From Tottenham Hotspur Stadium – The history of Tottenham Hotspur Stadium hasn’t been an overly fond one for Spurs fans.
They were promised that after a a singular season at the desolate despite remarkable Wembley Stadium, they would go home. These plans were delayed several times over and the wait lasted nearly the entirety of the following campaign.
Once the stadium finally opened, Mauricio Pochettino’s men were at the back-end of a year which had left them battered and bruised inside and out. The Argentine was sacked before he could even make the billion-pound stadium he in part helped design (seriously) a fitting home.
Jose Mourinho was next tasked with such a feat. Injuries to Harry Kane and Son Heung-min followed by a gruelling year of pandemic-ball followed. He was out, too.
After Ryan Mason’s brief caretaker stint, Nuno Espirito Santo was next in line. He peaked with his first match, an admittedly lucky 1-0 win over Manchester City. His reign ended when 60,000 fans loudly questioned his decision to replace Lucas Moura with Steven Bergwijn. What a sentence.
From Antonio Conte’s first home match in the Spurs dugout – a frantic 3-2 win against Vitesse Arnhem in the Europa Conference League which featured three red cards – Tottenham Hotspur Stadium became an optimistic arena, though it has gone one step further and evolved into a fortress in recent months.
Saturday’s 2-0 win over Everton was Spurs’ tenth in a row at home, their first such run since their final season at White Hart Lane. It was a performance which required everyone, including the fans, to up their game.
Tottenham were stifled in a frustrating first half and were fortunate to enter the break even on level terms after the Toffees squandered two glorious chances on the break.
But whatever Conte said at half-time worked. Spurs came flying out of the traps in the second half – a recurring theme in their 10-match streak – and the crowd, after a quiet opening 45, responded too. Everton wilted under the pressure and Tottenham went on to score the two goals they deserved.
With the final whistle looming, Conte was serenaded and given a standing ovation by home supporters, duly returning the gesture as he often does. The team are every bit worthy of their run, but the Italian is the man behind everything tangible and intangible about the stadium experience.
“When we play at home, the stadium has to become our fortress. This is very important that this message arrives to our fans. They play an important role, an important part in this situation,” Conte told 90min post-match.
“To play against a team with fans pushing their team in this way, it makes your life difficult if you are the opponent. It’s the same for us. When we played, for example against Sporting Lisbon, it was very difficult for us, the same against Eintracht Frankfurt.
“I think, to play in our stadium, it has to become very tough, very difficult for every team that’s coming to play.”
There is finally an acceptance again among fans that home games are a procession, that Tottenham should be winning each game in N17. The long walk down from Seven Sisters feels much shorter, the wait to scramble onto ill-fit trains and the tube a worthy price to pay. It makes the 18 months away worth it to call such a special stadium on top of the old one home.
Tottenham probably won’t win the Premier League or Champions League this season despite making their best start to a season since 1963 – Manchester City and Erling Haaland will undoubtedly be the ones to stop any domestic charge – but the foundations are in place to keep moving in the right direction, to become the sort of ruthless and horrible team that makes visitors admit defeat before they even set foot on the pitch.
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