What’s wrong with Tottenham? Trying to find out from a Tottenham fan.

By Tony Attwood

I was in a furniture shop in Market Harborough – a charming town in south Leicestershire – last weekend, and wandering around found this gigantic hearth rug covered in Tottenham emblems.

Away from the games and the shouting I do try and have a moderately civilised life, so I went over to the owner and we had a chat about our respective clubs.  I know some people might be shocked, but the truth is, many of us are perfectly able to stop the tribal warfare outside of designated areas.

Being of similar ages, we  spoke of the time of joining the support of our clubs in the 1950s and it turned out we actually lived quite close to each other in north London for a while, (the area of Devonshire Hill Lane, and across the Cambridge Road being a mix of Arsenal and Tottenham families) and of course we spoke of Bale, the spending of the Bale money, the problem of Mr Levy, and the new stadium.

Which took us to home form and home fans.  I’ve never looked closely enough to know if Tottenham have their equivalent of the Anti-Arsenal Arsenal who criticise every move of the club, and, it is suggested, actually cause some players to think twice about coming to the club, or at least in one or two cases, force players to leave early.

Maybe they don’t, but I think they have another problem: an absolute dislike of the chairman.  Our conversation was before Sunday’s defeat to Newcastle, but even so there was so frustration in the guy’s talk, particularly about home matches.  He said that moving might help, but I pointed out it had not helped Arsenal – it had taken quite a while to get used to the new ground.  Then he brought up Andre Villas-Boas comments on the ground in Tottenham High Road.

Now I mention all this because I have been reading that the new man this season and his comments on the size of the pitch in the High Road.  In the press (which may not be accurately stated) he is quoted as saying, “Our style means that we need a bigger space to play, because we play a positional game.  It is true that White Hart Lane is a little bit tight, no? It is better for the opponent to play deep.

“On Sunday, two shots from Newcastle    They played deep, West Bromwich played deep, Liverpool played very deep, and it was difficult for us.  We need time to adapt in our new set-up and try to understand better our positions on the pitch.”

I haven’t seen any statements about the size of the pitch when the new ground is built, but then it struck me, I didn’t actually know what the regs were about pitches any more.  I mean, I knew them as a child, when we did them in yards, or maybe furlongs, but not in this new-fangled continental approach.

But from what I can tell, the regs changed in 2012 with all Premier League pitches having to be a standard size of 105m x 68m, which is the Uefa standard.  However for matches in general the old rules still apply: 100 yards (91.44m) to 130 yards (118.9m) long, 50yds (45.7m) to 100 yards (91.44m) wide.

In the PL exceptions are allowed for clubs that don’t have the extra room, but new pitches, and this will include Tottenham, have to be this new standard size.  As the chart below shows, 10 clubs obey the new standard.  Tottenham are 5m short on the length and 1m short on the width at the moment.

I wonder how much difference that makes.  After all Tottenham play there in all home matches, while other teams only get one bash a year.

Team Length Width Area
Arsenal & 9 others 105 68 7140
Chelsea 103 67.5 6953
Liverpool 101 68 6868
C Palace 101 68 6868
WHU 100.6 68 6839
Leicester 102 67 6834
Everton 100.5 68 6834
Tottenham 100 67 6700
Stoke/QPR 100 66 6600

Pochettino is, as I understand it, a manager who like Mr Wenger focuses on the mental approach as much as the physical, and Pochettino said that, “The mental process is always more slow than the physical or tactical. This is maybe a difficult period, but it is the process we have to go through.  We did a lot of work in groups, and as individuals. In the training ground, in meeting rooms, in my personal office. But you need more time to change the habits.

“We are the psychologists.  The players want to hear the manager, the staff, the assistant manager. We can help them. Football is a collective sport and we need to help them because we are a family. When you are on the pitch you always need your team-mate. If I love my colleagues maybe my job is better, or I can help him in difficult moments.

I thought that was a very open speech.  Many managers shy away from talking of psychological issues, and some don’t recognise them.  Can you imagine a psychological seminar with Arry Redknapp???

