The blog has moved. Just browse to


the fighting cock podcast
blog best viewed on

Firefox, Safari, Chrome and IE8+.

Powered by Squarespace

Entries in believe (7)


Siege mentality and smelling salts

I'm looking forward to writing the season review for 2012. Regardless of the final five games and what they might bring, regardless of whether we secure top four or don't, it won't change the fact that we have some tweaking, rebuilding to do. Redknapp or no Redknapp.

Nothing major in terms of ripping out the foundations and starting afresh. Just key areas of the team need to be looked at (defence, strikers) and decisiveness on potential transfers out. Redknapp has always been short term in application. Something long term is required when the next managerial change occurs. Long term in both the vision for the new coach and player acquisitions. The transition is not going to be one that shakes us and leaves us crying in the corner rocking backwards and forwards. No foaming at mouth. No matter your opinion on Harry Redknapp, he's achieved stability. Compared to the past 10 or so years we've gone from one poor managerial appointment and clean up job to another. Stability equates to competing if the right level of quality is possessed. We've done just that this season. Although we've been let down when it matters most. The foundations are strong. The cracks can be easily repaired. Just hire a new builder. Might take a summer to have everything fixed up in time for the next stormy winter.

Redknapp has got us winning games across seasons consistently, away from home. And aside from a handful of losses, always looking strong at the Lane. Our recent end of season form matches to last season and the issues at hand concern Redknapp's inability to rotate with impact. We've burnt out and the lack of guidance and consistency with formation has compounded matters for the worse. But all this is for the summer. I’ll probably break up the review into about 10/15 different articles. It's been a meaty season, plenty to chew on, plenty to bite at. Some of it, no doubt, will be hard to swallow.

I was told recently that our current form is our actual form, that this is us performing to our expected level. What does that even mean? I asked the same thing to the idiot that goaded me and apparently 'you're only as good as your last game'. In other words the team he supports who have been relatively slack all season and have come into form towards the end of it are showing their real form whereas they were under performing before then. I guess, as opposed to them simply taking advantage of our slackness. Funny how we're not considered to be under performing now, rather over-achieving at the start and playing standard Tottenham football at present. The semantics of football confuse.

What does it matter? It doesn't. But the reality is, we've failed to retain that measured composure across the entirety of the season. Quite ironic that we have suffered for not suffering a blip of form in the early part, but instead have held it back until the very end and half-imploded.

Drama the Spurs way.

I just want to gently remind everyone of our form from that first part of the season. The energetic, confident swagger and swashbuckle Tottenham side that had no fear and fought as a unit. Take that same desire and mix it with the team ethic from 2010 which was battered, written off and bare bones that played out of their skin and arguably punched above their weight (what with the squad depletion) to claim 4th spot. We've seen plenty of 2010 tenacity from this team, but its AWOL currently.

I just want to gently remind everyone that we are still one of the very top sides in the country and regardless of the players we need to sign/replace/sell we're a club that has been on the up for the past four or so seasons. Yes, we are under achieving based on squad comparisons and based on prior form when taking into account everything and everyone. Yes, this learning curve might prove to be costly. Yes, we need to be far more shrewd and tactically astute. Yes, our manager failed to draw a line under the England job. Yes, we are on a downward spiral trying desperately to find a way to claw some momentum back with very few games left to do so.

I just want to gently remind everyone to love the shirt. Supporters and players alike. Especially the players who need to be gently reminded that talking about it is no longer of consequence. Actions speak louder than words. You can't get more clichéd than that. Aside from the usual clichéd Spurs free fall.

5 games. 15 points.

These are the only words of consequence.

Stop being apologetic. Stop bemoaning. Stop worrying. Start believing. One last time, one last chance. This season, when done and dusted will be gone forever. Manager, players…you wont have another chance to relive these moments so how about you get a grip of yourselves and attempt to reclaim some of that lost pride you have so easily surrendered recently? You are not your wage packet. You are not a transfer request. You are not your agent. You are me. You should be me. Living and breathing Lilywhite. You are the thousands at the Lane. The thousands all around the world. You are the history and you are the traditions. If you can't get yourselves up for this then leave, there's no point in you wearing that Lilywhite shirt. My shirt. Our shirt.

