It’s prediction time for Tottenham Hotspur and the new Premier League season.
Some phrases become clichés through lazy repetition, others because there is no better way succinctly to encapsulate reality. Into the latter category falls this short sentence that perfectly sums up the experience of being a football fan: it’s not the despair that gets you, it’s the hope.
If Spurs fans believe this feeling is uniquely ours, we are sorely mistaken. We may rail and rage at our problems over the years but to find the true meaning of despair we have only to look to Newcastle, Southampton or Luton, or even, lower down the pyramid, the loyal fans of Fisher Athletic, for obvious reasons my non-league team, who have gone out of business. Not having a team to support, now that puts our failure to find a left sided midfielder into perspective. Even Newcastle won’t descend to such depths.
However, amongst the Premier League teams at least we can lay a strong claim to the other side of the equation. Each new season brings not just the buoyant optimism shared by fans of most teams but also evidence that change and growth is indeed just around the next corner. A new manager who will really organise and motivate. New players to plug the gaping holes in our defence or a consistent proven goalscorer. No messiahs, thank you, I’d prefer a grafting midfielder.
I confess. This time last year I was culpable. That’s the thing about writing on the web. It’s all there. I admit it. After reading my predictions on My Eyes Have Seen the Glory this time last year, I quite understand if you never trust my judgement again. Whilst expressing strong reservations at Jol’s departure, I nevertheless identified the method behind Levy’s madness. There was a plan, there must be. Preseason went extremely well and Ramos’ lack of transfer activity meant that he had faith in the squad. Players like Huddlestone and JJ had matured into top class performers. Bentley’s signing was a coup. Farewell, in the short time we have had together, it’s been nice knowing you.
The thing about Ramos that I can’t get over, apart from the fact that a guy with his pedigree could get so much so wrong in so short a space of time, is how distant that feels. It’s like another world. Even though most of his personnel remain at the club, it’s so much a bygone era that I almost picture his team running out in baggy shorts and toe-caps. Shut your eyes and smell the dubbin.
Harry Redknapp will lead this Spurs team to a successful season. By successful I mean that we will be meaningful contenders, not for the top four but certainly for Europe and in the cups. The top four will not be keen to face us and we will continue last season’s good run of results against them.
This blog has adopted a weary and cynical tone when describing some of Harry’s activities. Whilst his media persona is carefully created and massaged, his coaching and motivation works. He perfectly understands the essence of Premier League football and shapes his teams accordingly. Frankly I doubt if he could take a team to the Champions League final but that’s hardly in our sights.
Harry will buy the right players for the job he wants them to do. As a result, they will play to the best of their ability. Levy the poodle will stump up the cash, no questions asked. Our teamwork will come on leaps and bounds and in the process we will see some decent passing football.
Redknapp’s work last season unquestionably saved us from disaster. This season we can safely look up, not down, although we may have to be patient. Our injuries in central defence may once again lead to a slow start. That said, we have a strong, experienced defence in front of a keeper who will shine. The midfield can shield the back four but may have more trouble being creative. Nevertheless, we have a fine mixture of skill, guile and pace around a central striker. Also, we have a plan B, i.e. players able to provide an alternative if this set-up is not working.
I’ll write more about the players in the next few posts. In the meantime, in the ‘On Harry’s Mind’ page there are some quotes from our leader (and I’ll be adding to those when time permits). Some of what he says is amusing, some is contradictory, but one statement rings true:
“She [Sandra, his wife] said to me: ‘We were talking about retiring, let alone getting into all this again, Harry’,” he admitted. “But let’s give it a go before it’s too late.”
‘arry may be dodgy but his love for the game is genuine. This is his last chance, and he will give it one hell of a go.