Is there any loyalty left in football? Is it realistic to expect players to stay? Sam Boroudjou asks these questions of our current crop.
The retirement of Francesco Totti sent shock-waves throughout the world of football. It wasn’t a surprising or unprecedented event, it was just another legend of the game hanging up his boots due to age, however, the legacy he leaves behind is one that is both inspirational and stirring.
The question of loyalty in modern day football is one that often only has one answer: ‘there is none.’ Power now often rests in the hands of the players themselves, who have been given free reign via ‘super’ agents like Mino Raiola to kick up a fuss, stomp their feet and throw little fits until either more money or the opportunity for a move away is accepted.
Tottenham have, historically (at least since the Premier League began) been a selling club, joylessly shipping off our best players for pastures new and simply accepting that you just can’t compete with the big boys.
Well now we are the f**king big boys.
Don’t misunderstand me, a tight 1-1 draw at the Bernabeu, though colossally impressive, does not put us in the same stratosphere as the likes of Real Madrid. What it does do however, is make a statement of intent that not only are we not the whipping boys of our group, but that we do not necessarily have to capitulate to any twat who can scrape enough notes together to come in for our big stars.
Harry Kane has been linked with Real Madrid recently, and we can all see why. 15 goals in his last 15 appearances and 29 goals in 30 premier league appearances last season. These are Messi and Ronaldo-escque figures.
In a more subtle way, murmurings of Pochettino being linked with Madrid are sure to surface should Zidane’s squeaky little bald head run out of ideas.
Real Madrid are the biggest club in the world, who would turn them down?
Well, as it turns out: both of them. Pochettino recently did an interview in which he stated that he would stay with Spurs for another ten or fifteen years should Levy have him, while Kane today has been quoted as saying that as long as the club continues to provide a good environment and platform for him and his success, he would love the idea of being a one club man.
The doubters are sure to come in on this one. The same gooners who chuckled in glee as they proclaimed our champion’s league group to be ‘impossible’, or who chided in condescendingly a few years ago with talk of Kane being a ‘one season wonder.’ So you can see the sort of track record these people have.
It is, fundamentally, hopeful and naive to believe that either of these monumental figures in our club could do us the honour of staying indefinitely, but why not be hopeful? Who among us dared to hope for the excellence and success of this current team when we first appointed Pochettino? Who among us dared to hope that we would outmanoeuvre Dortmund so gracefully, or contain Real Madrid with such a seasoned look of professionalism? If there was any time to let the protective shield of our pessimism fall as Spurs fans: this is that time.
Should we lose them both come the end of the season, should we end up finishing outside of the Champions League places, should we even lose our dominance of North London this season (not f**king likely), it will hurt, it will decimate our hope and it will make us the same bitter lot we were before Pochettino and Kane became a part of our club, but if the most we have to lose is a return to the norm, then why not be optimistic for once? Let’s ask ourselves for a moment, why they would even bother leaving? Kane is a life-long Spurs fan who has never shown a hint of having ideas beyond his station, while Pochettino has spent the last 4 seasons building a team from the ground up that can compete for titles with the best of them, while playing some of the most graceful, impressive and well organised football of the premier league era.
It isn’t realistic that we should expect them to stay, and it isn’t realistic that they would, but it was never realistic to think only three years ago that we would be in the position we are in today. So let’s be grateful for where we are and grateful for the loyalty of men like Kane and Pochettino, because it won’t always be this way.
And remember Dele, whoever your new agent is will promise you the world, but you are what you are today because of this team and you will get back to your best soon by committing to this project and working hard at it. If you ever forget that, you only need to look a couple of yards ahead of you on the pitch to Kane, who knows what loyalty is worth in football.
(Unless he totally f**king Sol Campbell’s us.)