You know, you can take your advanced stats, take your tactical GIFs, take your heat maps, key pass arrows and “five things we’ve learned” fucking listicles.
You want to know what is REALLY going on with this Spurs team? Let’s do it the old-fashioned way: Who is sitting next to who on the team plane?
It may be a fancy jet rather than a filthy coach, and the players may be on a few bob a week, but the same rules apply when we were all playing Under 15s on a Saturday morning.
Who is the class pet sitting up front with the team captain? Who is the Billy No Mates on his own? What are the cliques? And does Spurs even have a cool gang lounging around at the back?
Seats 1a and 1b
Hugo Lloris and Eric Dier. The first big surprise here. Eric is only 21, and could well have chosen to be in the back amongst the lads. But here he is, next to Le Captain, with the senior boys. Says a lot about a player many see as a future Spurs leader. Eric appears to have brought along a copy of the Sun, which would be enough reading on a six-hour flight for most footballers, but not for a clearly intelligent lad who wasn’t educated in Britain. I presume, Hugo’s brought along some Voltaire, Sartre, Balzac or Proust for after take-off. Expect some multilingual philosophical discussion of the nature of existence, and how they are going to handle Diego Costa at the weekend.
Seats 1c and 1d
Michel Vorm and Jan Vertonghen. More senior lads up front. First time all season we’ve seen the our Belgian centre-back pairing broken up — they even looked unstoppable in the Davies Cup football tennis. But, we Spurs fans know, it there is one thing that is going to ruin the strongest defensive partnership that we’ve had for years, it’s going to be Michel Vorm.
Seats 2a, 2c and 2d
Toby looks like he’s got what all long-distance travellers desire more than anything: an empty seat next to him. He’s near his buddies, but gets a bit of breathing room. The move to Spurs is working well for him. Across the aisle, I think it is Kieran Trippier and Kevin Wimmer, but we’ve not seen much of them this season so I’m not really sure.
Seats 3a and 3b
A midfield combo here of Christian Eriksen and Tommy Carroll. Is this little Tommy’s last European trip with Spurs? It could well be. Aged 23, he’d barely had a kick this season, and Eriksen is one of the main guys blocking his way into the first-team. If I was Eriksen, I’d be a bit afraid of going to sleep. Although saying that, Tommy hardly screams ruthless ambition, or he may have played more in his career.
Seats 3c and 3d
Harry Kane and Ryan Mason. Our vice captain and leader, sat next to our legend. This is the heartbeat of the club, the core of the “one of our own” philosophy that is sweeping through the club and singlehandedly enabling Spurs to afford the inevitable massive cost overruns that will occur trying to build a huge new stadium on a piece of land the size of a postage stamp. Most Spurs fans are on Harry hamstring watch and didn’t want him to travel to Baku. Here’s the secret: Harry wanted to go.
Seats 4a, 4b, 4c and 4d
The kids: Harry Winks, Cameron Carter-Vickers, Josh Onomah and Shayon Harrison. To be honest, they look more like a bunch of lads from the new Tottenham UTC who’ve somehow boarded the wrong plane for a school trip. For Harrison especially, it’s been a big few weeks: training with England and now travelling to Azerbaijan. Not sure he’s played much though. Welcome to the world of professional football.
Oh no, it’s Clinton N’Jie. He appears to be doing that thing where you pretend to talk on your phone so that people don’t realize you are all on your own. He’s looked rawer than sashimi since he arrived from Lyon, and has struggled with injury. Is this the first transfer bust of the Paul Mitchell era? Or has Andros Townsend just nipped to the loo and they are about to settle in for a good-times, six-hour game of Boggle?
Seats 5c and 5d
Dele Alli and Luke McGee. Dele has taken English football by storm, to such an extent that he has earned a specialist Twitter handle. We’ve seen an interesting progression in his friendships this season: early on, he and Son Heung-min were mates on and off the field, then it was Eric Dier, who seems to have dropped him for the chance to sit next to Hugo. Now, it is Luke McGee. You wonder, for all his insouciance on the pitch, and effervescence on the training field, if Dele may be an exhausting travelling companion and general pain in the arse? Luke and Dele were schooled at football tennis, so a bit of bonding may be required.
Seats 6c and 6d
Son Heung-min and Ben Davies. They’ve got the seats next to the toilets, which no-one wants. Son has been making great strides with his English since he joined the club, but I’d be amazed if he can understand a word Davies says. That Welsh accent is THICK.
The cool kids at the back
I think we all know, that in this Spurs squad, the cool gang lolling around at the back with the girls, the booze and the dirty magazines are Mauricio Pochettino and his coaching crew. In fact, it’s not even close to a contest, is it?
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