With a new Life during quarantine playlist, Nick Triani focuses on football post-lockdown and the fortunes of his beloved Tottenham Hotspur
The day after Bayern Munich put Barcelona to the sword and ended the era of the superhero footballer, it feels like a great time to reflect not only on football in these Covid-19 times, but more specifically my own team Tottenham Hotspur. Anyone who knows me understands my obsession with football and Spurs. My partner commented recently that I was much nicer at home during lockdown without football and that once the Premier League resumed in July, my mood occasionally erred toward the darker, edgier side of things. It’s true, the fortunes of my chosen team has a profound effect on me and the never ending 2019/20 season has been especially tumultuous for Spurs supporters in general.
Yesterday, Amazon released the full trailer for All or Nothing: Tottenham Hotspur, a forthcoming warts and all behind the scenes TV series that looks at the football club over the last 12 months. And what a period that has been in the club’s history. Merely 12 months ago Spurs played in their first Champions League final, a pinnacle for the club on the world stage and for me as a lifelong supporter. Of course, in typical fashion, despite the heroics to reach the final, Spurs were very tepid in a drab match and lost to a great (but not great on the night ) Liverpool team.
Everything is broken
In his five and a half years at the club former coach Mauricio Pochettino had transformed Tottenham from an occasionally sparkling team to a contender that played a modern version of the football association with a youthful and skillful squad. Our biggest rivals ARSEnal football club were looking jaded after years of domination over us. Plus Poch, as he became affectionately known by the fans, as well as being a prime team motivator, was a little sexy and showed real emotion which endeared him to us even more.
At the beginning of the 2019/20 season, after years of overachieving results with relatively small means, the results went North and our best coach of the modern era went North too. Enter stage left one of the most divisive football coaches of the modern era (and also one of the most successful in football history); José Mourinho. The former special one (nowadays dubbed the toxic one and much despised by the football community at large), initially brought pragmatic football followed by injury hit football and then, once football returned, a mostly successful counter attacking football which gives some hope for next season (only four weeks away people.)
I don’t mind José. Yes, he most certainly is a wind-up merchant, and if a pundit calls him a proven winner again, I swear I’ll…But he’s also an appalling human being masquerading as a slice of post-modern entertainment (which makes him fascinating in a way). The football he coaches can certainly be depressing and negative (shit on a stick), but that overused description of Mourinho being a star, works. He is rarely dull in conversation and doesn’t play the good guy. He’s the anti-Jürgen Klopp, the Dark Prince of football who lacks scruples and even some kind of heart (but still has lots of heart). Compared to the wet soggy abandoned dishcloth of Barcelona coach Quique Setién, Mourinho is electric. I’ll take him whilst he lasts.
Help me if you can
But here is the rub: despite the precautions taken with a deadly pandemic involved and my own personal selfish joy at watching 22 grown men kicking a ball around an empty stadium, football’s restart post-lockdown does smack of the general contentious greed that afflicts society right now. The human race has gradually come round to thinking we can live with the pandemic and fuck the consequences. Capitalism is winning the safety argument and I wonder what world we’re leaving behind for my young children. Environmental concerns seem to be eternally on the backburner whilst we work out a way to abide by the virus and just live. Football, in its acquiescence to supply ‘entertainment’ to pander to nostalgic pangs of normality, doesn’t need to worry about losing its soul (that was lost decades ago). The rest of us who follow our multi-million teams are the ones I’m worried about. At what time do I start to feel disgusted by all this?
Nick Triani is an editor and contributor to One Quart Magazine.