Digging your soul
It amazes me how entitled football supporters are, demanding the world from their club as if they are owed something more than what they're getting. What they get should be unconditional.
These are the very same fans that seem to know how to fix things. That's a fix to the point of lifting silverware by the way. That’s right, they have carefully designed the near perfect template for success. It's that easy according to them. In fact, I'd love us to spend £200M in the next window, just to see how it plays out when competing against Liverpool and City for the title - two of the best footballing sides in Europe.
I’d love to see how these fans react to us just missing out again. What new level will they find to stand and complain from? Foaming at the mouth, screaming finality and being the very personification of fear. Demanding an end game by channelling their inner-Thanos and deleting the journey that takes us closer and closer to achieving certifiable glory. The journey is the destination, after-all. These fans want the pay-off (don't we all?) but are willing to sacrifice everything else for it. As though 'winning stuff' is the be all and end all of football as opposed to all the daring to do so that's required in the first place.
I’d rather we didn’t miss out, though. I don't take pleasure from our failures. But 'failure' is subjective. I prefer 'learning curves'. Have you really failed if you've reached a Champions League final?
These types of fans are self-loathing. Even appearing to be a little ashamed of Tottenham, deflecting their own insecurities towards the club in the hope of finding solace and redemption for their personal turmoil. So to clarify, they aim negativity towards the one thing they expect to make them feel better. It's a paradox even the late great Stephen Hawking would be dumbfounded by.
To think we self-deprecate and laugh at how following Spurs is the most overly dramatic head-fuck imaginable when all along, it's Spurs we should be feeling sorry for.
The way we abuse and use her/him/they (Tottenham is gender-fluid for this particular metaphor) says a lot about this obsessive escapism we, er, can't escape from. Sure, use football as a conduit for release and as a tribal, social distraction from the mundane ant-like dystopia we exist in. Abuse away. But perhaps ask yourself; Did you choose to support this club or did the club choose you? That's not half as deep as you might think it sounds.
Belonging means forgiving. Tottenham should really be this ultimate singularity of pride and identity. The club is the support it gets. THFC is the fanbase. We're the blood running through what would be an empty vessel of bones without us all binding the fleshy bits together. I guess that would make Daniel Levy the vampire that has sucked the life out of us (according to some). Of course, Levy is not a creature of the night. For starters, he's hardly ever spotted during the evening of a transfer deadline window (ba dum tss). The thing is, he's a custodian that should (in theory) be representative of us - the 'club' and our traditions.
It gets messy here because it's sometimes impossible to agree where the football starts and where the accountancy ends.
The business side is now as big as the football (which is the jarring bit about the modern game that has left many feeling disenfranchised). Customers rather than supporters being the apt tagline. But as slow brooding as everything might appear, for all the alleged lost chances of consolidation on the pitch, perhaps the true game is in the long term future. We now have the foundations to evolve to the next level and beyond. There's no doubt that the financial drive has to align to the footballing one - and that both will have to come together to strengthen the team as well as that shiny cockerel of a brand. But let's not pretend that one isn't reliant on the other, and vice-versa.
Of course, there’s nothing wrong with being ambitious or wanting the best. There's nothing wrong with wanting to win stuff. There's also nothing wrong with being critical of board room level decision making. But to claim that we shouldn't be proud of having the new stadium or Hotspur Way or a generational cultural defining shift in attitude is scandalous.
You either belong or you don’t. If you belong you take all the bad along with all the good because for the vast majority of us (that’s the royal us across every land that plays the beautiful game), if you’re not part of the 5% in the upper echelons then you’ll never taste actual silverware winning glory. You’d be lucky to taste the echo of glory. Which makes us very lucky. Some fanbases do not even have the privilege of hope. This club, that is so often maligned and slated by its own vocal minority of depressives, allows us to truly believe. Believe that we could do it. Finally do it. The hope might kill you but in this religion, reincarnation is an undeniable reality.
