By Tony Attwood
The Daily Mail’s headline comment, “‘They don’t have much to celebrate’: Jose Mourinho bites back at Arsenal tweet mocking their defeat by Sheffield United… but Spurs face a task to finish above their rivals ahead of Everton clash,” reminded me that even the media’s favourites must sometimes slip down the pecking order a little.
And there is no doubt that of late Tottenham have been the darlings of the media when it comes to north London, not just in the last 10 years but over many decades before that. True, they haven’t won anything in the last ten years, but they have come third in the league twice and were runners up in the Champions League. Plus their top goal scorer Harry Kane knocked in 41 goals one season, which is pretty remarkable. And they have been in the top six throughout the decade.
That indeed is more than enough for the media.
Arsenal on the other hand haven’t had the best of media coverage – perhaps because a lot of their fans have been rather fed up, and so have fuelled anti-Arsenal sentiment. And we do have a lot of ex-Arsenal players in the media, claiming life was better in their day.
But still, Arsenal also came runners up in the league once in the past ten years and were third three times. Our top goal scorer of the decade RVP scored 37 in 2011/12, not quite as many as the Tottenham man but still quite good. And eight years in the Champions League was part of a record breaking run of consecutive appearances for an English club. (In fact for any club other than Real Madrid).
Yet perhaps most significantly Arsenal have won three FA Cups, to Tottenham’s nil in the trophy room. But 2009/10 to 2016/17 were the “fourth is not a trophy” years which fed into the media’s hands, and no one even seems to remember our coming runners’ up in 2015/16, largely because everyone talked about Leicester.
But it is really of late that things have gone awry for Tottenham. Their last nine games have given them one victory (over West Ham United – not the toughest of targets), two draws and five defeats.
|19 Feb 2020||Tottenham H v Red Bull Leipzig||L||0-1||Champions League|
|22 Feb 2020||Chelsea v Tottenham H||L||2-1||Premier League|
|01 Mar 2020||Tottenham H v Wolverhampton Wanderers||L||2-3||Premier League|
|04 Mar 2020||Tottenham H v Norwich City||L||1-1 (2-3)||FA Cup|
|07 Mar 2020||Burnley v Tottenham H||D||1-1||Premier League|
|10 Mar 2020||Red Bull Leipzig v Tottenham H||L||3-0||Champions League|
|19 Jun 2020||Tottenham H v Manchester United||D||1-1||Premier League|
|23 Jun 2020||Tottenham H v West Ham United||W||2-0||Premier League|
|02 Jul 2020||Sheffield United v Tottenham H||L||3-1||Premier League|
But the love-in has ended, and even snide remarks by the Tottenham manager about Arsenal don’t really cut it any more with the media.
Indeed as the Mail has said, “Of all the missteps made at Spurs in recent times, the mismanagement of the squad has harmed the club the most.” And here that we see Tottenham being given the same treatment as Arsenal have for years. Selecting out certain players who have been sold (they cite Walker, Kieran Trippier, Christian Eriksen), some who have gone backwards in terms of performance (Dier, Dele Alli) and newcomers who have not lived up to expectations (Serge Aurier, Davinson Sanchez, Tanguy Ndombele). How often we have seen that “analysis” given to Arsenal, at our expense?
The problem for Tottenham is in part the one that Arsenal faced – the media falling out of love with the management, which then results in the media doubting the players.
But this minute review of Tottenham’s situation, reminds us that Arsenal are getting better write ups at the moment not just because of the results (four straight wins, and six wins in the last eight in both competitions) but because there is an easily identifiable solution to perceived problems – in Arsenal’s case the same whizzo bunch of youngsters of whom before it was said, “you can’t win anything with kids.” Saka, Nketiah, Maitland-Niles, Willock… all had a part to play in the last game and there are many more lurking behind them just waiting their turn.
Yet the fact is that the media love to spot problems which they can say are simple to understand, and then solutions which are equally simple to portray. Which is where Tottenham lose out at the moment. They don’t have a simple solution, because the problem is not just where they are in the League …
…but they also have the mountain of debt because of the stadium, at a time when the virus means income is negative.
The timing is hardly their fault, but it does leave them, as with some other clubs who have been borrowing like mad (Wolverhampton is another example) just at the least opportune time.
However Tottenham must know that it is not going to continue this bleak. The media can’t live for long without knocking Arsenal, and it must only be a matter of a week or two before we, once more, are the centre of their ire, irrespective of results elsewhere.
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