Get Rid of the Racists

Today’s blog begins with a howl of rage and despair. My disgust that Tottenham Hotspur is worldwide headline news because of fan racism knows no bounds. It revolts me that this should take place and that a Spurs fan has dragged the image of all supporters into the gutter.

It is only one or two. Don’t call them idiots, call them racists. I admire Rudiger’s generosity in his tweets, where he says he doesn’t want to involve Tottenham as a club in this because it is only one or two fans. He goes on to thank Spurs fans for the many messages of support he’s received.

Racism is all around us, it never goes away. It’s just that you like to think we stand for a bit more than this. We’ve been victims of abuse, the stands have been a safe place for people from different backgrounds for a long time. Ours is the rainbow stadium, described by the co-chair of the Proud Lilywhites as a bastion of inclusion and diversity. Now we’re the team whose fans provoked calls for a public inquiry.

On social media I’ve been told, repeatedly, that we should wait and see for, I don’t know, something. People around me in the ground said, well, hang on, we don’t know what happened. Well bollox to that. No time to hang around. This all took place right in front of me. Twenty rows back, I didn’t hear anything but when Rudiger walked towards me indicating the monkey noises had been uttered, I felt physically sick. He reacted straight away, something happened. I was ranting off about something or other, I don’t know exactly what I was saying. Basically,  how could this happen, here, with expletives. Me – any shots of that gesture taken from the West Stand, as shown on MOTD, I’m in there. It’s personal.

How do these people think our own black players will react? Do your absolute best while you’re watched by racists. Or our own black supporters? Spurs fans got behind Danny Rose after he talked about his experiences of racism at football. Something clicked then. One of our own, let’s sign a flag, let’s sing his name.

Time for the majority to get that message over. Find this person or people. Ban them for life and prosecute. Zero tolerance. Nobody is dragging me down.

Football reflects society. In the past few years, racists have become emboldened as politicians from all sides fail to address discrimination and in some cases actively mobilise it to sustain their support. Racist and anti-Semitic incidents are on the rise across the country. Not here. No more. Football has to take a stand.

Yesterday was one of the most disheartening, cheerless afternoons I’ve ever spent watching Spurs. I’ve not even mentioned chucking stuff at opposition players. The best stadium in Europe closed. Unlikely but the authorities are going to make an example of someone, some time.

The football. Spurs were awful. Spineless and mindless, to call them a rabble at times is an insult to rabbles. And I hear rabbles get upset at their good name being taken in vain.

More than being utterly dominant, Chelsea’s football came from another era. They were sleek and contemporary, Spurs were dinosaurs, unable to pass the ball through midfield and reduced to predictable long balls up the middle.

As if this were not bad enough, we gave away two ridiculous goals, hilarious if other teams did the same, profoundly concerning as it’s us. Switched on for the corner? As dead as the batteries in a child’s toy on Boxing Day. I’m still shaking my head at Gazzanega. How a straightforward catch became assault and battery, and how the ref gave us a foul in the first instance. It’s the sort of error that eats away at keepers, a rank misjudgement that will stay in the back of his mind for a long time and indicates a more fundamental vulnerability at this level.

Sometimes managers do things that don’t work but you can understand what they are trying to achieve. AVB for example, cautious, possession football to stay tight at the back, keep the ball and wait for an opening. Didn’t work because we couldn’t score any goals, an admittedly basic flaw that escaped him, but you could see what he was up to.

I don’t get Mourinho at the moment. When not under pressure, we’ve played some good stuff and banged in the goals but defensive strategy is sorely lacking. We’re incapable of closing players down when they are about to shoot. Both full-backs have been left repeatedly exposed, a problem compounded by Aurier’s dire judgement and positional acumen. In front of him, Son and Moura have been waving opponents through apparently without a care in the world. Step this way, take your time.

Against Manchester United, they shifted Rashford wide left and won the game. Wolves galloped down the right and were stopped only by Spurs players taking it turns to foul him. Chelsea did the same, doubling up and nothing stopped them.

