Wednesday, 12 August 2009

"this one's optmistic, this one went to market"

Feel the optimism, brethren. Feel the optimism. This hallowed and blessed week is the sweetest, most hopeful and inherently beautiful week to be a Tottenham Hotspur fan.

Where a soft ignorant confidence reigns supreme in the upper echelons of that thing between your ears. This is the garden of Eden before the Fall.

Inevitably, Eve bites the apple, usually at about 5 O clock on Saturday afternoon: Benoit Assou-Ekotto falls on his arse, Heurelho Gomes jumps the wrong way, Ledley King crumples in an arthritic heap and Robbie Keane (and his manager) proceeds to blame everyone but himself. Paradise lost.

As many people who I can’t be bothered to research have clich├ęd over the years, it’s not the despair that kills you, it’s the hope. It won’t be Dirk Kuyt’s looping header winning it in the 85th minute, but the pre-match promise of improvement and 2 months meditation on the mantra “this could be our year”.

It couldn’t.

Nevertheless, this years optimism is less viral, and thus less dangerous, than the previous two summers. Under Martin Jol and Juande Ramos respectively, strong teams had (allegedly) been assembled. Strong league finishes and cup wins had wetted the appetite of both board and fans. Achievement gave way to further expectation, whilst expectation and hype gave way to the inevitability of underachievement. Jol was sacked with the side flirting with relegation, whilst the exact same fate befell Ramos a year later.

This year, as a result of the egg on Spurs fans’ faces the last few years, expectations are lower. Most fans would bite your hands off at a 6th place finish and some good cup runs. Personally, I’d absolutely demolish your hand for 17th and the FA Cup, football’s not about finishing 4th and getting richer, it’s about WINNING THINGS. But that’s another matter.

Spurs are stronger (he says, unbelievably tentatively) this season. Harry Redknapp, since his appointment, has established a settled atmosphere at the club, and the team have become, in Spurs terms at least, semi-consistent. For all Redknapp’s faults (and I’d have a wonderful time listing them to you), he has created a strong, united team and, crucially, bought players Tottenham actually need. Comolli take note.

The signing of Wilson Palacios last January was a key turning-point in the Spurs season. A Tottenham midfielder who could tackle. The sheer unheralded charm of it wowed fans last season, and completely galvanised the team. The anchor that Palacios provided allowed Luka Modric, far and away Spurs’ most important player, an attacking freedom which was key to the Lilywhites climbing up the table last spring. For a successful season this year at White Hart Lane, the creativity and guile of Modric will be key.

Spurs are far from the finished project, something that last year’s relegation scare confirmed, but they now have the base with which to build something promising. A quiet, solid season with Redknapp still around in May would continue do just that. But this is Tottenham, a team as far removed from quietness and predictability as a Jazz-punk collective. Things never happen how you think, we know that. With that, lingers the hope. That sick, damned hope.

1 comment:

helen said...

I enjoyed reading this.