Before the summer kicks in and I turn to more analytical blogs (reviewing, previewing - you know, the boring stuff), I wanted to address a couple of things that I've had swimming around in my head since the weekend. Throw out a couple of life-jackets, make sure they don't drown. It concerns the fear that Spurs will always do what they did at Newcastle. They will always let us down. It's in our DNA, they jest. Spursy, they mock. And that's just our own fans, embracing self-loathing without irony, leaving the more self-deprecating souls among us disapproving.
The team have smashed countless physical, mental and statistical obstacles (all but one) that have sat in our way for well over a decade or two. But sure, there's no banter in admitting Tottenham are a very good side. Plaudits and superlatives all season long. Best in the land, we kept hearing. Yet the psychology of football fans and people in general is to focus then exaggerate on negative elements that remain equally as important as the positives but should not, in any way, be all consuming. Spurs might not be the best in the land. That isn't the issue. The sheer comedy of the fast paced low concentration span social generation means that the narrative is mostly there to fuel headlines and story arcs.
Maybe we all got carried away. Or maybe there shouldn't be so much energy spent on building things up and then dismissing them with opinions opposite to the ones that existed earlier. Unified perspective is for the most part shared amongst the majority but still retains a personal standpoint for any given supporter. We all see the same thing but we each translate and deal differently.
In the context of games (that I remember), had we scored at certain points (ifs and buts and hindsight) the tempo could have changed because of it, along with the concluding result. It's a game of inches, luck and woodwork. Of course, a fitter side (with more quality and depth in rotation) might have been more perked up to finish the job more often. Rather than rely on a team not quite firing on all cylinders, we can do with additional options that overhaul the in-game dynamic enough to make an explosive impact. As bad as the final four games felt, and inch here or there and we'd have spoken about our mettle and grit in the aftermath, playing ugly to win the points. Sadly, we are left with just the ugly part.
One step at time, right?
Think back to all the scoffing at the start of the season when Eric Dier was selected in defensive midfield. Patience isn't something we endure well but it's imperative, as proven by the journey undertaken this season. Interestingly, off the back of the final four games, some are now questioning whether Dier is as good as we all thought he was. It's peculiar, the stages of grief we have to work through to process disappointment. It ties back in with perspective and emotions allow it to distort.
We shagged up the final few games, therefore, negative spin is attached to any given subject or player dissection in the post-mortem. It's a natural reaction and removing the flaws is important which is why fans ask questions that might not have been considered when Spurs were in their pomp. But Spurs did have pomp and that shouldn't suddenly be boxed up and forgotten about.
Being critical of the Pochettino slump (a trend referenced a few times in the record books) towards the end of the season is a complex grievance. I'm certain that him being likened to a glorified PE teacher on Twitter is pure parody.
Many (not all) that seem to gravitate towards the self-loathing are conflicted. Some are more comfortable with misery and kicking around with permanent despondency in the underbelly of hope and dreams, content there's problems with the project because it gives them a voice to bemoan it all. Again, it's a life choice, it's how some like to function. If you're sat there saying that Spurs have winged it then football probably isn't for you. You'll never truly enjoy it because you're too busy getting distracted by all of its politics.
Was there a slump? For sure. I've mentioned this a fair few times since the final game of the season. I still think it was an unavoidable consequence of the sheer effort and belief the players stuck in, before we came unstuck. So much more was at stake this time round. Record books might show the same lack of point accumulation but that's without the context. I might be wrong but I guess that's my standpoint on it. Our fitness was on point all season long, all things considered.
Remember Man Utd at home? Stoke away? What then followed was hugely disappointing. Look back at the season and even in our pomp we drew far too many games, especially at home. Even with full fitness, we need to improve our productivity. We have to allow time for us to refine our strengths and remove the weaknesses. It's a minor miracle Poch got us into the position he did, so quickly, with that initial early season slow transition (unavoidable) setting us in motion and also costing us in the end (by virtue that we had to grow and settle into a fluid working style).
We lost our desire (along with Mousa and Alli) after we realised the title was gone (I'm a broken record with this) and the rest of our resolve was dragged down further thanks to mental fatigue. It's not excusable (sort of is) and we should ask how this mix of young and experienced players can cope better next time round, rather than seek to find reasons why we're broken and can't be fixed. What happened at Newcastle is the curse that plights many that think it will always happen to us. Spurs don't have the copyright to this.
Everyone fails in some shape or form. Everyone has flaws, the ones with the least amount tend to be the ones that harness success. It only feels like we're being victimised (by the club we belong to) because we feel the pain. Obviously, it can't get any more personal - this being our club - and we have no choice avoiding it. We accept we'll suffer, it's the one thing we share with all supporters of all clubs. All of us suffer. Christ, football is suffering. You can't get away from it. You wouldn't choose this life if it was based around just how much consistent satisfaction you could gain from it. You'd constantly be left feeling empty. But that isn't what we allow to define our experience.
In the grand scheme of things, it ends up a caveat to our overall experience of following Tottenham Hotspur. Because there's so much of what this club gives that constitutes pleasure. And these moments, be it a stunning miracle goal against the scum or a player dazzlingly on the ball with shirt tucked out socks rolled down, or an epic last gasp winner, time spent with mates in the pub before and after, singing with strangers on a train that you feel more connected to in those seconds than you do with your own family...these are the little things that build into towering big monuments of why we love our club, unconditionally.
You feeling this? I only wish I could dispense MDMA via the comments section. I'd ask you to take and then read from the top again.
Failure when attempting to achieve isn't the same failure as sitting in mid-table. It isn't the same ilk of failure as having all you need to truly compete for the title and then bottle it time and time again (follow the Seven Sisters away from us for more on that particular example). Although they might use my argument to support theirs - that it isn't failure for them either. And that's where it gets all messy and perspective gets fragmented with a hefty chunk of their fanbase unable to centre on what they want and what they perceive as acceptable. Hence their identity crisis. It's a warning to us. We have to tread carefully, retain the identity we now have and pull together with the team. These past six months, I've never known the Spurs fanbase to be so together. It wasn't like that at the start of the season. We had to graft and then we believed in the team. That's powerful and it isn't a common trait.
Style has always been important to us. Substance has been the Holy Grail. But beggars can't be choosers, so just drink the kool aid and enjoy the ride.
Comparing Spurs to Spurs of old, it's a complete irrelevance. From the perspective of how our club can make us feel (the pain), there are plentiful similarities. It still isn't comparable. Philosophy this time wasn't just a soundbite. It's tangible, it's real. It's happening. The learning curves persist. They happen because we're not quite polished enough in certain areas. Not seeking to improve will leave us in a tentative position. We all know how that feels, we've had it for twenty plus years. The frustration exists now because we actually know we're decent rather than quietly accepting we're bang average.
Remember that every one of us that's still upset over how it all ended, we only feel this way because of the coach and the players. They made it possible, expanding our expectancy. All of this in a season where most of us (all of us, let's face it) didn't quite believe we'd compete convincingly for 4th spot. Tottenham are now a band of brothers playing for each other and the shirt. Is it perfect? Hell no. Will Poch take what happened and improve his own methods and the players we have? Should bloody hope so. It benefits him as much as it will benefit us.
These are good times. The lows are only lows because the highs we reached and the ones we didn't were so very high indeed.
Wipe away those tears and smile.