The Antithesis of Swagger
Our mathematical chances of winning the title are gone. Don’t take my word for it, Poch had a breakdown post-match, hounding Mike Dean, baying for blood. Our Argentine gaffer, the very essence of how I felt. Not about Dean but more so at football. At my beloved Spurs, my beloved players. The whole Spursy paradigm. F**k you football, you wonderful horror you.
Regardless of our extended time off in preparation for Burnley away, we failed. Our players let themselves down, momentum perhaps even snapped by the returning Harry Kane. Not that this was in any way a disadvantage, but perhaps our flow would have worked better if the side collectively took responsibility rather than perhaps layeth it on the shoulders of our MBE.
Dry pitch? Too physical a game? Bah, let’s not be that fanbase with the excuses. That’s a more ‘down the road’ type of thing. We just did that other thing. The thing we do. See it’s not just us, the tortured souls of support, that suffer purgatory. Our team is a reflective shadow that mocks us from time to time. Our football is ether made up of stylish aggressive swag, sometimes less refined which results in grinding our results out. But it’s mostly solid, disciplined football that sees us deserve the win. Otherwise, we lose. We don’t draw. We just lose all the points. It’s either one or the other. Swagger or the antithesis of swagger; disappointment. Spurs way too often defeat themselves by doing the thing. The thing I just described.
I’ve touched upon this before but it’s worth drowning our sorrows over it again. We’ve lost seven league games this season. Which is a lot, way too many to even be considered contenders or challengers. Yet, up until Saturday early afternoon, my calculator said we were inconceivably still in the mix for the big prize. Why? Because we’ve won an impressive 20 games our of 26 (at the time). It’s bonkers. Even with the ‘no signings’ meltdown which arguably works against the art of true rotation, we still fought our way into the top three and stayed close to the two true favourites. Get that calculator out again.
Burnley, Watford and Arsenal away were underwhelming attempts at winning a game of football. Wolves at home was one of those blips that you could excuse if the aforementioned opponents were dished out a wallop by us (instead of the other way around). But we lost all four. In a variety of disappointing anti-swaggerisms.
But even these four defeats could be acceptable in the grand scheme of things, had we fared better against Liverpool, City and United at Wembley. That’s nine points right there. Or even three points from three draws that would have helped immensely in keeping things even closer in the chase. Yes, we should have pummelled Utd and could have stolen a point perhaps from the other two games. But we didn’t. Bundle all seven losses together and we’ve got ourselves an unwanted trait. That stench of purgatory where we under perform enough to allow ourselves to be bullied out of the points altogether. All the fine margins together feel like a canyon in terms of distance from where we are currently, looking up towards the top.
Poch has cited that sometimes the team believes in its own hype a little too much. I don’t think the Burnley result was a consequence of that. I also don’t believe we bottled it. We just, we just did that thing. Is it Poch unable to find a solution to adapting to difficult one-off circumstances? Our players failing to seize some much needed synergy? No real alternative option on the bench (Lamela, once the poster-boy for reinvention is now the poster-boy for….er…purgatory i guess).
Of course, let’s not get depressed over this. We are still over-achieving even if you believe we should simply be achieving. We are not defined by the seven defeats. We’re defined by the twenty victories. The seven defeats is a stark reminder of just how difficult it is to retain not just momentum but an ilk of deep digging and steel-bending leadership that our mettle often lacks across an entire congested season of fixtures. We need more weapons. No, I’m not talking about muggy fans. I’m talking about loaded guns with bullets and not cowboys with water pistols. Spurs need more to shrink that number seven down to half its size. When that happens, it happens. And you know what I mean by ‘it’.
It’s great to have Harry back. It will be even greater when Dele returns. I’m looking ahead and I’m a mess of excitement and nervous energy. Even with Utd/Liverpool playing out a 0-0, players dropping like flies, I’m still biting through my finger nails into my crunchy bones. Still, somehow, believing.
We shouldn’t be concerned for the Champions League game (right? tell me I’m right) but the next two league games are HUGE. Throbbing huge, pulsating veins about to burst huge. Tottenham need to be hot spurts here. We need two glorious moneyshots, nothing less. We have Liverpool and Manchester City away to come. This seasons momentum has gone from tenacious belief to potentially embarrassing limpness. I’m not worried though. We always perform. We might need a fluffer to help us out but we always find a way back even if the timing is too late for what could have been something fair more rewarding.
I know what some of you are doing. I know what all of you are doing. You’re looking behind you. For the first time in a while. You’re looking at the teams in 5th and 6th and 7th and wondering, what if we look knackered in our next two games? What if the usual textbook default happens and the next two teams play out of their skin against us (of course they bloody will) because they always muster up that extra bit of something for ye olde us?
Chelsea looked more than decent in the cup final against City (regardless of extra-time and the Sarri-ballsup with the keeper substitution non-event with Kepa). They found a little redemption after the thrashing they got in the league. Still, delighted they lost on pens. Delighted. The other lot are still celebrating the 4-2 like it happened yesterday (Arsenal players are clearly instructed by the clubs PR team to exaggerate emotions and pretend they have a strong affinity to North London tradition to appease the fragility of the broken ego of their supporters).
…we smash’em. Smash’em to bits.
There is no hiding away from this. We have everything to play for. This next week could be epic. It has to be.
Rise up Tottenham, you’re not done yet, lad.
Someone hold me.
Worth mentioning, before someone says 'look at the City players celebrating the cup win like it's the first time they've won a cup', that a winning mentality is built by winning things. Yep, think we all know that already, right? Spurs under Poch have got to a final and a semi final or two. It's not like we haven't tried. It's just daft to prioritise and stick all your eggs in a cup (basket). City didn't, and that says a lot about the depth of their quality.