you've lost that loving feeling


What do fans of Tottenham Hotspur have in common with Elvis Presley, Westlife and Telly Savalas ?  And I mean apart from debilitating bouts of obesity, a weak mixture of creative 'talents' and a now departed bald leading man. 
The answer is that they all at one stage lost their loving feeling.  Or more accurately, the latter three all covered The Righteous Brother's classic, whereas I, along with many other Spurs fans, currently embody the participants in the crooner's favourite.

A serious state of depression has descended on White Hart Lane, and nothing seems to be able to shift it.  It's not just a case of feeling blue because we are bottom of the league, it's really something quite different.  I don't think that I've ever felt so jaded, and that says a lot with the some dross we all witnessed during the 90s and early 2000s.  Last season, whilst experiencing a similarly bad run, I was desperate for the boys to string some results together, willing the team to succeed. This time around I'm much more blasé about it all.  I don't think it's because I'm finally getting used to the false dawns and early season flirtations with relegation, but because, I hate to say it, I'm not sure that I really care as much about this current team.

Things haven't felt right at Spurs for a while.  Despite delivering our first trophy in almost a decade, Ramos has failed to capture the magical feeling we felt when Jol was in charge.  Obviously we all have to get over the departure of Martin Jol. He's not coming back, and I'm not going to talk about the rights and wrongs of his dismissal as that has been debated to death.  What's important is that during his tenure I really felt that I was part of something special. It seems a bit mawkish to say it but I just loved the experience of being a part of Jol's Spurs.  He bonded with the fans like no other through his good natured banter and muddled clichés and  displayed obvious pleasure to be managing a club that he had an affection for.  He truly was a fan's manager.

Its difficult for any manager to be as well loved by the fans as Jol, and I never expected, nor even wanted Ramos to be the same.  However, it is important for a manager to at least show that he is on the same wavelength as the fans, and that he shares the same desires for the team as them.  In my opinion, Juande Ramos has failed to make any connection with the fans.  Nobody really knows what he is about.

Ramos' failure to enhance his English skills has not helped, and his avoidance of the press gives the impression that he is dodging accountability.  Only when this current run of bad form began to escalate did Ramos relent and has since delivered some pre match interviews in broken English, but this is not enough.  One wonders whether he actually has a long term interest in the future of Tottenham Hotspur beyond that of enhancing his reputation and collecting his 'dizzying' wages.

Some say that it doesn't matter whether the manager has a good relationship with the fans or whether he speaks English, Spanish or Swahili as long as he is winning, but I disagree.  When the fans are ignored and no longer feel loved, you lose the soul of the club.  The increasingly corporate nature of Spurs and rising ticket prices have compounded the issue.

Following Jol's departure, I was initially content with Ramos' appointment last year.  A manager with a good track record, billed as the man who would take Spurs to the next level, did just that by motivating the team to thrash Arsenal 5-1, strengthening our league position and beating Chelsea in the League Cup final at Wembley.

However, the ensuing long procession of dull draws and some really disappointing defeats has chipped away at my resolve, and the lack of interest shown by the players was alarming.  The death throes of last season led into a summer of major surgery, which resulted in the heart being ripped out.  We all knew that Berbatov was gone months ago, but the shocking disloyalty of Keane followed by the casual discarding of players like Malbranque, who was one of our best performers last season, left a huge void that has not been filled thanks to the ineptitude of the Chairman and the Director of Football in the transfer market.  However talented a group of players are, they are nothing without leaders on the pitch.

With the continued absence of Ledley King, we are faced with a team without true leaders and bereft of character.  Too many new faces who have yet to settle into English life, a lack of understanding with their colleagues, and too few players standing up and been counted has contributed to our current predicament.  Those who have emerged thus far with any credibility intact are Zokora, Jenas, Lennon and perhaps the increasing beleaguered Heurelho Gomes.  Bale and Woodgate have done enough, but I don't see anyone out there who is willing to take the game by the scruff of the neck when we are against it.

The noises coming from the new boys are not encouraging.  Corluka and Modric are reported to be relieved to be away from the 'depression' of Spurs life whilst on international duty.  Pavlyuchenko seems uninterested on the pitch and has publicly complained about our training methods.  And David Bentley, the Beckham wannabe, is blaming Ramos of his omission from the England team, and not his terrible performances.

It feels like this current crop care less about the club and more about their own reputations.  Such individualism is dangerous at a time like this.  The players, manager and board need to pay greater respect to the fans, and ensure that we are treated as such and not as customers.

I will always support the club, but I can't always support the incumbent manager or players when they give so little in return.  I keep telling myself that in times of great difficulty leaders will rise and the Dunkirk spirit will take hold.  I saw glimpses of that during the defeat against Hull which was was one of our better team performances this season.  If they continue to play like that the results will come.

But it will take more than a few wins to recapture the spirit we have enjoyed in the past.  I want to see passion from the players as well as reassurances from Ramos is here for the long haul and is dedicated to the cause.

Communication is the key, and he must start to build a relationship with the fans otherwise he will may be found wanting when he needs us the most.


Marc Keown

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