How many times did you give up last season?
How many times did you give up last season? I know some of the knee-jerkers amongst us probably gave up after we got trounced by three of the top four early season. After that, there was possibly a further five or six times that fourth was deemed 'out of reach'. Yet, we persevered and dug deeper than ever. Sure, I had some minor moments of doubt. Who wouldn't with our history of choking? But I sang on this here blog many times about the virtues of belief. The impossible dream became a reality and now, as we fast approach EPL 2011, there appears to be something eerie about the start of this brand new season.
It's almost like Neo from the Matrix has slowed things down, so much so that he's fallen asleep on the sofa, cup of tea on table, slippers falling off his feet.
Is it the despairing World Cup England had or the fact that the transfer marker remains in a comatose state? I'm not feeling the pressure. Perhaps I've yet to be bitten by the bug. I'm not nervous. More pragmatic. But heart ready to be placed on sleeve. I'll explain...
Purely from a THFC standpoint, it's in our nature to be at times (LOL) pessimistic. It's a defensive stance. In fact, for many people regardless of club colours, discussing and then assuming the worst allows them to prepare for it. Just in case. It's not exactly wearing your heart on your sleeve because you are in essence protecting yourself from the big fail. And some of our fickle faithful are guilty as charged. Although that 1-0 up at Eastland's had me biting my hands off such was the intensity of the occasion. But I'm not talking about one off games. I'm talking about our ambitions for the season ahead. Our mentality. As individuals and a collective (a rather famous thread over at one Spurs forum at the start of last season spoke about relegation fears. No joke).
Ostrich with head in sand is so yesteryear. Where's the peacock showing off its plumage?
We have more or less the same squad of players that got us into 4th with some slight improvements, yet you'd think we are somehow weaker for it. Not saying everyone is thinking this way, but I guess there is concern over why we've not strengthened massively considering that after years of trying we've cracked the big time. Consolidate, right? Buy big. Draft in a superstar. Make a statement to everyone. Close the gap further.
Well, that would be good if there was actually some viable affordable players out there. We need some tinkering in some areas, one or two players to make sure the squad is beefed up for our two main priorities, but no major surgical work is required. Botox rather than a nose job - Although liposuction might be an unavoidable treatment (out with the excess). Anyways, the priorities:
1) Finish in the top 4
2) Get into the CL group stages and enjoy it
All eyes will be on City again because of money spent. Man Utd and Chelsea will be the title favourites, although neither are exactly worlds apart from the chasing pack. Arsenal are becoming more and more like us. Pretty football, no end product, and no silverware (well, not completely like us then). Liverpool - who knows? They might find the resolve to fight it through till the end much like we did. Back to basics for them, might just work. Villa you can probably discount what with the goings on there at the moment. Everton could be the dark horses as they seem to duck and duck in and out of challenging the top tier. They are due one.
So, not much has really changed. This season is going to be last season with a couple of extra bells on it. There has been no mammoth game-changing factors introduced. If you're going to say City, they've had another influx of players - need to let some go and will probably need to re-shuffle and find their feet...again. Their chances concerning 4th might well be dependent on the form of the teams around them...again. If they do power themselves into the top four places early doors, then we might find ourselves with genuine fragmentation. Well, depending on the club they replace. I'll let you decide what's better for football. City in the top 4 or Liverpool. I'd say I'd be happy with both as long as Arsenal finish 5th and we finish above them.
Back to our challenge of finishing top 4 - we've made it there the once. We know what it takes. We've learnt some valuable lessons in defeat. We found new levels of performance and grit. We have experience and application we've not seen before. We finished 4th, we didn't win a medal for it, but there comes a maturity from the achievement that will serve us well this season. This season is not a transitional season. We simply seek consistency. Continued structure. We know where we need to improve and we know our strengths and how to use them. The trick is to look forwards not back.
All we need to do is believe.
The doubt, I think, sits with the concern that if we lose one or two key players we might struggle with competing in both the league and the CL. Last season, we - at any given moment - missed key player(s). It's mouth-watering if we avoid injuries, to have the likes of Modric, Lennon etc all season long with others (Bale anyone?) firing on all cylinders too. That's probably my only concern. I'd welcome a talisman of a forward - but I'd say a couple of new squad players just to make sure we are never left short is a vital to our plans.
The progression of Harry Redknapp's Tottenham goes on. So, perhaps my particular eerie feeling has to do with being confident, more so than pessimistic. I'm not fazed. Neither should our players be.
One thing I'd like to see is for us to win a Prem game away to one of the 'Sky Top 4'. It's not the moon on a stick. It's three points.