Category: Premier League


As a financial adviser my industry is heavily regulated. We have to ensure that the advice we give is appropriate and relevant for the client’s objective regardless if they are investing, spending or borrowing. The key message in any investment though is that past performance is not a guide to future performance and the same can be said when a football club buys players.

In the summer of 2013 Spurs fans finally got what they wanted (well apart from Bale leaving). A splurge of money on players and trading happening early in the transfer window. The signing of Soldado for example had everyone in joyous raptures about how he had “left sunny Spain to play at White Hart Lane”. This was the top striker that we had been craving for so long! Well we all know how that worked out and it was the harshest lesson in understanding that not all purchases pay off. What works in one environment does not necessarily equate equally in another environment. You only need to reflect on the Torres at Liverpool and the Torres at Chelsea to understand this.

Spurs are not the only club to suffer. Man Utd have had their share of Veron’s and Anderson’s as have Chelsea with Schevchenko, Kezman, Torres and so many others. The difference perhaps is that when you have money coming out of your backside like these clubs do then you can afford to make transfer mistakes and you can easily overcome them. Teams like Spurs cannot afford to do this and money badly spent will quickly equip a mocking stick to beat the club with, not only from rival fans and media but sadly and probably more so, from our own fans too.

So now we have unerringly set a bar. 2013 transfer activity is now the benchmark for ridicule and thankfully Liverpool went one better than Spurs in 2014 to illustrate that having money in your pocket doesn’t always get you love, to reference a well-known song. Moreover it paves the way for fans to talk with the benefit of hindsight in an effort to impress a particular point. Knowing that this player is “shit” or that player is “shit” now means that any player that the club are linked with generally means that more money will be pissed away if the guy doesn’t have a 90 rating on FIFA or some such. More annoyingly though it gives fuel to the “I told you so” crowd.

But the fact is the fans don’t run the club and we aren’t the ones that have to worry about whether spending £25m on Berahino (WBA’s apparent asking price) will be money well spent. We can all just clamour for the money to be spent because “that’s what we need” but I can almost guarantee you that once a signing turns sour its those same fans that will be screaming how the club have pissed away more money and they haven’t got a clue. And when money is badly spent then yes it is deemed a success if you can limit your losses and recoup some or most of the outlay. That’s just common business sense.

You can therefore understand the clubs shift in transfer policy after having their fingers badly burnt. The ownership have clearly stated that they would like to develop their own players and bring in players in the £10m – £15m price range that they can develop further. This is where Spurs have had success in the past and given the millions that the club needs just to remain competitive amidst their limited revenue streams as compared to competitor teams, you can see why that might be the case. We should ask ourselves whether the club’s strategy of being a top four contender on a regular basis would have quite likely borne fruit had not Chelsea and City not hit the oil tycoon lottery and appeared from nowhere. That said the club strategy needs to realign to account for this anomaly and it’ll be hard to do this and remain competitive at the same time but this is what needs to happen.

So whilst we would all like to see the squad strengthened in each window and we would love for every signing to be amazing, it’s unlikely to be that way unless you are competing for the type of player that will only sign for clubs that are currently “bigger” than ourselves financially and can guarantee (more or less) Champions League football and challenging for honours on a regular basis. We are not in that market at the moment. We and other clubs around us have to take a calculated gamble. All we can do is hope that the squad is moulded into something where its sum is greater than the value of the individual parts because there’s no way to gamble on a sure thing.

Advertisements

As a football fan, you can proliferate most of your memories with emotive recollections that have something to do with your club. Your one and only club. Going to White Hart Lane over the years has been one of life’s experiences that I would put above anything else, (but if my wife is reading this then not quite as good as walking down the aisle darling honest!!) There is not a stage or incident in my life that I cannot directly relate to either Spurs playing or my being at White Hart Lane. People talk about WHL being their church and more often than not reference the “hallowed turf”, but there is nothing more hallowed than the powerful divinity of a spurs team kitted in ghostly lilywhite under the evening lights at WHL.

I started going as a very young child to watch Spurs with my dad. He’d hold me by the hand and guide me there and soon enough I was recognising when the bus we took from Edmonton would be nearing the ground and it would be time to get off. I didn’t get to see my Dad much during the week as he’d be at work mostly so it was good to share these moments with him although I didn’t appreciate them at the time perhaps. Spurs were always the main thing we had in common until he passed away in ’94 and our last conversation was about Klinsmann’s disallowed goal against Man Utd. Soon after those early days I was old enough to meet him at the ground. I remember one night Spurs were due to play Newcastle at home but it was approaching 6pm and I was somewhere near home playing on my bike when I had the urge to just cycle home as quick as I could. It was a good job I did as my dad had called home and wanted to meet me at the ground to go to the match. Totally spontaneous. Intuitively Spurs induced. No need for membership cards, e-ticketing or stub hub.

The ground was always a special place. Filled with vibrancy and expectation and sometimes danger. The year we were relegated was the year I could start going on my own without my dad and I have to confess I purposely didn’t attend the Millwall home game that year as I didn’t want to contend with the lunacy that was attached to that fixture. I remember too when Arsenal or West Ham fans would come and try to “take the Paxton”. One time I entered through the Paxton Rd turnstiles for a West Ham game only to see home fans running toward me as trouble had started to kick off inside. Thankfully those days are long gone.

