Identity vs Success

glospur

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"The great fallacy is that the game is first and last about winning. It is nothing of the kind. The game is about glory, it is about doing things in style and with a flourish, about going out and beating the lot, not waiting for them to die of boredom." - Danny Blanchflower.

Probably more than any other team in England, Spurs have an identity of playing entertaining, attacking football. It's not enough for a lot of fans to only see the club win, they have to win well. Indeed, I get the impression that some would rather see us lose playing good football than win by sticking 10 men behind the ball. It could even be argued that this identity of the club and the expectation that come with it is a millstone around its neck at times. I'm on the other side of the world, but I hear it in the groan of the crowd if we're not dominating possession or we fail to pass it forward at every available opportunity.

IMO it's this identity that made the appointment of Jose Mourinho the most surprising. Here we have a manager that has won everything, but is notorious for playing pragmatic, even negative, football in order to fill the trophy cabinet. And while there's been no fans in the ground, the expectation of how Spurs are 'supposed' to play and the associated dissatisfaction in what they see on the pitch at the moment has bled out into social media and even game day threads in here. Yet there are others that will bear with it as long as it looks like we're winning. I think this is a discussion that is even more poignant after half a decade of phenomenal football under Pochettino where we won nothing.

And this brings me to my questions. Is there a place that's too much of a compromise of our identity, regardless of if we win? If so, are we there, is it coming, or have we gone past it? Is winning the only thing that matters, or is it just important that we win with 'glory'? Obviously everyone will celebrate if we do win trophies, but will a small part of the varnish be taken off for you if it comes as a result of pragmatic, negative football or does it just not matter?

I don't know the right answer to these questions. It's something I've been thinking a lot about since we appointed Jose, and I'm interested to know the opinions of people who have been around the club a lot longer than I have.
 

stormfly

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I agree it’s about winning with style but happy to let the winning start first and then we can work on the style.
 

jimbo

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I doubt there are many clubs that don't think they have an identity of playing entertaining, attacking football.
 

Teemu

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I doubt there are many clubs that don't think they have an identity of playing entertaining, attacking football.
You reckon? I can't imagine that Sean Dyche, say, would claim that Burnley play entertaining football. And I doubt he'd care a jot. You have to be pragmatic sometimes.
 

glospur

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Why does it need to be an either/or answer?
It doesn't need to, but I can see why it looks like I've framed it that way. But that's what interests me. Is there a line where too much of the club's identity has been compromised in the chase of success?
 

glospur

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I doubt there are many clubs that don't think they have an identity of playing entertaining, attacking football.
From the outside looking in, I don't think I've seen it said so much in regards to other clubs as it is for Spurs. Take commentary for example, it comes up so often in different contexts that Spurs expect, first and foremost, to play good football. I don't think it's tied as much to the very fabric of any other club like it is at Spurs. But again, that's just impression I've got from listening to ex-pros and the like talk about it.
 

BISHSPUR

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I do think winning in style is hugely important and part of the DNA of most spurs fans, probably more so the older spurs fans. I also think we have been starved of trophies for too long, at this moment I'm fine with Mourinho because he, more than most could/should get us that. Once we get accustomed to winning, when that mentality is ingrained in our players, then I would hope we begin a gradual process bak to the ideals that we see Spurs football to be.
 

jimbo

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You reckon? I can't imagine that Sean Dyche, say, would claim that Burnley play entertaining football. And I doubt he'd care a jot. You have to be pragmatic sometimes.
Man Utd, Man City, Liverpool, West Ham, latter-day Arsenal, Bournemouth, Southampton, Leeds, Nottingham Forest, Exeter City, Norwich City just off the top of my head.

Burnley and Everton definitely not.

Chelsea - complicated, probably not, but they'd point to the Hoddle/Gullit/Zola years I expect.

My point is really that we're not the only club who have this idea of tradition and as an identity it's been pretty inconsistent for the last 30 years. It's hard to be successful without scoring consistently, which tends to be entertaining. So I think it's a bit of a dead herring really. Even that quote in the OP is miscontrued I think, it's not about being happy to lose games. There is something in the fabric of the club and the mindset of the fans - I'd much rather lost 4-3 than 1-0. But then I'm not sure that doesn't apply to the vast majority of football fans, because if you're going to lose at least you get to see your team score.

