Beyond Anger

The opening twenty minutes were a dereliction of responsibility, a trashing of everything supporters hold dear. I’ve never seen anything like it since I started going to White Hart Lane in 1967. Bad football I can deal with, the same goes for opponents being excellent, as Newcastle were. I am profoundly shocked that professional footballers can defend so ineptly, not just for one or two goals, we’ve seen that enough times this season, but for five. I’m not prone to hyperbole or rash statements, but this was an utter disgrace and the players should hang their heads in shame.

The frisson of anticipation when a 4-3-3 was announced (trying something different!) dissipated after a few moments thought. Playing a good, organised side, away from home, with a lucrative top four place at stake, so we go into it with two young midfielders, a defence that have never played in that formation before and no full-backs, because Porro and Perisic are wingbacks, a very different role.

So tactics and team selection naive and misguided, but international players watching, and that’s how ineffective they were, watching opponents waltz through, without closing down or even the bare minimum of getting in the way, that’s beyond me and it’s down to the players. Get in the way is not asking too much. Is it? Hojbjerg waving them through, Romero dreaming he was in Argentina, Porro ball-watching, I had no idea what Hugo was doing and neither did he. On the touchline Mason all urgency and agitation, Stellini, in charge, with a death mask for a face, his mind as blank as his gaze.

Credit where it’s due. Forster has been impressive in the way he’s stepped up (Hugo’s muscle injury – yeah right) and Sanchez too. I wonder if the shameful booing at the last home game – never abuse an individual Spurs player in the ground – was a factor in team selection. We always play 3 at the back, he was fit but maybe they thought he wasn’t in the right frame of mind. If so, that’s down to the booboys.

The worst thing of all? We knew something like this was coming. Fans could see it, smell it, even if the media and pundits did not. Like a pear that’s been sitting in the fruit bowl for too long, Spurs are rotten to the core. Looks good enough to eat but pick it up and your hand is a mess of pulp.

I’m beyond angry. I’ve been angry so often this season, the match to match grind of predictable, avoidable and repeated mistakes, dull, cautious football and the sense of marking time until Conte left. Such a waste. Now, I’m numb with the futility of it all.

I have to make a concerted effort to remind myself that it is only a few years since Spurs were one of the most admired teams in the Premier League, albeit grudgingly by our rivals. Dashing football in front of packed houses, English record crowds sustained through all that time at Wembley, then back home to our new stadium, all done without breaking the bank.  That was what, four or five years ago, yet I see through a misty-eyed haze of nostalgia, a different era.

We might be rotten inside but the blight spread from the top down. Countless times I’ve written the same story. I shy away from simplistic explanations but at the heart of it is a chairman who has been in football for over twenty years and knows nothing about the game. He talks sincerely about the club DNA without having any sense of our identity, of what he wants the club to be. Be prudent with transfer funds, I get it, so find a manager and recruitment team who can operate under those circumstances and build a team, rather than appoint vanity celebrity managers who will swiftly move on if conditions aren’t right for them. And right for them says it all, they didn’t have the club’s interests front and centre.

Complete due diligence on a director of football, rather than being the only person in football who was surprised that Paratici was facing charges. Don’t keep changing the manager, and the playing style, and the transfer targets, so we have squad made of choices of what, 5 managers? Apologies but I may have missed one along the way, easily done at Spurs. Don’t sack the manager then appoint his disciple as caretaker, because, you’ll never guess, nothing will change. Or why not speak to the fans, not the Cambridge Union?

Not that this is new. Santini couldn’t speak English, let alone communicate his tactics to players. Redknapp needed a striker when we really only had one, so we ended up with Frazier Campbell on loan, then Saha up front and Nelson at the back. This is the culture at the club. Any football club at any level has three essential elements in the way it is run – coaching, recruitment and finance. The board have hardly ever aligned the three in the last 22 years. They are incompetent and negligent, and the stench runs through the entire club, including Sunday’s unmotivated, passionless players. 