I lived through the old stadium as it was, when players had to climb steps to get onto the pitch from what seemed to be a burrow in the West Stand by the Park Lane end. No handshakes and protocol needed and only McNamara’s Band winding it up before the game. There were no Jumbotron’s with highlights and not every match was highlighted on TV either. You only got to see the action once and then it was confined to memory.

WHL started to change in the early eighties. A new West Stand and the arrival of corporate boxes but who cared? We had Hoddle, Ossie, Archibald et al. I missed a game one year when we played Wolves at home (Feb 82) and that night I was at a mates 18th getting drunk on vodka when I found a room in his house to watch MOTD on. With the room spinning and his portable TV uneasy I saw the game. We won 6-1 and the eerily empty West Stand was a surreal backdrop.

Then the East stand was redeveloped and I always remember the never popular Terry Fenwick scoring a rare goal and then celebrating to an empty East Stand. It raised a laugh and we all knew that he’s just given us all the middle finger but there was no animosity. The two ends were eventually completed to give us a new stadium but by this time all-seated stadia were the in thing and the soon to become Premier League meant many people that grew up watching the club at WHL would soon be priced out of the game.

But I shall never forget the days that I spent going to games. Standing behind the goal in the Paxton Road. Sometimes I would be so close to the front I would almost touch the players. I touched the ball once as it went for a corner. I was so chuffed, especially as it was on MOTD and I got to see myself on TV. Shame there was no live pause back then!. Later I used to stand on The Shelf with my friends. What an amazing construct that was. Always heaving with people; so many people; at times you couldn’t see what was going on, especially at the big games when it would get really packed. But you’d be able to walk in through the turnstiles and move to any part of the ground and that was how like-minded people congregated and atmosphere was created.

But my memories are plentiful, and whilst many of you are still forming yours, I can’t but help feel that my generation had the best of it outside of the 60’s. Taking the day off from work to queue up for the 1984 UEFA cup final second leg from about 2pm; missing school one morning to go to WHL to queue for ticket returns for the 1981 cup final replay (that’s a whole different story for another day); being told that the terraces were full for a game against Birmingham City and having to pay a whopping £2 to sit in the Paxton Road stands; driving down from the Midlands (once I had moved) to watch a game against City only to have the game called off due to waterlogging an hour before kick-off; meeting with my friends; eating at the Chick King; having a drink; celebrating goals; sticking five past the goons after they’d stuck five past us a few seasons before; being infuriated by Barcelona in ‘82; Gazza in his sock; Hoddle’s volleys; Ginola v Leeds; Klinsmann v Sheff Weds; Berbatov v Bolton, Modric, Bale, Ardiles, Lineker … I could go on but I need to leave space in this fanzine for others..

Through it all though I have had the ultimate pleasure of watching so many wonderful players that have entertained thousands in the WHL theatre and it will always be a huge part of my life. And yet once the new stadium is built (whenever that will be) the ghosts and memories of Tottenham past will inevitably live on in the minds of fewer and fewer people and a new breed of fan will start that cycle again with their own hopefully good memories that haven’t been tarnished by the negative voices in social media or their obsession with corporate football business. Memories are made from moments that leave their mark and remain unforgettable. Enjoy the moments and enjoy the memories.

If you are an American Football fan like I am, or even a follower of decent American TV serialisations then you may be familiar with Friday Night Lights, a series set in Dallas, Texas around High School football. Why have I even started a Spurs blog with this? Well because there have been many rumblings lately as to whether the new Spurs stadium will incorporate or accommodate American football at some point and with recent requests by the club for changes to stadium planning permissions there are some people that are touting this to be the case.

Now, Friday Night Lights centred on High School football as I said, and in the US the delineation is quite clear. Friday’s are for High School football; Saturday’s for College football (and bear in mind some colleges like Ohio State, Texas A&M and Michigan, draw attendances in excess of 100,000 people so this is serious stuff); and the professional game is played on Sunday’s outside of televised Monday and Thursday night games. In Europe we have the same delineation with UEFA games. Champions League on a Tuesday or Wednesday; Europa League on a Thursday.

And this brings me nicely to Spurs and hopefully you can appreciate the neat Segway to European football! The level of European football played by a club is determined firstly by how a team performed the season before but is identified in the current season by what night the floodlights are turned on. For us it’s a Thursday. Of course our objective is to ensure that we are playing European football on a Tuesday or Wednesday and whilst we could sit and argue how we achieve this and the rights and wrongs of the playing strategy, squad composition or whether ENIC is the devil from hell, the fact remains that the biggest competitive driver is money.

It is to this end that a stadium with an increased capacity is critical to the long term planning on so many levels for the club. The cynics will say that once built ENIC will sell and if so who really cares even if it does pan out that way? The stadium will be here to stay regardless of ownership. A stadium’s match day revenue alone (away from TV money) is a critical determining factor in financial competitiveness for clubs. Spurs are currently 6th in annual match day revenue (£44m). City generate £47m; Liverpool £51m; Chelsea £71m; Arsenal £100m and Man Utd £108m. – (2014/15 figures according to Daily Mail).

