THE BLOG
01/05/2012 05:12 BST | Updated 30/06/2012 06:12 BST

Spurs Suffer From a Case of the Hard-Done-by Blues

As Martin Atkinson inexplicably gifted Chelsea a second goal in the FA Cup semi-final at Wembley, the ensuing thrashing was as inevitable as the galvanized clamour for goal-line technology that would follow.

As Martin Atkinson inexplicably gifted Chelsea a second goal in the FA Cup semi-final at Wembley, the ensuing thrashing was as inevitable as the galvanized clamour for goal-line technology that would follow. Recent history indicates there is no greater enemy to Spurs than their own sense of injustice. It is responsible for their inexorable rut of poor form because, more often than not, when they feel aggrieved, they fold.

Harry Redknapp at long last conceded yesterday that his team's form might have suffered as a consequence of the England manager link. Their recent run of results - one win in eight matches - is unrecognisable from that of the title pretenders who demolished fellow Champions League qualification hopefuls Newcastle 5-0 in February.

Yet Spurs hit a similar divot in the second half of last season, so it is feasible that the Redknapp rumours covered up what many Spurs fans already knew. They plummet at the final hurdle, destined to languish idly alongside the Evertons and the Villas in a mini-league of also-rans.

Their season began to unravel at the Emirates, of all places.

Tottenham scored twice on the break through Saha and Adebayor with no reply, as the first half headed to a close. At that point, Arsenal trailed their North-London rivals by thirteen points. However, two goals in quick succession from Sagna and van Persie restored parity before half time. As the teams headed towards the tunnel, Arsenal held their heads high - they scented victory - while Spurs felt sorry for themselves.

That is not to say there was any injustice in Arsenal's recovery. It was deserved - they dominated possession and there was even a hint of simulation in Gareth Bale's penalty winning tumble. Nevertheless, the Spurs players, who had expected to receive pats on the backs and stirring 'more of the same' team talks along with their half time oranges and energy drinks, now had a tougher job on their hands.

In the second half, eleven well-paid athletes came out in a sulk to face the red wave of North London. The Spurs contingency wanted their lead back at all costs. They entirely neglected defensive duties in search of goals, which played into Wenger's experienced hands. Walcott, who was particularly inefficient in the first half, was able to exploit time and time again the newly formed gap behind Tottenham's high defensive line. The frustrating speedster often struggles to break down contained defences, so the newfound space whet his appetite.

Walcott scored twice in three minutes as his team went on to win 5-2. With each goal, Spurs attacked higher up the pitch, culminating in a humiliating capitulation. This sense of 'injustice' stayed with the Lilywhites as they surprisingly suffered their second home defeat of the season against Man Utd, followed by several more substandard results. Arsenal now look set to steal third.

So it was hardly surprising that, after Chelsea celebrated the FA Cup semi-final goal that wasn't, Spurs fell to pieces. They were the better of the two sides in the first half with more clear-cut chances - they looked the most likely to triumph. Drogba's goal, exquisite as it was, came against the run of play, and seeds of injustice were once again hemmed in the Spurs psyche. They came out of the tunnel for the second half like wounded animals, allowing Chelsea to attack with real venom for the first time. And when the second goal was dubiously awarded, Tottenham's grievances proliferated.

They did the only thing Redknapp's sides can - attack. They managed to get a goal back, but were again neglected by the footballing Gods, since Petr Cech should have retrospectively seen red for a professional foul in the build-up to the goal. A second, in these circumstances, was asking too much against Chelsea's solid resistance. They were picked off on the counter-attack by some spectacular Chelsea moves in an uncanny echo of the Arsenal defeat.

This is hardly a new phenomenon. Spurs fans have witnessed this for eons - and it seems five is the magic number. Toward the end of the 2008/09 season, Spurs were 2-0 up against Manchester United at half time. However, referee Howard Webb, not a favourite of the Spurs faithful, awarded a controversial penalty to Man Utd - not for the first or last time, the conspiracy theorists might suggest.

After Cristiano Ronaldo converted the resulting penalty, Spurs were left with a familiar deflated feeling. They held onto their lead somewhat gingerly for several minutes. Then, the dam burst and four more goals flooded Spurs' goalmouth. They were left, after the game, scratching their heads in bewilderment as to how they managed to lose the game 5-2.

Detractors have criticised Spurs sides since the beginning of the Premiership for being all style and no substance. Redknapp refutes these claims at every opportunity, insisting that the soft underbelly is a trademark of the old Tottenham. This side have nothing in common with that of Sheringham, Klinsmann and Ginola, cries the Spurs boss, how can they be compared?

Perhaps it comes down to the fans and their engrained belief that they are hard done by. Yes, they have enjoyed the luxuries of top-flight football for decades, but there seems to exist an eternal pessimism at White Hart Lane. A belief that around every sunlit corner awaits a red army ready to take them down.

This might be justified - even the most erudite of football fans would be hard pressed to name a more blatant goal-line decision blunder than the one Spurs suffered at Wembley. Except, of course, referee Mark Clattenburg's disallowance of the Pedro Mendes halfway line lob in the dying seconds. That decision alone denied Spurs their first win at Old Trafford in the Premiership, an examination they are still yet to pass.

And remember lasagne-gate? The Tottenham squad came down with food poisoning the very day of the decider for fourth place. Their stricken team, several of whom vomited during the game, fought valiantly but lost at West Ham. And who should take their place in the Champions League but old adversaries Arsenal.

This rotten luck stems back to the days before television. When the league was expanded in 1919 after the war, Arsenal were voted into the first division, despite finishing in sixth place in the second division last time out. The team they replaced - Tottenham Hotspur FC.

And so began one of the fiercest and longest standing rivalries in modern football.

Sir Alex Ferguson is amongst many who claim that decisions even themselves out over the course of a season. That is clearly not the case. But it is possible, that on some level, teams make their own luck.

In response to Atkinson's decision at Wembley, one fan said: "This run of luck is unbelievable. Why can't we ever get a break?" This type of attitude, feeds through to the players and is counter-productive.

As Niall Quinn said of Man City last night, "It brings a tension into the ground when the fans themselves are worked up." Whether or not Spurs are indeed jinxed, in order to compete with the likes of Manchester United, fans and players alike must start believing.

Man Utd fans believe they will get a penalty every time one of their heroes trips in the box. Generally, they get their way - just ask Ashley Young.