Do It Right This Time

Some questions deserve more than a straightforward answer, but working out where to begin and what to include can be a complicated business for me. So when our friendly builder casually mentions that he’s none too enamoured with the rail strike, immediately this creates a dilemma for me. They have a legal right to strike but, in my head, that sounds inadequate. I want to say, well, they are working people trying as a last resort to protect their income as living standards fall, that the right to strike goes back to the nineteenth century and working people had to fight every step of the way to earn the basic rights that you and I take for granted. Would my finely honed and tellingly evidenced analysis of class conflict grounded in history and political theory be a bit much at this point, especially as he’s just come over to put up the shed?

In the end, I paused, said that I hoped the government would settle it soon and we both got on with our respective jobs, suitably unenlightened. And it’s the same with regard to Spurs. The reason many Tottenham fans are frustrated and angry with the manager, the board and some players is about tactics, or underperformance, losing comprehensively against a Villa side who defended stoutly (the nerve!) and who capitalised on two pieces of atrocious defending. But that doesn’t seem enough either. It’s not about that really. Fundamentally, it’s something only a Spurs fan would understand, that this failure to achieve our potential is yet another in a long line of disappointment, a never ending cycle of hopes raised then expectations dashed and opportunities squandered. New manager, new players, same outcome.

In the mid and late nineties, it was frustrating but easier to deal with. We weren’t getting any anywhere much because the players weren’t good enough. Now, to my mind at least, it’s about potential unfulfilled, watching Spurs a series of brutal reminders that we are never going to be as good as we could be. Some fans’ booing of Emerson has become audible. Is he as good as we want him to be? No. Will booing make him play better? No (because he tries hard already). Will booing him make the chairman transform his transfer buying policy? No, so why do it? I don’t and I don’t condone it but it is also true that through this scapegoating fans are projecting a broader, deeper frustration onto someone who to me is an honest player who tries but is not what we need. The scapegoating of any player is wrong but the underlying exasperation and anger is real.

There’s a huge problem at the heart of everything that happens at Spurs. The club does not know what it wants to be, a success or an also ran, and Levy is the only Spurs fan who hasn’t worked it out by now. It’s not about throwing money around. It’s about planning and leadership, and our chairman provides neither.

Success in any organisation needs a vision that is shared and is achievable. Levy is by all accounts a successful businessman. As CEO, he’ll set that philosophy out and choose key staff to carry it out. He will take enormous care in getting the right people, but he appears unable to do that at a football club. At no point have Spurs created the lasting alignment between manager, recruitment and finance that is the foundation for success. There have been moments but one of those three elements is almost always out of sync.

Succession planning is non-existent, especially so with Levy’s vanity project choices of big name short-termists like JM and Conte. Constant changes undermine continuity so we end up with mismatched squads made up of players bought by different managers for different reasons and for different tactics. This is not the first time I’ve written that in this blog and it probably won’t be the last.

Conte doesn’t want the long, complete answer. He won’t be around for that long, whatever happens in the next year or two. He just wants to know if he can get what he wants, now. I was unable to get to the Villa game, but television revealed the most significant concerning aspect of that dreadful game, Conte’s face after the second goal. The blank expression, eyes staring into space. He did not know what to do. Powerless in the face of his team’s ineptitude.

His reaction fanned the flames of supporters’ anger, already white-hot. Searching for coherence within the verbal quagmire that is a Conte press conference is a futile exercise, and it’s best to sidestep his tedious posturing. The content is all about his anxiety, projected onto the board and lack of transfers. It’s a message to the board that he wants better players, and only that. He is not speaking to us even when he mentions the fans. He cares about us or the club only if it reflects his own glory. That’s ok, provided that you know where we stand with that.

We back Antonio from the South Stand and I join in, it’s a message he needs to hear. Managers and players for that matter can give their all without being emotionally attached. Professional football, the clue’s in the name. But maybe we get more if players do value our heritage. Kulu and Bentancur have clearly bought into the pride and passion we as supporters express and both have raised their games accordingly. Kulusevski has listened to the long answer and taken to heart our history and what the club means to supporters. Conte probably hasn’t but success will come because of his ego, just don’t expect anything more. He never stays around, we knew that when we appointed him.

I hope the board give him enough of what he wants and of the players we need. I think they plan to respond, although it may not be enough. At some point, the financial stability offered by income from the stadium and the CL must give us more to spend. Conte has said it will take three windows – we know he could have 23 available without getting who he needs if history is our guide – and he may not have the patience to wait until next autumn, which even if we buy the players he wants is the earliest they can be fully integrated into the system. 

Spirits rose after thumping Palace, led by Harry as his most magnificent. I was delighted for Gil. His positional play has developed, evidence that coaching does exist at Spurs after all and hopefully his headless chicken routine is a thing of the past. Getting used to the PL is not just about the physicality, it’s also about passing quickly and decisively rather than holding on the ball.

The derby is a chance for a new beginning but I’m a realist too. If we defend versus our north London neighbours like we did against Palace, we’ll get slaughtered. Fans are running out of patience. The mood could turn ugly. There may be trouble ahead.

