Someone presumably decided that the best way to drown out any further boos in the Spurs players’ lap of appreciation was to turn up the music inside the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium to an uncomfortably loud volume.
They hadn’t factored in that the first song cued up was particularly apt as Stereophonics’ Dakota bellowed out with such choice lyrics as “I don’t know where we are goin’ now”, “Remembering you, what happened to you?” and “So take a look at me now”.
For this Tottenham Hotspur is a mess to look at, a club desperately crying out for direction, leadership and an identity. Speak to most inside the north London outfit, from the academy up to the first team, and you will get a sense of people within a club adrift, all having no real idea what the future holds.
READ MORE: Tottenham player ratings vs Brentford: Harry Kane scores a wonder goal but defenders fall short
Chairman Daniel Levy promised before the match in his annual address to the fans – sacking managers aside – that things will get better.
“This has been an immensely difficult season. We made footballing decisions over recent seasons based on ambition and a desire to bring success to our club and they have not delivered what we had hoped,” said his chairman’s message .”Your frustration has been understandable and all of us at the club have shared it.”
He ended it by saying: “We shall spend the period ahead of next season working relentlessly to position our club for on-pitch success and football you will love to come and watch. Every element of the club’s operations is geared toward delivering that.”
The problem for Levy is that those very elements of the club’s operations currently employ no permanent leaders to deliver anything.
Levy must appoint a head coach of both the men’s and women’s side and a director of football who will report into a new chief football officer in Scott Munn, who officially begins on July 1.
Those who remember the chairman’s message in 2021 will remember the promises made then about the style of football and the manager who would arrive to make it happen. Nobody envisioned that would result in the arrival of Nuno Espirito Santo and unsurprisingly he ensured the promise was broken.
The Tottenham fans can feel the lack of direction almost two months after Antonio Conte left and all the attention is on the chairman. Black ‘Levy out’ balloons – with the E replaced by a pound sign – bounced across the pitch during the first half, there was a banner at the front of the south stand and the chants calling for the chairman’s exit grew as the disappointments of the second half mounted up. The Brentford fans with a wry smile in turn sang for Levy to stay.
At one point after Brentford’s third goal, Levy’s wife patted his knee, seemingly an attempt to comfort him amid the chants. It was a humanising moment but Levy’s expression betrayed little emotion. Those who know him say he will be suffering amid the mess but also that he’s not prone to emotional outbursts at any end of the spectrum.
In contrast, the fans were very open to showing their emotion and it made for a lap of appreciation as awkward as the one back in 2021, following a defeat to Aston Villa, when the players had to be practically shoved back out on to the pitch after most fans had been told to leave and had done so.
Two years on and most fans had left of their own volition before the players emerged. They had already booed the club’s attempt to show a video of ‘highlights’ of the season. It was such a difficult task to find high spots in the poor season that didn’t make it a Harry Kane goal compilation that one of part of the montage brought the bizarre sight of Japhet Tanganga blocking a shot in the 4-1 defeat at Leicester.
That music blared out as the squad walked around a quarter full stadium. Some fans had left because of the music, citing it as being an experience as painful as watching the team. Whoever was in charge of the music had great reflexes though, for as soon as the game had finished they turned on the post-match tunes within a split-second, presumably to drown out the reaction so it was not heard on TV screens around the world.
For the walk around the pitch, the connection between the remaining fans and the club’s players has never been as wide. Before the music blared there were cheers for Son Heung-min as he was handed the Official Supporters’ Clubs’ Goal of the Season award and the supporters sung Kane’s name as he collected all three remaining awards – Official Supporters’ Clubs’ Player of the Season, One Hotspur Player of the Season and One Hotspur Juniors’ Player of the Season.
The lap of appreciation came next. It’s not really called a lap of honour at Tottenham any more for obvious reasons and this was practically a walk of shame.
The music was so loud it was difficult for any of the remaining fans to really connect with the players, who included injured captain Hugo Lloris perhaps saying his farewell, although a tearful Lucas Moura clearly felt the emotion of his last time in the stadium wearing a Spurs shirt.
When asked about the near empty stadium for the walk around, acting head coach Ryan Mason said: “Of course [it hurts]. It is understandable because of how probably the second two-thirds of the season have gone on and off the pitch but ultimately we know the fans will be there next season.
