I was told just recently that it wasn't a writer's job to be liked, but to challenge the way people think. That said, it seems that while the majority of our club's fan base have spent the best part of the start of the season pointing fingers at one another, passing around 'the blame' quicker than Danielle Lloyd through the Spurs dressing room, the real issues have been cast to one side, ignored.
We have a new coaching staff, style of play, shuffled squad and attitude about the way we progress, yet expectations aren't being properly managed. Tottenham Hotspur Football Club isn't changing, in reality, it's evolving, it always has been and it always will. What seems to have been forgotten then, is that it doesn't take Charles Darwin to realise that evolution doesn't occur overnight.
Harry Redknapp consistently over-achieved during his time at Tottenham. He was brought in to return stability to the club after the failed Ramos experiment and produced results beyond anyone's wildest dreams. However, that was then, and this is now. What is done is done. We've said our thank you's and waved our goodbye's. Yet; some fans have taken it upon themselves to don Redknapp masks, sing his name and beg for his reinstatement. Short of acoustically serenading the man outside his bedroom in Sandbanks, they couldn't be behaving much more pathetically.
Redknapp at Tottenham was like a piece of chewing gum stopping a plumbing leak. Initially intended to be a temporary fix, the gum performed better than expected, and the leak appeared to have been fixed. However, when the time came that the gum began to erode and peel away, a decision had to be made; do we place another temporary piece of gum on the existing plumbing, knowing that it will do a job for a short while, or gut the entire system, throw out all of the old parts and install brand new fixtures that could last for decades to come? Harry Redknapp left the club for more than just footballing reasons, I've written about that at length before, and I'm not prepared to do it again.
A lot has been said about the recent atmosphere at home games, and how some peoples premature dissatisfaction is being aired. While I agree with the sentiment that there is no right or wrong way to support the club, this isn't what this piece is about. These so called 'boo boys' don't need condemning, and neither do the Redknapp supporters group. They're not worth getting mad about, in the same way that it's a waste of time getting mad with racists and conservatives. It's just a shame you can't ignore the ignorant. Their anger comes from a love for the club, and they simply need educating in why's and how's, after all, there's nothing people are scared of more than change.
This in-fighting between fans, online arguments, agenda driven stunts and plans, it just isn't part of the Tottenham Hotspur we all know and love. There's a club already is existence that hate each-other, moan about their board and congregate in their soulless bowl to complain; so if that's how you enjoy your football, I suggest you take your black bin liners in hand and join them. If not, we've got a home game tomorrow, win lose or draw, stand up and sing up. In case you haven't noticed, it's the way we like to do things around here.
Daniel Levy is the best chairman in the league and he's proven it time and time again. His methods may be unorthodox, his main concern is and always will be his business and sentiment may be beyond him, but he continues to do his best by the club and keep us competitive both on and off of the football pitch. I'm not going to sit and quote stats about how he's conducted the club's dealings, the badge means more than just balance sheets to us, but on a purely footballing level, his intentions have been clear in backing his manager and buying in to the long term sustained success of the team. By bringing in young players for reasonable fee's on manageable contracts, he is making sure that the club is living well within it's means. As well as transfers, we've funded what is probably the best training facility in the world, and work is finally starting to take shape on the new stadium too.
In modern day football, debt and financial fair play are two things that can kill a club and stop them right in their tracks; I don't have to look far, I live in Leeds. I grew up in a city with a title worthy football club playing regular Champions League football to packed crowds, while Tottenham languished in mid-table mediocrity, periodically flirting with relegation. Now, via two spells in administration, a few years in the third tier of the football league and under the wrinkled iron fist of Ken Bates; Leeds are a mediocre Championship side, regularly selling their best players, failing to sell out games and rarely opening the full ground to the public, all because of an irresponsible chairman responding to restless fans ambitions for further overnight success. All that could have been avoided had they been run by a man half as smart as someone like Daniel Levy.
