A piece of architecture that creates a subconscious irritation during floundering moments.
When I attend games now, I sit in a billion-pound super arena. Where absolutely everything is impressive, and its sound and aesthetic are almost unrivalled. It was sold to Spurs fans as the necessary factor in taking the club to the next level, something many of us agreed with, but we’re still waiting.
For balance, it partially has taken the club to another level…temporarily. In our opening months at the end of the 2018/2019 season, Spurs maintained their position in the top four and played crucial Champions League games that ended up seeing the club reach the Champions League final for the first time in its history. Even though Spurs only played two matches, winning one game and losing one, at the new stadium in that season’s competition.
A few years on, though, the money for a seat in the ground and the whole impressive essence of the arena kind of creates this short-tempered nature within many of the match-going fans. One that wasn’t there amongst the same fans at the old stadium due to the overall spirit and feel of the club.
10 years ago, if a player of Emerson Royal’s quality (or lack of) arrived and performed well under par, there’d be groans and jokes at the players’ extent, but they wouldn’t dominate the noise or headlines around the club and stadium. Now, it does. Why? Because season ticket holders are paying the most expensive prices in the league per season to watch players who feel like a downgrade on those of the past, to not help the club push forward, resulting in a more toxic feel. Creating the notion that Tottenham Hotspur, from the club ownership perspective, is no different other than the appearance to that of the club that first put in planning permission for this stadium around 14 years ago.
As a season ticket holder at this club, I feel more entitled than ever. Not because I deserve so much or because I’m so great. I’m not, and I don’t. It’s not because I’m 26 years old now and my attitude is different to when I was a 10-year-old in 2006 and bright-eyed, enjoying the likes of Michael Carrick, Jermain Defoe, Robbie Keane, Edgar Davids and Co. It’s none of that.
It’s because I now arrive in Tottenham to a club that wants to sell the big-time vibe, in its big-time stadium. A club that’s got some of the most business-savvy directors in football. One of the richest clubs in the world. With one of the best, most proven managers in the game right now. With some of the most world-class players. You get the gist, right?
Build it and they will come, but will they stay patient with obscene prices and erratic ownership?
Personally, my patience is burning out. Not because Tottenham is so deserving, and so are the fans. We’re fans of our clubs for far more than a win on the weekend and a trophy here and there. My patience has dwindled because we’re three, almost four years into a stadium project that hasn’t taken the club anywhere but completely backward and then, thankfully under Antonio Conte, back to where it was when the Stadium first opened, but with huge question marks over whether it can go above the level of 4th place solely due to lack of faith in the ownership to truly back the manager and his ideas, whoever that manager may even be.
I need to be fair and understanding of the fact that a global pandemic caused the stadium to shut to fans for half its lifespan and that these are now the years we should be judging its financial impact on the club because of the delayed nature of money coming in due to covid.
There have been some improvements in the first team, and there’s also been enough regression to keep us somewhat inconsistent. There have been many positives for the last year under Conte. The irritating cycle has also been watching Emerson and Ryan Sessegnon let us down without being benched.
To summarise my thoughts and opinions and to make ends meet here, the nature of the fan is changing because the club transformed its appearance right down to the training centre, made everything more expensive to the fans, but forgot to enhance the quality of football and therefore somewhat failed to justify the obscene prices. It made itself look like a Ferrari and decided that the engine should be from a Nissan Micra. It looks great, but how does it run?
So far, it runs as you’d expect. Slow off the mark and unreliable. Everything from within the club is still up for debate. And our ticket prices are still only going one way. We’re only getting so much back for the money, really? We’re getting the same relatively exciting yet unbalanced team with a lack of depth in quality, the same trophy out-put, and league finishes as we experienced throughout a fair few years of the 2010s, but for a lot more money per ticket.
Are the board just as tired of themselves as we are with them?
Before we head to social media to slate some bloke within the ground for shouting drunken nonsense in the direction of Emerson, take a second to look at what made him so angry. What created a total lack of patience and empathy towards a low-in-confidence, failing full-back?
Entitlement that was born from promises that may very well never be kept. Anger at the manager cycle. Frustrated at watching the players who were making mistakes six seasons ago, four managers ago, and still make the same mistakes now.
Not many Spurs fans want to boo or berate their own team, myself included. Annoyingly though, I get why it’s starting to happen so much.
And as I finished writing this long theorised article, I thought to myself, not only are we as fans becoming impatient, but the board has become impatient again too. Like it was at its very start. Under Daniel Levy, managers barely lasted a seasonal weather change when he first took over. He steadied the managerial ship, sort of, with Jol, Redknapp, and Pochettino. Whilst giving Villas-Boas and even Ramos a bit of a go.
Now, we’ve seen five whole managers (I’m counting Ryan Mason, yes) take charge in our stadium that’s not even been open in as many years. And Daniel Levy has shot for the top twice in Jose Mourinho and Conte. He’s restructured the scouting team and tried to take a step back. He helped provide the team with a whole range of summer signings which still weren’t and aren’t enough, but amazingly the board and chairman seem receptive to change.
I want to end this on a positive because we don’t have to suffer our wing-backs for a while, which is honestly great. No, that’s not the positive point I was attempting to make. The positive thing here is the board are showing a willingness to listen to Antonio Conte and to sign players he wants. It’s showcasing finally that it’s willing to not be left behind beyond a stadium and training centre. Whilst all of that’s important; the team needs to be top-notch as well.
If the board can provide those tools and resources to the team, then we can enjoy our club again and not feel so irritated, so easily. Factors like having a great stadium can just be appreciated without reminiscing over eras that were just as turbulent for the club, but the fans were more chilled out. I would like the tickets to become reasonably priced. There’s no need for the absurd prices match-going fans face. in absence of that, a great team would be nice.