August rumbles on, then. Just shy of a fortnight now until the season opener at Selhurst Park and the mood in the Tottenham camp is that Daniel Levy is not messing around. After the belt, braces and quick hide the chequebook years of ‘Arry Redknapp’s reign, the suits upon high have seemingly found two men they can entrust their considerable funds to: André Villas-Boas and his loyal advisor, Fun Time Franco.
Back him, was the call at the end of last season, after the young Portuguese coach guided Spurs to an alarmingly decent 72 point finish on Levy’s economy package and with injuries aplenty. And back him he has. To the point now where AVB and Baldini must feel like requesting transfer funds is as easy as walking into Mr. Burns’ office while he’s bombed on ether and asking him to sponsor their bowling team. Seriously, Frankie, ask him for anything. I think he’s gone mental.
Anyway, here’s a knockabout look at our incoming business thus far.
Paulinho (Hail Upon)
The Confederation Cup’s third best player and a man whose Wikipedia page once recorded ‘extreme levels of mental toughness’ as a notable attribute. Just how extreme is not clear. Seventeen million pounds worth of Brazilian prime fillet and a more well-rounded midfielder you couldn’t hope to discover. Fast, strong, aerially dominant- you name it, he’s in possession of it. A competent sliced backhand? Now you’re just being silly.
Nacer Chadli (Anarchic Led)
The kind of ambidextrous forward Villas-Boas writes excited scribbles in his notebook about. Apparently we’ve met before in Spurs’ 2010/11 Champions League blowout, but there’s a good chance I wasn’t paying attention. What’s clear is that the former Twente man isn’t inhibited by any strain of goal-phobia, as he managed twenty-three in all competitions last season. In addition to providing much needed competition for Aaron Lennon on the right, Chadli could well make the left-sided forward berth his own if Bale continues to play in a more liberated role/abroad.
Roberto Soldado (A Robot’s Doodler)
Ah, yes. Soldado. At last, I hear you cry, a proper striker; a bonafide number 9, a first-rate onion bag ruffler, a penalty-box sheriff, a crafty goal-witch… a centre-forward. Bobby Soldier arrives at White Hart Lane with quite the burden of expectation on his shoulders. I mean, this is The Guy. The reward for all those Spurs fans who did their best to get behind Frazier Campbell, Peter Crouch and Louis Saha; the subject about which a billion words have been bashed hopelessly into keyboards and discussed ad nauseam in the stands and in watering holes. We’ve told friends, our colleagues, written to the council; told complete strangers with absolutely no interest in Tottenham Hotspur Football Club or football in general. We’ve yelled at stray dogs, bus drivers, double-glazing salesmen: we’ve even talked to our parents. Dad, why haven’t Spurs signed a good striker yet?
‘Sorry, who is this?’
So, them sleigh bells are ring ting-a-tingling.
Of course there’s every chance that it’s not sleigh bells at all, just the sound of Daniel Levy emptying the contents of his money sock onto Andre Villas Boas’ desk. It’s been a tough year, Andre, he says, trying to keep a straight face as a handful of copper rattles and rolls across the table/toilet door on bricks. Tough, tough year.
As has become a custom this time of season- as traditional as food poisoning, Noel Edmonds and vague promises about joining the gym in January- Spurs approach the end of the year at somewhat of a crossroads. A fork in the road, if you’d prefer. With just two prongs to wander down. Down the first is the proposal to do nothing; simply have faith in the current squad and march into the new year with fingers crossed and balance sheet in a favourable hue of green.
So far, so boring. The second option is the novel idea of Squadron Leader Levy slapping his fiscal gonads on the altar and consolidating on a decent opening half of the season. Reinforcements, my dear boy! The smart money- and, indeed, every fibre of my being- suggests that we need to send out the Bat Signal and reel in the cavalry.
Nothing monstrous, you understand. Just some careful jigger and tinker in certain areas to give us a fighting chance for the remainder of the campaign. (All sounds very familiar) True enough, at present, the squad has quite a pleasing balance to it; with important players returning to the fold what seems like every week-Parker, Kaboul, BAE and the like- we’ve one of the strongest in the league. Healthy competition in most areas and quality in generous handfuls if not spades. Team spirit amongst the chaps looks relatively LOL, too, which should never be underestimated. We have a laugh, don’t we?
Unquestionably, though, if we’re being greedy,(‘tis the season for gluttonous endeavour, after all) there’re one or two positions in which we’re rather lacking that extra glug of allure and artistry. Broadly speaking, Spurs could stretch to another creative midfielder (the fruitless chase of Moutinho suggest they’re in agreement), a striker, and, if we’re into the land of crazy talk, a versatile/two-footed winger. And maybe a reserve left-back. And a new stadium. And a favourable draw in the Europa League. And, well, we’ll stop there, I reckon.
So, Daniel, over to you, old chap. Give Andre the backing in January and trust that the formula for abiding success isn’t necessarily Saha+Nelsen=£££ in the bank. There’s a love.
Octavio Santos (Manchester United fan)
If he’d have started his next sentence with: because, you know, Nani’s been excellent this year, I think I’d have had a good crack at trying to stuff my entire head into a saucepan and boiling it like a cauliflower. Just to erase the image of that dreadful little twod ever coming close to winning the Ballon d’Or. If there are twenty players in the world as good as Xavi or Iniesta, then it’s the best kept secret since they found out what it was in Sunny Delight that made children go bat-shit crazy. Never see that stuff about much these days. Odd.
The madness doesn’t stop there, either. We’ve hit the January sales and seemingly anything goes. City have landed another striker in Edin Dzeko, for a bit of spare change found stuffed in the footwells of Yaya Toure’s Aston Martin. Just shy of thirty million to be exact. No big deal. I’m sure I won’t be the only one who’ll feel a little put out if Adebayor does eventually come to us, as a knock-on of the Bosnian’s arrival at Eastlands. In the manner of someone clearing out the tat in their wardrobes to make room for a new Armani suit. We’re a bit old for hand-me-downs, if you ask me.
The Beckham saga continues at an alarmingly dull rate. Will he? Won’t he?…He won’t…Or will he? ad nauseum. My view is that he’s trying to outdo David Bentley at every turn. You call that a cross? Pah! You call that metrosexual? Not buying it. You call that a protracted transfer? I spit on the very idea. It’s all just a ruse to establish exactly who’s DB 1.0 and who’s DB 2.0. So far it’s a tie.
While David tests out our rowing machines, then, we’re wondering where the new centre-forward is. Carroll’s not going anywhere it seems, neither, too, is that Suárez chap. The latter having the bloody cheek to be Champions League tied anyway. So who does that leave? I’m buggered if I know. Perhaps if our friend Octavio Santos could kindly let us know as to who these mystery five or six Messi equals are, we might get Mr. Levy on the case pronto. That’d be a start.