Well, who'd have bet on us sticking five past the league leaders?
Unless you're part of a Far East gambling syndicate, of course. (Only joking, lawyers.)
It just goes to show that those people on the message boards bemoaning the state of the team, and in particular the heavy use of loan players (as distinct from the use of heavy loan players as we saw with John Hartson last season), know nothing.
Actually, I'd better qualify that before I'm taken to task � and before a defeat at home to Doncaster on Saturday adds strength to their argument:
They know nothing. I know nothing. No one really knows anything.
I think I may have written a column on these lines before, but I prefer to see this as developing a theme rather than straightforward repetition. For a change, though, you can find the view being expressed rather better than I can manage by Charlie Brooker in his Guardian column last year.
Here's the salient bit:
'�I passed 30 and realised I still didn't have a clue what was going on. Now I'm 36, and if there is one thing I do know, it's that I still don't know that much. No one does. Everybody's winging it. Everything is improvised� all of us, from beggars to emperors, are crashing around trying to make the best of an unpredictable universe. We are little more than walking mistake generators.'
American intellectual Milton Friedman also expressed this notion, thanking his lucky stars that 'we're not as smart as we'd like to think we are…'
Sorry, I'm thinking of Dean Friedman.
I'm never sure whether I should feel reassured or terrified by the thought that no one knows anything. It tends to vary depending on the sphere of activity, though where the current economic crisis is concerned, it's definitely the latter. Here's the managing director of the FT admitting to the Observer how widespread the ignorance is:
'Why didn't we spot it [the crisis]? Unfortunately, financial journalists – and the FT has better-trained financial journalists than others – don't really understand this stuff, and they join a long list of people that starts with bank regulators, central bank regulators and money managers.'
There's plenty of evidence that people who work in football know a lot less than they'd like you to think. When the crowd chants 'You don't know what you're doing�', the assessment is more accurate and goes deeper than the fans realise.
Oh, we could talk about Peter Grant or Bryan Hamilton even longer than Hamilton himself can talk. But while I'm in the mood for quoting, Jim White tells a revealing anecdote about John Gorman in his book You'll Win Nothing With Kids. At the time, Gorman was manager of Wycombe:
'I once stood within earshot of [Gorman] as he yelled out instructions to his players just before the opposition were about to take a corner. �Mark, mark,� he was shouting. �White shirt on a blue shirt. Everyone pick someone up and stick with them.� And I thought, this bloke used to be assistant manager of England and I could have shouted that.'
I also used to know a Blackpool fan who swore that he was once at a league game where he heard the manager yell to his keeper: 'Use your area!' Then again, this may say more about the intelligence level of the keeper than the manager.
If people who have worked in the game for years can be so dumb, it shouldn't be any surprise that those who watch it are always getting it wrong too.
And I certainly include myself in that, though this is an area where I find it very reassuring to be surrounded by walking mistake generators.
If you don't want to look ridiculous on a regular basis, there are two options open to you. The first is not to have an opinion at all.
I used to think it a cop-out whenever my Mum said: 'I just like to go and watch the games, I don't want to analyse all the whys and wherefores'. But the older I get, the more valid this attitude seems to be.
She certainly got a lot more pleasure from football than people who spend their time scrutinising every aspect of what happens on and off the pitch.
The other option is to have an opinion, but to express it with some humility and with the awareness that events are very likely to prove you wrong.
This, for example, is what I think about our current use of the loan system. I don't think it's ideal (does anyone?), but it's probably our best option at the moment. Given the club's finances and the state of football in general, it's the only way we can get decent quality players in to give ourselves a chance of progressing.
I don't subscribe to the idea that loan players never give their all, or that we can't have an affinity with them if they're not 'ours'. David Nielsen was far better for us as a loan player. And of course there's Darren Huckerby, who won us all over when on loan, and helped us get to a position where it was worth pushing the financial boat out to make him ours permanently.
Surely the aim is to get promoted with the help of the loan players (still a long way off, I know) and then use the Premiership millions to try to keep them.
The other thing to bear in mind is that permanent signings are no longer as permanent as they used to be. Few players stay for long at the same club � even our club captain is only on a one-year deal which expires next summer � so it's almost as if every player is on loan.
That's what I think, anyway. Could be wrong, though.
in his Guardian column
And finally� when will Spurs' boss finally lead them to victory this season?
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