Folktale: a folklore genre that typically consists of a story passed down from generation to generation.
Many millennials won’t be aware of this pattern in Tottenham Hotspur’s history. It seemed to die out in 2001 when Arsenal beat Spurs in the FA Cup semi-final; ultimately leading to a trophyless year.
The pattern – if you haven’t guessed it yet – that sustained Spurs through the years: winning a trophy in the first year of every decade.
The FA Cup in 1981, the League Cup in 1971, the double in 1961, the First Division in 1951, the FA Cup in 1921, and in 1901.
The story even lead to a song – just before the 1991 FA Cup final against Nottingham Forest – from Chas & Dave, and a Tottenham squad including Paul Gascoigne, Gary Mabbutt, and Gary Lineker.
The lyrics to this masterpiece go as follows:
“It’s lucky for Spurs when the year ends in one. So, this is the year for Spurs!”
Failures in 2001 and 2011 meant the folktale disappear into legends.
But football has a funny way of coming back around, and here we are in 2021 with serial winner Jose Mourinho trying to guide the club to end the horrid 13-year trophy drought.
Let’s analyse the four different trophies Tottenham are competing for this season.
You can’t start anywhere else at the moment. As with the other competitions, there will be an analysis of the potential path to a final.
But Spurs have already done it: they face Manchester City at Wembley on 25 April.
The cup ran has defiantly had a surreal feel to it.
A third-round bye after a COVID-19 outbreak at Leyton Orient, beating Chelsea on penalties in their second game of four in a week, then a three-month break followed by wins over Championship sides Stoke City and Brentford.
But Spurs fans will not mind that it has been unconventional.
Mourinho will take great happiness from the fact they overcame Pep Guardiola 2-0 only a matter of weeks ago.
But, since then, City have had a mini-renaissance. They seem to have found their old rhythm and fluidity in attack, and also some solid foundations in defence in the shape of Ruben Dias.
And now there will be another three-month break until the final as the EFL tries to maximise the chance of fans being allowed inside the ground. It means that momentum, injuries, or the state of the team in that state will be unknown.
Still, this is the best chance Spurs have got. This could almost a must-win for Mourinho and he knows it.
This, obviously, remains the most unlikely option.
At the start of the season – especially after seven points and three cleans sheets in a row against Manchester City, Chelsea, and Arsenal – there were big feels that this robust new-look Tottenham team could challenge Liverpool for the Premier League.
But after stalling a tad, and the surging form of Man City and Manchester United – it is a very hard challenge.
Solidifying in the top four remains the true priority in the league. But in the state of this division, if you go on a run of form – and you have Mourinho – you simply never know.
But this remains highly unlikely and not expected either.
Mourinho has outlined his intentions for this competition many a time. His lineups in the group stage have also done this.
The Portuguese manager has been in this competition twice and won it both times with Porto and Man United.
This competition may be a very big focus, as the prize of a trophy alongside Champions League qualification is very tempting. This could mean the Premier League becomes less of an intention.
But it is a very hard trophy to win. AC Milan (Top of Serie A), Man United (Second in the Premier League), Bayern Leverkusen (Third in the Bundesliga) and Real Sociedad (Fourth in the La Liga) are all very good teams that are in the competition.
The clear problem with the Europa League is that it can represent a big headache: nine games before the final – with Thursday nights away across the globe a very hard challenge to maintain.
Mourinho wants to win this competition. Spurs are one of the best teams in the competition. It’s tough. but rewarding.
Tottenham haven’t played in this competition yet, so it’s obviously the hardest to gauge. But Mourinho’s relentless pursuit of trophies suggests that he will somehow try and juggle the FA Cup.
However, the third-round draw, in all honesty, couldn’t have gone better. Marine FC, based in Liverpool, await.
It is one of the biggest quality gaps the FA Cup has ever seen.
It’s a magical tie, but also a good opportunity to rest some players. If we’re being realistic, even Spurs’ youth team would be clear favourites.
Mourinho has only won the FA Cup once, and he lost to Chelsea with Man United in 2018 which was a rare final loss for him.
With Spurs already in the Carabao Cup final and have big intentions in the Europa League, it may make logical sense to put the FA Cup in the back pocket.
But this is Mourinho, a man driven and motivated to win every trophy he possibly can – no matter how difficult.
The FA Cup may be low down in the to-do list, but it’s definitely still there.