Spurs Excel in the Theatre of the Absurd

For the final twenty minutes, the Spurs players depicted the chaos at the club through the medium of football. It was high art. Pure brainless mayhem, all self-inflicted. As a portrayal of the life and times of Tottenham Hotspur, the sheer theatre of it will never be surpassed.

A goal up against 10 men playing a team fighting relegation, who played for all but 13 minutes without a proper centre forward, and our response is to degenerate into a mindless rabble. Rather than acting as incentive or inspiration, the prospect of holding onto a lead terrifies them, such is their mindset.

(Ex) Manager, chairman and players must all bear their fair share of responsibility for the turmoil at the club. Here the focus is on the players, though. Where there should be heart and soul, ambition and determination, there lies only a gaping void. We are the tin men of football.

We have discovered the ability to lose from decent positions, and we may not take much from this season but boy, we’re not going to let that honour slip without a fight. We’re stroking the ball around, back three move up into the space, fine if we can ponce about a bit, then it all collapses as soon as we come under any pressure. Last night, Saints the game before, even Sheffield where we weren’t ahead but they sussed our weakness after an hour and took advantage, as they should.

I’d like Spurs players to pass the ball to other Spurs players. There, I’ve said it. (Other radical tactical insights are also available, including, why do we emphasise the creation of goalscoring opportunities for wingbacks, if they were any good at scoring goals, they’d be forwards not wingbacks?) Is that expecting too much? Apparently so. Time and again Everton, with 11 men then 10 pressed us into giving the ball away. Sanchez came on and to get a feel of the game, with studied precision looked up and passed it 15 yards to an opponent. But he was only following the example of Hojbjerg, Skipp and the other defenders, all equally culpable, as was Hugo, who had an all too familiar brain freeze whenever the ball landed at his feet. The anxiety spread from the back, from the leader.

This performance, this theatre of the absurd, was horrendous and laughable at the same time. Moura on, the most experienced of a callow bench, gets himself sent off in double quick time. Doesn’t play badly, no, that’s not enough for our Lucas, goes straight for the red card.

It is ridiculous, and I can barely contain my fury at what Spurs have become. Not for the first time this season, I’m left shouting into the emptiness, what are you THINKING? New guys in charge but Conte’s presence is very much with us. They are conditioned into playing one way. Whether it works or not appears irrelevant to those in charge. No spark, no improvisation. Play out from the back even though our opponents have closed down those routes but we carry on doing it and making the same errors. Go longer, safer and they have a man less, so there’s a good chance our three forwards have some space, but there’s no adjustment to what is happening in the game at any particular time.

What are the managers seeing? Really, I’d like to know. Because it’s not what I see. Goal up against 10 men and we sit back. Allow ourselves to become trapped in the press instead of breaking free. Outnumbered in midfield with our two against their three or four – why not bring on another midfielder? Fail to close down at the edge of our box, repeat to fade and the season is lost. I didn’t anticipate any major changes with Stellini in charge, he’s Conte’s disciple after all, but I hoped we would follow the example of a couple of other games when he was in charge earlier this season when we kept a similar shape but moved it up the field ten yards and took the game to our opponents. Or maybe I imagined that. Is it fanciful to think Mason might have done better on his own, to give players fresh ideas and impetus?

The players must take their share of the blame but as I’ve said before (this piece has ended up repeating so much of what has gone before), the modern player expects to be coached, whether or not you think that’s a good or a bad thing. Take Romero for instance, all over the shop again yesterday. He benefits from being told to stay tight in a three so he can do his best work in and around the box. Left to his own devices he’s less effective and more liable to commit reckless fouls. Nobody can rely on anyone else.

A reminder, if only to myself, that we didn’t lose and still have something to play for this season, a telling comment on the standards of the league this season. But this result and the manner of it has real impact because it hammers home the chaos and disunity from top to bottom and a reminder that fans have seen Spurs waste more opportunities for genuine success in the last decade and a half than most other clubs have come their way in two or three lifetimes.

24 thoughts on “Spurs Excel in the Theatre of the Absurd

  1. We are no longer a football club. Mr Levy wants an entertainment hub where football is just an add on. So long as we’re in the Premier league then that’s good enough for him and he can sell American football, gigs, boxing and go karting.
    Saddled with debt, no naming rights, no first team or women’s team manager, no director of football, but Levy pays himself a vast salary for overseeing the end of our football club. So sad

    Liked by 1 person

    • I am in favour of these revenue generating ideas, providing that they don’t affect our experience of watching games, which they don’t at the moment, and that we see some benefit from all this cash. It’s the latter that is the problem. Levy is geared up to not winning anything. He needs to use this money on an effective recruitment strategy. There’s no excuse any more


  2. Wise words , I’ve been going all year saying same issues as you and most fans , vain hope Stellini may have thought let’s try to make a name for himself , the last 15 minutes at least showed maybe he’s actually there just to finish us off with tactical ineptitude similar to his mates . But we are then talking of players paid good money with some years of experience looking like Sunday footballers in ability and mental approach to beating ten men easily . Maybe the lowest point of a season full of lows

    Liked by 2 people

    • Forlorn hope. Stellini sees things in the same way as Conte. No excuse for that last 15 minutes. He dictates the tactics. He told them to sit back. Indeed a low point in a lousy season


  3. ask yourself : if Daniel Levy had hired someone to do exactly his job for the last few years , would he have sacked him by now ? How many poor managers appointed . How much compensation paid to those sacked. No stadium naming deal ( how much has he lost by not accepting a lower figure and getting nothing since opened ) refused to pay £8 m for Jack Grealish and then £25m when it went up due to his procrastination. Man City pay £100m !
    Sacked Poch after giving him a season without player purchase when advised a complete overall was needed . I`ve been going since 1959 – first season ticket 1962 – we now have the most gutless team I`ve seen . We had more when we were relegated. I`m so P off

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well put – Levy would have sacked himself by now! As you say, I’ve made the point before that he would never behave like this or tolerate behaviour like this in his business activities. So many fans like you, long term, are hacked off at the moment.


