The excitement of the season has been building hasn't it? We've gone from quietly confident in the summer, a little miffed as the season began at the fact no-one gave us a hope of top 4 to the August blip and then steadily building, hoping, expecting top 4. Now here we are in January and we're level second. Pundits have started to say we could win it. You know it could be serious because people employed by Spurs have started to play down our chances. Crikey,
Maybe it's because I'm a Spurs fan, and I remember. Because I've been burnt before. This morning, after a day revelling in the Everton victory and moving within striking distance of the summit of all of English football I started to worry. I peered into the future and it scared me.
What happens at the end of the season? It could all go pear shaped. We're on the brink of the best (or equal best - which I'll come on to) season in my lifetime and I'm worried about the summer. Why?
Let's assume we don't win the title. I know. It's not optimistic, but really, seriously, we've got 19 games to go, do you back us to get more points in those games than both United and City? I can't see it. But I can see us coming second or third, the best performance in the Premier League era. But not Champions. What happens then? We've got Champions League football for sure.
Then Friedel, who has been instrumental this year, is a year older. And he's already old. We need to introduce a new keeper, who needs to bed in, and get used to his back 4. He's unlikely to be a seasoned PL keeper. That worries me. Gallas will be a season older, in the last season of his career, and he'll be less use than this season. King could well be out of contract depending on how the rest of this season goes, and it's not looking good at the moment. That's our two most talented CB on the way out, and that worries me. And Adebayor - we don't own him, and we'll struggle to meet his wages. I know he's missed a bucket full of chances lately, but his holding up and bringing in of others has been crucial to us. His bullying of centre backs, pulling players out of position, worrying them with his threat, they're all key to our midfield functioning, and we may lose him for next year. I can't see too many proven PL players of his type around that can come in either, so we're looking at a domestic inferior version, or a new import, one that could be a Berbatov, but could be a Postiga. That worries me.
Then there's the vultures. Sure, we'll have CL football to tempt players to stay. And we'll have challenged in some way for the title. But there are teams out there that challenge every year, that win the league, that challenge for the CL or even win that! And what's more, they can and do pay more than us. Let's say Chelsea come 4th or City 2nd and win as much as us this year. Next year we all start neck and neck and in the CL. Both can come in and offer our players twice what they get now should they want. Starting from the back there are plenty of clubs that would want Walker, Benny, Sandro, Lennon, Bale, Modric, VDV. That's our entire attacking force. That more than worries me.
To top it all there's Harry. Like him or not, he's done wonders. The players appear to love him. He's got us moving forward and attacking in a way we haven't seen for years, and we've added plenty of steel at the back. Plenty of plaudits for Harry. But do you think he'll be in charge next season? The only way I can see him not being England boss next year is either Capello winning the Euros (which isn't likely) or Harry getting banged up (at which point he isn't going to be Spurs boss either). The only way I can see him staying at Spurs is if he's found guilty, given a massive fine and slap opn the wrist that scares off the FA, but we keep him on. That's a small chance, and that scares me.
I know what you are thinking. Get a grip. Enjoy it. The future is bright, the future is Lillywhite. Right? Let me take you back to the last time we looked like troubling to top of the league. 1987, we finished 3rd and got to a cup final. The dominant power in English football was on the slide and we were the most entertaining team in the land. Christ we even played 451 with two wingers (Waddle and Allen), two of the most creative midfielders in the country (Ardiles and Hoddle), an aging keeper in the final throws of his career (Clemence) and we had an English manager that people tipped for the England job in the future, he'd done ok at a smaller club but this was his time to push on with a team that could win things (Pleat). On top of all those similarities we had a striker that could not stop scoring, bagging 40+ goals in a season.
What happened to us when we were on the crest of a wave? It all came crashing down. By the start of the next season we'd lost a centre back (Gough), and the creative genius of Hoddle in midfield, and crucially, the manager fo off field reasons. The squad largely held together for one more year, by the end of the 88 season the keeper had retired and Ardiles moved on, as did Hodge, Clive Allen and Claesen. In one season we'd lost the keeper, a centre back, 3 of the 5 man midfield and the star striker. Things went into a downward spiral that arguably, ignoring an improbable Cup win in 91, we didn't recover from until Jol. This experience, it scares me.
So this is a plea to the gods. Let's freeze time. Let this season, this moment in football last forever. A team that is Tottenham through and through, doing things the right way, in style, with daring, making opposition fans admire our performances. Winning, attacking. With talent all over the field, a sprinkling of imported foreign flair, some British backbone, on the verge of a glorious, glory glory future. Press pause on the great Sky Plus box in the sky at the moment before we step out at the Etihad with everything before us.
Before you ruin it by playing out the inevitable, the cruel and the unfair and by us being, you know, Spurs.