It was always heartening to see the footballing aristocracy in good nick. We may be a few weeks into the Premier League season but the upper classes are still speaking the Queens English, the knives and forks are still being picked up in the correct manner and the servants downstairs still polishing the brass. Those at the bottom end of the scale will just have to content themselves with cleaning the floors.
At the top of the Premier League its business as usual. Sometimes football can begin to resemble the most irritatingly repetitive noise that simply drives you to drink – rather like one of those cracked vinyl records from yesteryear. Again the same old teams are simply rolling the same old rhythms and the patterns are much the same as they’ve always been.
Again Premier League champions are so far ahead of the rest of the field that it might be advisable to stop all betting on the inevitable outcome of this year’s Premier League. For many a sesason United look like one of those sleek, thoroughbred horses that never lose that special quality. They gallop nonchalantly through the season as if the football season were some simple mathematical task. Their pre-season preparation was as thorough as ever and all the important signings were made months ahead of everybody else.
Nani, Anderson, Darren Fletcher, Michael Carrick, Wayne Rooney, new boy Ashley Young, one of the best young wingers in the game, the delightful Havier Hernandez, the encouragingly convincing Darren Gibson are all part of United’s latest crop of blooming roses. Manchester United dropped their first point of the season at Stoke and suddenly questions were asked and the end of the world is nigh. Don’t you believe it for a moment.
Sir Alex Ferguson, United’s remarkable boss looks like the kind of man so accustomed to success that at some point he may be forced into lighting up a cigar during matches. Ferguson may be approaching retirement but if his good Lady wife Cathy has anything to do with it Fergie will almost certainly gracing Old Trafford with his walking stick.
Manchester City are directly behind their despised neighbours and looking wealthier and more dangerous by the season. After all these years the FA Cup winners are seriously challenging to their allegedly esteemed rivals to a fight behind the bike sheds. Sergio Aguero is turning into one of the most deadly strikers in City’s history, Samir Asri is inventing, prodding and probing in much the way he did at Arsenal, Gareth Barry and James Milner are skilled English labourers and Carlos Tevez is just an Argentine Renaissance masterpiece.
But perhaps the team with the strongest point to prove are Spurs Tottenham Hospur have always played the kind of spectacularly swashbuckling football that the purists just swoon over. For dozens of seasons now the boys of White Hart Lane have produced so many footballing artists and designers that some of us are beginning to wonder why all of that toil and drudgery has not been rewarded. Admittedly they did qualify for the Champions League a season or so ago but the impression is that perhaps Harry Redknapp’s young upstarts are trying too hard.
Spurs have prided themselves on footballing of sense, supreme intelligence and stunning simplicity. From the earliest days of the legendary Bill Nicholson to the even earlier and gorgeous push and run days of Arthur Rowe Spurs have always done things the right and appropriate way, Their football had good manners, elegant grammar and a stylish air of showbiz cabaret.
Throughout the 1960s, there were the names of Dave Mckay, Spurs growling grizzly bear, Bobby Smith, a bulldozer of a striker with a destructively accurate finish, John White, a smooth operator, Terry Dyson ever available for the ball and never less than the pin striped suited professional. The Double Season now seems like a medieval history for most Spurs fans but one day the hardened fnas may just have their wish granted.
During the 1970s. Spurs boasted one of the most consistently eye catching of sides but never quite lived up to their billing at the top of the bill. Steve Perryman, Alan Gilzean, the ageless Ralph Coates, the permanently nice Cyril Knowles and Joe Kinnear were all spritely and adventurous players who loved to play to the White Hart Lane gallery, decent, hard working footballers who did their job and then went straight home.
There followed the unique and irreplaceable Glen Hoddle, surely and undoubtedly one of the silkiest players,and surely one of the most inventive football brains ever to pull on a Tottenham shirt. Sometimes Hoddle gave off the air of a sculptor lovingly chipping away at his latest work. Perhaps Hoddle missed out on his true vocation. Perhaps not. If Hoddle been a well respected lawyer then perhaps the legal system might not have been quite as complicated. Hoddle did things the effortlessly and easily, the touch on the ball a joy to behold.
Now of course current boss Harry Redknapp has a rich collection of well qualified and highly knowledgable players who if the moon is in the right position, will provide their supporters with moments of sparkling pace, artistry and impeccable improvisation. Their football spreads the length and breadth of the pitch. patiently waiting for the opportunity to strike, the ball travelling in perfect horizontals and verticals.
This summer Redknapp has been nagged and pestered by one Luka Modric for a transfer for Chelsea, a man so desperate to leave Tottenham that he would willingly have walked to Stamford Bridge just to get his own way. With the season in its infancy Modric has been told to sit up straight, tuck in his shirt and just behave himself.
Finally Redknapp has landed the services of Scott Parker, West Ham’s most prized asset and a tirelessly productive player. Parker was the heart and soul of every attack in West Ham’s ultimately doomed season. But now Parker, a player of touch, perception and true grit has now re-applied to the Premier League cause and alongside Younes Kaboul, Tom Huddlestone, Aaron Lennon and the astonishingly fast Gareth Bale will be hoping, praying and longing for a long awaited trophy or perhaps more.
For the old and dedicated Spurs fan the Permier League title remains the grandest of all ambitions, a shining light at the end of the tunnel. Perhaps this indeed will be the season when everything falls into place, the season that reaches a fantastic fruition and above the Seven Sisters Road the brightest of rainbows will quite suddenly appear. For the sake of Bill Nicholson and Arthur Rowe maybe sooner or later Spurs will enjoy that glory glory day.