only cry when you win, not when you lose.

    While I like to think I’m a fairly tolerant and compassionate being, John Terry’s tears, from Moscow to the Mad Oligarch’s patch in West London, make me smile.

    I’m also not so sure Terry’s suspect tear ducts flooded yet again for the CL exit of that phony, risible, from top to bottom, club but rather for himself.

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    • Good point re winning and losing but maybe they are the two sides of the same thing, the emotion that the game generates.

      And I knew people would say he’s in it for himself. This piece was about Spurs, not Terry, so I deliberately did not talk too much about my feelings towards him, but I cannot bear him, can’t even look at him on screen for any length of time. As much as I enjoyed Chelsea’s defeat, even on Wednesday I turned it off precisely because they were focussed on him. His club are the biggest phonies going, could agree more. But in his twisted midn, he is certain of one thing, that his club really means a lot to him. His performances over the years show that to be true.

      Best, Al

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  2. Alan,
    I really like this article and it is something I have thought about a lot as to the current state of football.
    First, who do the players really see as the “club”: the fans, the community , the boardroom , the players or management. This is complicated. It is not a world of players living around the fans anymore, the stories of having a pint or getting the paper from the front porch and seeing the players is well gone, so the communal relationship has eroded. How is this now established, again difficult, players show up for transient events, charities and fund raisers, not a forum to foster close ties. The most interesting question in my mind is who do the players actually play for, we would love to think it is the fans, for you and I and the huddled masses in the stands. But, is this really the case, most players seem to refer to playing for each other, they always talk about the camaraderie of the clubhouse, this is what they claim to miss when retire. I believe that there are rare managers who can drive their players to play for them, to “love” them if you will, and they are often the toughest and most difficult to deal with, but they have one common thread they WIN. Success breeds allegiance and pride and commitment to the cause, team, country etc. If J. Terry played for some the dire Chelsea teams before the oligarch regime, I am not sure he would have the same love for club, in fact he would have likely moved on. In our current squad,I see nobody to kissing the badge, those who should be leading like Vertongen is the first to drop or shrug his shoulders and will be the first out the door.
    Lets hope we can out play the 19th century football team and garner a derby win
    Thanks,
    ed

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well said indeed. I’ve written about this theme a lot this season especially. Players need to see ‘the club’ as the supporters, the community, the history, the heritatge and not just someone who pays their salary. The distance between players/club and fans is widening, which does nothing but harm.

      Cheers, Alan

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  3. Good article. But I would argue that there are too many Spurs fans (online anyway… when you get to the games you realise the real fans know more) who do not appreciate guys like Dawson, Walker etc, who don’t seem to understand that if you truly care about your team, your fans, you can make yourself a better player. Too often at Spurs people have been unfairly criticised for not being skilfull enough… John Pratt (ahem), Mark Falco to name but two – both scored vital goals for us at times and had more ability than people gave them credit for. And now, when you look at forums, I wince when I see the lack of understanding of what Dawson brings to the team. People like ‘skill’ they can see, they don’t get skill they can’t see – appreciation of space, reading the game, marking, heading the ball away, throwing your body in the way of a shot. That stuff is incredibly important. Terry is brilliant at it, Dawson not far off. To win at Stoke 0-1 is a real achievement but because we didn’t blow them away with great football people don’t appreciate how guys like Dawson, Kaboul, Rose and co got that result. And it helps when you have the world number one goalkeeper behind you. Harry Kane has been maligned in some quarters… yet he scored 3 in 4 games since coming in; not bad is it? Just because he’s not a step over king doesn’t mean he isn’t effective.

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    • Agree – there’s a culture of negativity and impatience around these days. Football fans have always moaned but these days it has got worse. I’m not saying the guys you’ve mentioned were Spurs greats but they have their qualities. John Pratt – great goals (Wolves in a semi-final?) but so many passes going astray…100% though.

      Regards, Alan

      Liked by 1 person

  4. “Supporters and players will always be separated by this great divide.”

    Yeah – hairy Huddlestone drove a £100K Bentley while he was shite, and I’ve pottered about in my Ausin 1100 although I’m the dog’s. (Couldn’t give a rat’s scrotum about Terry and his sensibilities – wot? teh heh heh!… Arsehole)

    Otherwise 100% – spot on, comme d’habitude mon cher ami volaille

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  5. If you think Terrys tears were for anything other than the realisation he’d missed playing in another CL final then you’re sadly bery naive.

    (And de3spite what George says, John Pratt was bloody hopeless. Never forgiven him for his 50 yard pass back to the keeper that led to the first arse goal in the 5-0 rout. A trier, sure, but good enough for the white shirt? Never in a million years.

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    • Kev, I didn’t bang on about Terry because the piece was about Spurs. I can’t bear the man. He’s the horrible arrogant captain of a horrible, arrogant club that stand for everything I abhor – the excess, the shallow values, the racism, the money. Even his haircut – I’m bald but why does he have his hair cut by a toddler? But somewhere in his cesspit of a brain lies a commitment to his club that brings him personal glory, of course it does, yet his performances over many years show there is something more going on than just a desire for personal fame.

      And as Bill Nick said about John Pratt, he’d be a fine player if only he could pass….

      Regards, Alan

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  6. I really liked this article. Interesting topic. I think they should make the club as amazing to be at as they possibly can for the players. That will create genuine loyalty. If the team is having an amazingly fun time, having unexpected holidays with/without their family, w/e (creative fun ideas basically better than I can come up with), perhaps it would bond them together and to the club. If they are enjoying themselves then they’ll be relaxed and want to play well too. What sort of things do they do behind the scenes or is it mostly quite formal – training everyday, matches on weekends (sounds mundane, why not liven it up as much as possible) ?

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    • Well – know what you mean but maybe less fun and more getting out regularly into the community, working with kids, talking with supporters. It’s the only way of finding out what the club means to supporters, which in turn links to their team-building and training to forge real commitment. That pink between player and crowd, club and fan, is becoming increasingly tenuous and that’s not good.

      That said, I freely acknowledge that the modern professional may not be at all keen.

      Cheers, Alan

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      • If they are having an amazing time they won’t want to leave the club and if they do leave they will want to come back – is what I meant – giving them a phenomenal time at the club to the max degree = loyalty, they won’t want to leave. They have unlimited money as a football player but what is it without having a great life (I’m thinking money and success is what draws players away from Spurs). If they create incredibly enjoyable + peaceful + serene + tightly nit community orientated or w/e lifestyles for players at Spurs, they have everything they want in life really, which is motive for them to stay at the club, as long as it is a better experience than they can get at any other club.

        Talking to fans/community/kids is a great idea I think. Gets them involved in experiencing peoples passion/love for the club – will make it mean more to them when they score or win or play well because they will think about the supporters personally they have met.

        When you say the modern footballer may not be all that keen, if it’s enjoyable for them then they’d be keen, if it was just them talking to fans for an hour they wouldn’t be keen I don’t think.. It has to be a 2 way experience, where both fans and players have a great time, otherwise understandably they won’t be keen.

        It’s true that the gap between fans and players/clubs is void. Is that a bad thing and why? what did it used to be like? I’m 20 so it’s always been void since I started supporting as a kid.

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  7. Tottenham players in general should be embrarassed by their performances for the last two seasons and Sherwood should be punished and let go for the way he has dragged disrespect into the mix. The players do not care enough and can’t see a future.You can see that. Its almost impossible to assess them in this state.
    Next.
    Please.

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