This post was written on 13 June on the bus between Boston and New York. When I wrote it, Harry Redknapp was still an employee of Tottenham Hotspur. Three hours after I saved it in my document folder and made a mental note to post it before the weekend, I was supping on a pint of Sam Adams in NYC when I received a text from a fellow member of the Boston Spurs family.
It was two words – “Harry’s gone.” I smiled. Then I decided that I would just post the blog exactly as I had intended when I was sitting on the bus. When Harry was still our "beloved" badger.
The pain won’t go away. I just keep thinking about the hideous inevitability of it all and how our season of promise turned into a soap opera of Eastenders-like proportions.
The fact that our hard-fought Champions League place (and possibly the only reason that Modric would not spend the summer whining about some mythical agreement on the level of the Le Tissier contract) was decided by Didier Drogba was only part of the rollercoaster that the 2011/12 campaign embodied.
Not forgetting the fact that Chelsea came up against the only German team in living memory that can’t take penalties.
As the television continued to show the celebrations of Roman’s Army (including the bizarre spectacle of a fully kitted out racist enjoying yet another undeserved moment of glory), another member of the growing Boston Spurs family turned to me and shrugged his shoulders.
I could not have summed it up better.
Our entire season came down to one penalty kick. Taken by a player whose huge size seems to hinder his ability to actually stay on his feet when tacked. A man who has been a thorn in our side ever since the lure of the ruble drew him to a part of West London better known for IT girls and trust fund wankers with a huge belief in their own importance in society.
Didier was born on the Ivory Coast, made in France and made for Chelsea. He is exactly the sort of striker that we were crying out for during our “blip”, a bloke whose swan-dives at the slightest touch can be overlooked when he muscles his way into the right position and gives your team the shot at glory.
When it all came down to the final reckoning, we didn’t have someone like that.
We had players who worked hard for 50% of the season and then went missing when ‘Arry got a whiff of the England job. We had an on-loan centre forward who was so keen to be accepted by everyone that he spent a lot of time smiling when he should have been scoring.
Yes, we had injuries to key players at key times – I firmly believe that the Norwich winner at the Lane would not have happened if Scotty P had been on the pitch – but at the start of the season, our glorious leader was adamant that he had the right depth in the squad to push for a top-four place….which we did get, finishing above the team that got awarded our Champions League berth.
The middle of our defence never seemed to be settled all year. Not having Michael Dawson (again) for a significant proportion of the campaign was tough, watching Ledley succumb to mortality was heartbreaking. Kaboul stepped up to the plate and was (arguably) one of our most consistent performers, his non-appearance at the Euros may be a blessing in disguise as I think he will be determined to prove just how good he can be. Gallas did alright, Ryan Nelson was brought to N17 five years too late and I can only assume that we won’t need to worry about Bassong when Caulker comes back from his sheep trials.
Young Gareth believed the hype and became everything that I dislike about the modern footballer, a player whose worth to the team comes into question when the summer vultures are circling. I blame Redknapp entirely for this. Bale is a winger, he plays on the wing and not in some sort of midfield role where wandering about the pitch like a excitable puppy is considered to be acceptable by the manager.
Modric can go. His heart is no longer at the Lane, it is in the rarefied atmosphere that is being offered by The Manchesters. He won’t be going to Chelsea, they signed their second Hazard and if he is good as he thinks he is, they may even get back into the top four.
I would like to see Defoe stay. He makes me smile and curse in equal quantities. On his day, the little man plays like he is the size of Drogba and I am always confident that there are goals in his twinkling feet. But , like so many of us, he has stopped believing the words that come out of ‘Arry’s mouth and despite being among the top scorers at the club (again), he has had to be content with spending far too much time sitting next to Clive Allen.
But I don’t want to dwell on next season. It actually seems a long way away, especially as we now have the joy of watching England prove just how “organized” they can be – which is another word for creatively dull and being as exciting to watch as another season of Jersey Shore.
Rumours continue to circulate that The Chairman wasn’t overly pleased with our eventual failure to hold onto 3rd place and another trip into the Europa League will not push the balance sheet further into the black…although if they applied the Financial Fair Play Rule now to some of our competitors at the top of the table, we would be laughing all the way to the bank.
‘Arry believes that he has done enough to get a new contract, something that was a long way from his mind when he got no more than another day in front of the TV cameras after his trial by HMRC. He thought he would be spending his summer ensuring a bunch of overpaid primadonnas didn’t embarrass themselves again…which he is now doing in a TV studio as opposed to on the football pitch.
The Chairman, however, is playing his cards very close to his chest. Other teams have already started to strengthen and he needs to make sure that we don’t have our regular close season of inactivity followed by the rush to sign anybody before Sky close the window.
To attract the right talent, he needs the right manager.
Everyone knows that I have no real love for Redknapp but I grudgingly admit that the football we played for some of last season was unbelievably good (there was an awful lot of crap as well!) and that not finishing outside the top five for three consecutive seasons is a lot better than we have been used to.
If the right players become available, Spurs should now be in a position to make a move. We all know that there is a salary cap at the club and that prudent financial management hasn’t seen us spend silly money on players that could be surplus to requirements within a year. I don’t want us to become like some other clubs that I could mention, that’s not why I bleed lilywhite and blue.
What I want is to expand the platform that we have built since the ill-fated Ramos experiment, to take the disappointment of Munich and weave into a collective DNA that will encourage the players that pull the shirt on to believe that WE can be the catalyst for their ambitions.
To achieve glory for ourselves, not through the largesse of an absentee owner but by playing the game in the Tottenham tradition and by ensuring that we don’t have to rely on any other team to realise our ambitions.
If the club approaches the next few weeks in the way that it should, then the supporters can look forward to the next season…the glory is there, we just need to make sure that we are the ones to take it.