A global Tottenham Hotspur podcast and viewpoint, by the fans for the fans.
by Aaron Wolfe
This past Saturday thirty people crammed into my small apartment in Brooklyn to celebrate the Jewish holiday of Passyover. We drank good wine, ate good food, sang songs about liberation and slavery (the best ones are from America’s dark past), but most of all we talked.
The central tenet of the Jewish people and of Passover is that everything must be questioned, discussed, picked apart, debated and generally disagreed upon. The Passover Seder even has four built in questions (why is this night different from all others, etc.) that we are required to ask.
But everyone that has ever attended a Seder knows that there are far more than just the official four questions. For example:
But perhaps the most important question for me at the time of writing is this: what is there to write that hasn’t already been written about a football game that was barely played between a team that doesn’t have a hope against a team that doesn’t seem to have a clue? The answer to that question is clear: there is very little to say.
“..we are plagued by selling our players that we bought for peanuts in order to keep the lights on in a stadium that will never be built? That we are plagued by Lamela? Soldado? Paulinho? Capoue?”
However just as Jews, observant and not, are compelled to revisit and dissect the story of the Exodus from Egypt, so we are all also compelled to revisit and dissect every single thing that our beloved Tottenham Hotspur does.
And so I will do what I know how to do: look through my particular lens and try to find some meaning any meaning from this week’s activities.
1. WHY DID PHARAOH NOT LET THE SLAVES GO EVEN WHILE THE TEN PLAGUES WERE DESCENDING UPON HIM?
The story goes that as the Ten Plagues (darkness, blood, boils, locusts, Europa League) punished the Egyptians, Pharaoh had multiple opportunities to say “forget slavery, just let me take a nap in peace already!” But at every opportunity God changed Pharaoh’s mind and made him even more steadfast in his belief that the Jews should be slaves.
Why in Hoddle’s name would he do that?
This week, the minutes of the Tottenham Supporters Trust’s meeting were released and one little note stuck in many people’s craws. Daniel Levy (God or Pharaoh? You decide!) said that he was abandoning the “plunk it all on red, Baldini” transfer policy and returning to the “success” found in spending a little bit on a lot of different players.
Boo! Hiss! Pshaw! came the cry from the faithful. Can’t he see that we are plagued by mid-table (albeit upper mid-table; how’s that for class consciousness?) obscurity? That we are plagued by selling our players that we bought for peanuts in order to keep the lights on in a stadium that will never be built? That we are plagued by Lamela? Soldado? Paulinho? Capoue?
“We were winning. Not always convincingly but we were winning. We had attacking panache, lightning fast counters and absurd command over the midfield.”
And it was written: the Israelites bowed down to Soldado and prayed that he’d deliver them from the Europa League, whilst Harry Kane toiled in obscurity and ridicule. “They shall learn their lesson and trust that our scouting system is amazing and will uncover untold gems like Eriksen, Bale, and Giovanni Dos Santos!” came the voice of God.
“Oh yeah,” he continued, “I almost forgot: Let there be Bagels on every tier of the lane!”
2. WHY DID THE ISRAELITES DOUBT MOSES EVEN AS HE WAS DELIVERING THEM FROM THE CLUTCHES OF BONDAGE?
Okay, the obvious analogy is Mr. Kane, but not if you look closely. The line in the story of Passover is that as the Israelites were wandering the desert of upper mid table obscurity they took Moses aside and said: “It would have been better to die by the fleshpots of Egypt as slaves than it would be to die of starvation in the middle of the desert!”
Or, in other words: “It would be better to keep a clean sheet than it would to beat teams while making our fans nervous.”
The clean sheet obsession is fascinating to me, just like mass hysteria or Marouane Chamakh’s hair it defies explanation but there it is, over and over again. We were winning. Not always convincingly but we were winning. We had attacking panache, lightning fast counters, and absurd command over the midfield.
Sure, some of us had to up our heart medication and yes, there were plenty of rescued games and draws when there should have been wins. But there were also goals. Lots and LOTS of Goals!
Pochettino has split the goddam Red Sea for us. He has delivered us from the bondage of ten thousand sideways passes and showed us the promised land of a versatile strike force that interchanges fluidly and slices up even the most obstinate defenses.
He has given unto us Eriksen, Mason, Bentaleb (assist to Sherwood in the 86’), Dier, and Rose. He has slammed his fist on a rock and from the rock came forth 5-3 against Chelsea, 4 points from the scum, and HARRY KANE!
Is our defense flimsy?
