Do you belong?
More post-match discussion about the atmosphere and attitude of some of the home faithful. Not all of the home support but a minority of vocal despondency and disapproval. For the most part, in our last game, the Lane was alive with the sound of support against Everton.
The incident many are talking about is Dembele being substituted for Huddlestone. The boos aimed at the decision to remove Dembele. The decision proved the right one. So hindsight aside, was there anything wrong with the disgruntled reaction at the time of the substitution?
In some ways, no. We've all had frustrating days and nights watching Spurs and sometimes we dislike or don't understand a decision made by the coach. In the same way we might scream expletives at a player who has missed a sitter. More of a 'I can't believe it' rather than wanting to murder him. Although the latter is prone to appearance at the Lane and living rooms across the country too.
This isn't the thought police kicking the doors in. I'm not telling you how to support your team. I can't change you. To be honest, this might not even warrant discussion. But you know me, I like to make a point then drag that point kicking and screaming across the entirety of the season as a reminder it exists. Or, from your standpoint, doesn't. Maybe I am the thought police after-all.
This isn't so much about the seasoned fight between those that wish to retain the right to boo and the happy clappers but rather the general undercurrent that has festered with Spurs fans for several seasons now. There was a time where it didn't matter. League position, opponents. The crowd would back the team unequivocally rather than choose to critique every touch and decision. Yes, during dark times, as a collective, everyone pulled together in the face of adversity and sang in defiance of defeat or (again) as a collective sang for change. Or didn't sing at all. But these are hardly dark days.
Fact is, supporters are more inclined to be less bothered and are caught up with the pressure and stress that comes with expectancy, generally disgruntled before a ball is kicked, expecting the worse, demanding to be entertained. We all expect our traditions to be upheld, and its Spursy to place the football above the result. Perhaps the ones that sing are the ones out of touch. Perhaps we're not being entertained enough and the very soul is being sucked out of White Hart Lane. Was that overly dramatic?
The atmosphere isn't degrading. It's degraded already. Every time I get back to the Lane, I find myself enjoying the pub before hand more than the block I stand in. There's a defeatist attitude the second things are not appearing to go our way as though you're only meant to support and sing and make noise if things are looking good. On occasions we puncture the negativity and the players and those in the stands unite. I agree, not singing doesn't always equate to a lesser experience but this new age of footballing theatre is hardly the release or escape that it once felt like.
Sure, there are people that have been going to Spurs for years that have always been negative, expecting the worse. The 1990s saw to that. But as a collective we appear to have lost our voice. That want for success is weighing us down when we should be sprouting wings. A cockerel that can fly. I've seen worse on mushrooms.
It's okay to feel disgruntled or scared or fearful even, but still find your voice and display your desire for the team to step up a gear by trying to inspire them. And in-turn, they'll inspire us to sing even louder. We need more of this unity now more than ever. But it should really be given. Our season should be defined over the course of all the home games and not just when the emergency glass is broken.
Expectations change during the course of the season which then stretches out what quantifies as success/failure. A first eleven, fully fit, we're good enough for the top three. But when does any club retain a full first eleven across a season? Add to it the major overhaul of coaching staff, training, tactics. AVB is doing a solid job, first season in. The demand to be entertained at all costs and then demand to win at all costs is a conflicting one.
Oh look. I've done it again. Same old tired argument. Maybe I'm the one with the issues, forever trying to work through this by writing about it. Say it enough times and it comes true. I've written this article about a dozen times this season. I might as well give up and just accept football isn't the same match-day experience it once was and simply look to saviour the moments when the electricity makes the hairs on the back of our neck stand. It's more Tesla than it is Edison. Erratic and occasionally brilliant.
Does it matter if people booed the substitution? Did it impact anyone in any way? Why not simply have faith in what might transpire rather than make assumptions to facilitate your worst fears?
In the most simplistic way possible, if you're sat there thinking 'this ain't right' regardless of singing, if the atmosphere is tension filled, nervy and generally downbeat...then what's the point of being there at all?
If you're going to lose gloriously you may as well do so to the backdrop of thousands of Tottenham supporters displaying the love they have for the club. That isn't happy clapping. That's belonging. I might be wrong, I might belong in the past.
Until the next time.