Hi, my name is Luke and I am a Tottenham fan. Admitting it is the first step apparently. I also make bad life choices. That is how I found myself in Australia…
English summertime is great, isn’t it? Not because of the warm (ish) weather or the slightly longer days because now that I live in Australia, I no longer benefit from any of that. No, English summertime is great because of what it symbolises. It symbolises school holidays, Wimbledon, beer gardens, short skirts and most importantly…..the end of the football season. It’s amazing how much you can achieve in life when you aren’t worrying about things like Champions League places, goal difference and Harry Kane’s injury status. Pre-season doesn’t just represent a well earned break for the players but it also represents a well earned break for the fans. It allows us to focus on the other areas of our lives that we have inevitably neglected for the past 38 games. From a personal perspective, I had so much free time on my hands, I felt like Ferris Bueller. I managed to go to the gym regularly, catch up on some sleep, read a few books and even go on a little holiday. As if by magic my blood pressure, albeit temporarily, no longer resembled that of a 50 year old Air Traffic Controller. Life was good and I was thoroughly enjoying my short lived sabbatical away from the Premier League. I even took a self imposed break from writing this blog because, quite frankly, there was nothing worth writing about. As you already know, our pre-season has been about as exciting as a James Milner tweet. But now that the season has started, I will grudgingly attempt to do a Gonzalo Jara and pull my finger out before it is too late….
Predictably, as Tottenham’s preparation for the new season started to ramp up, so did my blood pressure! But not for the usual reasons. Normally, our pre-seasons consist of identifying all the players that looked good on the latest version of Football Manager, waiting until the very last minute before throwing fistfuls of money at them until somebody says stop. And normally we are only told to stop because the player in question has moved to Chelsea the previous week. But this summer, we have been suspiciously quiet. To his credit, Daniel Levy moved relatively quickly to sign Kevin Wimmer and Kieran Trippier before focusing the majority of his attention on a project that more closely resembled a closing down sale. The bulk of our squad was apparently up for grabs and even by Levy’s standards, getting £6m for Benjamin Stambouli, who was subsequently booed by the PSG fans on his home debut, is miraculous. And thank god the Chinese have more money than sense because £10m for Paulinho is absolute daylight robbery. There were times last season when I fully expected Justin Lee Collins to come on to the pitch at half time and reveal that Paulinho is not really a professional footballer and just a low level Civil Servant in the Brazilian government. That would have been good TV. Except for the Justin Lee Collins part. Anyway, for once Tottenham had become the sort of selling club that I could finally get on board with. We were saying goodbye to more dead wood than when Michael Douglas first discovered Viagra. The only problem is that we haven’t really re-invested that money back into the squad, meaning that Eric Dier is currently playing in midfield and Ryan Mason has once again been given a squad number! As a result, our wage bill is looking much healthier than our starting XI……assuming that we even have 11 players left by the time this is published! Predictably, this lack of preparation has been quite apparent in our results over the last month or so.
All of our pre-season friendlies were played whilst I was on holiday in Hawaii, which actually worked out well for our game against the MLS All-Stars. I played the situation perfectly, not mentioning anything to my wife before “casually” suggesting that we pop out for a few drinks at the nice looking Sports Bar around the corner, which I had been scoping out for days. Excited by the prospect of a night out, she did her make up, put on a nice dress, ordered a cocktail and settled down to watch me hurl abuse at a TV screen for 90 minutes. She knew what she was marrying into. Initially, I was quite excited about the prospect of watching Spurs for the first time since the Sydney FC game back in May. Karma, however, had other ideas. My underhanded tactics immediately came back to bite me in the arse as we were a goal down before I had taken my seat and 2-0 down before my beer had even arrived. Oh, how I have missed you Tottenham. Despite a cracking solo effort from Harry Kane as consolation, we had conspired to lose to the bloody MLS All-Stars. Bear in mind that America is a country that ranks football somewhere between beach volleyball and cross-country skiing in terms of popularity and genuinely believes that Donald Trump is a legitimate Presidential candidate and human being! It was utterly embarrassing but thankfully no one in the bar seemed to care, as apparently two Universities were playing each other at Lacrosse or some other mickey mouse sport. And it did make the rest of my holiday much easier. Thanks to the time difference, I could now sleep blissfully through the games against Real Madrid and AC Milan, safe in the knowledge that nothing ever really changes and that Tottenham Hotspur ruin holidays. They don’t do much for marriages either.
Neither does the transfer window. With names like Yevhen Konoplyanka, Andriy Yarmalenko and Xherdan Shaqiri being bandied around, I ended up spending more time on my iPhone than I did on the beach. As soon as we got anywhere near WiFi range, I would be searching the interweb to see if we had finally signed somebody good. Or just somebody…..or just anybody. I wasn’t picky. They say that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting a different result…….which was certainly the case in this scenario, with the added bonus of driving my wife insane to boot! We ended up drinking more Starbucks in a three week period than we have in our entire lives, based purely on their free WiFi policy. But rest assured, their coffee is still dreadful.
Due to an unfortunate clash of dates, I managed to miss the opening game of the season against Man Utd, as I was on the plane back to Sydney. But as soon as we had landed, I turned on my phone and saw that we had lost the game 1-0 without Man Utd registering a single shot on target. It is mind boggling as to how they still manage this sort of thing now that Howard Webb has retired. This result was compounded the following week as we somehow managed to throw away a 2-0 lead at home to Stoke, conceding twice in the last 12 minutes and needlessly drawing the game 2-2. Interestingly, Toby Alderweireld has now made more defensive errors in one game than he did in the whole of last season for Southampton. Welcome to Tottenham Toby, you are going to be busy! Now, I know that we are only two games into the new season and I am sure that we will sign a host of new players on Deadline Day but part of me still longs for a return to those carefree summer days where a Lloris was just a tree dwelling mammal and a Walker was just a Texas Ranger. But it is not to be. So let’s hope that this season produces something a little different from previous years, before the aforementioned definition of insanity catches up with us all. But as hardened Spurs fans, I think we all know what to expect. So settle in for the long haul, because here we go again…..
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