Tottenham Hotspur's season compromised by too many distractions
You can only spin plates for so long before they come crashing down to the ground and smash into a hundred pieces and Tottenham Hotspur are beginning to discover that right now.
For longer than anyone cares to remember at the club, Spurs have been attempting to sustain the momentum of an emerging young team, at the same time as keeping their ambitious manager, Mauricio Pochettino, out of the clutches of bigger, wealthier rivals.
And all of that at the same time as trying to bridge the gap between leaving White Hart Lane and moving into the state-of-the-art rebuilt stadium following a temporary stay at Wembley.
In many ways, Spurs have been doing the football equivalent of raising a young family in the spare room of a neighbour's house while the kitchen and bathroom is being rebuilt at home.
Oh, and there is also the not-insignificant problem of the renovations costing more than twice what was originally anticipated -- a reality that has led to a spending freeze on luxury items.
The stresses and strains of keeping all those plates spinning, without them crashing to earth, are now beginning to tell on Spurs.
The supporters are now voting with their feet, with almost 30,000 seats lying empty at Wembley for the 1-0 defeat against reigning champions Manchester City, and the pitch is showing the inevitable wear and tear that comes with hosting NFL games 24 hours before a Premier League fixture.
If anything was designed to make Spurs realise that their time is up at Wembley, the state of the pitch was a pretty clear indication.
That spare room they are using? Well the neighbours want it back.
And Pochettino, a man who has hidden his frustration well behind that smile of his, has now gone public with his unhappiness at the delays and hitches that are preventing his team from returning home.
The stadium is running late -- Spurs won't move in until January at the earliest -- and the lack of summer spending, when the club failed to sign a single player, is starting to compromise Pochettino's team.
"I am disappointed we are still waiting for the new stadium when the expectation was to be there at the beginning of the season," Pochettino said ahead of the City game.
"I don't know, many things happened in the summer, many things that make myself not in my best mood or best humour.
"My feeling is not the best feeling. I had better feelings in previous seasons."
And then came the crux of it all -- that Spurs are now a club that is being compromised by too many distractions.
"I think the club is not focused completely in winning titles or winning games," Pochettino added.
"The club needs to be focused in trying to win titles.
"But today we need to fix other problems and different circumstances that happen that don't help the team or the club to only be focused on winning titles."
All of the off-field issues should not distract a group of highly-paid athletes, but sometimes, the reality is that they latch onto anything that gives them an excuse or a reason to fail and Spurs have so many of them right now.
Pochettino's players are also a group that was heavily worked during the World Cup, with six of the starting line-up against City spending a full five weeks in Russia after helping their respective nations to the semifinals and beyond.
The fatigue from the summer is showing, but Spurs have no new faces to come in and share the load.
Mentally and physically, Pochettino's players already look in need of a break. Perhaps they are also feeling the strain of playing at Wembley when they expected instead to be turning out in front of raucous full houses at the new White Hart Lane.
They certainly didn't expect to be playing on a threadbare pitch against City that had been churned up by two sets of NFL players the day before.
"I have to be honest, the pitch wasn't good," said Spurs defender Toby Alderweireld, with some understatement.
"Both teams like to play out from the back and, to play football in these circumstances, it was very difficult."
And there you have it -- a Spurs player citing reasons for failure. This is a consequence of the plates beginning to fall to the ground.
It is not all bad news for Spurs, though. They still sit in fifth position after this defeat, brought about by Riyad Mahrez's sixth minute goal, but this team of Harry Kane, Dele Alli, Christian Eriksen and Co. should be doing better.
Pochettino, a man whose name will inevitably be linked with Real Madrid following the sacking of Julen Lopetegui, also needs to be doing better and that should have started with him putting more pressure on chairman Daniel Levy to spend on reinforcements during the summer.
But by speaking of his frustrations, maybe Pochettino has now decided that the plates have been spinning for too long and Spurs cannot match his ambitions.
Some of his players may be thinking that too about themselves.
Spurs need a reboot, and quickly, but it might all be too late by the time they finally get it when they return home.