Is it really only 88 days since Spurs fans celebrated a phantom goal against Arsenal at White Hart Lane?
A ‘goal’ that didn’t happen 300 miles to the north. A ‘goal’, the failure of which to enter the net sent Arsenal through to the Champions League qualifiers.
Feels like a lifetime ago. Made longer by the fact that I have spent more money on Arsenal than they have. Not to mention the many comings and goings at WHL over the summer.
If you ask my view of their season I could give you two different answers.
One, as a long standing Arsenal season ticket holder, is that I hope that they do badly enough to be knocked out the League Cup and FA Cups at the earliest opportunity. And that they make the quarters of the UEFA Cup after a long and arduous campaign, visiting most of the ‘Stans’ in that part of Eastern Europe which borders on Asia . And that they have a really miserable campaign which yields not only desperate mediocrity but a stunning lack of goals that always pleases me given the way they always project their glory glory years. Years that happened before man set foot on the moon. I don’t even want them to get relegated as beating them 5-2 ever year is far more satisfying.
The other would be a little more objective.
If you held a gun to my head I would say that if they kept Bale, they do have the potential to kick on. Certainly in this transitional season for United with Moyes still finding his way around the corridors of power at Old Trafford; with Pellegrini still finding his way around the Premier League, and with the Special One attempting to become the Happy One, the opportunity for progression is there. Which makes it all the more frustrating as an Arsenal fan that we haven’t strengthened. But that’s a different story.
If you discount the fact that a Spurs fan I worked with a while ago used to proclaim loudly that every signing the Lillywhites made was ‘world class’, ‘uncle’ Joe Lewis, the shadowy Keyser Soze figure, but with far more money, has opened his purse strings again for what could be a couple of decent signings.
It used to be a running joke with Arsenal fans that it was always ‘next season’ for Spurs. But with a state of the art training ground in place and the stadium in the process of being built – though that doesn’t necessarily mean anything, just ask us – they could finally be in a position to break into the top four.
The crux is that the team from N17 needs to keep monkey man Bale. If they get £100 million for him, conveniently siphoned from Real Madrid’s massive overdraft (are you watching Platini?) on the 2 September what’s the use of that?
Jamie Redknapp summed up Daniel Levy perfectly when he said "To him, every pound's a prisoner," If Bales leaves at the last minute, severely disrupting team spirit and destabilising plans for the season it could have a drastic impact on their year. Not to mention the fact that whilst £100 million is not a figure to be scoffed at (even if it will probably be in instalments, and that’s without factoring a di Maria trade) you can’t buy a world class player on 3 September.
What to do then for a player who’s mere mention last season made myself and most Gooners switch off? And not just because of his ridiculous goal celebration that he has apparently patented. More the fact that he has the potential to be one of the best players in the world and hence make Spurs a better team. Which if most Gooners are honest, is a massive worry. Fortunately it is a worry that only surfaces when they have a decent player on their hands, which to be fair doesn’t happen that often.
It is symptomatic of Spurs that just when they seem to be on the verge of something they sell their best players. I still remember the shock when they sold mullet wearer supreme Chris Waddle to Marseille. And Gazza to Lazio.
Selling a top player also becomes what a club stands for in a way. If a club sells their top player it sends a sign to others that whatever it’s protestations it is simply not a big club. And if someone says RvP to me, I have would have to honestly say yes. We certainly aren’t a patch on our Invincibles side.
And if Bale does go, the question is who will replace him? Apart from the answer no-one. Spurs have certainly been far more busy in the transfer market this summer with Paulinho being recruited for £17m midfielder from Corinthians, £26m for striker Roberto Soldado from Valencia. Nacer Chadli a star in the Eredivsie with FC Twente has been snapped up and they have just signed Toulouse defensive midfielder Etienne Capoue for £9.5m.
Steven Caulker to Cardiff raised some eyebrows, as was Clint Dempsey going to Seattle Sounders. Huddlestone to Hull is about his level even if Spurs fans I know swore blind he was a top prospect a couple of yours ago. Mind you they said that about Jermaine Jenas as well. As for Scott Parker going to QPR, well the only time I thought he was a good player was when he appeared in those McDonald’s ads as a 14 year old at Charlton. And don’t get me started on Gallas. Not sure whether to laugh or cry at AVB releasing him. As Oscar Wilde once said, ‘you’d have to have a heart of stone not to laugh’.
It is instructive that the two Premiership teams that appear to have acquired all their targets, in Man City and Spurs, both have a technical director. For all my wariness of a technical director Dick Law at Arsenal simply isn’t up to the job.
So in all honesty if I was to be objective about Spurs chances next season, if they keep Bale then fourth place is more than a possibility given the uncertainty with last season’s top four. Possibly a run in one of the domestic cups and a group stage exit in the UEFA Cup which will aid their bid for the top four.
If they don’t keep Bale then a season of mediocrity (another season of mediocrity) beckons despite the protestations emanating from the Shelf. I for one would raise a glass to that.