If votes were cast today for PFA Player of the Year, you would be forgiven for thinking that the winner would turn out to be Tottenham Hotspur’s Summer Transfer Window. Praised to the skies and rightly so, this was truly a window for the ages. The greatest use of a window since Shawn Michaels smashed Marty Janetty’s noggin in Brutus Beefcake’s barbershop. It was the chung-wit, the biff-buff and the puff pastry hangman. What more could you possibly ask for?
Spurs fans have been in raptures after the inevitably prolonged terminus of the Gareth Bale saga was soothed in spectacular fashion, as Daniel Levy set about securing the signatures of a clutch of world football’s more promising talents. With each new signing, supporters have been left with little time to praise them enough, like hyperactive, sugar-mouthed children on Christmas morning, switching their attention from one shiny new toy to the next. Erik Lamela. Roberto Soldado. Paulinho. Christian Eriksen. Etienne Capoue. Nacer Chadli. Vlad Chiriches. Seven prophets of imminent greatness. It’s a good time to be a Spurs fan, right?
How happy should Spurs fans really be feeling? Spurs have moderated the loss of an £82m player by spreading £109 million worth of players more evenly throughout not just the starting eleven, but the squad as a whole. Factor in the additional sales of Clint Dempsey, Steven Caulker, Tom Huddlestone and Scott Parker (AND Massimo Luongo, ok, ok, fine), and the summer net spend was £0. Who doesn’t love a good net spend? For no money, they’ve effectively conducted two season’s worth of shopping. Provided that they keep hold of players who might well find a lack of first-team opportunities frustrating, the next few transfer windows certainly won’t be the spree that has unfolded this summer.
In short, they’ve done pretty well for themselves. With this comes added pressure, and expectations are understandably high right now. Breaking the top four of the Premier League should be a far more likely prospect. A domestic cup, perhaps a tilt at the Europa League, should be expected also. The bar has been raised ever higher, so they will fall harder if they fail. These transfers herald a period of unqualified optimism for the club, but supporters could be forgiven for asking themselves – what does it all mean? Imagine, for a moment, that you a Spurs fan. Imagine further that you have just emerged from a coma, and you are watching your team play for the first time in four years. Who are these people? What’s going on? Where’s Crouchy? Where’s DB7? Where’s Dorian Dervite?
The changes of the summer have been so drastic, so absolute, that it conjures thoughts of Only Fools and Horses, and a scene where Trigger, the nation’s favourite brain-damaged man, talks about his broom. He explains how he’s kept the same broom for 20 years, adding that it’s “had 17 new heads and 14 new handles in its time”. Andre-Villas Boas is currently pushing around his very own equivalent to Trigger’s broom. There is nothing to tie these players together apart from a shared interest in white kit. As the comedian Jerry Seinfeld once put it, fans of sports teams are asked to move on and forget old favourites so quickly that they are “essentially cheering laundry”. That’s what Tottenham fans must do as they wait for their new charges to acclimate, as a delay in doing so will surely be the only thing to prohibit the success that is now expected.
Tottenham’s season depends on how quickly these new players can synchronise with the old ones, and how many points are dropped in the interim. Otherwise, there may well be unrest among the natives. Fans expecting a swift ascension beyond the glass ceiling may prove slightly less patient now, but it’s a quality they can’t afford to lose. As Trigger said: “Look after your broom”.