I've been trying out a new strategy to deal with the 2012 helping of Tottenham Hotspur Annual Transfer Pain™. I suppose you could parallel it with what Joseph Schumpeter called 'creative destruction'. Out of everything unwanted, frustrating and seemingly regressive about the club's management and transfer policy this year, I've tried to draw out some positives and look at how we can turn potentially damaging issues into opportunities. At the crux of this approach is the fact that I fundamentally accept that André Villas-Boas has been hired to implement a long-term project to this club, and that subsequently I can't expect immediately gratifying aspects to emerge from the growing pains of the side he's putting together. All I can do is look at the short-term issues and see how they'll eventually pan out into advantageous developments.
So here's my latest pitch: Luka Modric's apparently imminent sale will herald the beginning of a week or so of thrilling and long-awaited progress. The good times for the lost and the confused Tottenham Hotspur faithful start here.
Centrally, the thing I've enjoyed the very least about being a Tottenham fan over the past few years under Harry Redknapp was the sense of stagnation. The feeling that every time we come close to progress, every time we reach out our fingers to try and grasp the next rung of the ladder in the Premier League and beyond, we bump up against what appears to be our ceiling. We don't go further. We don't finish the business that we purport to start. We don't progress. This was the sentiment in the summer of two years ago, the following January, the summer of last year, the following January, and now this year.
The Luka saga has now dragged on for almost the entire duration of a long summer. In that time, I've graduated from University and begun my first foray into full-time employment, a state of affairs which has only compounded the feeling that it has gone on years rather than weeks. And what is the worst part of it? Everything potentially good about the club's summer going forward still rests on it coming to an end.
Last year, fans of Spurs were adamant that Luka had to stay to prevent the club from starting to internally collapse. This year, we feel more indifferent. Why is this? Are we just jaded of Luka's antics? Have we decided that we could really actually do something with the purported fees this time around? I think it runs deeper than that. My theory is partially that the Luka saga feels like an anachronism- a hangover from the failed end of last season and the resignation to the feeling that Harry just wouldn't take us further.
But now we have a chance to bring this protracted drama to the end, to me at least, it really does feel like progress can finally start. Yes, we'll lose our most talented, creative player. On paper this will be a disaster. But here's my creative destruction pitch. Lose Luka, and we'll be ready to start this season proper.
The AVB era begins in earnest the second Luka leaves.
I know, without facts or evidence but on intuition, that Spurs have initiated deals in recent weeks for replacements for Modric and for forward options. I know this because if Luka wasn't with us Daniel Levy would have signed these players already. Luka's legacy for us is two-fold- a good bit of cash (reportedly less than we want, but money nonetheless) and a clean slate. AVB can build the squad now the way he wants it built. Levy isn't just moneyballing for the sake of moneyballing- he's been playing a game which, better or worse, is about to come to an end. Now he has to apply money to the space previously occupied by mouth.
Modric leaves, and the signings start. It may not be this week, but by the end of the window we'll get another midfielder and two strikers, I will guarantee it. It may not fill the yawning gap Mod leaves. We may regress, even. But dear God, I'm excited, because now we get to see our manager start his tenure properly already. One big door closes, and a lot of exciting new ones suddenly look like they're about to open. Luka drama ends, I'm willing to bet the striker one follows suit- this isn't really an ending, but more of the beginning that we've been waiting for for so long now. And a new beginning, backed up with signings, is going to happen now for certain. Modric, as I've already hinted, is the painful hangover this squad has to shake. We may get withdrawal pangs in the short and medium term from his departure. But we get to try new things in his wake and that's something those jaded with all the stagnancy should relish.