Date: 7th October 2018 at 7:57am
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THFC: Winning at all costs!

There have been lots of opinions expressed on VS about such things as; the need for trophies, the need to finish games off from winning positions, the entertainment value, playing the game in the ‘traditional’ Spurs manner, prioritising competitions, the need to ‘play ugly’ for a win, and the need to win at all costs. So how does it all stack up when we look at our current position on the league table?

Our last two league wins provided some interesting comments on VS. The main theme on both match threads was one of disappointment and negativity, despite the wins. Players have been denigrated for their individual performances, the team has been criticised for its lack of intensity, and the manager criticised for team selections. All of which are extremely valid opinions, founded in reality.

The effects of the World Cup on many of our players and the current injury crisis, have all been acknowledged but, despite this (or because of it), the style of play in both recent wins, and some earlier games, have not been enjoyed. The entertainment value of watching our team play the positive and impressive football that we have all enjoyed for much of the last three seasons has declined.

Well, now we’ve seen to some extent what winning ugly and winning without style looks like. It’s not too impressive as a spectacle and certainly not what we’ve become accustomed to. It seems that many of the supporters who have previously screamed for a trophy at any cost are the first to condemn the current standard of football being played …. despite somehow having our best start to any season in the PL era.

Pundits always mention our ‘pressing game’ before any match is played. They don’t seem to realise that, for whatever reason, our pressing game has gone awol and we have become the team that is being ‘pressed’. The fluency we displayed when in possession has disappeared with it. And yet we still sit in third place on the table … at least until Chelsea play their next game.

There are a number of tough PL games on the horizon with the pressure of CL games in between. It’s a period that will probably define our season. The effects of the World Cup, the mounting injury issues, and the lack of transfer activity will make this period even more intense. Obviously it’s quite probable that once the injury problems are resolved the train will be back on the track. The question is whether we will remain in the mix for a top four place until that happens. It appears to me that to finish anywhere in the top four this season would be a huge success. And, despite everything, it is still very achievable.

Many will point to the lack of transfer activity as having the most crucial impact on our ability to inter-change squad members. And there is little argument to that. It’s true. But there is little that can be done about it now apart from continuing to complain. It is what it is and, somehow, a way needs to be found to overcome it.

But I’m wondering ….. would supporters still enjoy winning a trophy by playing boring and mediocre football (by our standards) at the cost of the entertainment we have been able to enjoy in recent times? Because if that is what they want, why complain about the perceived sub-standard performances that are on show at the moment. Of course, with the current season so young and so many matches left to play, everything is open to speculation and anything is possible. Gotta love football!

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116 Replies to “Tottenham Hotspur. Winning At All Costs.”

  • Hi Geof, good article.

    But, I’m pissed off this morning. No, it’s not because of yesterday’s poor but winning performance. But, because about half an hour ago, I wrote and submitted quite a long and thought out post that read like a response to this very article and I would’ve copied and pasted it here… But once again, after sending, it hasn’t appeared. I can’t be asked to rewrite it
    But at the end of it all I said that when our performances start to improve (and I’m sure they will), that I really do hope that our overall results don’t somehow get worse…

    I wanna be entertained by great and entertaining football but I want Spurs to win every match we play… Meanwhile, I’m more than happy to take the compromise… That is until we play “ugly” but lose…

  • That post above has turned up about 45 mins after I submitted it. Maybe the one on the other thread will also turn up later….

  • I posted the following on the match thread late last night in response to a post by DoncasterHotspur, seems to fit well with the subject of your article Geof so thought I would bring it across.

    Doncaster……. “I’ve said all along that they will struggle to fill the new stadium unless we are challenging for the title”.

    I don’t think anyone is denying the performance today left much to be desired but the fact is, even after tomorrows games, at worst we will 4 points off the top and at best just two points off after 8 games. Considering how poor our performances have been, with the exception of the Manu game, that isn’t too shabby and must surely be considered as challenging for the title?

  • Where to start… “The effects of the World Cup on many of our players and the current injury crisis, have all been acknowledged” really ? because many of the comments I’m reading on this site don’t acknowledge that at all. Again the moaning about the transfer window. Again no explanation of who it was we should have signed. As always its all about men with no names. All winning sides have the ability to win when they aren’t playing well. Without it forget about league titles. Hopefully as the season wears on we will improve. But if we’ve already lost touch in the league by then it won’t matter. So rather than criticising the team for winning when they are struggling I’m applauding them.

  • For me, the recent concerns about how poor our football has been, in spite of our PL standing, could well prove to be all too ironic in the end, to be at all over-concerned with right now.