In Arsenal’s history it would be hard to imagine a man as economical with the truth as Leslie Knighton talking psychology, and I am not sure George Graham got it, but both Herbert Chapman and George Allison wrote a lot about the importance of psychology in football, and in doing so, changed Arsenal.

Which leads me back to Daniel Levy and I wonder if he wakes up each morning and thanks the Lord for Leeds, who at least manage to sack managers faster than he does.

From what the guy in the shop said, Levy is the problem and absolutely not part of any solution.  Only Levy’s departure will change anything.  Levy was the man who spent the Bale millions on Erik Lamela, Nacer Chadli, Étienne Capoue and Christian Eriksen etc.  I can’t say if Levy agreed those deals or merely signed them off.. but if he did presumably he has to take some of the blame.   As we know at Arsenal, if an Arsenal transfer fails, it is Wenger’s fault.  Mind you for many supporters everything is Wenger’s fault.

There are even doubts it seems as to whether he is the great negotiator that he claims to be.  I made my point (oft made here) about the way the Bale to Real Mad transfer got tangled up with the Ozil from Real Mad to Arsenal transfer, and the conditions Levy tried to put in place on the former to stop the latter.  That was a failure for Levy, and neither of us ended the chat really certain that Levy is as good a negotiator as he likes to tell the world.

Of course that led on to the issue of finance for the new ground, and here we did agree – neither of us knew where the money was coming from.  And indeed to my amazement that concept of lack of certainly over the funding of the stadium has started to appear in the press as well (although it probably means the reverse is true!)

Arsenal had the money from the banks – aided of course by the selling of Highbury – but it was the repayment of the debt in those first seven years or so that made life so difficult.  Tottenham might still be lucky and find the owner coughs up the dosh, but if he were doing that wouldn’t he have said so?

West Ham will soon have their state-funded ground, rather like Man City, Arsenal were shown that there was a ground just around the corner (by AISA as I recall), and the banks and the property deals helped us through, but how are Tottenham going to do it?

I know a lot of people say, “The money is all fixed up,” and announce a source, but it would be interesting if that source, whatever it is, or indeed the club, came out and made a statement.  I always feel, just saying it, doesn’t make it so.

After the Newcastle match Pochettino said. “I think there was a lack of concentration from us. We need to work hard on our mentality because it is not tactical, physical – it is concentration and mentality and this is our challenge to improve.  It is not something where you can analyse the action, sort the tactical situation and move the players. With mentality, we need to work hard. It is not easy. We need to be more strong, like a team. This is our challenge.

“We need to speak, we need to create a different situation on the training ground and work. We know how, but always you need to spend time to work in this area. It is not the same as in physical or tactical situations. It is a different area.”

It was a very open speech, but Levy said nothing.  I suppose he has nothing much to say.   But if he ever publishes an autobiography I would love to know how he explains Chris Houghton, Christian Gross, David Pleat, George Graham, David Pleat, Glenn Hoddle, David Pleat, Jacques Santini, Martin Jol. Clive Allen and Alex Inglethorpe, Juande Ramos . Clive Allen and Alex Inglethorpe, Harry Redknapp, André Villas-Boas, and Tim Sherwood.

Actually that may be unfair for I am not sure when Mr Levy moved from Rangers to Tottenham so he might not be responsible for all of those – but I think he was there for George Graham.

Anyway, the man in the shop and I finally parted.  He didn’t say, “you’re fixated with Tottenham” and “why don’t you write about your own club instead of worrying about other teams?”  We didn’t call each other names.  I think we both learned a bit too.

We will continue to travel to north London on different weekends to see our teams, and will do so I think once again a little reassured that despite tribal differences it is still possible to talk with each other and learn a bit more.

The books

Untold Arsenal is here

31 Replies to “What’s wrong with Tottenham? Trying to find out from a Tottenham fan.”

  1. From a Spurs fan, this was a welcome read. Thank you. We are indeed a club that seems to be in an eternal struggle, except nobody can pinpoint why. It’s never easy with Spurs.

