On August 9th, as the transfer window closed with an uncharacteristic whimper, Tottenham Hotspur officially became the first Premier League club in history not to have purchased a player during the entire close season. How delightfully Spursy of us. Indeed, the only group of people who appear to have a more laissez-faire attitude towards their job than our scouting team are the bloody construction company that is meant to be building our new stadium! But I will be damned if I am opening that can of worms. So as you can imagine, it has been a pretty frustrating couple of months for Spurs fans and if you listen to the media (which I certainly wouldn’t advise), we appear to have missed a trick by not spending any money on new players…..or have we? Our lack of activity over the summer seems to have divided the majority of pundits but more than anything, it has highlighted the fact that the transfer window is no longer about strategic planning or even effective squad management…..it has become nothing more than a glorified soap opera, fuelled by Jim White and the fax machine mafia! And as we learnt the hard way back in 2013, spunking loads of money up the wall doesn’t guarantee any sort of success or even enjoyment. Just look at West Ham, our government funded friends from the east….they spent over £100m this summer and would still struggle to score in a brothel! In fact, their entire approach to transfers since being taken over by the low-budget, porno equivalent of the Chuckle Brothers has been to throw vast sums of money down a hole and hope for the best. Which, coincidentally, just so happens to be the exact same business model as a fucking wishing well. And then there's Man Utd, who have spent close to £75m and have somehow only succeeded in accelerating Jose Mourinho’s inevitable physical deterioration into a modern day Beetlejuice!!!!
So as I see it, there are currently two schools of thought on how our club has handled themselves this summer. Firstly, and this is the more prevalent theory as it not only sells newspapers but also keeps the Liverpool fan forums in business, Tottenham have embarrassed themselves by not strengthening the squad or building on another impressive Top 3 finish. An understandable argument, when taken in isolation. The second school of thought suggests that we have done very well to keep the existing squad and manager together, even more so when you bear in mind the spiralling financial constraints of a stadium that has now doubled in cost, thanks to the gift that just keeps on giving…..Brexit. Further proof, if ever it was needed, that West Ham fans should never be allowed to vote. And to think, they probably didn’t even stop to consider how hard this will make it for them to attend their yearly rallies in Nuremburg from now on. Morons. Anyway, for what it’s worth, as much as I would have loved to see a couple of new faces at Hotspur Way, I can totally understand why Daniel Levy was reluctant to be roped into the increasingly risky game of Russian Roulette that is the modern day transfer market. To put it in perspective, Liverpool could have bought nearly SIX Hugo Lloris's with what they paid for their new goalkeeper, Allison. Hyperinflation, thy name is football.
But which of these arguments is the most accurate? I guess that the key consideration here is the opportunity cost involved in any decision that the club chooses to make. Now bear with me, as I only learnt about this concept quite recently, having accidentally (drunkenly) ordered the wrong book on Amazon. Some people choose to fight when they get drunk but I like a nice piece of literature….apparently. Having purchased what I believed to be the autobiography of one the most successful and iconic black actors in Hollywood history, I inadvertently ended up reading about the father of modern day economics, Milton Friedman. I learnt all about stuff like the invisible hand, supply and demand and price theory. Disappointingly though, not even a paragraph on The Shawshank Redemption. Anyway, in my obvious confusion I stumbled across this concept of opportunity cost, which for those of you who aren't aware, is the cost incurred through NOT doing something……a theory that seems ominously relevant on the back of our record breaking inactivity over the summer. Clearly, there are a fairly obvious set of costs attached to a traditional player transfer. However, it is much harder to understand the cost of NOT signing somebody. So maybe the best way to work this out would be by looking at our closest rivals and the approach that they have taken over the summer, to understand whether we are in a stronger or a weaker position through our decision to do nothing.
Obviously, Manchester City remain the team to beat and they still look bloody scary after two seasons under Pep Guardiola. Having added Riyad Mahrez to their ranks, they are probably a little stronger than last year, if that is even possible. As Man Utd prepare to embark on the infamous "Jose Mourinho third season", I think it’s fair to say that they will be focusing most of their collective efforts on averting the inevitable player mutiny that will occur when Mourinho decides to pick eight centre backs in his starting line up to face Fulham at Old Trafford. Liverpool, having failed with their most recent petition to get the Champions League Final replayed, have responded by spending the GDP of a small African nation on reinforcements and unfortunately, look much the better for it….so long as no one hits their head. Arsenal look pretty much the same as they did last year, despite the arrival of Unai Emery, a man that was once described….by me…..as “the Spanish Arsene Wenger”. And he certainly wasted no time in endearing himself to the Arsenal fans, by posing for the front cover of Anal Monthly, which I am reliably informed has a huge following in the red half of North London. And then there’s Chelsea, another team who have changed coach, bringing in Maurizio Sarri, a man who looks like he would be more at home selling coffins to recently bereaved parents. And one who also categorically stated to the press a few months ago that he “is not sexist, homophobic or racist”. Which is funny, as I guarantee that he said the exact opposite when he went for his job interview at Stamford Bridge! Despite being the most Chelsea manager that Chelsea have ever had, they have strengthened their midfield considerably, with two players that I would have loved at Spurs, Jorginho and Mateo Kovacic whilst being forced to replace Thibault Courtois with the aptly named Kepa. Which, by the way, is probably the best example of nominative determinism in football that I have seen, certainly since Stefan Kuntz last played for Germany!
So, as it stands, one of our key rivals has strengthened significantly and one has remained pretty much the same. The rest, if anything, look weaker or will take time to adapt to new systems and/or managers. One of them even appears to be managed by a borderline schizophrenic! As such, the opportunity cost of not signing anyone means that the gap has probably widened between ourselves and Manchester City, whilst Liverpool (much as it pains me to say) may well have overtaken us. However, on the flip side, our inability to sign new players means that we have kept hold of Toby Alderweireld and Mousa Dembele, which is a massive bonus, seeing as they were both odds-on to leave over the summer. As such, this means that we probably still have a better starting eleven than the likes of Man Utd, Chelsea and Arsenal. So, even though it might not be much fun, it would appear that standing still can sometimes be the best way to get ahead.....unless of course, you are being chased by a bear. In conclusion, it is always impossible to judge the merit of these decisions until the season has ended. And I am not entirely convinced this is the “brave” mentality that Mauricio Pochettino demanded back in June but nevertheless, I am sure that all will become clear in due course. If we finally manage to win something this year, Spurs will certainly be hailed as brave and maybe even revolutionary. But if we don’t, we will be ridiculed by the same pundits whose relevance is directly linked to the popularity of the transfer window and deadline day. Ultimately though, as with everything in life, the proof will be in the pudding and only then can we accurately pass judgement on whether our beloved club dared to do or was simply just scared to do.......