Dear Mr Levy,
I’d thank you for the grapes but you haven’t sent me any.
Here I am, lying in my hospital bed, typing out this letter on my Sony Vaio. I am not bitter. Or regretful. If it wasn’t for that bloke in the tree then you would surely be congratulating me for a job well done. Instead, we face the prospect of losing Berbatov to Manchester United and the decimation of our club will continue in earnest. I tried. You can’t blame me for that. But it’s questionable why I had to intervene to help the clubs diminishing ego in the first place.
Get your house in order. Each summer you manage to out-do yourself. Just when I think we’ve gone through the final depressing mire, you manage to conjure up another hellmouth of disillusion and disappointment. If I wanted coco-pops I’d have coco-pops, so stop taking a dump in my bowl of corn flakes because I’m sick of you turning the milk chocolatey.
Don’t bin this letter just yet. I haven't completely written us off. In fact, I’m confident for the season ahead, but the cracks you’ve failed to fill are telling and might cost us dear. And this is where the disillusion and disappoint fester. We take one step forward, but then take a step back again before moving forward. Then we repeat it. It’s the perpetual dance of the never ending transition, like Michael Flatley on ketamine.
Robbie Keane is gone. You’ve sold our very own Garrincha to Liverpool, a side we should be targeting to replace in the Top Four. You’ve weakened us and made them stronger by giving them our best player. Keane was the spark that ignited our attacks. The mouth that shouted encouragement. The scorer of great goals. Our consistent twenty-a-season goal scorer. He was our genius. The way he would always try that trick, you know the one, where he pretends to clean his boots behind the goal only to sneak up behind the keeper and attempt to steal the ball away from him. That one time it worked years and years ago, brilliant, just brilliant! It’s like that moment Pele almost scores from the half-way line – unforgettable! But it’s better because it’s so cheeky. Irish charm like that can’t have a price stamped on it. But the moment his boyhood club (not Celtic, his other boyhood club) reveal their interest in him, he decides to go. His decision made faster than you can say ‘transfer request’. If we had kept him we could have made the Champions League and earned the millions from qualification instead. But no, we accept a charity donation, drop the accusations of tapping up and let him go to Anfield. Would Man Utd let Rooney leave? Would Arsenal let van Persie depart? Would Chelsea allow Drogba to walk away? Of course not. They are all irreplaceable, much like Keane was. Their clubs would not even listen to any offers. But us? Every time, we lube up and bend over for one of the big boys to shaft us good and proper. Liverpool must be laughing their heads off getting Keane for £20M. Laughing their heads off.
And how do we replace our vice-captain? We appoint Jenas in his place and compound this by offering him a new contract. Which he signs. I once famously said that whilst Dave Mackey would run through a brick wall for Tottenham, Jenas would attempt to go through the front door, notice he has no keys and then apologetically spend the night on a park bench crying. These days Jenas avoids the front door altogether and prefers to climb onto the roof and play the fiddle until the strings snap and then climb down the chimney and make his way into the deepest darkest corner in the basement, shivering like a leaf. Making Jenas vice-captain is like asking Amy Winehouse to quit drinking. It’s a redundant idea. She’ll quit when she’s dead. Amy needs a slap. Jenas needs a slap too. Are you going to slap him Daniel? Is Ramos going to slap him? I’ve tried slapping him, but the boy can run. And once he’s in his Bentley, there’s no way of catching up. Not on my Grifter. How will he inspire others when he can’t inspire himself? Or should I have faith and brace myself for another ‘this will be his season’ season for the third successive season?
Excuse me for a minute. The nurse is here to give me a sponge bath.
Oh yeah. Mmmmm. Baby, lower, lower…that’s the spot. Right there. Ooh, it tickles.
Where was I?
Right, then we have the Sunderland fiasco. Steed, Chimbonda and TT all sold to the Mackems because we want to keep Rocha, Lee, Ghaly and Stalteri just in case we need cover in key positions.
