Plus ca change plus c’est la meme chose…. etc.
The build-up to this season has been a bit like the build-up to last year’s. Replace Luka Modric with Gareth Bale, multiply by 20 and we’ve heard it all before.
At the end of last season, the jokers were at it. There would be three Welsh teams in this season’s Premiership; Swansea FC, Cardiff FC and Bale FC. That is looking less likely by the day.
Well the Welsh Wizard stay or not? Is Levy playing a bit too much brinkmanship, and isn’t 100 million quid for a Welshman just a bit silly? And what’s the point of such a windfall on the last day of the transfer window? One thing is almost certain; he will not appear before the window shuts at the start of September.
At least it looks as though if a transfer is to take place it won’t be to another English club. Quite how Bale and Ronaldo are expected to operate in the same team is not any of our concern.
So with all that background noise going on it makes it a tough way to preview this season.
Even with this Soap Opera in play we are in better shape than this time last year. At that stage fans were pretty luke-warm on the arrival of Kid Scientist AVB, and there was curiosity at how Arry had gone from England Manager Favourite to being forced to shift his jewellery off to QPR in a space of about four months. It showed.
From the opening day defeat at Newcastle on, it was an awkward start to the season, which only kicked into life with that hoodoo breaking win at Old Trafford. But, in a not unfamiliar narrative, it was all to no avail; falling one point short of Champions League qualification.
Even with all that, Tottenham’s total of 72 points is the highest ever total for a top-flight team finishing outside the top four in a 38-game season, and that total would have been enough to finish in second place two seasons ago.
The chatter is that Spurs normally wait until the last half-hour of the Transfer Window to make a move. This year it’s been totally different. Twice in the last month Levy has broken the club record for signings. First it was Paulinho, who looks to be a quality holding midfielder, then Chadli, and finally the big one; Soldada from Valencia. He’s so good he’s starting to keep Torres out of the Spanish side.
At last Spurs seem to making the kind of investment needed to take it that agonising step to the next level. But Levy’s not known for throwing money around like he’s just won Lotto; rumours of further incoming movements indicate he knows that money’s on its way from Madrid.
Putting all that to one side, AVB now has the confidence of the owner and (most of) the fans. This is the first time he’s managed a club for two seasons, he is getting to play with the formation he wants, and this squad looks like his team. The departure of Gallas being an obvious sign of that.
The strength of the squad, unusually, would appear to be in the defensive midfielder area. Paulinho, Dembele, Capoue, and Sandro are all world class. Doesn’t it seem like a long time ago that Scott Parker was being talked about as a long term option for England captain? Expect him to join Huddlestone in moving before the end of August.
The only thing missing from that midfield is the traditional Spurs Number 10. Holtby has yet to shine, and Gylfi Sigurðsson, despite the dreamy Icelandic name, does tend to go missing a bit.
There have been new signings at the back, but two key players. Kaboul was sadly missed last season via injury last year. His strength, combined with an ability to play the ball out from the back will make a huge difference if he can stay out of the Hospital Ward. And Danny Rose returns from his year at Sunderland (can we call that a sabbatical?) a much more seasoned player at left back. Depth at right back remains a real weakness though.
So this season starts with a mixture of promise and nervousness. But that’s been said before many a season at White Hart Lane. Deep breaths people.
A prediction? Fourth. There; I said it.
Oh, and for those of you wondering what the Bale hype is all about, well there is this