Read Champions League winners and losers, read a piece about Tottenham’s English spine, read a piece about Liverpool’s defence, read a piece about the need to change in football, then send your thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org
I literally can’t articulate it any better than this.
Come on you f***ing Spurs.
Jon (What hoodoo?!), Spurs
For once, Spurs are more than entitled to release a DVD…
AJ (I gorge on low hanging fruit), Fife.
Remember in the great year of Brendan when Liverpool fans assumed they where the neutrals favourite but obviously weren’t?
Well spurs are. They’re just bloody lovely.
I’m a Spurs fan and I’ve just watched Spurs put Real Madrid, the reigning double European champions, to the sword. 3-1. It wasn’t fluky, wasn’t tight, wasn’t even accompanied by any real fear of Spursiness.
At one point Spurs knocked it around the pitch, playing to the crowd for a good couple of minutes as we ole’d. Against Real Madrid.
How in God’s name am I supposed to react to that?
It says something when Sissoko puts in a solid 4/10 performance and Spurs destroy Madrid.
Andy from Wembley
Their best night in 30 years?
I grew up supporting Tottenham, that’s been almost thirty years (wow I feel old) of watching us do…. Not a whole lot really? But I can honestly say today was the highlight of my time as a Spurs fan. Yes, it might have only been a group stage match, yes, it might have been a sub par Real Madrid team, and yes, it might just lead to us going out in the next round, but who cares?! I can honestly say I’ve never had a better night as a Spurs fan, I’ve never cheered a goal so loudly, I’ve never sung with so much enthusiasm, I’ve never greeted a full time whistle by feeling so amazed at what we’ve just done.
Fans of other teams (mainly United) can say whatever the hell they want about what matters in football, but what matters to me is nights like tonight.
So thank you Pochettino, thank you Kane, thank you Eriksen, thank you Alli and thank you Trippier! Thank you to all the Spurs players who made this a night for the fans that we could only dream of for decades.
JB, London (THFC, obviously)
There seems to be sense that Spurs are being judged by different criteria to other clubs – given an easier time when they lose, and overly lauded when they win. For what its worth, I think there is a lot of truth in that, but more importantly I’d argue its justified.
Clearly, not every club has the same expectations upon them. Expectations are set with reference to past performance and resources at their disposal. A strong showing in league for the last two years has clearly convinced some fans that their expectations should be higher – on a par with other top 6 sides, without any allowance for the fact that the situation at Spurs is very different.
Financially, Spurs are on a completely different level to the other clubs. If you look at the biggest 100 transfers of all time (at least according to Goal.com), then Man Utd account for a whopping 14 of those. Man City and Chelsea have 13 and 11 respectively, whilst Spurs have zero. Spurs wage bill last year was £100m (6th highest in league) compared to£232m at Man Utd.
They are also far less experienced than the other clubs. They have consistently had one of the youngest squads in the Premier League for the past few seasons. When it comes to Champions League football, Spurs are in only their 3rd ever campaign and as of the start of the season had played fewer than 5% of Champions League fixtures of Man Utd.
This is not to say that Spurs’ approach is somehow better than others. Its really borne out of necessity. However, in comparing Spurs to other clubs, these things matter when it comes to expectations. I’d actually quite like it if Spurs could go out and drop £50m-£60m on a couple of players, and maybe in a couple of years we will. However, for now we have had to build a side based identifying potential and backing up with strong coaching.
Much of the comparisons above are with Man Utd, and that is deliberate, largely due to the tendency of some to complain that Mourinho and Pochettino are not treated the same. However, it is absolutely right to judge them differently. One by (perfectly legitimate) choice, is building a side based on expensive older signings and a results-based style of football (cf. Liverpool game). The other (by necessity) is building a side through strong coaching and developing players to meet their requirements. It should be obvious that the former will evaluated on short-term results and success, whilst the latter will be praised so longer as the period of over-performance relative to resources continues.
One final reason why Spurs may get an easier ride. The English connection is important, and not just in a jingoist way. Spurs had 5 English players in their starting XI compared to 10 across the other four English sides in midweek. For England fans, a manager who is not just giving players a chance but actually coaching and developing them is important. Spurs are not just providing an outlet for young English talent but actively improving them. When other clubs do the same (eg. Guardiola with Stones/Sterling this season) they get the same praise. Its just that they don’t do it as much.
Praise from a Chelsea fan
Watching Spurs tonight was an absolute joy. The football they play is sublime and I could watch them all day long. Yes, Real Madrid’s style plays right into their hands, but they just f***ing outplayed Real Madrid. Spurs aren’t meant to do that.