Wake up before the slumber turns into a coma. Turn that faint whisper back into a noisy song.

What have you got to lose? Everything. Because everything is glory.



Pinch yourself

Spurs 2 Everton 0

This is getting ridiculous now. Another win. Another clean sheet. Third in the table, level on points with second. Might even go ‘level top’ momentarily over the weekend if we beat Wolves. It’s all very giddy and nosebleedy. Should I pinch myself? Should we pinch ourselves? Have you pinched yourself? No? Neither have I. Because I know I’m not dreaming. We deserve this. We have to keep believing there’s more. What I might have to do at some point (soon) is take a step back and try to take it all in. Really appreciate what we have and what we are aspiring to do. Because in a sort of funny kinda ironic way, most of us are remaining quite grounded over our form. No delusions. No set in stone ambitions either. Let’s face it, start of season we’d have taken fourth spot. Most pundits/media folk would have had us pinned down as outsiders, 5th at best. After the opening two games there were plenty writing off our chances. Concerned that the loss of form from the back end of the previous season was going to continue into this one.

It didn’t. We signed the players we needed to shape ourselves up in order to compete. Since the Manc nightmares we’ve lost only once. We’ve accumulated a points tally that would easily have us challenging for the title in previous years and one that has us in there at the moment, sticking around, just to see what happens. You know, just in case one of the more fancied sides balls it up. When we’ve had players out injured, we’ve dug deep and found a way to adapt. Proving that although key injuries would unsettle us and perhaps cause us long term difficulties – we have still found a way through the fixtures. We did exactly what we had to do through Christmas and the New Year and it’s looking good to finish Jan in similar high spirits as we enter Feb and the ‘doom and gloom’ of the away games we’ll be contesting. A period which is where most expect us to fall away. Mostly based on the fact we shouldn’t be sitting in 3rd spot. We’re far more robust for these fixtures than some give us credit for.

The guile and grit is ever present. Tactically, we’re sound. Players are impressing. Jake Livermore (sure, it was only Everton but he still has to go out there and perform) played with maturity and composure and looked the part in centre-midfield, tidying up and not scared to get involved and carry the ball forward. Had a pass completion rate of just under 99%. 

Rafa van de Vaart continues to excel, work rate and sublime cross-field passing – he can do both. Michael Dawson returned, action-packed, willing to hurt his body to win the ball, the big huggable lump. Our full backs are pulsating. The unbridled joy of Benny’s goal and celebration testament to team unity. What a peach of a goal. Not forgetting Lennon, back in the side giving us complete width and thus comfort in playing the way we know best. Even though we didn’t defeat the visitors with flair on the night. More so tenacity and focus. We controlled it. This fabled game in hand that we’ve been embracing for so long as the one that can edge us further ahead from the chasing pack and ever closer to the top. We didn’t trip over. We skipped, with smiles.

Yet we could still strengthen further, preferably with young hungry players rather than looking to bring back a memory. But then we’re not in need for such a thing to anchor onto the past in the attempt to get some ilk of stranglehold on the present. Mainly because we don’t have anyone to call back (can’t seem to track down Andy Booth). And more so because we don’t have to look back, just forward. Nothing can be done about what’s happened, what’s gone before. It’s not relevant.

Spurs are still evolving. Which probably explains why I’m not gloating/dancing naked in the street at our lofty position. I’m simply enjoying our football and the players we have. We’re always told we won’t do this and we won’t do that, and whilst they waste their energy on attempting to box us back up...we’ve just kept on going. Football cycles always come to an end, so the death of the immaculate untouchable Sky Sports Top Four has given hope where there was no hope before. Where as you could argue we were punching above our weight in 2006 (because others faltered a little), you can’t say so with the class of 2012.

