Throughout all of footballing history, there has never been a truer cliche than this: a picture speaks more than a thousand ruddy words.
And boy, have Spurs fans been absolutely gutted by the photo we’re talking about.
The picture shows Jan Vertonghen, Tottenham’s talismanic defender, absolutely heartbroken and clutching his shirt while sitting on the bench.
Why was this man looking so forlorn, you ask?
He was brought off the game, seemingly for no apparent reason, against Southampton in the FA Cup fourth round replay. Not even an hour had elapsed in the match.
Yes, the man was a bit of a mess defensively, and made a few small blunders during the entirety of his time on the pitch. It hasn’t helped his case that he is clearly past his prime, no longer the “Super Jan” that fans came to adore.
He is no longer that centre-back who started off life in the Premier League with a goal against Manchester United, and is still a far cry from the imposing giant whose wonder goal kickstarted an incredible 3-0 demolition of Dortmund in the Champion’s League at Wembley.
Yet, he is by no means the only culprit. Tottenham have been lacking, especially in the left-back spot, the flak for which Jan has almost always caught, rather unfairly.
Recent form has made matters worse, with the mid field massively lacking in creativity following Eriksen’s departure. So why is Jan being singled out, fans wonder.
Now, for those of you confounded over why it’s such a big deal: Vertonghen is a top, top player who’s definitely been a massive part of his club for more than seven years now.
At the highest level of football, you no longer focus on your salary; it is the love of the beautiful game that fuels your successes.
And this substitution is a sign of something big, as Jan well knows. It’s a change of the old guard. Japhet Tanganga seems a more than capable replacement, while Vertonghen’s trusty lieutenant, Toby Alderweireld, seems to be coming into a class of his own.
They have even looked to plug the gaps at LB, with Sessegnon being a fantastic lad and one to watch for the future.
As hard as it is to stomach, Jan’s time as top dog in the club is coming to an end.
Quite understandable, really, that he would be so hard done by this, especially when he’s fit and raring to go.
Later, in the after-match presser, Jose admitted as much, that he had only thought of the change as a tactical one, as he believed Gedson would have been a better attacking fit.
He even went as far as to say that he felt for his Belgian centre-back, but then went on to justify his change, talking about other instances of players having been “sacrificed” for the team’s interests.
Yes, Southampton looked the better team in the first half. Yes, after Gedson came on, Tottenham were injected with a burst of energy and attacking prowess. And yes, Spurs managed an incredible 3-2 victory after twice having fallen behind to the visitors. All of this will still be little more than scant consolation to Jan.