Kaboul rejected Roy Keane preferring instead Harry Redknapp. The only time there’s an earthquake in Portsmouth is when Harry drops a brown envelope. Should have gone to Sunderland Younis. You’ll look world class up there. I have no qualms about this particular transfer other than why was Comolli not thrown in as a bonus. Thrown into the Thames. £8M is what we spent on Kaboul. When we scouted him, what exactly did we see that was worth £8M? His inability to defend? His lack of coordination?
Comolli. Specsavers. Both avoiding each other with the perseverance of Marty McFly dodging his mother’s flirting back in the 50’s.
And on the subject of defenders, how is it that Ledley King is always stumbling out of Faces, trousers half way down his arse, absolutely bladdered with the addition of a textbook ugly munter and bouncers arms all perfectly captured in a Kodak moment for the ever present Evening Standard? The latest incident happened a few days back. It’s practically choreographed. Preparation for the new season going well I take it? We then have our esteemed manager talking about King as if we don’t know whether he will last the season out. Nothing new here. The bloke obviously has major issues. For a start, his choice in belts is woeful. Go to Top Man and pick yourself up a nice little number. Something that preserves your dignity when you’ve had one too many. And for God’s sake, try something different. Faces is an abomination. Ask John Terry for some alternative drinking establishments and some etiquette do’s and don’ts. Get with the program Ledley and start behaving like a professional footballer.
Ok, let’s momentarily leave the negativity and try to concentrate on the positivity. Because regardless of the fact that I don’t think everything is perfect, you might have fluked yourself a 5th spot placement. Or maybe even 4th. I know. It’s not often I feel encouraged and even though there is still an abundance of hurdles to jump, this summer hasn’t been a complete disaster.
Paul Robinson. The Park Lane’s favourite son is gone. No more chants of ‘England’s number one’ or ‘the ball…the ball, you’re meant to catch it not watch it…oh Christ no, it’s gone in. Again. Why God Why?’. What grand loyalty we have shown him, honouring the long term contract he signed by selling him two seasons later. I jest. The moment he lost form we let him lose it further down the back of the career sofa until all he could find was fluff. And at that point, we discarded him. It was the right thing to do. Blackburn have been practically relegated with this signing. Robinson was the epitome of our progression. We excel beyond expectations; believe in our own hype and then falter embarrassingly. We should have dropped him faster than he drops a cupcake for a doughnut. His Atkins diet was a commendable effort on his part, but made little impact on his performances. I wish him well for the future.
So roll up the next victim of the curse. We now have alleged world-class Brazilian Gomes between the sticks which I’m hoping means no more goals conceded from 30 yards out. Be warned there’s no guarantee of that not happening, because there will be no stopping the shots coming in from that distance thanks to our resident midfield general Zokora who’s idea of closing players done consists of the Tibetan mind trick of wishing the ball away from the opposition player simply by thinking about it. There are people who sit on the back row of the West Stand that get closer to the ball than Zokora. Gomez has his work cut out this season. But it’s ok because he’s gonna hang from the goal bar before kick-off, psyching himself and the fans up. ‘Brazils number one, Brazils Brazils number one’.
Modric is our midfield saviour in an attacking form. Our brand new creative spark. But it’s a bit like having Cannon with no Ball. Little with no Large. He needs a defensive midfielder of true class partnering him in the centre of the park. It’s ok to get excited about his ability but why hasn’t the most vital part of the jigsaw been completed? Skinny small lad is our Modric, but a tough nut having played in the brutal Bosnia and Herzegovina Premier League. He’ll handle himself I’m sure, but he’ll need protection. I am privileged to have him at our club for the next two seasons, and wish him well when he signs for Man Utd.
