protest numbering no more than 100 supporters is unlikely to have given Daniel Levy a sleepless night, particularly after a last-gasp win boosted Tottenham‘s European hopes, but the gathering could lead to something more significant.
Fans converged outside the stadium Levy built ahead of Southampton’s visit, with banners and homemade placards calling for the chairman and the club’s owners, ENIC, to go in the wake of the Super League fiasco.
There were calls of “We want our Tottenham back” and “Daniel Levy, get out of our club,” but the intimate atmosphere was best summed up by a band, who accompanied the chants with their much-heckled anti-Super League anthem ‘That’s football’.
But anti-Levy and anti-ENIC sentiment has dramatically increased on social media since the ‘dirty dozen’ made their conspiracy public on Sunday night and the Tottenham Hotspur Supporters’ Trust will gauge the mood of its members at a meeting on Friday, which may result in more organised calls for change.
Sunday’s Carabao Cup Final, which will be attended by 2,000 Spurs fans, offers a timely opportunity for those lucky enough to have a ticket to make their feelings known.
Interim head coach Mason, who is already getting used to facing difficult questions, insisted he had not seen the protest and could not comment, but supporter unrest has only added to the 29-year-old’s considerable challenge.
Mason is faced with restoring confidence to a squad fractured and drained by Jose Mourinho’s familiar death-spiral, and securing European football next season. A first trophy in 13 years would be a significant bonus.
As the new public face of the club, part of his job will also be to restore the feel-good factor and help repair the connection between owners and fans, which has been severely frayed by Tottenham’s involvement in the Super League.
Ultimately, only Levy can heal the wounds – some contrition would be a good start – but positive results and good football go a long way, and on Wednesday night’s evidence Mason’s Spurs can provide both.
The youngest-ever Premier League manager inspired his players to an impressive second-half comeback to suggest he may be more than simply an ambassador and antidote to Mourinho.
Trailing to Danny Ings’s header at the interval, Spurs rallied and Mason’s former team-mate Gareth Bale – restored to the XI after being largely ignored by Mourinho – equalised on the hour with a fine finish before Heung-min Son’s stoppage-time winner from the penalty spot.
“We had a good chat at half-time,” said Bale. “We had a few positional issues and needed to be more patient. It was a very good team talk at half-time.”
Spurs, who were missing injured talisman Harry Kane, showed steely determination to keep going after the disappointment of Son having a goal ruled out at 1-1 for a Lucas Moura offside and the South Korean cooly converted from the spot following another intervention from the VAR.
Saints are in free fall and their collapse was precipitated by the loss of Ings, who was forced off at 1-0.
City will provide a different test altogether on Sunday but Wednesday night was a start for Mason’s Spurs. The worry for Levy is that the scenes before the game were also the start of something.