Well, the Champions League match is now over, and now we must move on and plan for next season.
But we did achieve something that even the great Spurs Double side couldn’t manage, and that was to get to the Final of the world’s most significant club competition. The players and manager did us proud. We got to the final in the face of negativity from some quarters (including the press).
As for the match, itself; I didn’t think Liverpool were that special, and their first goal wasn’t worthy of a penalty. That penalty came over two minutes when Moussa Sissoko was unfairly punished for a handball. Actually, the ball was kicked towards his shoulder, and the best will in the world couldn’t have prevented it from hitting him.
We had high expectations for that hot Madrid day. We thought if we could get this far, then anything was possible.
Before we had actually managed to get to the final, I had already booked my summer holiday to Poland, starting on the 1st June. Beating Ajax changed all that; I had to then phone Hanna to say that Spurs had got to the final and I was going (priorities!). She still went ahead on the 1st, I had to rebook my flight for Sunday at 1.30 pm (so I could meet her out there), which meant I flew out on Saturday morning with Sports Options (from Stansted) and then flew back Sunday morning to Stansted, drive to Luton Airport and from there to Poland (with Wizz air). What a mad and hectic weekend that was.
Once I arrived in Madrid I took a Metro to the Spurs Zone, mingled with the supporters (which also included Liverpool supporters) and from there went to the stadium (which was a 30 minutes walk from the Metro). Got through the security checks, got myself a pint (waited in the queue for over an hour in the boiling heat) and then purchased some UEFA/ match souvenirs (all nicely put in a flimsy cardboard bag; which eventually disintegrated). Finally, I made my way to my seat (I was on the halfway line, on the second tier).
In a final that rarely touched the heights of the blockbuster semi-finals that made this an all-Premier League showpiece, we had chances but were denied by Liverpool keeper Alisson, who saved well from Son Heung-min, Lucas Moura and Christian Eriksen. And our failure to capitalise was ruthlessly punished when substitute Divock Origi ensured manager Jurgen Klopp won his first trophy as Liverpool manager by driving low and powerfully past Hugo Lloris with three minutes left.
Mauricio Pochettino took the gamble of selecting striker Harry Kane despite him not having played since April because of an ankle injury, replacing semi-final hat-trick hero Lucas Moura, but he had no impact. I thought this was a mistake. If anything he should have been on the bench, not starting (to me he wasn’t match fit). Such a decision could have even cost us the game. We had shown previously that we didn’t need Kane to get to the final and Pochettino should have stayed faithful with the previous line up that did us proud in Amsterdam.
Finally, the whistle was blown to give the trophy to Liverpool, for us, it was only the beginning.
After the game I quickly made my way to the Metro, there was no point in Spurs supporters hanging around or even watch Liverpool lift the trophy (unless they were sadomasochists).
I got to the Metro, where coaches were waiting for Sport Option travellers and from there to the airport. Because there was a 4-hour wait until my plane took off, most of us kipped on the floor of the airport.
It was a great 24-hours, and it was a well worth the trip, apart from the result. I wouldn’t have missed it for the world. Now we move on.
In the summer break/ transfer window we need to replenish our old stock and bring in new and fresh blood. Players like Trippier, Alderweireld, Lamela, Wanyama, Vorm (now gone), NKoudou, Llorente, Eriksen, Onomah and Janssen and maybe some others will go. As for Alli, he hasn’t performed well since he had that magical season a few years ago, but I doubt he will be sold, nevertheless he does need to buck his ideas up if he wants to continue in the Spurs shirt.
Who should come in? Well, that is a lottery, with different names put in the mix daily. We’ll have to wait and see.
Now the summer break is upon us, and I suppose our primary occupation is checking the daily papers or our Spurs apps to see who is going to be next put in front of us by the press, only for that person to be bought by another club, or that so-and-so was never in contention in the first place. But what is for sure is that we will be buying. Not to do so will see us slip down the table into no man’s land (between 5th and 6th, where United and Arsenal currently occupy that territory, and may they long continue to do so). Below that is the death knell area (a space for the walking dead to engage themselves; added to this season by Villa, Norwich and Sheffield United).
Overall; we had a good innings. Our league journey should have been better, as for the two cup competitions (FA & League Cup), they were never in the mind’s eye of our manager (if we got there, then we got there, but he had bigger fish to fry and fry he did). We got to the Final of one of the biggest club competitions in the world, as stated. But it is the beginning, not the end.
Season 2018/19 will be remembered for us finally moving into our new stadium, our remarkable comeback in the Champions League group stage, then our victories over Dortmund, City and Ajax (all were favourites to turn us over). And finally, our trip to Madrid to face Liverpool.
As the song says, it can only get better, and better it must. And it must for many reasons; that is if we want to keep our manager (one of the best in the world) and build upon our team with quality and the only way we can do that is be up there with the elites of football. And only success will fill our magnificent stadium, to do otherwise could create a ghost town. Daniel Levy and co must now spend the summer break thinking about the next step and where he wants the club to go from here.
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