It's Monday again, and you know what that means. Time to stick your Zoom conference call on mute and tune into something far more entertaining, as 'All or Nothing: Tottenham Hotspur' returns with three brand new episodes.
If you're a Spurs fan, a football fan, or just a fan of watching things go hilariously wrong, Amazon's latest documentary series has been an absolute treat thus far, bothering with the finer details of Mauricio Pochettino's reign for all of about 20 minutes before Mr Prime Time himself, José Mourinho, comes in and steals the show.
With the obligatory warning that spoilers lie in wait (as much as I'm skeptical of the notion that there can be spoilers for a documentary), here's everything you need to know about episode seven, where it's getting towards crunch time in not one, but three competitions for Tottenham.
Episode 6 concluded with a merry Mourinho sizing up Spurs' Champions League opponents Leipzig and concluding that 'they are going to give us very good chances to f*** them', a thesis which is put to the test at the start of episode seven as the two clubs do battle in north London.
Dele has a moan in the tunnel and Spurs go in at half-time a little taken aback by Leipzig's potency, but still very much in the contest, with Mourinho urging them to remain defensively strong, and motivational music plays before the opening credits roll.
Ironically it is Tottenham who f*** themselves, however, with Ben Davies conceding a penalty in the second half and Timo Werner doing the honours from the spot, and despite a series of late chances Spurs are 1-0 down after the first leg of the knockout tie. We don't get to see the dressing room afterward, but it's safe to assume that a few strong words have probably been exchanged.
Mourinho is much less chipper in training now, but Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy is sympathetic with the struggles of his manager, giving him credit for what he's accomplished so far and commenting that 'you couldn't write' this season (but you probably could get a pretty good nine-part docuseries out of it).
Every game is now a proverbial cup final for Spurs now that they are competing on three fronts, and Spurs hold a team meeting after having slumped 2-1 to Champions League rivals Chelsea at Stamford Bridge (a defeat which - rather annoyingly given its importance in the context of Spurs' season - is covered for all of about ten seconds).
Mourinho has thoughtfully prepared a gift for each member of the Spurs squad - a DVD featuring every single goal that they've conceded this season. The movie magic continues as assistant head coach João Sacramento talks about Olivier Giroud's opening goal in the Chelsea match, explaining that the whole team have to be more responsible in these situations.
Levy talks about the academy players for a bit and how they allow the club to be run sustainably, which turns out to be a convenient segue for a feature on Harry Winks. The midfielder has to be one of the most excitable and earnest men in football, and it's lovely to hear him talk about going to Spurs games with his dad, his emotional bond with the club and playing for England.
Winks turns on the charm as he visits a residential care home in Enfield, and a lot of fuss is made over how handsome he is. If you've ever done GCSE English, you'll spot this Winks-intensive interlude as a textbook bit of foreshadowing, as the captain for Spurs' must-win match against Wolves is... Harry Winks.
Winks gives his team talk at a million miles per hour, and Spurs appropriately make a fast start, taking a 2-1 lead into half-time, but Mourinho himself is wary of Wolves' speed in transition. He turns out to be bang on, with Spurs carved apart as Raúl Jiménez' winner completes a stunning second-half comeback for the boys in orange.
Dele again expresses his displeasure at the result but Eric Dier's having none of it this time, asking him to name names or zip it, and Mourinho, ever the agent of chaos, embraces this moment of friction, before explaining that Spurs lost because they didn't foul Wolves enough. Dele and Dier seem to have kissed and made up as Dier gets thumped at FIFA by Ryan Sessegnon.
The episode ends with a huge opportunity for Spurs to make something of their season as they face lowly Norwich in the fifth round of the FA Cup. All eyes are on goalkeeper Michel Vorm, playing his first game since 2018 as Paolo Gazzaniga is surprisingly dropped.
Vorm makes a big mistake to allow Norwich to equalise, and though he redeems himself slightly by saving a penalty in the ensuing shootout, misses from Erik Lamela, Gedson Fernandes and youngster Troy Parrott send Spurs packing. The episode ends with the news that Eric Dier has tried to scrap a fan in the stands, and we get some insight into the thought process behind one of the most shocking incidents of last season.