“This club will keep moving forward and now is the time where we need to be stronger than ever and believe in what we’re going to do, commit to it and have people that are committed to it. I always say in football things can change very quickly and the energy can change quickly.”
On what must change he added: “These are conversations and there are many different conversations that need to happen, but ultimately, I have said it quite a bit, we need to commit to something and be consistent with it. Then have people, staff and players here who are committed to it too and I think that transfers to everyone else. That is what we need.”
The saddest thing about the exodus of the crowd was the knock-on effect for the women’s game straight after as they won a big six-pointer of an encounter against Reading 4-1, with the wonderful Beth England again pivotal, to seal their place in the Women’s Super League for another season.
It was a far better all round game than the men had provided earlier although the first half for Mason’s side had actually been impressive.
The return to a 4-2-3-1 formation brought some lovely football with Dejan Kulusevski revelling in the number 10 role he once told football.london he prefers and Yves Bissouma looking more like the midfielder he was at Brighton in a similar system.
Kane scored one of the goals of the season just eight minutes in with his curling effort from Kulusevski’s back-heeled free-kick. In doing so he sent another record tumbling as he became the first player to score in 25 different Premier League matches in a 38-game season.
Spurs created plenty of chances in the first half but they could not find that crucial second. Then half-time came and the players were even applauded off the pitch by the fans.
The good feelings ended there though as Thomas Frank brought on Mikkel Damsgaard and took off Frank Onyeka and Brentford suddenly look far better on the break and Tottenham could not react.
Afterwards Mason said: “Maybe a combination of different things. We were probably asking them to do something they haven’t done for a while, in terms of playing a higher line and being a little bit more front foot. To do that for 90, 95 minutes, you probably need to train it for a consistent amount of time, which we haven’t had. I thought there were lots of positives in the first half, I certainly took a lot of positives.”
For those who saw Kane, Son et al collapsing and/or throwing up by the side of the pitch in South Korea last summer due to the fitness work they went through it’s tough to understand why they are now unable to maintain 95 minutes of running after having those foundations trained into them.
In the end it did not matter that Spurs had 22 shots at goal, eight on target, and 62% of the possession because the visitors were ruthless, netting three of their four shots on target. Both of Bryan Mbeumo’s low strikes were sent right in the corner of the net.
All of the Tottenham players who had impressed in the first half were non-existent in the second. The front line could barely string a pass together and even Oliver Skipp, who had looked bright alongside Bissouma, made a mess of a late bit of control and gifted Brentford the ball for Yoane Wissa to eventually dink a shot over the onrushing Fraser Forster.
There is still one more match to go in a season that has brought so many lows and so few highs. Spurs are now eighth, although there remains the chance of Europa Conference League football if they can beat Leeds and Villa lose at home on the final day to Brighton.
There is an even slimmer chance of Europa League football if the Seagulls somehow at the best lose two of their final three matches and draw one. That Brighton host relegated Southampton on Sunday makes that an unlikely scenario.
Any form of European qualification would be a prize this turgid Tottenham team does not particularly deserve. The club will finish with 60 or fewer points for only the second time in the last 14 Premier League seasons, having finished with 59 in 2020.
It is also only the second time a team has managed to score more than 60 goals in a Premier League season and concede more than 60. The only other time it happened? Of course it was Tottenham in their 2007/8 campaign.
Spurs need change and it will hopefully come naturally through the flood of new people to be appointed in prominent positions with the club wanting to sign up their new head coach and director of football as soon as possible as soon as seasons end in England and across Europe.
Some form of change could also come at the top with Levy expected to hand over the day to day running of all football departments and decision-making to Munn, although many – including those who know Levy – will wonder just how control the 61-year-old is capable of relinquishing.
History suggests Levy’s football decisions have fallen far short of his off-the-pitch ones – he opened Saturday’s address to the fans by admitting that his “footballing decisions” in recent seasons had failed – and Munn’s success will likely be quickly defined by just how much autonomy he is given by the chairman to actually make an impact.
Despite the ever-growing calls for his exit, perhaps few fans would actually mind Levy being in charge solely of the business growth of the Tottenham Hotspur brand if it meant another – Munn in this case – was actually making the football decisions. The problem is just how hand in hand both aspects go and whether the calculated gambles required to have on the pitch success can be achieved within the parameters Levy has set for the business.
