Wednesday, 25 May 2011
"It's too early to tell..."
Okay, so, here's the first of three season reviews from special guests. They'll all be people who have interesting things to say on Twitter, but no blog via which to say them more fully. The first is from @Liquidspurs - a name that pays tribute not only to our beloved Tottenham, but also the mighty Alan Partridge. You should probably follow him. And you should definitely read this...
In 1971, Henry Kissinger asked Chinese leader Zhou Enlai for his assessment of the 1789 French Revolution, and was told “It’s too early to tell”.
I feel the same way about Spurs’ 2010-11 season.
This really could have been the season that Spurs stepped up from also-rans to being one of the really big boys; the season that we were accepted into permanent membership of the Big Four, with all that that entails: challenging for the title every year, regular trophies, Champions League football as of right, and so on.
It obviously didn’t happen. But what does that mean? Have we blown our chance? Now that Manchester City have bought their way into the top four, and Liverpool seem to be well on the road to recovery from a two-year malaise, are we doomed to be go back to where we have been for so long - scrapping for a Europa League spot, and thinking of a top-half finish as an OK season? Or does this season simply demonstrate how hard is the task that we are undertaking – and was just a rocky step on the road to a soon-to-be Golden Era?
There were certainly signs that we were learning the ways of the Big Four. It became a cliché that Spurs won so many points coming from behind, which distracted from the fact that we thereby showed real mettle, a refusal to give up and a self-belief that we were the better side and therefore should and would win.
The game away to Sunderland in February epitomised this: 1-0 down, we scrapped back to win a game against an inferior side by sheer force of will. And our European adventures, more often than not, showed this too. Not just keeping out AC Milan, the Italian Champions, for three hours, and hitting them on the break at their place to win the tie; but also the ruthless demolitions of Twente, Inter, and Werder Bremen at White Hart Lane – the first of those despite the fact that our talisman had been sent off at a critical stage of the game. And none of us will ever forget that second half at the Emirates.
But of course there were plenty of signs that this was just the same old Spurs: the appalling record against the bottom six, that period from the beginning of March to the middle of May when we took nine points from a possible 30, and so on.
We took six points from Liverpool, four from Arsenal, but only one each from West Ham, Wigan and Blackpool. It was a great season to play the “what if?” game. For me, the right “what if” concerns all those draws – 14, of which no fewer than 9 were at home, the ground where we battered the Champions of Europe in November.
What if we had managed wins in just five of those? That would have required just five more goals, one each against (for example) Sunderland, West Ham, West Brom, Blackpool and Birmingham – and we would have finished second in the Premier League. Harry could have realistically argued that this was our “best season ever”.
If we do make the step up that we are all dreaming of, then 5th place in 2010-11 will not look like a blip, it will look like another step on the long road to where we eventually got to. If we go back to the mid-table mediocrity of the 1990s and early-mid 2000s, it will look like the year we blew our best ever chance. A lot will depend on what happens in the transfer market over the Summer. At present, it’s just too early to tell.
Player of the season: Modric
Flop of the season: Defoe
Match of the season: AC Milan 0 THFC 1
Ideal (but vaguely realistic) summer signing: God knows
Do you think we’ll qualify for Champions League football next season? Not really, no