29 April 2017

Open Letter to Tottenham: Get Bent. Literally.

It's been twenty years since we at our end have had to contemplate the horrible, awful reality that is about to come to pass. Not only are Tottenham about to finish above Arsenal for the first time in a generation, there's still a sliver of a chance that you could win the Prem. Doing so would allow Pochettino to match Arsène for number of Prem titles won at White Hart Lane, so good on you for that. Yes, this has all come about only because you've been playing out-of-your-minds-football while we've stumbled and stuttered. Ahead of Sunday's clash, then, who are you to dare trying to out-Arsenal us?

In all honesty, I have to hand it to you. You've learned from our mistakes. When we committed to financing a new stadium, no one really had to worry about the financial steroids that would soon follow. We soon found ourselves hamstrung by Arsène's vision, clinging rather desperately to relevance as free-spending clubs like Chelsea, Man U, and Man City battered us. In the absence of actual relevance, we inflated the idea of the North London Derby and the top-four finish. We revelled. We lorded it over you each time we finished above you. Yes, there was something in it—Champions League play does after all entice players to sign for a club in a way that Europa League does not.

However, we convinced ourselves that we had emerged from our stadium-debt and were better-prepared to compete by buying superstars instead of sanctimoniously making them. Speaking of which, Gareth Bale. You did well on that, and good on you for that. Selling him for £85m and then reinvesting in the squad? Genius. If nothing else, that makes a mockery of our sales of van Persie (£26m) and Fàbregas (£29m), to name a few. True, some of them didn't quite make the cut. However, the broader trend has been positive, productive, even powerful.

This North London Derby represents something very, very deep. We ourselves left our own historic home at Highbury for the larger, lusher Emirates. That last season was something special. Your own final season at White Hart Lane is something similarly special, if not more so. Let's all admit it: 1919 was a bit dodgey, to put it mildly. It's added an edge to our 1913 move, an edge that made this derby much, much more intense than perhaps any other derby in England.

The emotions around kissing good-bye to White Hart Lane must be massive. You've been there since 1899. It's one of the oldest—and smallest—stands in the Prem. That you've been able to compete with us and our 60,000-seat stadium (and our expensive season-ticket package) is remarkable and, frankly, a slap in the face to those who continue to insist that Arsène knows how to manage finances.

At our end, we're hoping that this season is a one-off similar to the one West Ham enjoyed last season as they bid adieu to the Boleyn Ground. We're praying that that the inspiration that has fuelled your fire will extinguish itself as you move to Wembley's somewhat-larger environs (figuratively if not literally). In the longer run, we do have to worry about whether there will be a longer-term storm to weather.

As it turns out, you at your end might be better at this Arsenal-thing than we ourselves are: finding, signing, and nurturing young talent; punching above your financial restraints; buying and selling with an eye to the long term; impressing opponents with tactical nous...

All in all, it's enough to encourage me to advise you to get Bent. Literally. Could you bring Darren Bent back? Yes, he's under contract with Derby County until the end of June, but, given how things are going, we wouldn't mind looking the other way. Think it over.