The pear-shaped cockerel will crow again
I'm still sick. My immune system, as dependable as a Brazilian goalkeeper suffering from bouts of aphephobia on any given weekend. If it wasn't enough having Death sat in the corner of my bedroom reading Playboy and periodically tapping the face of his wrist-watch, my problems are compounded. The old girl has pneumonia and I'm having to reorganise time I don't have to fit in all the other pockets of bane in my life to avoid a complete meltdown. In addition to all this drama I'm now experiencing disturbing nightmares, terrorised in my subconscious by a returning Adel Taarabt ghosting around White Hart Lane, tricking and flicking himself to a brace of goals and as many assists. I wake up screaming every night.
These are difficult times.
There isn't a match report of the Chelsea debacle because I was lost in the depths of depression at the time with football hardly at the forefront of my mind and a television nowhere in sight. Not to say I want sympathy for my Easter break that had more cracks in it than a Cadburys egg. Retain your apologies and group hugs for our rather limp run-in which has seen us surrender any genuine chance of reclaiming a Champions League spot.
Is it overly dramatic to suggest that we've surrendered it? I don't think so. I do appreciate that there are certain dynamics to arguing and debating why it's all gone pear-shaped based around the lack of forward activity in the Jan transfer window, the inconsistency with formation and tactics and one or two other plausible post-mortems. In a nutshell, you could sum it all up by perhaps siding with the uncomfortable realisation that we - Tottenham Hotspur, players and manager - gave it all up by making repeated fundamental mistakes.
This flaw in our grand design simply one that pertains to the fact we have defeated ourselves. Over and over again.
The reason the dynamics here are ambiguous is because, say for example; Arsenal could suggest if they had a decent goalkeeper and more cohesiveness at the back and perhaps took their chances they'd still be in the hunt for silverware. They are, according to their manager, so close.
Which is what we are. Had we a keeper who wasn't prone to making big mistakes at key moments. Had we a genuine world class striker. Had we retained more consistency and structure across our formation. Had we not allowed errors in officiating consume us psychologically. This isn't on the basis of our last game. Generalisation of hope lost.
So close, yet so far.
In both cases (us and the enemy), the problems might be apparent and obvious and almost feel like a final piece of the jigsaw only needs to be slotted in to complete it, but that final piece is somewhere under the sofa and nobody is bothering to push it aside and reach into the dustballs to find it.
We are close. But we are still some way off. Because signing a new keeper or a new forward and deciding on a set formation - these are missing pieces (rather than a single piece) to the puzzle and once it's complete there's no point leaving it on the table gathering dust until it's broken up and placed back into its box for someone else to solve.
Supeglue the sonofab*tch and frame it on the wall for everyone to admire. Because even with the right players and tactics, the glue that binds it altogether is still required for its final decisive completion.
Arsenal still have issues with choking and only when the pressure is off do they turn it on (see their 1-0 win over Utd). With us, perhaps it's complacency or attitude adjustment. It's all about the glue. Sellotape just wont do the job.
That extra spark of something has to be drilled into the players, that desire and hunger, that necessity to be better. Better than the rest.
Yes, it's quite disconcerting to see us drop down to 6th. Doesn't feel right does it? But then the past 15 years haven't exactly been kind to us. Not to say that just because we've had erratic progress and transitions upon transitions that it's okay for us to accept this seasons almost certain failure as one of those things and we'll be back and we'll be stronger for it.
Sure, look at the positives but it still has to be deemed an unacceptable resolution to 2011 because how else do you make sure the squad retain unity of belief and ambition and drive them forward?
We should still look to win all our remaining games. It's a lull, it's a poorly timed one (is there any ilk that's planned?) and its even one we might have got through just about okay had we not dropped all those points against 'weaker' opposition earlier in the season. But the reason we dropped those points is because we've not been good enough across several games domestically.
Not that I'll admit to defeat until its mathematically impossible. So looking ahead, what do we do?
The club has to retain its spine. The club, no matter the competition, needs to be in Europe.
We need to be decisive about the future of Woodgate and King. We have to clear out players who do not have a place as part of the squad and bring in the loaned out players that do. Sign a competitive alternative to Gomes to sharpen competition for the number one jersey. We need that forward. Dare I say we need two new forwards, with spare parts gone as part of the clear out.
Tactically, Redknapp - if stays for one more season - has to accommodate a change in his own agenda. Not a clue whether the England job is going to happen for him. No one is going to argue he looks after number one, has his own set of personal priorities and is very much a media PR manipulator and man-manager who perhaps does lack that killer killer instinct but has proved (to a certain extent) that he can also deliver. He might be self-centred, but it has still benefited us.
He has delivered, the hard way, rather than in any overly dominating fashion. Stats don't lie although they do disguise certain failings. Regardless, Harry has done a good job. What he needs to do is an outstanding one.
Very few, hand on heart, would disagree that we should have done, should be doing, far better than we are. At least that's the general consensus. But then this season has seen similar discussions with the other top tier clubs also wondering why they've not taken it by the scruff of the neck.
It's no easy task fighting for a top four place. There's a buzz about Spurs. Would be a shame to lose it. Long term, Levy should probably start working on that contingency plan. This club has to be in good nick when it's handed over to the next coach.
Perhaps our evolution does require another season of growing before we step up a further level. If there is to be no Champions League qualification this season then let there be a relentless fight for it next season. Because anything less will not be good enough.