Everything’s Fine at Spurs, Except for Everything

Another cycle almost complete. Change welcomed, blowing away the stale air of the last rotten manager. Sticky, uncertain beginnings, then promise and progress, only to slide back into a mire of frustration, recriminations and bitter departures. The only thing that changes is how rapidly we move through the different stages. Nuno was something special, a record-breaker even for us, but Conte’s coming in a close second.

Is the award of a dodgy penalty in injury time a tipping point moment at Tottenham? Surely Conte would not have fired off his press conference broadside if the ref had waved play on or if Forster had saved it. Asked a question and he was off on one, blaming everyone except himself for the team’s recent performances. Or I am thinking of a JM conference – it’s so confusing.

There were truths in what he said. The players are not giving their best and it is entirely legitimate to criticise the way the club has taken team and player-related decisions over the past 20 years. It’s been suggested this was a dig to motivate the players and provoke to board in some way but I don’t buy that. It was an exasperated rant without any goal in mind. He’s sick of everything at the club, who in his eyes have not supported him as his status requires and at his own failure to get through to players who aren’t responding to him. Conte didn’t say these things because he wants to provoke a positive reaction and plan for the future. He’s said them because he wants to protect himself and his reputation. He’s halfway out the door already.

I care about the future of my club. He speaks as if he’s on the outside looking in, it’s all they this and they that, as if he has nothing to do with where we are right now. The team have no togetherness or spirit but who organises and leads them if not the manager. That is his job. That’s what managers do.

I don’t wish to excuse the players totally. Late on in recent games they have not looked confident as a collective and individuals have made poor decisions. We don’t seem to have that on-the-field gumption to lift ourselves to get over the line when things aren’t going our way. That bloodymindedness is hard to put your finger on, but whatever it is, we don’t have it at the moment. That said, the modern player expects to be coached and organised. There’s a debate for another time about whether that’s a good thing or not. Players still show individuality but within coached patterns and shapes. They expect this, and it’s Conte who consistently encourages them to sit back in the first half and, if we are winning, at the end of games, which did for us on Saturday and nearly did the same against Forest, a match we dominated. But nothing apparently is his fault.

The players know he has given up on them. They know he’s going. And last week he blamed the fans. Expectations too high. Impatient. We don’t understand. I don’t need him to be patronising. If I wanted to be patronised, I could go on Twitter for half an hour. One trophy in 20 years, highest prices in Europe yet the ground is full every week, away tickets allocated at sky-high points totals, and we still sing his name. 5,300 go to Sheffield on a weekend night, no trains home. We didn’t pick the team.

The fact of the matter is that while this rant has been interpreted as an event of seismic proportions, it changes nothing. Maybe he’s squeezed some pus from the boil but the infection is still there.

Everything is the same as last week. Then, as now, I write the same things. Conte doesn’t want to be here any more and he is not getting through to the players, so go now. He could have left with dignity. He deserves our sympathy for the losses he has suffered, and his serious illness was understandably a time for personal reflection. His family is still in Italy, his contract is up in the summer, so he could have left with our good wishes. But his reputation is his priority so he’s leaving a scorched earth policy in his wake.

Spurs remain a club working full tilt to not win anything. The board consistently make poor choices of manager because they don’t understand the game or, more importantly, what sort of club they want us to be, let alone how to achieve their goal. JM and Conte were vanity driven choices. Spurs need a manager who can build a side over time, who can improve players and who is properly and consistently supported in the transfer market. By that I don’t expect money to be thrown at the problem, rather there needs to be a shrewd, targetted recruitment policy.

History tells us that recruitment remains a problem at Spurs. Paratici has done well enough but it’s the gaps that have not been filled by him and others that reveal embedded, cultural problems, the impact of which will worsen when we have to replace Hugo, possibly Son and Kane, as well as find creativity in midfield and a couple of dominant centre backs. This is a big deal.

This is how ridiculous our club is. Paratici draws up shortlist for a new manager, fine, that’s his job. But he may not have a job soon because of the dodginess in Italy. And he’s not going to opt for anyone who he might clash with if he keeps his job. But someone else may well have his job by the time new man arrives.

Saturday night, we all thought Conte was writing his own P45. However, yesterday the message was that he and the board had had a chat, and they accepted that his words were directed at the players, not them. It tells me that for whatever reason, the board don’t want to sack him, so they are spinning the interpretation that emphasises his criticism of the players, not them. So it’s not their fault either. That’s something they and Conte have in common. Protecting reputations seems more important than Tottenham Hotspur’s future. It sickens me. The fingers point, blame game in full swing. I hear only one thing loud and clear – this club is a complete and utter mess.

