Chelsea’s victory in Saturday’s UEFA Champions League final having bumped Tottenham out the next edition of the Champions League, I’m completely gutted. Helpless despair is the best way to describe the feeling, as if the thousand yard stare glued to my face since hadn’t given that away already.
This season has certainly been a one of extreme highs and lows as a Spurs fan. Yet from the highs of an ultimately farcical early season title challenge, to the lows of minding a gap of our own, I’m still proud of the club for cracking the top four for the second time in three seasons.
The pride, however, doesn’t save me from the sorrow.
So as Didier Drogba netted the fifth and decisive spot kick for the Blues, I got up from my seat, somberly said my goodbyes to my friends at the pub, had my wife drive me home, and then proceeded directly to bed where I stayed until 6 AM Sunday morning. Admittedly, I probably needed the twelve hours of sleep, but I don’t doubt it had as much to do with trying to sleep away the pain as it did with needing to catch up.
However, as much as I’d like to, blaming yesterday’s Champions League Final result for the disaster of not being able to participate in the world’s premier competition next season is nothing more than blame shifting.
Trust me, I’d love to blame Spurs’ fate on Bayern blowing it. I want to rage at UEFA for their stupid rules. I’d like to scream at Bayern’s Arjen Robben and Bastian Schweinsteiger for taking their penalties with about as much confidence as can be found in a thirteen year-old girl with weight issues. And mostly I want to punch Chelsea’s Roman Abramovich right in his stupid billion dollar face, for stealing something that we rightfully earned with the worst Chelsea squad of his iron-fisted reign. But I know that none of those parties really deserve the blame for the position in which Spurs currently find themselves.
Could one hundred thirty minutes of football really be all it takes to ruin an entire season’s worth of work, and make all of that stress and suffering be for nothing? Sadly, no.
Yes, Spurs had earned fourth place over 38 English Premier League matches. And most years, that’s enough to get you to the promised land. But this wasn’t most years. Tottenham had more than enough opportunity to put themselves in a position where even if Chelsea won, so that Saturday’s result wouldn’t have even mattered. Third was ours for the taking on a number of occasions. But instead of seizing a multitude of moments, we repeatedly shot ourselves in the foot for the better part of three months. As a result, our reward has been downgraded to yet another season toiling away in Europe’s land of afterthoughts, the Europa League. Deservedly so.
Spurs put us here, nobody else. Blaming the downturn in fortunes on John Terry getting to place his racist, adulterous fingerprints all over the European Cup is just a cop-out. We can’t go about pointing fingers at Michel Platini, Fabio Capello, Chris Foy or anyone else, unless we happen to be staring at ourselves in the mirror.
And whether it was Old Twitchy losing the plot, the team losing focus, a select few maybe even having their heads turned, or Dan Levy not wanting to spend any money to adequately bolster the squad over the past few windows — it’s probably a combination of all those factors — our club is the only one to blame for the mess we currently find ourselves in.
What comes next is anyone’s guess. A million different scenarios are in play, and if Saturday’s unfortunate result means anything at all, it’s that we have an adventurous summer to look forward too. Our squad might look completely different come September 1st. And on many levels, that’s not a bad thing. All I know is that Levy and Redknapp need to act fast, and act decisively. Get rid of fringe players, bring in fresh (younger) talent, and try our damndest to hold on to our best players, giving our manager all the tools he needs to put us in position to get to the promised land again.
In the mean time — as gutted and angry as I am — I’ll still get behind Tottenham Hostpur Football Club like I have so many times before, and support and love the shirt. Another adventure awaits us just around the corner.