Season 06/07 In Cartoons - by El Strict
If the erratic weather of this summer has taught me anything, it is that predictions are easy to make but much more difficult to get right. At this time there is not much else to do but look ahead to the 11th of August when we will kick off our 07/08 campaign against newly promoted Sunderland. Many Spurs fans, including myself, are forecasting a very sunny season for THFC, in which our aim must surely be to secure that elusive 4th spot, or better yet, even higher. The month that remains until Premiership football returns will surely be a very long one, and the fact that so much could happen during this period has convinced me that I would be better of taking one last light-hearted glance back at the season that has just passed, with the aid of a few cartoons that I drew during the last year. Hopefully this will be an enjoyable distraction from the agony of waiting for football to return.
The memory that has helped me get through this summer is also my last one of the season. Goals from both Robbie Keane and Dimitar Berbatov had been enough to see off Manchester City to claim 5th spot for the second season in a row. The players had left the field to a deserved standing ovation, and moments later the crowd were standing once again, this time for Mr. Martin Jol, who strolled casually but commandingly out of the tunnel and into the centre of the pitch. With his broad shoulders, cheeky smile, and quick wit, he proceeded to firmly cement his place as a fan favourite, but as I joined in with the thousands of others that had started to sing Jol’s song, I wondered if he was slowly becoming even more than this.
I looked around me, and every pair of eyes in the audience of around of thirty thousand was firmly fixed on the charismatic Jol, and at that moment I knew that I was not alone. I was not alone in urgently turning up the volume on the television if Jol was giving an interview. I knew that I wasn’t the only one who dreamt of celebrating a Tottenham victory by being crushed in a Martin Jol bear-hug. I speculated that the man next to me, who stood motionless, entirely engrossed by our manager’s words, had perhaps made room on his nightstand for a framed picture of Martin, moving the second best photograph in the house (his wedding day) into the bathroom instead.
And it is understandable, as under the guidance of Jol we have achieved our highest ever Premiership finish, and our first foray into Europe for almost a decade. Of course he isn’t without his shortcomings, and still has a lot of work to do, but that which he has done so far he has done well. However it seems that perfection is the standard which we, as the fans, expect from the staff and players, who, if history is a worthwhile indicator of what to expect after (or during) a lacklustre performance, must always be anxiously looking over their shoulders.
The perhaps unfortunate reality of the situation is that there exists an overwhelming disparity between the support given to players such as Dawson and Robinson, of whom the latter had a very disappointing season, and that afforded to Lee and Jenas for example, who were arguably both more popular during their absences from the team. During the hectic December – January period, in which we dropped a number of points, many fans were unmoving in their assertion that the answer was Jenas. Of course it wasn’t long after he had returned from injury that it became apparent that the question was now “Which J is an expensive decoration often found on the pitch at White Hart Lane.” After getting a lot of stick, one last-minute equaliser against our deadliest rivals prompted a sudden resurgence in his popularity, one which I felt was deserved in light of his 8 goals during the season.
It is this sort of behaviour that causes fans of other clubs to label us fickle, but in my opinion, at least we are consistently so. Robinson knows he will get cheered every week, while Mido knows the exact opposite. Jenas is aware that he will split opinions and make the transition between hero and villain upwards of three times a season. Of course it must be unpleasant at times to be one of those Tottenham players who receive more abuse from the crowd than anything else, but I think they can take heart from the fact that even the most criticised of players can fall into favour with the fans.
Although Paul Stalteri has, in my opinion, been a very solid player for us during his time here, his mistakes have been fairly high profile. After costing us a victory against Arsenal at Highbury which would have almost certainly seen us finish the 05/06 season in 4th spot, Paul Stalteri was public enemy number 1. How much he was really at fault for Henry’s equalising goal is debatable, but one thing is for sure – Paul Stalteri is always guilty until proven innocent (that is, if anybody is willing to argue with the Stalteri-hating Fire-tongues for that long.)
Despite being relegated to the bench for most of the season due to the signing of Pascal Chimbonda, Paul Stalteri remained out of favour with the Spurs faithful. That is, until one spectacular match in March at Upton Park, when an injury time winner against relegation threatened West Ham turned Stalteri into a cult hero. I’m sure he is aware that he is just one own-goal or red card away from once again being on the receiving end of tirades of abuse, but I hope he enjoys his new found popularity which, as long as he doesn’t play, is certain to remain in tact.
Such are the ups and downs of being a Spurs player, and I am sure that being a Spurs supporter is no easier. Although our improvements over recent seasons are very encouraging we still all have to deal with mouthy Woolwich fans, poor performances, and a whole host of other problems.
When the 06/07 shirts were revealed I looked nervously at what was being described as our “chocolate and gold” strip. Given our horrific ordeal on the last day of the previous season, I began to prepare myself for the inevitable jokes about the colour of the shorts, and I thought that that would be my biggest problem. Unfortunately the shirts may as well have been made out of toilet paper, as most struggled to come out of the wash in one piece. If you were lucky then the damage may have just been barely noticeable, but the less fortunate ended up with a handful of sparkling white rags and a hole in their wallet. In fact the only person that I know has not suffered any damage to their shirt after multiple washes actually bought it for a fiver from eBay.
And so while it was, overall, a great season for Spurs, there remains a lot to be improved upon. By all accounts the quality of the new shirts is vastly improved, Jenas and King have gotten rid of their silly little Mohawks that seemed to be becoming the fashion, and Mido could well be on his way out. Hopefully by the 11th of August all the problematic areas that have hindered our progress over the last couple of seasons will have been resolved, and we can begin to really fulfil the potential that has been spoken about incessantly for as long as I can remember. Only time will tell.