Dele Alli is an extremely difficult person to like but he was absolutely brilliant. Direct powerful runs, little feints to confuse defenders and accurate finishing. He loses possession more than he should but on nights like this it’s hard to fault him.
Pochettino is an absolute genius. What he has done with this team, trophy or not, is outstanding. They are a match for any team in world football. He has them playing with passion and brains, two qualities rarely found side by side.
I shouldn’t have to say this but I feel it adds weight. I’m a Chelsea fan. I love Chelsea but I also love football and I respect people doing it well. Tottenham and Pochettino do it really bloody well.
Lads’, it’s Real Madrid.
Calm down lads, it was only Real Madrid.
Lads, it’s Real Madrid.
Remember that shower got beaten on Sunday by fecking Girona. La Liga first timers!
Brian Clancy, Spurs WoooHooo! , Vancouver
Calm down Spurs; it’s only Real Madrid…
And West Ham must be amazing
Crikey, Man Utd must be excellent.
Who are the favourites now?
Can we all agree to stop harping on weekly about the gulf in class between the haves and have-nots in the Champions League in the group stages, and just enjoy the spectacle when the better teams meet each other?
For example, there were a couple of fantastic games tonight in Napoli-City and of course Spurs-Real, not to mention the goal fest that was Chelsea-Roma a couple of weeks ago (and Roma’s dismantling of Chelsea on Tuesday night too).
We also see a goal laden Group G featuring the season’s surprise packets to date, Besiktas, and the free-scoring Parisians in Group B.
Remember too that this is coming hot off the heels of one of the most memorable knock-out stages last season. And even more compelling is the struggles of recent runners-up Dortmund and Atletico Madrid, and the plight of last season’s neutral’s favourite Monaco.
As things stand, it’s hard to pick a clear favourite, and there are about half a dozen genuine contenders. PSG, City and Spurs are probably the top three in the running on current form, but there are plenty more with a part to play still (including the out-of form duo Real and Bayern).
I have mentioned before that most other sports have tournaments that feature some dross making up the numbers. But there is no way in hell the Champions League should be tarred with the same brush used to make the World Cup a general bore-fest for years now.
Brian (ZZ Drop?), Wexford
The champions league has been derided in recent seasons for seemingly being a procession during the group stages, with obvious quality disparity between the top two teams and the rest of the group.
But take a look down the groups now, and see a list of teams that’s likely to be knocked out at the first hurdle: Atlético Madrid, Napoli, Leipzig, Dortmund and Monaco.
Meanwhile Spurs, City, and United have all qualified, and Liverpool and Chelsea will do so with a game to spare should they win their next match.
It’s not ridiculous to see the next stage be made up of 5 English teams, the Spanish big two, Juve and Roma, PSG, and Bayern, then the other 5 of the teams made up from leagues outside the big 4. I see this as a triumph from the smaller leagues and a victory for the CL overall.
Other teams like Shakhtar and Besiktas add a great unpredictability to the league, and we can only hope it continues into the next stage, rather than being gimmes for the first knockout round.
KC (Benfica though, have performed worse than Qarabag and Apoel, in an easier group)
City played too…
Ederson (24), Stones (23), KDB (26), Sterling (22), Sane(21), B Silva (23), Jesus (20)
Worth mentioning Foden (17) , Diaz (18) and Mendy (23) who I’m sure we’ll see more (a lot more) of next season.
Notwithstanding that Stones is clearly an overpriced, overrated error prone defender, that KDB is an overpriced Chelsea reject and that Sterling is solely responsible for all England’s recent failures as well as not spending his money correctly, I’d say that looks a pretty decent backbone moving forward.
4 goals, away to Napoli!!!!! 4 Goals.
Right…now I must get back to finishing reading the Man Utd moaning mailbox and catching up on the trials and tribulations of Mourinho’s parked bus. Utd supporters used to revel in the fact they considered themselves an entertaining team to watch. Well, I can certainly agree they’re entertaining me right now.
…and their win was more impressive
I was expecting the journalistic jizz tsunami this morning with regards to Spurs excellent victory against an out of sorts (read mini crisis) Real Madrid but let’s settle down peeps City’s victory away against a table topping Napoli was far more impressive and for a United fan to admit this takes quite a bit. City out played an in form free scoring side in their own back yard while Spurs beat a name, now if the Madrid of last year rocked up to Wembley and Spurs beat them then yes eulogise all you want but last night Everton would of given Madrid a game. Still it’s lovely to see English clubs doing well in the Champions League for a change even if we blow every good victory out of proportion.
A couple of years ago the sports pages (and, if memory serves me, your own venerable organ) were publishing various hand-wringing pieces trying to diagnose what had gone wrong with English football on the European stage. As it stands today (early days etc etc) the Premier League is looking pretty imperious in the Champions League, with five teams looking set to go through to the knockouts, four of which currently sit at the top of their groups.