Mourinho was praised for winning ugly against Wolves. Cue Jose the winner cliches. To me, we got away with one, set up poorly so that our back four were constantly exposed. Winning ugly means digging in, doing what’s necessary and forsaking creativity for redoubtable defence. That’s not what happened at Wolves. The manager’s lack of response to an obvious defensive flaw is bewildering.

In context, he’s inherited an unbalanced squad. Central midfield remains a problem. Dier is being played back into form. So far, he looks fitter but a yard off the pace when it comes to timing. Sissoko gives his best but he’s not the creative player that we’re crying out for. The full-back problem remains.

Whatever the question, N’dombele has to be the answer. He must play against Brighton, despite continuing fitness doubts. It’s wrong to read too much into the Bayern defeat, but Lo Celso did not make much of an effort to take the opportunity presented to him. Mourinho is not sure about him.

VAR, Son’s dismissal and Rudiger’s reaction, I’ve have enough so let’s just say it all contributed to the malaise of the most unpleasant afternoon. Looking forward, Mourinho was comprehensively out-thought by a manager in his first year in the Premier League. He had no effective response to Chelsea’s tactics. Plus, his famed ability to motivate and inspire was entirely absent.

That doesn’t leave us with much. No doubt this will galvanise him into action for Boxing Day and after. The suspicion lingers that Mourinho’s tactics and approach are behind the times. He says he’s had time to think during his break from the game, and note that he’s taken on two youngish coaches, presumably  with fresh ideas. This game has shown him the nature and extent of the task ahead.

 

 

 

 

 

14 thoughts on “Get Rid of the Racists

  1. Like you I am absolutely disgusted about what happened yesterday. I’m 63 and a lifelong supporter and I’ve never felt so down after a game as I did yesterday. You’re right – something has to be done about this scourge on society.

    But before we all get too self-righteous about this, racism isn’t just making monkey noises at black players. You say we are an inclusive club that welcomes all. Yet our most popular songs use the Y word. To Jewish people, the Y word is as insulting to them as the N word is to black people. It, and a whole range of other derogatory terms that right minded people recognise are not acceptable, are not generally heard. Yet we persist with the Y word, hiding behind a spurious argument that we use it in self defence. That may have been true in the past when used by Jewish fans in response to hissing noises from opposing supporters but not any more. Now it is used by all. A young lady sitting behind me in the South Stand happily sings about the thing she likes most. She appears to be from Indian heritage!

    If we are truly going to address racism, we need to address it at all levels. Yesterday we heard for the first time announcements about racism under the protocol. What happens if a Jewish player takes offence at our chants in the future and invokes the protocol? Are the fans going to keep on singing the Y word until a game gets abandoned, with the likely closure of the ground to follow?

    It’s time to wake up guys. Yes, we must drive racism out but we cannot choose what is and isn’t racist!

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    • Not to all Jewish people, Mick, and certainly not to those of us who are Jewish and supporters who feel the Y-word is inclusive and welcoming, as if putting a protective arm around a minority of supporters to show solidarity. Yesterday’s racism was appalling and shameful, it hurt the rest of us to think this came from our club. But I don’t conflate it with the Y-word. The meaning, intention and context of yesterday’s actions by one or, maybe, two supporters, has nothing in common (in my honest view) with the Y-word. I actually do think that those of us who are supposedly victims (and I don’t feel a victim) CAN choose what is and isn’t racist.

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      • I take your point Mark and apologise for what I accept is a sweeping statement. I agree that monkey noises made at a black player is different to the context in which fans use the Y word. I accept some Jewish fans do find comfort in the perceived inclusivity of the current chants but the previous debates around this would suggest that not all do. I believe there needs to be a wider debate so that all feel comfortable coming to our wonderful new home.

        My concern is that, in seeking to drive out the type of racism we saw yesterday , we also ensure we as fans understand that everything we sing can have a negative impact on others. I’m just not convinced that is the case at present. I am concerned that the inevitable response to the rising tide of racism will be zero tolerance that will include our fans’ songs. Somehow we need to ensure we all understand the context and potential implications of our actions so there is a clear delineation between what is and isn’t acceptable.

