ALL OR NOTHING: TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR AND SCHADENFREUDE IN SPORT

From the very first episode of All or Nothing Tottenham Hotspur, it is clear that this is most likely not going to be a happy tale, which comes to the jubilation of almost every other football fan on Earth. 

The All or Nothing series is an in-depth documentary in which each season takes a look at a different sporting team. Past documentaries have covered Manchester City, the men’s Brazilian national football team and the New Zealand All Blacks. This year, they focused on Premier League side Tottenham Hotspur and their 2019/2020 campaign, one that was marred by injuries, last-minute defeats and a global pandemic, all spread across 9 total episodes. 

The All or Nothing series has always prided itself on filming every moment, even the most personal and intimate ones. With the Tottenham Hotspur series, the term ‘fly on the wall’ took on a new level, with 25 remotely operated fixed rig cameras and 66 ambient microphones spread across the Tottenham stadium and training ground. A viewer has never been closer to seeing Harry Kane’s sprinkling saliva when he enthusiastically swears at his teammates.

The season in question for Tottenham Hotspur was a difficult one, beginning with the sacking of their long term manager Mauricio Pochettino, who had taken Tottenham to the Champions League final only 5 months before. From there on, their season takes a dramatic turn when they hire ex-Chelsea and Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho to lead their team. Following a dismal exit from the Champions League and FA Cup in a season marred by injuries, the club is thrown into a state of panic, as was the rest of the sporting world, when the Coronavirus pandemic hit, cancelling all fixtures. 

This is what in itself, makes the Tottenham documentary great. Not for Tottenham fans mind you, but for rival fans who enjoyed every single one of Tottenham’s defeats, controversies and in-house bickering. The term schadenfreude comes to mind when watching this series. That is, the pleasure derived from another person’s misfortune. Mind you, no one is gleefully pumping the air when their star man Heung-Min Son gets injured for a month. No, it’s more of a wry smile when Jose Mourinho’s over the top, Spartacus like team talk leads to a  dismal FA Cup exit against Norwich. One of the main reasons people enjoy watching Tottenham lose is obvious, they are one of the biggest teams in the premier league and a direct rival to other big clubs. Their rivalry with Arsenal alone is enough to fuel the fire for hundreds if not thousands of memes all over social media, poking fun at Tottenham’s dismal campaign. 

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The Times in 2013 reported that the Premier League is broadcast in 212 territories, with a potential TV audience of 4.7 billion people. Out of that alone, we can conclude that a sizable amount of them enjoy watching Harry Kane miss a one on one sitter. 

However, there is more to it than just rivalry. Critical reception to the series was mixed, with many believing that a narrative was strung along throughout the series, which alienated many key members whilst shining a direct spotlight on others. Viewers barely got to see Mauricio Pochettino or hear his side, a manager who by all accounts, was well-liked by many footballing fans.  In addition, there is Chairman of Tottenham Daniel Levy who is both part Snake Oil salesman and David Brent. He spends most of the series in the background, occasionally chiming in about club expenditure or attempting to be relatable for the camera. Jose Mourinho is brilliant to watch, however, and many fans who’ve spent years hating him probably got a laugh or two out of his zippy one-liners or occasional bouts of swearing. 

Even for non-football fans, the Tottenham documentary is good fun to watch, even if it’s just to lightly tease the players. With that in mind, here’s Dele Ali, who only just learnt how to make baked beans. end

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