I’m not even thinking about the title. I refuse to look into her sultry eyes and be seduced. Not until she flashes her panties at me and invites me into her hotel bedroom. I just want us to keep on winning, to keep on believing. The buzz I get from this seasons form is more than enough to very gently alter the way I support Spurs. I’m far less stressed now. I don’t fear defeat, I hate the very mention of it. I don’t expect us to lose games. I don’t expect us to choke or bottle it. I know we can muddle our way through a sticky situation or ride our luck and even brush aside opposing sides and win comfortably. We grind it, we style it. Old school Tottenham, the one we’ve grown up with...the one that can be majestic and beautiful one day and absolutely abject the next. It doesn’t exist anymore. We’re just haunted by a memory, the memory of a fading knee—jerk. An expectancy of failure from the days when our form guide was populated with ‘D’ and ‘L’, punctured by the odd ‘W’. When we do come unstuck, it’s happens. It happens to the best of teams. I know we’ll react positively to it. Because the club’s mentality has been fine tuned to start resembling one that can be synonymous with those of winners.

Momentum, a consequence of wanting more than a win in isolation but the necessity to make every win part of something far bigger.

It’s not happened overnight either. Started with Jol. We learnt lessons with how Ramos came to be and came to leave. Redknapp got us back to a respectable position that the squad of players should have been achieving based on their abilities. Then we took it up a notch. We finished 4th. We had our adventure. It wasn’t enough, it’s not enough to be remembered for a cameo. We came unstuck last season, we added to our squad this term...and whilst we continue to push on, others stagnate.

I don’t pinch myself because we’ve taken a step at a time to get where we are. It’s been a process, a progression. But it still remains just a platform, a foundation. We’ve got such a good solid chance to make it so much more than that. But if I did take a step back and try to take it all in, I probably would turn melter and go loopy over the fact that we’re contending. I have to go back to ’87 for the last time we looked ‘the part’.

Maybe I’ve got it all wrong, being reserved and holding back. I always cite ‘wear your heart on your sleeve’ because that’s what we do. In the past, when perpetually mid-table we still supported our club like it was the best club on the planet. Why? Because it is the best. Even during some of the most depressive periods with some God awful players lining up for us, we still sang our hearts out. Should not be any different now. Especially with what we’ve got wearing our Lilywhite colours.

There should be no pressure on us. We shouldn’t spend our time in the stands biting our nails. Which should dare to achieve because there’s no glory in simply aiming for something that isn’t first place. Because anything that isn’t first place can’t be the most glorious of things to aim for.

Go on then, pinch yourself.

So believe. Believe until it’s mathematically impossible. Otherwise, you’re only living your life at half-pelt.




Spurs lose to United at Old Trafford again

Match previews for games at Old Trafford are all pretty much based on the same template no matter the season. We sort of know we're going to lose so we dress up the pre-match war cry to cite how 'it's all about the performance' and that it's important to show a good account of ourselves by fighting with ample tenacity and display desire and other such emotive footballing clichés.

Arguably, losing to Manchester United is hardly something that will leave us tainted with disgrace across our faces. They've been known to win silverware, domestically and in Europe. They have instilled in them a belief system that is pretty much second to none. In other words, they know how to play and they know how to respond positively if they're on the ropes.

My point is, its pretty much okay to cite 'it's all about the performance'. If we go up there on Monday and play stupendously well in a ding-dong game and lose because of a moment of brilliance or the simple fact they deserved it that little bit more - it's not RIP or end of days. Take it on the chin, move on.

But there's more to it than just that. Hence the same recurring template no matter the season.

There is a deep rooted psychological issue at play. We capitulate. We choke. Sure, the great footballing script writer in the sky complicates matters by adding that seasoned ingredient of controversy, usually in the colours of the referee and his assistants. It's a supporting role, sometimes starring...but we still remain accountable for allowing our heads to drop and for the inevitable to consume us. We accept it on the pitch and then post-match we spit blood in protest.

We've done alright at the Lane against United. We just black out up north.

