July 4, 2015

The Danger of Expectation

Let’s make one thing clear: what happened to Harry Kane last season was not just a ‘once in a lifetime’ experience for the player – it was a once in a lifetime experience for Tottenham Hotspur Football Club. It was perfection. Can it ever get better than that for a player in his first full season in the top flight? It’s so, so unlikely.

In the past few weeks I have received countless tweets asking who the next young players to break through are – and I respond by reeling off the same names that I’ve been talking up for months. There are articles written each week which list the most likely academy players to ‘follow in Kane’s footsteps’. But it struck me recently that I should probably stop reeling off these names and adding to the building hype – because how can it be helpful?

Essentially we are setting these players up to fail – how can they reach the standards that we are unconsciously creating for them? What would they have to do to impress: perform at a level over and above our already high expectations?

The truth is that part of the reason that Kane’s terrific season was so enjoyable was that – for many – it was utterly unexpected. Written off as a lumbering, awkward target man (mostly owing to the way he was used in early appearances, and an unfulfilling loan spell at Norwich City), he fell somewhere between a cult hero and figure of fun after launching a ball forward to waste time and spitting on himself when trotting back into his own half having done so. What happened after that was a rare and beautiful thing that led to a lot of words being eaten.

Nabil Bentaleb was chastised in his breakthrough season – many fans questioned ‘what he did’ before it became clear to all that what he did was, actually, rather remarkable for a player of that age and in that position. Ryan Mason has received widespread criticism for his defensive play despite last season being his first in the top flight. Inexperienced players make mistakes.

We have the most talented group of academy players that I have seen at Spurs, and there are many that *could* make the step up to Premier League player status. But there’s so much that can go wrong on that journey. There’s so much that can happen between now and ‘full England international’. Just getting to Jake Livermore level – a solid Premier League player (well, pre-incident) – is absolutely not to be sniffed at. Many, many academy players fall by the wayside and end up playing non-league football whilst finding a job outside the sport.

What would help is for fans to lower expectations, and just enjoy the glimpses of youth that we will hopefully get next season. Let’s bring them into an environment where they’re allowed to make mistakes without moans and groans inside the ground, and over-analysis on social media. Let’s not be so keen to be the person that called it right first that we make a firm decision on players after just a few appearances.

Let’s let our young players make mistakes and learn from them. Let’s support them through that process and accept that it’s the norm. Alas, they won’t all be Harry Kane.

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  • Paul Hayden says:

    Very true indeed. Well said

  • tg says:

    I love the Jake Livermoore Not to be sniffed at Brilliant.

  • Ian says:

    I,m really pleased about our academy progress as long as none of them turn into an andros Townsend. It worries me terribly at management level when that level of player is tolerated by our manager !!!

    • DAVSPURS says:

      You need to do your homework Andros missed a World Cup had an operation on is ankle the worse part to repair. So if he disapoints you this year i will give you credit in your condemnation. The facts are having speed in a Potch side is like running a 5 furlong flat horse in National no space to run slow build up crowded area. The facts are he scored 5 assisted 8 in all comps he scored and never or harley ever finishe 90m hooked fro 30m Lamela not a good way to get in form and over ankle op and confidants high.I promise you this full fit left on for full game he will make show is form got him into England squad with us or another club i hope its Spurs

      • Anonymous says:

        I am inclined to agree with your assessment of the player. I would prefer him over Lamela.

        I spent most of last season comparing Lamela to the PacMan game, because invariably he seemed to run up blind alleys before he was swallowed up by the opposition.

        I think last year, Townsend’s game improved because he played more as a team player and did less showboating. The season prior, he would have been the first to get the chop from me.

        As for Lamela, there is no doubt that he is an extremely gifted player, but I have yet to understand what his role is in the team, as he seems to wander all over the pitch.

  • Bill Madrid says:

    Whenever anyone asks “What does xxx actually do?” its a safe assumption that they know squit about football

  • artistrunner says:

    Well written article and young players to come on such as Yedlin. Harry to stay chilled. Winks can do as also Tom Carroll. Better service to Soldado whom I believe is a fantastic player .Erik Lamela will light up staduim 2015/16

  • Essexian says:

    We will improve if Dembele is used more effectively, and the player begins to realise how good he actually is? That alone can save the club untold millions. Failing that instead of paying out and entering a bidding war, why not go for N’Zonzi and forget about MS?

  • SpurredoninDublin says:

    I looked in expecting to see an appraisal of all the talent that is getting ready to burst through, and instead was greeted with words of wisdom. Good piece.

    In support of your article,I’d just like to add that I wish we were just that little bit more satisfied with our home grown players/or players we have bought as a development project. I can’t believe the number of posts I have seen on various blogs, suggesting that we should replace players like Mason, Bentaleb, Rose etc because we have been “linked” with bigger names. I don’t claim they are the best in the world, but these are improving players several years from their peak and we should be looking at these players glorying in what the Academy is now achieving.

    As for Livermore’s cap, if you are an English player in the PL, you have to be pretty dire, not to get a call up to the England squad while they run the rule over you. There are approximately 170 English players in the PL first team squads. If you eliminate the has-beens and the yet to be’s, and allow for injuries etc, Hodgson probably only has about 60 players to choose from in a 23 man squad.

  • […] wrote a few weeks ago about The Danger Of Expectation and, in that article, I explained that I get regular tweets asking who our brightest young star […]

  • jim says:

    Thanks

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