Arsenal have to be the direct comparison for Spurs here and for two reasons. 1) They are in London where corporate demand and prices generally tend to be higher and 2) Spurs are proposing to build a similar sized ground. £60m match day revenue is a big gap to bridge every year: and then factor in the gap size without regular Champions League money in addition, which has been far superior to Europa League prize money by a ratio of 4:1.

It would be remiss of Spurs therefore in planning for building their stadium to not also consider maximising revenue from it, and if that means equipping it to hold NFL games then why not? There is talk of an NFL London franchise at some point although possibly unlikely in the next 5 years as moving a team to LA appears to be the next issue for the NFL. Fans are naively worrying about the state of the pitch or whether the lines and logos would interfere with what we as Spurs fans are watching, but we will have to have faith in the architects of the design and trust that they will incorporate some form of retractable second surface which is not uncommon nowadays in other stadia.

If you are worried about football selling its soul don’t be. Its soul was sold in 1992 when the Premier League was formed and an elongated middle finger was shown to the rest of the Football League and football generally in this country. If the key competitive driver is indeed money as I have stated, then revenue optimization has to be a sensible strategy in today’s game particularly in the absence of an oligarch owner and some lightweight Financial Fair Play rules.

The impact of increased revenues probably won’t start filtering through to the team immediately however, and It would be foolish to think it would. Arsenal have only recently started splurging £40m on individual players and their stadium was completed 9 years ago this month. That said, anything that can help make the club competitive should be welcome and if using the new as yet unnamed stadium to host different sports and events will help Spurs do this then this should be welcomed.

The High School team in Friday Night Lights had a motto that someone shared on twitter the other day – “Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose”….. except I suppose we are Spurs and we do occasionally lose. But for me the stadium will certainly be a win for the club. Embrace it.

I was wondering the other day when exactly Spurs fans became so toxic in their criticism of the club, players, performances or anything else associated with THFC that it became acceptable? It seems as though being unhappy with certain aspects of the on field or off field performance has to be followed by plenty of dummy spitting and utter contempt to such a polarised degree that if you don’t agree with someone’s extreme point of view then you are a “happy clapper” as if it’s a bad thing to stay positive about aspects of the team you have chosen to support.

It could just be that this is a reflection of society, or footballing society more relevantly. Or it could just be the social media generation where the easily disgruntled have a platform from which to speak quite loudly that isn’t quite a “consider the lilies” type moment. Or has the money game infiltrated our desires to the extent that if a team isn’t winning or competing that it ceases to mean anything? Or is the “FIFA generation” so used to venting their spleen if their real life controllers don’t work in the same way as their Sony or Microsoft ones? Has the digital non reality just blurred the realism that used to be attached to supporting a team? Perhaps the pay per view generation see the likes of SKY waxing lyrical about the “best” teams in the “best” league that nothing else matters other than being “the best”?

We had the rather shameful incident recently in the away match at Stoke where Spurs fans were arguing and fighting with each other. Now this is not the same as arguing over social media, which is bad enough, but this was face to face verbal and aggressive. It did not last long thankfully from what I understand, but for it to have happened at all should embarrass us all. We ought to be above these types of things. It seems that some were happy to “sing” at the top of their voices that “we’re f***ing shit” over and over and some of our more seasoned fans took offence to it and I have to say that I would have too had I been there.

Do fans really comprehend what it means to sing that about your own team? You can adjust or abandon how much you care or how passionate you are I suppose, but one thing you should never abandon is your pride and your dignity. And I get the self-deprecating cynicism that some choose to hide behind when things aren’t going well, but even if the team were utter garbage that day (which by all accounts they were as I still haven’t seen the game or the highlights having purposely avoided it) what possible point can there be to revelling in singing about it in that way? It is embarrassing and I would hazard a guess that this flip flopping from rapturous support one minute and reckless abandon the next is likely to stem from a breed of fan who’s memories perhaps do not extend further back than maybe 2004 so that all context of where we are as a club is lost. Moreover it illustrates a total incomprehension of what the badge should mean to US as fans, and how we should carry ourselves as fans.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t look at things through spurs tinted specs (as I am often accused) but I like to believe that there is another side to a situation and no matter how angry I may get about something to do with THFC one thing I will not do is sing that “we are f***ing shit”. Because the badge on that shirt is what identifies me. It identifies all of us, because most of all a club is about people. It is about us as individuals and not the money men or even the players or coaches, it is about us supporters because when all of these guys have been and gone, we will still be here.

You see, the toxicity and hysteria in the knee-jerk levels of supporter reactions are incomprehensible to me. Player X has always been useless because he has had a poor month. Player Y has been awful because his stats prove he is awful. The coach is out of his depth because he doesn’t play this way or that way, or have a plan B or C or D. The board are just in it to line their own pockets. And yet none of us live day to day in the training camp or dressing rooms or board room of our club and so we will never know what really happens or what the backdrop may be to a certain situations. All we have are rumour and conjecture being passed around as fact in an inane attempt to be the one that told us all so. Let’s consider a recent example of Emmanuel Adebayor who has made clear that he has had some unfortunate familial issues that would no doubt impact the best of us in our daily lives; and it was only when some of this stuff came to light that people started cutting him some slack or showing an understanding of his predicament.