  2. In a similar kind of story. I had a guy from the RAC come to look at my car when it wouldn’t start. He was seemingly unhelpful and told me there was nothing he would do to get it started. I’m Spurs, and I noticed he had an Arsenal beanie hat on. It was a champions league game night, so I told him whilst he was looking at my car that I was just going to pop upstairs to check the football results. When I came back we started chatting about football. We both spoke about our respective clubs in great length and we had a civilised chat, even though our fierce rivalries dictate that we shouldn’t. In the end, because of our mutual love for football, he stuck around for an extra hour putting himself out to actually get my car started.

  3. Levy moved from the club formerly known as Glasgow Rangers, at that time, to the Tinies? Oh dear. That’s not very encouraging if you are a Tottenham supporter.

    Lord Sugar tries his best to remind the less awake and the AAAA of the difference between Levy and, say, the Arsenal manager:

    “Wenger knows the market”

    Which is why Levy paid almost x2 Welbeck’s for a Loldado, a year before AFC paid their fee for Danny boy (football inflation!).

  4. I may have grown up under the shadow of Higbury but I can still pop into the Lilywhites Sandwich Bar when passing to say hello to the very nice people there. And to have some lunch on occasion…:)

  5. Fair enough article. Good read. I am not saying I agree with all the sentiments of the Spur you spoke to or what you have written. But the article was a good read.

  6. A sensible and pragmatic post, Tony. I only wish this tribal war between some of the more militant supporters of the two clubs would exchange hatred for friendly rivalry.
    Arsenal were grateful to share White Hart Lane with Spurs during WW2!

  7. Nice write up Tony, and interesting comments from the sp*rs fan in the shop!!

    Many years ago (MANY), The father (an his parents/pedigree) of an ex-girlfriend, were sp*rs fans. Sensible guy. I got on better with him then his daughter!!!

    I never argued with him about anything – even football. Unlike his daughter 🙂

  8. Off topic here,

    Mr. Tony, I suggest you do an article congratulating our academy players that appear to have been promoted to the senior squad. These are Hayden, Bellerin, Chuba, and Zalalem (but he may have been promoted last year). At the start of the season these players were listed under the academy group. I have checked today and noticed that they have been moved to the senior squad. An article will show them that we follow both senior and junior teams.

    Thank you in advance.

  9. Nice article Tony.

    Well the article showed the problem with modern day supporting, the opinions are all from behind the keyboard so you don’t have to face the people so you can say what you want. The article has shown when two adults talk face to face then it can be civilised. I think the hatred has come just from the social media, blogs and articles and off course your going to hate people or teams when 1000s mock, swear and laugh at you. Even Finsbury had to have a dig with the Loldado comment.The comments page on Facebook had to be shut becuase of the influx of Arsenal fans.

    What you can tell is the guy wasn’t talking to another Tottenham fan becuase of the Levy Out comment. The problem with a lot of Tottenham fans these days is they swept away with the hype of Top 4 football, Champions league Football and basically if your not up there then why exist at all from Sky Sports. 1000s of people laughing and mocking you on the ineternet. People can’t handle it and they think if we won the Double every season and competed in the Champions league and win it, it will stop. Erm Arsenal, Chelsea, Man City, Man Utd, liverppol fans still get it no matter what they do. There is probably a Bristol City fan laughing at a Bristol Rovers fan right now.

    Tottenham fans forget where the club was in the early Premier League years, averaging 10th/11th with a high place of 7th. Then that villain Levy came along and gave the club ambition and with some close calls for the top 4 finally got there twice (Chelsea defending all the way to the Champions League ruined the 2nd one), now instead of just enjoying supporting the team the ambition is killing some people. The board is showing so much ambition but sadly getting it wrong, but at least they trying without bankrupting the club. If the club didn’t spend that Bale money then how much hate would there be for not spending it.

    All players look good on paper and so do managers but we never know until they come to a club and Arsenal have had many failed signings as much as very good ones but those failiures would of looked good before they came.

    I have been so disappointed in the last few seasons when Tottenham fail to get Top 4 football, it’s hurt and I have had so much hate, get rid of that player, sack the manager. This season is different, I have taken a step back and I hope the board and the club will too. Don’t look for top 4 football, it won’t happen this season, just enjoy the club like we used to. Yes the defeats hurt and are hard to take but the club have been a rollercoaster ride since I started in the 80s, why would it change now. Give Poch years instead of months to buy, sell and get the team out of this mental attitude they seem to have. Take a deep breath and get behind the club that so many people claim to love. The Newcastle result hurt but I have moved on and look forward to tonights game against Brighton then Villa away.

