Why I don't think Spurs will qualify for the Champions League

Posted by Dan Fitch

One of the perks of writing for a global behemoth like ESPN is that you get randomly requested to be interviewed by radio stations across the globe.

So I'll often get to boast, "I was on national radio today" to friends, before throwing in the punchline, "in Iceland".

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I'm pretty certain that I'd never be asked to appear on Icelandic radio again if Gylfi Sigurdsson was transferred, but it's nonetheless nice to take these opportunities while they're there.

This week I spoke to a college radio station in the States, where I was asked for my verdict on whether Spurs would grab a top four spot.

Despite the fact that it was blindingly obvious that I'd be asked this question, I was totally unprepared for its arrival. Over the past couple of weeks I've come to simply hope that Tottenham would qualify for the Champions League, rather than to really think about whether it was possible or not.

In a split-second I had to consider whether I'd go positive or negative. Instinct cut in and I blurted out the following:

"No Brian. I don't think we will."

I then explained to Brian why I didn't think Tottenham would qualify for the Champions League. I couldn't see us beating Chelsea and even worse, history says that we normally lose at Stamford Bridge.

Stoke isn't an easy away game either. Not many teams go there and win. I told Brian that I could see Spurs picking up between seven or eight points from the remaining fixtures and just missing out.

Except none of that is really true. It made logical sense, but the difficult games at Chelsea and Stoke wasn't the real reason why I was saying that Tottenham were going to miss out on the Champions League again.

The truth is that I've got no idea whether the club will finish in the top four.

This is a team that loses at home to Fulham and then whips Manchester City into a brutal submission. There is absolutely no reason in the world that this side couldn't win all four remaining matches and march into the Champions League in third place. Or not.

No, the reason I was being negative was because I didn't want to be positive. Because in that split-second I figured that if I was positive I might just jinx Spurs.

I'm aware that sounds as if I've got something of a god-complex going on here. The thought that my utterances on obscure college radio stations could have a direct influence on a bunch of football matches, none of which involves me in any way (I just deleted the 'really' from 'really involves me'), demonstrates quite the ego.

Yet the fact is that there are millions of mad football supporters just like me. Why, no quicker had I said my piece to Brian, then Brian (a Spurs fan) shot back with, "Yeah, I've been saying that too. I figure if I say we'll miss out then we'll have more of a chance of making it."

It's not just the radio that prompts such crackpot exchanges. Later that evening I had the exact same conversation with a Tottenham supporting friend in the pub. He admitted that he was also playing it safe, in case his cockiness resulted in a random change in the cosmos.

I see it all the time at football. People will go to the toilet during the game in order to prompt a goal, as if emptying their bladder will act as a sacrifice to appease some kind of Spurs-supporting god.

Perhaps the saddest day of my life as a football fan was the 1987 FA Cup final. I was ten years old and this was the first cup final that Tottenham had reached since I'd taken an interest in the game.

Having lost 3-2 to the unfancied Coventry City, I was a tearful mess. I can recall contemplating that if I'd done something different that day -- walked left instead of right, or ripped the wings off a butterfly -- then Spurs might have won the cup.

I could put that down to the naivety of a child, but the fact is that I'm still having these thoughts. Sport and football in particular, seems to have this effect on people.

Personally, I'm all for it. This sort of enjoyable lunacy is the one part of football that the corporate crackpots will never be able to put a price on.

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