I think that many of us take our role as fans for granted. We somehow believe that what we think or what we want matters more than anything. That we as fans should be empowered by the club’s predicament and our perceptions of what should be and thereby allow us to discard our responsibilities as fans because we don’t agree with any number of issues. This is idealistic and irrational. Let me tell you why. Because since the dawn of time club boards have made mistakes at football clubs; managers have made incorrect tactical decisions; players have been good, poor or indifferent and no matter how much time passes these things will always be the same. All we as fans can do, regardless of our level of unhappiness or disagreement, is remember what made us into Spurs fans in the first place and what it means to wear the colours as a fan of any team.

I am old enough to remember Spurs being relegated in 1976/77. Just a mere three years following a UEFA cup final and five years after winning that same trophy (in the days when winning the UEFA cup was harder than winning the European Cup – now Champions League). The season before being relegated we had finished 9th and we didn’t get relegated by a point or two; we were dead last. The following season Spurs fans filled stadiums everywhere and pushed the club back to the old First Division at the first attempt. Not that it is likely to happen today but would today’s fans react in the same way?

I recently spent a day at WHL for the Hull City game with a group of fans that came over from Dallas, Texas. For all of these guys and for one of the fans at least it was a day so filled with pride that he had actually made it to WHL that he welled up on entering the ground. We have just completed an end of season tour in the Far East and Australia and we have seen images of Malaysian fans in their spurs colours singing “Oh When the Spurs Go Marching In” and we have seen thousands upon thousands of Spurs fans in Australia watch a game in Sydney. It is likely that there will be a few thousand American Spurs fans at the MLS All Star game in Denver come July. This thing is global. And no matter how cynical you may be about the Premier League branding, remember that these fans could support ANY club. They could support a club that is successful, or buys the best players, or maybe has a richer history than Tottenham Hotspur, but they don’t. They support the club with the Cockerel Crest and they are without question Spurs inside. They are part of our sporting family.

My Texan friend that shall remain nameless has so deeply immersed himself in the history and meaning of Spurs in what is a relatively short period of maybe three seasons support that he probably feels something about Spurs right now that many don’t or have forgotten about. The backdrop to “being spurs” is fresh for him. So much so that on Dave Mackay’s passing he wrote a piece so moving that it made me well up. He could have chosen to support anyone but didn’t. He chose Spurs. Like you did. He is Spurs, I am Spurs, you are all Spurs and we all will be until we die. So go ahead and moan and disagree and criticise if you want. It’s an opinion everyone is entitled to but just consider the context. And when the unhappiness leads to tirades or hate fuelled responses to other fans, to players or to the club over social media, or indeed cause you to revel in the self mocking “we’re f***ing shit* sing song; just pause, have think, take a look around you and have a word with yourselves and remember why you are Spurs in the first place and what being Spurs ought to mean.

As I write this we are getting destroyed away to Stoke 3-0 and by the sound of it we haven’t put up much of a fight for the whole game. Chiriches having a calamitous afternoon didn’t help but as I have not seen the game I can only gauge by the TV and radio reports about how inept we have been and this off the back of an encouraging performance against Man City last week. The autopsies have started. “Poch is to blame”; “The players can’t be bothered”; “our players are rubbish”; and so on and so forth but to what end? Frustrated fans end up in heated debate but without any of us actually knowing what the reasons to what goes on inside a club and for the tepid finish to this season are we can only make assumptions. Bear in mind that we have in recent years seemingly ended our seasons just as tepidly so this is not a first for us. Players and coaches at WHL need to be drilled in the understanding that the footballing season ends in May and does not come to an abrupt halt at the end of March!

That said, we have played a lot of games this season. It ought not be an excuse but it seems that the Europa League competition seems to take the brunt of the blame. But should it? Of course we have had stats recently showing us that Christian Eriksen for example has run further than any other player in the Premier League and so you can understand the fatigue element perhaps. Others look similarly drained; Ryan Mason for example in his first full season at senior level for one. So this is the one small gripe I have against Pochettino and that is with fatigue clearly playing a part for the end of season slump then why not dip into your squad and give more playing time to Stambouli or Paulinho for example? Hell even give Yedlin or Adebayor a run? I can only assume that he is not that impressed with the squad quality outside the first thirteen or fourteen players and that is his prerogative. It is also sadly understandable but I am hopeful that the summer will bring new faces in that he can trust.

Back to the Europa League, and for me whilst the competition adds to the workload, there is no denying that our form dropped off once we came out of the competition. Yes that also coincided with a loss in the Capital One Cup Final (something that we have all long since forgotten) and perhaps this defeat hit us harder than we may have thought, but the Europa League offered us a different focus and one that we had the capability (if not the belief) to endure.

