Typically the wafer-thin bases for this argument are a fairly unnecessary spending spree; rampant (but entirely irrelevant) pre-season form; and the rather unscientific assumption, more commonly found in six year-olds, that if you repeat a lie often enough you can start to believe that it’s actually true!!! The backdrop to all of this wretched, blind insistence of imminent glory is the sound of breathless snuffling, as fans of all other English clubs – plus that French lot from Woolwich – roll around the aisles doubled up with laughter, and waiting for the inevitable.
All a bit different this time round, however.
I have generally been a touch reluctant to lavish praise upon our heroic leader, but am quietly impressed with the way ‘Arry has gone about methodically dampening pre-season expectations at every opportunity. For a start, talk of breaking the top four has been pretty taboo. The company line has generally been that that the top six is possible, albeit tricky. Admittedly one or two of the players have deviated slightly from this (Peter Crouch being a case in point – but as his interviews are so full of bland, soulless clichés I doubt that he believes – or is even aware of – a word he says in front of the cameras). Generally, expectations are being kept tightly in check, and it makes a pleasant change. In public at least, top six is the goal (even if, by virtue simply of being Spurs fans, we all secretly believe at this time of the year that we will hit the top four).
The summer’s transfer policy has also been curiously sensible. Naughton, Crouch, Bassong – none are particularly glamorous, or even necessarily improvements upon what we already have. However, these signings suggest that there is an obvious policy in place, of strengthening the squad and improving competition for places. These buys are a far cry from the eye-catching but slightly unfathomable big-money buys of recent years (Bent and Bentley, I’m looking at you two). Moreover, unlike in recent years, we have managed to retain the services of our key players. Where we failed to hang on to Carrick, Berba and Keane, this time it seems certain that we will have another full season of Modders and Palacios. The sale of Zokora ought not to be mourned, for this is a squad evolving in a positive, progressive manner.
Even our pre-season form, usually so misleadingly irresistible, has had a few blips. Out-played by Barca, and beaten by Celtic and South China – not results which will have the slightest bearing on our Premiership form, but again handy in putting a lid on expectations, at a time when we will normally use any excuse to yelp “Top Four” in the middle of conversation.
The Official AANP Line
So where does this leave us? Aiming for the top six seems fair. It’s not a given, as Everton, Villa and Man City are probably all wittering away similar sentiments in scouse, brum and manc. However, failure to finish higher than two of these three would be pretty disappointing, and could well signal a cheery “adios” from Modders and/or Palacios. Best not contemplate that just yet.
Fourth, for the sake of argument? Having lost a key centre-back and striker there’s a case to be made for l’Arse struggling to hold on to fourth, but frankly I don’t want to put myself through the trauma of trumpeting about how this will be our season, and then watching in horror as Two Points Eight Games, or something similar, unfolds. Sixth, if not better. It’s ‘Arry’s line, and, until the new year at least, it’s the AANP line.
Liverpool is a tricky one first up. Until they sold Xabi Alonso they were actually the AANP tip for the title, and even without him will still be strong challengers. That scouse lad in the middle. The Spanish chap upfront. Still, they are probably furrowing their brows even as I type, and musing “Tottenham away is a tricky one first up…”
There are reasons for a sensible, cautious optimism at the Lane. We have retained the nucleus of the side which finished last season fairly strongly, Bassong is not actually suspended after all and Defoe has looked absolutely razor-sharp in recent weeks. Plus, you’d expect Modric to make mincemeat of their new £17 million (!) right-back, one Glen Johnson.
However it pans out though, I’m just delighted to have proper football back again, and a massive clash at the Lane to kick things off. Mouth-watering stuff.
Spurs’ Cult Heroes – Your Memories of Jurgen Klinsmann
Jurgen Klinsmann is one of the players featuring in Spurs’ Cult Heroes, a forthcoming book looking at players who achieved legendary status amongst us fans for what they did at the club. As well as looking at the players’ Tottenham careers it will feature anecdotes and reminiscences – and this week we at AANP want to hear your memories of Klinsmann, from both on and off the pitch. Get involved here…