In an ideal world everything would be rebuilt around what Harry Kane wants. One player is not meant to be bigger than a club but it’s fair to say the 29-year-old England captain has been carrying this particular club on his shoulders in recent years and he must be drained by the experience.
His talents deserve so much better and how he has now scored 30 goals this season within a team like this is a mystery. His 28 Premier League goals so far this time around would have been enough to win the Golden Boot not only last season but in 19 of the campaigns since the competition began 31 years ago.
Player control is a big door to open, but Kane at least deserves to have a major say in what comes next if he is to stick around. He has been increasingly vocal in recent weeks about the lost values at the club and again on Saturday he was talking about making changes and improvements for next season.
“Maybe it’s a lack of confidence in the squad, a lack of belief that we are a good team. We’ve got some great players. It’s something that’s obviously going to have to change for next season,” Kane said in his pre-match interview with Peter Crouch for BT Sport.
When asked whether he’s now targeting Alan Shearer’s all-time Premier League top scorer record, he added: “Yeah I think so. Records are always strange because when you first start out I was never someone that looked at Jimmy Greaves’ record or Wayne Rooney’s record and thought ‘I want to beat that’.
“It’s similar with the Shearer record now. At the start it was never that I wanted to set out to beat that record but it would be something I’d love to achieve for sure, to be the Premier League’s all-time top goalscorer. But it’s still a few years away yet so I’m trying not to think about it too much.”
Mason shot down any suggestion after the game that Kane may have been waving goodbye to the fans on his walk around the pitch.
“No, he waves at the crowd every season. I remember sitting here two years ago, and you guys were convinced he was leaving, saying the same thing,” he said in his press conference. “It’s the last home game of the season so he wants to show his appreciation to the support he’s received, and we’ve all received this season.”
Crouch admitted during BT’s coverage that after his chat with Kane he doesn’t think the striker knows what this summer holds.
“‘I did ask him the question (if that was his last home game for Spurs) and he was very diplomatic in his answer. I don’t think even he knows,” said the former England and Tottenham forward.
“He might have ambitions to go somewhere else and potentially win a trophy but it’s not just down to him, he still has a year left.
“There’s a man at the club that doesn’t want to lose his star player and what would it mean to these fans to lose a player of Kane’s calibre? Where can he go? Manchester City City is sewn up now. Manchester United is the only real option I can see. You can’t go to Chelsea. You can’t go to Arsenal.
“Newcastle is potentially an option but I still feel that’s a sideways move. Newcastle have got great potential but I feel like he might as well stay at Tottenham.”
The pressure on Levy is also a problem for Kane as the Spurs chairman simply cannot afford what would come his way if he let the striker leave, particularly after a season like this and having not stepped in to prevent Mauricio Pochettino from heading to Chelsea.
Spurs continue to state firmly that they have no intention of selling Kane this summer. Some might suggest they cannot afford to allow him to leave for free in 2024, others inside Tottenham might counter that it’s worth the money for another season with a man who has scored almost half of their goals this campaign in the Premier League. The money spent on a replacement or two would certainly not guarantee the same return.
In the summer of 2024 the power shifts into Kane’s hands but that also gives Spurs a year to convince the striker that they can change and they can win the silverware missing from his record-laden CV.
If Tottenham do not change for the better then they face the prospect of drifting down a Premier League table of teams that will only continue to get stronger next season and Kane is currently the north London club’s only lifejacket.
Manchester City are the team to beat and will strengthen, Arsenal will want to make up for their faltering end to the season by showing some transfer power and they have stability. Newcastle will start to wield their financial might and Manchester United could have new owners and always spend anyway.
Liverpool will be determined to get back to where they were, as will free-spending Chelsea under Pochettino. Brighton will lose some star names but always come back stronger with their recruitment and Aston Villa are a growing force under Unai Emery. Those clubs below are also getting stronger and more difficult to beat with every passing season.
So Spurs’ change needs to be wholesale after yet another embarrassing day for the club, within a playing squad unfit for purpose as well as what is going on with the staff above.
No eardrum-bursting music can drown out the cries of a sinking Tottenham Hotspur. Daniel Levy must listen and he must react by bringing in experience and talent around him and heed their advice and realise their expectations.
‘To Dare Is To Do’ has never felt less of an accurate tag for a football club that proclaims it as its motto. It’s time for change, it’s time to dare and it’s long past the time to do.