Bill Nicholson once said that “It’s magnificent to be in Europe, and this club – a club like Tottenham Hotspur – if we’re not in Europe…. we’re nothing. We’re nothing.” And I remember when Martin Jol got us back into Europe after a very long absence and how fans rejoiced in “going on a European tour”. So Bill Nick’s quote quite aptly sums up why we ought to be in Europe; and why we need to beat off the stigma that the club has; and we as fans have too; that somehow the tournament is beneath us and only serves to take our efforts away from the real prize of challenging for a top four spot. This is slightly delusional in all honesty as we are not really a top four contender, well not yet anyway, and what we really need to do is accept this and give the Europa League a real good go.

We always seem to breeze through the group stages of the Europa League and then just switch off. The issue seems to be mental as we have made some unfortunate exits in latter rounds, but I am sure that had we applied ourselves better we could have progressed and who knows, maybe won the thing. Fiorentina are/were in the semi-finals this season and they did not look a better team than Spurs over two legs. But what else does the Europa League give us?

I mentioned a different focus. This means that when an EPL game doesn’t go your way then you don’t have time to dwell on it. You have a game Thursday to focus on. You get it out of your system. I suppose playing games retains the intensity that may fall off with training sessions who knows? The Europa League has also seen us blood and keep fringe players occupied and that keeps the harmony in a squad at a more optimum level. Players want to play. Would we have seen Harry Kane make the step up if it wasn’t for the Europa League? And who is to say that next season it won’t have the same impact for Alex Pritchard or any of the other promising youngsters coming through our ranks?

And if the squad composition is addressed in the summer then who is to say that we won’t have the tools to contend with the number of games? The Europa League offers us the chance to win a trophy; to learn what is required to win trophies and forge a winning mentality; and it is another route to the Champions League if nothing else. Should we be in the Europa League? Damn right we should, even if we do seem to be doing our best to toss that opportunity away with defeats like today’s at Stoke. Missing out on the tournament is lauded by some because it’s a distraction, but I tell you what. You wouldn’t half regret not having all those midweek games to look forward to.

Listen to many football fans and they will often refer to “who’s playing on the wing”. I think in today’s football where midfields are congested and teams play with two “holding” midfielders, I can’t readily think of any premiership team that plays with wingers in the old fashioned sense. Of course I don’t have the stats to prove it and I am sure many of you will start citing examples. I don’t generally fill my posts with stats and diagrams as my opinion is usually based on what I see. But certainly none of the top teams seem to play with wingers either here in England or in Europe.

Width nowadays seems to be provided by full backs and this is why they are key in today’s modern game as is their ability to deliver a decent cross or show some productive intent on the flanks. Of course how much productivity actually comes from the wide areas depends on so much. For example: are you facing a defensively compact unit; what system is the other team playing; are team instructions to cut inside or back in the final third to create alternative attacking angles; do you only have one striker in the box thereby making a cross a high risk option and so forth.

What we mustn’t confuse however is the responsibilities of left or right sided midfielders/attackers with “wingers”. For example just because Eriksen may play on the left of a three behind the front man, or Chadli plays on the right of a three behind the front man, this does not mean that we will see either of these players bombing it down the wing aiming to cross from the by-line. That is not their job and therefore they are not by definition “playing on the wing”. They are as likely to cut inside, bring others in to play or attack themselves more centrally after linking with a lone front man.

Fans need to stop asking themselves “what’s Eriksen/Dembele/Paulinho (delete as appropriate) doing on the wing?”, because they are not on the wing. They are not Gareth Bale or Aaron Lennon in a 442 nor are they Tony Galvin or Peter Taylor, and if you don’t remember the latter two, they are not David Ginola either. Those players played in a way that not many people or teams do nowadays because that is the way that people used to play the game. The position is now practically defunct. Even Lamela is not a “winger” in that sense and has never played on the wing for his previous club(s) with the objective of providing crosses. Well not as far as I am aware anyway. And whilst Townsend may technically be an old school winger, you can see that even his style of wing play is being under-utilised in tactical formations and he is starting to change his game.

Which brings me to the issue of whether crosses are indeed the answer, especially if you only have Harry Kane in the centre. Crosses seem to be more impactful if you have two strikers playing as far as I can tell. That said there is nothing better in my mind than seeing someone get to the by-line and cut the ball back for someone to score (not necessarily a high cross as such) and I am sure someone like Soldado would have loved us to play like that at Spurs but we don’t and haven’t done for a while, well at least not since the season before Bale left (as he spent most of his last season playing everywhere but wide and scoring screamers).

No, it would appear to me that the old school winger is dead and there is no point bemoaning that fact. Football appears to have changed and when Eriksen is on the left of an attacking midfield three just remember – he isn’t on the wing.

Spurs fans are a weird bunch. But then I guess the fans of most teams are. At the start of this season Spurs were once again in a state of flux –no surprise there as it seems to ever be thus. A new manager was in place after two had left the season before. The squad was unbalanced and a number of players bought the previous summer still hadn’t settled and hadn’t been helped by the coaching merry go round that had seen the season end with a gillet wearing Adebayor saluting egotist. The general consensus was that the new guy, whenever appointed, should be given time and the opportunity to assess his squad and to try and build something lasting as constant change is something most of us were tiring of. Of course the backdrop to all this would be that the team would be expected to compete in three domestic competitions as well as the arduous Europa League and its umpteen hurdles before the competition would get remotely serious around February.

