Tottenham’s 2014/15: Lovable rogues

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When, on Sunday, it became obvious that Liverpool were in too deep at The Britannia Stadium, it confirmed Tottenham’s 5th place finish in the Premier League. Throughout this year, Mauricio Pochettino’s first campaign has had a fractured quality and, because of its undulations, it has never really had any real hint of continuity.

Games were won, games were lost. Players found form, players lost it. Rather than being a pursuit of something or a drive towards a certain waypoint, it’s been more a collection of moments - both good and bad - and the only relation between them has been generally their chronological proximity.

Bag all of those moments up within the proper end-of-season context, however, and it all looks superficially quite impressive. Tottenham reached a cup final, they produced their two best performances of the season against local rivals, and the only teams they placed below in the Premier League were those in possession of one or more key advantages, either technical, financial, or both.

It was good-to-slightly better; average-to-fun; great in some places, could have been better in others. It was a par score, maybe a couple under.

And, actually, that’s just fine. The horror of 2014/15 - the trauma of Andre Villas-Boas’ departure, Tim Sherwood’s treacherous ascension - wasn’t in the results, but in the club’s toxicity. Eighteen months ago, everything in Spurs world felt very negative and, at times, the toxicity radiated by the club started to impinge on the fans’ enthusiasm for their team.

True dysfunction in football probably relates to a Leeds or Portsmouth-type situation, but White Hart Lane was a truly rotten place last season. Ups and downs are part of a fan’s life and he or she has to tolerate them, but Spurs 2014 was such a profound exhibition of self-defeat that even hardened loyalists could have been forgiven for letting out the occasional dispirited sigh.

A failing transfer policy; an over-reactionary chairman; a figure of fun as manager. Last year, Tottenham were ugly, inside and out, and that’s the worst crime a club can ever commit.

The common assumption is that modern fans are only interested in trophies, European qualification and net-spend data. That’s not true - or, at least, it refers to a very small percentage. Being a supporter is about waking up in the morning, feeling the buzz of gameday, and looking forward to seeing your team play irrespective of consequence. The fun in football isn’t the final league table or the big Summer transfer, it’s the ninety minutes. It should always be that way. Arguing over substitutions, long-term directions or over whether Mousa Dembele’s contribution has warranted a six or a seven is folly, because all of those disputes miss the point of what the game is actually supposed to be about.

And that’s maybe why this Spurs season has been such a success: it’s been a return to something purer and a departure from the politics, the back-stabbing and the melodrama which has too frequently polluted the White Hart Lane stairwells.

Sure, clever arguments can be made over what certain players did or did not achieve, but it’s hard to remember another year which produced as many high points. From Eric Dier’s late winner at Upton Park, to Harry Kane’s week-on-week evolution, to the improbable series of Christian Eriksen winners at the back end of 2014, and the picture of five Spurs players, four of them with academy roots, celebrating together in England white; really, it hasn’t been bad.

As a single entity, it’s also been very cathartic. Tottenham being Tottenham, there was some stumbling and some friendly-fire, but this was as embraceable a team as there has been at any point over the last decade. They were limited and they had moments of painful fragility, but their imperfections made them oddly lovable.

That’s what you need, that’s what a supporter wants to wake up to on a Saturday morning - and that’s what was missing from the previous year.

In the coming days, dozens of assessments, report cards, squad-rankings will be published - many of which will raise excellent points - but the season can be condensed into very plain terms: there was no disaster, there were enough highlights to fill a solid YouTube compilation, and the combination of a gentle sense of footballing development, the progression of the Northumberland Project, and the emergence of a younger, more likable breed of star has surely made it a success.

It hasn’t been perfect, but it has been yours to enjoy. Demand pronounced, indisputable success every year if you must, but that’s a shortcut to misery for anyone supporting a side of Tottenham’s stature. Instead, settle for knowing that this season was better than last and hoping that the next will be better than this.

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For uMAXit: Farewell to the evergreen Frank Lampard, football’s superstar Everyman


2 Comments on "Tottenham’s 2014/15: Lovable rogues"

  1. Cracking…. if only all spurs fans had this view!!

  2. Love this piece. Great stuff as ever on this site!

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