Another incredible weekend of Barclays action just gone, which as usual was short on actual quality but long indeed on drama. I’d like to talk about Spurs if I may. As an Arsenal fan it’s difficult to have an opinion on them without being called biased or one eyed, and that’s often very true, tribalism dictates that sense and sensibility go out of the window when discussing your most hated rivals. However, that doesn’t mean an opinion is immediately rendered invalid because of it. So here goes.
Tottenham’s “rise” over the last few year under Pochettino has been mildly impressive. They’ve flirted with the top 4 in the last ten years and in spite of what the media might have you believe, they are still merely flirting with it. One season in one season out, hardly 20 years of champions league football now is it? Yet we find ourselves in an age of media-driven Spurs glory.
As a team they have not won a major trophy since 1991 (the League cup will regain its major trophy status in approximately 2 weeks). This is 27 seasons. TWENTY SEVEN. Whichever way you dice it, that’s remarkable. Over a quarter of a century with neither a League title or FA Cup win. The list of teams that are waiting less time includes Wigan, Portsmouth, Blackburn, Leicester and Leeds.
So why are they given such grace by our glorious press? You never hear them called out for lack of success. Top 4 is now as a good as a trophy we are told. It would be absolutely tragic if it were not so laughable. Wenger was derided for years for saying this, it now seems that Klopp, Poch and Mourinho are being praised for the very thing that Wenger was beaten with.
But this is not really what I want to discuss. Firstly, Spurs are a dirty team. They kick players all over the pitch. They employ something called rotational fouling which I think means they take turns in making fouls to break up play and frustrate the opposition. So much so that their opponents often take the first and second yellow cards, born of those frustrations.
It was discussed last evening on Twitter and the general feeling is that there is nothing you can do about it from an officials point of view. I actually disagree. The totting up process should apply to the team, not an individual. As an arbitrary number, the team gets 5 innocuous fouls and the 6th is a booking regardless of who made it. It would prevent the tactic Spurs have adopted from being too effective. It’s annoying that it’s been given a name; “rotational fouling” as to me, that legitimises it. It’s considered a valid and clever tactic. No. It’s cheating. It’s a thuggish approach delivered by a manager who was a violent thug as a player.
Secondly, the cheating. Oh yeah. That. I take no credit for pointing out that Robert Pires made ONE dive (and it was) and is widely chided as the worst diver in premier league history. This is patent nonsense. For a start Vieira was worse. But more importantly: diving is far far more ingrained in the game today than it was years ago. And it’s that awful type of dive, the one where the attacker initiates contact. Dreadful. I understand it’s very hard to spot, but there were three blatant examples of it yesterday from Spurs.
Deli Alli, undoubtedly the most contemptible player in the league, utterly embarrassed himself with a shameful piece of cheating. And was rightly booked. Kane, darling Harry, forced contact with the keeper when he realised he’d lost control when he could easily have taken another step. And Eric Lamela, who was seemingly shot with a Rhino Gun from the Kop.
Two of those were awarded penalties, one was a rightful booking. It’s becoming an epidemic. And Tottenham are at the forefront. At the risk of being stereotypical, Southern American players have oft been been known for their cynical approach to the game. It feels like Poch has injected this straight into the eyeballs of the English players at Spurs. Dier is a thug with the IQ of a cricket bat; Alli is an outright cheat and coward who soon enough will end someone’s career; and Kane is a sneakcheat. Your parents love him, the teacher loves him, but he’s getting someone else to do his homework or cheating on his girlfriend with her best mate, on the sly.
Until the press in this country stop fawning over Spurs’ “Englishness” this will continue. It staggers me that they still get away with an easy time from the media. Even football365 yesterday brushed over the diving.
And yeah yeah: we will all celebrate an Alli dive to win the World Cup. I won’t. No chance.
Maybe when Spurs finally win a trophy the press will turn on them? Maybe when Alli breaks a leg? Right now the fourth estate is culpable for a disease in the game which will not go away. As long as they continue to praise “clever” tactics and cheating players, the players shame is hidden.
Enjoy your week.
40-something Surrey-based Gooner. Passionately supporting The Arsenal since the 80’s.