Spurs Celebrate a New Beginning

The meaning of a victory can often be found not in the league table but in the way it is achieved. Three points from the champions on the opening day is the best possible start for new manager Nuno and kickstarts Spurs’ campaign into life. Defeating the champions is satisfying on any day of the season.

But with this one, the feeling around a victory has a lasting significance beyond the three points. Welcome to Nuno’s Spurs, working for and off each other with purpose and intent, their motivation beyond doubt, who after a sticky start declined City’s offer to give ground and roll over.

Always try to look forward. Strive to improve. But expunge the ghosts of the past to ensure progress is possible. The crowd’s growing exuberance reflected events on the field, then as the intensity increased, so did the noise from the stands. This wasn’t just about City, it was the growing realisation that change was in the air, that a burden was lifted from our shoulders. Spurs were dragging themselves bodily out of the emotional quicksand of a horrendous 18 months and that’s cause for celebration.

There’s a skip in the step this week, a twinkle in the eye. This feels like a new beginning, fans and players closer again.  It’s us not them, us not him, team not me me me. And people rediscovering how to be fans, celebrating just being there and rejoicing in the very thing that enticed us in the first place and never let us go, the collective experience of being together.

I see Tottenham’s future, and I name it Tanganga’s eyebrows. The pressure’s extreme, cauldron of noise, his expression is one of mild surprise, bordering on the ironic, with a little bemusement on the side. Man-to-man on an England star, one of the quickest and trickiest in the league, fine by him, eyebrows raised. Ref’s on at him, eyebrows raised. Pep’s having one of his passive aggressive chats, expression unmoved. Just run back and get on with the game, eh Pep.

Lot of Spurs love coming your way, Japh. Tackling – remember that? You probably don’t know what I’m talking about if you’re under 25. He won’t back down. He came with that approach in his debut against Liverpool, two early challenges on Mane, don’t let him turn, he’s mine. Taken a while but here it is again.

Nuno is Lazarus by proxy. It’s a fallacy to believe he is wedded to defensive football. Rather, he’s pragmatic and adaptable with a variety of tactical approaches to shape the players he has at his disposal. The Kane saga has gone a long way to deflect attention from the considerable task faced by our new manager, in overcoming the poisonous legacy of his predecessor. He inherits a unbalanced squad with core weaknesses in central defence and midfield and potentially no central striker. Reinforcements are on their way but he will have to make something of what we already have. He must resurrect the flagging careers of players like Dier, Sanchez and Dele, give Moura and Lo Celso some direction. Teach Reguilon defensive discipline. He’s done much already in a very short space of time. Ndombele is already beginning to feel like a lost cause.

Gollini and Romero have in common a front-foot approach to defending. They don’t sit back and wait for things to happen, and this epitomises Nuno’s strategy, at least on the evidence of Sunday’s match. We defended in depth but were never passive. Pressing and harrying were the orders of the day, including deep inside our own half. Dele led the way. While Skipp’s return from his successful loan at Norwich is rich with promise, Dele has to reinvent himself as a midfielder in deeper positions than he is used to, or indeed prefers, in this case a highly successful stint on the left of Nuno’s 4-3-3. When City did break through, Dier and Sanchez stayed in their shape, refusing to be tempted out of position.

Nuno brings us closer together. Easy to forget that not so long ago, the players skulked in the dressing room, afraid to emerge after the final game of the season. Stewards were apparently instructed to tell fans to go home, fans consigned to the top tiers, as far away as possible from the pitch and who paid ticket prices that were effectively increased. How to alienate a fanbase in one painful lesson.

There is warmth about him, a passion for the game and for doing his best that endeared him to Wolves’ supporters. More than understanding the club’s heritage, he respects it. Tottenham means something to fans who unlike the players and managers are not just passing through. Stony faced at the final whistle, head still in the game, by the time he went down the tunnel a few minutes later he had defrosted, warmly greeting the Spurs fans delightedly high fiving him.

