Glory

What is Glory?

The game is about glory. But what is Glory? Is Glory winning matches? Is Glory playing beautiful football, through victory and defeat? Is Glory playing 11 Dawson’s and Townsend’s, players who play with their heart in their sleeves? Is Glory scoring off a instinctive and superbly choreographed free-kick, corner or throw-in? Is Glory playing horrible and still winning? Is Glory playing beautiful and still losing?

Glory can manifest as anything, in truth. Glory is what you want it to be. I’ve asked this question to a number of people the question; “What is Glory about?” I have received all of the above answers. I know a person who would say it’s about winning matches. Another would say, actually, I would say it’s about playing beautiful, gung-ho football through thick and thin. Another person would say it’s about playing 11 players who play with their hearts in their sleeves. A person, a West Ham fan, would say it’s scoring off an superbly choreographed set piece.

Tottenham Hotspur has a philosophy and, call me an idealist, but I don’t want to lose that for anything. Not for money, not for trophies, not for success.

Glory.

Glory is whatever you make it. For me, glory is daring to do. For me, glory is playing beautiful football through thick and thin.

Winning Ugly or Losing Pretty:

Which match did you prefer? The 6-4 win in 2008 against Reading or either of the 3-1’s against Reading last season. Answering that question can go a very long to deciding what side of the debate you’re own.

One game was a professional performance. A game where Spurs went ruthlessly about eviscerating Reading.

One game was a bad performance. Plain and simply but the brilliance of Dimitar Berbatov saw us through.

I enjoyed one match and I didn’t enjoy the other.

I had seen the exact same match a number of times before. The set-up is always the same with Spurs. We control possession, get 11 men behind the ball when defending, never attempt the killer pass until it’s a certainty to work, shoot a lot from long range because we lack creativity and concede from a set piece. We play the percentages. It was exciting for a while.

I’ve seen it all before and it no longer excites me. It’s like watching a Verdi opera or a Coen movie for the fiftieth time. The first time you saw it, it was swashbuckling. The second time you saw it, it was brilliant. The tenth time you saw it, it was exciting. The sixty-ninth time you see it, it’s turgid.

A Club I used to know:

What we have now isn’t what I fell in love with as a child. Don’t get me wrong, I think the squad is very talented. Success has never gotten me very excited. In the search for success, we have lost track of our identity. I grew the team doing brilliant things but it never led to anything material.  Sure it wasn’t very successful, but it got me on the edge of my seat.

I was able to enjoy the 90 minutes because the team was so ramshackle. It was held together with masking tape, almost.  Those 90 minutes every Saturday and periodically every Wednesday. Those 90 minutes were exhilarating, I never knew what was going to happen. That’s what football is all about. It’s about excitement.

Especially, in the modern era of commercialization. The big clubs are only going to get bigger. They’ll stock-pile squads of incredibly talented players, some of whom can’t even get on the pitch. Their squads will be too big and strong for any other clubs to compete. They’ll win everything. Clubs that don’t have petro-dollars backing them will have to find solace with smaller, simpler things. Like playing with a certain philosophy.

Don’t Dare to Do:

Much has been made, entire arguments have been made on the perception that the turgid football Tottenham played against Hull (and have for a while) is just a stepping stone. It’s our time in purgatory until we reach heaven. A necessary evil. A trade-off for future success.

This is not not so. What we see here is what we get. Obviously, the performances will get better but the attitude, the pragmatism will stay the same. Here are a few excerpts from the foreword by Luís Freitas Lobo in Andre’s Villas-Boas’ biography ‘Special Too.’

In his ‘Ten Commandments’ of ball possession Villas-Boas prefers, as a ‘fundamental commandment’, that players hold on to the ball rather than the speculative attitude of waiting to recover the ball then breaking fast towards the opponents goal (the so-called quick transitions). Instead of four or five long passes, Villas-Boas doesn’t mind if his team take 14 or 15 short and squarer passes, until they reach the opponents area

Keep in mind, that Villas-Boas censored this.

Even if it means that to get the shape of the team right there is the need for a back-pass or to pass the ball around at the back.

Also, this is probably relevant.

Persuading fans to be patient – by nature they are intolerant of a tea, which seems slow in taking the initiative to attack. the opposing team – is I believe the greatest triumph for a manager other than achieving the right results.

The key quote is “players hold on to the ball rather than the speculative attitude.” Villas-Boas doesn’t play expansively. He keeps things tight at the back. He tries to control possession and the flow of the game and doesn’t allow anything as uncontrollable as individuality.

I never trust any reporter outright. A few anecdotes of my own. When we’re defending corners, Villas-Boas brings everyone back. 11 men are in the vicinity of the box. Freitas Lobo states in ‘Special Too’ that this is because counter-attacks are ‘uncontrollable.’ Villas-Boas is afraid that a player could get caught out of position on the counter-counter-attack. This exudes a philosophy of pragmatism. A-don’t-dare-to-do-anything-wrong philosophy.

We have lacked creativity against teams that park the bus since the beginning of time but Villas-Boas hasn’t changed anything to rectify that. Against Hull or any bus parking team, for that matter, it’d be so easy to play Holtby in his preferred position in the pivot and play Eriksen in the hole. This would give us two adept passers and those passing triangles that AVB loves so much. The trade-off is less defensive cover.  This is why Villas-Boas hasn’t played both Holtby and Eriksen. This, as well, exudes pragmatism and a don’t-dare-to-do-anything-wrong philosophy.

His philosophy is, I wouldn’t go as far to say the polar opposite but it’s certainly different from what I want to see. Not to beat around the bush, AVB isn’t the type of coach I want coaching my club.

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