Our other lickle midfielder is the Mexican dos Santos who seems to be doing rather well in pre-season. How exactly have we managed to steal the new Ronaldinho from Barcelona? This surely is our very own Fabregas moment. A new diamond in our crown jewel. He’s going to be amazing for us; you can tell he has the skills. One standing foot, and one kicking foot – there’s no way he will be out of his depth in England. I hate to praise Comolli, but he might have struck gold for the first time. Gio will do for us what Lennon has. Mazzy, dinking runs. Dribbles. Goals, dummies and shimmies. Wednesday evening kick-offs in the pouring cold rain? Close your eyes Gio, and it’s the Camp Nou. Be sure to open them before Konchesky lunges in.
We’ve also spent £15M and a bit on David Bentley. The Manchester United supporting Spurs fan. Legend. A player shifted out of Arsenal by Wenger for very little who now find themselves with a £7M windfall. Who’s laughing now? We decimated Roma, runners-up in Serie A last weekend, and our new winger notched a brace. For me this is the benchmark. If we can dismantle Roma who are two weeks behind English clubs in preparation for the new season but runners-up in Italy, then we can surely beat the big clubs in the Prem and the mediocre clubs away from home. Ramos has done it already. All those poor performances after the Carling Cup Final are irrelevant now. The new-look Spurs have been tested substantially this pre-season and it’s all coming together. Bentley will score and create and give us something different. Like crosses. I remember seeing one of them back when Waddle starred for us. Doesn’t even matter that Bentley played for them lot. We at Spurs will get behind him, regardless of form, and give him the type of support we gave Carrick when he signed from West Ham. We are salt of the earth like that. And if he doesn’t perform at all, then I’ll PM and post ‘FAO’ threads on a Spurs forum venting my anger at his publicity seeking mate.
Gardner has joined Hull for £2.5M. Gardner has left for Hull. Hull sign Gardner for club record. No more Gardner. Anthony departs Spurs for £2.5M. Hull sign Spurs defender. Anthony sent to Hull on Gardening leave. Spurs make £2.5M on Gardner move to Hull. Gardner in three year Hull deal. Gone to Hull. No matter how you say it and how many times you repeat it, you just can’t seem to believe it. Now and again you do surprise me Daniel with these shrewd business deals. For this, no egg throwing when you next visit Tescos. I promise you only profanities.
But alas, the positivity ends here. Let’s move onto Corluka. This particular debacle made me dizzy. Did we bid for him? Did he have a medical? Did he sign a contract? Was any of the tabloid talk and ITK forum whispers anywhere close to the truth? He’s still a City player and we still don’t have a centre-back, which means all our hopes our firmly on Woodgate and King to remain fit. Christ, we’re sitting on a egg volcano that’s about to erupt yolk. And you know where it’s going to settle? All over our faces. The entirety of the summer months and we wait until the end of it to attempt to pay almost £8M for a player who isn’t brilliant, but half decent and would work well as cover. But we don’t actually conclude the deal. For £8M surely we can buy a couple of decent CB’s for cover or just one accomplished CB – because let’s face it - King won’t be playing every game. And Dawson, who can’t seem to play at all if he isn’t partnered up with King wouldn’t be the promising alternative. The lean slim new look Huddlestone doesn’t have the speed or mobility. Unless you stick him in that Formula One car. One out of two ain’t bad going.
As for the Keane replacement and the replacement for Berbatov (that’s two positions, yes?) we have brought in nothing. Darren Bent is our sole striker. Arshavin appears to be our sole target. Is this a summers worth of preparation? We managed to splash £16.5M last season on Bent, surely we can do the same this season? Why have we not signed Arshavin? I know Zenit have moved the goal-posts on their asking price, but with Keane gone there is no need to wait for Berbatov to also depart. If Zenit want £20M, pay them £20M. He looked exceptional in Euro 2008, in that one game. Not so much in the other one but that’s not the point. That one goal celebration where his arms are held up and his head slanted shows this guy also has marketable qualities. A baby-face assassin. The Russian hit man. Not that I would personally buy anything from the Spurs Shop of course. But I know you won’t miss a trick. We must move quickly to beat Barcelona to his signature. Real quick, before they steal in to snatch him up. I know in the past we got burnt with the Rebrov signing and Postiga also, but this is different because we wouldn’t make the same mistake twice. How will he fit into the team? Who knows? But he’s been linked to us for so long if we don’t sign him, it will feel like we’ve lost a player. It’s like Kuyt all over again.