Think about that Saturday in Madrid. The supporters that travelled logistically chaotic journeys to sing and drink and support. Think about these supporters applauding their heroes after the game, thanking them for that same privilege of belief. Tottenham have given us something we’ve not had for a long time. Sustained faith in that we might just do it. Sadly ‘doing it’ means besting the elite. In context, it’s not easy. Even if we spent a war chest in the summer, there’s no guarantees. Although, there’s no argument from me that we need to attempt solidifying and protecting Mauricio Pochettino’s squad and philosophy by strengthening the options and dimensions across all major competitions.
I spent the three weeks leading up to the final processing what would happen if we actually won it. In my life-time, after the mess that was the 90s and for all the delusions of hope I kept close to my battered heart, I was considering the emotions I would experience if Hugo had lifted the European Cup over his head. Liverpool fans might on the one hand be perceived as self-entitled and even arrogant but they have their own history. They’ve been here many times before. They drive their club forward with a religious zest. They don’t just believe, they ‘know’. They lost in the final last season to Real Madrid and what they’ve achieved this season isn’t just testament to them plugging the holes with world class players and alternatives to help with depth. It’s also testament to the journey that’s required. The momentum of a philosophy. The learning curves that accompany the harsh brutality of being nearly men.
Even in defeat, Tottenham Hotspur continue to strengthen their resolve.
What Poch and these players have achieved on bare bones (compared to our rivals) is fantastical. It’s also a hindrance. But these are not wasted moments. These are the building blocks. The foundations. Stability and avoidance of stagnation are key traits required. The long term is protected for the first time in, possibly as long as I can remember, because we've set the benchmark within the club.
A refresh, a reboot is now required. Poch needs to upgrade to v2 of his Tottenham side. Two windows with no signings, Wembley and the N17 delays, the injuries…look at how robust we are mentally with all the obstacles (some of them self-made) we've had to contend with. Stretched beyond the boundaries of consistent high-level performance, just look at how far we've come. The bond between the players and the fans. That defining cultural overhaul. It's magic, it ain't an illusion.
I guess it’s time we start to act elite off the pitch to aid those on it.
The final in Madrid itself was, after such an epic journey, a despondent affair. The penalty drained the hype out of it, twenty-five seconds into it. You can't make stuff like this up because it feels routinely Tottenhamesque. It was meant to be our time, right? Alas no. Sometimes you can't legislate for what the footballing Gods decide to dish out. This particular crushing anomaly proved to be devastating.
Raw emotions and post-game musings continue to produce the scapegoating and pointing of fingers. Some of our players didn't quite look sharp enough. The selection and even the tactics were actually fine. They, for the most part, worked in terms of possession and attacking intentions. The problem was the lack of decisive output in the final third. It didn't quite sync. The movement felt laboured, the margins an inch too far. We failed to turn up and perhaps the three week wait also disrupted the memory of how intense the semi-finals were in comparison.
I can't sit here and blame Poch or Dele or Son or Eriksen. Or even Harry Kane for wanting to play a part. After-all, it's because of these players that we got treated to the biggest game in our history, regardless of the result and heartache. They got us there. They made it happen. They gave us moments and adventures and eternal memories along the way. No silverware in the end, but hand on heart, tell me how you feel about Tottenham Hotspur. You feel connected, right? Maybe I'm easily pleased but this is all I've ever wanted.
Now, we move on.
This club had no blueprint on or off the pitch before Mauricio. Better the devil you know when ENIC eventually sell us and we end up with an American consortium that push the brand tenfold and we end up 'buying the league', in what could easily feel like the most underwhelming reach for glory ever. But that's modern football I guess. Pay to win.
We do want to see Spurs win though. I guess everyone has their own price for their soul.
Let me leave you with a shining dollop of positivity. For anyone saying we won't get to another Champions League final again ("in my life-time"), consider that it only actually took as five years. That's five from Year Zero (when Poch joined). In my life-time, this is the first time my club has shown a genuine philosophy and focus on tangible progression. and look at us now, all grown up, believing we can do anything.
Thank f*ck Tottenham chose me.
My soul ain't for sale at any price.
Hola. Everyone baking in the sun right? Think we all deserve the break to be fair. I’ve avoided all football since the season closed. Clean break. There’s plenty of time to lose myself in it all again come August.
The above blog was originally posted on The Fighting Cock website several weeks back. New content on the way. Possibly to align with new players on the way…amrite Daniel?