So, to make it as simplistic as possible, we need to play for the shirt and look to win the game. Take it to them. Don't think we need to over complicate matters tactically to combat their team. I don't mean that disrespectfully. United, regardless of their current transition, still won the title off the back of sheer guts and determination. And skill and luck. All glued together by that classic emotive cliché 'belief'. Obviously, that part about skill along with additional qualities like focus and tempo and punishing clinicality are equally essential. As are the top drawer players. Belief is hardly enough if you don't match your opponents on the field of play, pound for pound.

And we can do so. We've hardly got a shabby outfit. Perhaps not strong in certain areas but perhaps as strong in others.

We have a bloody good squad of players. Quality through the spine of the side and we'll improve further once we announce Adebayor and Diarra (and hopefully another player). There is no need for fear or even a sheepish look back in anger to the past painful defeats.

Look forward. Take the game to them. Play football, play it the Spurs way. And for the love of all things Lilywhite, remove the potential for any controversy to shape the games life-span by embracing destiny, in fact no, forget the embrace, just kidnap the dizzy cow, tie her up and throw her into the boot of the car. Take control, unequivocally and without remorse. Want it and want to win otherwise what's the point? We have the players to compete. We need that belief to glue it altogether.

No apologetic looks up to the sky or shrugs at the man with the whistle. No implosions or mistakes. No longer be the victim. Commit the crime. Be ruthless b*stards. I guess the question that needs answering is - do we have it in us (that combination of belief and quality of players) to see it through.

Speaking of the apologetics, worth noting that I'm not suggesting that its our fault Howard Webb is so horrifically inconsistent with decision making or the linesman who was looking down instead of across and missed the Mendes goal. Just that none of it will matter if we're simply better than them on the day and it pays off with goals. Like I said, remove the potential for it to be used as an excuse.

It's a big ask. It always is. But it's hardly impossible. I know that. Let's hope the players are just as aware. We've broken so many hoodoos in recent seasons. This is one that remains with much frustration and mockery.

This preview actually fits perfectly into the aforementioned seasoned template for this encounter. Let's hope the usual outcome doesn't knowingly nod it's appreciation.




The Fighting Cock is a brand new THFC podcast. You can stream it or download it here on DML (make sure you have a Quicktime plug-in installed).

Love the Shirt.

Flav, tehTrunk, Spooky, Ricky, Chicago Dan.

The FC Podcast group on Facebook.

Also listen to The Fighting Cock via:

rss feed

e-mail: thefightingcock at gmail dot com - we want your feedback, suggestions and e-mails.


This is what it's going to be like now...all the time 

We have ambitions and we’re in a position to push on so there are no longer any insignificant games. Which means no matter the points or the position, every game is vital/imperative/high pressured. At least it should be and our gaffer should instil that type of attitude, because intensity is the winning ingredient. That and lack of fear. Something we have in abundance in Europe.

So are you nervous? Are you of a certain weak disposition, struggling to get a stranglehold of how games involving Tottenham are now existing on a different playing field, one where expectations and pressure embrace you but can so easily crush you too. That’s the risk you take with the hug. But you’re rather be hugged then left standing alone, right?

Okay, so City were very much displaying efficiency and authority, granted against a fairly poor side (who beat us 1-0). They did the same to Fulham, punishing them effortlessly. But we’ve been here before right? Comparing ourselves with the competition. And it’s hardly a worthy exercise. This week City win, next week they might lose. Every time a side competing up top with us win a game our next one is suddenly the be all and end all and if we happen to lose it there’d be another knee-jerking session until the following week when the results are reversed and we’re suddenly back in it or out of it or whatever.

We might have obvious problems, but so do they. They being a number of clubs up top.

It’s been the pattern of the season, with our fans see-sawing between disaster and delight. Remember last season? If you do then you should have more faith. Everything is reviewed with microscopic analysis, exaggeration the result. So emotions tend to be pulled apart leaving one or two of us completely spent one day and ecstatic the next.