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  2. I totally support those who oppose racism, whenever, wherever and by whoever. It especially appals me that one of our own supporters has allowed Chelsea to take the superior tone with us, having brought their obnoxious anti-semitic bile to Spurs for many years, I invite my fellow supporters to join me in condemning any racism; I invite them equally to speak out against the racism they hear on the ground, from whoever, and to report it to stewards immediately. Only in this way will those who haven’t noticed that we don’t live in the times where it was OK to do this kind of thing anymore get the message. And maybe, along the way, Boris will understand that ‘letterboxes’ and ‘watermelon smiles’ are not worthy of laughing about also.

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  3. Alan, I normally agree with pretty much everything you write. As you know, we share an almost identical Tottenham heritage.
    This time, however, while your analysis of the match itself is spot on, your opening comments about the alleged racism I am uncomfortable with, not least because you miss out that crucial word – “alleged”. Look, if Rudiger or anyone else was racially abused I totally condemn it and hope the culprit(s) are found and banned. But it’s a sizeable if in my view.
    I sit in the middle of the south stand so was never going to hear anything said close to the pitch. You sit 20 rows back directly behind so would have a better chance but you didn’t hear it.
    The ‘missile’ throwing was moronic and should be punished, though a part full paper coffee cup wasn’t the same threat to Kepa that the bottle that hit Dele’s head at the Emirates almost a year to the day earlier represented. And what happened about that? Six weeks after the event AFC and the police published a grainy photo of the ‘suspect’, since when total silence. Was he caught, prosecuted, banned? They must have known his seat position.
    Anyway, back to yesterday’s alleged racist abuse. Alleged by one player, who had just been directly involved in an incident that saw one of our favorites sent off. Sonny wasn’t blameless but Rudiger clearly grossly over-reacted. We can argue all day whether the red was warranted but it took the VAR several minutes to decide so not exactly clear & obvious (a definition the PL & PGMOL has clearly forgotten/ignored all season).
    Rudiger was involved in other incidents, both before and after (the trip when Dele (I think) would have been clean through in much the same spot Sonny reacted was a clearer red card in my view, and I don’t think it even got a yellow – because it would have been his second?). So he was always bound to get roundly booed after Sonny’s dismissal. And in a 60k crowd with temperatures always running high, booing can sound like monkey chants if you are that way inclined.
    I’m not saying Rudiger is lying or that his allegations are wrong. But to date they are just allegations. No Tottenham supporter, steward or official has come forward to say he was right and finger the culprit. And I like to think by now, with the slur it’s placed on us and our club, someone would have.
    And don’t forget Chelsea have previous. Lots of it. Some of the most racist fans in the country openly tolerated for years by their club. Pushing black people off a train. Anti-semitism that still goes on today. Players who love winding ours up (and are sadly good at it). The infamous ‘battle of the bridge’ (another media catchphrase) was as much provoked by them as our naivety. The complaint yesterday wasted several minutes and slowed the game down at a critical time. The 8 minutes added on were never going to save us but neither did the delay help. Mount’s X rated stamp on Dier, which I’d not seen until today, another example of a poor (and that’s being kind) ref and inconsistent (at best) VAR letting tensions build. Oh, and it’s c.13 years since the self styled ‘captain leader legend’ was sent off for racially abusing Ledley, another incident shamefully swept under the carpet at the time.
    Racism is abhorrent and needs to be called out and stamped out. If it’s emanating from our fans our club, THST and our wider fan base are right to be in the forefront of kicking it out. But let’s not go overboard in condemning our own until we know they are guilty.

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  4. Agree with the general views on
    the alleged racism.
    Regarding the red card which sparked the alleged incident, I would certainly have been calling Rodiger a cheat for feigning injury. I don’t see how pretending to be seriously injured is different from simulating a foul. If Rudiger doesn’t react, there would have been no review. He should have got a yellow ( and red?) instead of Son. It was not violent conduct . Also if you watch the slowed down version, before Son’s kick brushes R, R makes contact with Son’s thigh as he is going down- intentional? Who knows?

