Do It Now

Do it now. Pointless waiting. Why wait, not a rhetorical question because there are no reasons.

Conte has had enough of us and we’ve had enough of him. He’s heartsore after three bereavements, plus a serious operation. Losing friends has a profound effect on any individual because while the bonds with family may run deeper, the death of a contemporary is a sharp reminder of your own mortality. It’s a time for taking stock, for stepping back to reflect on what is past and what the future might hold. He doesn’t need us. He needs his family and Italy.

Part of that mental stocktaking must be a judgement about how little he has achieved at Spurs. He has great faith in his methods and approach. He cannot remain oblivious to their failure. His failure. A proud man, he knows he cannot carry on.

His approach may be rigid and unchanging but he’s absorbed one aspect of life at Spurs, how ridiculous this club can be. Last night he’s quoted as saying, “Let’s see how the season ends. Maybe they can send me away even earlier.” We’ve heard of ‘come and get me’ pleas, this is a new one, the ‘come and get rid of me’ plea. Spurs in the vanguard of modern football once again. He’s begging to go, on his knees and pleading. He’s at Tottenham Way but not taking training, he’s digging an escape tunnel. That’s what Tottenham can do to a man.

I don’t for a moment wish to compare the pain of bereavement with that of losing a poxy football match, but our hearts are hurting too. We go to the match, loyally, 61000 despite the absence of any sniff of success, because it’s Tottenham, and they are a part of us. We go to experience the joy and pain of being a fan, to be part of something, we feel this stupid, inconsequential thing deep down in our hearts and in our souls.  

Last night, we saw many things, but above all, what we feel wasn’t matched on the pitch. I’m a Spurs fan, I can deal with losing. But not like that. Have a go. Put everything you have into it because it matters. We had, what, one shot on target plus a deflection, then Harry’s late header, well saved but actually not as far away from the keeper as it should have been. Dull, predicable build up and passing patterns that haven’t worked for much of the season and didn’t work last night, against opponents who were ordinary by the standards of the CL knock-out stages.

But just have a proper go, and that’s my point – it didn’t matter enough. Conte is going. We know it, he knows it, the players know it. When it matters, players dig deep to find something extra, just because it matters, but we had nothing. The pressure is on as time passes. So our best defender decides to get himself sent off with a tackle primed to take out not just the full-back but, apparently, the entire Milan bench. At least it shows ambition.

Then with 10 men, we bring on Sanchez. Conte’s sacrosanct system came before pressing for a late equaliser. I get it to some extent – you need some shape and Porro needed to attack, not drop back. But that was massively outweighed by the need to SCORE A BLOODY GOAL, and we had two centrebacks on the field already. Plus Sanchez is not comfortable on the ball. It’s a symbol of Conte’s refusal to let the team off his leash. What is the point?

This dreadful week laid bare the rotting innards of this club, although many of us caught a whiff of the stench a long while ago. Levy has talked of the club’s DNA – I wrote about this last week after our ignominious cup exit. His contribution is to build a culture where all our efforts are geared up to not winning anything. Wherever you turn, recruitment, choice of managers, leadership from the board, there is a total lack of understanding or strategic thinking about how to create a winning side and winning mentality. Managers who had some ambition and wanted to play good football, Jol, Redknapp, Pochettino, all gone, replaced by AVB, Nuno, JM. If I have been over and over this on Tottenham on My Mind for the last decade, imagine how often that’s run around my addled brain in a toxic mixture of fury, frustration and despair, of simply not understanding how so many decisions can be so wrong for so long. It does me no good whatsoever.

That has seeped into the hearts and minds of the players and a winner like Conte. The team selection against Sheffield told the players that we don’t want it, really. Come to Spurs because you have ambition, yet we’ll knock that out of you soon enough. It’s like Nuno’s selection of a reserve side in that European tie against, I can’t remember and can’t be bothered to look it up. You know the one, we lost and it told half the squad that the manager thought they were no good.

