In a completely transparent bid to drum up interest and provoke controversy in a publication that nobody really reads we approached Russell Brand to guest edit This Is Not Football but the skinny-scarf wearing Herbert declared, rather bluntly, ‘You talk enough shite already. And I support West Ham’. So you will have to put up with our distinctly less glamorous approach for a bit longer, or at least until we can get Robert Webb to write us a really odd missing the point type article – perhaps something about Alex Ferguson never owning a pool table.
Going back to Brand, we were initially excited when we realised that we shared some common sexual ground with unlikely swordsman, so imagine our disappointment when it was revealed that Lynne and Katy are in no way related.
Anyway, we’ll plough on regardless towards the Spurs preview portion of all this – we’ll maybe even try to come up with some segue about flighty Londoners who get more media attention than their achievements deserve. Well, that was it really.
Before we start going on about their team it’s always quite interesting to delve into the philosophical minefield that is the ongoing ‘Yid Army’ debate at Tottenham. You will always know when this subject has reared its head again because it’s the only time you will ever see David Baddiel’s face on your television screen. In fairness to Baddiel, whenever he sets his well-rehearsed points out against some normally not Jewish Spurs fan he is hard to argue with. The best they can ever come up with in reply is ‘It’s not offensive’ to which he replies ‘But lots of Jewish people are offended’ which leaves only the rather weak ‘Well they shouldn’t be’.
Everyone seems to get tied up in knots about the whole thing, with the likes of the FA, the police and even the Prime Minister all offering different viewpoints. In reality though not a lot happens because, for all the hand-wringing, the practicality of the situation is it’s easy to arrest or eject handfuls of away supporters shouting anti-Semitic remarks at White Hart Lane, but stopping entire stands full of Tottenham fans from singing ‘Yid Army’ is another matter altogether.
When shouting about ‘Yids’ as well it’s the one time that someone being asked to stop doing something that they see as their ‘right’ can legitimately argue that they would have been allowed to do it in Nazi Germany.
Speaking of all things London Jewish brings to mind the old sitcom Never Mind The Quality, Feel The Width – ok, it doesn’t really, as it was rubbish and you are probably far too young to recall it, but for the sake of moving on to discuss how Andreas Villas Boas has strengthened his squad with the money from selling Gareth Bale it kind of works.
There’s a well-held belief that having a massive squad is what you need to win the league, but when you look at the likes of Tottenham, who have sold one extraordinary player and replaced him with about seven lesser ones, it looks like what they have actually done is improved their chances of winning the League Cup. If your first eleven, or at least first 14 or 15, aren’t stronger than your rivals then how can you expect to surpass them in the competition that’s taken most seriously? Clearly you need to have a degree of strength in depth in order to make decent substitutions and cover for injuries, but having essentially another full set of fellas who should really be playing first team football somewhere else, and who can only really be placated by their immense wages, must surely breed its own problems.
School prefect Villas Boas has bought some decent players with the Bale money, but at the moment at least they haven’t had the same sort of impact that Roberto Martinez’s new Fellaini-funded faces have had on the Everton team. Roberto Soldado, for instance, is clearly a great finisher, but he appears to offer very little in terms of all-round play, which makes you wonder whether they might have been just as well persisting with Jermain Defoe and saving the fat part of £30 million.
Similarly Tottenham laid out £36 million on Erik Lamela and Naser Chadli only to find that the best disconcertingly tall winger on the books is the one that was out on loan at Queens Park Rangers last season.
Managers are quick to plead poverty and settle into ‘back me or sack me’ mode when it comes to transfers, but when you see what they are likely to do when given free rein with the chequebook you wonder whether they need to be saved from themselves. Often their best work is done, like in art or engineering, when there are limits and constraints that force them to use their imagination and be a bit more creative.
They won’t thank anyone for pointing it out, but you only have to look at Arsene Wenger who has kept faith in players like Aaron Ramsey and resisted the urge to spend for the sake of it until someone came along who he thought could make that real difference to his team. Or Everton even, who Tottenham have barely outperformed over the last 10 years despite being considerably better off money-wise.
In short then, Spurs spend a lot of money to qualify for the Europa League and occasionally finish fourth, and that spending creates the expectancy that has led to their fans grumbling and the manager making comments questioning the atmosphere at White Hart Lane. In fairness to his team, we could have told them that Hull City were going to be a tough side to beat, as they were half decent at Goodison the other week.
Like most of the less well funded sides in the division Hull go away to the bigger clubs determined not to get shredded on the break. Thankfully the unique atmosphere at English grounds, and the fact that we’ve never really learnt how to defend that well in this country, means that these nullifying tactics have yet to reach mid-90s Serie A levels, but still the more illustrious teams can often find themselves frustrated in front of their own supporters. That shouldn’t be the case on Sunday though, as Tottenham will surely come to have a go and that means there’s every chance we will have an open and entertaining game.
That’s another shocking ending but it’s quarter to eight and some of us have got to get to work so there’s not even any time to go back and check the spelling and grammar, that’s just how it’s going to have to be.
Deal with it.