What happens when your team sells its best player? You get sad. What happens when your otherwise mostly-average team sells the Premier League's most influential midfielder? You get really sad. Tottenham Hotspur have been without Luka Modric for their first two matches of the season, and have earned a return of one point. Now they'll be without him for pretty much ever.
The 26-year-old Croat is off to ply his trade at Real Madrid on a team more suited to his prodigious talent, and now Tottenham fans have to deal with a world where they have no expectation of controlling the tempo in the center of the pitch. As Ryan Rosenblatt says on Cartilage Free Captain, Spurs' calmness and control was all down to Modric:
No player is as instrumental to Tottenham as Luka Modric and if you think otherwise, watch the team's last two matches. Watch Spurs at the beginning of last season without him. Watch as time and time again, the match begins to slip away for Tottenham and they look around for some sense of calm, only to be without the diminutive, galloping Modric to do it for them.
Modric almost single-handedly controls matches for Spurs. In between 40 yard long balls that he drops on a dime or the flick with the outside of the boot that leaves defenses in a tizzy, he dictates the tempo for Tottenham.
There's clearly no adequate replacement for Modric on the market, which means that Spurs are going to have to cobble together a Luka analogue out of multiple pieces if they want to play a true possession game. The good news is that they have more than £30 million to do it.
See, Tottenham fans, things aren't all bad! New shinies are incoming.