As ShadyDan says, it's not an either/or situation anyway. I do think there's an unhelpful expectation that you can simply 'be' attacking/entertaining that doesn't recognise the need to work hard on all aspects of the game to establish a platform for it.
 

jimbo

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From the outside looking in, I don't think I've seen it said so much in regards to other clubs as it is for Spurs. Take commentary for example, it comes up so often in different contexts that Spurs expect, first and foremost, to play good football. I don't think it's tied as much to the very fabric of any other club like it is at Spurs. But again, that's just impression I've got from listening to ex-pros and the like talk about it.
For Manchester United, and West Ham (not that we should care about them), it very much is part of their fabric/identity I'd say.
 

absolute bobbins

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Our identity is as perennial also rans. The game is about glory but there is no glory, no nobility and no pride to be taken from losing with style so how about we start winning stuff, build a dynasty and then start to be concerned with the style of play.

Because last time I checked, when we were playing beautiful football, we won absolutely nothing and were turned over by teams more proficient in the grittier and darker arts..
 

PLTuck

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The clubs identity to me is a huge club situated in a deprived area of North London. The club provides jobs for locals, as well as being passionate about the regeneration of the area. They do a lot of charity work in the area and even have their own charity.

The team's identity to me is one of building young talent (including as many british and irish lads as we can produce) into a competitive team, and of playing with flair. This isn't linear though, and will go through natural peaks and troughs.
 

Matty miller

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Jose’s default is to go to a defensive style when the teams balance isn’t correct, there can be no doubt about that. However I do think that he will play better football when the team is how he wants it to be. It won’t be tricky-tacker but it will be about moving the ball quickly with pace and power.

At the end of the day we’ve tried for 60 years to win with style, maybe we just need to learn to win first and then add the style afterwards.

Jose’s not gonna be here forever, the club as a whole (players, youth teams, fans and owners) should take the opportunity to learn from him if nothing else.
 

Nine while nine

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Jose’s default is to go to a defensive style when the teams balance isn’t correct, there can be no doubt about that. However I do think that he will play better football when the team is how he wants it to be. It won’t be tricky-tacker but it will be about moving the ball quickly with pace and power.

At the end of the day we’ve tried for 60 years to win with style, maybe we just need to learn to win first and then add the style afterwards.

Jose’s not gonna be here forever, the club as a whole (players, youth teams, fans and owners) should take the opportunity to learn from him if nothing else.
 

fishhhandaricecake

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"The great fallacy is that the game is first and last about winning. It is nothing of the kind. The game is about glory, it is about doing things in style and with a flourish, about going out and beating the lot, not waiting for them to die of boredom." - Danny Blanchflower.

Probably more than any other team in England, Spurs have an identity of playing entertaining, attacking football. It's not enough for a lot of fans to only see the club win, they have to win well. Indeed, I get the impression that some would rather see us lose playing good football than win by sticking 10 men behind the ball. It could even be argued that this identity of the club and the expectation that come with it is a millstone around its neck at times. I'm on the other side of the world, but I hear it in the groan of the crowd if we're not dominating possession or we fail to pass it forward at every available opportunity.

IMO it's this identity that made the appointment of Jose Mourinho the most surprising. Here we have a manager that has won everything, but is notorious for playing pragmatic, even negative, football in order to fill the trophy cabinet. And while there's been no fans in the ground, the expectation of how Spurs are 'supposed' to play and the associated dissatisfaction in what they see on the pitch at the moment has bled out into social media and even game day threads in here. Yet there are others that will bear with it as long as it looks like we're winning. I think this is a discussion that is even more poignant after half a decade of phenomenal football under Pochettino where we won nothing.

And this brings me to my questions. Is there a place that's too much of a compromise of our identity, regardless of if we win? If so, are we there, is it coming, or have we gone past it? Is winning the only thing that matters, or is it just important that we win with 'glory'? Obviously everyone will celebrate if we do win trophies, but will a small part of the varnish be taken off for you if it comes as a result of pragmatic, negative football or does it just not matter?

I don't know the right answer to these questions. It's something I've been thinking a lot about since we appointed Jose, and I'm interested to know the opinions of people who have been around the club a lot longer than I have.
It would be interesting to know how important each of these are to different age profiles.

Ive been watching spurs since the early 90’s so have seen us win very few trophies and the more spurslike stylish football I’d say was under Redknapp and Poch so more recently, other than that for large periods of my spurs supporting life we’ve been a bit of a mess really in terms of our squad and tactics and managerial appointments.

Pre premier league let’s say 1960’s-80’s we were reasonably successfully and played some beautiful football and had some real flair players.

Personally If I had to put numbers on it I’d favour winning but to me the style of play and culture and history of a club are important as that is what makes each club unique and special.

