Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Tottenham Fan in Canada Post 1 - 2017

Growing up in Canada there are a lot of advantages. Being able to to have a bunch of sports on TV isn't one of them, unless you are a fan of Hockey and Soccer that is.

Growing up I played youth soccer and I enjoyed it actually except for the cold weather consistently week in week out. I didn't understand the relegation format and considering that internet wasn't what it was back in 2001, it wasn't like it was that big of a deal. In fact, back then, Sportsnet would show about four games a week. Seemed to me that it was the same teams on every week.

There was also one other problem. I lived in Vancouver. That means that the middle wave of soccer games was at 7am, a tad too early and Champions League happened when I was at school.

I graduated in 2011 and started to catch on to the Premier League that August. That year Man City won the title in dramatic injury time and Tottenham got robbed of Champions League place.

I still think it's unfair that the Spurs got denied a place just because Chelsea won the UCL but finished 6th and therefore knocked Tottenham out. White Hart Lane was home to at the time  one of the best young players in the game so it seemed that Tottenham Hotspur had a strong future.

The next year was again crushing. The inability to defend plus the unfortunate Europa League hangovers were Spurs undoing in 2013. Gareth Bale continued to turn heads and was rumoured to bolt to Real Madrid if the team didn't secure Champions League.

Now, my thoughts on the Gareth Bale saga would amount to a blog post alone but the fact that the Spurs were thinking of getting rid of one of the best players in the world seemed mind boggling. It isn't the North American way of building a Title contending team that's for sure.

Not only was the start of the 2013 season a new era for Spurs, it was also a new era for NBCSN which signed a deal to show the Premier League across the Atlantic.

I decided to make an effort to watch the EPL and get up early on weekends. The Spurs first game was against newly promoted Crystal Palace. TSN picked up the NBCSN coverage and I really enjoyed the match with Tottenham squeaking past Palace 1-0.

That year was inconsistent. A terrible goal differential despite managing to finish 6th in the Table. Nevertheless, it was a good intro year for me.

The next year saw more the same. Brutal defense and a struggling home record at the start was the Spurs downfall. At this point, I was starting to wonder whether the Spurs would yo-yo between 5th and 6th in the EPL forever.

Something changed the following year, For me it was damage control. Too many draws in the early part of last year became a blessing for Tottenham. On December 13th 2015, a 2-1 loss to Newcastle was the last of the old Spurs. They have seemingly said enough was enough and have been a different team. After that game until Leicester clinched the Title Spurs went 14-5-2 with the only two losses to Leicester and West Ham.

The Newcastle game and the emergence of Dele Ali, Toby Alderweireld and Heung-min Son have changed Tottenham's fortunes for maybe decades to come. Mauricio Pochettino has found a home in North London and has ambitions of turning this club into a European powerhouse.

The chase for the Title last year wasn't an anomaly. It was signs of what was to come in the future. Despite having the fifth best odds to win the EPL title this year, I had a feeling this was going to be a special year.

Like last year, this year started with a unbeaten stretch that saw them go the first 12 games without a loss. A few draws maybe should have been wins but the reverse could have been said about some of those draws as well.

Similarly, it was a mid December loss this year that has kick started a furious climb up the ranks and a chance for a epic photo finish at the end of the season with Chelsea. Another London Derby beckons in the balance on Friday night at the Olympic Stadium. A win and Tottenham would still need Chelsea to slip up twice.   Considering that Chelsea play at Stamford Bridge three more times this year, the odds are stacked against them.

Whether Chelsea drop points or not shouldn't determine if this season was a success or not. It already has been. Last Sunday proved that Tottenham is the new Arsenal and Arsenal is the new Tottenham. In other words, Tottenham is now the team to beat in North London and Arsenal is now the little brother that isn't nearly as good.

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