Capital Gains

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Tottenham Hotspur Stadium
Dom Le Roy

Having spent most of the last two years happily looking forward [as a happy Spur], it is now time to reflect on the outgoing season, looking back at the plight of London’s Premiership clubs.

Cast your mind back to last August, when the Press were salivating over an impending Mancunian carve-up, with two, expensively-knitted Lancastrian squads ultimately proving quite ordinary. Now, with City looking great going forward, but with the defensive qualities of porous cheese; and with United issuing more draws than the Ann Summers factory, I can hear the squeals from a brace of disappointed Manchester branches of The Bank of Panic Buys.. Will neither ever learn that squads rammed with expensive mercenaries isn’t the way?

My apologies to Watford fans. Your team simply didn’t qualify, in my eyes, at least, geographically.

 Arsenal

I’ll hold my hand up and admit that I don’t understand them!

When Spurs, Chelsea, West Ham and Manchester’s City and United, were bad, they all suffered relegation. Since the previously ‘invincible’ Arsenal turned likewise, they dropped down to the lowly depths of FIFTH! – And in the process, hammered the hell out of the most impressive manager they’ve had in modern-day history. I’m still trying to work it all out!

Possibly, and this is my poor attempt at being fair to them, they’ve set their sights a little higher than little old Totty Hotspur in recent times. Possibly, and this is my poorer attempt at being unfair, they’ve simply lost the plot; their annual expectation far outdoing the realms of reality that the other 91 league clubs deem reasonable. Nobody’s success is written in stone. Nobody deserves anything just because they have a big name. Maybe our dear neighbours just need to come back down to earth with the rest of us, supposedly, lesser mortals?

Over the years, I’ve almost given up trying to talk football on equal with many of their fans, such is the outpouring of equal measures of arrogance and self-superiority that they eagerly, almost shamefully, manufacture. Equally, since my earlier days on this planet, their fan base has changed, now attracting a vast army of people who only seem interested in results, rather than the game itself. Trying to speak reasonably with many equates to lost time, energy and breath that you’ll never get back… Let’s just hope and pray, from a Spurs’ perspective, that the new ground attracts less of these new ‘football fans’ and hangers-on than others have suffered.

Now, in the shadow of their recent demise, in times when none of them actually want to talk football, anyway, I wonder where they are headed. As I’ve written before, they are a club at War with themselves; the board with the fans; the fans with the team; the fans with their own. Their owner, Mr. Kranky, sees the club as a speck on his impressive portfolio. When checking their annual profits, he is only too pleased to sign off what the admirably loyal Frenchman has made for him. While he is a devout businessman, the fans are up in arms [often up in the sky] shouting for change. Well, they’ve recently swapped their Champions League place for one in the Thursday night Moldova League – and they’re STILL not happy! You simply can’t please some people, can you?

Overall, a disappointing end-of-term report for north London’s nomadic tribe. Can do better..

Chelsea

Being an ex-Battersea boy, and having absconded to the wilds of N.17 to watch my football, Chelsea have always been my own personal nemesis. Having stated that, I couldn’t help but be impressed by the excellent, and admirably fair, Mr. Conte, who often dished out credit where credit was warranted, and often when not. Praise their insight, too, having identified the best demolition man in the League they went straight out and got him, leaving the rest shocked and surprised at their speed of intention and deed. And as much as it galls me to say, young Mr. Hazard is as impressive a player one could see; slaloming in and out of defences like a skier in studded boots. A diminutive, yet slightly less charismatic version of m. Ginola!

Even as a dedicated Spurs’ man, I can’t even crab the fact that they won the Premiership, although we did pretty well to cut down the deficit towards the end, our breath on their collar giving the final weeks a slither of hope.

For me, there were two turning points of the season; one, when the aforesaid Mr. Conte changed Chelsea’s formation; the second, when we totally outplayed them at the Bridge and lost. Had those points gone our way, who knows? I don’t think they’ll see us as roll-over Tottenham anymore, and will remember the name Dele Ali through the haze of their current celebration. Three point Lane is no more in more ways than one…

An excellent, and Euro-free, year for the boys in blue. I can almost hear Mr. Abramovich’s wallet creaking open, again, for 2017-18…

Crystal Palace

If I’m honest, I had half an inclination that Palace might impress this year, but it never materialized. Loathe as I am to lose London clubs from the top flight – well, some at least – I still hold some affection for the Palace boys, whose support has grown and changed beyond all recognition from their days in claret shirts, with yellow trim and blue pin stripes.

