At the start of the season, I wasn’t worried. We were in Europe again, we had the coaching staff and players to make sure that we would have a good season. We had won most of our pre-season games, including against some good opposition, and it was looking as though we would get by without our departed strike force.
Then we ‘tanked’, and while I was, to say the least, disappointed, I still wasn’t worried. I thought that while the season would be a disappointment compared to expectations (what season isn’t?) we would finish mid-table and, who knows, perhaps win the UEFA Cup.
Then we had a coaching cull, and in came ‘Appy ‘Arry. While he wouldn’t have been my first choice (and probably not even second, third, or fourth), he galvanised the team and we started to pick up points and progress to the later rounds of both cup competitions. So, no need to worry.
But now I’m worried.
I’m not especially worried at the fact that we’re hovering around the relegation zone. I’m not too bothered whether we sign the players that we all think we need in the forthcoming window, as I firmly believe that, given our current crop of players and the tightness of the division, we should still finish in mid-table without any additions. I’m not even worried about the fact that our recent performances have been abysmal. Let’s face it, that’s become traditional for Spurs in the Christmas period.
What worries me is our attitude.
For the last few seasons we have been fed a regular diet of management and players bemoaning the fact that we have underperformed and resolving to do better. We came to disbelieve them, of course, as nothing changes. But at least they realised where the problems lay.
Things have changed recently. Since his appointment, Mr. Redknapp has bemoaned his ‘small’ squad, and has even on occasion questioned the quality of the players within it. We have heard his entreaties to the Chairman to open the cheque book in the forthcoming window in order to provide the quantity (and quality) of the players he needs to keep us in the Prem. He even did so at the AGM, hardly a forum for a club official to bemoan his lot in life.
This is a worry because it leads to looking outside the club for reasons why we are in our current predicament. It takes the focus off of the players and staff and engenders a ‘poor me’ attitude. In short, it gives everybody an excuse for failure and, ultimately, for being relegated. You can almost hear the interviews after we are relegated and ‘Arry has resigned / been sacked. When asked for his thoughts, he will say that he did the best that he could with the players at his disposal. Things would have been different if (pick any or all of the following):- Ledley King was fit / we had cover at centre back / we had four (or three, or two) good centre forwards / he didn’t have to rely on kids when one of his first team was injured / we had a defensive midfielder and / or left winger / we had better refereeing. It wasn’t my fault guv’nor; just look at what I had to work with.
Even more worrying is that this attitude is now trickling down to the players. Witness the wailing and gnashing of teeth about the ‘terrible’ refereeing against West Brom. Mr Woodgate has joined in this lament. How different things would have been if that terrible ref hadn’t sent off poor Benoit; how everybody knows that poor old Daws was brutally shoved in the back when they scored their first. When really he should be saying that Assou-Ekotto should have more sense than to attempt a flashy turn to retain possession by bringing his foot down in the general vicinity of an opponent right in front of the ref, and that Dawson flung himself forward in so theatrical a way after minimal contact that any ref who gave a foul would look ridiculous.
All of this may be an attempt to develop a siege mentality; to galvanise the troops to overcome the world’s wish that they be relegated. But I don’t think so. It’s just a way of deflecting blame. It betrays mental weakness; a reluctance to fight for survival, to overcome perceived injustices and to succeed regardless of the obstacles placed in your way. It shows an acceptance of the manager’s theme that we’re ‘not good enough’. It isn’t my fault; just look at what I had to work with.
That, my friends is why I’m worried. If this is the attitude that we have, then any January signings will be irrelevant. There is a cancer in the building, and treating it with aspirin just won’t work.