One of the sports I hope to write regularly about on the site is football, and when I say football I mean soccer, and when I say soccer, part of me cringes because of I know most of the world hates when it’s called soccer. So for that reason and because that’s what I have called it for the past five years, I will refer to the sport as football and when I write about the American variety of football, I will call it football because that’s its name too. I hope that my writing is clear enough to know what the hell sport I am writing about at any particular time.
A small introduction, I’ve been following football for about 8 years now and for the entirety of that time I have supported Tottenham Hotspur Football Club. I chose the team somewhat randomly but have since objectively concluded that they are the best team for Americans, or those just beginning to follow football with no prior allegiances, to support for two reasons: 1) they are renowned for playing attractive and entertaining football and so the American excuse of “I don’t watch soccer because it’s boring” doesn’t really apply and 2) they are continually on the cusp of success. What I mean by this is that they are not one of the pretentious glory clubs like Manchester United and they are not one of the clubs that have little history of success but who have been bought by a Russian oligarch (Chelsea) or an oil-rich Sheik (Manchester City) and made into the personal toys of billionaires. They are a club with a traditional of quality football and, paradoxically, just barely above-average results. Thus, when success does come (and to some extent it has in recent years), it feels that much more genuine and earned. So for anyone who wants to begin following football and doesn’t have a local team to support, Tottenham is the logical choice. That is, unless you want to be a jaded, glory-hunting frontrunner and billionaire’s lackey.
Apologies to those who follow football, I am sure you knew what I was talking about and if you’re a fan of one of the clubs mentioned I’m sure you felt a twinge of guilt because you know I’m right. Now let’s get into the meat and potatoes. This past weekend was the opening round of games in the Premier League and Tottenham was away to Crystal Palace, who are beginning their first stint in the top flight since 2005. Sellhurst Park, 17 miles across London from White Hart Lane, was live. Maybe it was because of the HD sound NBC are providing (I have no proof of this but I wanted to fit in the fact that NBC are playing every Premier League game this year which is phenomenal) or it was just that I haven’t watched a match in a few months and forget how noisy Premier League crowds can be, but it was loud, very loud. And despite Spurs coming away with a 1-0 victory, the Crystal Palace players deserved the support. They are very reminiscent of the Blackpool squad that Ian Holloway, Palace’s current manager, led a couple years ago and who became fan favorites while they were up. I think Crystal Palace will hit a very similar vein of popularity and I hope they, unlike Blackpool, will be able to stay up come May.
For Spurs, three new signings started the match and a fourth came on to finish it. The goal scorer, Robert Soldado, seems (as much as one match can show) to be worth the £26 million paid for him. His movement in the box should be a huge asset for a team in Spurs that for several years has had trouble getting consistent scoring from anyone not named Gareth Bale. Nacer Chadli, yet another promising young Belgian (Belgium will make at least the semis in Brazil 2014, mark it down), was not entirely influential but showed some speed on the wings and good attacking potential. Paulinho, the £17 million Brazilian midfielder, controlled the middle well and, for the last half hour, was joined by Etienne Capoue, Spurs latest signing. These two, combined with Mousa Dembele and Sandro comprise what from henceforth will be known as “The Unit”. These four are athletes in the purest form of the word, are all skilled on the ball (especially Dembele) and will dispose of opposing midfields with ruthless, military-like efficiency.
I won’t go into this next bit in depth because everyone else has, but so much about this season depends on whether Gareth Bale stays or not. With him, Spurs should push for third (that’s right Arsenal, third). Without him, it will be a Barbarossa-esque campaign for the Champions League. Outside of Bale, the big question at the Lane is in defense. The players available are generally quality, but the backline is simply not deep enough and without another signing, one injury could send it into a tailspin. So with that foreboding thought, I conclude the first sports post in The Connecticut Review. Not every one will be like this, but you can expect there to be at least one or two sports posts a week which either analyze a team or game like this one, or give commentary on a ongoing story in the sports world. Please comment below; let me know what you think about my style and if this article informed and entertained you. If you think you can do better, prove it. Write something up and send it in. Do it.