Interesting article over at the Guardian that's worth a couple of minutes of your time regarding Daniel Levy and the Champions League. Click here to read it and then browse your way back to this blog.
Okay, so on the one hand you can say well done Levy for being pragmatic. There will never be any potential for us to do a Leeds United. We need to be less speculative based on the ground redevelopment (no more £15M Bentleys parked up in the garage), but still improve our squad depth with each passing season.
On the other hand, you wonder whether bigger risks should be taken/should have been taken. Because sometimes they just work (Cantona anyone?). But then this is an ambiguous and multi-layered discussion. What is classed as a risk - calculated or otherwise? I'd say appointing Harry - and look at how that worked out for us. van der Vaart? Risk? I'd say so. But one that you wouldn't shrug at because of his quality.
In relative terms to immediate ambitions, yes it would have been grand for us to sign a world class striker in the last transfer window, but if the players are neither available or affordable - there is no a lot we can do. Harry did try for Bellamy (love him or hate him). It's not like we blanked out the area that is so desperate for that next level addition. Cautious is the word of the moment.
I do however find what he's (Levy) saying tinged with apologetic undertones. Now don't get on my case, I'm not being critical. He's the chairman, thinks of the football, but runs the club like a well oiled business machine. I've said it already. He's being pragmatic. Look over the road to the swamp, with their controlled debt, and note how they are managing the fact they don't have a lot of disposal cash available to them (although Wenger hardly ever spends on the same level as many other clubs). The point is, they have one eye on the present and the other on the future, and are not looking to sacrifice either (Wenger's are permanently shut, but that's neither here or there).
It's a balancing act. It's what we need to do - it's what Levy is doing. But because we sit looking upwards, there is just as much pressure for a team wanting to get there as there is for a team that's already there holding on for dear life. It might not work out for them. Mainly because of clubs like ourselves and City and others who have something tangible to aim for which is not beyond the realms of impossibility. But it's up to us to make that effort.
I do get it, finishing top 4 is no easy task and there is no shame with losing out and we might find that the next 2-4 years consists of some clubs (hopefully us) sharing CL football. As long as we are competitive and go into the season challenging and looking to improve and keep up and obviously over-take (that has to be the next step once we find the right level of upper tier consistency).
The EPL might never have another monopoly. The new order might be 6-8 clubs going for 4 positions, year in year out. It would make it a far more even playing field. But this is just theory. No one can be certain of progression or implosion. It's also a risk in itself to just be content with steady progress, without that special in-house ethic of giving it something extra and unexpected. Because if you don't, you'll never know.
We can just accept the EPL is going to yo-yo for the foreseeable future, or we can give ourselves lofty ambitions, dream, and then make those dreams a reality. Again.
Champions League is not the be all or end all. For a start, it's not the bread and butter. But the more you get of it, the more likely you get to consolidate your position up there in the domestic heavens. Which means you can start dreaming of that one thing that is currently beyond the reach of almost all but two.
The crux of it is simple. If you strip all this away, you, me, us, expectancy, past, present, future, the dynamics of football, hierarchy, money...we should be left with this and only this:
"It is better to fail aiming high than to succeed aiming low. And we of Spurs have set our sights very high, so high in fact that even failure will have in it an echo of glory."
- Bill Nicholson
There is no point sitting in the corner, legs pulled up to stomach, rocking backwards and forwards staring into space, scared and worried about the what ifs. What if we lose? What if we get thrashed? What if we're not good enough? Dry them.
Stand up, stand tall, sing your heart out till your gums bleed and then sing some more.
It's only a group game, right? It's not a Cup final, yeah? Let's not giddy, k? Keep those feet firmly on the ground. Yeah, well, no. Hearts on our sleeves. It's the only way.
Players, fans, everyone associated with the club from newborn babies dressed up in colours who don't yet have a clue about the emotional upheaval their fathers suffer to the OAP's who remember push and run and the original glory nights...embrace history, embrace expectancy. Give it a warm hug, say your hellos...then clothesline the sonofab*tch.
To dare is to f***ing do. Let's get this show on the road.