Trying to understand the stands

We Make Footballers
04 April 2022


Some fans are unhappy at White Hart Lane. No wins in the first three games. The pressure is already on Andre Villas-Boas. Boo’frickin’hoo. We know he is under pressure because someone we know says he is under pressure and somone they know says he is under pressure. As a result he is officially under pressure. I feel sorry for him.

I am not one to disagree with a fan’s right to boo. Sometimes it’s the only platform for protest. But it is not always appropriate. Not after just three games without a win. Particularly if you are Tottenham Hotspur and you are not even in the elite.

Many fans are often fuelled by the 24/7 media as their inability to think for themselves is sadly all too obvious. The modern world of reality TV and instantaneous gratification is leading football down a dangerous path. Some of these fans remind me of the crowd in the 1980’s cult classic film The Running Man. In the film Arnie has to evade glorified killers on a TV game show. They bay for the blood of one side, then as the wonderful plot and crap acting ensues, they switch allegiance and turn against their original cheery murderers.

It seems they are there for no reason other than to see someone, anyone, suffer a severe case of death. They remind me of the kind of tribal and aggressive fans who would rather cheer against another team or even boo the perceived enemy within over supporting their own club, thinking for themselves and enjoying the beautiful game. In short, these guys are pricks.

I think there have been some mistakes by AVB in the opening three games but deservedly or not they could have easily walked away with two wins from their first two home games. Those same fans would have uttered some cliché like “Sign of a good team – not playing well and winning”, before shouting “Wanker!” at any member of the opposition who dared to score against their side.

If these fans were at Old Trafford in the autumn of 1986 and got their way, they would have helped get rid of their new manager. Sir Alex Ferguson would now be known as Alex Ferguson; a weird Scottish guy who tried to change too much, too quickly at Manchester United. We can’t know with certainty how the season will unfold for Spurs and that is, surely, part of the fun.

So let’s watch, think, praise even disagree with decisions from AVB. But let’s not write him off after 270 minutes with a team that’s been significantly overhauled in the summer. Excellent players have left but their replacements are promising too. The undermining of AVB has been going on since he arrived in the Premier League in 2011. I don’t remember seeing much criticism of Frank Lampard last season when he publicly complained and sulked at being left out despite a series of anonymous displays at the start of the campaign. Just imagine if Mario Balotelli had done that. Instead it was AVB’s fault for not getting Lampard onside.

After the coup was completed, the extra effort put in by many at Chelsea just proved the level of unprofessionalism and spite in previous months. Yet Lampard and co were seen as worthy mutineers that went on to (luckily and fairly) win the Champions League whilst AVB became the poster boy of man management failure. If his squad was bolstered as well as Di Matteo’s has been this summer I wonder if his time in West London would have been different?

So with his reputation somewhat unfairly tainted by some Blue goons (again he made errors of his own during his time at Stamford Bridge) there was always a section that was waiting for an excuse to get on his back. Just imagine if, say, club legend Ledley King was appointed as Harry Redknapp’s successor. If he presided over the same three results I would stake my house that he would have been “given time” by those intellegistas in the stands. Popularity over proof of quality; it’s amazing how many times it wins out in football. Think managerial disasters like Alan Shearer, Diego Maradona and Paul Gascoigne. On what basis were they ever appointed? Ludicrous. There are some lunatics running Asylum FC. 

Even the aforementioned Redknapp has been mischievously giving interviews on his former club and heir dropping bombs like, “I left them with a squad capable of winning the league.” With a straight Face. They finished 20 points behind Manchester City and United in May. So let’s look at each situation on its own merit.

Tottenham underperformed for me despite finishing fourth last year. Luckily for them, other teams near the top also underperformed. It was supposed to be a bad season for Arsenal yet even they pipped this “title winning squad” in the table. However with a better prepared Arsenal and a more attackingly cohesive Chelsea resurging, Tottenham face a tougher challenge to stay in the Top 4 this season.

The challenge for AVB is to find a confident and creative, fluid and fearsome way of playing that allows talented players like Bale, Dembele and Adebayor to flourish. If he unlocks that conundrum he will have a team loved not only by the Spurs faithful, but what’s more the neutrals.

And I am an Arsenal fan. COYS!

So the signs against an average Reading team were of that promise. Bale, Lennon and Dembele regularly posed a threat from deep. Supported by Sigurdsson and lethally finished by Defoe, suddenly the fluency was posing a frequent threat. If they have another couple of performances like this soon, those kneejerk jerks will probably be talking of winning the title and hail AVB as a messiah. Just a hunch but I doubt there will be much in between for this fickle bunch.

There is a famous line from Rudyard Kipling’s poem If about treating triumph and disaster just the same. If you do so yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it and what’s more you’ll be a Man my son. So give credit to these real men, who at least manage to treat victory and defeat with an equal amount of fury and a fair slice of screw ups (edited SL) that even Mr Kipling didn’t see coming when penning his masterpiece.

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