Key Talking Points
Parking the Bus
Jan Vertonghen admits to Sacramento that he has no idea what is wrong with the Spurs defence in this episode, especially as, in relative terms, the back line is one of the healthier areas of the squad. This is the puzzle that Mourinho is working on throughout the episode, and in his view it goes beyond the four defenders.
Dele is singled out for leaving space in behind for Leipzig to attack before Davies' error, while both Mourinho and Sacramento are adamant that Spurs simply don't communicate enough when other teams enter their final third.
As Alli notes against Leipzig, however, this defensive focus which concentrates on what the other team are capable of might be stopping Spurs from playing their best football, and when Mourinho praises his side for not collapsing against Norwich perhaps he should be haranguing them for not looking more dangerous against the 20th-placed team in the league.
Levy's Vote of Confidence
Levy worked hard to get his man, and if episode seven is anything to go by he's not about to let his judgment get clouded by one or two defeats, instead picking on the positives of Mourinho's reign, sounding genuinely delighted at Winks' improvement ('He must run a lot!').
It's clear that he still has certain expectations of anyone he hires at Spurs, and it's notable that one of his key criteria is to 'play with style'. Could his patience end up wearing thin with Mourinho's pragmatism?
One Big Family
As anyone who has ever watched a fly-on-the-wall sports documentary could tell you, temper tantrums in the dressing room are actually boringly commonplace, and not always worthy of a 'SPURS SPLIT BY SENSATIONAL DRESSING-ROOM BUST-UP' headline.
Dele's way of reacting to a loss, though a little bit petulant, is endearingly human (we've all muttered 'three of the worst goals I've ever seen' after getting walloped by a 14-year-old on Ultimate Team), although in fairness to Dier it probably does start to wear a little thin after a while.
Mourinho loves nothing better than to stand back and watch the #dramz unfold like the calculating Sith Lord that he is, and you can see his point that it's better to get it all out - Keeping Up With the Kardashians style - rather than let tensions simmer.
Dele: [With Spurs goalless at half time against Leipzig] "Just smashing it long and f****** defending. We're not gonna win nothing like that. Stop f****** dogging it."
Mourinho: [Also at half time] "There is no time to touch your balls."
Winks: [On his England debut] "I was absolutely s****** it to be honest."
Resident at Care Home: [To Winks] "You're gorgeous Harry. You're cute!"
Winks: [Team talk before the Wolves match, given at light speed] "Comeonladsf******massivegameforuswehavetowintheyplayedthreedaysagoletsf******pressthemourintentionistof******win."
Dier: [Before playing Sessegnon at FIFA] "I don't have a Playstation at home but I turn up and I, you know, do my thing."
Dier: [After playing Sessegnon at Fifa] *Leaves room in embarrassment*.
Alli: "People always used to say to me when I was younger, 'there's no friends in football'... But I feel like my teammates are just like a family."
This is a pretty fun episode overall - those complaining that Mourinho doesn't come across as much of a tactician in previous episodes have some juicy team talks to feast their eyes and ears on, while the dynamic of Spurs' dressing room after a defeat is always fascinating, and it's nice to get some answers on the Dier incident against Norwich.
The same issues with selling Spurs' somewhat pedestrian season remain, and you have to roll your eyes a bit as the Amazon camerawork attempts to make Winks look like the pivotal architect of Spurs' attacking play in the Wolves match.
The major problem with this episode is more what it's missing - a feature on Parrott would have been much more interesting than one on Michel Vorm in advance of the Norwich game, while it's pretty staggering that the Chelsea result barely features.
Did Mourinho quietly ask for it to be removed because he didn't want there to be any proof that he started 5'10" Steven Bergwijn as a centre-forward?
At any rate, decent stuff, but just like Spurs' season last year, Parrott was woefully underused.
Source : 90min