By Hamish Girvan
The Amazon Prime latest version of the All or Nothing – the fly of the wall of a sports team series – features one of the English Premier Leagues biggest teams in Tottenham Hotspur. These series always have a lot of pre broadcast hype and this one doesn’t disappoint whether you are a Spurs fan, EPL fan or sports fan in general.
The main crux of the series is the start of the 2019/20 season when the Head Coach, and fan favourite, was Mauricio Pochettino and it finishes with the much-maligned Jose Mourinho managing the team. A reported 10m pounds was paid to Tottenham to film the season which in the grand scheme of things is hardly a money-making exercise (think a year’s wages for their top player Harry Kane) however from a PR perspective the aim was to make Tottenham more of a global brand from a PR perspective (think the USA sports market)
The series starts with a withdrawn Pochettino trying to replicate the success of the previous season where Tottenham somehow made the final of Europeans biggest football prize, the Champions League. Views that Tottenham over achieved in getting there only set the bar higher for the following Premier League season, however after a torrid start where they only won 3 of their first 8 games, and languishing in 14th place on the table the trigger was pulled by CEO, and major shareholder of the club, Daniel Levy. Levy during the series comes across in a different light to the Scrooge character he’s defined in the media as and is totally engaged with both the players and the club. As he says he’s run many businesses in his career and running a football club is by far the most difficult. Will Tottenham fans forgive Levy now and realise that throwing monopoly type money around at players is not the right way to run a business? Maybe not as all fans want is to win something – but at what cost? The Tottenham stadium and the training facilities are the best in Europe. The foundations have seemingly been built. The right manger to take the club forward is the next challenge.
In strides Mourinho – the humble one. Ex Chelsea and Manchester United in terms of his EPL management career as well as stints at European giants, Real Madrid and Inter Milan. his CV is one of the best. His arrogance is part of his character – nice guys don’t win he says (maybe Pochettino’s weakness). The series then turns in the Jose show.
Mourinho comes across as both brash but also a player’s manager. It comes through that he definitely has his favourites who will seemingly always make the team (which will be much to a lot of fans angst – Eric Deir is one of those). This trait probably occurs in all teams/clubs however it’s all laid out to bare during the series.
When he takes over a number of players state he’s a manger they have always wanted to play for. However, that’s until they are not picked. Again, more than likely a common occurrence in most sports teams. The Danny Rose scene shows how much players can rate themselves when really, they cannot admit they are no longer up to it.
The series proves players want to play week in week in and the money they earn is a by-product. The average wage per week at Tottenham is 76,000 pounds compared to the highest in the EPL of 134,000 pounds at Manchester City. At the end of the day they all want to play and win.
The whole transfer drama at Tottenham is also revealed. Tottenham are notoriously known as last day of the transfer window movers – which they more or less admit. The players and staff are continually watching Sky Sport on TV seeing who is linked with where and who is coming in which is surprising. Like all fans they are football junkies themselves and speculate as much as anyone else. Head of recruitment Steve Hitchen openly states he hates the January transfer window as selling clubs are hard to deal with. It’s a very truthful comment however it’s at these times Tottenham fans start having a meltdown when nothing comes to fruition.
Mourinho seems to talk sense at half time when things are not going so well however the team don’t seem to react at times. Could it be the team are not that good ? He did say at one stage they are like a gun with no bullets. You can see the self-doubt in Mourinho when Tottenham are knocked out of the FA Cup.
The Covid impact leaves an understandable gap in the series with a small clip of the team training at the homes via Zoom however the season starts again with the drama of the team trying to qualify for Europe. It’s not a spoiler in saying they finished 6th and as Mourinho says he arrived when the club was in 14th – an achievement in his overall career? Maybe.
Is the series worth watching? As a Spurs fan yes – as an EPL fan maybe. Compared to the equivalent NFL team series it’s as good. Compared to the 2017 All Black version – its streets ahead and actually has some content that a fan rarely sees. The team talks pre-game and last-minute captain messages, whilst reasonably bland are never usually seen, nor are the half time rants when things are not going so well.
Will this make a difference to the perception of Tottenham by their fanbase? Probably not. They are not big spenders and the chances of winning the league this season are not great. Will they win a trophy under Jose? Higher probability – he’s like a caged animal and determined to show he’s still relevant.
One thing the series proves that Tottenham is a club that has both history and a sense of community and cannot boast a legion of plastic fans that many more successful clubs have. In some ways it’s a privilege Amazon decided Tottenham were worth a series.
One bigger question is will Jose still be at the club this time next season. Let’s hope so – he’s a nice guy you know
Disclaimer – the writer is an official member of the Tottenham Hotspur Football club and lifelong Tottenham fan.
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