Spurs once again are splitting opinions. You are either a “happy clapper” or a “this or that OUT” person, but what about those stuck in the middle?
Stuck in the middle
Wherever you are right now, cover one eye and reach out for something. Did you grab it? Now do the same with the other eye, did that work? Now with both eyes open reach out. Easier isn’t it?
Unless you have an underlying medical condition, both your eyes were correct, but working solo they lacked depth perception. Both thought they were right, but by operating on their own, following their own convictions they were shorn of security, shorn of the ability to make the correct judgement.
Right now at Spurs our fan base is split into two distinct camps, both reaching out, trying to grab a point, or something to validate their claims, but the truth is what they are reaching for is something in middle, something that sits in-between.
We are not in the position to overhaul our squad at the same time as overhauling our club infrastructure
Over the weekend, as the aftermath of the result settled across social media, you belonged to the OUT lot, or the clapping lot. The Fighting Cock, as a group of individuals who generally prefer to spend time in each other’s company, not moaning and being depressed are generally labelled as “clappers” whilst the others, well you know who they are and what they do.
On Sunday I posted a tweet:
Two games unbeaten. Goal form a promising youngster. A point away at the PL's in form team. Not happy clapping. Just different perspective
— Bardi (@BardiTFC) August 23, 2015
Ignoring the hungover typo the point of it wasn’t to “happy clap” but to highlight the stupidity of making a point with one eye closed. Everything can be twisted to suit. I simply chose to show that even in the aftermath of a disappointing performance you can still get some spin the result to suit your agenda.
Leicester City are a team on fire, their compact counter attacking style working beautifully with their pacey wide men. In their current run of form, very few teams would be able to handle them, yet Spurs for the most had them at arm’s length.
Of course changing position and looking at the match from a different view, it’s the second game in a row that we’ve tossed four points aside from winning positions, four points that will probably be crucial come May. We are three games into the campaign and we seem to have even less of an identity than we had last season. From this point of view we are in deep trouble.
However life isn’t left or right, black or white, good or bad. Sometimes at Spurs we forget that other teams exist, and it isn’t our divine right to win every game. In football there are too many uncontrolled variables. Leicester are a team that despite changing manager have kept to their identity and play to their strengths, and as they showed vs Sunderland and West Ham, are a potent attacking outfit.
The issue for Spurs, at this very moment, is that once again we are reaching for an identity with players who are unfit for that purpose. Major squad overhauls, without the type of money parachuted in from the Middle East or Russia, is a complicated business. We are not in the position to overhaul our squad at the same time as overhauling our club infrastructure.
The weaknesses in Spurs at this moment are, in my view. Erik Lamela, Mousa Dembele and Jan Vertonghen. Players that Mauricio Pochettino inherited, players who have shown their inability to remodel themselves and change their game. However, going out and splashing £100m on new individuals wouldn’t have helped. Across Europe late on Sunday evening, AC Milan travelled to Florence, with a team full of hope and optimism. They had a new strike force, a new bright centre back pairing, yet they left the state of Tuscany with a 2-0 loss to a team that has once again been forced to sell its prized assets.
Throwing money at a problem, as we have seen to our cost doesn’t fix an attitude or issues within your team. Only time can fix ingrained problems, only time will allow an identity to take hold. Last season was review and adapt, this is technically Pochettino’s first season and still he has been unable to deploy a forward line of his choosing.
This isn’t me happy clapping, or making an excuse for our failures, or being the part of giant Daniel Levy mouthpiece. I see both sides of the argument, I understand them and I know how it feels. Everyone who supports this club is frustrated, no one should be happy with how we have approached this season. I just refuse to believe that by sacking people will we somehow change our fortunes.
It is a mess. As I outlined last week, the sins of Spurs are very clear. Every single minute of every game we have played this season hammers this home. Our play is laboured, our team incapable of sustained pressure and lacking the strength to see games out, and more worryingly that anything else, we are crippling Harry Kane with expectation.
In my lifetime I have never seen a player at Spurs with so much responsibility at such a young age. He is our attack, our build-up play, our first line of defence and cult hero. At this moment like Atlas he is shouldering our entire team, the failings of Spurs are killing this young man.
Yet in and among these glaring faults and concerns are shoots of optimism. Shoots that cannot be ignored. Toby Alderweireld, bar the Stoke City error, is a classy individual and already our number one centre-back. His confidence and ability to remain largely untroubled throughout 90 minutes is a sign of a good defender. He reminds me occasionally of Alessandro Nesta, a player who makes every single defensive action seem ordinary. There are no gallant blocks, last minute slide tackles or thrusting runs from deep. He defends first, something that Vertonghen doesn’t do, or isn’t doing at the moment.
On Saturday we also saw Dele Alli grab his first goal for the club. This wasn’t a Rooney v Woolwich glory goal, but what it lacked in finesse it made up with hunger. Alli wanted that goal, he drove forward with youthful abandon and put Spurs in the lead, it is this desire that we need to harness.
Tottenham are far too complex a beast to be one or thing or another, we’re Spurs fans and we should understand that by now
The players who have arrived in the Pochettino/Mitchell era, January 2015 onwards, have so far at least impressed. With little else to celebrate at this moment, I am holding on to this chunk of flotsam with all my strength, not because I am blind, not because I have an agenda, but because I am optimistic that despite the faults and mistakes there is something good brewing.
I have no doubt that this small piece of the internet will have little effect on those that sit on either side of the divide, but for those of us in the middle looking at both parties and seeing truth in both their arguments it will be of some comfort. Tottenham are far too complex a beast to be one thing or another, we’re Spurs fans and we should understand that by now.
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