26 thoughts on “Everything’s Fine at Spurs, Except for Everything

  1. I basically agree with his outburst the other evening but he is a very highly paid manager who should be doing a lot more with the squad he has at his disposal. Completely agree with you that he seems as though he is on the outside looking in. He should be saying ‘we’ he is employed by the club after all. Since day one he has always give the impression that Spurs are well beneath him. I’m a Spurs fan of over 50 years but haven’t felt this low about the club for a long long time. Meanwhile are fierce rivals who we have been mocking in recent years are about to win the title.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. “which will worsen when we have to replace Hugo, possibly Son and Kane, as well as find creativity in midfield and a couple of dominant centre backs. This is a big deal.”

    Effectively a whole new team. A very big deal indeed. Focus on youth. Focus on technical skills.


  3. Thanks, Alan, as ever for saying so well what many of us are thinking ……….

    I remain very grateful to Daniel for the stadium and for all the hope that gives us for the future, but he doesn’t seem to understand football management at any level, and needs the help of those who do. Until we sort out this major issue we shall continue to go round in dizzying circles.

    I’d still go with Poch, personally, but only after putting in place a proper structure that ties together the club in the way that clubs like Brighton have been able to do.

    If we could got all that right we have the potential to take on anyone.


  4. Conte looks tough but to me he is a bit of a cry baby. When he walked away from Levy’s table and eventually after a couple of f ups,Levy went back cap in hand,I thought this is our man. This man can deal with Levy. Since then it was all a mirage…no more John Wayne shooting from the hip,it was more whining from the lip. But dont worry the odd good win (there were a lot of bad wins) Conte was PROUD of his players. No he wasnt,they served his ego at those times. He marginalized some younger players, and never could take responsibility for what happened on the field. We dont know who bought who. At best its speculation,so we dont know the whole story. But we do know I think that he bought Richarlison as a 3rd striker and then used him with Sonny and Kane meanwhile there were no creative players bought (though Kulusevski was the defacto creative and everything else) but all attacks came from the wing.Yes we scored mor than we every di with our heads but Conte never used his head to bring a plan B (possession passing etc) or a player who could create inside. Where we could get some through balls through it was the three strikers in manic mode searching for space. Conte’s barking maybe helped at times but it looked all to negative to me. I need an oasis,from the desert,and Ill take Poch. What would we do with Enrique when all our players play the counter and have never tried the passing game?


  5. ?The only sensible and restrained retort to the numorous sides at the club that i can muster is FECK OFF, But then the worm in my mind goes, BUT WHO will replace them.


  6. “Spurs remain a club working full tilt to not win anything. The board consistently make poor choices of manager because they don’t understand the game or, more importantly, what sort of club they want us to be”
    ………we have not won anything in 15 years since 2008 (BTW the same as 95% of British football clubs, we don`t have the divine right as some fans think to “win trophies” just because we were good in the 80s or have high ticket prices)
    Since that 15 years, we`ve been in 4 finals, lots of semi-finals and quarter finals (can`t remember how may!) 2nd place, 3rd place and lot`s of 4th place finishes in the league etc… we just don`t seem to have the mentality to get over the line. I would also argue that the 16-18 team was the best I`ve seen in my years at Spurs (maybe on a par with the Hoddle, Ardiles team)
    We`ve tried team buliders as managers and serial winners. Managers who have won everything in the game and won trophies with every other club, and the results always seem to be the same an initial push forward, then not having to mental strength to go on and win something.
    We have spent a lot of money on players, yes, agreed recruitment has been poor with too many expensive players not being able to fit in, but that doesn`t fully address the mentallity issue?
    Listen, I really don`t know what the solution is or where we go next, but I would argue that the club is definitely not “rotten to the core” as many of our fans are suggesting


  7. Alan, its hard to disagree with anything you’ve said thank you. I’ve felt that for ages we’ve lacked a leader. Not a Harry Kane or Hugo who might lead by example and be model pros (discounting Hugo’s one off-field misdemeanour) but a ruthless, do anything to win (within reason), seasoned performer who demands the best of himself and others. I was hoping it might have been Pierre, but clearly it isn’t and it’s certainly not Eric . Our team has so many internationals yet such a soft underbelly.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I’ve witnessed so many managers that I couldn’t even remember some of their names and had to look them up. Thirty-four managerial changes since I began following Spurs, some memorable, some not so memorable.

    I’m just so tired of the culture of constant change – but having said that, Conte’s last outburst was not exactly the best example of winning the dressing room.