Which brings us to Berbatov. The big kick off is just days away and the Sulk is still stropping his way around the pitch and training ground. Which is where I found myself the other day. At the Lodge. With the Premier League deciding there is not enough evidence to make a decision on Ferguson’s alleged tapping up of Berbatov, everyone is claiming it’s now a done deal waiting to happen. I was more than happy to see my visit to Chigwell was not a wasted one. Because my being there would only be productive if Dimitar was also present. It brought much delight to this urban guerilla. Although at the time I did not foresee it all ending in tears.
The Berbatov saga has dragged on longer than Cliff Richard’s celibacy. It has to come to an end. It’s boring, bland and unnatural and nobody can take it any longer. For the love of God, I need to know! We all need to know! Is he gay, straight, bi, asexual? Why the obsession with Christmas songs? Was Sue Barker a good shag? As for Berbatov, this particular saga also requires a sight is in end. Once again we wait for another nail to be hammered into our coffin. First Carrick. Then Keane. And next Berbatov. A feeder club to the Top 4. Shaking your fist in anger, writing letters to the authorities expecting this to somehow appease us is not going to work. We need to halt this conveyor belt of doom.
Where Ferguson can stand his ground with Ronaldo, we pretend to do the same thing, rejecting bids and looking the other way, knowing full well that we will sell him with seconds to go in the transfer window without a replacement lined-up. But why should we even consider selling him even though the player wants out? Show some bottle and initiative Levy! Buck the trend, even if it costs us - otherwise they will continue to take our players. But alas, you’d prefer us to be mugged off publicly, again.
Hospital food being served up. Excellent. This is like dropping a kebab on the pavement and watching a dog lick it before picking it up and hiding the hairs and fleas by running back into the takeaway to ask for more chilli sauce. Is this mash potato or boiled cabbage? I can’t tell.
So anyway, that’s why I found myself at the Lodge. I decided that the fate of the club serves best to sit in the palms of a loyal supporter. We cannot be bullied by the likes of Manchester United any longer, and with the Prem League turning a blind eye (much like they did when Scudamore failed to act when half our team almost died prior to that West Ham match) someone outside the constraints of official rules and regulations has to tip the balance in our favour.
When Berbs turned up for training, I quizzed myself whether he was simply there to clear out his locker and say goodbye to each of his reflections in all of the mirrors found within the complex. Then he appeared on the turf, kicking a ball and it was soon obvious there was not a whiff of a Utd medical on the horizon. Which meant Operation Nuts could commence. It was simple really. Waiting for one of our inept players to give him a hammy so he’s out for a month would be a waste of time. Which meant the responsibility was with me.
Injure Berbatov, force Utd to look elsewhere. Purchase Arshavin before the deadline. Berbs remains, regains fitness and rejoins the first team as we propel ourselves into a Champs League spot.
I’ve spent most of the summer conducting secret tests, planning out every second of this masterplan. Many badgers have died as I’ve streamlined the operation to perfection. But with practice over, it's was now time to put it into motion aiming for a satisfactory end result. The Bulgarian must sit on the treatment table long enough to keep him beyond the transfer window closure and by Christmas, his heart might find its way back to us.
But you’ll be disheartened to know this was no smooth execution. In fact it was an unmitigated disaster. This was Spurs v Arsenal, 1971 all over again. Gut wrenching.
I waited for Berbatov to walk towards his car after training was concluded. I was perfectly camouflaged. Security out of sight, no other players present. My secret box of surprise ready to be opened. Pandora, stand back.