It’s found its way into my head too. Last night, all I could think of was, this is pointless. Levy has no emotional intelligence. He doesn’t grasp how his decisions come over to people or how it affects them, and is closed to new ideas. But the club does keep an eye on social media and blogs, so they would do well to understand that if I as a loyal fan and regular matchgoer for over 50 years, someone who is generally of a mild disposition and infuriates folk by being fair, reasonable and seeing both sides of any story, if I am mightily hacked off then something is wrong and I’m not alone. Everyone I talk with says this openly, long-standing supporters feeling alienated and disillusioned. The only difference is whether they are angry or apathetic. Both are dangerous emotions.

Once again, we have not so much a distance between the club and supporters as a vast yawning chasm stretching from Everest’s peak to the permanent darkness of the bottom of the Mariana Trench. I should be furious, instead I am numb with frustration, alienated from the club I hold so dear.

And this is not a new feeling. The Pochettino era, warts, lemons and all, brought fan, team, manager and club closer than ever before. That’s not the Tottenham DNA however much I wish it were, that’s the outlier for this generation. The club’s dismissive contempt for supporters’ feelings and emotions persists.

So let him go now, with some dignity, rather than make him feel compelled to utter the patronising drivel he spouted after last night’s game. Dismissing him is an act of mercy for him and for us. It’s also essential. But this is only the next step, not the whole solution. Spurs are on the edge of a precipice. We have a decent number of good players who could improve as individuals, including several promising young players, and more could be made of their collective talents.

At the same time, we must spend to get better players, backed by an informed recruitment policy. Plus, we must reinforce in key positions notably at centre back, goalkeeper and midfield creativity. Then have Harry, nearing 30, and Son, whose form has already plunged down that cliff edge.

Money speaks louder than words, and the booing at the Lane is not going to subside if this carries on. The next date circled in red in Levy’s diary is the season ticket renewal deadline, which seems to get earlier and earlier each year. He will take action before then. But on past form, this is a huge task that the board is unable to handle.

25 thoughts on “Do It Now

  1. Sadly too true and depressing and there seems so many things that are wrong now.
    How can we spend tens of millions on players but no place for them in the team!
    Their are players still in the team that should have been moved on long ago and one or two of them were not up to much then.
    Utterly fed up with this farce.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Very well put Alan, Tottenham played last night as if a draw was good enough for progression to the last Eight. I believe that Conte in his team set up and instruction is a major problem with the midfield passing backwards and sideways giving the opposition time to reset when Tottenham are looking to attack, the Milan defence never looked troubled at any time.


    • Conte seemed to put his system before either the task we actually faced or the natural inclinations of our players. Same formulaic passing and build-up, with the same depressing lack of end product


  3. Very well put Alan, Tottenham played last night as if a draw was good enough for progression to the last Eight. I believe that Conte in his team set up and instruction is a major problem with the midfield passing backwards and sideways giving the opposition time to reset when Tottenham are looking to attack, the Milan defence never looked troubled at any time.


  4. At the end of last season, the home win against Arsenal, which contributed greatly to this season’s CL qualification, was trumpeted by many as a new high-water mark. Much of that water has soured and flowed to familiar lows. Mentioning Romero in the context of our best defender is revealing, he wouldn’t start for Arsenal. Only Harry would have a chance as a starter there, and then, only if Jesus wasn’t available. There’s much to be done. Both the club and the team need a spine. Neither will come easily or cheaply.


    • You’re right about the NLD derby, which I saw as a big step forward at the time (and wrote about it as such) but that impetus disappeared long ago. Now, we have a dispirited team who look weak at the back and find it hard to create chances, let alone score. I think the Arsenal comparison – they have players who fit their system, a system that has fluidity built in. We have a rigid system that undermines the strengths of players, we buy players then don’t play them, we don’t respond.


  5. Good article Alan. I attended my first Tottenham match in 1963 (beat Wolves 4-3) I clearly recall being a tad upset because Jimmy Greaves didn’t get on the scoresheet – but Dad he always scores! Since then there have been some sublime moments and hugely disappointing ones, but through it all I have always been excited at the prospect of attending a match at “The Lane” sadly that is no longer the case. I find myself making the journey purely out of habit, there is just a numbness and and an expectation of being disappointed…. How has this been allowed to happen? I am not normally someone in favour of going back but find myself yearning for the return of “Poch” . I did back Levy when he dismissed Poch (man alive that 7-2 defeat to Bayern Munich still stings!) but I loved the guy nonetheless and just want him reinstated to bring unity and you know what… fun to us all, along with a let’s have a real go attitude for the rest of the season and see where it takes us.