Yes. Would a few clean sheets have pushed us into the top four? Who knows. That’s the deal with the fallacy of the predetermined outcome. We don’t know what would have been different if we hadn’t let in any goals.
Maybe we wouldn’t have scored as many either. Maybe the voices screaming for Walker to stop bombing forward forget the assists that he’s made, or the outlets he’s provided, or the wonderful security he provided after the months of Dier and Chiriches platooning on the right side.
Would it be good if we won a bit more and drew a bit less? Yes. But give the guy and the team a bit of time. They just escaped Egypt, drowned Mourinho’s army along the way and are doing this all as a ragtag group of players that Moses didn’t even get to assemble himself.
In other words: we kept a clean sheet against Burnley and boy was that a horrible little reminder of what life used to be like.
3. WHY DID IT TAKE THE ISRAELITES 40 YEARS OF WANDERING IN THE DESERT TO FIND THE PROMISED LAND?
The joke is that they were led by men and so they wouldn’t ask for directions. But the real story is that they had to let the last generation that remembered slavery die off before they started their new society.
We have long memories. Taxi for Maicon, lasagnagate, glory nights, league cups, the double, and even the Tottenham Rule for qualifying for The Champions League still echo in our brains. So when we look at another year of Thursday night games in stadia that are also the municipal airstrip of the Dragbuttistan Airforce, we roll our eyes.
But here’s the thing: It’s not a bad competition. Sure it’s too long; sure it’s annoying that the CL teams drop down into it. And there’s the conventional wisdom that we do poorly on Sundays following Thursday night games. To which I say: Manchester United, and Burnley.
Both games came after two week breaks. Both games were our worst performances.
We need Europa League, the same way the Israelites needed the desert. We need to blood new leaders, uncover our weaknesses and shore up our strengths. We need to not only play in the Europa League but we need to win the Europa League so that we can forget the incredible run we had in the Champions League.
If, by some miracle of miracles, we finish fourth this year we will still not win the Champions League. I’ll be happy to watch as many Tuesday or Wednesday night games as I can, but let’s be clear we will all be watching while at the same time waiting to get knocked out. Again, that’s fine, but is that glory? I like watching us destroy teams from towns that sound made up. I like watching players like Kane and Mason and Townsend learn to break into our starting eleven. I like rabonas! I like when there’s a running track in the stadium and it seems like the game is being played in 1970something.
I don’t want us to only ever play in Europa League. But them that wish us to finish 8th or 9th so we can do like Liverpool did, can go wander in the desert. I like watching Football. I want my team to play as much football as humanly possible. So that I can watch it. And enjoy it. What the hell else am I gonna do on a Thursday?
“We need Europa League, the same way the Israelites needed the desert. We need to blood new leaders, uncover our weaknesses and shore up our strengths. We need to not only play in the Europa League but we need to win the Europa League so that we can forget the incredible run we had in the Champions League.”
4. WHY DID POCHETTINO START PAULINHO?
Only God knows. I literally have no idea. It’s possibly the greatest mystery of our generation. Okay it probably has to do with shoring up the midfield and providing cover for a stretched defense and a tiring Bentaleb and Mason. But seriously: “he plays number 10, he plays Number 10, Christian Eriksen he plays number 10.”
AND NOW, AARON’S OFFICIAL ARBITRARY SCORING SYSTEM FOR THFC GAMES:
In hopes of not just recycling tired clichés and rehashing that which has been hashed over and over again, I will provide a totally arbitrary and one-off scoring system to rate our teams performances.
This week’s arbitrary scale is “which of the ten plagues would the Burnley v. Tottenham game be?”
As a quick reminder the plagues were: Blood, Frogs, Lice, Wild Beasts, Cattle Disease, Boils, Hail, Locusts, Darkness, and the Slaying of the First Born sons.
It’s pretty clear that this game was Darkness. Not quite “Slaying of the first born,” but pretty damn close. The plague Darkness was said to be a darkness that not only was lack of light, but also a physical darkness that you could feel. When it descended the Egyptians could barely move or breath. Which sounds exactly how I felt watching us play Burnley?
AND NOW, AARON’S PREDICTION FOR NEXT WEEK:
Sherwood will wear his gilet. Villa will score first; he’ll pump his fists like crazy and prance around like he’s got a cock the size of Chelsea’s goal difference in all competitions. Then we’ll score three in the second half.
A sure bet: Facebook will be the worst place on earth for the entire Villa game.
About the author:
Aaron Wolfe is a screenwriter, storyteller, film editor, occasional podcaster, and proud dad from Brooklyn, NY