Nuno is who we need right now. Spurs need to build again after chucking away years of hard-earned progress. Paratici is working with him, not against him, let us hope Levy understands that he too should collaborate, not go his own way. Past experience suggests he does not learn lessons, and the recent exodus of non-playing staff implies he does not work well with others but again, time will tell.

There’s something else.

There’s a noir from the forties, can’t recall the name, where a nefarious nightclub owner decides to renege on a business deal to put one over on another party.  He icily dismisses the objections of the leading woman, who by this point is beginning to doubt the good intentions of her employer: “there’s profit and loss, everything else is just conversation.”

City want to buy Harry Kane. Closer to deadline day, they will make an offer closer to his market value than the £100m Spurs declined. They will try to get away with the lowest possible figure. Spurs may sell, they may not. I think they will, hope I’m wrong. They will try to get away with the highest possible figure, then decide nearer deadline day. It’s a transfer negotiation. This is what happens. Profit and loss.

All I need to know about Harry Kane is that he doesn’t want to play for Spurs. Everything else is transfer game-playing, with both parties playing the PR game. Don’t play it if they try to get you on their side, they’re just using you and me if you let them.

Charlie Kane should know better than to play transfer poker with Daniel Levy. His achievement in making Levy look the good guy is remarkable. Not easy but Charlie’s done it. Spurs knew all along how this part of the saga would play out. Saved 200k, onus back on City to bid. The rest fills airtime and the back pages but Charlie’s blundering PR makes little difference to what matters to the family in the end, the pounds, shillings and pence in the contract, whether it’s signed by Spurs or City.

Harry Kane is one of the greatest players I’ve seen in over fifty years at Spurs. The goals, the dedication, the moments, the dazzle of some of those goals, the leadership. The shiver of anticipation when the ball is passed to him, 35 or 40 yards out, around him there’s movement, something is going to happen. The possibilities.

I judge players by way of a mental balance sheet, a set of old-fashioned scales. On one side, what they have given to me and to the team, on the other, the bad days and the (almost) inevitable parting. The emotional profit and loss. The scales tip heavily in Harry’s favour and always will.

I recognise that he wants to go, understand the reasons why and don’t confuse my intense disappointment with anger or rejection. Many Spurs fans have found it too easy to reinvent the past and dismiss one of the very best. We had a whale of a time together, don’t erase that from your memory, because in the end, memories are all we have. ‘My ex was clever, funny and loving but she never put the bins out of a Thursday, so that’s it for me.’ What irritates me is the way some Spurs fans have responded by adopting facile and obtuse forms of criticism typically heard from fans of other clubs, such as the idea that he doesn’t turn up for big games. Be angry, be sad but don’t descend so low.

That said, it is right and proper to accuse Harry and his people of seriously misjudging the extent to which Spurs fans support him in the face of relentless, unjustified criticism from fans of other clubs. Because he has a place in our hearts, fans stand up for him. A few words of acknowledgement of that, now rather than later, would have gone down well. As it is, there will be only bitterness and a huge fee. You should have done better, Harry. It’s all money in the end but that’s a conversation we would have appreciated.

28 thoughts on “Spurs Celebrate a New Beginning

  1. Like the team,a great start to the season Alan, spot on as ever. Isn’t is fascinating too, how we all already refer to the new manager as ‘Nuno’ when the previous bloke was only ever ‘Jose’ to his sycophantic acolytes? Would still have preferred Poch back but it looks like we have another good one to get behind, especially if he keeps promoting the positives of our own boys like Japhet., and can turn Dier & Sanchez into a consistent central defensive partnership to go with his clearlymlre attacking mentality than anything we saw last season. Tha5 alone will help us all get over the loss- if it finally happens, of which I’m not so sure – of the one we thought was going to be our promised land until he and his brother started muckiest g us all about. There’s now genuine enthusiasm for the new season, which I’ve no doubt your blogs will continue to reflect and build upon. COYS.

