From Tottenham Hotspur Stadium – After a miserable Spurs summer full of transfer sagas and Twitter meltdowns, there feels like a sense of unity at Tottenham Hotspur again.
Returning fans were treated to a memorable 1-0 win over Manchester City on the opening weekend of the Premier League season, with the Harry Kane-shaped elephant in the room making it feel a lot more like pantomime than a football game.
They were then offered a less-than-momentous 3-0 win over Pacos de Ferreira in the Europa Conference League play-offs on Thursday, booking their place in the group stage. And while it could go down as one of the most meaningless European games in Spurs‘ illustrious history, it was just so great to be treated to a walk-in-the-park victory on a mild summer evening like this.
Pandemic football was miserable. For Spurs, it was made worse by their on-field exploits, with Jose Mourinho’s shadow looming over the club. In Nuno Espirito Santo, Tottenham have a head coach who was worshipped in his previous job (and not in a weird cultish way), a man who is doing his best to galvanise the club again.
Having fans back in stadiums is a big difference-maker, particularly in Britain where crowds are reactive and bring grounds to life. Ironic cheers and taunting goalkeepers with ‘you’re sh**, ahhhh’ are as engrained in our culture as red postboxes or Greggs.
The prelude to the Euro 2020 final showed English fans at their worst, but the opening two games at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium this season have reminded us of how infectious football in front of big crowds is.
One of Spurs’ hardest tests of the season came on day one, one of their easiest this Thursday. It’s going to be a long year, and fans should cherish the fun moments as much as they can.
This week won’t be the end of the Kane speculation. As the season drags on, as he continues to hammer home goals and chip away at Alan Shearer’s Premier League scoring record, the rumours will resurface linking him with a move to Man City once again.
Spurs were prepared to play the role of the plucky underdogs in the absence of Kane, but now they have one of the best strikers in world football back in the fold, the pressure is back on. They have to deliver something this season.
The Europa Conference League, as unglamorous as it is, remains a very winnable competition, a chance for Spurs to become the inaugural winners like they did with the UEFA Cup. To quote Mourinho, ‘that’s football heritage‘.
If Spurs could have a few more nights like this on their way to European glory (of sorts), then being in UEFA’s third most prestigious club competition won’t have been all bad. Spurs need to make Tottenham Hotspur Stadium truly feel like home, and wins – no matter who they come against – in front of a happy crowd will go a long way towards that.
Just don’t lose to Watford on Sunday.