Before tonight's big game vs Real Madrid, Vass takes a look at Spurs and just how far we've come under Mauricio Pochettino.
I’ve been watching Spurs for many years. From the time my dad held me by the hand and led me to White Hart Lane I was caught up in the magic and the emotion of those men in white shirts. I belong to something that is much more than just a football club. When you stand at the top of Wembley Way and see 80,000 fans streaming down for a home game you understand. When you come across fans from all corners of the globe you understand.
During my time I have seen many players pass through the club and many managers. We have had some success; some glory, but we have also had too many disappointments that I care to remember. Perhaps it is that which has grounded me. Despite the fact that each defeat still hurts and each victory can fill me with such unexplainable joy, it is my experience of watching Spurs that comforts me once the emotion subsides.
But the digital age has removed some of my blinkers. Supporting Spurs was a shared experience that you had with a few members of family and friends. With some school mates or work mates even. But now it is shared with millions of people in an instant. And with millions of people come a million different opinions. Opinions that everyone is entitled to of course.
We have had some success; some glory, but we have also had too many disappointments that I care to remember. Perhaps it is that which has grounded me
So having seen the ups and downs and the good and the bad, I am acutely aware that the last couple of seasons have been some of the most enjoyable I have ever experienced. The last time we finished 2nd in the league? I don’t even know. And whilst we haven’t admittedly won a trophy in a while I can safely say that this crop of players and this manager is the best we have had since probably the early eighties.
But emotion is difficult to contain. We are all hurt by defeats. As if we are not conscious of the fact that one mistake or one bad piece of luck can wreck your weekend when the team loses. But the emotions are becoming almost bipolar. Draw with Real Madrid in the Santiago de Bernabeu and smash Liverpool at Wembley and the team are acknowledged as having come a long way and Pochettino gave a tactical masterclass. Collapse from a 2-0 home lead against West Ham and then lose narrowly to Manchester United at Old Trafford and players are being questioned; the manager is being questioned and the squad depth is once again being questioned where it was lauded the week before.
Highs and Lows. Extremes. No middle ground.
Some of the criticism is disheartening for me if I am honest. Pochettino is in his fourth season. The first one is a free hit because he spent it separating the wheat from the chaff and putting the framework in place; in creating his squad in his image and in his philosophy.
So we have had two proper seasons under him. We have finished 3rd and 2nd in the Premier League. Qualified for back to back campaigns in the Champions League, where before we couldn’t even get over the line for 4th in the Premier League.
The manager is being questioned and the squad depth is once again being questioned where it was lauded the week before
We have had a league cup final loss to Chelsea and an FA cup semi-final defeat also to Chelsea. Our bogey side. Who by the way we have beaten 2-0 and 5-3 at White Hart Lane in the meantime. You know. Three Point Lane?
So what is our expectations after two full seasons under Pochettino? To suddenly expunge fifteen or twenty years of mediocrity? To “expect” that we win the Premier League regardless of the activity of our competitors? Or merely to challenge for the Carabao cup because if we don’t win a trophy, any trophy, then all our players will leave next season as will Pochettino.
Is the fear of loss driving our need for immediate success? I was part of the Hotspur America Pod that interviewed Guillem Balague on his recent book about Pochettino. He told us that he met with Eddie Jones the other week, Head Coach of the England Rugby team. He told Guillem: “Every player wants to be part of something special”.
Every player at Spurs has said that they feel that there is something special happening at OUR club. Toby aside, everyone has signed long term contracts. As has Pochettino and hopefully Toby will too. Of course we can never say never in football, but if the need for things happening immediately is the fear that the ride we have been on will suddenly derail then put those fears away. It is detracting from everyone enjoying what is happening.
We are two years in to that something happening at Spurs. Even if you want to say it is three years then that is fine. But it’s like a new born baby right now. These are only the early days of what is being embarked upon at Spurs. It has taken us years to get here and supporters will do well to remember how far behind we were in the 90’s and early 2000’s.
Every player at Spurs has said that they feel that there is something special happening at OUR club
Things took a couple of steps forward under Jol and then Redknapp. But there was no foundation then and the house came tumbling down again. Pochettino has understood that to build the strongest and best house we need to lay some foundations. He has done that. Success is relative to your starting point.
The squad is young. So is Pochettino. They are learning about what it takes to be successful. And we as fans have to learn about this too. And we will lose some games along the way. But just as the journey we are on now is a long one. Each football season is long too. Put away the negativity.
The journey has only just begun. We are playing Real Madrid tonight.