I don't do this often. This is a one-take blog, written in one session from start to finish without going back to edit. Therefore no re-writes and countless re-drafting and tidying up to allow for a solid easy to read structure. It's a mess, so please excuse the grammatical minefields and lack of flow. I wrote it in 10 minutes during a tea-break on Wednesday afternoon. I guess I've got another epiphany due and I've just gone into labour.
After signing two players early on in the summer transfer window, we await for more activity to consolidate the squad. Strikers, a right-winger and a midfielder are the much maligned topics of conversation and hope. Then there's benched players that probably don't future at the club that need to be moved on. One certainty is we have only Defoe and Kane available to start away to Newcastle United. At the time of writing it's Wednesday. It's highly improbable we'll see new arrivals before the weekend. Even if we did it wouldn't impact the squad selected to travel up north.
The fifth final bid has been made by Madrid. Might still take one more final bid to finally finalise the deal. We've spent £18M on the two players that did arrive early, so what's the hold up with our other projected targets? I can't believe we're reliant to shifting Luka out of the club to complete deals with other players. Why? Well firstly because Daniel Levy's stance is 'we're not a selling club' and that we don't look to pluck out our best players and stick 'em in the shop window. If Luka wanted to stay and Madrid still perused him, Levy wouldn't sell him. He made that clear last season. He made it clear this summer with Gareth Bale signing a new deal. Yes, we are building a new stadium and long term the club have to be vigilante and assured of how we handle our finances now and in the next five years and beyond that time period. But surely we have money to spend. Unless we don't and we're all completely missing the point of what's going on behind closed doors. Because let's face it, everything we discuss is based on breadcrumbs from the media and other sources. Perhaps it's all posturing and mind games and we read either too much or too little into it. It's funny how we dismiss some-things out of hand and yet take the next thing literally, probably because that person is reinforcing (subconsciously) an agenda.
We have to remain fiscally fit, attractive to prospective players and to the fans in the stands. We can't risk a meltdown. Is it no wonder Levy drives forward with robust shrewdness, making sure he gets the best possible deal every single time? But does his stubbornness impact detrimentally to the progress of developing the squad? I guess the arguments relate to the fact we've not signed a forward - loan deals withstanding - for several years. Which is staggering or perhaps not. Redknapp and Levy hardly saw eye to eye on transfer strategy. Adebayor is the likely signing, the second 'forward' we also wish to see concluded tends to be dressed up with media rhetoric and football fan obsessions. Leandro, Llorente, Hulk…we don't really know, we just select probable players that fit our bill of expectations and expect the club to bid for them because the back pages say so.
I'm certain we're bidding/talking to clubs. So if I'm right (I am because how could I possibly not be because being wrong would mean we're not interested in anyone which is just crazy) then much like Madrid can't agree a deal with us for Luka then surely the same issues occur elsewhere - a struggle to shake hands and put pen to paper. Or are we simply unlucky? Are the clubs we're dealing with driving a hard bargain much like our Daniel does? Good enough for us, right? Other clubs have signed their players without drama. But then, we did sign two players with no such issues (aside from the traditional 3 month medical that attaches itself to every transfer).
So either we're not offering enough (from the opposing clubs viewpoint) or we're constrained by our wage cap. Which is there for a reason. We break it for certain players but it will be budgeted or worked out through signing on fees/bonuses etc. If we start throwing money at everything that moves, the books won't balance. Do we then perhaps have to scout better, for cheaper alternatives? Are we aiming too high? But then why should we not? The players we've been linked with this summer CAN play for the club. We're hardly reaching for the stars from the depths of the ocean.
Fact remains though, the way we attempt to do our business, it means we're mostly staring into the first weekend with key areas not fleshed out with new blood.
Are we suffering for being far too business inclined with our approach work in transfers? Arguably, looking back, it's not like we've been shy in the transfer market. Under Redknapp's tenure it was wheeling dealing rather than rock'n'roll, although some of his signings worked superbly well - but were short term not long term. Is it dreamy to expect decisive conclusions to strengthen the squad, or does reality laugh back in our face calling us petulance?
