Let’s be honest with each other: we’ve all experienced the words “tough love” from the mouths of our parents at least once. Often followed by a line like “because I love you” or “it’s in your best interest”. And in time, we inevitably realise that they were right – it really was for our own good.
This is how I’m feeling about Tottenham Hotspur Football Club. I’ve kept them close to my heart for the better part of 20 years now, and for the most part they’ve upset me, and generally left me wishing that my god-mother had brought back a different football top from her visit to England when I was eight years old.
At the start of every season, year after year, Spurs fans love to say: “this is our season”. And almost all of the time it isn’t. Apart from the 2010-2011 Gareth Bale season, we haven’t even played in the Champions League. So I would say that a somewhat realistic target for next season would be to finish in the top four and qualify for the Champions League the year after. But to do this we need to lose some of the remaining games this season. Tough Love!
Players like Lloris, Eriksen, Lamela and now Kane are high quality players. They are not going to want to stick around in a side that finishes sixth every season. They want the big lights of Europe; they want to play on Tuesday and Wednesday evening in the crème de la crème. How are Spurs going to bring in the elite players when all they can offer them is an away trip to play Young Boys, instead of a potential tie against Madrid or Barcelona?
One of the big reasons we are not challenging for the top four is because we’re travelling to places like Russia on a Thursday night and then having to play in London on the Sunday. It’s ridiculous. What baffles me is that all I hear from Spurs is how they want to play in Europe, in the Champions League. So then why send the first side to play in the Europa League matches? If we want to play with the big boys, why are we taking a Mickey Mouse cup so seriously? Why not send our fringe players over there and treat it the same way that the top sides treat the League Cup – as a competition to give the youngsters a chance to prove themselves. If they get far in the cup, brilliant! But leave the first team back in London and keep them rested so they can produce a great performance on the Sunday, so that the club can qualify for the competition we are actually striving to play in.
I’ve learnt over time that the managers are just not willing to take this approach. Why? I have no idea. So this is where my tough love comes in: I wouldn’t mind seeing Spurs lose a couple of games in the culmination of this season. Let Southampton finish sixth and play in the Europa league. In fairness, they actually deserve it. They sold all their decent players and were many people’s choice to be relegated. So I’d be happy for Spurs to finish seventh, not qualify and play far fewer games next season, and then make the top four our be all and end all.
So for the remaining four matches of the season, I will be supporting Spurs as I have for many years. But there will be a big part of me wondering whether or not it might better to lose two of the remaining four games to finish seventh.