Utd are meant to be playing below par, yet they’re unbeaten. Arsenal have no defence, but are top. City are not a unit yet can perform like one.  And Chelsea have gone from title winners to crisis club in the space of weeks. As for us, we have no decent strikers and no consistency with our back four and yet we’re still in there. Mercy on all if we signed a player or two.

Bossing games, clinically finishing crosses and maintaining momentum. All key discussion points, all arguably related to the apparent solution involving new blood. But this new blood, this new’s not due to start until the back end of January 2011.

So what of the present? Do we need to win on Sunday? Of course we do. It might not be us placing a marker down thanks to the rather confusing state the Prem finds itself in but we’re playing the blue scum. And a win is a win is a win. And it takes us closer to where we want to be and turns attention to others in terms of stress.

I have no time for the ominous omens relating to their (Chelsea) form and that they are apparently due a performance because pundits can’t see how Chelsea could positively degrade any further. Our fixtures are rolling in thick and fast and that fabled January consolidation window should be forgotten about for now.

It's time to get a grip of things in this bewildering perplexing present and forget about a future which is not guaranteed to play out as we wish it too.

London derby. No love lost. This is what it’s all about. Remember the days when you couldn’t possibly look forward to this fixture because you knew, unequivocally, what the result would be? Now those nerves you feel, it’s not because of the knowing acceptance of how hurtful defeat is but it’s the unacceptable prospect of tasting said defeat.

That expectancy, that pressure – it’s just a teaser of what the future might hold for us if we went that extra mile or two and truly challenged. It’s a consequence of wanting to be better and to continue progressing. It’s the pressure felt by the sides we aspire to stand next to.

No vdV. Modric is on form. Defoe has his goal-scoring boots back on. Azza is hungry once more. Bale v Ferreira. Both defences are capable of lapses. Both can produce moments of quality going forward. Drogba thinks they can win. We’re still reading recycled quotes about a  title push and Harry to England. Tight affair? Or free scoring? We’ll see. Will be despondent if we failed to go for their jugular. If we failed to turn up.

I still don’t think this season is going to start until AFTER January. It’s gentle with its transition. And as much as I keep saying to ignore everyone else and concentrate on winning and improving and getting ahead, it’s not a trend we appear to be owning – much like the rest. But we have to endeavour to dare.

Sunday is about beating Chelsea. One game at a time. I’ll gleefully accept a goal off the left bum cheek of Jermain Defoe in the 94th minute if it gets us the three points.

Beating Arsenal hasn’t laid ruin to their season. Neither will beating Chelsea result in their death. But it will add another badge of honour onto our chest for another battle won, onwards, in the war.

Still nervous? This is what it's going to be like now, all the time. Deal with it. It's for the best. It's what we aspire to be, as fans and a club. At some point someone is going to step up, someone has to.

To dare is to do.


0-0, how exactly?

I have to say I was left requiring a cold shower to cool myself off, having got slightly hot and bothered. I'd hate to think of the mess I would have made had we actually scored a goal or three. Blistering. Pulsating. This is Tottenham. It's basically more of the same from last season. And whether our forwards (all four of them) sharpen up or we manage to bag a genuine canny trickster striker before deadline day - I'm more than confident we're going to push onwards yet again.

Let's face, we had the players before Redknapp arrived. What we lacked was direction, structure, are more than familiar with the list. He got the basics right and yadda yadda yadda. We finally achieved what we've been flirting with for so long. Sustained progression resulting in 4th spot.

Obviously, pre-season had many of us asking if we had the mentality to continue to play at the standard of last season - with improvements in areas that needed improving. We'll find that out in due course, I'd say ask the question again after 15 EPL games. And although I'm not about to positive knee-jerk after the opening 90 minutes of our season, I'd say I saw enough to have that shower running cold for many weekends to come.