I jumped out of my hiding place, startling the Bulgarian, and proceeded to throw a balloon full of Red Bull at him. It exploded on impact.
Operation Nuts – Bulgarian Balloon Burst was a success. The ‘it went to shit’ bit was to follow directly after this. As Berbs stood there, shrugging as if Lennon had just misplaced another pass, I opened the box.
Twenty three squirrels, all suffering from caffeine withdrawal, primed for the attack. The second they catch the whiff of Red Bull on Berbatov…nothing will stop them. You’d think that force-feeding squirrels carbonated energy drink for two weeks and then depriving them of it for several days would have a desirable effect. A vicious army of fluffy tailed warriors, ready to do anything for a fix, lunging forwards towards the soaked target.
Almost like karmatic sabotage, it went to shit.
There was no forward lunging. They heard branches being ruffled and the over-whelming desire to return to the wild and ignore the Red Bull was too strong for their confused minds. I should have got hold of some Charlie instead, but my budget only catered for the jittery drink. Crack whore squirrels would not have shown such insubordination.
All of them, in unison, turned their backs on Berbatov and their beastmaster and run towards a tree, preferring the clean country air and the imminent shakes of going cold turkey. Obviously all I could do was follow my rodent army before security were alerted, leaving Berbatov bemused by the whole incident.
In addition there was no chance in hell I was gonna let the little buggers escape. It took me the best part of the summer to capture them and train them. Ten hours a day, intensive re-programming, attack formations and don’t get me started on the scratch marks I got from the bottle-feeding.
They were born for this day. They utterly ruined the Red Bull soaked effigy of Berbatov, ruined it. And what they did to those badgers still keeps me awake at night. Doherty, one particularly ginger squirrel with a Hannibal complex, was oh so vicious. My favourite. The other squirrels were hippies in comparison. We formed a bond. The way we both foamed in the corner of our mouths made me believe that nothing would stop us from succeeding.
And yet there I was, standing at the foot of the tree with the little blighters running up it. And there right at the tip of one of the highest branches was a bloke, binoculars in one hand and a notepad and crayon in the other.
“What the paxton are you doing up there?”
“I can see Arsh!! You haven’t got a laptop with a network connection on you?”
“Look, I’m just after the squirrels. I’m not interested in what you can see, you pervert. You want to see arse, get yourself a girlfriend or visit a sauna. The one in Stratford is pretty good.”
“You’re sick, do you know that? Just keep your voice down and don’t scare my squirrels”
“It’s Arshavin!! ARSHAVIN!! MEDICAL!! MED…I…CAAAAAAAAAL!!”
“For God’s sake, the squirrels man, the squirrels!”
He wouldn’t stop screaming. And with all the shrieking, seconds later led by Doherty, the squirrels grouped into attack formation delta-b and savaged him. What they should have done to Dimitar they were doing to this lost soul up in a tree. I was actually quite proud. Ok, it wasn’t the intended target, and he smelt more of Burger King than Red Bull, but attack formation delta-b is still attack formation delta-b. Direct and decisive.
Before I could take out my N95 and video the glorious moment for youtube, he fell from the tree, body terrorised by my brethrens, and landed on top of me.
The squirrels scattered into the wild. Maybe it was the concussion but I’m sure Doherty winked at me as he trotted off to a neighbouring tree. I’ll never forget that fluffy tail. Berbatov had long since driven off home. And having broken his fall, my binocular carrying friend scarpered away, with a squirrel or two still attached to his arse.
And here I am. In hospital. A few broken ribs, bruises…other battle injuries. Something about a viral zoonotic neuroinvasive disease. Nothing to worry about I'm sure. I’ll be on my feet in no time and discharged hopefully before Saturday.
And that’s when all the hopes of all Spurs fans rest on the opening fixture of the season. A summers worth of analysis and conjecture replaced by fact. 90 minutes of football. One step of 38 to be taken.
I don’t want grapes now. Just the three points.