And so it ends. Another bank-sponsored Premier League season has drawn to a close, leaving behind it only empty pie wrappers, Steven Gerrard internet memes and, for Tottenham Hotspur fans - to the fading soundtrack of Tinie Tempah’s ‘Written In the Stars’ - the all-too-familiar echo of shattered dreams.
Despite the superlative-defying heroics of White Hart Lane’s new pin-up Harry Kane, Spurs fans such as myself will, as tradition dictates, rue the inability to maintain our strong, middle-season form, the feckless home defeats and, in general, the physical existence of Paulinho.
St Totteringham’s Day escaped its long overdue leap year once more, our Wembley return was hijacked by Chelsea fans - some of which didn’t even care enough to stay and watch their team lift the trophy - and next season’s Thursday night ventures into deepest Romania (fun as they are) will be of the ITV4 variety. But as each Tottenham season tends to follow a similar pattern, so too does the summer break that follows it. I’ve studied the procedure closely over the years, so without further ado, here is a completely essential breakdown of the seven inevitable stages of a summer with Spurs.
7. The Post-Mortem
If there’s one thing Tottenham are great at, it’s schizophrenic over-analysis. It’s fair to say that in the end the season finished pretty respectably for Pochettino’s men. But for Spurs, there’s always the nagging feeling of what could of been. Always tantalisingly close to the hallowed Champions League places, but rarely an inarguable threat to them. What if we’d won this game, or that game? Is Ryan Mason actually any good? *That* Soldado miss. Was the FA Cup ever a priority? What does Steffen Freund do anyway? HOW THE FUCK DID YOU LOSE TO TIM SHERWOOD?!
There will be a good share of optimism and rightly so, but you can never completely banish the impending doom either. The vertigo of really mixing it with the big boys and the frustration at always being the nearly-men. How do you solve problem like Tottenham? You can be sure everyone is looking for the answer.
6. The Transfer Saga
We may not be juggling trophies and counting winners medals like the good old days (that I wasn’t alive for any of), but there is seldom a season where Spurs don’t have a player flirting with the never-ending pockets of the footballing elite. Carrick, Berbatov, Modric, Bale. The club has admitted defeat on all four fronts, and it looks almost a certainty that the man between the sticks will be the next on the hit-list.
Every Tottenham fan will be waiting for the fateful ‘METRO EXCLUSIVE: LLORIS TELLS LEVY HE’S HAD QUITE ENOUGH THANK YOU’ headline to break, and weeks, perhaps months, of tedious big-bid volleyball between the club’s who demand the right to his prestigious services. I pray it won’t happen. At times the Frenchman has led me to seriously question my own sexuality, but man crushes aside, I know it’s coming.
5. The Fantastical and Ridiculous Transfer Rumours
Those free of football’s satanic vice will associate the summertime with happy things like Sangria, sunshine and Calippos. But for the unlucky millions who have sacrificed their liberty to to the social media driven, transfer window circus, a simple, inherently evil acronym will spoil any hope of deck chair relaxation: ITK.
ITK, or ‘in the know’, is basically something you’ll see on Twitter updates or football forums when someone wants to invent a football-related rumour to gain followers. ITK’s will claim to have reliable sources within the media or a club’s hierarchy that, for some reason, have chosen to tell them about an imminent deal.
In the Tottenham community, the ITK is a thriving superpower. Fans might remember the Brazilian striker Leandro Damiao, a player we were certain to sign for roughly six consecutive transfer windows, but never actually got into the country. The ITK will say something like ‘paperwork taking longer than expected, but he *will* sign.’ You know in your heart that what they are saying is ludicrous drivel, but your internet history is populated entirely by Wikipedia research into Joao Moutinho’s goal tally. After all, HE WILL SIGN.
4. The Deadwood Fire Sale
Log into any Tottenham forum at the beginning of the summer and the comments pages will be full of finance-conscious fans talking about how we must ‘get rid of the deadwood’ before concluding that 100% certain, only-in-need-of-a-signature deal the club has been waiting for since the last blatant transfer non-event.
Deadwood appears to comprise of players who serve no practical purpose in the team, but absorb huge pay packets regardless. We always seem to have a lot of deadwood. I like to imagine Nail Bentaleb storming around the training pitch kicking it all out of the way furiously. Motionless, damp deadwood, shamelessly disguised as footballers that can only ever hope to realise their woody, non-existent potential at Norwich City.
Eventually one of these players will be sold for £4 million, sending cunning mathematicians everywhere into raptures of laughter after calculating the exact saving to the wage bill. Like a crazed beaver, Daniel Levy must get to work on the deadwood immediately.
3. The Actual Transfers
Any ITK worth his internet salt has to be prepared for the day his infallible tip-offs are put to the sword once and for all. With Tottenham, the big name moves we are linked with all summer are, with the exception of the ‘Magnificent Seven’ more often than not replaced by bargain-bucket alternatives that nobody has ever heard of. More recently, the chairman likes to do so covertly by bringing in players from the same country as the manager’s principal target, who play in similar positions and even have vaguely similar names, almost as though he hopes fans won’t notice the difference.
Last summer we were consistently linked with Morgan Schnierderlin, but eventually recruited Benjamin Stambouli, an attractive man who calls himself ‘the lion’ and has rarely made the squad. Then there was Musacchio, an athletic Argentinian centre back that was green-lit by ITK’s everywhere. But the man who was to sign on the line was Federico Fazio, essentially a more exotic-looking Michael Dawson who can’t tackle as well. It will be fascinating to see which unknown entity nobly steps in on behalf of Pochettino’s must-have this time round.
2. Deadline Day
The hysteria that surrounds Deadline Day is difficult to explain to a football unbeliever. I tried it once, and had to stop almost immediately after subconsciously drifting into my best Jim White impersonation and desperately searching for a nearby window to slam shut.
The majority of the day is spent manically switching between your computer screen and Sky Sports News, where various ex-professionals will be sat in the studio offering meaningless insight into what it’s like to be a player on the fateful day, before the cameras switch to the Scottish man that isn’t Jim White, who highlights different players on a TV screen and tells you what clubs are fighting over them like rabid wolves. Then, as the window enters its final hours, you can guarantee that someone in the studio will make a reference to Daniel Levy being famously privy to a bit of late business.
The term ‘Levy Time’ will start appearing on your Twitter feed, despite the fact that, with the exception of Rafael Van Der Vaart, the most dramatic Deadline Day deal you can recall at the Lane was the one where we sold Berbatov in exchange for Frazier Campbell on loan. You’ll see that only 30 minutes remain on the clock, and pray that somehow the cunning chairman has evaded the media entirely and is seconds from revealing Harry Kane’s newest strike partner by means of a giant silhouette of their name in the sky above Hotspur Way. And then you see it. Louis Saha.
1. WE’RE GONNA WIN THE LEAGUE
Regardless of any of the above, as the new season raises its curtains, we will somehow convince ourselves that this *is* in fact our year. You’ll see dramatic and impressively edited montage videos appear on your timeline, with sentiments like ‘the sleeping giant rises’ or ‘the cockerel is ready to crow once more’, and every season past becomes an irrelevance. This is the one where it clicks. We’ll of watched every 90’s trance montage video of our new heroes on YouTube and squealed at the step-over they did at the corner flag. This is the next Hoddle.
With the spirit of Bill Nick in our hearts, our eyes will yet again gaze upon the the illustrious cups at White Hart Lane. This is it. The time is now. Glory Glory Tottenham Hotspur.
Now what was it Einstein said about insanity? Oh who cares. Let’s have it.