A comment by 'Gibb' in the Newcastle match thread made me realise that I too was feeling the same disappointment, verging on anger that I felt in the days of Martin Jol when we were chasing a top four position and lost to late goals or failed to convert possession into winning scores. Seen in the light of our current travails those were indeed 'Happy Days '.
Lately I had become quite serene about the Juande Ramos implosion and was quite philosophical about the possibility of an impending nose dive into the Championship. The poor results at the end of last season were hidden beneath the euphoria of the Carling Cup victory and the 5-1 defeat of Arsenal. Finishing in the bottom half below West Ham could be shrugged off with thoughts of the season to come. 'Nothing to play for' except pride and the fans of course.
The early arrival of Modric compensated for the probable loss of Berbatov and the early hopeful signs under Juande in pre-season offset the unforeseen departure of Robbie Keane. I look upon some of my predictions pre-season with a wistful realisation that I had fallen for the hype and my own hopeless optimistic streak again. This could be the season!
What could possibly go wrong? What indeed. The start of this season was so disastrous, of Titanic proportions as the press were keen to remind us , that I steeled myself for the worst. In the meantime I adopted the Mr.Micawber defense that 'Something will turn up' . Believing that Ramos and the squad were good enough to 'gel' and turn things round I maintained a defiant belief that changing managers might further unsettle the team and the Club.
Something did turn up: Harry Redknapp. Without a doubt he has turned things round and apparently Levy's instincts were better than mine.We have hope where there was very little before and the individuals and the squad are playing better and showing some spirit. We are unbeaten against the 'Top Four' . Its a sobering thought that our reject ended up as manager of Real Madrid.
And Yet and yet. We are hovering above the relegation zone, clear, if you can call it that, by a single point. If results go badly from now until into the New Year we could be sitting in the bottom three once more. Now I know that the Premiership is very tight this year and that back to back victories could send us into the top half, but we are not getting back to back victories; its two steps forward one, or two, steps back.We have only had consecutive victories once this season.
So why am I,and others , suffering a return to these feelingsof anxiety and rage? Because, like the run in under Martin Jol, results matter again.This time its to avoid relegation: then it was to secure a top four place. Harry has given us hope and as they say 'Its not the disappointment that kills you, its the hope'.
Harry keeps repeating that we are in a scrap at the bottom, but the players, Gomes, Modric, and now O'Hara are still talking about a top six finish. The first two can be excused, they are new to the Premiership and the country, but O'Hara should know better. Take it one match at a time lad in the time honoured tradition.
Now I watch, holding my breathe and reacting to every misplaced pass, mistimed tackle on the edge of the box, failure to connect with one of Lennon's improving crosses as if it really mattered. And that's because it does. Before, I could cooly analyse Juande's tactics, smile indulgently as one of Zokora's runs petered out, or tut benignly when Jenas got caught in possession. Now I can't bear it and Duff's last minute winner brought all the old feelings and memories back.
The pre-historic cave paintings depicting a successful hunt were meant to overcome the fear of the hunted animals and influence the forces of nature to deliver up a life saving meal for the whole tribe. Thats what my embracing of relegation was meant to do. In declaring that I did not fear the Big Drop I was hoping that the Gods of Football would look elsewhere for a pathetic fan to destroy.
It worked because they took an Away Day to Manchester. But we mustn't laugh at the richest club in the world lately arrived in the bottom three, the Gods might hear us and turn in our direction again. Their fans, after all, are no different to us.
So in answer to Krafty's question 'So where are we ?' The team are much improved in spirit but have not yet successfully made up for the loss of our two strikers. There is improving quality all over the pitch but its not playing consistently well. Modric is a big step in the right direction and we need to get ourselves up the league if we are to keep him and attract players of his quality next Summer. In the meantime we need some back-up signings to make sure we continue to progress. A centre-forward at least, and in the light of the fitness worries over King and now Woodgate a centre half. We haven't got the luxury of time to bed another imported player in so they need to be home grown and experienced.
I am back in the emotional turmoil of Martin Jol's regime; fearful again of the threatening storms which threaten to blow Harry and the good ship 'Hotspur' off course. But I will suspend all this negativity until Boxing day and Fulham, and hope for a relaxed Xmas for myself, the team, and of course all of you.