Doom, gloom and scaremongering; it’s not been a particularly easy couple of months being a Spurs fan. Since Chelsea rendered fourth placed obsolete from Champions League qualification in May, Tottenham supporters seem to have ridden a carousel of negativity in recent weeks. In fact, since that fateful fixture at the Emirates back in February, the decline in positivity during 2012 has somewhat been a hallmark of their calendar year so far.
But yesterday seemed to go a long way to clearing some of the dark clouds that others had cast over White Hart Lane. Just as most of Fleet Street continued writing their obituaries for Tottenham Hotspur, the club aptly announced that Gareth Bale had just signed a new, four-year contract at the club. It may not herald the end to all of the club’s problems, but it was just the tonic that everyone around the club needed. It’s time to put to bed the pain of the last four months- the future’s still there for Tottenham and it always has been.
It is always a dangerous game to underplay the notion of negativity at a football club. But things at Tottenham have never reached the boiling crisis points that so many have liked to stir up over the past few weeks. The Harry Redknapp situation has divided segments of supporters, but there has hardly been some universal acceptance that the future prospects of the club are in pieces.
Some were glad to see the back of a man who’s courting of the England job and perceived tactical failures, cost the club third and a small fortune in Champions League revenue. Others were upset to see Redknapp, his brand of football and the sustained league finishes he bestowed, depart the club. But this isn’t a revival of an aforementioned, tiring argument. The majority of supporters back the chairman and have faith in his ability to run the club in its best interest, however difficult that may seem at times.
Yet that isn’t to say that a certain amount of frustration and in some quarters, negativity, hadn’t amassed within the ranks. As whatever your take on the Redknapp ordeal, sprinklings of positivity have been few and far to come by for several months now and that has taken its toll. A failure to qualify for the Champions League was followed by the departure of the manager and departures to the first team have left some with a heavy heart.
Emmanuel Adebayor could still make his move permanent, but for the time being, Spurs’ top scorer from last season, is no longer at the club. Luka Modric’s expected departure this summer has hardly come as some seismic shock, but the resigned loss of such a gifted footballer has hardly been a reason to be cheerful. And Ledley King’s current plight, out-of-contract and contemplating retirement, has been an uncomfortable reality for quite some time. But it still hasn’t helped matters.
Sometimes a club just needs a boost, a shot of adrenaline to kiss a bit of life back into all involved. The new manager (however obvious it may seem, Andre Villas Boas will of course, remain anonymous) will be backed to the hilt by supporters. But he needs to come in on the back of a wave of optimism, not the loss of the club’s best footballers. And as weeks of speculation, an exasperating transfer saga and swirling ITK rumours took their toll, yesterday dawned with it a real reason for Spurs fans to smile again.
Countless articles have all but denounced Gareth Bale’s supposed departure for several months now. Rival fans have been all but happy to gloat about the alleged apocalypse facing Spurs starting XI. But fans waited pensively yet calmly. And yesterday, the Welsh winger penned a new deal to 2016.
It was just the perfect tonic at the ideal time for Tottenham Hotspur. However much the hyperbole hurts to read, Bale is one of the best left sided players in the league, if not Europe. And he has decided he wants to stay at White Hart Lane. In modern day football, so often words have no meaning, but it felt different when Bale uttered: “I love the club and the fans and I want to play my part in trying to get us back into the Champions League – where we belong.”
The affection and the ambition really strike a chord and it’s the sort of language that hasn’t been uttered much around Spurs lately. Party-poopers will claim he will still leave next season, but it doesn’t matter. He is here for the present and it has boosted the club, the fans and the chances of making an assault on the Champions League places next season.
Some will announce confidently that they never truly believed Bale would leave. But in an interview with Football Focus in April, Bale was extremely ambiguous when asked whether he’d review his position at Spurs should Champions League football prove elusive. If you read between the lines, what does it mean that he’s signed the contract? What has Daniel Levy told him about the manager and the calibre of players he wishes to bring in? If, as some outlets have reported, that Bale is Spurs’ first £100,000 a week player, what does this mean for future investment?
Maybe it’s looking for something that isn’t there. But Gareth Bale has sent a message out to the fans, the media and the rest of the Premier League. Don’t write off Spurs just yet. If Modric is to go and the money is well invested on a replacement and a centre forward, why can’t Spurs try to finish third next season?
Some will say a reality check is needed and the cautious will reprimand those getting carried away off the back of a contract signing. But there is finally a dose of optimism around Tottenham Hotspur. The wounds of the past four months don’t need to be forgotten. But it’s time we looked forward to the challenge of next season, using that pain of missing out on the Champions League, not as a yardstick to wield in the Redknapp debate, but as a fuel to fire support behind the new White Hart Lane set up.
Next season will boast a new state-of-the-art training ground, a stadium project that is painstakingly close to getting underway, but pehaps just as poignantly, it will involve Gareth Bale. Throw in the likes of Kyle Walker, hopefully Jan Vertonghen and maybe even a tactically astute manager who can bring a Plan B to games and the future isn’t so bad after all. Who else is feeling a little more optimistic?
Has your faith been reinstalled at White Hart Lane or did it never leave you in the first place? Can Spurs really shoot on for third or are you still fretting about the probable departure of Luka Modric? Let me know how you feel, for all things Spurs, follow @samuel_antrobus on Twitter.