Conversation on social media has been rampant with debate over the booing, hostility, and lack of patience towards Tottenham Hotspur from Spurs’ fans within the ground. Here, I dive into some of my beliefs about what’s happening at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
Growing up, I remember the old White Hart Lane atmosphere fluctuating with the significance of games, as it does across many stadiums in English football. Occasionally you could hear a pin drop. Sometimes the noise from Tottenham fans would leave your ears ringing for the night.
A common misconception around Tottenham is that the old stadium rocked almost always. Certainly, the last two seasons at the old Lane had a carnival atmosphere. However, that was largely due to the fact Mauricio Pochettino had Spurs flying. The final season at White Hart Lane saw Spurs go unbeaten at home. The fans were buoyant and already nostalgic over what was about to be demolished. The players ran through walls to the backbeat of a party atmosphere.
Going back in time, one thing I can’t remember at the old Stadium from when I was a kid was impatience and hostility towards Tottenham during slow or poor performances. Aside from some moments here and there, the culture at Tottenham was to get behind the players regardless of their ability.
This feeling is backed up by many Tottenham fans on Twitter discussing their emotions around the club during the 1990s and 2000s in light of recent times.
Of course, the fans have always urged Tottenham to compete. Still, the poor results and business in the mid to late ’90s meant that my experiences as a kid in the early 2000s were surrounded by fans who were happy when Tottenham won and wouldn’t become overly irritated when we lost.
The beginning of the shift in expectations, the return of belief amongst Tottenham fans and the initial board failings.
Expectations began to soar when Harry Redknapp got a tune out of Tottenham again after Juande Ramos had successfully won a League Cup and then started a Premier League campaign that was destined for relegation. A few seasons before, Martin Jol had first revitalised the club, creating a team that could play exciting and resilient football for the first time in over a decade. Tottenham Hotspurs’ owners, ENIC, weren’t too much of a topic for fans at this moment, largely due to the club having two trophies in 8 seasons (one under ENIC’s reign) and a team that seemed to be advancing again.
I’ve written in the past that the January 2012 transfer window was a major window where Spurs fans felt let down by the club in their handling of the squad again. It cost Tottenham Champions League football, even after being in a title race over the new year period.
When Dimitar Berbatov was sold and lazily replaced with Frazer Campbell in 2008, Tottenham fans were angered, but it turned into more of an ordeal a few seasons after, in 2012. Louis Saha and retiring Ryan Nelson were brought in instead of pursuing Carlos Tevez and Gary Cahill, two far more talented players who were reportedly keen on joining an exciting Tottenham side. It was the beginning of large groups of supporters realising a pattern around Tottenham.
It was starting to seem that the board and owners of Tottenham Hotspur weren’t focused on investing in the team and were only focused on the financial success of the club. Then, of course, came the Stratford Hotspur ordeal, which is still rumoured to have more legs than just a bluff to get the council to agree to Spurs rebuilding a stadium in Tottenham. The board was testing the fans whilst the playing squad was bouncing between looking extremely talented to looking overly reliant on a few good players.
Mauricio Pochettino took over at Tottenham after what felt like a crippling couple of seasons under Andreas Villas-Boas and then Tim Sherwood. Pochettino rebuilt Spurs with an academy and young player focus. The board did seem to want to back him, but whilst some signings were a hit, others were extremely off the mark for the system which Pochettino was establishing.
It’s hard to berate the ownership during the early Pochettino era because some of the clubs’ failed signings were Pochettino targets rather than players the club had sighted and pursued. And some signings, like Dele and Victor Wanyama, and players who came in before Pochettino, such as; Christian Eriksen and Erik Lamela, encapsulated Poch-ball if you’d like.