Plus, don’t charge the highest prices in Europe then be surprised that the fans are restless. When the prices for the new ground were announced, I wrote that this was all well and good, riding the good vibes of Poch and the new place, but it stored up problems for the future if the team should be less successful. When we become fans, there’s an unspoken but tangible bargain between the club and supporters. We will take the bad times, we’ll stay through thick and thin, just give us something back. A trophy would be nice, but if, not, play with some pride and acknowledge our presence and our value. It’s an emotional rather than a financial transaction. It is natural that fans ask, as so many diehards say to me, what are we getting back? And at these prices, money enters the equation. It jacks up resentment just at the time when the team need a boost from the stands. Again, that’s an consequence of board decisions.

So it all came to a head in 20 minutes at St James’s Park, not just a humiliating team performance but years of neglect and missed opportunities. Another aspect of being a Spurs fan that I wrote about pre-Poch was the alienation many supporters felt, that the club and fans were disconnected and far apart. I read some stuff last week questioning whether this had any meaning. I think only a non-fan could seriously sustain that argument but here is the evidence. Spurs fans travel hundreds of miles at great expense. Away tickets always sold out. Delays of over an hour coming back, another hour of your head and heart full of that wretched performance. There’s no respect for fans, although they’re happy to take our money. Give us a plan, pretend you know what you’re doing (and remember we can see right through you if you don’t), respect us and respect the shirt. Be honest. Play honest.

For now, understand how hacked off we are and do something about it. The atmosphere on Thursday is likely to be toxic, and frankly the board need to be faced with the consequences of their actions in really the only way fans can be heard, voices raised at the ground.

Sack Stellini and appoint Mason. Oh hang on, they just have. Signed by Daniel. Mr chairman, you’re not my mate. You can’t get round me by using your first name.

Here’s a novel thought – choose a manager that suits us. You know those dull job descriptions us mere working mortals have, essential this, desirable that. But why not write one? A manager for whom Tottenham is a step up, not a consolation prize or a stop en route to another job. Able to build teams over time. Bring on young players (we’ve got some talent). Front foot tactics. Then go and choose a bloke who fits. Radical I know. Wait til I tell you that I also want the coach to choose a DoF who he can work with. Right now, though, the media are full of names but it ignores one question – if you were any good, why on earth would you want to manage Spurs?

16 thoughts on “Beyond Anger

  1. Thanks for that.
    You have hit the nail on the head.
    I, like many other fans around our age have put up with bad times because we knew that better times were just around the corner.
    I haven’t felt that way for some time now, starting before the end of Pochettino’s time.
    If they actually appoint a decent fit, at least the good feelings may come back to some extent.


  2. Spurs, how do I love thee? let me count the ways: David Pleat, Glenn Hoddle, David Pleat again, Chris Hughton, Jacques Santini, Martin Jol, Juande Ramos, Harry Redknapp, Andre Villas-Boas, Tim Sherwood, Mauricio Pochettino, Jose Mourinho, Ryan Mason, Nuno Espirito Santo, Antonio Conte, Chris Stellini, Ryan Mason again. I make that 17 managers and one trophy in the time Levy has been in charge. Some of those managers are pretty decent – Mourinho is now back on the trophy trail with Roma after his brush with Levy and now we see what Conte warned us about. Clearly, the negative influence from Levy has played a part in this decline but Levy doesn’t put on a shirt and actually run onto the pitch. So I blame the players who finally said “screw it – screw the club, screw the fans, screw everyone but myself.”
    For the past few matches they have fit the classic profile of a club going through the motions because they know their manager is on the outs. They’re playing for themselves and don’t care about their own performance. The number of unforced errors in recent weeks make them look like a Sunday pub side. And I worry for the likes of young Skipp who has worked his socks off making up for the lack of effort elsewhere and then seeing his blood and sweat being wasted by the more senior players. Son continues to play under his invisibility cloak which must be worn out by now and I want Romero and Perisic to step up and show leadership when it’s needed. But what can they do when the inept Pedro Porro is so bad his own teammates won’t pass the ball to him?
    No, I don’t want to blame energy vampire Levy – the past few games have been all about the players. I don’t want to blame the rotten string of injuries that gutted our midfield. But if we have pretensions to be a serious club then we should have subs who are hungry for the opportunity to step up. The lack of effort and personal pride of performance have got us where we are today and frankly, I don’t care who the next name on the above list will be. I’m numb to it all – especially at the way my team showed what they think of us.


