It’s back to the future again in N17.

Wake me up next August.  My beloved Spurs’ season is only two games old, but already it looks over, at least as far as the Premiership is concerned:  our next game is away to Chelsea, and assuming we lose that one too we’ll have no points from three games and find ourselves nine points behind the leading group.

And all this despite the relatively recent appointment of a highly-regarded manager, and a spending spree this year – both in the January transfer window and in the summer – that has brought seven or eight expensive and high-quality new players into the first team.  What on earth has gone wrong?

It may be the case that the high regard for our recently-appointed new manager is misplaced.  Behind the hype, there’s a fairly mediocre 13-year track record in Spain’s lower leagues, crowned with a couple of excellent cup wins in the last year or two.  Alex Ferguson or Arsene Wenger he isn’t.

It’s probably the case that with so many changes in the first team, they’re bound to take a while to settle.  At the moment they’re playing like a bunch of complete strangers, and the truth is that’s exactly what they are.  (Although it’s just a tad disturbing to note that the two teams who’ve played us off the park have made similar numbers of changes and seem to be playing together like lifetime friends.)

But it’s definitely the case – and here comes the business analogy – that one way or another, the balance of the team is totally and utterly wrong at the moment. 

The most obvious problem is that somehow we’ve managed to leave ourselves with only one striker in our squad, and even the one we have is the goal-shy and anxiety-crippled Darren Bent.  But in addition, somehow, after a three-month break, we found ourselves playing our first game with only one fit first-choice defender, playing alongside a midfielder hopelessly out of position at right back, a reserve left back playing his first game after a year out with injury and a reserve centre-back.  And craziest of all, in midfield, where we do actually have dozens of talented, fit and available players, the manager has been picking a powder-puff line-up of slight, slim, lightweight ballplayers (including the smallest and lightest man in the Premiership, Aaron Lennon) without a single player capable of offering the slightest resistance to the advances of our opponents.

In the right position, and in the right formation, all the players we’ve been fielding could do well.  In the wrong positions and/or formation, they’ve become the first Spurs team for centuries to lose at home to Sunderland and away to Middlesbrough.

Here in the agency, we’re trying to maintain a team with a complex balance of skills.  There are many aspects to this challenge, but the most obvious is that we need people who can perform at the highest level in advertising, in direct marketing, in brand identity and design, and in digital communications:  and whereas we have to be able to do all of these things, most (though not all) of our competitors specialise in just one, or at the most two.  Maintaining the balance is just as important , and just as difficult, for us as it is for Juande Ramos and the chaps at Tottenham – possibly more difficult, since the balance of our workload has a habit of changing, sometimes quite dramatically, in a way that doesn’t really happen at football clubs. 

I certainly wouldn’t say that that we always get it right:  we often have to play people out of position too, and it’s not unusual for us to have to bring in specialist freelancers on a short-term basis to fill in the gaps.  But it’s pleasing to think that for all our failings, just at the moment we’re about a thousand times better at it than the infinitely more highly-paid and better-resourced team at White Hart Lane.

Tea break over, back on your heads.

I don’t know if you have this too, but lurking somewhere in my head is a little file containing a bunch of punchlines from jokes.   And from time to time, in particular situations, particular punchlines come back to me:  whenever I return from holiday, it’s always this one. 

Over the years, I’ve always completely forgotten the jokes, or why I ever thought they were relevant to that kind of situation.  This time, I thought I’d google the punchline, and actually it turns out the joke is a) quite relevant, and b) quite funny.  (http://parrotsofthecurrybeaninenglish.blogspot.com/2007/11/ok-teabreaks-over-back-on-your-heads.html if you’re interested.)

Anyway, I’m back, as well as back on my head. If my holiday-sodden brain ever thinks of any interesting things to say about any of the subjects that I write about here, I’ll make sure to share them with you.