    • I hear so many long term fans saying exactly this, I don’t blame them and it hurts. This is what the club has done to us. We carry around this history of the past 20 years of failing to fulfil our potential, now every manager coming in will have this burden to carry too. Can’t see Conte changing his approach for the rest of the season – hope I’m wrong and we go for it!


  6. Excellent summary of the dilemma at N17 and thank you for expressing in detail what many of us are thinking.

    Our Director of Football finds himself at an impasse with investigations underway in Italy. By UEFA and also at our club.
    Questions need to be asked about the loan acquisition of Arnout Danjuma and also Djed Spence, two players brought in but starkly ignored by Antonio.
    Then there is the latest crack in the sanctuary of the changing room.
    Richarlison has, rightly or wrong, called out Conte concerning his use since joining.
    The signs are all pointing towards the end of another chapter. Players bought for Conte, who may have signed because of Conte, will have to wait to see what formation and tactics will be introduced, encompassing or alienating the next round of player Cluedo.


  7. Apathy. What I feel for this club now, clearly reflecting what’s on the pitch.
    We clearly should never get anyone with a j in their name as they don’t get a chance. Step forward DJed Spence, Danjuma, Njie and the other one we got beginning with Nj I can’t even remember.
    Arsenal showing once again they’re a class club and we’re not. Goes back to Jennings and continues to this day. Heartbreaking.


  8. OK, he`s going….but who next? another thing that`s going to divide our fan base.
    Poch or Brendan Rogers may get us playing some decent attacking football but the fans will turn after a season or two when we still don`t win anything. A serial winner like Tuchel? none of OUR serial winners who win an every club they have been to seem to replicate it here.
    A change of ownership? Firstly you or I don`t get a say whether that happens, secondly there aren`t that many Prem owner models that are better than ours, and lastly fans think on the day Levy leaves were going to start winning trophies, unfortunately it doesn`t always work like that. Then there is our chaotic player recruitment …..not only spending hundreds of millions on players that don`t work for us, we`ve now built a squad around Conte (no central attacking midfield players) that we need to start again….like a vicious circle.
    WE`RE F*!!*ing CURSED!!!!!!


    • My wife, a Leicester City fan would gladly drive Rodgers over, and she can’t drive! We’ve been comparing notes by cutting and pasting Leicester/Spurs and Conte/Rodgers all season.


      • Brenda Rodgers? No, a thousand times no. He’d enjoy a dead cat bounce for a couple of matches and then slump all over the middle of the table.


  9. Thanks Alan. We were so meek [Does no one read the To Dare etc messages plastered around the stadium and doubtless club anymore?] I kept thinking, we’re the ones 1-0 down, gonna step it up now… ok, now then… now? Oh… Only Milan’s profligacy on the break meant we didn’t lose on the night.

    There is a line before playing right on the edge and Romero needs to find it and stay that side of it. Not good enough to say that’s the way he plays. Imo, he should have been sent off in first leg and deserved it last night.

    We play moribund football under Conte and I agree now is the time to end it, for everyone’s sake.

    Kane has scored so many, but we’ve wasted one of the very best centre forwards and likely the best 9 and a half of his generation in world football. It’s amazing how much he contributes from so little going back to Mourinho. That header, which I did think was a good effort, should have been his 4-6th of the game. That he feeds on so little puts so much pressure on the few chances he gets. All he needs is cymbals between his knees to make the one man band a going concern on the circuit.

    Audere est facere


  10. Your last two columns deserve saving in your ‘Best Of’ link. All the frustrations of this wretchedly inconsistent season have bubbled up in the past month and we are losing matches we should have won to teams like Sheffield, Wolves, and Leicester and getting dragged into the horrors of the Europa and Conference league playoffs. Hearing the boos at half-time and the end of the match are corroding an already fragile team spirit and it seems the ‘dressing room’ is going through the motions. Am I the only one fed up with the antics of Romero? He’s not as good as he thinks he is (his mistimed tackle allowed Milan to score their early goal in the first leg) and his reckless performances have damaged the team in several matches. It smacks of a lack of respect for his teammates and wrecked the momentum of our desperate search for a goal. Son’s loss of form is startling and yet he still gets picked. The whole charade is baffling and Toni must be allowed to go. If Rodgers slithers into the club then that’s where I finally get off. I see Frank’s name has started to creep into the conversation. After the list of failed managers he can’t do any worse and he’d bring Toney – you can bet on it. But I’d take Poch before him. And we’ve come full circle.


