Thanks a lot, Spurs. You’ve just given us the best two-thirds of a season most of us can remember, been torchbearers of the beautiful game and even dilly-dallied with title aspirations. Who can forget the heady days of February where we sat shaking our heads as supporters of supposedly superior rivals contemplated the likelihood of a Spurs collapse? It seemed so unlikely with the irrepressible form of our front five, and the impeccably coiffured Private Parker snaffling up every ball that came within 15 metres of Friedel’s ridiculous reach. But it has happened. The current buzz-phrase from the Lane might be “what crisis?” but rest assured that is the kind of dodgy rhetoric that has the touch of ‘Onest ‘Arry ‘imself all over it. With 5 games to go we are only in the top 4 on goal difference, and the reality of the situation is this; not qualifying for the Champion’s League would be a total disaster.
It’s different for Chelsea, see. Obviously for whoever is at the helm not getting in the Champs means the imminent arrival of a pretty tasty severance cheque, but they are in such a position where their standing within the game will not be irrevocably damaged by a year out. Yes, top players would see the Europa fixture list and wonder whether they really fancy that flight to the Faroe Islands, but then Roman will wave a wodge of Russia’s finest under their nose and they will shrug their shoulders and cartwheel through Customs. And their big players will stay- it’s difficult to see the likes of Sturridge, Terry, Mata et al kicking up too much of a fuss at the prospect of not being about to hit Amika on a Thursday, at least for a season.
As for Newcastle, fair play to them. They’ve definitely usurped Spurs and are coming up on the blindside of Swansea as everyone’s second favourite team. But like Chelsea they aren’t going to be damaged by not getting that fourth place. They are already over-achieving, and long may it continue (as long as it continues in 5th place or below).
We might have garnered a reputation for playing pretty football but with our strict wage structure we have less to offer in the first place.
But for Spurs, the ramifications are unavoidable and much further reaching. For a long while this has had the feel of a landmark season. We always suspected Harry would be England-bound, though we figured the call would come sometime around July rather than 13th May. 2011/2012 would be his last shout and set down a marker for who would come next, and though until now we have done better than we thought would (most level-headed Spurs fans were predicting a 5th or 6th place finish before the season started), that hasn’t changed. And though it seems likely-not to mention preferable- that Spurs are going to keep their new managerial appointment local rather than inter-galactic, the addition of Champion’s League football would keep us in the Maybe pile for the top managers.
Of course, an inability to attract the top names would also spread to the players. We might have garnered a reputation for playing pretty football but with our strict wage structure we have less to offer in the first place. Take away Champions League and you’ve got the completion of a fairly straightforward equation:
Bad wage (relatively) + No Champion’s League= Not very attractive to best players
But more than being able to convince the best of the best to make the journey up Edmonton High Street, our biggest fears can be summed up in two, terrifyingly succinct sentences: Losing Modric and Losing Bale. It is with these two that the keys to the kingdom reside; keep them and the transformation of Spurs continues. They are the two players who knock about in that revered (if a little vague) sphere of ‘next level.’ Modric looks like a Polish woman but plays like a Croatian Zeus, picking holes in the play that other players just can’t find. He’s also clearly an excellent man, as his refusal to moan or stamp last summer during ChelseaGate proved.
Bale is the superstar in waiting; comparisons to Messi and Ronaldo may be a little far-fetched but if Spurs are ever going to supply a player who’s going to develop into one of the top 3 players in the world, it is him. Keeping these two players is not just vital for our team in the here and now, but in terms of moving forward next season and the season beyond. See them go and we have the look of a team that are destined to stay Europa bound, and will attract players of that ilk. Keep them and, with a couple of additions in the right places, we will be a team that can bounce around the edges of the title race. If we don’t get Champions League this season that will be 2 in a row without it and, for players of those calibre, that will almost certainly be 1 too many.
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