All or Nothing: Tottenham Hotspurs was a seven episode mini-series released on Amazon Prime Video that took us into the dressing room of one of the top Premier League Football Teams: the Tottenham Hotspurs. We follow the boys across their 2019/20 football season in the Premier League, Champions League and FA Cup to better understand the mentality of their athletes and coaches. Furthermore, we follow other aspects of the club, including its financial status, transfer activities, community engagement, and also the effect that the pandemic had on the club.
Let me first put it out there that I am a die-hard Manchester United fan. I’m not saying that I despise the Spurs (i.e. Tottenham Hotspurs), but I would have little sympathy if this team were to be relegated from the league hahahaa :P. Banter aside, this is a great sports documentary. I believe that all great sports documentaries are strongly judged on the quality of their narration. Tom Hardy fittingly takes up the role of the narrator for this doc. Hardy’s narration was crisp, clear and not overly descriptive. He said enough to give sufficient context to certain scenes without bombarding us with never-ending monologues.
Another prominent figure in the series was José Mourinho. To those of you unfamiliar, José is a well recognized football manager who has won trophies at every club he has managed. In this show, José was a lively presence in every shot he had an appearance in. He was vocal, passionate and made some very contentious decisions. Without a doubt, he made this series more entertaining. To his players, José was playful and banterous, whilst maintaining a level of professionalism in the moments that mattered. Remember, that José Mourinho was a new manager brought into the team to help them win a major trophy (they haven’t won one in over a decade). José had won trophies for every single club he has managed so it was also interesting to see the lengths that he would take to live up to this expectation.
Although the main focus of this series was how well the Spurs performed across various European football competitions, there were segments of episodes focused on the team outside the pitch. For instance, there was a segment describing how it was required for the players to spend a certain number of hours per season giving back to the community. Serge Aurier (one of the players) spent this time interacting with disabled children at a public school gymnasium. I appreciated these segments as much as the actual football because it showed me a different side to these athletes – their compassion and belief in community wellbeing.
These segments also gave us an opportunity to learn about the upbringings of some of the players. Harry Winks, for example, has been a part of the club since he was like eight years old. He went up the ranks in the club as he grew in age and maturity – from the junior squad to eventually captaining the first team. This was one of the many inspiring storylines in the series.
There was also a particular segment about the team’s stadium that I found very interesting. The Tottenham Hotspur Stadium is a great engineering marvel and is considered to be one of the most sophisticated sports grounds in the world. Did you know that the stadium has its own brewery capable of pouring 10,000 pints of beer per minute?!
The actual games that the Tottenham Hotspurs played throughout the season were also well documented. From a technical point of view, multiple camera angles were utilized that created a unique intensity, making me feel like I was reliving those games in real-time. There were also great incorporation of voiceovers throughout/after the footage of the games in the form of snippets from radio shows and interviews, which relayed the reactions of fans & pundits towards the performance of the team.
From a storytelling point of view, the show did a brilliant job in distributing an even amount of screen-time to (almost) all the players. Each individual got their time in the spotlight, sharing what they were going through when they made a specific play or what was going on in their regular lives, which influenced them to make a certain decision relating to the club.
On the negative side, my main complaint was that the show got a bit bland towards its finale. Though the focus of the last two episodes was how the team was able to adapt their training and gametime amidst the coronavirus pandemic, I noticed at that point that each episode followed a familiar path – we get introduced to a player, they talk about their personal and professional lives, we see them perform/not perform in training and in a game or two. This documentary was also released several months after the season had ended, so I knew all the ups and downs that the team had gone through. Therefore, any attempt to dramatise a certain event wasn’t effective for me.
Overall though, this is a very well made sports documentary – in my opinion much better than the one made about Manchester City (All or Nothing: Manchester City). I liked this doc for several reasons. The doc was filmed at a time when the team was going through many ups, downs and transitions, so there was clearly much to discuss. The narration was brilliant, so was the quality of filmmaking. José Mourinho was an entertaining personality on-screen, and the rest of the players were also very eloquent and interesting. My only major complaint was that each episode followed a predictable and repetitive path.