The streets of North London have always harboured an abundance of pessimism toward their football clubs, but while Arsenal slip further away from their title-chasing ambitions, there are plenty of reasons for a spot of New Year cheer at White Hart Lane.
The decision to replace loveable rogue Harry Redknapp with failed adolescent Andre Villas-Boas left many with an overwhelming sense of dread. A number of media personnel appeared desperate to help orchestrate another downfall, fuelled by an unconvincing start to the season that had some fans reaching for the panic button.
However, this is not the same manager that was seen cowering on the touchline at Stamford Bridge, having instead instilled a sense of balance and rhythm into a side that was once constantly threatened by tactical naivety. As the January transfer window gathers pace, the club find themselves in a similar position to last year, confident in their ability to stay there.
The announcement of Lewis Holtby’s arrival is the latest talented individual set to swap the Bundesliga for the Premier League. It also represents a potential milestone with Spurs fending off the interest of several parties to secure his signature. Does this mean the club are now an attractive and realistic option for the world’s most promising players? Is this the first of many renowned faces destined for the Lane?
It’s difficult to believe that just five years ago Spurs splurged £35m on the look-away-now trio of David Bentley, Roman Pavlyuchenko and Wilson Palacios. But, like any good businessman, chairman Daniel Levy has learned from his mistakes and last summer completed the shrewd captures of Moussa Dembele, Jan Vertonghen and Clint Dempsey.
There was a whiff of déjà vu when the club were lured into the misleading euphoria surrounding Gylfi Sigurdsson, but at just 23 years of age this gamble may still bear fruit in years to come. At present, the tabloid gossip columns are filled with a distinctly superior calibre of names and the purchase of Willian, Leandro Damiao or Younes Belhanda would certainly deliver a formidable sign of intent.
Joao Moutinho is perhaps the most important prospective new signing, in terms of replacing the methodical brilliance of Luka Modric and issuing a prominent gesture of support for Villas-Boas. However, the Portuguese playmaker’s decision is likely to rest solely on the likelihood of obtaining Champions League football next season, which places a fierce onus on the team to achieve another top four finish.
In short, Champions League qualification is essential in completing this transitional phase. It will help distinguish the club from the likes of Everton, Newcastle and even Liverpool as they attempt to make their transfer stall the most appealing in the market. A place in the top four will also surely come at the expense of Arsenal and that alone should provide the greatest incentive of all.
Despite a two-year absence from what is now the most infamous competition in football, the club is still a desirable destination for those looking to resurrect their career as well as build upon it. Both Rafael van der Vaart and Emmanuel Adebayor discovered a platform to reinvent themselves after growing stale from big money moves and while the likes of Dimitar Berbatov and Luka Modric effectively used the club as a stepping-stone, their resulting struggles perhaps indicate the grass isn’t always greener away from the Lane.
Before my promising foresight reaches a state of delirium, it’s worth highlighting the worrying lack of experience that currently resides in the playing squad. Brad Friedel has been ushered away from first-team duty and Scott Parker is still plodding along on the road to recovery, which means many are looking at William Gallas for a sense of leadership and unwavering strength. Hardly reassuring is it?
I haven’t even mentioned the departure of Mr Tottenham himself Ledley King, a talisman the club will perhaps never be able to effectively replace at the heart of the club. It’s not as if there are plenty of candidates waiting in line, especially considering Villas-Boas apparent disdain for the veteran members of his team.
There is a strange and yet somewhat unsurprising feeling among supporters that both manager and chairman are satisfied with the strength of their squad. Perhaps those fears will be allayed by the statistic that Spurs are the third highest spenders in January (£91m) since the transfer window came into force. This is undoubtedly a result of the club trying to revive their ailing fortunes in previous seasons and while this is no longer the case, there will be an even greater desire to cement their position at the summit of the league.
Former Tottenham director of football Damien Comolli has insisted there will be plenty of opportunities to conduct exciting business this month.
“I’ve never seen a seller’s market as it is now – you’ve got sides in Europe who are ready to write off their seasons and clear their wage bills. They are literally saying, ‘everybody is for sale’.” (BBC)
And when there is a sale on, who better to have at your disposal than Daniel ‘The Bargain Hunter’ Levy?