The minority report
Is AVB making mistakes? Yeah, sure. I guess no manager is prone to them (although mistakes are only such after the fact otherwise they're shrewd risks that pay off). Especially when at a new club trying to work out the capabilities of the players in the squad and what will work in the long term. So where exactly can the benefit of the doubt be found in amongst all this?
The same way a win can bring renewed optimism a defeat or dropped points seems to bask in depressive pessimism. One extreme to the next. There appears to be no patience for anything to sit in-between the two. Unless that's where the silent majority are, cautious and suspicious, perhaps unwilling to commit until there are more points under in our possession.
Are we back to arguing about the semantics of what constitutes acceptable expectancy? Should this expectancy be a quantifiable reason to inspire the type of support or lack of the team gets from the stands? Think about what that means for a moment. Do you support the team or support what you think the team should be doing to satisfy your needs?
Pound for pound with the players we have we should be swaggering around the pitch. You'd think, you'd hope. Worked under Redknapp. But this is a new era (if I say it enough times then maybe non-believers will clock on) and if the plan is to work through the problems now, in the present, to strength our resolve for the long run – so be it. We’re hardly being dragged kicking and screaming to the gates of hell. For all of that swagger of last season it was the unresolved quirks that saw us stutter and dip. None of those problems looked like being resolved. Our coach is of a different type and his team will be a different build of Tottenham.
Or do some of you really take what happened at that cesspool of a club Villas-Boas was at last season as a valid reason not to trust him? Is there no chance that experience has actually made him a better man and more adaptable to achieve success in England?
It’s not so much the booing that bothers me (it does bother me as it's the calling card for the haters) but it's the accompanying attitude that allows it to manifest in the first place. I’ve been told there were a number of disagreements (again) in the stands and in even in the gents at half time where supporters argued.
“Why don’t you just support the team?”
Us and them. Hardly One Hotspur.
Disgruntled, some proclaim it’s the performance they are booing and showing their disapproval for because 'how else will they know it's not good enough?'. Let’s not ignore the fact that this isn’t a new trait. It’s been common place for a few seasons now. One or two dips or struggles and the new breed (or just the very tired old breed) believe it's acceptable to lift yourself up from your seat and give the thumbs down. It's a shame we no longer have season ticket booklets. They’re far easier to throw onto the pitch. Levy probably planned for this eventuality. Makes it difficult to start a bonfire outside too. Face it, it doesn't inspire. What inspires is a roar from the crowd, a push from the team that fuels further noise from the stands.
So why the defeatism? The minority that boo and react with discontent are just that, a minority. Yet before a ball is even kicked the atmosphere at Spurs seems to be low-key and nervous. If you honestly believe that won’t influence the players then you need to have a word with yourself and remember that we’re meant to be the voice of the club. If you believe you can inspire the players then you probably can. The excuse that they deserve the abuse because they’re millionaires is irrelevant to what transpires in front of you for those 90 minutes. You're there to support Tottenham.
I guess people must feel stupid, singing when we’re not winning. Love is obviously now conditional within the walls of White Hart Lane. Wasn’t too long ago we laughed at the attitude of other supporters at other clubs. I won’t spell out the irony. I’ll just wait for the ones that disagree to gather up their excuses and explain why I'm wrong. As I cited last time, the want for success and the desire to attain it and the fear of failure is all-consuming. People these days want to skip ahead to the glory, they don't want to fight their way through the graft. It's easier to be fickle, easier to turn the switch on if things are going well, then switch off when they're not. I guess what with it being our best season ever last time out, we have a lot to live up to.
90 minutes. It's 90 minutes every week. You were Spurs before kick-off, you’re Spurs during it and you’re still Spurs after it’s all done. Regardless of the result.
Modern football is focused on winning. Winning is everything and support is optional. Everyone wants it all yesterday and stamps foot with petulance if not given. In an earlier blog I said I can’t tell people or force them to support Spurs in any way different to the way they do now. In an earlier blog I also said I wouldn't be revisiting this argument again, so excuse my Michael Corleone moment.