It seemed at the time, to the football press at large and to me at least, that there was some sort of problem in the English game which needed diagnosing. The standard answer was that the Premier League was too competitive and top English teams were going into Champions League games more knackered from the weekend’s fixtures than their European counterparts. With hindsight it seems that we may have been mistaking effect for cause. The Premier League seemed more competitive not because the chaff were so good but because the top sides were underperforming; during the last season and what we’ve seen so far of this season the economic disparity seem between best and rest seems to have manifested itself on the pitch and in the league table in the way you would expect. The “big 6” are currently playing their big boy roles to perfection: Pep’s City looking (at their best) like an updated remix of Pep’s Barça; Spurs hitting the European stage with the stability, deadliness, and bloody-mindedness of Fergie’s Man U; Mourinho’s Man U playing like a standard vintage Mourinho side; Chelsea playing the Very Good Team in Minor – Moderate Crisis role; and Liverpool and Arsenal (Alas, late of this Champions League Parish) rounding it out with two very good but obviously flawed sides.
My point is that it really does seem (early days etc etc) that talk of England’s European demise was premature, and that the blip was not the emergent effect of the peculiar economic dynamics of the Premier League at large but rather a short period of generalised underperformance at the top of the Prem. My question to the mailbox is why was this? Was it the confluence of variouse chance circumstances? Or is there a juicier systemic or more left-field answer to be proferred?
Or are all 5 going to exit in the first knockout round and leave me looking like a tit?
(As a postscript: Growing up as an Evertonian I always felt, with a childish but hopefully understandable logic, that City and Spurs were the Evertons of Manchester and London respectively. If anything can make me feel strangely old and embittered in my mid-20s it’s how totally fortunes have been reversed
for those jammy bastards since then.)
They’re all doing their bit…
An unusually long mail from me so apologies in advance.
Great performances from the English teams in the Champions League this week only add to my cautious optimism around the future of the England team.
Much has been said about the English National team’s success this year at junior levels, with it all of the cynicism towards how can it possibly transfer into the senior team as your esteemed writers have already covered.
However, I am naively hoping a change of tides is in the air – we have “elite” managers giving English players the coaching and chances to improve themselves and succeed.
1) Pochetino with the 427 players he has coached and have made their England debuts; I’m not going to dwell on whilst he deserves the most praise.
2) Guardiola has indisputably improved Stones’ performances this year, not Beckenbauer yet but getting there. He’s also turned Sterling into Townsend x4.
3) Mourinho is keeping Rashford’s fire burning by keeping him and Martial in competition for who is the new Sjolskaer with no loser in that role. Last night’s performance also gave several other bright lights the opportunity to shine.
4) Klopp – if he can give Lallana a really big reiki hug which means he can stay injury free for the season that would be great. If he can coach Jordan how to pass forward that would beat the reiki trick.
5) Conte, Wenger, Dyche – need to do better.
Great to see the English teams doing well obviously; however I’m hoping this improvement will flow through to the national team as we are seeing more significant contribution from the home grown players than recently.
Think of the impact Guardiola had on the Spanish national team during his time at Barca…it’s all cyclical…great managers improve players to become the best that they can be.
Brian (ok, I admit Dyche is doing extremely well with what he has to work with) BRFC
Conte and Pep
There’s one thing I’ve been wanting to write about Chelsea and Conte this season. After some reflections, I see a distinct parallel between Pep last season and Conte this season.
1. Both managers are rigidly sticking to a style of play – build up from the back to the front. Regardless of the opponent and the players at disposal.
2. A lot of experimenting with the back line: While both managers had issues, they ended up experimenting too much with the backline (pep last season and Conte now). Chopping and changing back line results in one eventuality only – chaos. We saw Pep losing games 4-0 last season and Conte is now losing 3-0. The commonality – defensive howlers and pandemonium.
3. The teams continue to blow hot and cold. Both Chelsea this season and City last season have been winning a game or two and losing one badly.
However, the most important difference is this – Man City for what is worth are a better run club than Chelsea. They realize you don’t probably get any better than Pep and invested in him – giving him whatever he asked. And the result – City will blow the title and probably go for a deep run in the CL. Abramovich has to finally understand sense. Conte has been whining all summer about lack of actual squad additions. He needs two wing backs. He needs another striker. He needs any winger whose name is not Willian. He also needs another central midfield player. Give him all of this and watch. However, we know how the script will go. Conte if he survives the season may leave on his own accord, or Hiddink will be put on hold till another permanent coach starts next summer.
Aravind, Chelsea Fan.
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