  3. You are echoing the sentiments of all of us old and new fans. I have followed Spurs since 1960 and am sure Greavsie, Norman , Jonesy,
    Smith, Blanchflower and McKay would roll their eyes at this current bunch. A disgrace to our team is putting it mildly.
    Mr. Levy only has to look in the mirror and examine the mess his decisions have put us in. You can keep changing managers BUT it is the players on the field who make it work or fail.


  4. First class article expresses exactly what the fans think if this situation.
    Besides the shortcomings of our present squad we have all those players coming back to us in the summer.
    I am sure there will a large number of these players moving on but surely we can use some of these and the present squad to have the basis of a team for next year.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I think you speak for many of us Alan, maybe more so for those of us who have been loyal through the ups and downs of 60+years. I can take losing. I will always enjoy winning (even if not trophies at present). I sincerely think modern footballers are overpaid and over-lauded. The luxury of the THFC training facilities and stadium would surely make anyone feel pampered. Who wouldn’t be tempted by all that? Just imagine the pride ‘our mate Daniel’ must exude when selling our team to the next makeshift import. For me, apart from Harry Kane, whose commitment to date is a thing of beauty, the only player who seems to play like he cares is Skippy. Surely he can’t be the only talented youngster on our books who will run their socks off for the chance to play first team football. So Daniel, give me a manager who is brave enough to see desire before lazy greed and I will accept the results that follow because I can be proud of my team if they give it their all. Failing that, get out and take your legacy with you – cos you won’t be the one getting a statue. Oh, and if Poch goes to Chelsea it will be the icing on a rotten cake.


  6. “Signed by Daniel. Mr chairman, you’re not my mate.”

    My sentiments exactly. He’s not my mate either. After all the vitriol and anger directed at Levy recently (quite justified in my opinion), why did the Club feel that this was the best way to refer to him? Don’t they read social media? They’re either tone deaf or are taking us for mugs. Another example of the complete disconnect between the Club and the fans.


  7. Have never read an article that more accurately expressed my own sentiments, even down to watching my first Spurs match in 1967!
    I was also guilty of initially being pleased we were finally moving to 433 and, like you, then realised who the two full backs were! That was even before remembering how bad Dier is in a central two (no worse than Romero to be fair).
    We’ve had bigger defeats (Liverpool 7-0, Sheff Utd 6-0 spring to mind) and losses to minnows (domestic Cup knock-outs at Colchester, Port Vale, Notts Co; European defeats at NS Mura, Pacos de Ferreira, Dinamo Zagreb) but again like you, nothing compares to the embarrassment of that opening 21 minutes – shocking, abject defending, though at least two started with Son and Kulu weakly losing the ball I recall.
    Sanchez being our best player says it all!


  8. Alan you are once again correct. Unfortunately though being Spurs is in my blood. And also unfortunately there is little to nothing I can do about it. And the world is in a much worse situation. So COYS who knows what will have happened between now and my next walk up the high road on the 6th May but be there I will. I am a life long fan so that’s when it will end. I really enjoy every walk up the high road maybe not every walk back down! Thanks mate!


