We've come a long way. Time has changed us and time will change us again, so until then enjoy what we have. Paul Maslin makes his debut on the Fighting Cock.
The rumour mill is on overdrive. The record transfer fee request (demand?) is coming in the summer. Poch is on the shortlist if Zizou is given the boot– or chooses to leave on his own terms. Questions about the true state of Spurs’ finances and the debt incurred for the new WHL are surfacing, because isn’t it just Woolwich/The Emirates ten years after? If no trophy comes this spring, the dam might burst.
Step back for just a second. And consider just where we really are. Six years ago our two best players from the Redknapp era were 1) already gone to Madrid– our “sister” club and 2) a year from following suit. The Galacticos were on the verge of a new era of dominance where they would win three Champions League titles. Spurs were about to receive a haul of seven players for Bale– five of whom would fail to make a significant contribution in North London with one of the other two bouncing between promise fulfilled and injury or potential delayed. And we were two managers away from finally finding The One. For the first five years of this period it has been as if the two clubs reside on totally different planets– one a place of glory and lights and acclaim, the other not remote or barren but far enough away as to make all that seem unattainable.
And improbably, incredibly, the plot has changed. For how long? It was them we were matched against in our second consecutive Champions League season (and that fact alone was a huge step). Surely our proper place would be restored and any dream of greater European success stifled. And then we went out and drew at the Bernabeu and won at Wembley and which is the better team now? Wembley hoodoo was to be the theme of what was supposed to be a retrenchment season– and after victories over Real Madrid, Dortmund, Liverpool, Man United and Woolwich, how’s that hoodoo looking now?
Wembley hoodoo was to be the theme of what was supposed to be a retrenchment season– and after victories over Real Madrid, Dortmund, Liverpool, Man United and Woolwich, how’s that hoodoo looking now?
Our revenue stream and turnover still cannot approach the three clubs that, regardless of petrodollars or other whims of wealth, will forever stand supreme. The two Spanish giants and the brand that is Old Trafford will always be a cut above the rest. It may be that the wealth at Chelsea, The Etihad and Paris will be transitory, as dreams are either met or denied, and egos are stroked or diverted. We should be firmly in the European Top Ten, based on any metric, with the new Lane and its gleaming promise and London base beckoning. Levy will open up purse strings within reason.
But none of that might be enough to keep our two greatest assets content enough to see the project through. What will define each of them, and will they act independent of the other? Is it the chance to show the world that it can be done without having all the money? Or is it simply that there is truly only one theatre, one stage, and a pecking order which will never really change, so in the short time available how can either resist the chance to play at the pinnacle?
This existence is almost more frustrating than the one Spurs supporters had grown accustomed to. There was almost no doubt that Modric or Bale would leave– in their minds, the club’s planning, and even the fans’ hearts. We were a big club, but not big enough. Perhaps that reality still prevails. That the edifice being completed in N17 is simply a mirage– we will simply become a better and more consistent also-ran.
Yet the progress of the past four years– inextricably linked to both manager and star player– has defied the odds so far. No trophy, it is true. But how could this loanee with seemingly limited potential become the best goal scorer on the planet? How could this Argentine with a mixed managerial record in Spain and a season and a half in England become the best Spurs chief since Bill Nick? How could it be us that challenged for the title two years running, and not our better-heeled rivals? And how could it be us that generates a bushel of transfer rumours every week– that fact alone a testament to how far we have become?
There was almost no doubt that Modric or Bale would leave– in their minds, the club’s planning, and even the fans’ hearts. We were a big club, but not big enough
The timing is extraordinary. This is the summer before the new ground opens. This is the summer where Madrid must choose to reboot– out with the manager, in with the new core because CR7 and several others are getting on in years. Poch and Kane know their value might be as high in a year or two, but probably is at its zenith. It could drop– for both. Poch doesn’t want the other job in Spain, if one can believe his Espanyol roots will dictate that decision. What other job is there then?
A mercurial PSG ownership as likely to botch their attempt to matter as they are to pull it off?
Man United following the Special One?
Horizontal moves each if more lucrative.
Kane knows he is one serious injury away from fading back into the ranks of the Very Good. He has a World Cup in his prime, and then a big payday for someone. Does he care about Shearer’s record? Is his loyalty to his boyhood team enough to defer or deny the biggest reward of them all?
And how could it be us that generates a bushel of transfer rumours every week– that fact alone a testament to how far we have become?
And so we await these next five months with tingling anticipation. We might just grab a domestic trophy if Poch can win two more away games against weaker competition (Rochdale is about to kick off) and then two Wembley games against our peers. (Well, that might be a liberal classification in terms of City) If we get past Juve we will surely have the most attractive quarter final draw in almost every scenario (Shakhtar or Roma could happen. i would prefer it wouldn’t). Madrid? Barca? Bayern? Any of our English rivals? Any of them will be the best home and home tie in a generation.
It does all seem surreal. This is not the arc that Spurs were ever supposed to be. But it is about to get very real. The dreamer in me says “Don’t leave, Harry. Please stay, Poch. See it through– at least for another year. You are each so close.” The realist says if the big money/opportunity comes, what would any of us do if we were them? We’d take it. So let’s settle down and enjoy these next three months. It might be the best of Spurs we will ever see. it might be the first act of an unparalleled era of success. It might be almost anything. It is why they play the games, because as Peter O’Toole/TE Lawrence once said, “nothing is written.”