Opinion: Tottenham’s 4-0 win over Burnley had something that has been missing for a while

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Jose Mourinho
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The ultimate question: what do you prioritise — the fun or the football? I guess it’s the type of fan you are.

Tottenham have issues, no doubt. Their position is worrying, defensive mistakes are a regular occurrence, and fans are divided about Jose Mourinho’s tenure.

These are true, so very true, but one problem has been apparent for a while: the absence of fun.

Harry Redknapp and Mauricio Pochettino’s tenures, for example, were both full of great fun. Hence why both are looked at with such admiration.

But a lot of people suggested this is just what Tottenham needed to eliminate to reach the next level: to stamp out the risks, to dial down enjoyment, to turn themselves into cold killers.

Well, if 2021 is the transformation into this – where is the emergency exit?

Spurs used to be a club that that didn’t take themselves seriously, a club that was just happy to be there, a club that wanted to fight with the big boys but never quite had the tools.

And now it feels trapped in a cage, in a civil war, stuck in eternal arguments about attacking football and Dele Alli.

This is why Sunday was so good: it was so much fun.

A lot of that was in the feet of Gareth Bale. The 31-year-old’s issues also tied into it: he also felt shackled, trapped in self-pity with that horrible feeling that the sensational return was a no-show.

And so, come 2pm on Sunday, it all exploded. And what did we get? You guessed it – fun.

Bale skipping past Charlie Taylor like he was Maicon, the stupid, quirky celebrations, the fact that the result was comfortable from the second minute of the game.

Oh yeah, and Bale grabbing two goals and an incredible assist.

At this point I should probably define exactly what I mean by fun in a footballing sense. Funnily enough, it has very close links to attacking, expansive football, so it’s no shock that this one of the rare games where Mourinho pulled down the handbrake. Kane, Son, Lucas, and Bale all looked reincarnated, like they broke out of a strange psychological (possibly tactical) force that had them in handcuffs.

It had enterprise, a rejection of the normal, boring routine, a bit of identity; great attacking players that were allowed to express themselves.

As much as it was a refreshing, satisfying experience – the boring statements have to come out at some point. It’s one game, one brief ninety minutes, in which for all of Spurs’ new-look attacking swagger: Burnley – known for frustrating top teams – were really, really bad.

But it can, and should be, a springboard for something. Mourinho has hopefully learnt that sinister, cold tactics aren’t always the way. Sometimes, letting your team have fun may just be the best thing to do.

Fulham away now is looked at with excitement and not with a sigh. That should mean something.

 

 

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