Crisis? What crisis? After Tottenham Hotspur rolled to an encouraging 5-0 home win over Red Star Belgrade in the Champions League on Tuesday night, Spurs’ players were quick to talk up the most positive aspects of the performance as a means of changing the dark narrative that currently hovers over the club like a cloud.
Encouragingly, Dele was one of those players. While Dele didn’t have the best of matches against Red Star, taking a back seat to the likes of Harry Kane, Son Heung-Min, and Erik Lamlea, he seemed happy to play the role of positive team spokesperson. Speaking to the press after the match, Dele was quick to praise manager Mauricio Pochettino and pour cold water on the idea that there are major rifts in the changing room.
“A lot of us would not be where we are now if it was not for [Pochettino]. All we can do is thank him. We have always trusted him 100 per cent and we are going to keep doing that.
“We are a team. When things don’t go our way it is easy for people to try to get at the manager but we need to look at ourselves as players. We are doing that and are going to keep working hard. We are 1,000 per cent behind him.”
So, real talk, I’m not sure exactly how much I believe this from Dele. There’s still tons of background information coming out of the club that suggests that there are plenty of personnel issues and feelings of discontent coming from at least a segment of the Tottenham players. If you’re a cynic (and at some level all Spurs fans are cynics), it’s easy to say that this is Dele’s media training kicking in after a solid win.
However, I don’t think it’s that, or at least not all that. Dele’s comments hint at the idea that either the discontent either isn’t as bad as what has been suggested in the past few weeks, or things are starting to turn around.
“Since we have been together here we probably have not been through this situation. It is a new experience for a lot of us, that is probably why the reaction has been what it has. People are making a bigger deal out of it than maybe what it actually is. Every club have it where they have a little bit of a dip. When we are so used to winning, it is important we show our character and how strong we really are as a team and a club.
“We know we have hit a dip but no one in our team is panicking with the results and the form. We know how good we are and the quality we have got in this team. It was an important win for us but we know it is just the start.”
If Spurs are going to refresh the squad in the short to medium future, Dele is going to be one of the key players going forward. It’s critical to the future of the club that he is happy and content with his situation at Spurs. These comments feel like a data point suggesting that things are starting to get on the right track. At minimum, it’s nice to hear Dele at least publicly saying the things that supporters want to hear.
“People are always going to have their own opinion. I am feeling very good and happy to be back in the team and playing. I cannot take it [my place] for granted. I do not want to be back to where I was, I want to be better than that. I have got to keep working hard and trying to improve.”