We battered City in the first half. Joe Hart's day and his team will be happier with the point than we were. Outstanding Harry called it. Can't really add anything more to that. We just looked a proper fully fledged team.  No residue of those nasty depressive tears from displays of yesteryear, pre-HR. You know how it is, us fans, you expect a signing or two because new blood can add to squad depth and galvanise a side further. And I'm not saying that we should completely discount an additional player or two - but this game reminded us that we have a pretty tidy set of players as it is (we still need a player or two, but can we at least lay to rest the fallacy of importance of pre-season games now, please?)

One or two will regain their high standard in the coming weeks (Lennon still seems a little bit off-key, perhaps one too many summer Cubans?) What I (we) witnessed was a Spurs side that simply works. And did so with the tradition we lust.

Modric, tenacious rather than magical but adapted very well against City's five man midfield, running around the pitch biting at their ankles, tackling and nicking the ball. Think, white short version of Palacios with a mullet. Huddlestone controlling and dominant. Why bother to even be surprised with this? Dare I suggest this might be our most effective midfield partnership (as seen v Arsenal, Chelsea, City last season)?

Okay, so perhaps Moddle wasn't so much effective (magical) going forward as he can be, but as a unit - it worked. It all worked.

Back four - solid. BAE played alright, didn't he? Yeah, no? I'll let you lot argue that one out. Special mention re: his tackle on SWP, start of second half.

Bale is just ridiculously good, much like Daniel Day-Lewis in 'My Left Foot'. There's a reason why My Right Foot went straight to dvd, and it's the same reason why the ball went wide from Gareth's not-his-left-foot foot. Agonising and disappointing. He's still a beast though. And one of our WMD's. Keep him fit, for the love of all things beautiful on God's Lilywhite planet.

The Crouch-Defoe-Keane-Pavlyuchenko quad rotation lacked cutting edge. Heard that before, haven't we? But there's goals in them, I'm certain of it. We still need that ooze of class to push us upwards which we've all been waiting for since the end of the World Cup. At the expense of what unlucky player, I'd say it will be between Keane and Pav. If...if we managed to actually sign someone. Group stage CL football would demand that, IMO. Although the EPL has to remain the priority (and all of the above can comfortable repeat last seasons feat, but that might not be enough for 4th - we might need something extra to push us that little bit further). And how is Harry expected to keep them all happy? (look out for the next blog post).

Gio (why the persistence with agent talk over his future?) didn't have enough time to truly impact the game. But I liked the cut of his jib.

Gomes? Did he have a shot to save?

First half then, Crouch; Defoe, Huddlestone, BAE (deflected), Bale (post) then Lennon, Defoe again - all with decent efforts. Hart annoying in his defence of the goal. Second half, SWP should have scored (BAE innit), King deflected header could have also given them a goal. Pav had a couple of shots, and Bale and his right foot (arguably the easiest chance of the game) and Pav late on.

Okay, so second half City retained the ball better and had us chasing them down quite a bit, but they never threatened to the point where I was watching through my hands. Yes they have stupendous depth, but Mancini's obsession with all things defensive will probably be detrimental to them in the long run. They also had three debutants out there so I guess we should revisit this particular question (will they gel?) in around 15 games time also. And it serves to keep our feet firmly on the ground for a few games longer also.

I guess you could say we exhausted ourselves some what, but still carved out chances to win it. Toure and Kompany key players for them. Should have won it, deserved to win it. But heads up, it was a corker of a 0-0.

Clinical. That's the word for the weeks ahead. Make possession count, and try to avoid making the opposition goalkeeper man of the match, by ya know, sort of placing the ball out of his reach.



How many times did you give up last season? 

How many times did you give up last season? I know some of the knee-jerkers amongst us probably gave up after we got trounced by three of the top four early season. After that, there was possibly a further five or six times that fourth was deemed 'out of reach'. Yet, we persevered and dug deeper than ever. Sure, I had some minor moments of doubt. Who wouldn't with our history of choking? But I sang on this here blog many times about the virtues of belief. The impossible dream became a reality and now, as we fast approach EPL 2011, there appears to be something eerie about the start of this brand new season.

It's almost like Neo from the Matrix has slowed things down, so much so that he's fallen asleep on the sofa, cup of tea on table, slippers falling off his feet.

