This is one of those Rohrschach inkblots that tells you a lot about a club and its fanbase. Spurs fans were approached on the street and asked this question: would you rather see Arsenal win the Champions League or see Tottenham get relegated? To a man, almost every Spurs fan opted to get relegated, preferring to deny Arsenal a chance at silverware even at the cost of going down to the Championship. That’s the kind of “crabs in a bucket” mentality that separates a big club from, well, from Tottenham. Hold your noses, lads and lasses; we’re diving in.
Of the 15 or so Spuds who were featured in the video, a full 14 chose Tottenham’s relegation, offering such rationales as “we can win the [Championship] League and have a good day winning something” or “I might get cheaper seats” or “we can’t see Arsenal win anything”. Keeping in mind that this may or may not be a scientifically valid cross-section of Spurs fans, it’s quite telling that you could find even a dozen of them who would so quickly choose to relegate their own favoured club rather than see their rival pick up yet another trophy. It’s not as if there’s a neck-and-neck competition.
Tottenham went through a brilliant spell that saw them finish second in the Prem and second in the Champions League (in other words: empty-handed). From there, they reverted to the mean. Under Postecoglou, they are currently flying high and may even dream of a matching our Invincibles season. Still, there are quite a few matches left to be played, and so the Rohrschach test is still a curious thought experiment: would you trade your own club’s success in order to deny your rival’s success?
Given each club’s current situation, a parallel question might be, “would you accept Arsenal winning the Champions League if Tottenham won the Prem?” It’s not quite opposite to the original question, a spiteful cutting of one’s nose to spite one’s face, but there’s still enough in it to ponder. On one hand, seeing Tottenham win the Prem might sting just a little. It would mean of course no St. Totteringham’s Day. It would also deny us the fun of gloating at their trophy drought. It would also bring into sharp focus our own drought in the Prem. With all of that in mind, maybe the trade wouldn’t be worth it. We’d lose the right to lord it over our noisome neighbors…wouldn’t we?
On the other hand, we’d at long last win the Champions League. Surely, that’s a bigger trophy than the Prem. It would be peak Tottenham for them to win the Prem, their first major trophy in decades, only to see us gazumph them by winning an even bigger trophy just a week or two later. “Oh, you won the Prem? Is yours gold? We were too winning the Champions League to bother.” Ask 100 Gooners if they’d accept this outcome, and I’d bet the house on 99 of them accepting it.
Such an outcome, while hardly scientific, sheds light on the fundamental differences in mentality in the supporters of each club. Spurs fans, raised on a steady diet of failure and shortcomings, would apparently see their own club suffer if it meant that Arsenal suffer as well. They’re those proverbial crabs in a bucket, pulling any crab that dares to do right back down. Arsenal fans, raised to expect if not demand success (sometimes to an unreasonable degree), would happily look past Tottenham’s success to enjoy their own club’s success.
A large part of what this comes down to is this: do you love your club more than you hate its rival? I’d wager that we at Arsenal can answer in the affirmative; the answer from the other side might be a bit more mixed. Stated objectively, we are the bigger club. If you were to name a Prem-era North London XI, a comfortable majority would come from Arsenal (unless you were to include those who left Tottenham to enjoy greater success elsewhere). Bigger stadium. More silverware. Etc., etc. I don’t want to bang on much more about this, though. That’s what those with small-club mentalities do.
Could Tottenham win the Prem? There’s a distance chance, just about as distant as Arsenal winning the Prem. A lot of chips would have to fall in just the right places. Would it sting just a little to see them hoist that Prem trophy? Sure. Would it be nice to one-up them by winning the Champions League trophy? Maybe. I don’t know. I wouldn’t be paying the question any attention.
That’s the difference between supporting Tottenham and supporting the Arsenal.