pre-season optimism anybody ??

7.6.2003

….and so, the end has gone.  And bloody good riddance!

The reason it’s taken me this long to write about the end of last season and the hopes and dreams for the next is not ‘cos I’ve been away, or couldn’t think of anything.  It’s ‘cos I’ve only just stopped seething enough to be able to put down what I’m feeling in a rational, polite manner !

The end of last season was farcical at best, disgraceful in the most part, and a portent of the horrors that await next season, should we carry any of the pitiful form we showed from about 5.30 p.m. on January 4th onwards (Southampton in the Cup, right?).  Excuse any inaccuracies on exact date and time, I’d rather erased it from the memory!

The Blackburn end of season party (for them) match summed up my worst fears.  From the moment "our boys" stepped out onto the pitch sporting the new "Lucky Sky Blue" away strip monstrosity, the writing was on the wall.  That the club deems fit to launch such an obvious marketing ploy at the end of what has been a truly awful couple of months shows how little in tune they are with the mood of the fans at that particular moment in our season.  At least wait until the pre-season optimism comes round again, before unleashing us with another new design … (Incidentally, quite like the cut, but not the colour, I still feel a navy blue top/white shorts "negative of the home kit" would always work … alas, I don’t work for Kappa, I’m a Tweenie, so what would I know?)

However, away from that, I’m sure the dear old Execs. up at Kappa Towers would’ve seen the irony at the whole ground singing "You’re not fit to wear the shirt …" in the second half … In a funny way, I think they WERE fit to wear THAT shirt, it kinda worked for me.  Krappa shirts, worn by an even Krappa team!

The end of last season has been full of conflict, inner turmoil and confusion for Spurs fans.  From not knowing who or what to cheer for at home to Man Utd, to not knowing whether to join in with the "We want Hoddle out!" jeers from the Shelf, I really don’t know where to look for "optimism" any more.

The whole feel of that final home game felt like a gas leak.  You knew there was an explosion waiting to happen. It happened all over Matty Etherington.

In my opinion, and my direct viewpoint from the Park Lane lower, I think young Master Etherington should be shown the door this summer.  To tell ANYONE (let alone your own fans) to "Shut the F*@K UP" when playing like he was, is an absolute disgrace.  We’ve been looking for a scapegoat all season, now we’ve found one.  Lucky that, ‘cos if the "We got Graham out" brigade on the Shelf had anything to do with it, we were on the verge of finding the ultimate scapegoat … I think Glenn must’ve breathed a sigh of relief when Matty had his little outburst.  At least it took the vitriolic attention off of him.

Whilst Master Etherington has been bleating about better contracts and first team opportunities all season, he has hardly endeared himself to his paying public.  To compound it by playing as he had been for most of the season, maybe he should’ve been offering apologies to the fans, rather than telling us what we could do with our honest opinions.

I didn’t see him on the lap of "Honour," was he hiding between some of the "bigger boys" ?  On the other hand, did he feel he’d already done enough to warrant our applause and appreciation of his season’s work ?  I wish it wasn’t the case, ‘cos when he arrived, (on the back of a trial at Man Utd of all things) I remember thinking what a coup we’d got and that Simon Davies was merely the "Ricky Villa/can my mate come too ?" part of the deal.  As is often the case, Simon has shone, and I only hope Alex Ferguson forgets exactly what it was he ever saw in "Super-Si."

Overall, Etherington has been a disappointment.  He still has "budding potential" but sadly has pissed that up the wall by preferring to be our new target of venom.  It’s a shame, ‘cos the footsteps he’s following have a lot less ability than he has, and he shouldn’t really be lumped in with the likes of Mimms, Fenwick, Stewart, Armstrong and Fox … (there is actually an entire team I could come up with, but that would be too depressing).  Sadly, he’s an arrogant little sod who has jumped before he can walk.  Arrogance coupled with ability and achievement can work, (ask Arsenal) but on it’s own, really doesn’t do it when trying to forge a future in the game.

On the subject (were we) of the lap of "Honour" I was fully expecting them to jog round the centre circle and leave.  So, credit to the ones that faced our potential wrath.  It could’ve got nasty, and I’m sure there was an element of "after you … no, no … after YOU" going on in the dressing room.  Why else do you think they’d send Dean Richards out on "reconnaissance" ahead of the rest, just to test the water ?

Freund really "lapped it up" and saved the day for me.  A bit of light hearted printed-shirtery always goes down well with the crowd … do you think Teddy was a bit miffed that his "goodbye" was somewhat overshadowed  ?  Freund summed up the mood of the Spurs fans at the end.  We know the deal, HE knows the deal … He’s not the best player we’ve ever had, the Team’s not great either, but who cares when you’re handing out number 4 shirts ?

Conspicuous by his absence was Johnny Blondel (a porn stars’ name if ever there was one).  His situation concerns me much more than Etherington’s.

Here is a player, who in Belgium IS the face of Nike.  He looks like a throwback to a nippy outside right from the ‘50’s and I believe he COULD be our Beckham … bear with me on this one … he played precisely TEN minutes last season, and in those TEN minutes; he helped create-the-move-that-led-to-the-penalty-that-sent-us-to-the-top-of-the-League … all in TEN minutes !

The boy is class, (if a little slight of frame), but if given the chance he really WOULD shine, and not be telling us to "Shut the F*@K UP" either !

No wonder HE was bemoaning the chance of first team opportunities, the effect he had when he was allowed to show his face did more than a season’s worth of "nearly’ from Etherington.  I really do hope Blondel stays, ‘cos we’ve got one there, we really have.

And so to next season, I for one won’t miss Teddy, on the end-of-last-season’s form, that is.  Though if he does become player-coach somewhere, surely we’ll benefit from it someday ... ?

On replacements, we’re gonna be linked with everyone again, I think we could do worse than Zamora, but with someone else to add the experience void left by Teddy.  Phillips would probably not be the answer, and various "BIGGER" names just aren’t gonna happen … Christ, we can’t even get ahead of Pompey for Matt Holland !

I’d love to see someone like Joe Cole here, but if Blondel stays then trust me, we already have one.  It looks like Carr will be off, though I’d credit him with more sense than Campbell, he’d realise the implications of going there, and really, who could blame him if he did end up somewhere like Newcastle.  Though I really don’t like all the recent "parting shots" and stating the bleedin’ obvious about our European hopes.  It doesn’t help morale (if there’s any left), and it sounds more and more like he won’t have to explain himself to the fans next season, as we’ll probably only see him twice.  We’ll let him know what we think when he’s applauding the fans at the far corner of the Park Lane … Oh Gawd, Stephen Carr!

I can’t bring myself to speculate who else we might bring in, ‘cos I’ll only get my hopes up and become even more disappointed when we only end up renewing Chris Perry’s contract.  Why couldn’t HE have told the Park Lane to "Shut the F*@K UP" ?  He’s got scapegoat written all over him.

Sadly/Thankfully (we’ll see, next May) I can’t renew my season ticket.  Work commitments mean I’ll only be able to make a handful of games, so a Membership Card and trying to take a little "Park Lane atmosphere" with me to the Paxton is about the sum total of my ambitions next season.  I only hope the ambitions of the club stretch much further.

May the Spurs ALWAYS be with you…

Matthew Lyons
(formerly Park Lane Lower, now part-time fan!)

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