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    • All Portuguese and Brazilian players have diminutive nicknames like Pele, whose real name was Edson Arantes do Nascimento. In the case of Nuno, his real name is Nuno Herlander Simões Espírito Santo. Simões would traditionally be his mother’s name, and Espírito Santo, which literally means “Holy Ghost”, indicates that one of his paternal ancestors was left at an orphanage. His full last name would be Espírito Santo, not Santo, which is a real mouthful for journalists anyway, so Nuno it is, regardless of any great affection 😉 Myself, I’ve always loved the guy. Wolves under his tenure was the only other team I ever watched because of the way he inspired them to play. Could not have been happier when he came to Spurs.

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    • How are you keeping Bernie, well I trust. You are right, there is real enthusiasm, beyond the customary first day of the season optimism. We needed not so much a breath of fresh air but a gale. And perhaps I have been over-familiar. Nuno and I have barely been introduced.

      All the best, Al

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      • Thanks Alan. Fine for you to be over familiar with Nuno, as I said he’s already captured way more affection than Maureen eve could, and in a strange twist of fate I discovered yesterday that he lives very close to me, maybe about 400 yards away,in a house formerly occupied by Lacazette, directly opposite another Spurs supporting fiend and former business associate of mine. It’s on Broad Walk Winchmore Hill in case you are interested. broad Walk is our local millionaires row, previously home to Rid Stewart, Stephen Mangan (his family once had the house then Nuno now lives in) and now further up the road is Anthony Joshua!

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        • I did not realise how you rubbed shoulders with the stars. You should tell Stephen Mangan via twitter about Nuno living in their old house!

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  2. We’re back and we’re off. Nice one, Sonny. And, Nuno. And, us fans. Who knew we’d have smiles back on our faces so quickly? That’s the most entertaining Spurs game (last season’s early and too hopeful tonking of ManU, notwithstanding) since Ajax away in CL. Couldn’t find your noir movie reference to profit and loss. Oh, and nice one, Alan.

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  3. Tremendous article and spot on with Harry Kane who has been a model professional and a massive influence at both Club and International level. In hindsight the timing of the Kane families plans could have been better. I applaud Daniel Levy for almost getting there not only regenerating the Club but the borough of Tottenham as well. He has, however rather blundered his way through transfers over the years, Grealish being a prime example and trust he trusts and funds his new DoF’s wishes, magnificent stadium which has to filled so Joe Lewis and Daniel are the key movers and shakers in the transfer market. I have supported Spurs for over 60 years and love the Club to bits – all the recent negativity hurts hugely and I trust Nuno and his team can carry us that one step further than Poch but to do it we have to spend.

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    • Thanks John. Levy’s obdurate approach is right for this deal but not in other situations where he mistakenly believes he holds all the cards and the selling club then don’t fold.

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  4. Alan thanks for that, one point. The golf course interview, leaked or not, was for me, the kick in the balls, just as Campbell’s lies surrounding his trip down Seven Sisters Road. He should of waited, for our season to end then told us, his defenders, via the clubs channels, first, But hey, he is going for cheap trophies and expensive suits. neother good luck nor good riddance from me, thats reserved form Morinho who probably turned his head with his slimy playing of Harry as his first act as Spurs manager.

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    • Thanks for dropping by Mal. Harry’s team have played the leaks and PR game very badly but the real unpleasant truth is that he probably wanted to leave at the start of last season. At least he gave us everything then. It’s a real shame.

