The Independent London Newspaper
22nd October 2018

SCORE BLIMEY: Spexit - How Tottenham triggered their Article 50

    Richard Osley

    Published: 24 November, 2016

    KNOCK, knock. Who’s there? Spurs? Spurs who? Hey, that’s the Champions League, folks.

    I’ve got another: What would a Spurs fan do if their team went on and won the Champions League? Turn off the PlayStation. And, wait, one more: Why has Nigel Farage ­started supporting Spurs? Because he likes their attractive passing game, speedy counter-attacks, eye for a goal and pristine lilywhite shirts.

    Them’s the jokes, because after four years of desperately trying to qualify for the Champions League, Tottenham, being Tottenham, this week triggered their own Article 50 and made a getaway from the continent’s biggest tournament in double-quick time. It seems like only yesterday that Moussa Sissoko was telling us all that he’d signed for Spurs to play in the Champions League.

    The club’s hot, new striker Kanepen was on the scoresheet again in Monaco, I noticed, but, alas, in the utter excitement and with a curious team selection, Spurs slid out of the Champions League trapdoor with nothing short of a whimper and what looked like a dose of stage-fright.

    Sorry, I’ve just realised the punchline to the third joke at the top there should have read: Because they are great at quitting Europe. My mistake.

    Anyway, their failure in France sets up the prospect of a ludicrous final group match at Wembley where Tottenham, perhaps with a little less strut about their artificially-inflated attendances, will play knowing that there may be advantages in actually losing the game. 

    They surely don’t want to finish third in the group and face getting lost in the Thursday Night Club of European misfits. It’s an energy-sapper when what the club really cares about now is the domestic league and cup. Arsenal fans should be wary of that. It’s all well and good to go marching on through the Champions League, but if you are realistic about what generally happens when Arsenal eventually meet Barcelona, in whichever round that it is, you sometimes wonder whether the energy spent on this circus is worth it.

    It’s great being there while Spurs are not, if only for recycled, repetitive banter like that printed above. But hand on heart, Gunners fans, would you have traded in the 2-2 draw against Paris St Germain at the Emirates Stadium for a win against Manchester United last Saturday morning. I know I would. Arsenal were already through in Europe, so they should have gone full throttle at Old Trafford rather than stiffening up with Elneny and Coquelin in midfield. Beating United, and the prospect of finally defeating Mourinho, is nearly always the answer in a “what’s more fun” quiz.

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