I imagine you took it like I did. That draw at home to West Brom on April 23rd signaled the beginning of the end for Spurs 2011/2012 Champions League aspirations. Like all great Tragedies, this was a conclusion we all could see coming from the beginning but somehow, along the journey, we allowed ourselves to become intoxicated by Champions League glory, forgetting that, for last season, it was a poisoned chalice. But it always was. Not 8 months previous there were predictions of 5th place and Champions League group stages as respectable season goals. And yet here we were, after Bale's hat trick in Milan, after Lennon's blistering counter on the same pitch three months later, after an amazing win at the Emirates - here we were believing again that maybe it just might happen. A 4th place finish! Surely this time Spurs can have their nachos and eat them too, right? RIGHT?!
And then that draw at home to West Brom. Ugh. There is a special embarrassment that follows when you know something to be true, but let yourself believe otherwise, only to have it all come crashing down and forcing you to face up to what you knew all along. [Insert flashbacks to grade school flirts with popularity.]
But, fellow CFC Commentariat, I posit this: The end of the 2010/2011 season was Spurs' EMPEROR STRIKES BACK. It might have seemed daunting heading into the summer, what with Luka unsettled and the frozen carbonite and missing limbs and what have you, but fear not! Things were about to get a whole lot better.
Summer 2011 rolls around and Daniel Levy decides to brandish his Thermal Detonator, which freaks the f*ck of everyone (including myself). What do you mean he's NOT gonna sell Luka? For 40 million? Really?? Really. Because he's Daniel effing Levy. You see those new black clothes? It means he's seen some shit now. He's been through the ManU trials in the Berba swamps, maybe even kissed his sister, whatever. And now he's working some Jedi mind shit. Seriously Chelsea, those aren't the droids you're looking for.
And then Adebayor - on the fastest hunk of junk in the galaxy, a Manchester City contract - drops out of the flippin' sky with Scott Parker who, let's be honest, is probably more Han Solo than anyone. "Hokey formations and ancient tactics are no substitute for a good stuck-in tackle, kid."
I'll stop with the Star Wars analogies and get to the point (because otherwise I never will). It's two points, actually. And they're fairly simple:
We begin this season with one of those "perfect alignement of stars" situations. With City qualifying for the Champions League, they finally had the allure to draw in the likes of Nasri (and Clichy). Couple that with the Fabregas debacle and UH OH! - it's crisis time at Arsenal. With the mass exodus seemingly already underway, Arsenal are in an extremely precarious position. Imagine if they DON'T qualify for CL next year? Think Van Persie sticks around? Which brings me to point number 2:
Right when Arsenal are saddled in their most vulnerable season in FOREVER, Spurs enter the season without the challenges of juggling a CL schedule with the league schedule. And on top of that, we have a perfect opportunity to seriously develop our young talent. Think Tom Carroll, Harry Kane, Andros Townsend, Danny Rose, Jake Livermore (I could go on) get anywhere near this type of high profile game time? Not outside the occasional substitution or injury replacement. We will enter the summer with a much better understanding of where we need cover, and with more developed youth. There's even a part of me that would be disappointed without the same opportunity for our kids next season.
IF (and that's a big if) Spurs can manage to take 4th this year - especially at Arsenal's expense - it could be the proverbial straw that breaks the camel's back at the Emirates. And you know what they say about camels: they're horses designed by Arsene Wenger for the future. Well, maybe not THAT, but you know... something.