    As a lot of fans frustrate you guys here with the hate towards Wenger and the players it’s the same for Tottenham fans. one thing i would say to them hater fans, I have never ever benn embarrased by Tottenham, never regretted supproting them, i love them to bits and always will. The future is bright under poch and once the forward 4 click then bang. I’m going down a dip on the coaster at the moment but can see another rise in the distance. COYS.

  10. So it’s a race.

    Who’ll finish the stadium last? Liverpool? Chelsea? Or tiny tots?

  11. Spursfan
    Asking why Levy is happy to operate in a market where he is paying double for players as opposed to what AFC are doing down the road is fair comment, a comment I make to all my Tottenham supporting friends. Food for thought, I would hope.

    Twelve managers in thirteen years. A good deflection technique?

  12. SpursFanView,

    I totally love your comment. You are my type of fan: support your team at all times irrespective of the results.

    Kudos man!

  13. The Spuds recent failures and misadventures would normally
    have got me gleefully texting, ” WOO HOO , HOO !”, to my Spuds supporting nephew at any time of the night , but this season I’ve yet to do it as its no longer fun and ….well , maybe its pity !

  14. @SpursFanView
    Nice post, you speak a lot of sense.
    It’s a sad state of affairs but the only thing that matters nowadays is success, winning, if your not number one you are nothing. Theres no place for coming second any more and the old adage ‘it’s all about the taking part’ is regretably dead in the water.

  15. Off topic
    But just hearing clatternburg has been dropped for apparently breaching pgmol protocol after he had a phone call with Neil warnock after the match at West brom last week. I wonder what was discussed in that call. Hope Clatternburg refuses ‘to go down alone’ if he’s going and that this is the beginning of the end of this mafia-like organisation.

  16. ” Be kind to others on your way up ,for you’ll never know who you’ll meet on your way down .” was running through my mind ,after I wrote the above comment .
    It sounded all noble and shit , until the Devil made me do this !

    Clinton and the Pope die on the same day, and due to some administrative foul up, Clinton gets sent to heaven and the Pope gets sent to hell.
    The Pope explains the situation to the hell administration, they check their paperwork, and the error is acknowledged. They explain, however, that it will take about 24 hours to make the switch.
    The next day, the Pope is called in and the hell administration bids him farewell and he heads for heaven. On the way up, he meets Clinton on the way down, and they stop to chat.

    Pope: Sorry about the mix up.
    Clinton: No problem.
    Pope: Well, I’m really excited about going to heaven.
    Clinton: Why’s that?
    Pope: All my life I’ve wanted to meet the Virgin Mary.

    Clinton: “You’re a day late.”

  17. blimey, peace breaks out in north London. Very pleased to see sensible discussion on here because its what Untold does best. I grew up in North London and have Spurs and Chelsea mates and have always had them. For 90 (or 180) minutes a season I hate the bastards 🙂 but then its back to being friends

  18. Spurs fan view said: “As a lot of fans frustrate you guys here with the hate towards Wenger and the players it’s the same for Tottenham fans. one thing i would say to them hater fans, I have never ever been embarrased by Tottenham, never regretted supproting them, i love them to bits and always will”.

    You are a true ‘supporter’, shame you picked the wrong club and are destined to mediocrity :-).

    Jokes aside, this is what we true fans do, we love our club warts and all – we don’t turn on it or those representing it. I love football banter. I despise the hate and abuse that now appears all too common because at the end of the day it should be about respect. This bad behaviour we see has nothing to do with football, it is down to the individual and the pathetic way they conduct themselves. The media and Internet sites/blogs target these less intelligent people, because they know they aren’t bright enough to question poor journalism.

  19. Spurs fan view

    I have to echo the views of many of my fellow Gooners, fair play to you sir.

    If you have read the header to this site, or visited it before, you may of realised that this is the place where Arsenal fans of a similar mind set like to you frequent.

