Crisis of Character

The final seconds tick and the referee blows his final whistle. As one side hangs heads in defeat, the other feels the jubilee of a comeback completed with the help of a timely European hat-trick hero to move on to the next round. Two short years ago this scene was one of joy for Tottenham Hotspur supporters. Today, however, it is a painful reminder of another point during the 2020/2021 season of what could have been. This woeful performance comes on the heels of another uninspiring performance against cross town rival Arsenal this Sunday past. We can acknowledge and appreciate the current situation players are being put through. This truly is a season like no other. Four competitions have been squeezed into a timeframe that is six weeks shorter than normal seasons, following an off-season break that felt more like a mid-season one. Spurs have also played more games than any other side in each of Europe’s top five leagues. Fatigue is, no doubt, setting on the Lilywhite’s legs. The unfortunate thing is that fatigue is not the issue for Spurs currently. The fixture list pile up is not the cause for concern. Additionally, the club’s league position is also not too terrible of an issue. The most alarming thing about the previous two games is the manner in which the players walked onto the pitch and performed, the emotion (or lack thereof) shown, and the seeming indifference the last two games have been treated with.

Many are now calling for the job of Jose Mourinho to be stripped from him, even if they were previously in favor of Mourinho sticking around. Given the current situation and the team simply not turning up in a North London Derby and an elimination game in Europe, it is no wonder why the opinion is a popular one. The bottom line of the situation at Tottenham Hotspur is far deeper than something just a manager – even one the caliber of Mourinho – can fix. The players in the squad have deep confidence, quality, and character issues that are rearing their heads. A reason that Mourinho was touted as a “great hire”, aside from his winning history, is his demanding nature of his players to be great. Mourinho was given the task to fix the mentality of the players at Tottenham Hotspur. The players not turning up for the two biggest games of their season shows a mentality that is fractured beyond repair. Jose Mourinho was brought in to be a master motivator for the players. The players are not allowing themselves to be motivated. The players are showing they have no pride in their game. The players are revealing their character. Before anyone rakes me over the coals for this take, please know that I am making sweeping generalizations that absolutely have exceptions. Some players are furious at the current situation, sick at losing the previous two games, and even more embarrassed at the way they have lost. I am convinced, however, that those players are in the minority. The response on Thursday from the loss on Sunday was not one that is convincing of a team that cares deeply about performance or even one another. Everything will always fall back to the top dog, and Jose will accept that because he understands the logistics. But, the professional footballers employed by Tottenham Hotspur need to show their professionalism. When it is your job to show up and play a game for a paycheck, there should be no reason for anyone to motivate you to perform. When you are a footballer at a top club in the top league in the world, no one should need to ask you to care about your team’s results. When you play for Tottenham Hotspur Football Club, no one should need to tell you to play with passion against Arsenal Football Club. The players have shown their psychological scars and character flaws in the last six days. Those are things that will not change with a different manager nor will they be fixed by Sunday against Aston Villa. The push for top four is still on and Spurs will still play in the Carabao Cup Final against Manchester City. A “successful season” is still attainable. But, man, it sure doesn’t feel like one that fans of the north London side will remember positively, regardless of outcome.

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