I tried to keep this shorter than yesterday’s, but it didn’t work. Sorry!
Ramble of the Day
A prompt for us all, courtesy of Twitter:
You can change the result of one sporting event ever. Which do you pick and why?— Matthew Doyle (@MattDoyle76) October 24, 2018
I’m mostly posting this for the rest of you, because...I don’t have an answer.
Instead, I was thinking about the painful 2012 Champions League final. Naturally, that’s a result Tottenham fans could do without, but I do wonder what would have happened if the match went the other way.
Let’s say Bayern close out that match after Thomas Müller’s 83rd minute header, and the match ends 1-0 to the German side. Spurs would be in the Champions League in the 2012-13 season, with Harry Redknapp still in charge. Eden Hazard would be one of Spurs’ new signings in the summer of 2012, as would probably everyone else that joined that season: Gylfi Sigurdsson, Jan Vertonghen, Emmanuel Adebayor, and possibly even Hugo Lloris, Mousa Dembélé, and Clint Dempsey. Luka Modrić likely still gets his move to Real Madrid, but Rafael van der Vaart might get another shot with Redknapp. Overall, not a lot of change between the two timelines.
Spurs would likely be seeded in Pot 3 for the Champions League draw, and probably end up in Group F, with reigning champions Bayern Munich, Valencia, and Lille. Results under Redknapp continue to slide now that he doesn’t have the England job and isn’t exactly a tactician, and Spurs end up back in the Europa League. He doesn’t take it seriously, and Spurs are out in the Europa League Round of 32 after losing to Lyon.
As for league form, it’s an up-and-down season. Hazard is quite the help and ends up becoming the star of the show, but he grows frustrated by the inconsistency of results. Domestic cups are just as unimportant to Redknapp, and so Spurs end the season without any silverware and in fifth place on the Premier League table, several points adrift of fourth-place Arsenal.
Daniel Levy realizes that the time has come to relieve Redknapp of his duties, and does just that. After Michael Laudrup’s successful first year in charge at Swansea City that was highlighted by a direct and stylish way of playing, Levy hires him to take the reigns. Hazard is pleased, but still has an eye on the door in case things go sour. Everyone else is happy with the new coach, but he really shifts around the squad. He gets rid of some deadweight and adds some talent he and Levy work together to get. Christian Eriksen and Érik Lamela still find their way to Tottenham, and maybe so does Roberto Soldado. The likes of Steven Caulker, Scott Parker, and Jermain Defoe find places at different clubs.
The 2013-14 season starts off well, with Hazard and Gareth Bale the main men in Tottenham’s attack. The Europa League group stage is a success, but Spurs are out early in the League Cup. Once the new year begins, though, things start to get difficult. A lack of squad rotation leads to fatigue, and fatigue leads to poor results. Still, Spurs manage a respectable fifth place finish, only a few points off fourth place Arsenal.
Hazard leaves for Real Madrid over the summer, and Manchester United attempt to sign Bale. A few academy products end up leaving the club, as is typical every season, including Harry Kane, who finds a home in Norwich. Laudrup’s second season is plagued with injuries and the fact that the team is easy to figure out. He gets the sack mid-season, Levy cursing the fact that Louis van Gaal is no longer available. Ajax’s Frank de Boer is, though, and he interviews for the job. Instead, though, Levy selects relative unknown Mauricio Pochettino, who has enjoyed a strong two seasons at Southampton. Pochettino won’t leave until the end of the 2014-15 campaign, leaving Spurs with a few months of Tim Sherwood. Spurs end the season in sixth place, just two points ahead of Southampton.
Many Tottenham players who were looking for an exit are convinced by Pochettino, including Lloris and Bale. It starts modestly, but a few years, a title challenge, and an impressive Champions League group stage later, Pochettino is still around, as are his underpaid stars. Everyone’s stock rises, and iwth that comes the risk that they’ll leave, but they believe their cult leader — and an FA Cup victory last season didn’t hurt.
It either works itself out, or I got lazy towards the end. You choose!
tl;dr: What if Bayern won the Champions League in 2012?
Links of the Day
Schalke prepared for their 0-0 draw at Galatasaray by training with a recording of the loud Galatasaray fans playing.
A German minor league player has been accused of biting off a part of an opponent’s nose, and might face repercussions from the league — but not his club.
Dele Alli and Eric Dier will be part of a celebrity edition of Gogglebox for Stand Up to Cancer on Friday.
Today’s longer read: Annie Lord speaks to significant others of footballers about the myths and stereotypes associated with being “WAGs” for VICE