Siao Mates Sep 11

Tottenham Hotspur 20/21 season. All or Nothing. Probably Nothing


 

The first thing you need to understand about Spurs fans like me is that we are eternal pessimists. Like that Alphaville song Forever Young, we’re always hoping for the best but expecting the worst. 

 

So it should be no surprise that despite several sensible signings that manager Jose Mourinho has made this season, I’m extremely pessimistic about this coming season.

 

With all due respect to new boys Matt Doherty and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, and a third choice goalkeeper who couldn’t even earn a contract at Burnley, they’re not exactly names which strike fear in opponents. 

 

WATCH: Matt Doherty's first day at Spurs

 

All this while every top 4 challenger has added at least one world class player to their team, except for Liverpool, who probably don’t really need to be any stronger than they already are.

 

The scariest of all is the revenge spending Chelsea, who added the classy Hakim Ziyech, top striker Timo Werner and wonderkid Kai Havertz, and one can easily see how they are going all out to ensure Liverpool doesn’t get a one horse race in defending their title.

 

Of course, Mourinho would tell you that if one only counted the games that he was in charge of last season, Spurs would be fourth instead of sixth. While us Spurs fans might use that as a beacon of hope, secretly we know inside that we only managed that because of Liverpool’s phenomenal collapse after winning the title. You can be sure the Liverpool that starts the new season won’t be the same one that ended it, even if the players are the same.

 

But the most damning justification of my pessimism of Spurs’ new season came in watching the first six episodes of the Amazon Prime documentary, All or Nothing: Tottenham Hotspur. That’s the documentary that the team from Amazon spent one year behind the scenes at Spurs and was given all access to film anything they want. Somehow, even though Mauricio Pochettino was in charge of Spurs for four of that 12 months, the documentary ended up being the Jose Mourinho show, with the former boss given only half an episode.

 

I get it, Mourinho sells. Who wouldn’t want no holds barred behind the scenes footage of the Special One hurling expletives at the Spurs players? Okay, to be fair, us Spurs fans have probably hurled a few expletives ourselves at certain players <cough Serge Aurier cough>. 

 

Each episode, however, was pretty much Mourinho doing a pre-match briefing by saying “Don’t be nice guys”, Harry Kane or Hugo Lloris shouting “come on! Let’s kill them!” and then Spurs losing or drawing the game. Everything in between those sessions looked like scripted drama.

 

WATCH: Dier explains Mourinho's man-management style to NBA legend Steve Kerr

 

Here’s the thing, though. If you watch the series and see how stoked all the players were before the match and how that spirit almost instantly disappears when they step onto the pitch, you start to realise that this was a team that didn’t particularly believe in themselves anymore.

 

Now, there are some teams, like Manchester City, whose players are so far above the rest that they can stroll to victory without going into third gear. That’s not Spurs.

 

One of Pochettino’s greatest achievements was taking a team of average players and forging a good team. Heck, he made an almost great team. Much of that hung on belief, and why they fell short was always because, in truth, the players were just short of that quality. In football terms, that gap is massive when it comes to the difference between winning and almost winning.

 

But still, that belief, that got us to top 4 regularly and the Champions League Final. 

 

In football, though, belief is a fragile thing. Any amateur footballer can tell you this.

 

Remember how when your team huddles in a circle and shouts some team chant to give yourself that will to win the match, and then after kick-off, the opponents pass the ball so well that you can’t pick it off them for five minutes? Pop, that belief immediately disappears. 

 

That felt like Spurs last season, and with no marquee signings coming in to improve the team, it’s very likely the same will happen this season as well. 

 

WATCH: Son Heung-min wants Spurs to show a different mentality this season

 

Now, everyone talks about how Mourinho has won trophies at every club he’s been at, so expectations are disproportionately high for this season from some quarters. But not this writer. 

 

To me, a good season would be 4th, and given the improvements to Chelsea, Arsenal, Manchester United and, good grief, Everton, it would be massive if Spurs got back into the Champions League.

 

Chances are, without that belief - and All or Nothing showed a dire lack of it - it’s probably going to be much ado about nothing.

 

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