Tottenham Living in Limbo

In my mind, there is a snapshot of the day we said farewell. The swelling mass of bodies filling up green space; the undulating sea of white and navy surrounding them on all four sides; the faint colours of a rainbow peaking over the golden cockerel overlooking it all. A perfect moment of chaotic tranquillity before the relentless beat of football carried us all away. 

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Every second that ticked by was another that took us further from that unique instant. An indelible mark left, but one that grew fainter the second it passed. As we took the final steps out of our fabled home, no longer was it a living, breathing landscape – it had already become a memory. And no matter how many times we reminisce, it is never going to live again.

It is just four months since, yet it couldn’t feel further away. Now, the curse continues to loom, there’s a Danny Rose shaped hole in the bow of our ship and every movement of Dele Alli is examined with anxiety and suspicion. You might wonder how we’ve come from there to here so fast, but that’s just the nature of it.

It seems sinful to be frustrated about Tottenham right now. How can we possibly moan after our best league performance in many of our lifetimes? After that perfect finale to our time at the Lane? We have so much to be thankful for, yet still, the tension lingers. This season was inevitably going to be trying though. The interim ‘home’ means that once again Tottenham are stuck in the void of transition when all the pieces are there to place us at our peak.

One more year at White Hart Lane and we would have been fully set. Two differing title challenges behind us, new systems learned and a chance to bolster a talented squad. With that impeccable home record, Spurs would finally have been ready from day one to mount a challenge with no false start. Of course, it couldn’t be that simple.

Wembley. The scourge. That variable that upset the balance going into this campaign, casting doubt that might otherwise have been belief. Once more we weren’t viewed as contenders and Wembley was the primary reason. It still is. It is an asterisk next to our name that needed to be deleted as early as possible, but has so far proven difficult to shrug. 

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Every frustrating performance at Wembley is compared to last year at White Hart Lane, the problems magnified as a result. Maybe the disappearance of last season’s belief has become fuel for fear of the future. What if that was as good as it gets? But for Wembley, we’d be fully convinced this year could really be the year. Now, because of it, it might be too late.

Kyle Walker has already gone. Eric Dier seemed keen to follow. The problems with Rose only accentuated the worries we already held about keeping this team intact. Failure this time around could be the catalyst for the disintegration of three years of hard grafting. At least that’s what we’re led to believe. Those doubts creep into the psyche and pulse louder with each setback. 

Perhaps we peaked too early. We’re so far ahead of schedule that by the time we move into our new home, we may already be on the downturn. After the ultimately futile highs of the last two campaigns, that thought is terrifying. It seems like this has all been a journey to an end and if that end isn’t glory, then what? Only unfulfilled promise and regret.

That’s an oversimplified view however. There will never be anything like the Lane’s finale again, but sparks continue to fly amid what we are told are the crumbling walls of Pochettino’s empire. The late flurry of business invited fresh enthusiasm. Beating Borussia Dortmund finally created a Wembley memory. A night that truly conjured a similar thrill as Gareth Bale’s Inter rampage. 

Apologies for adding to the gloom then, when there are reasons to smile too. This isn’t meant to be pessimistic – I’m not suggesting that the fears for the future will come true. I’m just trying to make sense of how we’ve come from one place to this one in such a short amount of time. It’s alright to feel frustrated when we’re failing to break down Swansea at home. It’s fine to curse Pochettino for getting his tactics wrong. It couldn’t stay perfect forever, not with the ongoing transformation of Tottenham’s very identity. 

It will continue to be a strange, foreign-feeling season. Yet, there will be more nights like Dortmund. There is a fair chance we might end up even more successful than last season, despite current concerns. But on the insecure footing we currently find ourselves on, it is natural to feel uncertain. The good and the bad in football – it’s only temporary.

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