  9. Some very interesting comments here to a very open and raw but very to the point article. Can I pose you this as you are getting it off your chest. What if you have been taken for a ride by enic all along. What if the real reason for the stadium was not to enhance the club but more to conn the fans. Give them a new stadium new training facilities but because of the expense there will never ever be enough money to build a team that can win a major trophy. Lewis and levy don’t need to win trophies in fact it would cost more money to build a winning team than it would be worth. The outlay to get the players the increase in wages. No better to make the fans think they will win something by giving them successful managers but buying the wrong players. Just always falling a few players short. A second striker, a playmaker, a quality holding player, a quality left sided centre back. The list goes on but you see the trend. Spurs fans think they are making progress but truth is they are in quick sand and its only a matter of time.
    A new 5 year plan, a rebuild, players out players in. No money for players, sell before you buy, the last minute failed deal that just couldn’t be done in time. No money for players but money to expand the seating capacity, to add to the training facilities. To give the chairman a thumping rise for sacking manager after manager without ever winning anything.
    Enic don’t deal in silver they deal in gold. Get the picture.


  10. Watching on Sky I wasn’t optimistic about Spurs’ chances beforehand, but when I saw both teams in the tunnel, I knew immediately we were in trouble. Newcastle looked so visibly up for the game, while the Spurs’ players appeared indifferent if not, er, ‘doomed’. Although the first 21 minutes were indeed shockingly unexpected, I’m afraid the expected loss was not. Since Sheffield United it’s all fallen apart for our club, and even where we won (Brighton) we were absurdly lucky against another side which will finish above us!
    But let’s be honest, the odd game apart (and the exciting 4th place ‘steal’ last spring) the football has been horrible since the start of the 2019/20 season. Mourinho took us to dark fearful places on the pitch, and Conte’s tactics have mostly done the same. How can you keep relying on defensive football when there are NO creative ideas in the middle of the pitch? ..and there hasn’t been since Eriksen and Dele were in their prime. Sure we’ve had the odd moments (until teams have worked us out) where, for example, Kane and Son had an unbelievable score/assist run, but there has been no overall plan that even comes close to the exciting football we played under Poch. Bad luck and ill-timed injuries cost us trophies between 2015 and 2019, but oh, the Glory, with some of the best football I’ve seen Spurs play, and I can go back to the early 60s.
    Alan, you talk of wing backs and full backs as though they are different animals. They shouldn’t be. If they’re not wingers, and ours ain’t, then they should be able to defend as full backs at the very least. Five years ago when we didn’t actually have to ‘rely’ on wingback play, because of decent central playmakers and DMs, we still possessed great wingbacks (as needed) in the guise of Walker, Tripps, Rose and Davies. And we could switch them easily from a 4 3 3 system to a 3 5 2 and back again, because we also had two great Belgian central defenders, plus Dier. Today, however, we don’t have creative midfielders of any description (no, not even the missing Bentacur), we don’t have top centre backs (although Romero ‘should’ be), and we don’t have top wingbacks/fullbacks. Son and Kulusevski have no form or consistency anymore, and poor Richarlison can’t buy a goal or fit into our system …er because there is no system that suits him (or most of the players). Plan B ain’t an option, as manifested on Sunday.
    I think I’ll leave it there. I’m used to the ups and downs of being a Spurs fan, but Glory should always be lurking in the vicinity. Right now, it’s disappeared up Tottenham High Road, and doesn’t look like it’s coming back anytime soon. As for the other matter, there’s no doubt that the Levy has been breached, and needs to be quickly restored or replaced!


  11. It’s that time of year again, when we are left trophyless again, with nothing left to play for again, except for a place in Europe, again. It’s the Spurs way, again.

    So many other poor performances in previous matches from a team of individually accomplished players who can be much better.

    The players on the pitch must take most of the responsibility for an embarrassing debacle at Newcastle. They have clearly lost faith in themselves, their confidence is gone.

    Maybe also some blame is attached to the departing Stellini, for changing to a back four when he had no established full backs available – but isn’t that what so many fans had actually been calling for him to do?