That having said I’d like to hear from the older fans on here who supported us during 60’s,70’s or 80’s as whilst Tottenham have been known as a flair side who play attractive football for me we’ve never really had a particularly defined consistent philosophy and playing style so to speak and I’m not sure that too many top clubs actually do. Only in the 60’s were we known as the push and run side similar to a modern day Pep Tiki-taka side but Barcelona have had this identity of possession based attacking football for many years especially since they had Cruyff. Ajax are another one who’s principles of play being possession and good technique have never changed, Bayern you could say are quite ruthless and machinelike in their German spirit and efficiency but otherwise there aren’t many clubs who have this engrained in their DNA.

So for me it comes down to the supporters and what % of the supporters care more about the style of play vs winning. I’d say at spurs our fans perhaps care more about the style of play that some other premier league clubs, others who prefer attacking style would be: Man.U, Arsenal and LOL ‘the West Ham way’ ;)... Liverpool are just about winning, Chelsea have bought success so take whatever, City are more used to pep now but again have bought this style of play recently it’s not in their DNA...

For me right now I think winning is 80% important and style of play is about 20%. So results are really key and the longer I’ve supported spurs and seen us come close but not get over the line the more inclined I’ve become to being open to tolerating a less ‘attractive’ style of play. 5-6 years ago I was probably more 60% winning 40% style of play.

It is a balance though isn’t it as for me I actually enjoyed watching us under Redknapp at times more than any other manager as when we had Parker breaking up play, Modric being a metronome in the middle spraying passes to Bale and Lennon out wide with the genius Van Dee Vaart causing chaos and Crouch, Keane and Defoe finishing it off that team played with pure pace and energy and was so so exciting to watch. Poch’s peak relentless pressing and high possession team was also very exciting and seemed to fit the Spurs way BUT under both managers for one reason or another we missed quite a few chances to WIN things where a more pragmatic approach could’ve probably got us over the line. Would Leicester swap their title win where they sat back parked a bus and hit long passes fo marhez and Vardy all year for a season finishing 2nd but where they play scintillating high pressing football, of course they wouldn’t and we wouldn’t either, but if the football is a bit tough to watch then patcience is required and results are even more important.

Right now under Jose I’m willing to stomach some really boring and hard to watch matches IF they’re matched where we pick up vital draws or wins and are building towards winning something as I know sprinkled into this will be the odd 5-2 vs Southampton where the horses are set free so to speak and all our top players click, that having said If we play turgid incipid football with zero creativity energy or attacking intent game after game and are not getting the results I would turn pretty quickly as ultimately I invest my time and money to enjoy watching the team play and if that ‘product’ is utterly boring week in week out and isn’t going to even lead to any success then I’ll quickly lose any love and passion for the team.

Good thread as this has been discussed before but mabye not phrased as you’ve phrased it.

Would be interesting to do a poll on what is more important to our fans of the two or rate them Out of 10 etc for importance to you. Also interesting to know what the slightly older generation of Spurs fans take on this is as from the outside it does seem like the younger generation of fans who perhaps haven’t seen us win much are more open to someone like Mouriniho where style could be sacrificed a bit for substance and success whereas the older generation just flat out refuse to get behind him and say that he’s the wrong fit and they can’t stand watching us and then there are some fans who are a bit in between.

COYS.
 

fishhhandaricecake

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Our identity is as perennial also rans. The game is about glory but there is no glory, no nobility and no pride to be taken from losing with style so how about we start winning stuff, build a dynasty and then start to be concerned with the style of play.

Because last time I checked, when we were playing beautiful football, we won absolutely nothing and were turned over by teams more proficient in the grittier and darker arts..
So if Jose brings us trophies Levy deserves so much credit as was a huge call from him and effectively goes against the fans and clubs DNA so to speak but most of us agree it’s best if we first get that winning mentality and then we can mabye start to add a better playing style as trying the other way round hasn’t exactly worked out great over the last 30 years.
 

glospur

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It would be interesting to know how important each of these are to different age profiles.

Ive been watching spurs since the early 90’s so have seen us win very few trophies and the more spurslike stylish football I’d say was under Redknapp and Poch so more recently, other than that for large periods of my spurs supporting life we’ve been a bit of a mess really in terms of our squad and tactics and managerial appointments.

Pre premier league let’s say 1960’s-80’s we were reasonably successfully and played some beautiful football and had some real flair players.

Personally If I had to put numbers on it I’d favour winning but to me the style of play and culture and history of a club are important as that is what makes each club unique and special.

