Winners and Losers from All or Nothing: Tottenham Hotspur Episodes 1-3

Credit: Amazon Prime Video

The long awaited All or Nothing: Tottenham Hotspur Amazon documentary that covers the entirety of Tottenham’s 2019/20 campaign is finally upon us.  In hindsight, the producers couldn’t have picked a more eventful year to transform into flies on the wall at Tottenham’s facilities. The sacking of beloved, but quickly maligned Mauricio Pochettino, the subsequent appointment of José Mourinho, expiring contracts of long serving players, and the abrupt stop of the season due to COVID-19 – there was no shortage of material to work with.  Releasing in three parts, I take a look at the winners and losers after the first 3 episodes released via Amazon.  The first installment of the series spans the Champions League Semi-Final triumph in Amsterdam to a bitter defeat at London rivals Chelsea, on the eve of 2020.  

For those keeping track at home, that time frame included Son Heung-Min’s immaculate solo goal vs Burnley (the pitch side view makes the documentary worth a watch on its own) and also his controversial red card vs the aforementioned Chelsea.  Son did get some exclusive air time, describing his super star fandom in Korea and the rabid fans that make the trek to London just to get a whiff of him.  Additionally there is some intrusive footage of his immediate reaction to the red card with some lonely reflection in the locker room that is worth watching. However, he does not make my list of winners of losers this time around, anticipating he will be heavily featured in future episodes to discuss further. 


José Mourinho:

A bit of an obvious choice here, the polarizing Portuguese serial winner, rapidly becomes the epicenter of this entire project. Chronologically his appointment comes quickly, just 20 minute into the first episode and his effect is immediate.  There are many criticisms of his supposedly outdated techniques and flammable cult of personality he carries with him, but he undoubtedly has a gravitating aura about him.  His first day on the job, plastered on massive monitors in the team’s restaurant is a loop of trophy celebrations at Mourinho’s previous managerial stints.  Hilariously, the players seem slightly confused rather than star struck, but it’s just the first indication of the clout (and media coverage) Jose carries.  The way he navigates his first week was especially interesting: learning players names, his insistence during team talks to be more ruthless (in more colorful language than that) and even the  meticulous way he sets up his office makes for great viewing. 

Equally insightful was Mourinho’s one v one discussions with marquee players like Harry Kane, Eric Dier and Dele Alli.  Explicit and unforgiving communication is a Jose hallmark, but in this case, he still manages to exude some charm in a way that the aforementioned players seemed to at the very least, respect.  His talk with Eric Dier in exclusively Portuguese was a pleasant touch.  His half time talks shown so far haven’t been mind bending by any stretch, but it’s quite clear that the Portuguese man will remain front and center for the entirety of the series.

Jan Vertonghen

This pick for me is bolstered by the benefit of hindsight.  Present day, the thirty-three year old Belgium center back has already departed Spurs on a free transfer to Portuguese giants, Benfica.  However, during the fall of 2019 during the time of episodes 1-3, Vertonghen’s future was about as clear as the London fog with an expiring contract at the end of the season.  On camera, he comes across as charismatic as ever, grateful for his time in London and gave the impression he was at peace no matter how the contract situation was going to end.  It didn’t help his countrymen and center back partner, Toby Alderweireld, put pen to paper on a new contract of his own amidst Vertonghen’s uncertainty.  The scenes of Jan spending time at local food banks and his interactions with fans there; in addition to admitted worries about not knowing where he is going to send his daughter to school went a long way for me to humanize someone that João Sacramento described as “a warrior.”  Knowing these were Jan’s final days and the way he carries himself makes him a clear winner so far. 

Tom Hardy

First thing that struck me upon viewing was the production value. We got a taste of this during the Manchester City iteration of All or Nothing but something about the new training facilities and the brand new Tottenham Hotspur Stadium added a real cinematic feeling to this docuseries so far. Adding another layer to the cinematic appeal, the choice of Tom Hardy to narrate is an enjoyable addition to raise the drama even more.  Adding context and setting a tone while not becoming overly distracting can be a challenging balancing act but Hardy and the producers did measured work in keeping the players and manager at the forefront of the action.  With his punctuating dialogue, Hardy is a perfect vehicle to give added perspective so he can remind me again how awful Spurs’ form was this past fall.  Thanks Tom.

The Korean fan who traveled all the way to Enfield, North London to smile and wave at cars on the side of the road to make sure “they think Sonny’s country has very nice people.”

Speaks for itself 


Mauricio Pochettino 

How quickly the tables can turn.  In a span of 15 minutes of screen time, Pochettino goes from a Champions League miracle in Amsterdam to getting the sack and being told to clear his office with his tail between his legs.  The wounds of his departure are still fresh to some and Levy described it as “the most emotional decision he has ever made.”  It’s a bit of a shame the final act wasn’t caught by the cameras and when Pochettino is on camera he appears disheveled, tired, and sometimes unbothered.  Even the eternal optimists of his ability to steady the ship like myself, the perception the documentary makes of a man who appears defeated by the time of his sacking is a convincing one.  However, it is thought provoking that we did not get access to any halftime talks of Pochettino and his behind closed doors interviews that made the final cut amassed to only a couple minutes of screen time. His screen time is much more at an arms length in comparison to his replacement. Nonetheless, it is a fairly depressing version of Pochettino to see considering all the achievements and progress he has made. To see him go out with such a whimper was tough to watch.  

Daniel Levy

This might be a slightly surprising pick but it has nothing to do with the Tottenham Chairman’s business acumen. He is rightfully boastful about his infrastructural achievements at Tottenham, his shiny new stadium is really something to behold.  His innovative intuitions like the separate NFL stadium field are clever, he even gets the NFL commissioner Roger Goodell some screen time to make a personal visit around the place (it’s “Spurs” not “The Spurs” Roger).  However, why I choose him as a loser is because the back seat he takes to Mourinho in every scene that is shot with him.  Someone who is publicly perceived as both a prudent and ruthless negotiator, Levy at times seems to resemble an out of touch step-dad trying to talk to a step-son about the latest memes.  During on camera conversations regarding Christian Eriksen’s contract negations, Levy seems to not have any real plan and defaults to just begging Mourinho to try and change the player’s mind.  Maybe I am being too harsh on the guy here, but specifically with his scenes with Mourinho so far he just comes off as a bit, awkward.  It may just be the sight of Daniel Levy in jeans that has thrown me off, the dad-vibes are unrelenting. 

The Korean fan who traveled all the way to Enfield, North London to smile and wave at cars on the side of the road to make sure “they think Sonny’s country has very nice people.”

Also speaks for itself

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