    Because, rather than this being the big downer that I’m seeing and hearing from so many Spurs supporters, I see it as potentially, even more a sign of much better things to come. To me, this looks very much like a team that could very well win something this season.

    Why? Simply because I can only see us improving our play and, better still, improving on our not too shabby results. …

    I remember the Foxes winning the PL and I remember virtually a whole season of PL supporters asking how can they keep playing as poorly as they do, as ugly as they are and yet, just keep winning? Whilst we all watched Spurs playing some very neat and entertaining football but, not quite winning enough.

    I also remember the “Boring, Boring Arsenal” “1-0’s” of George Graham. And, I remember United’s “Fergie Time” equalisers and winners. Those two guys and their teams, won stuff!

    With our players and manager I’m absolutely certain that we’ll never see a whole seasons worth of “boring, boring”. And, Fergie’s United were not just plain lucky. We all know that they could win ugly too. But lets not forget they could also play some stunning football at times as well….

    Maybe, just maybe, we’re seeing the rise of something new and not dissimilar at Spurs…

    The good win. The Bad win. And the Ugly win. And hey, ain’t variety supposed to be the spice of life?

    Cheer up all, because it might just happen…

  • HT …. You seem to be having a problem with your posts. Would it be an idea to type your comment on ‘words’ and then cut and paste it to VS. You’ll have a copy then at least until the problem is solved?

  • jod …. I think you may have missed the point. But that’s fine because everyone will have their own fixations and interpretations.

  • Geofspurs – “I think you may have missed the point”. But of course you don’t say what point I’m supposed to have missed. A bit like the men with no names.

  • I have witnessed spurs wins this season (loss to Barca) at Wembley and away via TV. We are well below our normal game levels or injuries and squad rotations. Yet.. we have more points at this stage than last season. So when our players have recovered and we are back to 1st team playing, and our pressing game restarts we will have a good PL points base to build on. This will in turn give momentum to cup silverware wins. COYS

  • What I’ve seen and read it was another poor performance and lucky to take all three points pretty much how I would describe our season so far disjointed ,no fluiditity to our game and injuries mounting up and a captain and goalie who has been very poor on and off the field.the league table shows us 1 point of top spot all be it we’ve played 1 game more which doesn’t make much sense considering how we’re playing but we’re winning matches which is the biggest positive so far.liverpool and Barcelona games showed up the flaws in our team and squad. I believe that we are a team that’s good enough to beat most of the teams in the league but ultimately when the big games and teams come where second best hence finishing fourth is the position I see us finishing this season due to Utd been in turmoil.the transfer window was a unmitigated disaster failure to improve the squad and get rid of the dross that’s still hanging about. I.e. Sissoko,Lorente,gnk,vorm.the hearbeat of any top team is midfield and we seriously lack a midfielder that can run a game.until that changes we ultimately will com up short .

  • jod …. As you should be aware, I am not one of the posters who continually say we should buy someone. But … why are you fixated on the need for people who do say this to name someone. Surely it’s a natural thing for a supporter to point out areas that they believe need improving without having to research possibilities. Your repeated request to these posters for names seems irrelevant. If pushed I would definitely say we would benefit greatly by the addition of a creative midfielder to the squad …. pretty bloody obvious really …. but I would have no idea who is available and it’s not my job to research it. So what?

  • The comments I’ve been writing about winning vs. how we win isn’t fundamentally about football but about life. When Danny Blanchflower said he wasn’t interested in winning by boring the opposition to death or by cheating, he wasn’t talking only about football, but about life. He was interested in what kind of person he was, and he wanted the kind of person he was to be reflected on the pitch as in other places that he lived. This is why he walked away from an ambush television show that was set up (at least in the way it presented itself) to honor him. He didn’t want honors that he thought were exploitation. And he didn’t want trophies that he thought were not gained by worthy play, by cheating, by tactics that insulted the game. It was this attitude that expressed so clearly that attracted me to our team some 60 years ago.

    Now let’s think about the question of how a team plays in terms of their ability. A team that doesn’t have the ability to play gallant football still is going to play its matches, and it should do so to the best of its abilities, and when it plays solid but boring football because that’s the best it can do, it is playing honorably and has nothing to be ashamed about. But a team that plays boring football because it is cynical and places winning above all else is disgraceful. This follows from the question of how one should live. one’s life The person who lives a life based on winning at all costs, who cheats to win, who diminishes the lives of others by the way the was he or she lives, that person is not living well. A person who diminishes their own life in order to win is not living well. To make more money, to gain more promotions, to gain more fame and honors, by lowering the quality of one’s life, and thus by lowering the quality of life in one’s society generally, is not living well. Danny Blanchflower was right. He knew he and his team could play a beautiful game and they needed to do so if they were to win in a way that made it worthwhile to play and worthwhile to win. They played so that it was worth winning.

