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It’s not Tottenham’s fault that things go wrong. It’s the reporting that’s bent.

By Dr Billy “the Dog” McGraw, head of psychiatry at the University College Hospital of the North Circular Road

“Spurs have embarrassed English football in a way Arsenal never did’.

That statement came from Adrian Durham of talkSPORT; an extremely rare bit of Arsenal supporting and Tottenham knocking. and it is interesting because this sort of mindless rabble rousing is the stuff that much of the media follows and develops in their five line articles.  Except not normally about Tottenham.

He rambled on,

“This result for Spurs is more of an embarrassment to the Premier League than Arsenal ever inflicted on the English top flight,” and he suggested that Mauricio Pochettino’s team should each individually apologise for their dreadful result.  He also declared that Mr Pochettino was guilty of stupid management adding…

“7-2 is a humiliation that really is a massive red flag waving in front of everybody’s face at Spurs.  Something clearly is wrong.  His [Pochettino’s] tactical management of the game was pathetic. I think his players failed to play for him – failing to run, failing to close down FOR him. They’re not playing for him. That is a massive, massive problem.  Spurs have embarrassed the Premier League, they’ve embarrassed English football with that showing in that second half.  They’ve embarrassed English football in a way Arsenal never did. At 5-2 the Bayern Munich fans were singing ‘Football’s Coming Home’. I was embarrassed listening to it.   No English club should give an opponent a reason to embarrass us and Spurs should apologise to all of us.”

Now let us ponder this issue of being embarrassed.   Here’s a dictionary definition of the word

To embarrass is defined as to make someone feel self-conscious or make someone feel badly about himself. An example of embarrass is when you tease someone in front of his friends about a mistake he has made.

So was the Premier League made to feel self-conscious because Tottenham screwed up at home?  I am not sure.  The only people who OUGHT to feel self-conscious (but almost certainly won’t be) are people in the media, such as those at Talk Sprout who have been giving us several years worth of how wonderful Tottenham are.

The fact is over the past four seasons Tottenham have been much better than they were before, but at the same time have achieved no more than Arsenal were regularly achieving under Mr Wenger in the years of austerity.  Here’s Tottenham of late…

Season P W D L F A Pts Pos FAC LgC Europe Ex
2015–16 38 19 13 6 69 35 70 3rd R5 R3 Europa Ro16
2016–17 38 26 8 4 86 26 86 2nd SF R4 Champions Group
Europa Ro32
2017–18 38 23 8 7 74 36 77 3rd SF R4 Champions Ro16
2018–19 38 23 2 13 67 39 71 4th R4 SF Champions R/U

There’s the 3rd, 2nd, 3rd and 4th in the League, plus going out in the round of 16 in the Europa, the group stages in the Champs (and round of 32 in Europa) the round of 16 and one runners’ up.

True Arsenal did not achieve a runners’ up spot – we did that in an earlier part of Mr Wenger’s reign, and the recent selection given below shows us getting two 4ths a 3rd and a 2nd – slightly worse than Tottenham.

But then we did make it through to the knock out stages of the Champions League each time, and oh look, we won the FA Cup twice.

But the fact is Arsenal achieved this having built the stadium and being in the era paying for it.  Tottenham did that in the build up to the stadium opening – before they started the big time paying for it.

Consider these four years from Arsenal’s recent history, taken from Wiki…

Season P W D L
F A Pts Pos
2012–13 38 21 10 7 72 37 73 4th R5 QF Champions League R16
2013–14 38 24 7 7 68 41 79 4th W R4 Champions League R16
2014–15 38 22 9 7 71 36 75 3rd W R3 Champions League R16
2015–16 38 20 11 7 65 36 71 2nd QF R3 Champions League R16

And yet, the celebration of Arsenal as a wonderful team with a wonderful manager was non-existent during that period – we were entering the Wenger out era.  Even coming runners’ up in the league after two FA Cup wins was ignored.   As was the fact that one more FA Cup win for Mr Wenger would make him the most successful FA Cup manager ever.  It wasn’t talked about at all after the 2014/15 win (except by Untold of course) when he did achieve that extraordinary feat.

Instead we still get the endless niggling against Arsenal.  And although Tottenham have been criticised for the 2-7 defeat, and although there is the occasional wild out-of-control rant from a few commentators, Tottenham are still seen to be doing ok while Arsenal get knocked and knocked.

It reminds me of the unbeaten season when the media, instead of truly celebrating, pointed out that it wasn’t really unbeaten since we had been knocked out of all three cups, and it wasn’t the first time it had happened since Preston North End did it soon after the Battle of Hastings.

Of course Arsenal will continue to have ups and down, and yes they should be reported.   And the downs are reported quite a lot.  It would just be nice if a few ups could be reported too.

And that brings me back to my headline.  Tottenham don’t have the sort of heritage of League and FA Cup wins that Arsenal have but for the past couple of seasons they have been reported as if they do – not by Tottenham fans but by the media.  So expectations rise way beyond the realistic position of the club.   And it is all done so that when disaster strikes, the media can have their way with Tottenham, as they have for years with Arsenal.

Tottenham are a much better team than they were during most of Mr Wenger’s reign at Arsenal, but as yet they are a long way from the consistency of regularly winning trophies.  It is just that the journalists have set them up as the next wonderful thing – a certainty for endless seasons in the Champs League and challenging at the top of the PL.

You never know, they might become that, but they are not there yet.

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