Is it the despairing World Cup England had or the fact that the transfer marker remains in a comatose state? I'm not feeling the pressure. Perhaps I've yet to be bitten by the bug. I'm not nervous. More pragmatic. But heart ready to be placed on sleeve. I'll explain...

Purely from a THFC standpoint, it's in our nature to be at times (LOL) pessimistic. It's a defensive stance. In fact, for many people regardless of club colours, discussing and then assuming the worst allows them to prepare for it. Just in case. It's not exactly wearing your heart on your sleeve because you are in essence protecting yourself from the big fail. And some of our fickle faithful are guilty as charged. Although that 1-0 up at Eastland's had me biting my hands off such was the intensity of the occasion. But I'm not talking about one off games. I'm talking about our ambitions for the season ahead. Our mentality. As individuals and a collective (a rather famous thread over at one Spurs forum at the start of last season spoke about relegation fears. No joke).

Ostrich with head in sand is so yesteryear. Where's the peacock showing off its plumage?

We have more or less the same squad of players that got us into 4th with some slight improvements, yet you'd think we are somehow weaker for it. Not saying everyone is thinking this way, but I guess there is concern over why we've not strengthened massively considering that after years of trying we've cracked the big time. Consolidate, right? Buy big. Draft in a superstar. Make a statement to everyone. Close the gap further.

Well, that would be good if there was actually some viable affordable players out there. We need some tinkering in some areas, one or two players to make sure the squad is beefed up for our two main priorities, but no major surgical work is required. Botox rather than a nose job - Although liposuction might be an unavoidable treatment (out with the excess). Anyways, the priorities:

1) Finish in the top 4
2) Get into the CL group stages and enjoy it

All eyes will be on City again because of money spent. Man Utd and Chelsea will be the title favourites, although neither are exactly worlds apart from the chasing pack. Arsenal are becoming more and more like us. Pretty football, no end product, and no silverware (well, not completely like us then). Liverpool - who knows? They might find the resolve to fight it through till the end much like we did. Back to basics for them, might just work. Villa you can probably discount what with the goings on there at the moment. Everton could be the dark horses as they seem to duck and duck in and out of challenging the top tier. They are due one.

So, not much has really changed. This season is going to be last season with a couple of extra bells on it. There has been no mammoth game-changing factors introduced. If you're going to say City, they've had another influx of players - need to let some go and will probably need to re-shuffle and find their feet...again. Their chances concerning 4th might well be dependent on the form of the teams around them...again. If they do power themselves into the top four places early doors, then we might find ourselves with genuine fragmentation. Well, depending on the club they replace. I'll let you decide what's better for football. City in the top 4 or Liverpool. I'd say I'd be happy with both as long as Arsenal finish 5th and we finish above them.

Back to our challenge of finishing top 4 - we've made it there the once. We know what it takes. We've learnt some valuable lessons in defeat. We found new levels of performance and grit. We have experience and application we've not seen before. We finished 4th, we didn't win a medal for it, but there comes a maturity from the achievement that will serve us well this season. This season is not a transitional season. We simply seek consistency. Continued structure. We know where we need to improve and we know our strengths and how to use them. The trick is to look forwards not back.


All we need to do is believe.

The doubt, I think, sits with the concern that if we lose one or two key players we might struggle with competing in both the league and the CL. Last season, we - at any given moment - missed key player(s). It's mouth-watering if we avoid injuries, to have the likes of Modric, Lennon etc all season long with others (Bale anyone?) firing on all cylinders too. That's probably my only concern. I'd welcome a talisman of a forward - but I'd say a couple of new squad players just to make sure we are never left short is a vital to our plans.

The progression of Harry Redknapp's Tottenham goes on. So, perhaps my particular eerie feeling has to do with being confident, more so than pessimistic. I'm not fazed. Neither should our players be.

One thing I'd like to see is for us to win a Prem game away to one of the 'Sky Top 4'. It's not the moon on a stick. It's three points.







I'm not going to sleep much tonight.