Yesterday was a very Tottenham Hotspur day. If someone had asked me to construct a day that perfectly illustrated everything I love and hate about the club, I could not have possibly come up with a better series of events than those that transpired on January 31, 2012.
The day started with transfer rumors, as January 31st always does. We actually confirmed the loan of Vedran Corluka early, but that would be our only timely move. We were linked to Marko Marin, Junior Hoilett, Christopher Samba, Milos Krasic and Louis Saha. That last player -- the one none of us wanted -- is the one who arrived. We wondered why we weren't interested in Lucas Barrios, why Leandro Damiao wasn't coming, and why signing a striker is so damn hard.
Levy was wisely only willing to sign Krasic on a loan to buy, and Krasic turned us down. The other three players? It's possible that we were never seriously interested. We might have bid for others. We might have never intended on signing anyone at a price higher than "bargain basement". We'll never know.
Incredibly, transfer deadline day featured games this season. Real, actual, competitive Premier League fixtures. Whoever came up with this idea -- computer or human being -- should never be heard from again. Real games on deadline day, a day reserved for everything but real football, are blasphemous. And yet, Tottenham Hotspur were forced to play in one. Mr. Levy probably didn't watch a second of it.
Because the game was at White Hart Lane against relegation favorites Wigan Athletic, most of us were much more concerned with absurd rumors than the actual game itself. That was, until the game started. With the first kick of the ball, we were sucked in, because our players and style of football are a hell of a lot more interesting than the nonsense in the rags.
Luka Modric, Scott Parker, Gareth Bale and our central defense pairing were spectacular. Benoit Assou-Ekotto and Emmanuel Adebayor didn't have their best games, but showed flashes of brilliance and were far from boring. Niko Kranjcar got a rare start and performed well. The first 75 minutes of the game featured a dominant performance from Tottenham, complete with three great goals and some beautiful football. Not only beautiful, but the quintessential style of this era of Spurs football; we had the perfect combination of short passing moves and fast, direct attacks.
Then, James McArthur's goal went in, Spurs brought on a striker that half the White Hart Lane crowd had never heard of and the final 10 minutes were frantic. We held on for the comfortable victory because it was Wigan, but that 15 minutes was so delightfully "typical Spurs". You know, the loss of composure and attitude of simply not giving a f--k that was all too common before Harry Redknapp took over. As annoying as it was, it's our signature, and it's what makes Tottenham a hell of a lot more fun to support than Manchester United.
When the game was over, it was right back to transfer madness, and madness is exactly what transpired. In true Tottenham fashion, we waited until the final hour to do any business. Saha was confirmed as an arrival, while most major media outlets have said that a deal for Ryan Nelsen is done. It will probably be confirmed by the time this is posted. Steven Pienaar and Sebastien Bassong left on loans, while Roman Pavlyuchenko was sold to Lokomotiv Moscow. All of this happened in under one hour as Levy waited until the dying moments of the window to seal his deals.
But wait, there's more! The three players subbed off during the Wigan game? All three came off with injuries. Rafael van der Vaart, Emmanuel Adebayor and Kyle Walker, all doubts for the next match. None of the injuries appeared serious, but if January 31 and history is any indication, you will not know their status for the foreseeable future. In Spursland, there are no timetables for return and no injuries make sense.
All three of those players will be back shortly, even if they miss a game or two, but it's hysterical that Steven Pienaar, Roman Pavlyuchenko and Vedran Corluka, players who can play the positions of the three injured players, were all shipped off immediately before or after the game. If my assessment of this situation is wrong and any of those players has suffered a serious injury -- especially Walker -- there will be hell to pay for Levy.
But hey, those are negative thoughts with no basis in reality, so let's forget about that. The point is, Tuesday was everything good and bad about Spurs. The smart business...done obnoxiously at the last minute. The great football...with a late lapse in concentration and some unlucky injuries. Supporting Spurs is usually very fun and occasionally infuriating, but never boring. Even if we should have seen all of yesterday's events coming from a mile away.
And now it's over, and football is in front of us. Manchester City and Chelsea dropped points, while Manchester United look very up for the fight. Andy Carroll finally scored for Liverpool and Arsenal are going to have to continue to play without Jack Wilshere. Football, real football, is going to be very interesting in the Premier League from now until the end of the season. We're in a three-way title race and favorites for third place, while the battle beneath us for fourth will be great to watch. With some awful luck, we could fall into it.
All of the teams around us will have their ups and downs. Manny, Rafa, Weezus and Luka will miss games. The CFC is a wildcard. We could see some Younes Kaboul at right back. Jake Livermore looks better every time he steps onto the pitch. And what role will Sandro play going forward? Hey, what if Saha plays and he's really good? And what if we end up depending on Nelsen in a title-deciding clash with United?
Oh, and there's the FA Cup. We're favorites in the Fifth Round and who knows who we'll draw in the quarterfinals. If the title is out of reach but the gap back to fourth place is large when the quarters roll around, could we gun for the trophy? Could we do it anyway? Screw it, why not root for a double?
Until May, transfer rumors are done. Real football is about to get very, very interesting for Tottenham Hotspur, as if this season wasn't already fantastic. Even though Tottenham was in Champions League last season, this is the most interesting Tottenham team from a purely footballing perspective since Dimitar Berbatov and Robbie Keane partnered each other up front. And considering that the midfielders behind them were usually the likes of Jermaine Jenas and Didier Zokora, this team is probably a hell of a lot more interesting, as much as I love BERBAROTICA.
We have two truly world class players, great pieces around them and a shot at two trophies. For the first time, we are expected to qualify for the Champions League. The speculation is now behind us. A variety of factors could cause us to bring out the torches and pitchforks on September 1, but for now, let's enjoy the best Tottenham Hotspur team most of us have ever seen.
It's real football time, and even if Spurs fail to meet expectations, it's going to be a blast.