If any club should know about the importance of starting the Premier League season with a flourish, then it is Tottenham Hotspur. Are the mistakes of the past going to be avoided?
The future of Luka Modric is a scenario which has haunted Tottenham over the past two summers. Is it any closer to being resolved? We'll believe it when we finally see it, but for the club's sake, they need it to be sorted out.
Last night it was claimed that the Croatian was set to fly for Spain for a medical with Real Madrid today after the clubs agreed a £27.5 million fee. It would be less than the club would have liked, but in reality Spurs cannot afford for the saga to drag on any longer.
Twice over the past four seasons, a poor start has been critical for Tottenham's league campaigns, and it has been because of a distraction caused by a wantaway player.
Back in 2008, it was Dimitar Berbatov's sulk which did for Juande Ramos' spell in charge. Spurs did not win a single one of their first eight games, and it led to his removal as manager. Berbatov was only sold on deadline day, and by that point the damage was done and the cash was of little use as the club were not able to adequately replace him. The loan arrival of Frazier Campbell was sadly akin to getting a penny change on a plasma television.
Last year, it was Luka Modric who was the villain, then demanding a move to, ironically, Andre Villas-Boas Chelsea side. Now he finally has the chance to work under the manager, but he wants out.
Champions League football and prestige is what matters to Modric, but it also matters to Tottenham. Supporters were devastated to miss out on qualification after finishing in the top four, and they did not have a chance to influence it. Modric did, and was unable to help the team climb any higher. He wants the easy route out, and keeping him around looks to be to the detriment of the club.
Last season Tottenham lost both of their opening games, 3-0 to Manchester United, and 5-1 to City. They were outgunned, and underprepared. Yes the fixtures were tough, and they could have done without having their opening fixture with Everton cancelled due to the London riots, but 0 points from a possible 6 gave the club an uphill struggle.
To their credit the club did superbly to fight back into contention, and really should have finished third. While it was their run of results around February-March time, plus the home defeat to Norwich which let them down, the dropped points in August did not help.
This year, Tottenham need to ensure they get off to a flier. The competition is going to be tougher than ever this season, and the league needs a strong Spurs team to challenge at the top.
Selling Modric will bring in the necessary cash to allow the club to sign their own targets. Manchester United and Arsenal's agreement on Robin van Persie is evidence of club's need to get their business sorted before the season starts.
With only Jermain Defoe as a first team striker, Tottenham need to bring in new faces, and fast. Spurs have good fixtures to open the season despite a tough opening day clash, and need to take advantage.
They should be aiming for 13 points out of a possible of 15 from their opening five games, before they travel to Old Trafford at the end of September. They face Newcastle away on the opening day, where a draw would be a good result, especially considering Parker's injury and uncertainty over Sandro's availability.
They then face West Brom, Norwich, Reading, and QPR, with Reading the only away trip of the four. Spurs should be hoping for wins from all four. If they can then they will lay down a marker and a good start will stand them in good stead for the season ahead.
With rivals playing each other in the opening games and taking points off one another, Spurs could even end up topping the table after five matches. It is not unrealistic.
Failing to take advantage and not getting into double figures from a possible 15 points would be a real waste - and fingers will be pointed at the way the club have conducted their summer transfer business. Getting the Modric situation tied up and moving onto sign players is the first step off the field in this, while the players will be expected to get points on the board this weekend.
Can Tottenham get off to a flier? How has the Modric situation been handled?
image: © wonker