Andre Villas-Boas has so far been accused of being a fraud, a manager with no clue and a failure. I repeat, he has been in charge for a total of five competitive games. His objective at the club was never to carry on in the manner that the previous manager had left for him, after all, that would have been his failure. There is a common misconception that he inherited a winning team on the verge of being part of a title race, had he taken charge in January, that may be a point, but he didn't. In the second half of last season we were, at times, terrible. We had a thirteen point lead in third place and still managed to finish fourth. We were tactically inept, tired, uninspired and showing no signs of improvement whatsoever. The mistakes we are making this season aren't new ones, they were there under the last manager too, but given the right amount of time they will be worked out, and we're already showing signs of doing so already. Our performances this season thus far have shown more areas of improvement, more potential and more spirit than they have for almost a year previously. The away performance at Reading was a clean-sheet away from perfect and the Lazio game then displayed our defensive capabilities. Performances going forward building on both of those can do nothing but bode well for our prospects.
A new manager, with a relatively new squad being taught how to play a new brand of football isn't going to click instantaneously. Patience is required; after all, good things come to those who wait. Where Redknapp was a simple woodwork teacher, Villas-Boas lectures quantum physics. The players have the potential and ability to learn and apply what they are being taught, those that couldn't have been sold and loaned out already, and when they do more results won't be far away. This season, as strange as it sounds, is as much about style as it is substance. While losing isn't enjoyable for anyone, where we finish in the league this season isn't really a huge priority, I'm fairly confident in saying that if we continue to show proof of tangible improvement all season, but finish, say, tenth, Villas-Boas will still be charge next season.
Expectation management, a topic flirted with earlier, is something we're going to have to come to terms with this season. It's more about how we finish, not where we finish. It's about why we made that signing, not who that signing was. The club as whole has adopted an entirely new culture almost overnight and it's proving too much for some to take. Rather than classing it as a clichéd 'transitional season', think of it more of a preparation one. A season away from making major challenges in order to sort yourself out bottom up can do teams the world of good, look at how Newcastle used their relegation to adopt a new mentality and how well it's done them in the long run.
Even Manchester City, if you forget about the vulgar amounts of money involved, took a season to bed in a majority of their new signings under their new manager before waiting a season to properly launch their successful title challenge. If in exchange for this season of frustrating results, experimental line-ups and chances handed to fringe players means that in the long run, for the next decade Tottenham have more of a chance of making serious challenges in all competitions, doesn't it make sense to support that?
Rome wasn't built on transfer deadline day, no matter what Jim White tries to tell you. I've always been told that there's no such thing as a stupid question, however I beg to differ, and I have some examples: Why don't we do all our business at the beginning of the window? Did we really haggle with Madrid over £5million just so that we could enter an agreement where we sell them Gareth Bale next season? Signing Moutinho was essential; we're going to be rubbish now, what was Levy thinking? How hard is it to just go and spend £30million on Llorente and get a deal done?
Our summer transfer window showed an amazing statement of intent, yet it's somehow being portrayed in a negative light. No matter who was in charge, Harry, Andre, Jesus; Luka Modric was always going to become a Real Madrid player the second they wanted him. His conduct aside, a player of his class deserves to play Champions League football, and he's already starting to show his ability in La Liga. Rafael Van Der Vaart was sold for a profit to a club that he and his family call home, and as much as we loved him, that's an incredible deal for a player pushing thirty with hamstrings softer than Jack Wilshere, too unfit to play a full game of premier league football. In their place came younger, more positionally adaptable players, ready made to improve our squad and fit our system. With the closing of the transfer window, mentalities such as lack of rotation, talismanic reliance and having only one way of playing left the club too. We successfully went from having a good first eleven to having a great squad, something that can't be undervalued. This gives us chance to use the busiest part of the season to gel together the main part of our squad, before adding perhaps maybe one or two more players if needed in windows to come.
We've got QPR at home this weekend and we might not beat them, but it won't be the end of the world. Everyone needs to take a big step back and have a good long look at the bigger picture; we have a good young manager with a great young squad in one of the best training facilities in world football, all looking forward to pulling on and playing for the shirt in a brand new stadium in the heart of Tottenham sooner rather than later. We have a huge future ahead of us and the project in place to see as much success come with it as possible. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: if this is what a Tottenham Hotspur crisis has become, I'll take them all day long, they're a damn sight less depressing then they used to be. The club have set their sights high and have put in place the resources with which they think they can achieve them, but nothings guaranteed in football, we might end up failing spectacularly. Tottenham Hotspur having high aspirations for themselves, not willing to accept success from lower expectations? I wish there was an appropriate famous quote about the club I could use to sum this all up...
(Originally Posted on The Fighting Cock, The Sabotage Times and Puerile Ambivalence)
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