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It’s time to start cutting Danny Rose some slack

Danny Rose says there’s no rift between him and Mauricio Pochettino. We should believe him.

Tottenham Hotspur v APOEL Nikosia - UEFA Champions League Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images

Danny Rose is once again the center of some controversy. One day after Tottenham Hotspur’s 3-0 win over APOEL in the Champions League, Rose is back in the headlines and for all the wrong reasons: television cameras showed him having a verbal exchange with Mauricio Pochettino and then storming off down the tunnel after being substituted due to injury in the second half of the match at Wembley Stadium. He was replaced by Kyle Walker-Peters.

It turns out that after accidentally butting heads with APOEL midfielder Roland Sallai, he received a cut to his forehead that required stitches to close. Pochettino, seeing the blood, made the decision to sub Rose out of the game, but Danny was soon back on Spurs’ bench congratulating his teammates and his manager on the win.

At the time, Rose looked annoyed at the substitution, but it was the right call. Any time you have that much blood from a head-to-head collision, the prudent decision is to sub them off and make sure that they aren’t a) seriously injured or b) suffering from concussion-like symptoms. Thankfully, Rose was fine.

But that hasn’t stopped the media — and some Spurs fans on social media — from making a huge deal out of this, playing up the confrontation angle and implying that Rose was “fuming” at Pochettino for taking him out of the match.

According to Rose, it’s not true at all.

"This is getting silly now. The manager said it was best I came off and I didn't want to come off. That was it.

"I've seen already that people are saying we exchanged words. There is no issue between me and the manager, there has never been an issue. And people trying to put stuff in the media is not welcomed.

"For the last three-and-a-half years, four years, the manager has been my biggest fan. He's given me nothing but love and respect. There is no issue, there never will be an issue. People need to stop this, because it's not welcomed."

I believe him. Danny Rose made a huge mistake this summer when he went to the Sun to criticize his team’s transfer and wage policies. He was rightfully pilloried by Spurs fans and disciplined by the club. He came back later, apologized profusely, explained his motivations, and asked for forgiveness. It seemed, for a while, that this was enough, and he was warmly welcomed back when he took the field for the first time this season against Crystal Palace in November.

Rose has been described by his teammates as “the Gaffer’s son,” but family members sometimes fight and don’t always get along. He’s also a passionate guy, but we knew this already. There used to be a time that this worked in his favor. Spurs fans used to like that he played like he had a chip on his shoulder, and that when he spoke it was with his heart on his sleeve.

That no longer seems to be the case with many. The Sun interview and the way it was handled certainly put a sour taste in the mouths of a lot of fans. There’s an element of disloyalty at play with his choice of newspapers and how he expressed his frustration with his injury and contract situation. A guy with “a lot of passion” has suddenly flipped into a guy “with a bad attitude.”

I get it. That interview hurt. But Rose now seems to have lost a lot of the goodwill he had with the fans, and I’m not sure whether he’ll ever get that back. It’s certainly not helped when the media takes any evidence of a supposed rift, perceived or otherwise, and magnifies it a thousand-fold to link him to Manchester United, sell newspapers and generate headline clicks.

Nor is it helped by Danny not being back to full fitness. He’s not the same player that he was before his injury last season — the one that terrorized opposition defenses and endeared himself to fans by clawing his way into the England squad.

Finally, the protracted Kyle Walker transfer saga has put Spurs fans on edge that something like that might happen again. As a Tottenham fan for a decade now, I still live with a constant low-level terror that all the good players we have accumulated the past few years will be taken away by clubs with bigger prestige and resources. That feeds into the narrative as well.

The only thing we can do is take Rose at his word, and there’s no real reason not to do so. We may not have liked what he had to say in the Sun, but there’s no question that he meant every word, and there’s a strong argument that he was correct to say it (just not in the way it was said). Rose has never really given us reason to doubt him. So why should we start now?

The incident against APOEL looked like a player upset at his manager in the heat of the moment at getting yanked off the field, but that narrative isn’t backed up by Rose returning to the bench, celebrating with his teammates after the match, and even “making up” with Pochettino. Rose didn’t want to leave, but he understood the reason why he was pulled, and he accepted it, because that’s the manager’s decision. Flip the narrative a bit, and we’re back to “Danny Rose is a passionate guy” and not “Danny Rose has an attitude problem.”

I don’t know what the future holds for Danny Rose. This time next season he could be once again the first choice left back for Tottenham Hotspur in their new stadium, or he could be wearing Manchester United colors after a summer transfer. That’s a decision that will be made by the club, and it’s not up to us.

But I feel as though since his “Come to Jesus” moment in the fall, Danny Rose has pretty much done everything he can to make up for his mistake. He has repeatedly said that there’s no rift with Pochettino, and to his credit, Poch has confirmed it every single time. Isn’t it time we started giving them both the benefit of the doubt?