They say never let facts get in the way of a good story, but when the consequences of such hearsay could have a major impact on someone’s reputation then there is a real problem.
Of course, this is nothing new within football – where the mainstream media love to work under the guise of ‘our sources’ to force a narrative that suits the direction of the story. Unfortunately, these methods have the desired results and the negativity rubs off on the common supporter who genuinely start to believe what they read.
The reaction to Marcus Edwards returning to Tottenham from his loan spell from Norwich has been astounding, as fans buy into the story that he is simply another young footballer with an attitude problem and who will ultimately fail to deliver on his unquestionable potential. In short, it is absolute tripe, based on little fact and an unwelcome distraction for one of – if not the best – young talents in the country.
There is a report in the Telegraph this week suggested that Edwards had an attitude problem, who failed to turn up for training on time throughout his three month stay at Carrow Road. If that was true then I am sure the Canaries would have jettisoned him out a damn sight sooner. Another aspect was how the 19-year-old failed to blend in with the current squad, which therefore must make you question why Daniel Farke continued to keep him in the matchday squad if his presence was such a distraction. But hey, as mentioned, why let facts get in the way of a good story?
Having broken into the Tottenham team last season, with a scintillating display against Gillingham, everyone – including the media – was wax-lyrical about his precocious talent. Pochettino famously likened him to Lionel Messi, which in many ways was an unfair comparison and added undue pressure and expectation on his shoulders. Unfortunately, injuries curtailed further opportunities to breakthrough into the 1st team but he did manage to feature in the last 10 Premier League 2 fixtures to secure himself a place in the victorious England U19 European Championship squad.
Whilst the 2017-18 season hasn’t seen any inclusion around the 1st team squad, the decision to loan him out to Norwich was the opportunity for game-time. However, the fact he was used sparingly has much to do with Farke’s team selections more than anything else. Loan moves don’t always work out and it’s fair to say that a certain Harry Kane had very few successful loan spells as a youngster and he hasn’t done too badly for himself since, has he?
I think the frustrating thing for me and what I take exception to, is the polarising of a young footballer who could ultimately be one of the finest talents to represent both Tottenham and England. Rather than embrace his incredible abilities and revel in his potential – remember this is a player that has already represented his country no fewer than 48 times – the media look at ways of derailing him using another of their tired methods where they build people up, only to knock them down.
If Edwards had an attitude problem, then he would not have progressed through the England ranks at the rate he has done and accumulated the number of appearances he has for the Three Lions. None of these coaches have expressed any concern about it, so why now is it raised as an issue? Maybe he is just an introvert character who keeps himself to himself and lets his football do his talking – why is that such a bad trait?
Edwards has returned to Tottenham and under Pochettino’s he is working under the ideal coach to bring the best out of him. It is fair to say that the Argentine is patient with young players before giving them regular opportunities, with Harry Winks being a prime example.
I think we as Tottenham supporters need to embrace the fact that Edwards is still young and we have one of the best young players in Europe amongst our ranks. Having had the pleasure early in the season of watching him tear Luke Shaw apart in the U23’s, there is no doubt that Edwards will adapt to Premier League with relative ease once he is given this chance to shine.
Let’s not lose sight that he has only just turned 19 and Edwards has plenty of time on his side. But, more importantly, let’s not buy into this media agenda that is starting to build against a player who has the potential to be one of the greatest footballers to wear the white of both Tottenham and England.