As I half-heartedly peruse the endless ITK reports of players linked to Spurs by respected journalists, bloggers and this bloke Kev who works down the Dog & Duck and honest knows the assistant kit-man’s goddaughter not-even-lying bruh, I’m increasingly baffled by the reaction of the average (and somehow simultaneously below average) fan of Tottenham Hotspur FC.
The reaction to which I refer isn’t a wholly new phenomenon – it’s been prevalent for years to a greater or lesser degree – but it certainly seems to have become noticeably more prominent this summer, and specifically since the arrival of Fabio Paratici.
Presumably, as some kind of shielding psychological response to the mental scarring resulting from years of deprivation and water-boarding, Spurs fans have always had a uniquely excitable temperament when it comes to players being linked with the club.
For my own part, I won’t be disabused of the belief that Rivaldo’s charming letter was irrefutable proof he would absolutely have signed for us if he could have, and I also cannot wait to see Leandro Damiao finally make his debut in a Lilywhite shirt.
This kind of mostly-harmless self-delusion is nothing new.
What does seem to be unnervingly on the rise, however, is the prevalence of people giving massive amounts of credit to our newly-appointed Managing Director of Football simply for being linked with players by the press and social media. It’s almost surreal.
With the management debacle at least temporarily consigned to the comedy section of the history books, all attention has turned to the playing squad, and to prospective changes to that squad. It has been a little under two months since the EPL season finished, and in the last week or so those players not involved in international tournaments have returned for pre-season training. The new season kicks off on the 13th August.
To date, Tottenham Hotspur have signed precisely zero players. Of the widely-reported bunch of dead wood players in the squad that are ripe for pruning, most are still gainlessly employed by the club. Dier, Sissoko, Aurier, Winks, Sanchez and Lamela have all been linked with exits but remain steadfastly attached to the playing staff like limpets to the hull of a sinking ship. Other than Juan Foyth, a versatile and decent enough player who’s managed to snag himself a European trophy on loan while Tottenham was neck-deep in effluence, the only other players who have departed are a bunch of kids and two players who fell out the end of their contracts, so their exits this summer are also a direct function of the club’s permanent state of inertia.
Gazzaniga was a perfectly serviceable third-choice keeper but probably deserves the chance to go and be first choice somewhere else, while Rose, for many years a good servant, should have been paid off ages ago when his toxicity and press leaks became more significant than his on-pitch contribution.
Nevertheless, despite the flatline on the club’s ECG of Doing Anything Whatsoever, we continue to be linked with just about everybody in Serie A, La Liga, the Bundesliga, Ligue 1 and the Primeira Liga. Granted, it’s largely a different list of players this year, mainly because the press and social media have noted that someone with an actual track record of recruitment in Europe (though this was at a genuine Big Club, rather than a pretender with delusions of adequacy) might potentially have a better grasp of the European transfer market than someone who, by his own admission, hates the transfer window.
|But nothing has actually occurred.|
Nobody’s arrived. Nobody of significance has departed. Nothing. Niente. Nada. Nichts. Rien. Err… Nada… again. Portuguese is very similar to Spanish. Sue me.
Takehiro Tomiyasu has been strongly linked, and there are even reports we’ve agreed personal terms, but please let’s not jump the gun. That’s all a bit academic if we don’t stump up the transfer fee. I’m sure a Bugatti Chiron would be perfectly willing to let me drive it, but the dealer would be somewhat less accommodating if I turn up with 50p and a bag of grapes.
It’s not like we don’t have considerable form in that department. It’s like that scene in Austin Powers when Dr. Evil (which incidentally rearranged, becomes Levi – coincidence? I think not!) proudly exclaims “One million
dollars!”, only for the rest of the
Similar is the situation with rumoured target Jules Kounde, but in his case it’s actually worse. Not only are we not getting into the ballpark of Sevilla’s valuation, but it’s reported that he’s not exactly enthralled by the prospect of joining the Tottenham Neverlution. He thinks we’re a second-tier club. His teammate Youssef En-Nesyri is apparently of the same mind. Even Danny Ings doesn’t think we’re a big enough step up from Southampton. Insigne’s been told we’re a bit of a mess.
They’re all spot on, if not actually being a bit generous. We’re a running joke. A banter club. Reality bites, and the opportunity to ply your trade in Europe’s third-tier competition under the bright lights of White Elephant Lane and working with the twelfth choice head coach in a failing squad isn’t quite the golden egg some people still delude themselves it is. Other things than golden eggs come out of a goose’s arse.
So if you filter out the links that are purely journalistic speculation with no basis in truth, and then shortlist the ones for whom Daniel will actually sanction an acceptable offer, and then hone in on the ones that are legitimately attracted by the opportunity to join Spurs, what you’re ultimately left with is a shelf full of jars of Levy’s fictional future jam.
Paratici may well deliver some absolute blinders. I really hope he does. I wish him and Nuno nothing but the best. You’ll forgive me if my powder remains as dry as the Namib Desert for now, though…? After all, we’ve all been here before. For twenty years. Daniel has quite the sparkling track record of failing to back managers and directors of football. Ask Jol, Redknapp, Pochettino and Mourinho. Ask Arnesen, Comolli and Mitchell. This may come down to Nuno against No-No. Paratici against Parasitey.
However, as much as we might hope our Director of Football actually comes through this nigh-impossible challenge, until he does so, please can we stop giving him ridiculous credit just for being linked, whether he’s actually done anything? Every time some bored blogger realizes they’ve got nothing else of value to say so they whip up a rumour out of nothing that… oh, I dunno… that Paratici’s been bending Lukaku’s ear or something, please remember it’s essentially just fan-fiction and stop with the mindless “OMDDDSSS!!! Paratici doing bits!!!” tweets. Likewise, if someone else contradicts that first writer, stop the “YESSS!!! Eccleshare leaving Pitt-Brooke IN THE MUD!!” crap. You’re making yourselves look like morons, adding nothing to the discussion, and only setting yourself up for disappointment. You’re certainly not making it more likely by sheer force of will.
Nothing has happened until it’s happened, which most of these rumours won’t do. Nothing is done until it’s done. And it certainly isn’t done just because you read it at Football London, Football Insider or the Athletic. This is all just educated guesswork, and some of it isn’t even that educated.
Feel free to celebrate when a fee and personal terms have agreed, but remember that, even then, things can still all go a bit Willian. Until that time, we can all keep reading the ITK with interest, but taking it all with a pinch of salt and more than a soupçon of cynicism born of experience.
Chances are the real course of events will see Paratici scrambling around in the last days of the window desperately trying to see if we can persuade some Ligue 2 no-mark to play second fiddle to Troy Parrott up-front, while Nuno’s having the same experience as every other manager under ENIC and realized his entire pre-season has been utterly pointless.
It’s Levyworld, after all. Long-term interests and all that.