    Regular participants on the site will remember my lack of respect for the football attitudes of José Mourinho. I’ve expressed them often enough. I would hate to have Mourinho manage my beloved Spurs because he manages to win through playing ugly, by turning the game into trench warfare, by cheating when necessary, by distraction. If his team plays a beautiful game, it is only incidental. If this became the Spurs way I would think that the very reason that I began to love the Spurs had disappeared. I would not enjoy any titles or trophies gained in this way. If our team simply had fallen into sad times in which we did not have players capable of playing beautiful football, but our lads still were playing to the best of their capabilities, I would love my team for doing the best the players can, but, in truth, I’d be sad that we no longer could play flowing and beautiful football. But to win by knowing that one is trying to win by cheating or playing ugly, this is a denial of our values and ultimately is a denial of our self respect.

    In life, there are those who struggle to do well economically because they do not have the skills to do better. Sometimes this is because of social circumstances, sometimes because of physical or mental disabilities, but such a person can still live well if they live in a way that is consistent with values that are worthy. I have more respect for such a person than I do for some rich and successful git who got ahead by living for the sake of winning alone.

    Football is part of life. Perhaps not so important as other parts of life, but still it is part of life. It needs to be played well, without a will to win at all costs. And this is because life is not about winning, it is about how one lives, and one cannot live well when one elevates winning about all else. Winning alone has little value. How one lives and how one plays matters, not the mere results in terms of trophies and titles. And I hope that all Spurs supporters who are raising children try to get these ideas across to their children. What matters is how you live. Whether you win has much to do with circumstances. How you live, what attitudes govern your behaviors, those are within your control. This is just as true for my club as it is for me. And when we value winning over how we live, I shall have tears for us.

  • Sorry for the amount of space. I’ve almost written a thesis here. I’ll stay silent for a while so that the rest of my Spurs community can write comments in peace.

  • Geofspurs…..thank you for another great “cat among pigeons” article, very well written.

    I do love reading the opinions on VS, some… sarcastic, thoughtful, argumentative, comical, hateful, to name just a few, keep it up lads n lassie’s.

    I am in the camp of “playing the beautiful game” that’s entertainment, at the mo’ we are playing poorly, but have achieved the best start to any of our PL seasons so far, thus I now look forward to “the Spurs way”, but as has been written… what if we keep playing poorly but win something?, what then? just keep winning lads no matter how you do it, yes! I know it contradicts my “beautiful game” but hey! so be it.

    On any trophy won, does it say above the winners name things like, “Boring, played poorly without entertainment all season” or “were lucky” ie…Gooners undefeated season, Leicesters PL champ season or even when the Chavs beat Barca in the CL, because to me pro-football now is all about winning no matter how, my hat is lol. COYS

  • Tk…regards Blanchflower you are so right, but the world, incl’ football, has changed massively, for me the wrong way but that’s another topic, with his attitude towards life/football he is probably turning, there is nowt we can do, unless you spend a small countries fortune, the beautiful/entertaining game is dead, all it is now as I said previously “winning is all that matters” = big bucks.

    Your own philosophies are pretty near the mark. COYS

  • PompeyYid, I’m not sure that the world has changed all that much. Feudal lords always kept the rest of the people in abject poverty so that the lords could live in luxury and with aristocratic honors. Bankers always exploited the rest of us. Rich countries have expoited poor ones since their were counties. Colonialism, imperialism, etc., were with us for centuries in one form or another. Yes, the use of football clubs as play toys of the oligarchs–Russian, American, British, or otherwise–is a new way for the “winners” of money and power to show off, but this is mere detail. Indeed, the players are less exploited now than they used to be, at least in the sense that they’re better paid, although that doesn’t seem to have made them better people, or any the happier for it.

    But the need for each of us to live well isn’t anything old nor is it anything new. Winning at all costs was an illusion then and it’s an illusion now. It’s a Faustian bargain, it’s selling one’s soul for the illusory thrill of the trophy, or the moment in the news. I don’t want Spurs to be equal to the Kardashians. We don’t have to accept a cheapening of our values. To say that “winning is all that matters” is to capitulate to the pathetic.

  • I see we are now paying the price for winning poorly against the lesser teams with Arsenal going above us on goal average after a 5 – 1 win against Fulham with 3 of the goal so coming from the bench. Need I say more? Arsenal were brilliant btw, watch Ramsey’s goal. We’re now in a fight against them as well as the others.

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