Now or never for Spurs?
By Will Smith
With the top-clubs in a state of flux and Spurs seemingly managing to build a competitive squad (and retain the services of a certain flying Welshman for another season), is it now or never for Tottenham Hotspur?
A long-held breath is being exhaled collectively across parts of North London and beyond as it seems that Gareth Bale will, with almost complete certainty, be remaining at the Club for another season. This news comes on the heels of the imminent arrival of a player who featured in an important role for Brazil throughout their successful Confederations Cup campaign, and the passing of a brief (if worrisome) rumour that the man at the top might be leaving the club for Parisienne riches. Not only that, but Spain's greatest ever goal-scorer looks like he might quite like to come to the party. This might just seem like the classic Spurs pre-season war-cry, but here's my question; if not now, when?
With the best will and faith in the world, few Spurs fans could begrudge Gareth Bale leaving for Real Madrid next summer, all things being equal. He is a superstar and deserves to play Champions League football and rub shoulders with the finest players on the planet. The fact that he is still at the club now is testament to his loyalty and his class, two traits which are all too scarce in the modern game and deserve to be mentioned. Realistically, this is the last season we'll see Gareth Bale rampaging around the Lane and even if we receive a record-beating sum of money for him, there is no one on the planet who could replace him.
Now let me plant this little seed; a potential front-line of Bale, Villa and Lennon will score goals; backed up by an industrious midfield trio of Paulinho, Dembele and Sandro, in front of a resolute partnership of Kaboul and Vertonghen, flanked by pace and quality in the full-back position with the French #1 between the sticks... Oh, and there's the German under-21 captain on the bench alongside the likes of Sigurðsson, Defoe and Caulker for depth. Does that not look like a squad capable of competing not just for fourth place, but the title this season?
I think I may have been one of the few, but I was delighted when Spurs appointed AVB as manager. I feared for the future of the club when I heard that Harry Redknapp was to be ousted, but sufficiently comforted to learn that the dynamic Portuguese man was to take over. Spurs survived a real scare a few weeks ago when AVB had to affirm his commitment to the club in the face of the opportunity to manage a club with unlimited funds in the shape of PSG, but he will not be around forever. He recently admitted that he only sees his management career lasting ten years and as an ambitious man if success is not forthcoming at Spurs, he will find success elsewhere.
With changes in management at Manchester City, Manchester United and Chelsea (albeit back to an old favourite), and with Arsenal set to finally invest heavily, this season promises to be one of the most open title-races in memory. With a young, hungry and highly competitive squad; a young, hungry and highly capable manager and decades of promise and disappointment behind them, Spurs are in the strongest position ever in the Premier League to challenge for the title.
And I fear that if it doesn't happen now, the club will miss out on a dream the fans have been fantasising over for years.