There’s an unwritten rule of linguistics — when you’re teaching your friend your native language, you teach him the insults first. It’s a rule that my Peruvian roommate adhered to.
Last Wednesday, this unwritten rule helped me truly understand what Tottenham Hotspur’s victory against Manchester City at the Etihad last Wednesday meant to Mauricio Pochettino.
When the final whistle blew, Pochettino pulled his two coaches into a bear hug, bellowing loudly in Spanish. For a manager who’s built his reputation as the likeable physical education teacher parents and students love equally, this was a sight to behold. The gym teacher was ready to take on the big boys. And win.
It’s games like this that make you wonder why we even bother writing about football. The match report in my head constantly vacillated between two storylines — Spurs being chokers or Spurs coming of age.
The truth lies somewhere in the middle. This wasn’t a contest of two very good teams — it was a matchup between two leaky defenses and potent attacks. And, in the end, all that separated them were just a couple of centimeters.
As luck would have it, the game coincided perfectly with my media law class, and I had to keep my emotions curtailed as the game and my group chats exploded. When Sterling ‘scored’ his third, I bit my lip and leaned across my desk to look at my friend who was streaming the game, too.
My friend just shook his head in disbelief. That was a pretty fair reaction. When it was disallowed, I swore under my breath in shock, getting a disapproving look from the girl next to me who was absorbed in her libel case.
There’s just something different about all English Champions League ties. The games take a different tone, the fans are more up for it and more often than not they are
filled with drama. Pep Guardiola, of course, would have a different take on the matter — thrice English teams have eliminated him in the knockout stages.
But, there’s no doubting this one against Spurs would have hurt the most. More so, because they didn’t play poorly on the night, it’s just Spurs wanted it more.
This was a game between two teams I despise in the league, but at the end of the game I felt exactly how Pochettino did. It took a great deal of willpower to hold myself back from exulting like he did when the whistle blew. Football, bloody hell!