All our perceptions are unique. Our viewpoints differ and that is usually based on the type of person you are generally, in life. Your outlook and mood. The way you handle pressure. But football, is it not meant to be an escapism? Yes, it's serious and it matters more than it really should but considering the struggles we all live through from day to day, being Tottenham and watching Tottenham should not be perceived as a chore just because we're not witnessing something majestic on the day.
I guess with myself, I’m just someone that tries to retain balance and stand on the side of Spurs. I’m a supporter. I support the club. I support the team that is coached by Andre Villas-Boas, but I support the club first and foremost. No matter what. By 'the club' I'm refering to its traditions and identity. I'll fight for what I believe Tottenham is (including not moving to Stratford, as an example). Since when did football supporting have a requisite that we should only get behind the team vocally when the team is playing well? Like they're only deserving of our support if they're entertaining the people in the stands? That isn't my version of football. And if the game has changed I'll be damned if I'm not going to favour the supporters that do want to stand and sing and support.
It's cultural also. I doubt we'll ever see white handkerchiefs waving from the East Stand and Paxton. Take the South Americans and Italians. They get to walk into dressing rooms and have discussions with board members. They demand the shirts off the backs of players not performing. Dramatic yet emotive and passionate. We're a little more straight-laced than our foreign counterparts on this island of ours. But in terms of our predicament, I ask, what predicament? It's hardly a relegation dog fight with five games to go and if it was and there was no fight left in the team, you'd want to go down to a tune like that sorry band on the Titanic. Yet still they'd be plenty that would prefer to jump on a lifeboat and be far away from the sinking wreckage.
I can still be angry, I can still disapprove or disagree or feel frustration. They’ll even be moments when I’m biting through my nails. But there’s not a chance I’ll stand at White Hart Lane or in a pub or in front of a tv and behave like it's my God given right to have it all on a plate and then pretend I didn’t act like that when I have it served up. The players are custodians of the shirt we wear. We will always be the one constant, from one generation to the next, the supporters (regardless of how we're being marginalised and how some of us are metamorphosing into consumers of football theatre), we are the ones that define the mood of the club. The Lane was not that long ago known for its noise. I begin to fear what will happen in a stadium that holds just under 60k if half that amount are struggling to be heard now.
Through thick and thin, right?
So, with regards to the minority, there’s actually not much I can say to change you. You're built that way. You'll keep on doing what you're doing. There's a demographic that sees things very differently, that believe it is in fact theatre. How can you possibly change that mind-set? You can't. But you can influence others that are seated in the lower tiers, in the traditionally vocal blocks.
It's up to the majority to sing up. Like we do away from home. Like we do at youth games. Sing up and drown out the negativity, remind them that there is more honour in facing adversity and doubt (even if it's arguable there isn't any presently) as one voice by simply being Tottenham. You're there, willing the team on, hoping and praying they do well. It's never guaranteed, its never a certainty. There's nothing in the terms and conditions stipulating you'll always get what you want. It's not just the team that needs supporting, some in the stands are in need of it too.
You're not the journey to the ground. You're not the price of admission. You're not your f**king seat. You're the all-singing, all-dancing Spurs from the Lane.
Love the shirt and follow.
There is another angle to all this. Being told that we have to sit down all the time. Nowadays, it's about licenses and health and safety. Then again, there is nothing stopping any of you from dancing the dance we all dance to every other week.
If you're told to sit down by a steward, sit down. Everyone will stand up again in anticipation if say Lennon suddenly fizzes down the flank. Technically speaking, by virtue of all-seaters, standing up in the space where you sit is safe. It's just not legally permitted. Hence that constant dance with the stewards. Maybe at some point in the future the club will agree to follow the likes of Aston Villa (in progress) and Manchester City and have a designated area where supporters can stand. Sunderland are another with a positive outlook. These are just some of the clubs with plans to either allow safe standing or discuss its potential. Then like minded people can take that opportunity to pay to stand there.
Lower ties at football stadia should be standing blocks.
For now, it's about reigniting the current unofficial standing block (the Park Lane Lower) which has lost its spark.
Info here on Safe Standing via the Football Supporters' Federation.