    Fair play to those fans who made the long trip to Newcastle but the wider supporter base must also bear some of the responsibility for what has been going on at the Club. Booing your own team and singling out certain individual players for vicious criticism has a negative effect on all the players. That should never be the Spurs way.

    It’s going to be a long summer. Another reset. Again.

    – – – – –

    It’s not the first time we’ve been walloped away to Newcastle. The worst was in 1996 when we went down 7-1 to Keegan’s team.

    In a strange coincidence, that year we played Man U at home in the next match, as we will again on Thursday. Let’s hope the fans get behind the players and get a better result.


    • Well said, No mattery how angry I am, never boo or shout out ex players or managers names. Accepted many years ago that ENIC are not selling up anytime soon.

      Maybe the ‘Poch is magic you know ‘brigade will be off to the chavs to support him if he gets the job. He wasted at least £400mil on rubbish players like soldado, janssen, wimmer, ndombele, etc, the list is endless. Levy out servers no purpose whatsoever and very futile but everyone is entitled to their opinion

      Just hope Harry comes out the tunnel in our kit Thursday evening😁, Let’s try and get behind the team until end of season. COYS

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Alan I think you are right, there is enough blame to go round; the board, recruitment the players, the fans. Oh, we forgot, our Spurs blogs also have a share in the blame.

    (by the way you show deep insight when you observe that probably, our coaches where probably forced into a back four- in light of injuries and poor fan treatment of one of our own in the previous match)

    Our blogosphere almost without exception has written regularly enough things like ” i hope so and so never plays for us again”. Players are human, we should not be surprised if they read blogs!

    I have been supporting Spurs since Archibald/Crooks era and the first time I was really unhappy with the business of supporting Spurs was when blogs started negative sentiments against our keeper Aurelio Gomez. He thought that Spurs fans hate him. When he came back to our ground as keeper for Fulham he was shocked when Spurs fans gave him a rousing cheer when his name was rang out over the stadium speakers. Thanks to our Blogosphere, the poor block all along thought that he was the “hated-one”.

    The same goes for Serge Aurier. I suspect he also thought he was the hated-one. The blogosphere regularly and subtly fed this negativity towards him. For lack of a more polite term, our lunatic fringe seem to pick this up and run with it.

    The blogosphere is selective in the use against our players of phrases such as “brain-faat”, “stupid”.

    As a side show, i think someone fed our blogosphere with some humbling details of contracts for Lorrente and then Nuno. That also produced a deep frown on my face in my Spurs sojourn.

    Back to my main thread, why did our blogosphere turn a blind eye towards Soldado and Vincent Jan if the issue was poor perfomance? Why are they turning a blind eye for 2 of our own who top the EPL charts for making errors leading to goals conceded. Why is there nothing but love for another of our defenders who is fast racking up this wrong stat? How-ever the Blogosphere is negative against 2 of our defenders who are no-where near the EPL top 20 for making errors leading to goals conceded? I am very mad about that selective treatment.

    Actually, I think there is another dimension, I think we have “bigotry-land” rearing its ugly head and its being given a voice, fueled, aided and abated by our blogosphere (whether intentionally or accidentally). I am sorry to say there is just a small minority of Spurs blogs that are blameless in this regard. Just as group Admins maybe held accountable for some content, I think our blogosphere needs to be more circumspect. Treat others the way you would want to be treated.


  13. Thanks Alan, passionate, authentic, erudite and on the button as always. Still, three days later, scarcely believable first 21 (first 15ish if we take out goal celebrations). Something is rotten in the state of Tottenham. The change in system cannot explain 5-0 after 21, which is most concerning. They don’t deserve the 60,000 at home and always sold out away dayers.


  14. Wonderfully written and thoughtful article. Thank you

    Sadly your final statement encapsulates our club. Who would want to manage us?

    We need a proper leader in the field (Hugo and Harry don’t have enough venom in them – a la Mullery, Perryman); a new board ; and time given to the manager to profuce (two seasons at least)


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