The Tottenham Hotspur narrative has gone on for too long. In the recent era, Spurs have acquired the status of being trophyless ‘bottlejobs’ and the laughing stock of their rivals. In their historic 3-2 victory over AFC Ajax at the Johan Cruyff Aren, the club put in an emblematic performance. Here is a club that has spent relatively little in its history and even less most recently on its squad. And yet, they now form one half of an all-English Champions League Final.
Tottenham Hotspur Narrative Shattering Performance
Lucas Moura Superhero Amongst Heroes
Lucas Moura‘s statue-building performance was phenomenal to witness; the first Brazilian to score a hat-trick in the semi-final of this competition. On the night he was absolutely clinical in a match where goals were in dire and desperate need. His energy levels and the belief he showed in the match was impressive enough. But, he also stepped up onto the strata of a world-class attacker by cruelly punishing Ajax with merciless aplomb.
The ‘one-man-team’ tag has consistently plagued Spurs. The best example of this is how Gareth Bale would drag ‘his’ team out of sticky situations. Furthermore, Pep Guardiola ironically commented on how Spurs were the ‘Harry Kane Team’ before Manchester City lost to a team without Kane due to injury. Whilst it is ridiculous to suggest that the Lilywhites haven’t missed Kane, the squad does have a few more ‘heroes’, as Mauricio Pochettino labelled his players in the aftermath of this cataclysmic result. For example, Son Heung-min is another talismanic force, and so too can Dele Alli influence the side with his two assists last night.
A key feature of Pochettino’s Tottenham is their ability to make late comebacks. It is a common occurrence for the team to put out a tepid first half, before making a scorching performance in the second half. However, 2-0 down on the night and 3-0 down on aggregate, the side looked dead and buried at half time. This was not the case. What followed was one of the greatest comebacks in football history. Each goal was scored by Moura but all goals scored with an entire team steeped in belief and heart. The players made a huge reaction in the second half, and after the quickfire double, there was a growing inevitability of Spurs nicking just one more. And, they did.
A long ball is lofted from Moussa Sissoko to Fernando Llorente from deep. Llorente, a second-half substitute uses his towering frame and knocks it down for Dele. Dele feathers a ball inside to Moura who squeezes it past André Onana. This move smacked of a directness that is so traditionally Tottenham, playing with both physicality and flourish. Most importantly, it was a move imbued with so much belief, with each player in that chain, including Son’s calm pass backwards to Sissoko building up to a killer blow.
After the match, Danny Rose hit out at Ruud Gullit for his derisory comments after Spurs’ dismal first leg. Gullit said: “Dele Alli, oh my god, technically wise so bad. Wanyama, my god, technically wise, Rose too.” Rose then responded: “He was very critical of individual players and saying how bad we were technically and he’s bang out of order for that, so that was fuel to the fire.”
These rude comments are part of a larger media narrative that has been so virulently ‘anti-Spurs’ for the recent era. Gary Neville has lampooned the club for being spineless. Other pundits, commentators, critics and players (see Giorgio Chiellini‘s comments) have propagated these remarks.
However, with this earth-shattering performance, Tottenham have set a record straight. It will most likely still take one last seismic effort against Liverpool in the final to set a tabula rasa though. Whatever the result of the final, for a club with the circumstances of Tottenham Hotspur to get to this pinnacle moment is absolutely astounding. It is time to show this famous club more respect. It is time to cease the lazy and bilious re-renderings of this anachronistic narrative and to engender a new definition of the ‘Spursy’.