16 thoughts on “Do It Right This Time

  1. Excellent and echoes my views as always.
    For me the key line is “There have been moments but one of those three elements is almost always out of sync.”

    It does seem we snatch defeat too often, but the joy is never knowing 🙂
    Hope you’re keeping well Alan


  2. Want to hear something strange? After a month of snakes and ladders and losing ground, patience and hope, we entered the game against Palace expecting the worst. Four goals later we are just three points -one game!- from second place. Yes, we have played a game or two more than a couple of the others but all is not lost. Arsenal and Toon have still to meet their rough patch whereas we’re getting through ours and will improve with our injured players back soon to get us ticking in time for the Milan game. We had a similar crisis of confidence last season and Conte’s willpower hauled us over the line. Maybe we’ll get a creative midfielder in this transfer window and then it’s all to play for. If it comes down to a sprint to the finish (and it shall) I’d rather have no one other than Conte in our corner. We will still have to suffer even further this month with those games against L’Arse and ManC to come (and who are playing on another level) but we ain’t done yet.


    • There’s more to come from us, for sure, it’s just that it’s not impatience that makes me feel we should be a bit further along the road by now. Son has more than enough credit in the bank, but his woeful loss of form continues, and we miss those goals and link-ups with Kane so much. Hopefully the Palace goal will signal a change for the better.

      All the best, Alan

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks, as always, Alan. To be fair, I wasn’t around for our last title winning season, and I grew up on Spurs being a one-off, glory glory cup-winning team. I wouldn’t be too upset if we got back to that. Like S. Wales weather, I’m sort of used to mostly gloom, interspersed with slivers of glorious sunshine—Ricky, Ossie, Hoddle, Ginola, Gazza, Harry and Sonny. I get most of sunshine from living out in LA where I actually swam outdoors in the sun today, as I recover from my Dec heart incidents. COYS!


    • All the very best to Ashley, rest if you can. Watching Spurs not good for the heart, but shows after all these years that it must be pretty strong. Take care of yourself

      Liked by 1 person

      • Not good for the heart! When I was in hosp recovering, I got hundreds of messages from around the world, and so many were suggesting not the watch the England games during WC as they would cause stress. Funny thing, in run-up to England vs France, I was all set up in my room with two IVs, and a chair and table to watch, but the signal went off before the first half, and I took that as a message. When it came back on for second half, I was so blase about it, including Harry’s miss (besides how many England flameouts have I witnessed since 1966) that I found I could care less. My health was way more important. Cheers, Alan. PS Here’s to a sliver of glory coming out of the NLD, eh?


        • Ash, I didn’t realise you had been so ill. The very best of best wishes for your recovery and future well-being. I hope Spurs can be the tonic you deserve on Sunday. Take care, Al

          Liked by 1 person

          • Had two heart attacks that I mistook for asthma attacks. A month on, I’m taking my meds, walking 1-2 miles a day, and swam outdoors 4x last week. But these drugs are very strong. Seeing cardiologist tomorrow. Thanks for your concern, Alan.


  4. Like a deluded gambler, I often think and place a bet on my beloved Tottenham, actually starting the game on the front foot. However, despite all intuitive thinking and hope more than anything, I and we are all destined for “nearly and almost” until we get another Kulu or Bentancur to bolster the current crop!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Fair comment, Alan. Whatever we think of an individual player, don’t boo him. Whatever we think of the team’s performance, the manager, the chairman etc, booing or chanting “get out of my club” is unhelpful.

    When we lose, it’s just not worth getting angry. Life’s too short. Disappointment is as far as I will go – yet there they are on social media, apoplectic supporters venting their anger on players/team/manager/Levy (take your pick) after a loss. They all seem to have a pet hate which gets justified when we lose.

    A big problem which you touched on is buying players suited for one manager’s style but not for a successor. Currently we want wing-backs and a back three. The next manager will probably want full backs and two centre backs. But it’s the same for all clubs.

    Here’s hoping for a win today and Harry to smash the goal record set by the amazing Jimmy Greaves. Jimmy was so good, I never thought anyone would beat his record!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Hi Alan I’m in sync with your latest offering and the one before.

    But I have a cryptic message here: us as Spurs fans haven’t suffered enough or reached rock bottom till we stop being selective in our critisisms/booing of performances, Royal is not even in our top 3 to make “errors – leading to goals conceded”.

    That means we are protecting and turning a blind eye with certain players- in my opinion, that implies that our frustrations haven’t bottomed out,
    that we haven’t quite had enough of mediocrity,
    that we have a bit more room to accomodate more disappointments.


    • Too true Tony. I used the Emerson scapegoating as an example of the way frustration accumulated over many years of almost realising our potential then falling away is building up. That’s not Conte’s fault but in my view, we’ve not progressed as far and as fast as I had hoped, or, I suspect, as far as Conte himself had hoped. Our defending is really poor at the moment, so we’re always vulnerable. Safe travelling up the M4!

      Liked by 1 person

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