  9. These are the games that Harry will help make up his mind to move on to Madrid, Munich, Manchester or Milan. The wretched results at Wolves, Sheffield, Leicester, ManCity and now Southampton all point to a complete lack of resolve, or guts, or gumption, or whatever word best sums up the inability to dig in. We could all see that things were misfiring as far back as October and we are still not any better. It’s a combination of both on the pitch competence and off the pitch management. Toni thinks we can hang onto a lead with a well organised defensive wall that he was raised on but…WE ARE NOT GOOD ENOUGH! I’m so frustrated at the lack of resolve and progress that I’m now writing in caps and exclamation marks!!! Paratici has all but disappeared from view and his latest import, Porro, has underwhelmed to the point that he might join the list of transfer duds like Lo Celso, N’Dombele, Janssen, etc. etc. etc. The look on Levy’s face said it all when Porro had to be taken off after maybe the worst debut showing of all time at Leicester- is this what he spent the whole of January haggling over? My blood runs cold at the prospect of watching this team without Harry’s goals to paper over the cracks, I suppose you switch off and no longer listen when your manager shouts at you non-stop in training and on match days, but when the manager then howls at your misgivings during the press conference then it’s time to try something/someone else.


  10. Conte should be fired now. I would far rather see Ryan Mason at the helm until the end of the season. I would still love to see Poch back, but failing that Poch Mk 2😁


  11. Am I the only one that couldn’t see the appointment of Mourinho and Conte not working? Levy with his massive ego was always going to clash with these egotistic managers.
    It’s obvious that Conte is annoyed with Levy for not getting the players needed in key positions.


    • That is clearly nonsense! Conte wanted a back up striker and was given a £60 million one, he wanted Perisic, he wanted a new right wing back and got one. He DIDN`T want Eriksen or Maddison because they didn`t fit his rigid system. He was given Bentancur and Kulu two of our best buys in recent times. He has a squad that includes two world cup winners, last years Golden Boot winner and our all time record goal scorer. He knew exactly what he was signing up for when he joined the club. THIS IS DOWN TO HIM TO MOTIVATE AND GET THE BEST OUT OF THIS TEAM THAT`S WHAT HE IS BEING PAID £16M A YEAR FOR!

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Great blog, sums up what supporting spurs is all about. It’s the hope that kills you and as another season fades into oblivion and despair the annual hope that a massive clear out and targeted recruitment will take place this summer. Who am I kidding? Same nonsense, every great player wants to come to Spurs and we can’t get rid of all those other great players who flattered to deceive.
    Another world class manager will be sought and so it goes on. What’s worse is the only crumb of comfort is hoping the woolwich have dropped points. Roll on summer a few weeks respite is sorely needed.


  13. Thanks Alan, Hard to disagree with anything so well expressed in the piece. Conte’s always been exhausting and I can’t wait for him to go. Allegri is turning things round at Juve and even bringing through some young players, even if the football is often similarly uninspiring, so it is hard to see where he can go next in terms of clubs likely to challenge for the big honours next season. Maybe he’ll do himself, his family and football a favour and take another year out. Still that’s his problem and decision and things can change v quickly in football.

    Even when he was Chelsea manager (certainly b4 the Spurs v Putin’s Boys FA Cup 2017 SF) he was going on about how at Spurs there was little pressure as not expected to win things, unlike at *checks notes* Chelsea. Some truth in what he’s saying, but frankly, once again, self-serving and unfair on a number of players, at the very least. Then he moans at Spurs fans for lacking patience, being unrealistic!!! To take him at his word, done nothing for 20 yrs, “weak” players, blah blah, yet 60k turn up at each home game paying ridiculous amounts and Spurs’ away support is second to none. Fickle they call Spurs fans. The Bloody Nerve.

    I don’t believe this side playing front foot football would have any fewer points. We’ve undersold the best CF of his generation (not just Conte) and it is to Kane’s everlasting credit how much he does with so little. Moan about the defence but when asked to hunker in for very long periods and invite pressure you;re often asking for it.

    Did well end last season and should have carried on that way this season. Really no reason not to. Conte has shown the players and opposition he has no real faith in the side and it’s created a psychological problem imo. The problem it’s all

    I certainly don’t want him to go to Juve as I don’t want to see him for ages now.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Sorry meant to say the problem is all of them, the board, coach and staff and players, but they don’t act in isolation. What filters out onto the pitch is a great deal to do with what trickles down from the top and caching staff, surely? You don’t like the players yet barely make changes and frankly to ill treat/knock the confidence out of/use as a self-serving pawn in psychological battle of wills with board a 22 year old with the football world at his feet last spring. Spence could have done something for us surely. Conte, for 15 million a year, didn’t know how to use the squad. I remember Inter being in for Lenglet when Conte there, Perisic is his man, Bissouma has been tearing PL for a couple of yrs, Richarlison proven PL too. So much is on him, even if this rant skirts over board and yes players’ “blame” too. I’m cross.