Champions League qualification was widely accepted as not being on the radar and it was a free whack for the new guy. Most reasonable Spurs fans had enough of the managerial merry go round and wanted some stability.

So in steps Pochettino, and in truth we don’t start great. No signs of the high pressing game displayed at Southampton; some strange appointments as club captains; as well as some uncomfortable defeats particularly at home. By late October Spurs fans were as disillusioned as ever and many fans were bemoaning a loss of affinity with the club, myself included in truth. But I and many others kept the faith and still do, whilst others decided (and unbelievably still do) to want this coach gone too.

And yet what has Pochettino done for Spurs this season? Competed on every front. Took us to a cup final. Beat some of our hated rivals, convincingly, and even until early April kept us in with an unexpected shout of 4th place. Of the players that fans were fed up with the season before, there has been evident improvement in Rose that has silenced some of the perennial haters of his (they seem to have turned their attention to other players -Soldado and Paulinho most notably). Chadli suddenly became useful (until he sadly lost his father and his form) and Eriksen’s class became more evident. Even Lamela has shown positive signs with his assist and key passes stats although he clearly still has some considerable way to go to even stand a chance of winning over Spurs fans and justify his unfortunate price tag.

Pochettino has introduced youth into the squad to play the style he wants (and no credit doesn’t go to the Gillet Man for this). He has given every member of the squad a chance and has made it clear by his team selection that there are a number of senior pros that won’t be around the club much longer. And this is a good thing because fans can see the transition taking place. The flip side though is that by in effect discarding some of these players it has left the squad thin and it is no wonder that the youthful starting eleven that Spurs fans were taking pride in not so long ago, seems to be tiring in the final run in. The remaining squad players that Pochettino can call upon to help see us over the line haven’t seen enough meaningful playing time recently to come in and have an immediate impact, but hey as long as some Spurs fans can ridicule these players when they are picked then why should they even try to rationalise.

The pluses have no doubt been Kane in particular, Mason, Bentaleb and Rose, all of whom have been called up or played for their national senior sides. Add to that Dier who has shown so much promise and maturity since that first game at Upton Park in August which seems so long ago now. It is clear Pochettino sees him as a regular defender for Spurs which is probably why he has persevered with him at the expense of Fazio in this latter part of the season in order to prep him for next season.

And yet a dismal performance against Burnley (who are no slouches at home and recently beat City there) and all the doom mongers resurface. The know all’s are back and the poisoner’s of Spurs minds suddenly focus on the hysterical immediacy of the result and forego just about everything that has occurred in the six months prior that had re-energised fans that had previously been disillusioned. One minute we don’t want Europa next season, the next we bemoan the possibility of finishing out of that group of clubs. In another minute, top four isn’t realistic then fans bemoan not pushing for fourth. The hypocrisy is endless unfortunately. You see all that matters is today’s result. Paulinho must have been rubbish because of that awful shot in the second half and the whole squad is so bad that they can all get sold in the summer bar two or three. Because wholesale changes are forever the solution at WHL aren’t they? The same criticism that is levelled at Levy ought to be levelled at the fans because as far as I can tell, Levy tends to get it wrong when he thinks like a fan.

Anyone with a Poch Out hashtag is routinely blocked by me on Twitter. I don’t have time for nonsense. What we should focus on though is the positives of this season and they should not be forgotten so readily. It is clear that steps are in place to support Pochettino going forward. The recruitment of Paul Mitchell a guy that has worked with Pochettino before should be seen for what it is, backing for the coach. And if this summer we sign players that none of you have heard of then that will be a good thing (because you all heard of the seven we bought with the Bale money and were excited by that before hindsight hit you). If youthful energy and talent is the way forward then that’s fine by me. If Pochettino can do for others what he has done with Danny Rose this season then that is fine by me. If he can turn Kane into a full international in one season when to many of us he seemed a Championship player at best then that is fine by me. And if we continue having seasons where Arsenal don’t take any points from us and Chelsea need to park the bus to beat us then that is fine by me too.

Unlike many Spurs fans though, I won’t let a poor 0-0 at Burnley cloud my judgement. I’m keeping my head screwed on as I am sure Pochettino and probably Levy are too and I am staying the course. Come the final whistle of the final game this season, I know that mine and many Spurs fans expectations for the season would have been surpassed and I will know that we have taken a positive step in the right direction. I won’t let the poison eat me. I have been lilywhite for too many years to allow the hysterical melt downs of others distort what my eyes can plainly see and what my mind can capably understand.

I had this blog in mind to write for a little while and then last week the guys on the Fighting Cock pod broached the exact same subject. Nevertheless I thought I would carry on regardless.

Now as I understand it the term “Spursy” first came into being as a term of reference for something that was typically Spurs but in a good way. For example Ginola being a Spursy type player. Skilful, entertaining, oozing class. But in recent times Spurs fans have adopted this term as one of self deprecation to mean Spursy in a wry piss taking kind of way as in “typically Spurs not doing things the easy way” or “typically Spurs bad luck” or generally “typically screwing things up”. It’s almost like a coping mechanism for Spurs fans when things go wrong.

