Saturday, 2 April 2011

Spurs are beyond good and evil

The game itself isn't worth an extended discussion. We never looked like scoring, but rarely looked like conceding. A draw was a fair result, although if either team deserved to nick it, it would have been Wigan. Bollocks, basically.

What was more interesting than the game was... well, pretty much fucking anything and everything. I've been to some of my children's school plays that were more interesting than that - and I regularly self harm at those things.

But what was more specifically and relevantly interesting was the afternoon's dynamic between positive and negative attitudes. It manifested itself on the macro level of Spurs as a whole via Twitter, and on the micro level of Jermaine Jenas in the pub where I watched an illegal feed.

Let's deal with JJ first. He's not the most popular, we all know that, even if some of us find his pariah status a bit baffling.

I'm a fan. Okay, maybe not a fan, but certainly a supporter. Okay, maybe not a supporter, but definitely a defender. Okay, maybe not a defender, but unashamedly an apologist.

Okay, how's this: basically, if the average Spurs fan's regard for Jenas is here (I'm holding my hand out flat at about the level of my belly button), then my view of him is here (I'm holding my hand at the top of my chest/bottom of my neck).

On Saturday though, I found myself in the same pub as a few lads who clearly didn't give a fuck how Jenas played, they'd already decided he was shit. It didn't help terrifically that, on this particular afternoon, he was actually pretty shit. But I was still kind of narked by it.

Because whilst I can groan and grumble about our collective performance with the best/worst of them, I do take umbrage at giving stick to individual players - at least on a blinkered, relentless and vitriolic basis. I've sat with friends and strangers over many years who you just know, however certain individuals play, are going to lay into them.

It becomes incredibly tiresome. They ignore nine instances of perfectly fine or even pretty damn good play, and then, when the player under the spotlight fucks up on instance number 10, they find their voice. 'Typical fucking xxxxxx!' they suddenly pipe up. And by pipe up I mean bellow like morons. Well, yeah, but statistically it's not, is it? It's more: 'At last, an example of play that backs up my pre-determined view of xxxxx'.

I'm not going to analyse the pros and cons of JJ himself, because that's not what this is about. It's about the difference between saying 'Fuck me Corluka, that was a shit pass' and deciding, before every game, that Corluka is a useless waste of space, no matter what he does, and heaping pretty personal abuse on him from start to finish.

Okay, next up, the more general, more understandable and more subtly nuanced conflict between those who got fucked off/frustrated with yesterday's result and those who tried to look on the bright side: no easy games, we were away, kept a clean sheet, not bad when you look at what rivals did, etc.

There was a tiny bit of push and pull between the two camps yesterday on Twitter.

But I think it's perfectly valid to hold both views simultaneously. To some extent I think we all do.

I never expected us to win and I was massively disappointed that we drew. This makes no sense, I realise that. It is, in fact, DoubleSpeak of the highest order.

I can point out Spurs' failings for hours on end. I can explain in great detail, using Powerpoint where necessary, why we'll never qualify for the Champions League again. But if anyone else suggests that maybe we're punching above our weight at the moment, then I'll immediately start sticking up for us.

We may be simple folk, but our relationship with Spurs is complicated. It is multi-layered and it is contradictory.

On a recent podcast, Word founder and Spurs fan David Hepworth said something along the lines of: 'Before every game I always mentally rehearse every worst case scenario. I think that by doing so I can make myself immune from it when it actually happens. But of course it doesn't work. The pain still pierces.'

The pain still pierces. It really does.

These positive and negative feelings of hope, adoration, despair, dejection, anger, frustration co-exist within all of us simultaneously. (The subtitle of this blog, of course, is : Nobody loves Spurs more than me. Nobody hates Spurs more than me). Never mind Mourhino or Ferguson, it's football fans who are the masters of mind games. We play them on ourselves all the time.

It's our state of normalcy.

Football isn't rational, logical, predictable or, let's face it, much of the time, enjoyable. Our relationship with it is bound to be volatile.

Those who are constantly negative or relentlessly positive are the weird, deluded or, let's be honest, stupid ones.

If our relationship with Spurs was with another person then, yes, we'd need counseling. Actually, we'd probably need to split up. As it is, all we need is a win.


  1. Excellent as always - and right on the button. The JJ one can be played out for every player, JD, Pav, Crouch - all have their lovers and haters.

    What annoys (and I mean really annoys me) is the set that hit back at any criticism with the "look at where we are now" argument.
    Being in the CL does not excuse performances and tactics like yesterday. 2P8G is the mantra of those who believe 'Arry can do now wrong and accuse anyone of pointing out faults as negative and hating.
    We are playing Real Madrid on Tuesday, true.
    We have a stronger squad in a weaker league than last year and are struggling to hit 4th. This is also true.
    The two statements are not mutually exclusive.

  2. 2P8G, ha, yes, love it. Not hugely relevant now.

    It is right to temper expectations, of course. But it's not wrong to expect more than three points from games against Blackpool, Wolves, West Ham and Wigan.

    By the way, I commented on your record store day blog the other day but it didn't show up. Did you see it?

  3. I'm annoyed by the inverse of SpursSimon's point, which emerged on Twitter yesterday, namely the "we weren't always this good. I remember the 90s/70s!" I wasn't lucky (?) enough to be a Spurs supporter for that long, but I've put in my time over the last decade, and, wait for it, I *appreciate the fact that we've never been in the CL before*. Furthermore, I understand that it's unprecedented (since Sky invented football in the early 90s) for Spurs to be challenging late for fourth place two seasons in a row.

    But I've also seen the current roster put on brilliant performances and play darn well. Remember back in December (or so), when commentators were saying that Spurs were a neutral's best friend? Full of quality *and* drama? Well, bringing in Pienaar hasn't sapped our quality... something else has. And the drama has hit the bricks with it. So I don't need to cry into a pint over the Pleat custodial administrations in order to prevent being annoyed by not scoring against West Ham, by giving away the ball over and over against Wigan…

    As fans, as Seinfeld says, we cheer for laundry. Whoever pulls on the shirt we cheer for. And we can have fantasies over a certain kind of "typical Spurs" player. But at the same time, the laundry is not yet inhabited by robots, so we also cheer for people. This is obvious, but it makes comments like "it's amazing that Spurs have managed to send GIANTS OF EUROPE AC MILAN WITH 23429382 TITLES home!" completely incoherent. Yes, Milan are a side steeped in history (and so are Spurs), but ultimately, they were not able to call on those titles to get them a goal in London, since no matter what, it's the *current roster* that's most important. Thank the legends for the memories they gave you, but know that it's the current guys who are responsible for the new, hopefully better, hopefully unprecedented memories still to come. As long as they can find the goal again before June.

    I'm reminded by a conversation I once had with a pro. I was with a friend, who's not a fan of his team, and, well, there was some consumption involved ahead of time. The media had ginned up a story about how this team was cursed to never win a title again (it had been almost a century). And my friend started teasing the player about it. The player responded perfectly: "the curse means nothing to me. I grew up in an entirely different part of the world!" And that's exactly right. It doesn't matter if Spurs were brilliant or shit ten, 20, 30 years ago, since those results won't change. All that will change are the matches to come, and I want us to win, win, win!

  4. My first read. Enjoyed it. Which is more than you can say about the Wigan game.

    I like the apochryphal story about JJ who scored three, kicked two off the line,made several saving tackles and set up three goals for others.
    The old Spurs fan sniffed and said' Yes but can he do it every week?'

  5. Welcome Jimmy, and thanks for reading.

    Love that JJ story. But that wasn't an old Spurs fan, that was my mate Tim. He just looks old.