    Beside all this, we were awful. Playing the better teams we need a creative midfielder, Eriksen or Lo Celso ( who seems to have been frozen out)
    Every home game this season that I have been to has left me wondering whether I would go to the next and I am a season ticket holder…

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  5. Mourinho’s team selection of playing Alli, Kane, Son and Moura works against ‘lesser’ teams because they aren’t quite good enough to finish us off. But ‘better’ teams understand that the attacking set up leaves us poorly served in midfield, inviting the opposition onto our defence. All it takes is for one of the front four to play poorly and the tactics crumble in the face of more organised opposition. Surely the manager knew the Chelsea game was going to be a dogfight and we would have to fight for our rewards. Eriksen helped to balance things out a little and the second half was more competitiveness but the damage was done. The combined ineffectiveness of Kane, Moura and Alli doomed us to self inflicted defeat in team selection, tactics and individual form on the day. Stupid defensive errors are all the more inevitable when you are defending for 90% of the action, sooner or later mistakes will happen under pressure and we all know where he first mistakes will appear. Mourinho needs to thicken up the midfield by playing two or three up front and adding a Winks, and/or Ndombele into the mix, for fixtures of this abrasiveness nature. I hesitate to mention Lo Celso because we still haven’t been able to judge him – and it’s December! If this is the result of Mourinho having a full week to work with the team, then Heaven help us.

    By the way, all of the above applies precisely to the Man United game as well. A defeat that could have been easily avoided.

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    • I agree with all that, David. There was a reason that Poch wasn’t picking Dier, and was reluctant to play Son and Lucas from the start, and it’s depressing that Mourinho seems to require such a long learning curve. The silver lining to Son’s red card is that the midfield will get reconfigured one way or another. Little has been said about Ndombele’s late contribution, but I thought he was a revelation, and demands to be starting.

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      • Yup, full agreement with you and cbw below. Even having those four in an attacking set-up calls on two of them (Son, Moura) to drop back to support the midfield but they are not specialist midfielders in the way we require. If the team’s initial objective is, “First, we do not lose” then we need to stiffen the midfield in order to protect the defence. If it means losing one or two out of the front four, then let it happen. A midfield of Sissoko, Winks, Dier and N’Dombele could provide better cover than the games against Chelsea, Wolves and Man Utd. (Frankly, we dodged a bullet against Wolves). I don’t mind Dier; he does a lot of the dirty that will never win awards but he can’t do it on his own. Lo Celso must surely get a run in the team over the busy period, and why not give Sessegnon a run, too? He’d provide the energy up front of the kind that N’Dombele showed in his short run out at the weekend and would give Alli a rest. Alli is a bit of a luxury at the moment. He doesn’t contribute nearly enough over the full 90 minutes and I’m not sure his occasional stabs of brilliance earn a place as automatic first choice in the line up. As you say, Son’s absence over the next three games will give Mourinho a chance to stir the pot – hopefully!