We didn't get players in early last season but that didn't cost us CL football. Sure it cost us points as we searched for a forward and midfielder and attempted to deal with wantaway Luka. But the real cost came later in the season with Harry losing focus and not having the mental metal nerve to retain and order of balance to proceedings. This time round we bemoan we've not done ALL of our business early and there's no doubt if things remain as they are it will impact our preparations for the long haul. So is there blame and if so who takes their place on the naughty step? Is it truly this difficult to sign players? It certainly appears to be if the three people involved ( us, targeted player + agent, opposing selling club) don't agree in unison.
The long game is this. ENIC are an investment company. They have shareholders. The new stadium will make the club a very healthy option for someone to bid for at some point in the future, when a new chapter of ownership will begin. In the mean time, the club delete loyalty points to award supporters that have money in their pocket presently, discarding those that might have shown loyalty for 10-20 years but not in recent seasons. It's a business. It's fickle. Loyalty differs from one person to the next.
However, fans are equally fickle. Go back to our not so distant past and tickets for games were easy to come by. We had no season ticket waiting list that sat in the tens of thousands. Fans only want to see the big games and ignore some of the lesser ones (as witnessed on a number of occasions last season). This nods towards a knowing concern that a 55K + stadium might have a few empty seats, but if they're taken up by tourists the club wont waste a shrug on it. Down the road, our enemy have had to make sacrifices, on the board and off it. They've accepted a position of competing and attaining CL football and have redefined this as something that constitutes success. Although many of their fans haven't accepted the shift in ideology, even with them losing their captain every summer, they survive within the top tier by working within their means. Once they are debt free, they might afford to be more adventurous and speculative - although they've not done too badly this summer in the transfer market.
We are also working within our means. But we're not quite on that top tier, we're fighting to be part of it season in and season out. All the politics of modern football, the way we are perceived as consumers and not supporters, it's always been there, eating away at me, taking bites out of me and spitting them in my face. I have to go back to the 80s and early 90s to remember how different things were. Even if the football was frustrating at times, there was a wonderment with the experience. We got on with it no matter what. I remember the '91 season and the troubles the club had. Had we not won the FA Cup, who knows what would have happened. But get this, we'll have a bigger stadium hopefully fashioned on the old skool whilst maintaining modern design. New bricks but a closer to the pitch atmosphere, unlike many of the new skool arenas being built. And we've also got a brand new training complex. The future awaits. Only question is how we plan to get there. In a steamroller or a unicycle.
I don't know where I'm going with this, I'm trying to scratch away at the surface of something. It's an itch, it might go away or it might not and I'll end up breaking skin. In recent years football has felt as good as it did when things were far more purer and not corrupted by Sky Sports hype and money. Progression is something we love and hate, we pick and choose. There's a lot wrong with the game but there's plenty good about it too. I guess I'm trying to figure out if it's possible to support a club and be detached by the weight of expectation or whether that very weight is what gives football it's passion. You wouldn't join the army if you didn't much like the idea of combat. Without the war they'd be no need for that army.
I don't think you can support a club without getting your hands and mind dirty. It's intrinsic to it. Those very same politics that pull away at our heart strings to the tune of melancholy beats are necessary. Is it really possible to just go to the game and sing and love your team no matter what and then do the same the following week? Yes, probably. But you'll be sucked right back in again because you'll still have an opinion on something, you'll still want to share your thoughts or displeasures. It's no longer an escapism. There's just too much going on, too much coverage, commentary and commitment to the game for it to be dismissed as 'just a game' to enjoy. That element of aspiration, to be better, it comes with pressure. Without the intensity of pressure there is no true impact of progression once it's achieved.
We want success, we want it the Spurs way. It's an impossible mess of misery and magic. That's what football amounts to most of the time. Mixed emotions, highs and lows.
Christ, this rambling started off about transfer targets. The irony of it all is that all of this will be dismissed if we signed 3/4 players before deadline day. Which sort of nudges towards the fact that when you do strip it all the way (the business, the politics) it IS all about the football. It is all about the 90 minutes of THFC we get every week, home or away.
The feeling of being marginalised will only get stronger over time. It's unavoidable, complain about modern football as much as you like, it's something to face up to. It's not really our club any more. It's an entity, a brand name, a money making machine. We can't control anything associated with it. All we can do is attempt to influence our own experience and perception of how we support the team and how we enjoy match day. The essence of THFC isn't something found on some legal document in Levy's desk drawer. It's in your heart, in your voice, in your song, in your belief. It's you.
Which makes everything else is filler.