For Tottenham, for Mauricio Pochettino, this is a moment in time. That’s all it is.
The embarrassing state of the Wembley pitch against Manchester City, the empty upper tier, the tumbleweed transfer window, the travails at home and in Europe. It is a snapshot of one difficult season, no more.
Obviously, it is frustrating: but it is still not the reason to jump ship for Real Madrid.
If Tottenham were stuck in the era of selling their best players each year, that would be different; if Pochettino felt Daniel Levy had deliberately misled him over the new stadium, and always knew Tottenham would be at Wembley for the best part of two years, he would be right to feel betrayed; and if the club had not tried to do transfer business this summer, Pochettino could rightly claim his best advice was ignored.
Mauricio Pochettino must stay at Tottenham and overcome this one difficult season
Yet none of that is happening.
Tottenham have made mistakes, yes; the club have suffered misfortune beyond their control, true. But the project exists, visible and viable, with Pochettino integral to it.
Could the same be said of Real Madrid? No.
Pochettino would be just another hired hand, passing through. If it didn’t work he could be gone in months, like Julen Lopetegui.
Even if it did work, Madrid’s standards are impossibly demanding. Zinedine Zidane lasted just under two-and-a-half years, in which he won the Champions League three times, and still had to withstand speculation about his job.
Madrid are manager eaters. Since the departure of Vicente del Bosque in 2003, they have had 14, only three of whom have made it past 100 matches, with only two more lasting past 50.
Tottenham cannot afford to be wanton. With the changes the club are making, they need stability, they need a coach with vision and faith in young talent.
Pochettino is perfect for them, the way Arsene Wenger was for Arsenal two decades ago.
It just requires patience to get through this year.
Maybe Pochettino does not fancy the longest of long terms.
Real Madrid are keen for him to replace Julen Lopetegui but Los Blancos are manager eaters
For a foreign coach, Wenger’s shift at Arsenal was unique. But even short term, there is still so much to do. Win a trophy, obviously. In its own way, it is surprising that serially successful Madrid are so keen on a manager who has a record of improving teams, without receiving that ultimate vindication.
Yet there is more to the Tottenham project than just that. The club must be guided to their new stadium and settled in. They need a manager who understands the singular demands. Pochettino is that man, in a way he could never be at the Bernabeu.
Real Madrid do not have a plan beyond winning everything. And if the manager can’t win everything, the manager goes.
The gloom that surrounds Tottenham for now isn’t permanent. It is not as if they are going to be playing on an NFL pitch in front of empty seats 12 months from now. This is one setback — albeit hardly a small one — in what has otherwise been an extraordinarily positive journey.
Pochettino spoke of being at a low ebb coming into this week, but only heightened expectations have made that so.
By now, he hoped to be in a new stadium, with new players, and challenging for the title. So he’s disappointed. But Madrid can leave a man unfulfilled too.
Ask Julen Lopetegui, and a queue of others.Return to normality is Top's task
In a terrible week for Leicester City, the one sliver of light comes with the news that Aiyawatt Srivaddhanaprabha, otherwise known as Top, intends to maintain the legacy and vision of his father, Vichai.
This journey begins on Saturday in Cardiff, when Leicester will play their first match since Saturday’s tragedy. The players will travel to Wales by coach on Friday, club officials having cancelled a planned flight, feeling it inappropriate in the circumstances.
It is to be hoped that Top can, from here, provide guidance on what has to be a return to normality.
There would have been no disrespect in Leicester flying to Cardiff, no matter the circumstances of Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha’s death. He is not defined by his passing, but by his leadership and generosity in eight years as Leicester’s owner.
Indeed, Top, and the rest of the family, flew into Britain at the start of the week, and will fly back to Thailand on Friday for the funeral ceremony. Leicester’s players could have flown, too.
The match in Cardiff is the start of a long road to recovery and a significant part of that must see Leicester becoming just a football club again. As such, if they need to take a plane, take a plane. It seems fair to presume it is what The Boss would have wanted.
Aiyawatt Srivaddhanaprabha intends to maintain the legacy and vision of his father, Vichai
When Manchester United played Juventus last week there were three pitch invaders.
All were presumed to be seeking a selfie with Cristiano Ronaldo, and one even got lucky. As he was being manhandled away by stewards he managed to hand the player his smart phone, and Ronaldo obliged.
The chap in the seat next to mine was outraged at the rough treatment. ‘Come on,’ he shouted, ‘they’re only kids.’
They were a bit older than kids, actually, but no matter who they were, stewards cannot allow intruders to roam free. What if they do nothing and the first fan gets his selfie? Then another comes on; then another. What if 100 fans decide they want a selfie with Ronaldo; or 1,000?
Anything that is not stopped is encouraged. There was a pitch invader at West Ham on Wednesday, then a second late in the game. People are copy cats — that’s how these encroachments start. A handful get on, others follow.
And what if, among that number, is not a fan who loves Ronaldo, but one who loathes him and wishes him harm? How are stewards to identify that individual, amid a melee?
Now, it transpires that one of the intruders may not have been so harmless after all. He had toy guns in the backpack he left at his seat, and has subsequently been sectioned under the Mental Health Act.
He may just be a person with an illness who meant no harm. Even so, we cannot presume that every pitch invader intends nothing more nefarious than saying cheese.
One supporter managed to get onto the Old Trafford pitch for a selfie with Cristiano Ronaldo
Lena Dunham is one of the finest writers of her generation. Her HBO show, Girls, was by turns funny, insightful, poignant and raw.
For this reason, when Steven Spielberg and JJ Abrams decided to adapt the book A Hope More Powerful Than The Sea, they commissioned Dunham to write the script. And then the backlash started.
The book, written by Melissa Fleming, head of communications for the United Nations Refugee Agency, tells the true story of Doaa al-Zamel, a Syrian refugee who survived the sinking of her boat in the Mediterranean in which hundreds died, including her fiance.