    • “Hearing the boos at half-time and the end of the match are corroding an already fragile team spirit”

      True….we`re all frustrated but does it really help? Also, can`t remember the team getting booed the year we were relegated?

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Agree with every word of this. Incredibly found myself almost relieved when Kane’s last minute header was saved, as surely we would have been overrun in extra time (and we would have missed our last train home) That is not how I want to feel when I watch my team. Time for (another) fresh start


  12. Thing is Alan If Conte had come back and told Levy he wanted to leave immediately I would have admire him for his honesty in a similar way as I do Richarlisons After the game.


  13. Alan again a brilliant article,I ran through it. By the way I dropped it in a couple of Tottenham Groups I write on,Hope you dont mind but wanted to put this out there. Back to the issues,I would some more blame on Conte’s narrow system.Yes he has been a winner but he leaves Dodge City quickly thats because I think his system is not sustainable over the long run. It telegraphs everything and eventually the opposition dont allow too many breakaways and our players like Sonny are only good in space. But still its a great article as usual!


    • Cheers Ron, no problem in sharing. Agree with you re the system. Interesting that when he was away, Stellini said he was still in charge but the team played with more freedom. Wing backs advancing together and coming inside. He wants to get out. I won’t beg him to stay.


      • Alan the reason I think that we played better with Stellini is yes it was Conte’s system but there was less negative tension ,the game flowed more.When Conte barks on the touchline it cannot be positive overall.  It didnt last and maybe because he was on the horizon. Sent from Yahoo Mail on Android


  14. It’s all Levy’s fault. The buck stops with him. I’m sick and tired of proving to my friends that the likes of Mourinho and Conte wouldn’t work.
    Not because they’re not good but that Levy wouldn’t back them.
    He needs to step down as Chairman and allow someone else to run the football side of things.


  15. My apologies in advance for this long contribution Allan. I am normaly economical with my “speech”.

    I think restructuring of the board is now due…………………………………

    The board has done well in terms of the business side of the club. Look at the infrastructure. I read somewhere that match day alone generated over 101 million pounds this past season.
    So replacing some from the board would not be a sacking per-say but simply a decommissioning after decorated service. I expect the club to be a sound business for the next couple of decades. “Hell”, if I had my way I would give the outgoing board a lasting reward for their lasting legacy.
    I don’t know if that side of the pond you call it a golden handshake or golden parachute (Lol). They should get some of that.

    The board now needs to be dominated with heads that are savvy with the foot-balling side of things.
    Its undoubted that Conte and Mourinho are damn good coaches. Nuno as well. He did some mighty admirable work at Wolves (who have given Spurs heart-aches for the past- almost a decade).
    There is some mis-match somewhere on the football pitch. Synching a squad is apparently complicated-look at how Mikel Arteta tore up the blue print several times in the past 5 years while we watched in amusement. We thought the block doesn’t know what he is doing.
    The reality for us fans is that the club is some 2 to 3 years behind where the fans anticipated on the footballing side of things. I think the blame lies with the pandemic.
    I think I am a realist but I’m actually full of optimism for next season and beyond. Look, we have a sound business foundation now, we have on our books about half a dozen talented young players and some experienced players who, age-wise are just before or just after their mid-20s, Conte and Paratici have recruited well, we are 4th in the league! In case fans didn’t notice we might qualify for another champions league while busy with the squad re-build!
    I remember when Obama was campaigning for his first term, that particular week, he was under particularly vicious volley of attacks, he simply brushed it off his shoulder-literally-on TV and moved on-he didn’t lash out to anyone. We have been treated to some horror shows on the foot-ball pitch, “dude”!…im just brushing it off.


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