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  5. Nuno has brought a sense of calm to proceedings after the chaotic soap opera of last season. With Mourinho it’s all about Mourinho, but with Nuno it’s all about the team. The rebuild is underway and it’ll take half a season for things to settle down. In a month’s time the team will be very different from Saturday’s line-up. How quickly things change: three of our best defensive line-up in recent memory have gone in the blink of an eye. Thank you Vertonghen, Thank you Alderwereild. And thank you Danny Rose for being part of the most exciting team we had in years and maybe the best defence in Europe until VvDijk went to Anfield. Harry can go and we’ll use the money to fund the new generation of heroes, it’s the circle of football life. We didn’t fall apart after Bale and then Modric were sold and we’ll struggle on. Replace that deadbeat N’Dombele with someone who wants to play for us and we can shake up the top four. We were just five points off fourth place even after such a torrid second half to the season. The bad taste of the Mourinho era is going away and there’s even a hint of optimism….

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    • Thanks as always David. Yes, in a word. Nuno needs time to build up a head of steam. There will be newcomers and they need time to bed in, maybe in time for a decent cup run in the New Year?

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  6. Lovely summation of the day. It was great to be back. My frustration with Kane, unlike many players who left in the pursuit of trophies, is that he’s had everything the club could possibly give him during his career including a team around him that was capable of winning something. They just didn’t take those opportunities that presented themselves. He’ll always be a great player but the gloss has definitely worn off for me. I wanted to be invested in players who want to play for the club and don’t see it as a vehicle to a petrodollars club. He’ll be a huge loss if / when he goes but the club is bigger than him, his ‘advisors’ and Sky Sports who surely should ask for commission on any deal.
    On the field, there were some fantastic performances particularly Skipp and Tanganga. The side seemed to grow in confidence until the players got a bit leggy at the end but it was a well deserved win and promising start for NES. Despite everything that has happened in the last 18 months, the Spurs go marching on.

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    • What else would i be doing? Not so much a false dawn, more not JM. Seems a good enough place to begin. Nice to see you round this part of the world.

      Al

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  7. I love August, points on the board and City beaten. All is well. Feeling positive. I just wish I could have been there to witness the crowd and the excitement, instead of exuberantly waking my neighbours here in Oz in the middle of the night when Sonny scored.

    Reality then sets in early when the manager sends the second eleven off to lose in Portugal – but we’ll win at home, won’t we?

    Harry Kane will always be a Spurs hero and I hope he stays and beats Jimmy Greaves record, something I thought was impossible. Harry wants to win trophies – but where is the sense of achievement from winning trophies with a team which was already winning trophies and will keep on winning trophies, whether he joins them or not?

    The reality for Harry is that he played three finals for us and one for England – without scoring a goal in any of them. Which goes a long way towards explaining why he hasn’t won any trophies yet.

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    • This is what us fans like to think. That quote from Totti, he will always be a legend in Rome. But I don’t blame him. What hurts more, his assessment that Spurs are unlikely to challenge for big honours or the fact that he is probably right?

      All the best, Alan

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  8. Excellent as usual Alan. Fine form.
    It is a new dawn and all eyes on Paratici and Nuno and done great hope.
    As far as Harry goes yes it could be the money,it could be the trophies but another factor is what Harry puts into each game he plays versus the hope,dreams and false dawns that have been synonymous with Tottenham over the last few years.
    We all have had frustration with our collapses and even though Harry being part of the team had a hand in some if it, we can understand his frustration its our frustration but its bigger. Its our club but its his life.
    None of us know what that feels like. Only Harry does.
    I am not really interested in Harry anymore,he isnt interested in us.I am interested in our future,not Harrys but I can understand his frustration.

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  9. “All I need to know about Harry Kane is that he doesn’t want to play for Spurs. Everything else is transfer game-playing, with both parties playing the PR game. Don’t play it if they try to get you on their side, they’re just using you and me if you let them.”

    That’s lovely, Allen as was the whole article. I am expecting H to go, and I shall forgive him it. My greatest pleasure would be if he’d stayed and beaten Jimmy’s record, because to do that, for me would be better than a few trophies. But clearly he doesn’t agree with me and that’s ultimately going to be his loss, in my opinion.

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