Thursday, 17 March 2016

A Week is a Long Time etc...

Let's be realistic about this - the 2015/16 season has been a revelation - it has shown us all something unique in modern football and the fact that my Spurs are 2nd, still, can be looked back on as a definite improvement, even if they end up in 4th or even 5th place. Yes, it will be devastating after a season of more ups than downs, but the future does appear to have Spurs firmly in its sights and thoughts.

Looking more like the only winners are Leicester City, who are looking so nailed on to win the unthinkable, they could have it wrapped up by the beginning of May, with a delicious irony being they go to Chelsea on the last day and would receive the customary guard of honour from the former champions.

As it stands, Leicester needs 13 points from 24 to guarantee Champions League football; every time the teams outside of the top 4 drop points that target gets smaller; they have to be long odds on to be playing at the big boys table next season and frankly a massive crash is the only thing that make that happen. Spurs need 18 from 24 just to guarantee Champions League football, but are now considered by the bookies to be Leicester's only viable rival. They sit five points behind with eight games to go; the simple fact is in those eight games, Spurs have to win TWO more than Leicester and those eight games might as well be eight grains of sand in an hourglass. The only way Leicester won't be writing their way into the history books is if they implode and start playing like Aston Villa.

You can imagine them already making their excuses for this year's success stories to fail next season: Leicester will, at best, return to mid-table mediocrity next season, especially with Champions League (should they get past the group stage). Spurs won't invest enough in players to sustain a challenge and an European adventure and West Ham are moving to a new stadium and this season's improvement is more down to the failings of the others. I'll bet they're already lining up a top 5 for next season featuring Man City, Chelsea, Arsenal, Man U and Liverpool - and most punters will place Spurs, Leicester, West Ham, possibly Everton (now they're richer than the Reds), Stoke and Southampton as the chasing pack. Logic dictates that's how it should be and as games run out, all that logic from all those pundits, is going to sound like Alan Hansen's 'You can't win anything with kids'.

Next season, if this one is anything to go by, could have 10 or 11 teams in the mix - everyone can still beat everyone else and just because Pep Guardiola, Jose Mourinho, Jurgen Klopp, Antonio Conte and possibly one or two other Galactico managers will be tyhrowing their weight against each other, what if Leicester (Claudio Ranieri), West Ham (Slaven Bilic), Tottenham (Mauricio Pochettino), Everton (Roberto Martinez or A.N. Other) can shake things up again next year? What's to stop a Watford (Sanchez Florez), or a Swansea (Guidolin), a promoted side or even Newcastle (The fat Spanish Waiter - if they survive) from throwing the 'form books' out of the window?

This might not be an exaggeration when I say the team that finishes 7th and won't play in European competition (by virtue of league finish) the following season will still pocket hundreds of millions of quids for TV and prize money - Bournemouth, by surviving, can afford to pay the same wages as Liverpool next season, if they choose to, and that means they attract players who would usually look at Bournemouth and shudder or laugh - because some footballers go where the money is.

The playing field in the Premier League has been levelled more than a little - just look at some of the players Stoke have. Top players will still want to go to the top clubs, but if the top clubs don't want them...

These could be exciting times because while anyone's team might end up struggling in this new order, they have a good chance of not. This year it will be Leicester and I congratulate them now on winning the league; too much has to transpire to prevent them and I would be delighted if my team finish 2nd. I won't say I won't be disappointed, but if you'd offered me this in August, after losing a game we should have at least drawn because of a fluke own goal, I would have bitten your arm off.