That having said I’d like to hear from the older fans on here who supported us during 60’s,70’s or 80’s as whilst Tottenham have been known as a flair side who play attractive football for me we’ve never really had a particularly defined consistent philosophy and playing style so to speak and I’m not sure that too many top clubs actually do. Only in the 60’s were we known as the push and run side similar to a modern day Pep Tiki-taka side but Barcelona have had this identity of possession based attacking football for many years especially since they had Cruyff. Ajax are another one who’s principles of play being possession and good technique have never changed, Bayern you could say are quite ruthless and machinelike in their German spirit and efficiency but otherwise there aren’t many clubs who have this engrained in their DNA.

So for me it comes down to the supporters and what % of the supporters care more about the style of play vs winning. I’d say at spurs our fans perhaps care more about the style of play that some other premier league clubs, others who prefer attacking style would be: Man.U, Arsenal and LOL ‘the West Ham way’ ;)... Liverpool are just about winning, Chelsea have bought success so take whatever, City are more used to pep now but again have bought this style of play recently it’s not in their DNA...

For me right now I think winning is 80% important and style of play is about 20%. So results are really key and the longer I’ve supported spurs and seen us come close but not get over the line the more inclined I’ve become to being open to tolerating a less ‘attractive’ style of play. 5-6 years ago I was probably more 60% winning 40% style of play.

It is a balance though isn’t it as for me I actually enjoyed watching us under Redknapp at times more than any other manager as when we had Parker breaking up play, Modric being a metronome in the middle spraying passes to Bale and Lennon out wide with the genius Van Dee Vaart causing chaos and Crouch, Keane and Defoe finishing it off that team played with pure pace and energy and was so so exciting to watch. Poch’s peak relentless pressing and high possession team was also very exciting and seemed to fit the Spurs way BUT under both managers for one reason or another we missed quite a few chances to WIN things where a more pragmatic approach could’ve probably got us over the line. Would Leicester swap their title win where they sat back parked a bus and hit long passes fo marhez and Vardy all year for a season finishing 2nd but where they play scintillating high pressing football, of course they wouldn’t and we wouldn’t either, but if the football is a bit tough to watch then patcience is required and results are even more important.

Right now under Jose I’m willing to stomach some really boring and hard to watch matches IF they’re matched where we pick up vital draws or wins and are building towards winning something as I know sprinkled into this will be the odd 5-2 vs Southampton where the horses are set free so to speak and all our top players click, that having said If we play turgid incipid football with zero creativity energy or attacking intent game after game and are not getting the results I would turn pretty quickly as ultimately I invest my time and money to enjoy watching the team play and if that ‘product’ is utterly boring week in week out and isn’t going to even lead to any success then I’ll quickly lose any love and passion for the team.

Good thread as this has been discussed before but mabye not phrased as you’ve phrased it.

Would be interesting to do a poll on what is more important to our fans of the two or rate them Out of 10 etc for importance to you. Also interesting to know what the slightly older generation of Spurs fans take on this is as from the outside it does seem like the younger generation of fans who perhaps haven’t seen us win much are more open to someone like Mouriniho where style could be sacrificed a bit for substance and success whereas the older generation just flat out refuse to get behind him and say that he’s the wrong fit and they can’t stand watching us and then there are some fans who are a bit in between.

COYS.
Hey, thank you so much for this response. This was the kind of thing I was after. Your comment on the possibility of generational differences is really interesting. Hopefully a few older heads respond to this because I agree that it would be interesting to hear their perspective.

I've been open on this forum that I'm pretty much a baby when it comes to supporting Tottenham, but a large reason for that was because of the attacking football we played under Redknapp when I first started watching the PL. I grew up in a part of the world where "soccer" was considered to be mind-numbingly boring in comparison to the all-action physical local sports, and I once had that opinion too. I was sucked in by Redknapp's Spurs though and players like Modric, VDV and especially a young Bale. When I looked into the history of the club I was intrigued to find that the club was always renowned for playing attacking football, but perhaps, as some people have mentioned in this thread, that part of our identity isn't as unique or as ingrained as I thought it was.
 

Gb160

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First we need to learn how to win.
When we get that sorted we can worry about how we win.
 

Mungo63

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Our perception of being a club with a tradition of playing fast flowing attacking football is not shared by pundits and opposing fans. The term “Spursy” is not a compliment, we’re serial chokers. 2 league cups since 1991 proves it.
We need to start winning trophies one way or another, if we can’t with Jose I fear for the future of the club.

btw I’m 57, I was at the cup final in 87 which I believe was when the rot set in.
 
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