Coming into the 2015/16 season there was a lot of debate over Erik Lamela's future at Spurs. Would he simply remain a punchline to a bad joke? Would he build on the impressive run of form at the end of last season? Among Spurs fans at least, it was a lively debate.
It took about thirty minutes to put it to rest.
In Tottenham's second game of the season against Stoke City, Lamela needed only half and hour to completely undo the most promising performance anyone had seen from Spurs in ages.
For a while it looked like Lamela would have at least one more season season to redeem himself at Spurs, but after thirty minutes of turnovers, bad ideas, and killed counterattacks, it felt like a departure was inevitable. And if it didn't seem a near certainty that he would be leaving after that match, it sure did when Spurs went out and bought Heung-Min Son.
Then deadline day ended and he was still here. Like the guy who was very publicly dumped a week before prom, then decided to show up by himself anyway. It's very awkward and no one quite knows what to make of it.
Now, seemingly because of a bad half an hour, Spurs' record signing finds himself a back up. Lamela is almost undoubtedly behind Christian Eriksen, Heung-Min Son, Nacer Chadli, and Mousa Dembele on the depth chart. Pochettino spiked a loan move for Lamela, but the fact that he was almost loaned to Marseille and was offered as makeweight for Victor Wanyama hardly makes one think that the coach is overflowing with confidence in the Argentine attacker.
Barring some really exceptional cup matches and first team injuries, Lamela is probably on the bench from here on out. And most of us seem to be fine with that, no matter what our opinion on Lamela was before. Which is weird because he has excelled at every step of his career. He was excellent in River Plate's academy, he thrived at River Plate, and he was the most exciting part of Roma's crazy 2011-2012 attack.
It wouldn't be crazy if he figured out a way to put it together this season and realized at least some of his potential. And yet he has become an afterthought. The fans who were mad at him can't be bothered to waste their energy on anything other than Beraghazi, the fans who supported him just seem exhausted at the prospect of thinking about him, and the acquisition of Son suggests the club has begun to look towards greener pastures as well.
Lamela's stock was hardly riding high coming into this season. I doubt many people believed we were ever going to see the player we thought we were getting from Roma, but the end of last season had given us reasons for optimism. Yet none of that seems to matter. After thirty bad minutes, only the negatives stand out anymore.
Still, we gave Gareth Bale a pass for not being involved in a Premier League win for 24 matches. Maybe we should cut Lamela a break for a bad thirty minutes.