Thank God, we lost a pre-season game at last. It was shaping up to be a repeat of last year, storming run until the league actually started then eight games, two points, complete dismantlement of the management structure and Harry Redknapp to save our skins. The rest is history.
But now we're OK. because Aldershot , its in Surrey, beat a Spurs X1 3-1 on Thursday. So bring on Barcelona and Celtic. Our pre-season fixture list reads Exeter, Bournemouth, Peterborough, Aldershot, Barcelona ,Celtic, two games at the Beijing Stadium and the last one in Hong Kong. You couldn't make it up.
I went to the Peterborough game as its a reasonable run from my home in the North. Afterwards I remembered why I vowed not to go to any more pre-season 'friendlies'. It was a work out of sorts ; a nice evening trip in a very smart coach for the lads; it gave some of the fringe players a go but a spectacle that lingers in the memory it is not.
Dervite who I have not seen before didn't look out of place at centre half with either Corluka and then Huddleston. Just as well in view of the fact that Ledley, Woodgate and Dawson are all unfit according to Harry. Boateng to my surprise only had one head and looked and played quite normally. He came on for Jenas in the second half and was replaced after injury by Livermore. Both looked competent as midfield back ups. Defoe and Modric who came on in the second half looked more interested than most but they would probably be up for it if you produced a tennis ball in Tesco's car park. Or Tesco's frozen food aisle come to that.
The rest ran about only when Harry and Joe, especially Joe,were watching and were obviously thinking about Barcelona on Friday. Peterborough were poor and we won 4-0. Nice little ground, good pitch, pleasant people, good seat for £12 , but no veggie burgers. I'm sticking with Spurs.
Now for some more facts that don't need much elaboration. We signed another couple of young right backs to go with Hutton, Corluka, and Chimbonda. But we had sold Gunter and Zokora so there was obviously a gaping hole there. These two new boys are both from Sheffield United, both called Kyle and the supermarket practice of 'Buy one; get one free' is clearly at work. Harry's plan is to corner the right back futures market and hold everyone to ransom a couple of years down the line. Could just work.
In the parallel universe that we have come to know as the transfer window its either Crouch or Huntelaar. Now I've already backed Crouchy as he is used to English food, has met Harry before and though not an upgrade on what we have and probably inferior to JVH signing him has that ring of truth about it. Bent will then go to Sunderland to join the Tottenham Old Boys Association. Harry happy, Levy and the accountants happy and no patriotic Dutchmen hanging round The Lane making caustic remarks about Martin Jol. In fact no self respecting Dutchman would come to us after the way we treated his fellow countryman.
We are falling into the reality gap,time warp, Catch 22 thingy. We can't get into the Top Four until we get some Top Four players to sign on: but we can't get the Top Four players to sign on until we get into the Top Four. Discuss.
Now I suggest that we forget about where we might or could end up; build a decent team starting from the decent squad we have now; make sure that we adhere to the footballing principles and practices of our glorious past; buy for the future with some decent youngsters to join the promising group we already have ; give the fans some good football to watch and see where it takes us.
Do I lack ambition? No. Who wouldn't want to be playing the top teams in the world in the Champions' League. But would I sell my Granny to achieve it? No. Do I want some oil rich consortium to buy us up and pump a billion pounds into the kitty? Man. City are you listening? No. Success which is bought over the counter, as Chelsea can affirm, does not bring respect and any sense of lasting satisfaction. Even their own captain, 'Mr. Chelsea' feigns dissatisfaction in order to improve his already obscene weekly wage.
I'm not dooming us to mid table mediocrity for ever because I believe a club with our history and tradition by playing good football and enhancing our reputation can attract top players, as we did with Berbatov and Modric, and that we can make progress. Not fast enough for some but fast enough to satisfy those who want to keep their respect for the players, the team and the club.
Friday night won't prove much even if we win given the nature of these games and the slight bearing they have on the proper football which starts with Liverpool. Come to think of it Aldershot needn't have bothered as Friday might well puncture our pre-season glory run. As Butch Cassidy said to the Sundance Kid (or vice versa) why are you worrying about drowning in the river at the bottom? The fall will probably kill you.