After months of suffering in silence, literally, Andre Villas-Boas finally spoke of our fans’ lack of voice and support for the players during the 1-0 win over Hull yesterday. Today, myself and @SpursInTheBlood (Ishaq Ahmed) will review where it has gone wrong and how we can make White Hart Lane a fortress once again.
Nikhil: In my opinion, we have been seeing demise in the atmosphere since Harry Redknapp left – possibly even before. Many fans were admirers of him and our playing style at the time and were appalled by his sacking. These same fans are yet to accept Villas-Boas as our manager due to the different approach he offers to each game. We now take the Europa League and Capital One Cup far more seriously than Redknapp ever did, giving us more chance of lifting silverware – something every fan wants. However, with a section of fans yet to place their trust in our Portuguese manager, where do things lie when atmosphere comes into account?
Ishaq: Definitely. I have to agree with everything you’ve said, Nikhil. If we are losing/drawing, the fans need to be behind the boys. We can’t afford for any supporter to be leaving games depending on what the scoreline reads. If the players see supporters filing out of the ground, they automatically feel the fans do not care and switch off. We have to sing loud and proud for the full ninety minutes of action. From a supporter’s point of view, we pay premium price and leaving early or not using our money wisely defeats the purpose. Your money goes down the drain if you leave early.
Nikhil: Exactly, we pay premium price and therefore, we usually receive premium product. We haven’t started this season with our usual glamour and style but when you make the major changes that we did, you can’t expect the players to settle immediately. The gelling process will still take time, during which fans have to be patient because once this team gels, other teams won’t know what has come their way. The signings of Eriksen, Lamela, Paulinho and so on are purchases of world class players. In the case of Lamela, he is 21 and has moved into the unknown without knowing a word of the language. It takes time for him to get used to the culture and style of the country as well as the speed and style of the English game.
Ishaq: I totally agree. We cannot expect any players, especially from foreign leagues, to come into the Premier League and settle straight away. We all know that our league is the best in the world and takes getting used to. We have seen examples like Luka Modric and Gareth Bale taking their time to settle into the league and then tearing other teams apart later on. Where are they both now? Real Madrid; arguably the best team in the world, playing alongside the likes of Casillas, Ramos, Isco, Alonso and of course, Cristiano Ronaldo. It took time, patience and support from our fans to help both players, and many others, to adapt to the speed of the Premier League. Our supporters can under no circumstances boo our players, especially the new ones, for not fulfilling their potential yet. We need to be patient and give them every ounce of support we can in order to give them a path to success. Sing for the shirt.
Nikhil: The examples of Bale and Modric are spot on. Some players, such as Van der Vaart and Eriksen, hit the ground running whilst others blend in slowly. Look at Lewis Holtby. We spent a mere £1.5million on him in January and he showed positive signs but struggled to adapt to English football. This season, he has started to show the form that some of us saw at Schalke and is beginning to show off his talent. The same has to be done for the likes of Erik Lamela, who was terrific for Roma and will set the Premier League alight once he settles down. Villas-Boas, a man of many talents, can help him. Our manager speaks English, Portuguese, Spanish and French. This will help him to help the players understand his messages and transfer his vision onto the pitch.
Ishaq: I absolutely agree with what you said about Holtby. When he first arrived, not many fans fancied him as a first team regular. However, this season he was handed competition in the newly bought Christian Eriksen and existing playmaker Gylfi Sigurdsson. This brought out the best in him and he has produced numerous assists already, in addition to his wonderful goal vs Dinamo Tbilisi. All of a sudden, fans have grown on him and he is becoming liked more and more. He is impossible to dislike now and I know that Nikhil has always believed in him. The day before we signed him, Nikhil said that Holtby would become a world class player – hopefully he is proved right. The above is the same for any signing. They may not settle immediately but once they familiarise themselves, they will click into form. This is why we are urging Spurs fans to sing and chant about our players and give them belief, trust and hope to make them feel at home. White Hart Lane is our fortress, our land, where no other man can survive. If you happen to dislike a certain player, sing for the shirt if not for the individual. Don’t let one player hamper your love or support for the team itself.
Nikhil: Perfectly put. Hopefully my belief and trust in Holtby pays off later in his career. He will become phenomenal, hopefully it is for us. During the Hull City game, the likes of Kyle Walker and Jan Vertonghen were confronted by fans are given stick. How do we expect players to perform well if they are constantly being abused? Also, how can we expect them to remain loyal to Spurs when they are on the end of jeering like that? With Barcelona and Real Madrid both monitoring Jan Vertonghen and Hugo Lloris, we can’t expect to keep hold of them if they are getting hammered by our fans, can we?
Ishaq: No we can’t. The fans play a major part in the life of a player at a club and if our fans treat our players how they have been, a player’s desire to leave will be understandable. I think that as the talent and quality at White Hart Lane has increased, so has the expectation. But the expectation that we have to thump every team is wrong.
Nikhil: Exactly, Ishaq. The atmosphere is going from our home and it is our responsibility as loyal, loving fans to reinstate this cauldron of noise that was once present in N17. Let’s revive the atmosphere and reap the benefits.
Ishaq: We need to make White Hart Lane a torturous away day for fans and players and a nightmare for any team to visit. Get behind the team if you want to see us win. The lads will be more energetic when they hear positive chants rather than jeers. We need to support the lads and sing all game. Non stop.
For those of you on Twitter, an account called @ReviveTheLane are doing their best to bring back the atmosphere. Also check out @TheFightingCock, who book sections of the ground for certain games within which the louder set of fans can sing and chant for the full 90 minutes. Come On You Spurs!