Mega Bottle Ride

A Football Column following on from Emmanuel Adebayor’s comments deflecting Tottenham Hotspur’s poor home performances onto the atmosphere at White Hart Lane.

Tottenham’s fourth home defeat from just six Premier League games has been followed by more excuses, with Emmanuel Adebayor claiming that the pressure of playing at home is too much for the players. Once again, as a profession, football is unique when a well remunerated failing performer looks first to blame the paying customer for their own shortcomings.

Just four years ago Spurs were putting the European Champions, Internazionale to the sword at White Hart Lane with all four sides of the ground standing and singing. The Season Ticket holders who attended that night were largely the same people who were subjected to another of this season’s abject home displays yesterday, and also the same ones who sang loudly when Adebayor poached a brace as Spurs beat Aston Villa 2-0 on a Monday night three Novembers ago, part of an eleven match unbeaten league run which consisted of ten wins.

But the output on the pitch, the size of which, like the season ticket-holder base, also hasn’t changed much since those Glory Nights, has regressed further, making the football reminiscent of the start of the 2008/9 season. Then, after wholesale changes to the squad that summer, an exodus of three 20-plus goals a season strikers and without the injured King and Dawson, the side struggled.

New players, including Modric, Bentley and Pavlyuchenko, froze on the stage at White Hart Lane; there was a lack of leadership and goals were hard to come by. Only Aaron Lennon, having previously been offered as a makeweight for Bentley (which highlighted the muddled thinking of the clubs transfer policy under Damien Commoli), didn’t go hiding when Juande Ramos used him sparingly. The result was 2 points from 8 games and a home defeat to then newly promoted Hull became as predictable as yesterday’s struggles against Stoke City.

It is not as bad results-wise as that, but Adebayor’s excuses reveal a hollow set of players, with a squad further weakened by the sales of a couple of players with drive, Lewis Holtby and Micheal Dawson, who would both walk into the current team on footballing merit alone. Few others show any leadership quality, with only Hugo Loris, Kyle Naughton and those promoted from within, Ryan Mason, Harry Kane and Andros Townsend, the ones who got involved yesterday, while Aaron Lennon gave the best outfield performance of any Spurs player this season with his first half cameo against Brighton at home in the cup in a rare outing for him this season.

He has apparently been injured since, but playing as an inside forward from the left, with freedom like Brendon Rodgers has given Raheem Sterling, Lennon found space with excellent movement off the ball getting into dangerous positions, and either ran forward at pace or played a quick passing game when he had the ball, qualities Spurs were desparate for yesterday.

Christen Erikson and Eric Lamela have talent while Eric Dier could form a centre back pairing with Jan Vertonghen (although both were unused subs yesterday).  As for the rest of the shower, there needs to be a clear out, with Adebayor and his sloping sholders first out of the door, followed by some of the average central midfielders Andre-Villas Boas was fond of accumulating.

With seven of the eight European games Spurs will have played against the also-rans of the continent this side of Christmas will have been followed by home games three days later against the likes of West Brom, QPR and Stoke, it would be hard to hand pick a more favourable fixture list. It is a far cry from playing an away leg of a quarter-final against Seville with a league trip away at Chelsea less than 48 hours later as in 2007, yet today’s players are still looking for excuses.

Adebayor’s accusation that players were being booed at every misplaced pass is a fallacy; if that were the case yesterday the Spurs PA may have been full-blast at short intervals, as it was at the final whistle to try and drown out the understandable dissatisfaction of people who pay their hard earned wages at expensive prices to see millionaires not taking any responsibility for the club that it is part of s supporter’s identity.

In fact, unlike in 2008, there isn’t real anger at the moment at White Hart Lane, but just apathy at the lazy and mentally weak performances Adebayor and his ilk produce on a regular basis. As such, rather than fury, Adebayor’s comical attempts to tie up his own bootlaces before being introduced in the second-half at 2-0 drew laughter. And his comments today have all the credibility of one of those blokes with stupid baseball caps who walks down the street with one hand down the centre of his baggy trousers.

From the heights of being in a position to challenge for the title at the end of January 2012, the footballing side of the club’s slump has been so visible, the continued incompetence on the pitch and the sidelines is now just dark humour. It results in a half-empty stadium in the home European games, which must at least make it easy for players with no bottle to perform.

Average ticket price for yesterday’s Spurs match were over four times that of going to the cinema, yet Adebayor still thinks it’s acceptable to deflect responsibility on the paying punter, just as the similarly classless Jose Mourinho did about Chelsea fans recently; they also pay through the nose to now fill a ground that not so long ago was half empty watching Second Division football (unless Spurs were in town) and viewed from behind parked cars.

As has been witnessed many times at White Hart Lane over the years, when a side is playing in the best traditions of the club, with players that give 100%, the atmosphere is positive, vibrant and a joy to behold.

Football clubs are much bigger than individual players and they aren’t interchangeable for fans. As consumers football supporters can’t pick a different brand, but they can opt whether to spend money on club merchandise, products inside the ground and match tickets. And when the paying punter does go to games, it has a right to a voice. And while a football club is continually being let down by the effort of some of its players, the disquiet is likely to get louder.

MG

Mel Gomes is the author of the e-book Glory Nights from Wankdorf to Wembley which documents Tottenham’s return to the European Cup. It is available to preview for free and download in full from Amazon and Smashwords. More details, including photos and links to reviews, here.

Glory Nights: From Wankdorf to Wembley

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