Since the days of chairman Jordan – and his Bradyesque love of being London’s very own Press ‘rentagob’, Palace have changed, attracting players and personalities to their small, yet passionate Selhurst stadium on the edge of town. And with the advent of BFS [Big Fat Sam], and his almost Red Adair knack of turning the fortunes of ailing clubs around, Palace have emerged from the lower echelons quietly, but quite impressively. Now capable of giving any Premiership team a reasonable game, with the twin, wing threat of ex-Spur Townsend, and the much-sought after Zaha, Palace have slowly established themselves, swishing their speedy tails, briefly, at the menace of relegation, yet proving far too good to be joining those from the north east coast, who ring-fenced the three, dreaded hot spots.

Another learning curve for the ‘stripey Nigel’s’, as Millwall fans like to call them. If BFS decides to stay, and why shouldn’t he, they can only improve on the bricks put in place this year. Can’t they?

Tottenham Hotspur

Brace yourself, fellow Spurs’. Gird yourself for the coming months of everyone, uncle Tom Cobbly and all, trying to get our manager to leave, attempting to sell our entire squad to ‘bigger’ clubs – clubs with far lesser breeding grounds for rearing impressive youngsters, their initial ‘strategy’ to buy in, rather than nurture.

With a new stadium, with an impressive, young squad; with one of the best managers and training facilities in world football, WE ARE one of the bigger clubs!

Yes, our wages glass ceiling will be shattered, smashed to smithereens, but we MUST hold on to the Alderweireld’s, Alli’s and Roses’ at all costs, while nurturing the next crop of young talent that other clubs seem loathe to do. Equally, we are now establishing ourselves as a recognized top four club; something you’d have scoffed at not so long ago. While the Holy Grail of top European football has been achieved on a relative shoestring, we MUST be careful of attracting the glut of nomadic mercenaries that play for themselves, and in doing so wreck the impressive spirit being instilled by Magic Mauriccio. It is the over-riding factor of our recent emergence!

If a club can experience a successful season without winning silverware, we have done that. Moving on, our potential must be fulfilled, before the ‘bottler’ moniker is aired again; before the seemingly endless line of criticizing trolls are given their platform to spill further bile. What has been achieved in a few short years is truly amazing. Now, we need one more push, one more season of holding together before a new dynasty is born. Holding on to Poch is the key to everything. Selling a small band of under-achieving ‘peripherals’ can generate enough to bolster what is already looking an exciting new season. Here’s to the future. Come on you Spurs…

West Ham United

Call me cynical, but…. I see West Ham as the ‘old’ Tottenham Hotspur; floating around the ether going nowhere; sold down the river on a raft of big promises; yet always trying to play themselves out of impending calamity. The similarities are stark..

I recently did security on the door of a public event. When three young lads in the queue found out that I ‘was Tottenham’, their smiles nearly lazered my ears off, their sheer elation at beating us 1-0 emanating from every pore, etched in stone across their foreheads.

We shook hands, rather than throats. We spoke freely and openly, as opposed to the usual, predictable gloat-fest on encountering those who once pre-occupied the elite.

”Had I met you five years ago, things would have been different”, I ventured. ”Had I told you, then, that your club would be owned by two pornographers; that your most forthright Director would be the star of reality; and that the old Boleyn would be gone, and that you’d be living, cheaply, in rented accommodation… well, you’d not have believed a single component – let alone all three!”

I’d always admired the way the Hammers played, or tried to play. I’d turned a convenient blind eye to the fact that they missed their annual cuddle with Millwall and had adopted us as their future nemesis. I’d even overcome the fact that some of their chants were hugely inappropriate, even in the vicious, inexplicable world of the football terrace, and that their celebrations after finishing above us [them 7th, us 9th] bordered on a sad and lonely. Now, with a 1-0 win under their belts, it’s only the matter of 41 points they have to overturn before sanity returns.

Overall, a topsy-turvy year; one moment up, the next decidedly down and wondering where the entire shebang was headed. With Carroll, a handful for most, capable of deserving the most incredible results; without, a team with three or four impressive individuals, but lacking the team spirit that knitted their past together. If next years continues in similar mode, how long before loud voices are heard regarding transfers, where the money has gone, and of the future?

”Security! Have this man thrown out, please…”

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