It ought to be thoroughly lovely to be back in the swing of the Premiership, what with our blistering form and the carrot of a European place; but I have to confess that the prospect scares the bejesus out of me.It ought not be thus. On paper we’re the form team in the Premiership. Performances and results throughout March simply got better and better. Optimism at the Lane – and AANP Towers – reached levels hitherto unheard of, to the extent that at half-time vs Chelski we found ourselves in the unlikely position of genuinely believing we could go on and win. And then we went out and there and ruddy well did win. There really ought to be good reason to approach Blackburn away with a measured confidence.
Nevertheless, I’m sick with worry. We stumbled upon that rarest of commodities at White Hart Lane – consistency – but before we had time to become acquainted just about everyone in the squad lolloped out of the door, headed off to airports and began acclimatising to completely different sets of team-mates. The wretchedly-timed international break has gone and destroyed our momentum, and torn to shreds my confidence.
I can’t help but fret that things will never be the same now. It’s like getting back together with an ex after she – or you – ran off with someone else. It’s like the return of Robbie Keane. It’s like waiting years for a sequel to Terminator 2, and then watching, aghast, as Terminator 3 unfolds.
It’s no good pretending that nothing has happened since the last time we were all together, and that everything is tickety-boo. There was a hiatus, everyone disappeared for a while – and now I’m terrified that we’re going to be rubbish again.
Clean Bill of Health (Apart From Bent, Which Really Doesn’t Matter Too Much)
Fabio Capello’s perplexing decision to withdraw Lennon after 55 mins on Weds has worked in our favour.
Even more bizarrely, Modric was an unused substitute for Croatia that night. The Croatian midfield must be the best in the history of world football if they can afford to leave out Modric, but again, it’s to our benefit.
I was having cold shivers at the thought that Wilson Palacios would hang back in Latin America to mount a Rambo-style rescue mission for his poor sod of a brother, who is apparently still being held for ransom by kidnappers. Again however, it appears that he’s back and fighting fit, with only jet-lag and duty-free allowance to bother him.
In fact, the only injury worry seems to be Darren Bent, and with the best will in the world I think we’ll cope.
Indeed, in the finest tradition of a school trip abroad, we’ve actually come back with more player than we had before, as Alan Hutton is now available for selection.
Don’t Mind Blackbrun; Can’t Stand Allardyce
Not only does Allardyce peddle a style (I use the term loosely) of football that’s the complete antithesis of easy-on-the-eye, glory glory, all-action-no-plot, champagne football – but he seems to delight in doing so. And then he started insisting that he should be England manager. We ought all to have been rolling in the aisles at that, but the regressive fools at the FA came within a whisker of giving him the job. (Before proving their acumen and appointing Steve McLaren instead.)
I’m not sure I could have coped with the pain of seeing the likes of Joe Cole and Rooney have the talent sucked out of them by Allardyce, with Kevin Davies becoming the mainstay of attack and the concept of “playing the ball into space” involving its launch into orbit.
I don’t just hope we beat his lot tomorrow, I hope we do so playing football so luxurious and free-flowing that it ought to be a shampoo advert. Being exposed to that sort of thing would probably make his skin burn, like a vampire in sunlight. Gasping for breath he’d have to crawl home and watch old DVDs of Wimbledon in the early 90s, to restore himself to health.
Anyway, I hope and pray that we’ll simply pick up where we left off, but have a sickening dread that our season might trail away in the next few weeks, beginning tomorrow at Blackburn, and against Allardyce of all people.