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  6. I have no doubt that racism emanated from one, or possibly two, ‘supporters’ yesterday, but as in in other PL games, it does seem to be confined to one or two. So it annoys me to hear pundits going on about how we attack other countries, while ignoring the problem at home. We don’t ignore the problem in the UK. It is why almost all the racist ugliness of football HAS disappeared over the past 40 to 50 years.
    But it is difficult to eliminate completely because there is always one or two mindless, mentally ill, ignorant, hate filled, racist (call it what you will) individuals who simply cannot help themselves, whether at a football match, in a train, in a shop, on the street or so on. That doesn’t mean we don’t stop fighting for complete elimination of this scourge, but we have to put things in context. We should not punish clubs and other third parties. It seems absurd that Spurs as a club has anything to do with controlling the remarks or gestures of 1 or 2 uneducated idiots out of a total of 60,000 fans enjoying a game of football. But Spurs, and other clubs, must ensure that ways exist of identifying such culprits when it happens (surely we have the means) and we must punish them and ban them for life. We live in a world where people seem nastier and less tolerant, generally, because of the internet and social media. We have to be alert to all of it, but where honestly do we start, apart from wringing our hands over the words/gestures of one or two individuals? And giving it almost the same report/profile as a terrorist attack which has taken lives! Surely this just feeds the few remaining idiots out there, and actually breeds more?! The genie is out of the bottle and our society has given voice and expression to the ignorant and the vile, in football, politics, celebrity and so on. Oh, but enough of this depressing subject. One final thing, however, which comes back to comparing the UK with other countries. Let’s look at those ‘other’ countries which pundits and others have started to compare ourselves to (many of Eastern European origin, but I’m afraid to say countries like Italy too). They have ‘systematic racism’, ie. ‘tolerated’ groups of ‘fans’ in their dozens, if not hundreds, in their stadia, who specifically target black, muslim, and other ethnic minority, players! We are a multi-cultural society working hard towards being the most tolerant nation on Earth and we don’t deserve to be compared with the countries that pundits like Neville was talking about. Let’s just continue rooting the culprits out, not talking about measures that will make the vast majority of innocents suffer.
    Oh, the match itself! I fear much of it was Mourinho’s fault ..akin to the increasing tactical blemishes that cost Poch his job. We are nowhere near the team of 18 months to 2 years ago (although that ISN’T Jose’s fault), and although the Glory of our CL run matched any period in our history, in retrospect the football gods were with us in the QFs and SFs. No, we’ve lost consistency and genuinely regressed over two years, some great individual results apart. We’ve lost world class full or wing backs for one thing (why the hell we sold Trippier, I don’t know, and no one has held their hand up to the reason yet!). Walker, Tripps, Rose (at their best) and Davies gave our midfield and forwards so much more freedom to play. We frightened teams to death with our pace on those flanks, even though we gave the impression we were playing push and move through the centre. Now, we’re stuck with the accident prone (no, not ‘prone’ ..accident ‘assured’) Aurier and the square peg in the round hole, Verts. We’re also stuck with an increasingly ineffectual Eriksen, a fading Rose (fast withereth too, apologies to Keats) and if Dier is due a renaissance, we’re still waiting. Gazza is a damn good shot stopper but is beginning to make the sort of calamitous errors that Lloris has been increasingly familiar with. It’s great that Toby can now buckle down after refusing to sign a new contract for nearly two years, but I find it all somewhat ironic now. We showed the same frailties against Chelsea that we did against Man U a few weeks back. Were we complacent against both clubs?? Did we really delude ourselves that their recent form (as we approached both games) would count for anything?? One of those performances may have been a mistake to learn from (or for Mourinho to learn from), but to REPEAT it?? That is disgraceful! One final thing, in this overall depressing post, is that we had three creative midfielders sitting on the bench in Eriksen, Lo Celso and Winks (yes, Winks has proved he can make England tick playing further forward, so why not us?). But what does Mourinho do? He plays a DM in Dier alongside a player (much loved as Sissoko is) who actually seems to have no real position at all (I feel the same about Ndombele). Where is our pattern of play? Chelsea played very well and played a system we didn’t expect, but in response we were left with 4 forwards separated from almost no midfield whatsoever! Son or Mourinho should have been sacrificed from the off, allowing Eriksen or Winks to tuck in behind Alli, Kane and that one other. To see Alli and Kane trying to come deeper to influence the game was pitiful, because all the players should have been comfortable adapting to their own natural games knowing the team were also dealing effectively with how Chelsea were playing. Put Sissoko on the the right. If Mourinho is going to persist forlornly with Aurier, then stick Sissoko ahead of him (not Moura or Son). It worked well when Bale played in front of Assou Ekotto ten years ago! And it protects Aurier from constantly getting caught out of position, plus I trust Sissoko to help out there when necessary as well as do damage further forward. We might be able to play the Fab Four against lesser opposition but against top class teams (whether in form or not) it ain’t gonna work!!! Remember the Fab Five Forwards of the Klinsman/Sheringham years, under Ossie Ardiles? That soon hit the buffers! We needed a strong midfield against Chelsea, yet we had practically no midfield at all. And it was all too late when the ineffectual Eriksen came on.
    Very depressing. It’s like we really are standing still at the moment, if not going backwards, and to see Mourinho out-thought by Lampard compounded that depression. Even Top Six is optimistic based on a full calendar year of PL results in 2019, but who knows! Find form, formula and format, and get through Leipzig and Middlesborough, then perhaps Cup Glory awaits?

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