Did Spurs just blow their best chance to win the Premier League title since...well, since forever? Or - with feet firmly grounded - did we simply fail to consolidate the squad in a key area which would eliminate any risk with the congested games ahead? We're about to hit the business end of the season. Brace yourselves.
By risk I'm of course talking about losing Harry Kane to injury or complete burn-out. Kane has been playing football since the summer. The Euros follow the domestic fixtures this year. We need new blood regardless, right? But who cares about the next window when this one shut without any decisive movement. Again.
I'll simplify it without having to write 500 words of philosophical soul searching. We need a striker to accompany and support the squad and Kane. There's a disconnection between what we need and how we've gone about trying to acquire it. Again.
Now for those 500 words. Probably a bit more than 500.
Plenty are aiming their anger at the chairman and the amount of time we've had to fix this particular problem. Roberto Soldado was a monumental flop. Kane was an accidental hero. We suffered with the inconsistency of Emmanuel Adebayor. It's not like we haven't had the players for the role, they just never made it their own. Kane the single shining light. Daniel Levy will get the usual abuse that he's failing to splash out. A slight fallacy when you consider we signed Son Heung-Min for a reported £22M.
Here's the soul searching that will no doubt be pulled apart from one extreme to the next (we don't do 'in the middle' as Spurs fans).
Even though we love to hate the Levynomics where we perpetually exist in net spend heaven, it's more than apparent that we're living the Mauricio Pochettino era rather than another managerial error. We are signing players that are fit for purpose. We're limiting the risk which considering the amount of money spent in the past is logical but not quite speculative enough. Many will tag Poch with a 'yes man' label, the perfect pasty for Levy. He never complains or talks about targets in the loud and contradictory way a Harry Redknapp would.
Does this mean he isn't at odds with Levy because he's weak or (the more likely reason is coming up) he's understanding of the time he has to make things work. Which means signing the right player even if it means having to wait. If true, that's some confidence we have in the 'project' (sorry for the p-word).
But then technically speaking, this is Year Two of the Pochettino tenure. As difficult as it might be to ignore past appointments and transfer policies, this is something new. It's a continuation of Levy's regime but it's about as clean of a reboot we've ever had. I can hear the argument against this. The suggestion that's it's simply an illusion, that this is the same old Levy and the same old Spurs with new excuses and reasoning as to why we've been left empty handed again. Is it? Exhibit A says otherwise. Look at the team, the players and all the traits we possess and tell me you don't see how vastly improved we are. That doesn't mean we can't do with some icing on our cake.
No new blood upfront doesn't make us stronger considering the position we're in and the chance to challenge we've been presented with. It can weaken us if we're weakened because of injury or burn-out.
It's a curious situation but simplistic. Might have mentioned this already: We only have one recognisable striker. Regardless of the politics of the owners and the methodology of the coach, we need another one. Everything surrounding this statement will always be a volatile area of discussion.
Moussa Dembele is a young player that will be free to sign (via a tribunal) come the summer. Fulham cancelled the transfer because they wanted him back on loan. They've prioritised his services above the £5M valuation and are willing to take a risk in retaining him for the rest of the season. Spurs, knowing this after the player allegedly had his medical with us, opted out much like Fulham did. If we remain interested, we'll be back for that tribunal.
Saido Berahino is in perpetual limbo and wants out of WBA. He doesn't quite look 100% (still scored a brace in the cup) in both mind and body and Jeremy Peace refuses to sell. Not just to us but other supposedly interested parties that bid (debatable whether they did considering there's plenty of media induced fantasy on deadline day). He's the player we wanted during the last window. Are we still keen on him? He's behaviour has been scrutinised. Some might say it's thanks to his imprisonment. Others will say he's not capable of being mature and question his mentality. Are we still keen on him? Who knows.
Would either have settled into our squad with comparative comfort at such a pivotal point of the season? I guess coming off the bench, they'd be viable options regardless of their fitness levels or form. But perhaps Spurs are so focused on conditioning that neither are considered better options than the non-striking options we have available currently. It's paradoxical. It's a fairly desperate attempt from myself to make sense of all of this. Yet Poch is smiling in press conferences and seems as casual as The Fonz smacking the side of Jukebox. Everyone else watching on is screaming something about Levy jumping the shark.
It appears we don't want to sign just any player even if any given player would do to make sure we have enough firepower between now and the end of the season. We want the right player even if it means waiting. Again. The club are okay with taking that risk.
This takes me back to the start of the season when we all felt despondent and lost in panic because we didn't have a DM. Add to it the concern about Kane and second season you know what. Yet here we are 'challenging' from the outside for the title. So this particular desperate attempt to make sense of it would be that the unexpected might be surprising for us but is simply the product of the hard work the team are putting in.
If you're going to suggest luck, only really decent teams seem to have it. So yeah, we're very decent so deal with it. We're going to be even better. Just not this season. Maybe. We might be regardless of the imperfections the club appear to be accepting. How costly will it be? Tune in end of season.
You could point towards the team scoring goals, not just from the feet of Kane. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts. That's not my philosophy, it's theirs. Poch an company.
Once again, the hard way is the only way is the Spurs way.
unedited version of my Metro article