Personally I can’t stand the reference so I am with Bardi on this one. It makes us Spurs fans look silly in my opinion and if anything gives opposing fans a stick to beat us with. Moreover it indicates the weak mentality in which we fans (and some players of the recent past) have been mired in. It also misses the point that shit can happen in a football match to anyone not just Spurs and it generally does.

When Gerrard slipped last season to allow Ba to score for Chelsea and kill off Liverpool’s title hopes, was that’s “spursy”? Or just the other day when the same player got sent off after entering the field of play just 40 seconds earlier? Or how about when John Terry slipped at the critical point of Champions League Final penalties (funny though that was); or when Arsenal contrived to lose the Carling Cup final to a relegation destined Birmingham City or blew a winning position in the Champions League final? None of these instances amongst the many thousands that affect all clubs all the time were “Spursy”. No they were kind of “footbally” really. It just happens and it always has. To everyone.

If you really want to see what kind of things are Spursy well take a look at this season for example – scoring late goals; winning games 2-1; pulling games back from the dead (West Ham twice). Spursy is also having players such as Bale, Eriksen, Modric, Hoddle, King, Ginola, Klinsmann, Lineker, Gazza, Berbatov, VDV, Waddle etc and being able to attract these players despite not having been title contenders for the best part of fifty years or more. “Spursy” is being the first English club to win a European Trophy; to do the domestic double; to win the cup as a non-league team; to win the league cup with 10 men; to reach the Quarter Finals of the Champions League in our as yet only venture into that competition. There’s more to be proud of than not so why doesn’t “Spursy” just reference everything that is sexy about supporting Spurs?

I think that it is presently used as part of the healing process as mentioned earlier but it’s OK to be pissed about something that has happened in a game without labelling it. If using “Spursy” makes you feel better then fine. Each to his own. But for me it just tells the world that as Spurs fans we are conceding that shit only ever really happens to us and we are so used to it that we have given it a name. So we will laugh at ourselves before others can laugh at us and thereby getting our retaliation in first. But really all it does is prime us for more abuse doesn’t it? Being Spursy should mean that there are things that we fans ought to be proud of that are unique to us. And as Ricky referenced on the pod, let’s reclaim the meaning of it.

At the risk of sounding a bit of a woose I just want to say that “My name is Vass and Spurs have made me weep”. Now I am not talking about the gut wrenching self destructing tendency that successive spurs teams have had over the years which mess up our weekends/weeks or make us blank Match of the Day type of weeping. Nor am I talking about events that can easily be encompassed by the currently in vogue verb of “Spursy” which is a way of sharing the pain and saying that things can typically only happen to us. It’s not about karma being a bitch and knowing where spurs fans live. We’ve grown immune to that stuff unfortunately. No I am talking about tears of emotion. Of utter pride from belonging to something as glorious as Tottenham Hotspur and the realisation in a single moment at what being Spurs means to more people than you will ever comprehend. That realisation isn’t always there. But just sometimes it hits you, usually when you are not ready for it and when it does it’s a fantastic feeling.

Now I hear some of you thinking already that I am off my rocker but just bear with me for a moment. I am going to leave all the issues that divide us aside. Which player should play; who we need to buy; why we won’t spend; sack the board; sack the manager; why we lost; why we won; who’s useless; who’s brilliant; who’s right; who’s wrong! You see none of this matters in the overall scheme of things.

Of course we all want to win and we all want to a successful team but ultimately Tottenham Hotspur is about you and me and thousands upon thousands of others just like us. We’ve nailed our colours to the lilywhite mast and the pain of supporting this club is hugely offset by a series of single moments in time that make us proud.

Take a look at some of the video compilations on You Tube for example. Lump in the throat stuff. The back drop to every emotional aspect of glorious triumph or painful defeat is us the fans. Those videos would be bland without shots of the fans going mental or singing in unison.

When I hear a pod cast of Spurs fans based in the USA and listen to what Spurs means to those guys, it makes me proud. When I hear the plethora of “podsters” (is that a word?) and read stuff from bloggers in the UK and elsewhere, then I know what spurs means to people. People write books about Spurs because they love the club; people have made films about spurs because they love the club; we go to games, we watch on TV, we cuss we swear we may even kick the cat (not guilty), but we all love the club. And you only have to look at the guy next to you, or listen to the chorus of “yidio” after we score a goal; or know that you will embrace any person standing next to you at that precise moment when joy just leaves your body uncaring of circumstances, logic or sanity. THAT’S what it means to be Spurs and there are millions of us (no they’re not all on twitter) and THAT’S what should make us proud.

The tears? I first let them out at the UEFA cup final in 1984. I couldn’t understand why but it just happened. But there was a trickle from my eye in 91 at Wembley too and again in 2008 at the end of the Carling Cup final, but not because I was at that last one. No, my sons were. I couldn’t get a ticket. So when that final whistle went I shed a few tears at home for them. Because they were there and they experienced what I had experienced before. Now I feel a sense of pride for my US friends across the pond who are learning to love Spurs the way I do. The way we all do. And to the people all over the world that have created Spurs supporters clubs and gather together to watch games fully kitted out in our colours. Whether California, Texas, New York, Scandinavia, Dubai, Europe, Indonesia, Malaysia, Australia; just about anywhere.

