The famous adage suggests that the customer is always right. And when you pay anything from £35 upwards for a seat at White Hart Lane, Spurs supporters are entitled to voice whatever frustrations they may bestow upon their beloved club. But on this occasion, a very small minority have suggested that the customer does indeed get some things wrong- in this case, very wrong indeed.
Time and again we talk about the supporters right to critique their team, their manager and the players when frustration boils over. But being a supporter of a club necessitates more than just cheering the team on when the times are good. Hiding behind the price paid for your stadium access card doesn’t make those who booed the side off during Saturday’s 1-1 draw with West Brom immune from criticism themselves.
Those who voiced their grief in such a way didn’t just choose the wrong channel to do so, but there are serious implications to the booing aswell. It can be very hard to buy into a new project at a club and Andre Villas-Boas will have to do more to win over the doubters who still pine for the swashbuckling of the Harry Redknapp era. But turning frustration into anger isn’t the answer. Another trait in the supporters’ armory is that of responsibility. Heaping the new manager under that sort of pressure after two games is as irresponsible as it is undoubtedly shortsighted.
At risk of pointing out the obvious, an interesting observation can be made out of the public standing of Spurs’ two most prominent figureheads at the club. You could make a relatively strong argument that Spurs’ chairman beholds a far more affectionate rapport with some sections of fans, than the manager himself. Daniel Levy has been at the club for over a decade of course and he has commandeered the club through continuous progression. Villas-Boas has only been in N17 for a matter of weeks.
But it’s difficult to think of another example at a football club where the chairman has such an unprecedented level of backing from the fans. His public profile is hugely prominent and whether it is coaxing out a profit for Niko Kranjcar or getting rid of Harry Redknapp, Levy has had the majority of his fans’ backing. That’s not to say that everyone is in complete agreement over his methods as chairman and his transfer brinkmanship in particular, has riled some. But where else would you find a hashtag like ‘#InLevyWeTrust’?
Although there feels as if for some, the support goes too far. You can’t back the chairman to the hilt, support his array of decisions but then start panning Andre Villas-Boas, the man he chose to appoint, after two games. It’s completely out of line.
Because the truth is, however many masterstrokes that Levy performs in-between the publication of this article and the end of the transfer window, he is as at much fault as Villas-Boas is for the team’s Premier League start- potentially even the bulk of it. The fact is, Tottenham have begun their season with a squad that the new manager deems unlikely to resemble what it should do come September the 1st.
He has come in with a remit to change the team, alter the set-up and tweak the style, yet he’s not been allowed the tools to implement any of it. How can he be expected to get off to this idealistic, flying start, when he hasn’t been backed (yet) in the transfer market? Villas-Boas hasn’t been able to bring his own players in yet. If we include the match fitness of Emmanuel Adebayor on Saturday, he has also started the first two games of the season with one recognized striker who does not fit the set-up in which he wants to play. To top it off, the best player at the football club has been sold and a vital replacement yet to be brought in.
Now you can spend all day weighing up the financial merits of leaving your business till late August or the implications of the Luka Modric deal, but it simply doesn’t matter. The fact is that Villas-Boas has started the season with his hands tied behind his back.
And still, the team have played some bright, astute football. Of course, not everything has been perfect and it’s hard to argue against West Brom’s worthiness of a point on Saturday. But even if we forget the aforementioned circumstances, it’s not even as if the physical performances of the team have deserved any manner of booing. The team was unlucky to say the least to loose 2-1 to Newcastle and despite fading as the game went on; they dominated West Brom for 45 minutes.
Some will point to the outpouring of a few boos at the end of a game as an isolated flashpoint of passion. And in some respects, that is true. But fans aren’t oblivious to the stigma that booing brings and the irresponsibility of those who kicked-off on Saturday simply cannot be underestimated. Villas-Boas maintains a pretty negative media profile in this country and it’s not necessarily as a result of his on pitch fate at Chelsea. He maintained a frosty relationship with the press during his time at Stamford Bridge to say the least and he’s just replaced one of the most media-chummy managers of all time in Harry Redknapp. It’s not some urban myth. The knives are already being sharpened for Andre Villas-Boas.
Read the match-reports from Saturdays’ game and the common denominator is the use of the ‘b’ word within the column inches. Supporters know that it was a small minority and most are well behind Villas-Boas. But it’s all very well developing a siege mentality to the tune of not caring what the others say. The reality however, just does not conform to that.
The small minority are represented as a majority, things are twisted and the manager comes under enormous media pressure. It sounds like hyperbole but we’ve seen it a thousand times how the extrinsic effects of Fleet Street et al can affect a club. The manager, the players and the football club do not need that and however disillusioned some may be, the boos felt wrong on just about every level.
There is a possibility that after the transfer window closes, as many three or four faces could alter the starting XI at White Hart Lane. Things haven’t been perfect by any means, but there has to be some perspective to manage expectation. The gentlemen up the road at the Emirates currently possess only one more point in the league.
This article isn’t about to patronize the overwhelming majority who are going to fervently support their team and new manager at White Hart Lane for the visit of Norwich City this weekend. But if you’re one of those who voiced their discontent at proceedings against West Brom, it’s time to hold your breath this Saturday.
White Hart Lane needs to become a fortress again and the new set-up is only going to prosper if everyone gets behind it. And in some respects, that era won’t even start until the transfer window slams shut. Don’t kill it, before it’s even had the chance to begin.
Am I wrong to criticise the boo boys? Or are you disheartened that a small majority are unfairly heaping pressure on a regime that’s not even got off the ground? Tell me exactly how you see it on Twitter: follow @samuel_antrobus and get the Spurs talk going.