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Tottenham Hotspur: an invitation to pity

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As we approach the Europa League knockout rounds, it's time to consider the opposition. Why are Tottenham Hotspur so perpetually useless?

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Arsenal youth product Harry Kane watches his side throw away yet another lead
Arsenal youth product Harry Kane watches his side throw away yet another lead
Clive Rose/Getty Images

Lads, we need to talk about Tottenham.

In just a few days’ time, Fiorentina will be playing Tottenham Hotspur in the Europe League. There’s something of a similarity between the two teams, with both mounting passable title challenges in an overachieving year. Each team comes into the fixture with a real belief that progression is achievable. But we’ve been here before, no?

Last year, Fiorentina played Spurs in the same competition and – despite Tottenham taking an early lead at home – knocked them out with relative ease. It was all a bit embarrassing for the Middlesex side. So this year, instead of the customary trash talking between the two teams, I come to you with a different message. One of pity. Because, as Roy Keane says, Tottenham Hotspur will always let you down.

Put simply, this is Spurs. As much as they might try to hide the fact, Tottenham Hotspur will always retain a fundamental element of Spursiness that is impossible to deny. It’s even become a joke among their supporters, the very definition of a coping mechanism.

The standard Spurs tradition is for the fans to invest all of their hopes and dreams into a player, a manager, or a team before they’re inevitably, cataclysmically let down. You see, there’s nothing more quintessentially Tottenham than glorious failure. Actually, glorious might be a bit strong for a team who’ve won nothing of note for half a century. Half decent failure. Lukewarm disappointment. Tepid, turgid Tottenham, repeating their mediocrity ad infintum. But I digress.

This is a team whose most memorable European performance in recent years (that Inter match at San Siro) was a game they lost.

This is a team who received the largest sum ever paid for a single footballer and spent it on dross, astonishingly claiming they’d sold Elvis and bought the Beatles.

This is a team who allowed Tim Sherwood to actually be the manager. Like, actually in charge of tactics and stuff.

This is a team who even let Mario Gomez score against them.

Those poor, poor supporters.

So in the near future, when they’ve sold Dele Alli to Chelsea, when Mauricio Pochettino is managing Real Madrid, when monthly NFL matches are tearing up the turf of their white elephant stadium, and when Harry Kane suddenly remembers that he’s a Sunday league striker and there’s no money to replace him, Spurs will be left with nothing. Zip. Zilch. The sum total of cartilage in Ledley King’s overrated knees.

And from that vast expanse of nothingness, they’ll forge some new great hope.

From the ashes of every single one of Tottenham’s failures, the phoenix of ambition rises up again and again, only to be shot down in new and interesting ways. There’s nothing they can do about this, the unfortunate Tottenham fans.

I mean, the Fiorentina faithful have seen Batigol, Rui Costa, and Roberto Baggio do incredible things on a football pitch, meanwhile they’ve had to put up with Andy Reid and Grzegorz Rasiak. These Spurs fans are stuck with this perpetually wretched side and who are we to begrudge them a bit of hope?

Sure, it will always go wrong, the fans will embarrass themselves, and they’ll be left drying their eyes with their almost-new ‘Mind the Gap 12/13’ t-shirts, but how can you criticise someone for having a bit of hope? As I’m sure Spurs fans are painfully aware, it’s the hope that kills you.

So we shouldn’t be trash talking Tottenham. We shouldn’t waste our breath. Instead, we should just pity their very existence, comfortable in the knowledge that - should they ever almost amount to anything resembling glory - they’ll reliably and inescapably throw it all away.

Lads, it’s Tottenham.