Football fandom is a funny old game.

When I asked ChatGPT to calculate the most likely desired outcome for English Premier League [EPL] football club Spurs’ chances of beating Manchester City tomorrow night –  AI had an intelligence bypass, with a response as bland and asinine as a Microsoft Windows Update,

Spurs fans would likely prefer Tottenham Hotspur to win. [NSS!]  They generally want to see their club succeed in matches [NSS!], especially against tough opponents like Manchester City. Victory can boost morale and confidence among fans [NSS!], creating a positive atmosphere around the team.

It is perhaps the last AI-drivel (sic) sentence is most discordant, given the emotional context of EPL club performances in the next 36 hours.

AI Image Source: Adobe Firefly

If Spurs beat Manchester City at home tomorrow and Arsenal win both their last two games, then the Premier League title heads to north London, though not in a good way, if you are a Spurs fan.

If Spurs lose and City win their last two games then the trophy heads to north west England, though not in a good way if you are a United fan. 

But it is the nuanced phrase ‘generally want to see their club succeed’ which is the Get AI Out of Jail card.

I asked 12 Spurs fans in my friendship group the same question as I asked ChatGPT and was met with a resounding, unanimous Yes, just so Arsenal don’t get the silverware.

There is a reason the phrase ‘cut off your nose to spite your face’ translates exactly into the big four European footballing languages of French, Spanish, Italian and German.

The nihilistic idiom describes a self-destructive action out of spite or revenge – except in the Spurs context it is slightly better not to have your nose than to have both your eyes gouged out or maybe your ears lopped off, by a constant and visceral north-London rival.

The football fan is also known as the 12th Man, a master status imbuing a sense of function and purpose to the supporter towards the club’s match fortunes.

Songs, chants, cheers, applause and all-round in-stadium positive vibes have long been attributed to team performance turnarounds.

Liverpool’s 2019 Champions League, almost metaphysical, comeback triumph over Barcelona was, anecdotally at least, explained by twelfth man fan power.

Digging a little further back to Euro 2016 when Iceland, the smallest country in Europe, knocked England out of the tournament, the thunderous Viking claps of Iceland fans reverberated in the stadium and out of the world’s TV screens mythologised the twelfth-man effect.

It’s hard to imagine the Spurs twelfth man inverting all the positive hallmarks of fandom, like cheers for boos, chants for rants, songs for death marches, applause for caustic ribbing, just so their north London nemesis doesn’t pick up the cup.

Harder to imagine the Lilywhites’ twelfth man doing any of the above if Aston Villa get tonked by Liverpool this evening, opening up the possibility of a Champions League place.

A more realistic outcome for Spurs is best summed up by 60-year twelfth man John Crace in the Guardian who claims it’s a ‘bit of a stretch to think Spurs might have any say in the title race … City would have to overdose on fentanyl to lose against us.”