This article first appeared on Reaction.
All or Nothing, Tottenham Hotspur, Amazon Prime
“Iain, I’m going to make you feel empathy with Tottenham Hotspur and within six hours you’re also going to have a sneaking liking for Jose Mourinho.” No, not the words of a hypnotist, but a friend of mine who recommended that I watch the Amazon fly on the wall documentary about one of my least favourite clubs. Now it has to be said that I am absolutely addicted to this kind of programme and I’ve watched various series about the likes of Salford City, Leeds United, Sunderland, Liverpool, Borussia Dortmund and Juventus. You get sucked in. You get to know all the players, the people behind the scenes. Eventually you want them to win every match which is shown. You laugh with them. You cry with them. You feel their pain. You experience their jubilation in victory, humiliation and depression in defeat. You can almost touch the team spirit, or sometimes lack of it. It’s the ultimate roller coaster.
You also learn that even though they earn money the rest of us can dream of, most of them are very normal, average twenty-somethings. They may have flash cars, they may sometimes break the rules, but essentially they are little different from any other male in their age group.
I’ve always considered Mourinho to be a lucky chancer – someone who’s been in the right place at the right time, and who only works at clubs with lots of money he can spend, or often waste. I’d love to see him manage a Championship club and see if he can win promotion on a limited budget like Daniel Farke has done at Norwich or Slaven Bilic at West Bromwich Albion. Watching ‘All or Nothing’ has made me revise that opinion. He is a man who just has to walk in a room and he engenders loyalty from his players without uttering a word. He’s certainly no soft touch, and there are plenty of instances of him being brutally honest with a player about his failings. If he takes against you, you’re toast, and it takes a long time to work your way back. Ask Dele Alli.
The best thing about this show is that you get to have a bird’s eye view of the half time and full time team talks, something which is not always shown in similar programmes. It’s raw and not for the fainthearted. What is never revealed is the agreement between the documentary makers and the club. Does the club have any editorial control, or does that rest with the film crew? How much money changes hands? While these shows are generally a good PR advert for the team in question, it’s a reasonable assumption that a substantial amount of dosh changes hands. Even so, it’s quite a decision for any club to give Amazon access all areas.
Thank God West Ham United, my team, has never done it. Given the soap opera nature of the goings-on at our club, no good could possibly come of it.