    The problem we have is not from spurs Chelsea City fans etc. but from our own.

    My in laws are all Spurs fans and have nothing but admiration for Wenger. My own Brother, a Gooner for 45years plus, does nothing but slag him off.

    Go figure!!

  20. I have seen a lot of stuff thrown at spurs fan and vicseversa. But IMO that hate is made up and not real unless u have lived in north London.

  21. I hail from a mixed area of Arsenal Spurs fans.

    90% of the time we got on famously. I was best man for a Spurs fan, but it’s safe to say friendships where on the backburner on match days.

    It’s not a personal thing though is it. I don’t hate Spurs fans as individuals. I have Family, friends, workmates, who support spurs, and get on famously with them. We have intelligent conversations, even about football, but I cant help myself, I hate ‘Spurs’ as an entity. (but don’t tell the mother in law 😉 ) I cant help myself.

  22. Spurs have things in common with us. Run …in financial terms, quite cautiously, in business terms, well run clubs.
    Both clubs have had to face losing some very good players in recent years…as we both know, and so now do Liverpool, special players are very hard to replace.
    But yes, levy is trigger happy. I think the main difference between us and Spurs in recent years, Wenger.

  23. Since we are still on about chickens , here’s something that just landed at the desk of The Medical Division of UA ……..

    Blood Transfusion alert

    MEDICAL UPDATE Remember this the next time you have major surgery and need
    a blood transfusion! This is good to know.

    MEDICAL ALERT – Australian Medical Association researchers have found
    that patients needing blood transfusions may benefit from receiving
    chicken blood rather than human blood.

    It tends to make the men cocky and the women lay better.

    Just thought you’d like to know.


    Okay, I’ll be going to my room now.

  24. This joke reminded me of Levy and the Spuds .

    10 Husbands, Still a Virgin

    A lawyer married a woman who had previously divorced ten husbands.

    On their wedding night, she told her new husband, “Please be gentle, I’m still a virgin.”

    “What??” said the puzzled groom. “How can that be if you’ve been married ten times?”

    “Well, Husband #1 was a sales representative: he kept telling me how great it was going to be but never delivered.

    Husband #2 was in software services: he was never really sure how it was supposed to function, but he said he’d look into it and get back to me.

    Husband #3 was from field services: he said everything checked out diagnostically but he just couldn’t get the system up.

    Husband #4 was in telemarketing: even though he knew he had the order, he didn’t know when he would be able to deliver.

    Husband #5 was an engineer: he understood the basic process but wanted three years to research, implement, and design a new state-of-the-art method.

    Husband #6 was from finance and administration: he thought he knew how, but he wasn’t sure whether it was his job or not.

    Husband #7 was in marketing: although he had a nice product, he was never sure how to position it.

    Husband #8 was a psychologist: all he ever did was talk about it.

    Husband #9 was a gynecologist: all he did was look at it.

    Husband #10 was a stamp collector: all he ever did was… God! I miss him!

    But now that I’ve married you, I’m really excited!”
    “Good,” said the new husband, “but, why?”

    “Oh, you’re a lawyer. This time I know I’m gonna get screwed!”

  25. I grew up around Archway and Holloway in the 70’s – I do not have a balanced view about them – I didn’t know any growing up and I don’t really enjoy talking to them about football on the rare occasions when i come into contact with them in a social situation – perhaps I should know better but I don’t .
    One thing I do know though is that in some twisted symbiotic way I need them , and I need their success and even their hatred,and in my own way I admire how they stick with their team through numerous false dawns as it makes me question my own support of Arsenal .
    I have often said to people who have never been to the lane as an away Gooner that the enmity which pours down from the stands onto you is possibly one of the best feelings you can experience as an Arsenal Fan .

  26. When andre villas boas first came to the club tottenham were playing at a very slow pace losing matches and i thought this is great!! this is what’s gonna make them better. When the second half of the seasons came tottenham were one of the best teams in the premier league. Tottenham are playing to fast they need slow down and work they way up. They were playing very fast the first match last season. When your building a club u always have to work you way up you have play slow futbol before you play fast futbol.

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