Brief, Incredible Thoughts on the Spurs Summer Transfer Window

Trigger

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”.

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Who Is Your Chris Waddle?

Chris Waddle

Chris Waddle has angered people with his opinions again. The recently retired David Beckham, England’s Rose, has been the subject of a savage broadside from this former yeoman of the mullet, who has declared that the former Preston North End winger wouldn’t make his list of the top 1,000 Premiership players of all time.

Waddle has form for this, having once angered Arsenal fans for suggesting that Theo Walcott has no footballing brain. He will only continue to dispense such savage barbs as he persistently throws himself elbow-first into the most fragile of footballing discourse, in the vain hope that it will divert attention from an underwhelming media career. His greatest contribution to the world of football analysis thus far has been his consistent mispronunciation of the word penalty as ‘pelanty’. Does he do this because he’s melanty ill? No. Like everything provocative he ever says, he does it for a good reason, and I must confess – I suspect I am that reason. You see, on some cosmic level, though he may not realise it, Waddle has a point to prove to me.

As a child discovering football, the first thing I ever learnt about him was that he once missed a penalty (perhaps this was the psychological trigger for his tragic speech impediment?) in pretty much the worst way possible. The second thing I learnt about him was that he had an amusing name, thanks to The Fast Show reducing it to a comic staple. The third thing was that he had an electrifying screen presence in that Pizza Hut advert he did with Stuart Pearce and Gareth Southgate. In my mind, these factors had rendered him a laughing stock, and anything he had ever done would forever be viewed through the prism of my relative youth and my perception of his flaws. For me, he was never a good player and never could be considered as such. This was before I’d even heard of Diamond Lights. It’s a harsh system, but that’s just the way it works.

So it’s no wonder that Waddle continues to court controversy. He’s a former lothario frustrated by his own impotence, a man whose former relevance is brought into sharper relief with the passing of time, no longer capable of captivating interest as he once did. He knows he’s a joke to people like me, people too young to truly acknowledge his former glories. According to the man himself in this interview, he may have been one game away from winning the 1991 Ballon D’Or. Now he is a joke, a relic of the past, a dull fart squeaking through the slack buttocks of a slumbering geriatric. The anti-Beckham invective is his way of reminding the world of football that he once used to be one if it’s leading dramatis personae. He is the embodiment of every 40-something Sunday league footballer who boasts of his former relevance, deluding himself by boring those around him with sad tales of what should’ve been, if only the world had taken greater notice of their majesty.

Everyone has a player like this, a player for whom it’s inconceivable that he ever once possessed divine talent. There are some children who are yet to be born who will one day see a washed-up, clapped-out Lionel Messi sluggishly going through the motions for Atletico Madrid and laugh at the fact that if this clown can win a Ballon D’or, then even QPR’s Brooklyn Beckham must surely have a shot of winning it eventually.

Every football fan has a Chris Waddle. We all identify a former great by the schadenfreude-tinged footnotes that have appended themselves to an erstwhile glittering career. Waddle may have been idolised at Tottenham, and excelled abroad in a way that so few Englishmen have before or since, and been a match away from being the world’s best in his heyday. To me, he will always be some unfortunate, Frank Spencerish footballing harlequin, stumbling and bumbling from missed penalty to comedy sketch to Pizza Hut advert, always and forever, irrevocably trapped in the role my adolescent brain prescribed him. Nothing he can ever do or say will ever change that. Ulmitately he has paid the pelanty. Chris Waddle will always be my ‘Chris Waddle’. Who is yours?

What Next For Team Hughes?

Mark Hughes is no longer the manager of Queen’s Park Rangers. Many of us have been aware of that for some time, but it was made official last Friday, after Harry Redknapp somehow convinced the Rangers board that he genuinely wanted to manage the Ukraine national team. As part of the ruse, Redknapp took photos of his son Jamie tied up and beaten, showed them to QPR chairman Tony Fernandes, and insisted that “We’re in deep wiv the gangsters! I ain’t got no choice!”.


Hughes has immediately plunged back into work, having been hired by Transport For London, where he will travel on trains and tut extremely loudly at anyone that misbehaves. But what about his backroom staff? It’s no secret that Hughes is accompanied to each new club by an extended coterie that fulfils his every need. Assistant manager Mark Bowen and goalkeeping coach Kevin Hitchcock are reasonably well known, but there are others working behind the scenes who are vital to Hughes’s middling success. Let’s take a look at some of the work conducted by Team Hughes.

Jon Plumber, Carpenter – His primary role is given to making extra large desks for Hughes, although in recent months he has been working ever more frantically, sanding down wooden surfaces (such as doorframes, shelves etc) that have been bitten by QPR players out of sheer frustration at their own bumbling incompetence. A fan of the sitcom Seinfeld, he is eager to try out the infamous ‘desk-bed’ model famously pioneered by George Costanza. He has been pitching the idea to workaholic Hughes for years, with no apparent success. His next club may well benefit from such unfulfilled furniture potential; it is thought that Reading’s Brian McDermott, with his poor diet high in sugar and saturated fats, may benefit from such power naps. Invaluable for team morale, with his ironic surname causing no end of dressing room japes!

Anna Plapp, Freudian Analyst – Paid every 15 minutes to assess the troubled psyche of the Welsh manager-turned-redundand. May struggle to find work at another Premier League club, having attracted criticism for failing to recognise the obvious phallic symbol represented by Hughes’s pathological proclivity for increasingly large desks. That such an experienced analyst would fail to spot such a glaring neurosis is a damning indictment of their work, but is considered a rare oversight. She once famously diagnosed Hughes’s unconscious desire to hump his mother simply by observing the way the Welshman ties his shoelaces. Hughes has been a fan ever since, and he and his mother are now happily in sex with one another.

Loz Smith, Feng Shui adviser – Forever indebted by Hughes for the masterstroke of placing two big, round, pink beanbags either side of his big desk to make them look like balls. This technique was employed while at Fulham, and was an implicit invitation to the players to sit next to the manager and discuss their personal problems throughout the day. This unorthodox method helped to raise team spirits, and developed the manager’s rapport with his team, whilst also making Hughes feel as if he had massive testicles, which he liked.

Keith Bembley, Club Stationer – Responsible for stocking and arranging vital office equipment such as mousemats, Post-It notes, desk tidies, desktop calendars and other essential desk-related sundries. Must also ensure the prompt delivery of Desk! magazine by the first Friday of each month. He doesn’t really do much else. An essential part of Team Hughes.

Susan Guzan, PA – Plays a vital role, constantly taking dictation on behalf of Hughes, noting down every thought to spill from his pinched old lady mouth and prematurely aged head. He is unable to take notes of his own, as years of obsessive (David Bentley once said “monomaniacal”, surprisingly) desk use have rendered him incapable of writing down anything unless he is at a perfect 90 degree angle to a flat page. Previous attempts at taking pitchside notes whilst standing up have resulted in some harrowing tragedies, such as the time he accidentally severed a ball-boy’s jugular vein when trying to double-underline the phrase ‘flat back four’. Hughes has only ever used crayons since.