Our stopgap manager talked himself out of a job and chose the wrong Chairman to try a hardball negotiator on. He should have signed the contract earlier in the year rather than admit that the England job was what he really wanted by not doing so. The golf course SSN contract interview juxtaposed against a sombre image of Levy laying his mother to rest. All a bit distasteful, Harry had to go in the end. Already it seems a long time ago.
The new era has started with a summer offering more twists than a bag of fusilli, but there is hope. AVB was probably not anyone's number one choice of manager; I liked what he tried to do at Chelsea and coveted his services last November. Always liked the cut of his jib. The fact that AVB's footballing philosophy has its roots in Arthur Rowe's push and run side is also a cause for optimism. The signs so far are good, four friendlies, mostly good passing displays and no defeats (as if the results really matter at this stage) and some promising performances from our two new signings.
If you're in the know, we also have a new striker. Gareth Bale is our new number 9, our new centre forward. Having spent large parts of last season and my larynx on chants of 'he plays on the left', I should see 'Bale 9' as the 'you've got to be kidding' discovery on the team sheet. Right now though, whilst we face the real possibility of not being able to lure some money grabbing maverick who knows how to find the back of the net, it's worth experimenting with.
My preference is Bale as provider but, having seen Clive Allen score 49 goals atop a packed midfield of quality, I see no reason why Bale couldn't hit 30 goals plus or so if it was all he had to do. Except... If Charlie Adam can nobble him, what ruinous damage would the likes of heart on boot defenders like Terry and Carragher do to our season? It's all a bit risky but we could make it work. Can't be worse than Saha.
Modric? What to do? I say let him go. Poor man's Ardiles. Polish Mickey Hazard's boots and come back when you've stopped sulking. Vinny Samways without the hard man reputation. Great player. We have ample cover, but I don't think it's Huddlestone shaped. The man is all 'fro and no go. Fitness or not, he's slow. I'd rather see Tom Carroll in with Parker, Sigurdsson, Sandro, Rafa. He has Modric's mobility, ability to work a tight space and eye for a pass. The boy's quality, he looks like a Tottenham player, proper silky.
As we plundered the defensive cupboard last year and found only a dust-covered Ryan Nelson in reserve, we are now boasting a collection of centre backs that even old red nose must covet. Dawson, Kaboul, Vertonghen, Bassong, Gallas and Caulker will take some beating. Who handles the high line best will feature, it has to be Dawson and Kaboul for my money but Caulker could lift the Europa Cup with Vertonghen. It's an embarrassment of riches. We're going to be solid.
So, to recap... An inexperienced manager, a makeshift striker, a team of midfielders and defenders, our playmaker offski and a goalkeeper who makes 'grandad getting out of the chair' noises when he picks himself up from a diving save (but who is still the best we have). Even if we make no further signings, I'm feeling quite good about it all. Strange really.
Steffen Freund must have finally scored for us and spiked my tea.