The NLD, the clasico of North London. It matters. To think it doesn't is to admit you don't exist.
There’s a rumour going round that this is a cup final. There is a notion spouted by them that this game matters more than anything else. A theory being thrown by “salmon chino wearing Ruperts” that this match matters more than anything; that twice a year for just over 90minutes nothing else matters. You know what? It’s not a rumour, it’s a fact. The founder of Ferrari, Enzo Ferrari once said: “As long as we win at Monza, nothing else matters.” That genius got it, he understood the importance of keeping the “tifosi” (fans) happy. This game matters more than any other and it is the height of ignorance to think otherwise.
When two clubs sprout forth from the dirt and come to being within earshot of one another there is a natural organic rivalry. On other occasions it can be drawn through religion, through beliefs or in exceptional scenarios because in that country no other teams really exist or have the financial/political power. In Spanish speaking countries any derby is called a “clasico”, of course they vary in international attraction. In Colombia, the Medellin derby, Independiente Medellin v Atletico Nacional, is everything to locals, but hardly causes a ripple here, whereas the “Superclasico” Boca v River Plate, attracts global interest with its march, ticker tape and Latin-fuelled passion. However, regardless of the size, the prestige or whether or not a league title at stake, a “clasico” or a derby really matters; to deny that it doesn’t, is to deny your existence, to deny that your club has roots, has tradition and to proclaim that it is little more than a franchise.
For them to try and dismiss the fixture as nothing more than a game is stupidity in the truest sense. Especially when you consider that they have been nothing more than a yardstick of failure, and in order to try and compete they have taken the Gospel of Wenger, torn it to shreds and used it to wipe up the blood from their sacrifices to achieve top four. By belittling us, they are only magnifying their insignificance.
The attempt to mould and build a team has been forgotten; under pressure from the #WengerOut brigade they went full circle — they reverted to type, they became a franchise interested only in achieving the bare minimum to keep the money rolling in
There was a time when, as a Spurs fan, you looked at what they were doing with fear. Here was a manager with an idea — building something, investing into a thing that may finally bring them what they subconsciously crave, a place in football, a right to belong. He was creating a dynasty, developing youth, bringing through talent that we were told would shake the foundations of our game. It didn’t pan out as planned but it was brave move, it was an admirable attempt, an effort that was worthy of acknowledgement, especially when that young team took on Mourinho’s oil-stained Chelsea in the League Cup. But something snapped. Patience run out. They abandoned their project, they chased the money by throwing the money. The prospects were shipped out and the players who needed nurturing were left behind the bins and forgotten.
Suddenly it was Arshavin, Giroud, Carzola, Ozil, Debuchy and Sanchez. One or two may be good players, but the attempt to mould and build a team has been forgotten, under pressure from the #WengerOut brigade they went full circle, they reverted to type, they became a franchise interested only in achieving the bare minimum to keep the money rolling in, the soulless fans sound biting on AFTV and enough to remain “top four.” They had an opportunity to build, instead they retrofitted on faulty foundations.
Did they complain? Did they question why the project was abandoned? Possibly, but that was drowned out by the eerie silence of cappuccinos being sipped and the red light flashing on Claude’s handycam.
They accepted the umlaut on their Twitter profiles and lauded at how the club were “finally spending money” and how “net spend” is something worth a selfie. The swathes of prospects were tossed out of the window, but one managed to cling to the frame, England’s most overrated midfielder, Jack Wilshere, the one player they have we can actually relate to. I despise him, but I respect him primarily because he gets it. He knows and for that I admire him. Dressed up like a chav, celebrating his 10-minute cameo in the FA Cup final, he let us know what he thought about us. He knew the importance of stepping on your rivals when you have the chance, he recognises that this is a rivalry that should be front and centre. If it had been one of our own, it would have been instant hero status, instead a few of his own fans criticised him for mentioning us.
Their ignorance knows no ends.
Despite his failings, weak ankles and averageness, he is the one player I “get” at Woolwich. The rest of them may as well play for Mars; I don’t know who these coiffured no-marks are. What do they stand for? Who do they represent? Ozil, what is he? Cast out from Madrid, invisible when it matters, that weird celebration, those eyes — who are you?
Giroud? Carzola? Even Gibbs, does he even play anymore or has he been ousted for the Spanish Phil Neville full-time? Even Sanchez, a player I admired at Udinese and respected at Barca… for him to go there makes no sense. Alexis, que pasa? Did no one else want you?
I look at their team now and, although they sit above us in the league and may well finish there, I still see losers. I see players bought for big money playing for a money making factory. They’re just meat being pushed through the mincer to make even more money that they can celebrate.
Since Pochettino joined there has been a seismic shift, the axe has been wielded so much so that we are now at the core of the club, it’s raw, it’s weeping but it’s real. I am proud of it
I am not naïve and I fully realise that Spurs aren’t UNICEF, they are not giving us entertainment and disappointment for free. But I can at least buy into what how they are going about things. Just like the Wenger.2 they are trying to do things the right way, build form the bottom, change the ethos change the style and tap into what matters to you and me. Kane, Mason, Rose, Walker, Bentaleb, Townsend, Onomah, Alli and Dier, they may not have been born here, but they’re from here. They aren’t just picking up the paycheck and throwing a selfie around for prosperity. Since Pochettino joined there has been a seismic shift; the axe has been wielded so much so that we are now at the core of the club. It’s raw, it’s weeping, but it’s real. I am proud of it.
We may come undone at the Emirates, we may in three years or so when our rusty old stadium is pulled down, have our own version of it, but for now we have something that matters more than that, we have a team of us, playing them in a game that matters to us and them. We have a history.
It isn’t our cup final, it’s more important than that.