Are we one big family? Absolutely, no matter how cringe worthy that might sound. We’ll disagree; we’ll argue as all families do. But ultimately we are brothers in arms. We are unified by a cockerel standing on a ball whether it is jokingly called a “chicken badge” or not and we are embalmed in a glorious history. We’ve taken the word “Yid” and all the issues that invoked as a badge of honour. We’ll choreograph the “oh when the Spurs” chant so that everyone knows when is the right time to speed it up and clap and sing. And of course we’d like to be at more finals and have more “San Siro” moments and hopefully they will come again, but until then we will all remain “TTID” because we are all the heart and soul of the club. And if you haven’t welled up over something Spurs related before then there will come a time that you will and that’s when you will know it.

And yes I know that after writing this that it will be really “Spursy” if Sheffield Utd make me shed a tear for an altogether different reason this week. We half expect it as Spurs fans don’t we? But I tell you what, take a look around. We are everywhere. COYS!

Who knew? I mean really, who expected that? I know that we all hope to put in a performance and maybe sneak a 1-0 or a 2-1 victory against title seeking teams, but come on! 5-3 (which flattered Chelsea in fairness), and not only that but with the likes of Rose, Townsend, Bentaleb, Mason (partly) and Kane in the team? These guys were in the U21’s a couple of seasons ago. These are developed players who stood toe to toe with “world class” (well if not world class then certainly established international class) players worth millions and not only did they stand toe to toe, they proved that they had it in them to win and win with some style. How did the commentator describe our fourth goal? “Gorgeous!” I couldn’t have summed it up better.

But I mention these players in particular precisely because we didn’t buy them for millions of pounds and because not that long ago they were being derided by Spurs fans. Bentaleb was apparently Sherwood’s love child, Rose was useless and Townsend also. I had the cheek to predict that Kane would be no more than a Championship level player about ten months ago (as someone saw fit to find that tweet last night and retweet it for me), and how wrong was I about that? Now I am not saying that these players are going to suddenly propel the club to domestic and European glory. Rose has improved greatly since last season although still needs to learn, whilst Townsend can still infuriate with his decision making and gap in quality. Bentaleb and Kane however were superb that evening and Mason does his job well. But that win altered my perspective on some levels and maybe you have felt it too?

The “watershed” I refer to relates to the team construction and the pattern of play. Of course the game is about players, but you need a good coach too. No question about that. And we are starting to see that Pochettino has slowly been forming his team from a nucleus of players that can best implement his strategy whilst having assessed and probably now discarded other players that won’t quite deliver what he wants. The win over Chelsea was all about playing style and tactics and my objective here is not to analyse this but to say that after that victory my perception about the kind of players we need at Spurs changed. I sent a couple of tweets out a few days ago saying that I no longer thirst for “name” players coming to Spurs and that I just want to see players that can fit the system and do a job.

I have no expectations from this transfer window, I never do in January. There is no point raising expectations as whatever happens will happen as there are so many variables in concluding a player contract in January. But if that victory against Chelsea didn’t suddenly make a lot of people realise that Pochettino is on the right track I am not sure what will. I imagine we will stumble along the way this season and struggle in a few games yet, I am prepared for that; but I am more upbeat about what is to come now than I was a few weeks ago against Palace at home for example. There is something happening that we can feel.

Of course not everyone will buy in to this view. With the transfer window open the mere signing of a player by one of our rivals triggers a mini meltdown. Recent case in point is Bony reportedly to City. Out came the “we could/should have had him last summer”; “we will probably end up with Defoe on loan”; “we will be left buying scraps”; “we won’t be able to shift any of our dead wood” and so on and so forth. Watch for more of such comments as soon as other clubs sign players. Bony is a very good player but he will be going to ACON for a month now. And we didn’t buy him in the summer probably because we’d had a managerial upheaval; Soldado had only played half a season previously and needed to be reassessed; Kane was coming through; and of course there has to be willingness from four or five parties to a transfer each time (clubs, agents player): we will just never know if it was even a starter never mind a done deal scuppered by Levy or whoever.

Of course it is easy to get carried away after a victory such as this, but in that one game we got a glimpse of something and a feeling that we Spurs fans have not felt for a long time and if that means we take the good that came out of that game and use it as a foundation to build on then that’s good enough for me. For long periods this season I struggled to see where this new “philosophy” that the new coach kept preaching about, was coming from. I didn’t really see the evidence. But that in itself is a lesson to us all. Sometimes players and coaches do need time and it may very well be our desire for people to hit the ground running and meet the immediacy of our needs that ultimately challenges what we are trying to build and makes the job harder.

No the Chelsea game changed it for me. If I can see players like Kane and Bentaleb doing what they did, who’s to say that there aren’t other players out there of a similar ilk? A player’s footballing intelligence, ability or adaptability to a team ethos is not measured in pounds or euros. It is measured nowadays with sport science, tactical philosophy and perhaps who knows black boxes too. So maybe we should all just sit back enjoy the ride, bumpy though it may be, and see where Mr Pochettino takes us. The club has made mistakes in the past. Perhaps we will get it right this time. Let’s hope so.