The Morning After the Game Before – A Viewpoint from our Committee Member Liam

23 Dec

It was somewhat unsurprising to hear the jeering tones of “you’re not special anymore” coming out of the away section towards the end of the game. The most successful manager in Chelsea’s history reduced to a source of derby-day banter. Weird club, them.

Jose Mourinho coming up against his former teams has been built up as his bread and butter. A look at his record suggests that’s not really true, but abject showings against United and now Chelsea were certainly not what Spurs fans had expected.

At full-time, with a festive carol of boos ringing around a half-empty stadium, a little of the goodwill afforded to Mourinho by Spurs fans had been lost.

Frank Lampard, on the other hand, basked in the Christmas gift that Spurs had presented him with. The Chelsea fans lapped up a slightly over-the-top, fist-pumping, badge-pointing display from their boss. He’s always quite liked beating Spurs.

You can understand his glee. For once, a Super Sunday showdown was as important as Sky Sports had hyped it up to be, and Chelsea had won it with all the perspiration of Prince Andrew in a sauna.

The worry crept in an hour before kick-off when the midfield pivot of Eric Dier and Moussa Sissoko was confirmed. With the guile of Lo Celso, Ndombele and, to a lesser extent, Winks on the bench, the patrons of Spurs’ really long Goal Line bar were left feeling a bit underwhelmed.

What followed was worryingly poor. Spurs passed the ball around in their own half timidly, or fired hopeful long balls over the top. Harry Kane flicked headers on to nobody, and the ball ricocheted off Lucas Moura’s shins. Vertonghen looked very much like a 32-year-old playing out of position. Serge Aurier made the sort of mistake that blights every improved run of form he’s ever had at the club for the first goal. Gazzaniga chose an inopportune moment to take up karate for the second.

Son and Dele were left charging around without a hope of ever retrieving the ball from an increasingly confident Chelsea, leading to a frustrated Sonny lashing out at Antonio Rudiger in the second half. A lady in front of us howled “Why?” over and over, as VAR confirmed yet another out-of-character red card and three-game ban for our smiling hero. Why indeed. 

There’s hope, in amongst the frustration on the pitch. Hope that Ndombele, who looked bright when he came on, can get fit and save Spurs from more midfield woe. Hope that Lo Celso will get a proper chance and that Eriksen will finally get his bench-warming position at another club secured in January. Hope that, with a navigable run of fixtures before Liverpool’s visit in January, Spurs can build some less-fragile momentum.

At the very least, Jose will know how difficult the job he has is going to be. The most difficult he’s undertaken, probably. The task of turning this squad into something resembling a top-four football team doesn’t look an easy fix, and we might need to get used to the idea that this squad’s just not that special anymore, either.

Finally, although I’ve not commented on the either alleged or actual racist incidents at the game, there is no place for this and it’s certainly not in our name. It’s been much commented on, and we share in the disgust.

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