a tale of two summers

the transfer market is always a tricky beast to navigate, particularly in a summer after a world cup where transfer fees bloat due to raised expectations. and while many clubs come into the summer with a clear plan for their transfer dealings, those plans can often get derailed in no time flat for any multitude of reasons.

as a fan, it’s hard to remember that sometimes.

it’s not as if the club say to themselves at the end of each season, “hey, let’s go out this summer and make a bunch or rushed, uncalculated decisions that will cost the club millions and see little return!” even if the club has the best scouting in the world, no player is ever a sure bet to become all of your hopes and dreams either. so it’s all a real crapshoot anyway.

honestly, all we want as fans is to make sure the clubs we support are showing ambition to improve their squads.

for some teams, that might involve selling off players. man city lives in this realm right now, that is unless they’re planning on fielding two squads this year). for other teams, it means a radical overhaul of all or some of their team (wait, are we still talking about man city?!).

harry houdini has apparently made all of the summer moves disappear at white hart lane, much to the horror of yids the world over.

as many of you reading probably know, i support two teams. and my reactions to this summer’s transfer dealings for each club can best be described as a tale of two summers.

tottenham hotspur
it’s been a quiet summer in the navy and white half of north london, with virtually no exits or entrances of note yet. in fact, most of the noise coming from white hart lane this summer has been a near constant stream of interviews with ‘arry about who he does or doesn’t want to bring in.

i for one, am not pleased by the lack of activity in the transfer market by spurs.

it’s important to remember that this is a crucial season for spurs. while they certainly crossed a major hurdle in finishing fourth last season, there is no guarantee of reaching the lucrative knockout stages of the champions league (especially after their horrid pre-season run out against villareal) and they will likely face a stiff challenger in their qualifier. reaching that stage is imperative for the club, making sure they receive their slice of the TV revenues.

also, there is going to be a gigantic increase in the amount of competition at the top of the table in england this season. while there are the constant title chasers in manchester united and chelsea, arsenal have shown some steel for a change in their transfer dealings. man city’s never ending pockets are making them into a ridiculously talented squad. and liverpool — fresh off their season of gloom — have a billionaire looking to purchase the club, have made some great transfer moves, brought in a fantastic “players” coach and have gotten their two biggest stars to commit their immediate futures.

do you see the picture i’m trying to paint here? the point is, this season tottenham are going to be battling a significantly higher amount of talented and competitive teams than they’ve ever faced before. they’ll be battling on four fronts (EPL, f.a. cup, league cup and champions league) for the first time since they were last in the uefa cup. and as of right now, they’ll be fighting those battles with the same thin squad that they squeaked through with last season.

that squad just isn’t deep (or talented?) enough to handle that increase in competition.

simply put, they need world class signings to help level the playing field. joe cole kinda fits that mold. but player’s like sevilla’s luis fabiano, or perhaps making a splash and signing someone like loic remy or ashley young would be ideal. don’t get me started on how craig bellamy isn’t the “big signing” that we’re looking for.

tottenham management have also said repeatedly this summer that they don’t intend to break the bank to make big moves. ok, if that’s the case, why not sell off fringe players to raise money to make bigger buys? for example, giovanni dos santos has rotted on our bench for nearly three seasons now, and there doesn’t appear to be any room in the squad or plans to make room for him. but after his lauded perfromances at the world cup, his value will never be higher. they should just sell the kid for a decent pile of cash before that time has passed and everyone remembers he’s a benchwarmer, and use that money to reinvest in the squad.

it seems easy enough, and i know i’m oversimplifying things. but if the yids somehow manage to go through the whole window without making a move, it could easily be a long, long, long season.

real madrid
as is typically the case, it’s been a busy summer in the spanish capital.

last summer, madrid broke the bank (or probably several banks) in order to bring in world class, highly marketable players. i even trumpeted it as some sort of success at the time. it was a success… unfortunately it was only at the bank. trophyless, madrid were obviously going to pony up again this summer to reach their stratospheric goals.

pony up they did. but madrid’s biggest, most expensive and most important signing this summer wasn’t a star on the pitch. this year, they spent extravagantly to land a star off the pitch.

that star, of course, was jose mourinho. the one coach i coveted more than any other, and the only man who could right the sinking ship merengues.

mourinho danced into los blancos’ hotseat, with his typical flair, and has immediately made an impact on the types signings madrid are making. while they are still high profile names, for a change they seem to be bought with purpose. they’re actually bringing in and letting go players in a manner that makes sense!

at the close of last season, madrid made a bold move for spanish phenom sergio canales. i wrote it at the time, but i’m still highly impressed with the youngster’s potential (see video). while definitely a buy for the future, i wouldn’t be surprised to see jose give him some experience, especially with kaka out for so long.

the second through the door was another spanish player for the future, pedro león. a winger that’s keen to the right side, leon gives madrid an immediate backup to ronaldo and also gives mourinho an option to place ronaldo in the center of the park with león out wide in cristiano’s normal position.

i was at least this excited to hear madrid's smart move for di maria.

next came argentine winger ángel di maría from benfica, a player who has been rumored for months to be heading to england. the dynamic wideman will fill one of the most sizable gaping holes in madrid’s line up last year, and that is the left wing.

the addition of germany’s sami khedira from stuttgart was a surprise acquisition, but obviously gives madrid a better offensive player to sit in and protect the back four than their current options of the diarras. also helping to tighten up the defense is the arrival of ricardo carvalho from chelsea. while i don’t particularly like the old portuguese center back, he knows mourinho’s system better than anyone else at the club and provides crucial depth in defense due to pepe’s recurring injury issues.

and of course, there’s the club unsurprisingly saying that their may be another signing yet to come. and with mourinho’s heavy hand directing the transfer policies this summer, i don’t doubt that whatever signing is made will be one with purpose and necessity in mind.

the cool thing is the squad jose is building isn’t trying to emulate barça’s style of play, but instead be a unique hybrid of mourinho tactics and merengue attacking flair. it will be really interesting to see how it all ends up.


so as you can see, i’m having a very up and down summer. while one of my teams goes out and makes intelligent signings, the other seems intent to sit and watch the transfer window go by with their thumbs up their asses.

there’s still a few weeks left in the window though, and that leaves both teams time to make moves for the better… or possibly worse.

i just need to remember that they’re both at least trying to be smart with their money.

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