Dive right in
As fans we are constantly hankering after players and managers that we can feel a real connection with and, for a lucky handful of clubs each season, this wish is granted. Tottenham are one such club this year. The delirium that greeted Danny Rose’s winning goal against Swansea this weekend was that of a club riding the crest of a wave and one man was pretty keen to surf that swell. Mauricio Pochettino’s celebrations almost took him into the crowd and, to my delight, he admitted in his post-match presser, that jumping into the fans was exactly what he wanted to do. To move such a controlled, disciplined man to want to jump into the arms of his public is some feat and encapsulates the buzz that is carrying Spurs deeper and deeper into the title race this season. Aside from this admission proving the momentum that Tottenham have gained, I will admit, I just bloody love someone throwing themselves into the crowd in celebration – particularly a manager. What’s more, if I were a Spurs fan in the front few rows at White Hart Lane, I would fancy my chances of breaking Pochettino’s fall. I have a feeling that Sunderland fans may have different views if Big Sam were to be taken by such emotion over the next few weeks.
Swansea’s Alan Curtis gave a glowing account of Tottenham’s performance in the aftermath on Sunday, stating “I thought that Tottenham could win the title before the game but, having seen them, I think it even more now.” The North London side’s resilience is key to this reputation, having earned more points (17) from losing positions than any other club this season. You’d better keep practising that celebration then, Mauricio.
One manager who threw himself, if not into the crowd, then into the action for once, was Louis van Gaal. The Dutchman’s dying swan routine on the touchline was inevitably a focus of his media duties following the home win over Arsenal. But it seemed the Man United manager had a change of heart by the time he made it into the mixed zone. When asked what he thought of the fans at Old Trafford finally singing his name, van Gaal commented, ‘Great but the fans are not always wise.’ Maybe he’s not so wise for batting away the fans’ advances that he’s waited so long to receive, or maybe he just realised that he had made a bit of a dick of himself – easy to admit when you’ve won though, isn’t it. Unfortunately we didn’t hear from Wenger on the incident that left van Gaal on his arse, though rumour has it he didn’t see it. As for Wenger’s comments after the game, there’s not much point in covering them. Suffice to say, Arsenal need to keep on fighting and the League is not over. Of course, he is right, but the worrying thing for Arsenal fans is that they will expect to hear this fare a few more times before the season is out.
Believe it or not, for all that I love recounting the emotion of huge moments and hearing managers’ thoughts on their moments of madness, I actually quite enjoy hearing a manager talk tactics in an interview. It does actually happen, honestly. Claudio Ranieri sailed serenely to the rescue this week, sharing with us how his Leicester side finally dismantled a dogged Norwich team. ‘I tried to make some changes to spread out the front line,’ said the Italian, of the tactical shift that finally unlocked a critical win for the League leaders. This calmness will be critical for Leicester as they continue to keep their hat in the ring for the most unlikely of title wins. Having said that, I would love to see Ranieri jump into the crowd in a moment of ecstasy later on in the season; after asking the stewards’ permission first, of course.
MICHAEL CREANE – Folow Michael on @MichaelCreane
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