  4. I’d like my team to have the guts and team spirit (heart and soul is much better) that can see them through a full match without coughing up yet another lead against a poor relegation outfit. I’d like my goalkeeper –a former world cup winner and captain, no less – to at least make a token effort to stop a 30 yard shot from going into his net instead of standing there and admiring the attempt. I’d like my team to pass the ball to another white shirt when they are not under pressure instead of spraying it behind, in front, and over the intended target. I’d like my team to not pick a substitute whose only contribution was to enable the opponent to win the contest. I’d like my team to pick players on merit and form and not because he’s ‘nice’ and a ‘good trainer’. I’m talking about Son, who faked his way around the pitch and was the epitome of why we are such a team of fakers and chokers. Son is selected to score goals and when he is not doing this he is a liability. Promising moves broke down around him time and again and his attempts to compensate for his poor play were shuffling back and not engaging the opponent but letting them do what they want. Maybe he is picked because he is ‘nice’. If that’s the case my mate Rodney should be the first name on the team-sheet each week. Son’s appearance each week is a telling invitation to every player that no matter how poor they might be – they’ll always get a game. Where is the personal pride in representing your team professionally? And please…please, can we do away with this ridiculous fannying about with the ball at the back. It only invites the opponent into the weakest part of our team. Stillini had a golden opportunity to make a fresh start and discard the rubbish tactics and mindset of a stuttering team. Wipe the slate clean and make it a ten game season. Instead we get more of the same of exactly what caused the mess in the first place. Worthless team selection, worthless tactics, worthless team spirit, worthless everything. This team is choking on its pretensions to be a force in Europe. We can’t even trouble the worst teams in our own league. When you fake it you deserve to become everything you pretend not to be. Audere Est Facere? To Do is to Fake it, is more like it. Once again, our travelling fans were embarrassed by their own team who could deliver only four shots (sic) on target in 90 minutes. That’s not the end product of a team that tries and has respect for itself and its supporters. But is Levy going to do anything substantive to save this sinking ship? Nah, he’ll fake it too until the end of the season. But it’s already too late. We are doomed to win the only trophy we don’t want. The Almost Team.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes David. As you say, many of the things we don’t do seem reasonably straightforward. We have a wealth of leadership experience in the side. Yet they fall apart. Stellini is Conte’s man so will have a similar approach. Even with Richarlison injured, Son should be on the bench and we can try something else, like adding a midfielder because Brighton will be all over us on Saturday. It’s a real mess


  5. “………the standards of the league this season”.

    Two teams stand out clearly. Every single one of their players has excellent technique; their coaches’ are tactically astute and the players are coached, game by game to play to different sets of tactics that the next game requires; their players play both with their heads and their hearts.

    What’s so difficult about any of that?

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I’m 62 years old and been going to watch Spurs since I was 9. Over 50 years of going, I’ve had it with this team and managers that are not suited to Levy.’s way of buying the right players? They need money to be instant success, so why does Levy get these managers that can’t do much with poor performing players.
    You’re right Alan, it’s a combination of everything.
    Miss the days when we weren’t great but we’ were still a cup winning club

    Liked by 1 person

    • We’re still not great are u smoking crack if it wasn’t for Everton we would be the laughing stock of Europe like we have been for years bunch of bottle banks poor attitudes every season poor signings only half decent ones is Romero benicuer that’s it kul is t that good he always starts of well then falls away hoj just stands n blames everyone else Sanchez should be hung sess made of melted chocolate royal hasn’t a clue ndoublele only got signed cause he had his best game of of his life against city no background checks no checking if he has a good attidiue laughing stock n fans don’t help by going each week as levy doesn’t think it’s that bad by the size of the bonus he just gave hisself all while laughing at us


  7. All you fools that keep going week in week out r just to blame boycott every thing spurs now or this will not change its time for massive change starting at the top only way to make tools like levy really listen as while 50odf thousand he doesn’t give two craps hit him in his pocket hard only way millionaires listen n know is money fans not going n spending cash at games will effect the day to day massively shouting levy out won’t change it he hasn’t a clue about a football club all he cares about is infrastructure playing squad is last as why we end up with crap players 5 th choices or typical levy signing witch is 90% of the signing poor attitudes bottle banks lazy Bon idle muppets how many players over the years that we didn’t get over an xtra few million or cause the player agent asked for a few thousand more loads but if ur happy watching crap year in year out renew ur season tickets n spend all ur cash n give it to levy Lewis n rest of enics fools that are laughing at yous


  8. Deduct Poch’s five year stint at Spurs and you have ten managers in fifteen years. How can you build a winning team with that rapid turnover of managers? One person is the common denominator throughout this time who tries to get players on the cheap hours before the transfer window closes and then gives himself a half a million pound pay rise – Oh Danny Boy, time to go ? 🤔


  9. In terms of the players, it does start with leadership—”Hugo, who had an all too familiar brain freeze whenever the ball landed at his feet. The anxiety spread from the back, from the leader.” So spot on, Alan. Forster is actually better at distribution out. Show courage, drop Sonny, drop Hugo, if needs be, but be bold.


  10. Cheers Ash. Hugo’s given us a lot but for our captain, a World Cup winner, to play like that is inexcusable. He has to set the right example.


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