    But the worst thing of all is he thinks he’s too good for Spurs. No one’s too good for Spurs, fella. Grrr


  15. We ARE in a dilemma, aren’t we!? As fans, we want to play attractive football the Glory way, the Billy Nick way, the the Burkinshaw way, and, dare I say it (because we didn’t win anything under him), the Poch way. But here we are, bound by mental frailty on every part of the pitch, Harry Kane apart. Whereas it often came together under Poch, it seldom came together under JM and Conte, and despite the latter’s understandable rant (I’ve often felt like that, but fans can’t divorce their clubs) Conte simply put his own DNA in front of ours, without showing the ability to adapt and change to suit US, when needed. So we lurch on. Winning one week, losing the next. Turning up against a top side, taking for granted a lesser side, often with dire consequences for our whole season (the Blades made the unkindest cut of all). Never keeping our collective eye on the ‘goal’ of success, which demands consistency and concentration, game to game (something we’ve lacked in spades since Poch went, becoming then subject to the defensive ‘tactics’ of managers who happened to have the huge squad budgets to play that way with the Chelseas and the like).
    Not to them, the mantra of attack being the best way to defend! I’m not saying it’s about purely going out and scoring more goals than the other lot, as a famous Spurs legend said, but come on. We are the opposite of Glory, and have been since JM worked his indifference with us. Him and Conte never ever really trusted the players they’ve worked with at Spurs, and that ‘fear’ got through to the players. A wingback system with lousy wingbacks and no midfield creativity? Really?!
    Anyway, we can’t even draw or lose with Glory anymore!! This is the way the game ends, not with a bang, but a whimper! So again, we start rebuilding the house that never gets finished. Yes, I’d take Poch back. Maybe we’ll find another Alli too (if not a Kane), and Eriksen. Any sort of midfield! Maybe another Tripps, Walker, Rose, Verts, Alderweireld, Dembele et al.
    No trophies, sure, but we seldom had it so good for entertainment, and I’d like to experience that again, before I die!

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Another brilliant blog Alan, sdpot on as usual. Conte blathered on about “excuses, excuses” while making his whole rant oner of his own. `Sure, he made some reasonable points, but a an who instructs his team to play boring, negative and above all totally predictable football (if we know every ball is going to go sideways across the back 3/5 I’m sure the oppo do too) can hardly complain when those same players he picks every week can’t defend a lead. Taking off our most threatening player on the day – Kulu – for ANOTHER defensive midfielder just invited the pressure Southampton inevitably applied and was the last straw for me, as bad as playing Sess rather than Perisic against the Arse and Saka a couple of months back, and then not making the change at HT when Sess had spent the first 45 trying to ‘mark’ Saka by standig 30 yards away from him. As I’ve said elsewhere Sir Bill Nick, Burkinshaw and Poch hasve been the only managers in my time at the Lane who could both manage and coach simultaneously, all the others had only one of those necessary attributes. That’s why Sir Bill and Burky were so successful and Poch, while not winning a pot gave us an entertaining team and an exciting ride that we (and he) ( took to our hearts. On the way back from the south coast my friends sided with Conte but I’ve had enough of him and my favoured option would be a recall for Poch; failing that an alternative but admittedly highly risky mlve would be to install Ryan Mason for a long term experiment – it worked with Burky and it’s unfortunately working for that lot with Arteta.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Alan, I didn’t think anyone could articulate this chaotic soapie called Tottenham but you have just done the impossible.

    All the same I think Conte is spot-on except for some English semantics, he should not have made it a blanket criticism of all players. If he had said he is perplexed with some players…there would be no crisis at all.

    I’ve certainly noted some players who didn’t have the spine to score some very very presentable chances against Liverpool-it’s like they lost any ounce of courage in them at the crucial moment. I’ve noticed this in the total 6 or so Liverpool matches that Conte and Mourinho have presided over.

    Also noted some plays who were reluctant to engage Ronaldo in our Man U games.

    Some players do seem to need sport psychologists to cure their allergy to pressure. Or is this a recruitment issue.

    We also seem to have a sensitive and insecure board (recently two players ran-their-mouth, one of whom is playing away on loan, are they getting covert assurances of protection from a board that is getting nervous?)

    I think we are only halfway there in our rebuild, Spurs are like the character, Popeye, our right arm is obscenely strong while our left side is all weak (in terms of defensive quality). At the moment 2/3rds of our midfield has a combined EPL experience of less than one man-season yet we are 4th and could have even gone 3rd.

    Conte’s Chelsea and Inter played pretty decent expansive football.

    Something is constraining the man.

    We are a work in progress, Klopp and Arteta have had 4 to 5 years before achieving take-off. Their fans endured horror shows and embarrassing performances.

    Are we Spurs fans too fickle to endure inconsistences and flatness?

    Are we refusing to climb down from that super high “fix” of that wondrous champions league run of yester-year?

    I am wearied about changing coaches.

    Liked by 1 person

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