Make me smile, make me cry
The best league in the world is back. I know this because Sky is telling me with edited snippets of iconic goal glory, interspersed by a narrating Henry (it's on par with Jar Jar Binks in terms of hate). It's back, regardless of the tag-line, and the brand new season is about to take its usual monumental dump over the Tottenham Hotspur landscape like a diarrheatic King Kong missing Imodium.
A bolstered Manchester United await at Old Trafford, ready to blood their star name signings whilst we discuss with serious endeavour, squad number allocation. Lennon and Adebayor don't have a shirt. Soldado has the number nine. But don't fret because soon you'll all be able to complain about the actual football rather than complaining about the preparation for the actual football.
In all seriousness, it remains a touch disconcerting that we are always willing to sacrifice the early games, extending our pre-season into the fixture list, whilst we look to add decisive depth. But, well you know...this *is* Tottenham. Even with a hefty summer spending spree, there are no guarantees - so, sod it. Who cares? Honestly, who does? We've worked through so many blueprints for success, I'm happy to let one game at a time slap me in the face whilst we wait and see how this attempt pans out. It's a very numb face that has pretty much become immune to a bloody nose and black eyes thanks to plentiful smack downs.
Many have argued that Pochettino should have got us playing to an acceptable level (whatever that is meant to be) with the squad we had because 'that's what good coaches can do' (then cite Koeman at Southampton). But take a look back. He did just that. Unspectacular and about as sexy as two tramps blowing each other, but we did well considering his first season was to review and test the tools he had to work with. Look at the players that have been shifted out this summer. The 'many' I refer to can perhaps now explain how anyone can do any better with hindsight proving those gone players were below par for most of the 2015 season. Misfits don't make a team, no matter the quality of coach some desire. Going forward, Poch has to decide on the pressing and whether that's going to be a fundamental building block we return to (as the foundations never truly set).
I've blogged a few times in the summer about expectations around players we require and the problematic nature of our transfer policy and available targets - which makes it far more difficult to sign the right players (as opposed to spunking £100M with comparative ease). It's not worth going over again. In a nutshell, my expectancy is for us to simply play football that is (or should be) synonymous with Spurs. This being the decent version of Spurs. Bit of flair, aggression in attack and a strong home record. I like to compare this 'dream' to the King/Modric/Bale/van der Vaart side but prefer not to dwell on the fact we don't have anywhere near as many galvanising stars in our squad (we're average in comparison).
Add our decent away form of recent seasons into the mix and things aren't that bad. They're obviously light years away from being world class but then what do we expect when the rich pluck all the quality? Caveat: Yes, us (the soon to be departing Franco Baldini, Dan Levy and AVB) are all accountable for the mess that followed Bale's departure. I keep mentioning this because it killed our momentum dead and birthed last seasons transition. You can't accept the mistakes and lay blame and then expect the person inheriting it to somehow make it all disappear like there's no mistake there.
So here we are and here I am. We'll know soon enough if we have enough about us to claim that lost identity. We'll know exactly how strong we'll be for the run to the new year once the deadline day passes. We'll even see how much of a risk it is to retain the services of Soldado. Then there's the conundrum that is the leprostatic Lamela. A fragile man child, like the kid in the playground that could nutmeg and flick the ball with finesse that always ends up having his dinner money mugged off him. Many questions remain answered. Is having one creative outlet (Eriksen) enough? Can Chadli raise his game? Do we have enough quality in width? Can our defence settle? Is Kane going to be our only goal-getter?
I do hope for tangible progression in that search for style. It can't be all experimental now. There has to be a template of tactics that will simply need refinement as we go from one week into the next, juggling Europe and the league. The pressure is on. Our top performers have to keep on performing. The kids will need protecting. Consistency and rotation are key. We'll know - ignoring all the usually screams for top four or cup finals - that success will be measured by that sense of pride and emotive exhilaration that has to first be awakened within us. We - the fans - have also lost our identity.
So onwards THFC. Make me smile, make me cry, I'll be here, without fear.