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Identity Crisis

4 min read
by Sam Marlow

I think Jose Mourinho’s Tottenham side represent us now. We have a deep anger and frustration inside us from all of the nearly moments, refereeing decisions and what could’ve beens that have accrued over the years.

The last 12 months at Tottenham have felt a little bit like an identity crisis. As the sun set on the 2018/19 season we really believed we were starting a new chapter in our club’s history. A story of tragedy, romance, drama, joy and sadness (sometimes all in the same week). What a lot of us didn’t realise was that starting a new chapter always involves the ending of the previous one.

Pochettino’s departure hurt. Mourinho’s hiring compounded that feeling. I can’t look at a photo of Mauricio, or listen to him speak without a deep feeling of regret and what should’ve been. He was one of us, he got what it meant to be Tottenham and we loved him for it. In an age where football has become deeply transactional and cold, this didn’t feel like any other break-up. It has been very hard to move on from for both parties, which made the poor footballing performances we have witnessed in early 2020 harder to stomach.

“Deep in my heart, I am sure our paths will cross again…deep inside I want to go back because the fans are so special. Maybe in five years, maybe in ten years but before I die I want to manage Tottenham. I want to feel what it means to win one title with Tottenham because the fans are amazing, all the love we received was amazing and that is a good opportunity to pay back all the love they showed us from day one.”

It hurts just reading that doesn’t it. If a beautiful relationship ending is the trigger for an identity crisis, then hiring Jose Mourinho is the equivalent of a rebound with your brother’s ex-wife.

Normally sacking a manager and replacing him with a more successful one results in great excitement and joy in the fanbase. The reason this one didn’t is because of our identity.

The Oxford Learner’s Dictionaries defines identity as the “characteristics, feelings or beliefs that make people different from others”. In the case of Spurs this would be playing with style, the trick, the flick, the thirty-yard freekick. A fundamental belief that it is better to fail aiming high.

For a lot of us, the idea of Jose Mourinho threatened our Tottenham identity right to its very core. I was very skeptical as I am sure a lot of other spurs fans were. He is not a man who is renowned for playing champagne football. More than that, he is a Chelsea legend – a club which represents everything wrong with football (plastic fans, oligarchs, racism etc.).

This tension has been hard for us to resolve. However, I think it is safe to say we can see the green shoots of recovery. Sticking 6 past Manchester United at Old Trafford was no freak accident. As much as Sky Sports would like us to think it was Manchester United imploding (heaven forbid little old Tottenham might dish out a spanking to the untouchable mighty Red Devils!), they happened to forget that in the same week we also scored 7 goals against Maccabi Haifa and 5 against Southampton.

This is the most positive I have felt supporting Spurs since May 2019. We are starting to represent something again. We can now see those characteristics, feelings and beliefs that make us what we are.

In 2020, you have to double down on your opinions. There is no room for nuance and reconsideration. If you disagree with someone you get called a “nonce” and are blocked. This is a deeply unhealthy way to exist. This is why it is also particularly hard for us to say we were wrong.

I was wrong. Whisper it quietly, but I think we are starting to like Jose Mourinho. The clubs where Jose has succeeded are Porto, Chelsea and Inter Milan. These are all clubs that had gone through incredible baron spells. As clubs they all suffered from a bit of an inferiority complex. Sound familiar? He won these teams their first trophies in a long time because he could take them on a transformative journey.

“But Jose is finished” I hear you cry! I disagree with this. Mourinho may not have succeeded at United (despite winning some cups and finishing 2nd). They haven’t exactly made phenomenal progress since he left either. At United, Jose took over a team of primadonnas, and his methods require the hunger to generate that famous siege mentality attitude. At Spurs we are very hungry.

I think Jose Mourinho’s Tottenham side represent us now. We have a deep anger and frustration inside us from all of the nearly moments, refereeing decisions and what could’ve beens that have accrued over the years.

Seeing Anthony Martial get sent off and Harry Kane dismantle United’s defence was a seriously cathartic experience. I felt spiritually cleansed of some of the horrors we have witnessed at Old Trafford over the years. The narrative is set.

Although an unnatural marriage, I think Mourinho is the man to help Tottenham right some wrongs. I genuinely believe he will do it too. Let’s hope our identity crisis is in the past and we can enjoy our new ruthless, hard working and effective Tottenham team. “Courage, honesty, friendship, that’s the most important thing in life and in football”.

Up the Spurs!

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