That’s been a fun couple of weeks. I think the last bloeug I did was in preparation for the Manchester United game. We whimpered out of that one, had Harry Kane to thank for not being well beaten against Everton, had our first second-half comeback in who knows how long against Hassenhuttl’s underwhelming Southampton, dozed through another underwhelming cup final defeat against City and now welcome another manager-less slump of a club (with apologies to Mason and Heckingbottom) with Sheffield United making their first visit to the empty temple since Pochettino and Wilder teams stalemated themselves in a 1-1 draw way back in November 2019.
Oh, and Levy sacked Mourinho.
So let’s talk about the European Super League and the future of this once great club.
What stuns me about it isn’t that we were invited, it’s just how few clubs there are throughout Europe’s top leagues that strike me as exciting fixtures. Outside of a couple of German, Portuguese and Dutch clubs, PSG, Rangers and Celtic (for nostalgia’s sake), plus a random selection of teams we’ve got specific history against – Anderlecht, for example -I can’t think of many teams missing from the dirty dozen ESL Founding Members where getting drawn against them would feel like a plum tie or get me fluctuating the way a game against Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester United, Liverpool or, even, West Ham would.
The rest of them all make me feel about as excited as a game against mid- or lower-table Premier League teams. Or a cup final against money-bags Manchester City. During our time in the Champions League, other than a handful of games against Europe’s true elite such as Real, Barcelona and Bayern Munich, there weren’t that many group games where I got excited about who we were playing beforehand, and there wasn’t a single EUFA League tie this season where I was remotely excited by the opposition.
Excited to see Spurs play and hopefully win, yes.
Excited at the prospect of who we were playing, no.
As for next season, the thought of ending up in the EUFA Conference League makes me hope for total implosion across our last few games and a league finish down with true no-hopers like Arsenal.
The other thing that stuns me is the pigs ear a bunch of billionaires made about instigating it. Just as the old First Division managed to hijack top level league football in England away from the Football League when the Premier League was formed, a bit of imagination and wit would have allowed Europe’s biggest ‘legacy’ clubs to hijack top level club football from EUFA and really instigate change.
If they’d come to the table with clarity around the mid-week format and a commitment to keep domestic leagues competitive – or, for Germany and Italy, make them competitive – had locked in promotion and relegation tied to those domestic leagues with higher numbers from England, Italy and Spain qualifying each season, plus introduced entry requirements where clubs had to operate a salary cap, players had to fund their own agents, and clubs had to agree to an investment model where they could only be financially doped to a set percentage above the turnover of the biggest non-financially doped club – with proper policing and pre-determined repercussions for being caught cheating – they’d have removed much of the jeopardy they were trying to do away with, protected the big revenue generators from being blown away by the likes of Chelsea, Man City and PSG on salaries and transfer fees, and avoided the argument they were destroying their domestic leagues.
They’d have probably got away with hand-picking the founding members too and bunging each one some sort of retainer for being ‘prestige generators’ so long as automatic qualification after the first season wasn’t a thing.
I was completely against what they did come up with (though not with Levy making sure we were part of the conversation) but more and more I feel completely against what football is now, and what Tottenham – and just about any other club – must become if they’re ever going to have a decent chance of competing: There’s a Ronaldo documentary on Prime with a scene where he takes his son into his garage and asks him which car is missing: Is it the Ferrari? The Aston Martin? The Lamborghini? The McLaren? I think he’s got eleven super-cars in there, well over a million pounds worth.
He is a fantastic and supremely dedicated footballer and I feel lucky to have seen him play live several times – though he never did anything memorable the two times I saw him play live against us for United or the one time for Madrid – but how many cars does one winker need?
And where does it end, because if Mino Raiola gets his way, Erling Haaland will be able to fill a garage like that every seven days when some dope makes him the world’s first million pound a week footballer. For most of us, without really stopping to think about the consequences, it would be beyond our wildest dreams for Spurs to be bidding for a player at that level. Instead, we end up pitying the likes of Harry Kane because they only earn £200k a week and knowing in our hearts he’s right to move on.
Is there any sense to it anymore?
Is there any real value in what City did to us last week?
Or the medals Kyle Walker has stacked up since he’s been there?
And was there any point to Levy sacking Mourinho? Or appointing him in the first place? I never wanted him here, but while he was here I always wanted him to succeed. And I could see the logic of giving him a go, though I always thought that logic was flawed. But now he’s gone, I wish he’d never been here, and it depresses the hell out of me that his severance package is rumored to be £15 million. Just as it depressed the hell out of me that he earned that much a year in the first place. And the fact we’re rumored to be willing to pay Brendan Rodgers similar depresses the hell out of me as well. I don’t know who I want in, being honest. Or what players I’d like him to sign. Or what players I’d like him to sell. I know it almost certainly can’t be Ryan Mason who gets the long-term nod if we’re serious about competing, but then I think, competing for what?
Unlike some, I can’t totally bring myself to blame Levy or ENIC for this. They were unlucky to build a cash-generating stadium just as a global pandemic hit, and the business model to finance the stadium debt while increasing our revenue and long-term ability to spend money made sense to me before COVID. And might still if things ever return to the way they were before COVID. And until the stands were left empty, their spending patterns once the Neckoil began to flow were far above what they had been before.
It’s just a shame that the vast bulk of that money’s been spent on players who mostly haven’t improved us, even though they were bought in positions we needed to improve in, and while it’s true to say they’ve completely failed to replace the likes of Walker, Dembele, Eriksen, Vertonghen or Danny Rose, they did sign all of these players for relative peanuts in the first place.
It’s also a shame for them that we’re in a league where five clubs, for different reasons, can afford to outspend us on an almost industrial scale, while, more and more, across Europe, manically run clubs like Barcelona, Real and Juventus are content to spend what they don’t have in an attempt to stay on top of the pile.
When you think Barcelona are a billion Euros in debt and Juventus are thought to be saddled with over six hundred million Euros of debt without either club having had to finance a brand new stadium, it sort of makes you want to stop thinking. That’s the real evil of Abramovich pumping more than a billion into Chelsea and what’s happening with City and PSG. With Barcelona, being blessed with having Messi the way we’ve been blessed with having Kane has even turned into a curse when you consider they’ve ended up having to pay him about one hundred and thirty eight million Euros a season to keep him away from the likes of Chelsea, City or PSG.
And that’s without the likes of Neville and Carragher trying to flog him cheap on Sky every ten minutes.
Seriously, though, how can you kiss your club’s badge while draining your club’s coffers like that? And, other than make season tickets three million pounds a pop and Neckoil two hundred pounds a pint, how are ENIC meant to compete? How is whoever eventually comes in after them meant to compete? And, even if Spurs were run on that sort of model, at what point do we all start looking at each other and saying, yeah, Kane, he knows where the net is and he sure can pick a pass, but two million quid a week? No-one deserves to earn that.
So, all in all, I’m finding it really hard to stay engaged with football at the moment and can’t see any way that feeling’s just not going to get worse and worse and worse until the day my interest totally dies.
But what’s really frustrating is Sheffield United’s resource situation in comparison to us is almost certainly similar to our situation in comparison to the likes of Barca, Juve, Chelsea and City.
And yet they’ll still probably beat us tonight.
Ah, well. Modern life is rubbish. Rant over. Beer open. Common sense abandoned. Come on you Spurs!