Siao Mates Dec 11

Spurs, Chelsea fans upbeat about title challenge, but little hope for Manchester United


 

Tottenham Hotspur fan Nick Aw is a happy man – at least, for now. He is glad his team is at the top of the table, but he is well aware that the team that Jose Mourinho coaches are only 11 matches into the season, with 27 more to go.

 

“It’s nice to see the statistics, to see that Son Heung-min has scored as many goals as the entire Arsenal team in the English Premier League this so far this season, but instead of hoping for a league title at last, I would go with what the coach says: One match at a time,” says the Spurs fan who has supported the North London club since 1979.

 

WATCH: The best moments of Mourinho as Spurs beat Arsenal in derby

 

He didn’t end up like many of his schoolmates who were supporting either Liverpool or Manchester United, even though, in the FA Cup final in 1977, he backed Manchester United to win.

 

“We were betting marbles and so many people were picking Liverpool to win, but I bet on Manchester United,” says the lawyer. That season, Manchester United beat Liverpool 2-1, leaving Nick with a pocket full of marbles. Still, he wasn’t impressed with the Red Devils enough to commit the rest of his life to that team. 

Then in 1978, two Argentinians of the World Cup-winning team – Osvaldo Ardiles and Ricardo Villa – made their way into English football via White Hart Lane, and Nick was hooked. 

 

“That got me into a life of pain and suffering,” says Nick, who considers Gary Mabbutt his favourite Spurs player of all time.

Nick and Mabbutt back in sadder times (when Spurs weren't top of the league)

Surely, he believes that the pain and suffering could end this season?

 

“It’s beautiful football,” concedes Nick. “Mauricio Pochettino raised the level of Spurs when he was coach, but in the end, he ran out of ideas.

 

“Mourinho, when he first joined Spurs, there were those who said he had lost it, but we are seeing now that he still has it, and he has the support of Spurs chief Daniel Levy, much more than Pochettino did,” says Nick. 

 

“I might sound like a pessimist – I’ve lived a life of pain and suffering supporting Tottenham Hotspur – but there are still so many matches to go and if you looked at the top seven teams, they are separated by only six points,” he explains. 

 

Nick, who makes an annual pilgrimage to North London to watch his favourite team, managed to catch the last match that Spurs played at White Hart Lane when the home side beat Manchester United 2-1. He also watched Harry Kane when the England captain was a scrawny youngster in the early days of Pochettino’s reign.

 

WATCH: Kane nets his 200th Spurs goal

 

“I wasn’t impressed,” says Nick. “He was a lanky youngster, but didn’t show very much skill. I didn’t even bother taking a photo with him back then,” adds Nick with a tinge of regret. Especially now that Kane, together with Son, appear to be the deadliest pairing in the Premier League.

 

“It’s a great partnership and you can see from the way Kane plays that he has a good footballing brain, and he is hungry. Credit to Mourinho, too, for Kane and Son are obviously taking his advice. 

“And Sonny...last season, he had some discipline problems, with two red cards. But this season, with Mourinho, he is more disciplined. And how do you stop Sonny? The only way to do it is to take him out,” says Nick.

 

And Nick says Spurs are playing very much as a team due to Mourinho’s influence.

 

Harry Kane proved him wrong with where he is today. Could Spurs prove Nick wrong by going on to win the title?

 

WATCH: Kane, Dele Alli, and Bale play cricket


 

“One can always hope,” says the man who committed himself to a life of pain and suffering as a Spurs fan, but will not commit himself to even suggesting a title this season.

 

“We have Gareth Bale, we’ve had Jurgen Klinsmann, David Ginola – we’ve had beautiful football but we don’t win anything,” he concedes.

 

“I’ll just continue to watch beautiful football with whatever years I have left,” says Nick, who, like the majority of living Spurs fans, has never seen his team win a league title.

 

Chelsea are Liverpool's real challengers

 

While the supporter of a London club at the top of the table displays cautious reserve over his team’s title chances, Chelsea supporter Steven Ong, who has supported his team since 1997, isn’t quite so coy about his team’s prospects this season.

Although Steven certainly looks coy.

“I believe that Chelsea is one of just three teams who are able to win the English Premier League this season, Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur being the other two,” he declares. 

 

“And I’m quite confident that Chelsea will actually win the title this season,” adds Steven, who is in the security business. 

 

“Chelsea are currently in good form. The defensive problems they had earlier in the season have been sorted out with the arrival of Edouard Mendy in goal and Thiago Silva. They are getting better in attack, too, with Olivier Giroud in fine form and Timo Werner playing very well. Also, the squad depth is very much improved compared to last season,” says the Chelsea fan who has supported the Blues since the days of Gianfranco Zola.

 

WATCH: How Zola became a Chelsea legend

 

Surely with the pressure on Liverpool to retain the title as they remain the team to beat, and with Spurs at the top of the table with their hordes of fans hungry for success, there’ll be less expected of Frank Lampard’s Chelsea, and that should work in favour of the Stamford Bridge outfit, right?

 

“No,” says the Chelsea man. “I feel that Chelsea are always expected to do well. And the fact that a lot of money has been invested this season places even more pressure on Chelsea instead.”

 

Who does he think will face greater pressure to unseat Liverpool from their throne, Chelsea or Spurs?

 

Chelsea, of course, says Steven.

 

“Tottenham were never really expected to challenge Liverpool for the title at the start of the season, so they are actually performing above expectations,” he explains. But he is fine with Lampard and Co getting all the pressure to excel.

 

“With pressure comes the will and motivation to succeed,” he adds. And that motivation will no doubt translate to added pressure for Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp, who has claimed that Chelsea are favourites to win the English Premier League title.

 

WATCH: Klopp discusses Liverpool's 2020/2021 season so far

 

But surely those are just mind games early in the season on the part of the German mastermind?

 

“No,” insists Steven. “Klopp is telling the truth. I think he felt pressured by Chelsea 's major signings. He must be genuinely intimidated by the depth of Chelsea’s squad while his own squad is ravaged by injuries.”

 

Manchester United are going nowhere

 

Meanwhile, Manchester United fan Royston Jalleh has given up on his team’s hopes of winning the title – unless Ole Gunnar Solskjaer walks.

 

WATCH: Solskjaer takes responsibility for United's Champions League exit

 

“No ideas, no tactics, no guts...just a load of favouritism,” says Royston.

 

In fact, he wants Ole to go back to Norway and become a Viking. 

 

“Or he can go to Valhalla for all I care,” he adds. 

 

And when the great hero Ole Gunnar Solskjaer makes his way to Valhalla, we hope that the Valkyries riding with him are faster than Victor Lindelof and Harry Maguire.

 

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