panic attack

I’m not having a panic attack. I swear… I think. Maybe I am having one. Well, wait… no I’m probably not having a panic attack.

luka modric during tottenham preseason training in south africa
apparently the saga over this man's signature has distracted levy and redknapp from getting any transfer work done this summer.

But with just a few days remaining until the Spurs’ delayed official start to the Premier League’s 2011-2012 season, Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy is officially making me lose sleep.

I know that last season was a bit of a mixed bag for Spurs and their fans. We were all enthralled by our magical European adventure, but also all rightly disappointed that the team couldn’t consistently put in the type of domestic performances that were earning them worthy praise on the continent.

As this post clearly points out, Tottenham were a team that could hang with the big boys. But on the flip side of the coin, they were decidedly average against team’s they should have been beating. The rigors of the Premier League, regardless of the competition faced each weekend, were too much to heap on players who were already being asked to carry heavy Champions League loads.

One thing that is certain is that the lack of activity in the January transfer window played a decently-sized part in the club’s eventual shortcomings.

The squad clearly needed reinforcements (in particular at the front end of the pitch) to continue battling on multiple fronts, and yet the only area they reinforced was the one area of the pitch that didn’t need that much help (although, a midfielder like Pienaar was a deal at the price we landed him for). Long story short, thin as the squad was, it couldn’t cope with a multi-competition battle.

So when Tottenham relinquished their short hold on a top four position back in the spring, both Levy and Redknapp admitted that big signings would be necessary to get the club back on track with their grand aspirations.

tottenham's brad friedel and michael dawson
friedel should help lift tottenham's defensive acumen, but he's not the impact signing that we had all hoped for.

Initially, long-term “dream” targets came back to the forefront. Forlán, Falcao, and Rossi were all floated in the deep pool of summer transfer rumors. But for various reasons (too old, too expensive, and too not for sale) none were realistic solutions to the Spurs’ striking woes. It appeared that Tottenham would either have to pony up and spend like the club has a super-rich foreign owner, or unearth a diamond in the rough.

Fellow Ohioan Brad Friedel was the first signing of the window, and though he was also a bargain-buy that addressed a weak spot in the team, his arrival was hardly the “big time” signing that we all wanted and the team needed.

But I remained optimistic; perhaps Friedel’s signing was the beginning of a torrid of transfer activity at White Hart Lane. After all, we don’t just need to buy at Tottenham: we also need to trim. With one of the largest squads in the Premier League last season, Levy remained (rightly) insistent that arrivals at the club would necessitate cash from sales.

Yet Friedel, to this point, remains the only transfer dealing of this extremely crucial off-season. One free signing, and only two paltry sums coming in after the Lillywhites finally disposed of serial-loanees Jamie O’Hara (to Wolves for £3.5m) and Robbie Keane (to LA Galaxy for £3m)… nothing official about Jenas, Hutton, Dos Santos, Bassong and Palacios being sold off to raise the all important cash.

So while Tottenham Hotspur seem to be twiddling their thumbs, all of their direct competitors have been busy strengthening their squads.

kun aguero at manchester city
though they bid for him in january, spurs never had a realistic shot of landing kun.

Manchester City, the club that’s recently been Tottenham’s biggest rival (as far as league places are concerned) over the last few years, have continued to spend astronomical sums on players they may (Stefan Savić) or may not (Clichy) need (Agüero could be unneeded if Tévez doesn’t leave). Sadly, additional devastating signings this window seem imminent. If they’re not competing for silverware on all fronts this season with the talent in that squad, then Mancini will have proven himself a moron of a manager.

Liverpool, the club that Tottenham displaced in the Champions League last season, look to have finally gotten back on track with new owner John Henry and new (and old) manager Kenny Dalglish aiming to return to their rightful place as an English power. The signings of Stewart Downing, Jordan Henderson, and José Enrique on top of the January signings of Suarez and Carroll, mean that the Reds have dropped a reported £94 million on getting themselves back in the top four.

Manchester United, the club that doesn’t ever have a down year, also look primed to continue their run of dominance over English football after finally dolling out a big chunk of the Ronaldo-sale money. Ashley Young, David de Gea and Phil Jones have arrived on the back of £50 million, plus there is emergence of Tom Cleverly and the possible arrival of Wesley Sneijder from Inter to further bolster their ranks. When Sir Alex said Tottenham could compete for the title this season, he must have forgotten that his team were competing in England this season.

Then there’s Chelsea, the club that’s played the part of Luka Modrić-stalker all summer long. To be honest, they’ve not spent much on players so far this summer (Lukaku and Romelu)… most of their outbound cash was to pry away Mourinho-lite Andre Villas-Boas from Porto as their new temporary manager. Their lack of player spending has definitely been surprising, as the club’s senior citizen squad looked in the most need of reinforcements. However, I fret that they might not quite be finished for understandable reasons.

And then there’s our North London rivals, Arsenal, the club that… well, thank god at least one of our rivals is looking to be in worse shape than us. Serves them right, that scum.

I sit and watch world-class players arriving at those clubs, and I think to myself: “Those are the types of players we need.” But then I remember, the reality of it is, we can’t afford those players.

Stuck in an undersized stadium that’s unable to generate the necessary revenues to truly invest in a squad, Harry and Daniel have openly admitted that we can’t compete with the big boys when it comes to wages and transfer funds. So, now we’re having to make do with less ambitious targets.

fc twente's bryan ruiz
ruiz would be an ideal, (relatively) cheap signing for tottenham. but is there enough time to pull it off?

Blackburn sweeper/striker Chris Samba‘s name keeps coming up, though improving the back four isn’t and shouldn’t be near the top of the club’s priority list. There have been links to another central midfielder in Real Madrid’s Lassana Diarra, which would make some sense if Palacios leaves. I’d love to see Twente’s Costa Rican striker/shampoo-commercial model Bryan Ruiz get bought, but with so little time left in the window, a deal like that would be tough. Maybe a loan move for everyone’s favorite mercenary, Emmanuel Adebayor, seems the most likely, but do we really want a player that nobody else wants?

And that’s not even touching on the possibility of Modrić leaving and how that could blow everything to hell. Levy seems to have the kid in a vice grip at the moment, but who knows what Chelsea’s millions could persuade the chairmen to do.

Look, my club’s biggest adversaries have spent over a combined £185 million pounds to solidify and/or improve their places in the league. Tottenham have spent zero. Everyone knew that Spurs needed to improve if they wanted to achieve their dream of becoming one of the big boys, and yet the club has done practically nothing to this point to show any of that necessary transfer ambition.

Sure, Harry Houdini could have another late-breaking, wheeling-and-dealing transfer that he’ll pull out of his sleeve like he did with van der Vaart. Maybe he’ll deliver the striker we so desperately need at 11:59pm on August 30th. But if he’ goes that long without a signing, I’d be more willing to bet that it will be another midfielder than a striker… ‘Arry seems to love those center of the park ballers.

And if that’s the case, someone call me a doctor… I’m going to need a prescription for Xanax that will last much longer than just through the remainder of this transfer window.

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2 Comments

    1. Haha… If I had that kind of influence, Ralph, I don’t think I would be still be sitting in Cincinnati! Let’s just hope his recent performances have caught Klinsmann’s eye, and that he’ll be called into a bunch of the next USMNT camps. Chris will need those to land the all-important UK Work Permit.

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