'Oy Tottenham! How come this week you're going for Europe and last week you were going to the Championship'. Banter in the pub after W.Ham. You can tell how many Spurs fans there are where I live because the nickname 'Tottenham' is all mine. I reply that I am not responsible for the vicissitudes of the Premiership. I find that the use of such vocabulary has a calming effect on Top Four supporters and the brow wrinkling pause gives me time to get a drink and seek out a quiet spot. Although I have to admit it did get me punched once.
Reading the football columns this week I thought that they'd opened a secret Spurs transfer window. We've been linked with Kenwynne Jones( again); several continental types (Milito again); Huddleston and Bale are coveted by Fulham; Pavlyuchenko's and Gomes are on their way to Chelsea; Bent would apparently prefer Everton over Sunderland and so it goes on. It can't be long before e-Bay catch on to this lucrative market.
Yes we know its all rubbish but it does raise the question of whether Harry will go all out for seventh and some more European away days or whether he will use the rest of the season to explore his current squad in a little more depth before he starts sifting through the scouting reports and making bids. We couldn't experiment before because of the threat of relegation, now we can't because of the hope of Europe.
I would have thought that Harry having secured our position after virtually a whole season not so much flirting with relegation as engaging in full public sex with it would have cashed in his chips and had an early night. But the fan sites are full of our shameless supporters demanding that Harry respect our traditions and field our strongest team until any possibility of 7th is gone. My mum doesn't approve, she thinks we're being greedy. 'You don't know when your well off'. Quit when you're ahead Harry' I say.
This despite the fact that we had to abandon our European hopes this year in order to survive. Now fans are claiming that they didn't doubt for a second that we would escape. Well it must be me because I'm only just sleeping again at night. The thing that makes this all possible is the tightness of the league below the top six, or the vicissitudes of the Premiership as someone so memorably put it.
My plea is twofold: don't buy any new players; use the rest of the season to give a chance to fringe members of the team to see what they can do. We've been given a breathing space so lets use it wisely. A season without Europe might even give us the opportunity to mount a genuine challenge to the upper reaches of the Premiership where reputations are really lost and made. Knowing Harry though he might just do both.
Against W.Ham I was pleased to see Huddleston, Zokora, and Pavlyuchenko get a game. I was in deep water during the week for mentioning Huddleston and Hoddle in the same breathe and more surprisingly for saying that we played well.
The classy goal that Pavlyuchenko scored after a controlled passing move involving Ekotto, Huddleston, Corluka, and Modric exemplified the best of Tottenham to me. Modric slipped the ball to Pavlyuchenko, moved square for the return but he turned Collins and scored into the far corner where Keane was on hand to do a Bent if it hadn't been going in. We also survived after scoring the only goal of the game on 65mins. without a single alarm.
My point was that we played 'our' game. Not the heroics of the Arsenal comeback, not the effort and determination of the Man.Utd. and Chelsea games but passages of accurate and controlled passing orchestrated especially in the second half by Huddleston. Perhaps the relief of reaching the 40pts.target, beating W. Ham.and burying the memory of Blackburn all on the same day added a rosy hue to my spectacles. W.Ham were a bit powder puff admittedly and said to be 'missing Carlton Cole'. Its usually Cole that does the 'missing'.
Apart from a misjudgement by Woodgate and even with Palacios suspended and Jenas off injured in the second half we not only played some good football but didn't give the ball away. It was our fourth consecutive clean sheet at home, our first such run in the Premiership and the first time for 22yrs. If we do it again against Newcastle then it will require Archaeologists rather than Historians to track it down.
My feeling is that we already have a quality squad and that Harry and Sandra can go off on holiday this year and Harry doesn't have to spend the summer wheeling and dealing or Sandra practising her keepy uppy skills on the beach. Lets build some stability, loyalty and cohesion into the club on the back of what is turning out to be a successful season, even if we don't make Europe, and not run it as a transit camp for up and coming players en route to the Champions' League.
I know that I'm in the minority on this as in many things lately but if you wanted to run with the pack you wouldn't support Tottenham in the first place.