There's a myth widely perpetuated in football supporter culture that if one criticizes their team or expresses anything but unwavering optimism about their future, that person is not a true supporter. Real fans are always with the club, and if one is overly critical or does not believe that success is imminent, they are inferior to their fellow supporters who always believe, or so this widely spread myth states.
On Sunday, Ryan wrote a post about Tottenham Hotspur's lack of signings in the summer transfer window. Harry Redknapp claims that the club will make a couple of big signings, and Ryan's post paints a picture of skepticism. A couple people lit him up for this. Nearly 10,000 people have read that post in about 48 hours, and as someone with lots of experience on the internet, I'm well aware that things like that don't spread by chance or because people think they're thought-provoking. It pissed off quite a few people. A lot of people agreed, but more people didn't. That's fine, really, especially since I wrote the headline and you should all be more pissed at me than you are at him.
I welcome honest discourse on this site. I actually like it when people disagree with the writers and state well thought out reasons why they disagree in the comments. The regular readers and commenters on this site have healthy disagreements all the time, and part of what makes this an interesting and engaging community is that we can disagree respectfully and without getting into flame wars. Of course, we get the occasional jackass who thinks that certain people are not entitled to their fandom because of their nationality, but we cleared up that issue.
This issue is a totally different one, though, since it's a lot more debatable and lacking in outright bigotry. I can't deal with people calling out fans based on their nationality because that's just straight up prejudiced and wrong. There's no room for debate there. However, we actually can have a little bit of a discussion about whether or not someone can be a "real fan" if they criticize the team or show a complete lack of optimism on a regular basis.
Personally, I think that's a load of BS, but if you dislike fans who aren't blindly optimistic, I guess that's your prerogative. It's a misguided view, though, since I think it's pretty clear when the line is crossed between being a fan and not being a 'true fan.'
That line is when you stop rooting for the team. That's it. A real fan cheers for the team even if they think the team is going to lose, and a real fan is happy when their team wins. They can bitch and moan all year long about how the team is crap, the manager shows no ambition, and their chances of success are minimal, but none of that matters if they're happy when they're proven wrong. That's all that is required to be a true fan.
If you don't know, Ryan lives in California and gets up at 4 am to watch games a couple times per season. I love this team and I'd never get up at 4 am to watch them. 4 am is the most evil, ungodly time ever invented and anyone who is awake at that time is a crazy person. I don't care if Ryan says he thinks Harry Redknapp is Satan. Anyone who gets up at 4 am to cheer on their team is a real fan.
The ultimate point of all this is that it's okay to be pessimistic sometimes. I don't want everyone to be a total Negative Nancy unless the NDP is deemed dead and Gareth Bale falls into a well, leaving us well and truly screwed, but a little bit of realism is healthy. So, onto the meat and potatoes of this meandering thing that's working on becoming an opus: Tottenham Hotspur are not going to finish in the top four this season. Even if we buy a world class striker. And I'm not any less of a fan than you are for thinking this.
You can call me an idiot and stop reading the site if you want. If you think this viewpoint is totally unjustified and that I am thoroughly full of crap, by all means, click the red x. I will not begrudge you for doing so. But please, don't tell me that I'm not a real Spurs supporter, because no one who isn't a real supporter starts a blog and then maintains it for a year, writing thousands of words every week.
Just look at the teams we're in contention with, then look at our team. Manchester City, Arsenal and Liverpool have better sides, and there's no harm in admitting that. I don't consider Manchester United and Chelsea our 'competition,' as it would be thoroughly, jaw-droppingly stunning to see either of those teams finish outside of the top four this season.
You know what it's going to take for us to break into the top four? First of all, it's no secret that we need a striker. We've discussed this ad nauseum. In fact, ad nauseum isn't strong enough, because it implies that all of this talk of us not having a striker is only making you queasy. At this point, I'm pretty sure that some of you have vomited. Second of all, we need a whole lot of stuff to go our way.
If Carlos Tevez and Mario Balotelli destroy City with their antics, Luis Suarez has a season ending injury, Cesc Fabregas leaves Arsenal for Barcelona too late for Arsene Wenger to buy a replacement and we sign a world class striker who scores a goal every other game, we MIGHT become one of the four best teams in the league. Not will, MIGHT.
We need a striker, but if the teams around us don't collapse, what good does that striker do? Does anyone honestly think that Fernando Llorente or Lucas Barrios or Leandro Damaio or Emmanuel Adebayor or Karim Benzema or JOHAN FREAKING CRYUFF is the difference between where we are right now and the Champions League? Not a chance. Not a snowball's chance in hell that is the case.
If Jermaine Jenas scores an improbable winner against Arsenal, Robbie Keane scores a hat trick against Liverpool, or Alan Hutton dominates David Silva in a win over City, I will cheer my head off. I will jump up and down and scream like a little girl because I'll be so happy that we were able to beat a quality team with players that I thought were substandard. But just because I will be thrilled if it happens does not mean that I am required to pretend that it is likely to happen. We are not good enough to make the Champions League again, and we will not be changing that through one simple signing.
A lot of things need to fall into place for Spurs to become a perennial Champions League contender. If we get it this year, it'll be very lucky. I'll be happy about getting so lucky, but it'll be lucky nonetheless.
Call me an idiot, but don't call me a bad fan. I want Spurs to win just as much as you do, I'm just struggling to see the light at the end of the tunnel right now.