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8th April 2014 - A very Tottenham Farce

 

After the Liverpool game, I don’t think there were too many that expected Sherwood to last beyond the summer. He’s not done as bad as many make out but equally, going forward he lacks the composure and ability/experience to get Spurs to outperform the current financial limits. We all kinda know what’s gonna happen.

 

In that context, only an idiot would leak to the press that the manager will be sacked in the summer on day of a game

 

Unluckily, we have that very idiot running the club

 

Levy now has the distinction of sacking managers on matchday both before (Sherwood) and during a game (Martin Jol at half time) and has only just avoided sacking two in the same season … although there is time yet.

 

It was typical of Levy’s utter cowardice that the story was leaked to Sky and then he was nowhere to be seen at the game in the evening. Another of his white feather moments when the pressure is on, and while we have craven leadership such as this, Spurs are fucked. No organisation can be successful with this sort of leadership. Suspend all hope or at least hope that Levy disappears back to the shadows and the football people can start to turn Spurs round.

 

The funny thing is, he is such a bollock brain that it would be typical if Spurs put together a run of good results towards the end of the season to make him to look even more of a chump … and that started with a comprehensive win over a team who pushed Liverpool all the way in their last fixture

 

And with West Bromwich Albion, Fulham, Stoke City, West Ham United & Aston Villa to finish the season - all fixtures in which Spurs should and tend to pick up a lot of points … Levy could be in the position of sacking two managers during a record EPL points haul season (four wins and a draw or better required) or three wins and a draw to be round about the same league points as Redknapp’s two 4th place finishes. This would take Levy to an almost Sugar level of chumpness. Perhaps he is already washing his car with Soldado’s shirt.

 

In our midst, there are the proper crazies … people who blame the manager when Spurs lose and then blame the opposition when Spurs win, and still cherish the 5 goals (inc 2 pens that AvB managed in six home league games at the start of the season over the five Spurs put away yesterday) as it fits their pre-conceived ideas as tactic junkies … and the height of crazy was reached by suggesting that it was Sherwood not Levy who’d leaked the news of his own sacking for logic reasons I’ve not been able to follow. Given Levy is quiet snide, who has a history of leaking rather than giving interviews and Sherwood is a babbling idiot who is never short of words in front of the cameras … who’s MO does it fit? And at a time when the Season ticket renewal forms are going out ….

 

This season will have little to recommend it - disappointing considering expectations and poor against the better funded sides (despite wins over Everton/Man U) - but its not as bad as people are making out. Sherwood has a managerial record of 10 wins 2 draws from 17 games, averaging nearly 2 goals a game and a points per game of 1.88/72 points a season.

 

Is his successor guaranteed to do much better? Would Sherwood improve for a full pre-season to get his ideas across, sign some of his own players and improve his managerial approach? And what is success for the current funding levels of Spurs?

 

Don’t get me wrong, I still want Sherwood gone in the summer but wonder if, like AVB (and definitely Redknapp) in some respects they will be got rid of without really deserving the sack. Sherwood has the points haul to if not the feel good to justify his appointment and AVB for all his dull football and regression, surely deserved more of a chance to address the issues and bounce back given the record points haul of the previous season and the new players bedding in. I was glad they sacked him but its different to saying he deserved the sack. The sacking of Redknapp despite 4th/5th/4th finishes set a terrible precedent and started this whole downward spiral from what is likely to be a generational high of outperformance.

 

Keith Burkinshaw, like Sherwood similarly appointed from within the coaching staff with no real experience got Spurs relegated in his first full season but gradually worked Spurs around to lift the cup within four years. The Spurs board trusted Burkinshaw and backed their judgment while the fans were just fans back then, enjoying a tear up and a drink rather than being mini-chairmen and accountants pouring over tactics, pass completions and other joyless analysis that takes the fun out of football). In an era of twitter/phone-ins, would General Burkinshaw have survived the 2-8 at Derby, the 0-5 at City that sealed relegation or the 1-4 in the first home game against Villa or the subsequent 0-7 at Anfield which greeted promotion?

 

There is a case to suggest we get the sort of club we deserve - although we as Spurs fans are not alone as all football fans seem to lack the patience and perspective over the reality of their own clubs, where the clamour for change and the hope for a better future this generates alleviates the reality of the poverty of their own circumstance … all of which are totally futile anyway, as the mega funded clubs win everything thesedays, often with a helping hand from the franchise authorities when required.

 

With the manager sacked by leak to Sky, all this season really offers Spurs fans is the Schadenfreude and tragi-comedy of a strong finish and a squirming Levy presiding over another managerial exit with the team sitting in a well above long term average position. One wonders if Sherwood can match that other much maligned Spurs manager with an excellent record, Peter ‘Omar’ Shreeve who’s last twelve games in 1986 resulted in 8 wins, 3 draws and finished 5-2 away, 4-2 and 5-3 before being replaced by the ‘slow driver’ from Luton.

 

It would be a very Tottenham farce, in the very best traditions of our sometimes great club … and no doubt repeated forever and ever and ever

 

 

(btw, if you want to feel proper old, Spurs latest player Miloš Veljković was born a day after a couple from Sheringham won a Monday night Sky game against QPR for Gerry Francis Spurs back in Sept 1995)

 

 

 

31st March 2014 - The State we’re in

 

Before yesterday’s game vs Liverpool, here is the league table since Sherwood took over in December ...

 

Sherwood_15games.jpg

 

Its not that bad overall - more points than the combined genius of Wenger and the bloke at Everton and collecting points at a significantly higher points per game than most Spurs sides have achieved over our history - but when Spurs play open against a top side with a top strike force they always get undone, esp when jogged down to 10 men.

 

I don’t mind Sherwood but equally, I'm no great fan but in terms of achieving his aim of maintaining the Premier League push, he's not done that bad and that needs to be remembered when being critical of other aspects of his tenure. Hopefully Spurs can bounce back and put away the non-elite sides towards the end of the season for another +65 point/high league finish to add some respectability and a bit of feelgood to an instantly forgettable and spiritually depressing season which seems to have marked an end to the mini-golden era 2005-2013.

 

The real rebuilding starts over the summer but unfortunately, it will be Levy making the decisions and history suggest the longer he has to think about things, the poorer the final decision. With this season mirroring the most soul destroying ‘caretaker manager’ season of 2003/04, another Santini is on the cards but we can live in hope.

 

One thing Levy is good at is sacking managers and hopefully his 10am on 12th May will be one with Sherwood and his agent as Spurs cannot go on with the current chaos.

 

I can’t do all this modern fan outrage and bile but Sherwood has to go as he is clearly not up to handling the pressure of the job. Aside from some tactical naivety which is only to be expected given his experience, he has made too many emotional decisions, almost as if he is continually trying to prove a point to someone. He took over in a period of great turbulence but unlikely most tenures where things settle down over time, if anything with each day things seem to be further out of control. If Levy had not already sacked AVB this season, one suspects Sherwood would have been axed after the Liverpool game as it was another ‘lost dressing room’ performance which saw the end of his predecessor. On the subject of AVB, the issue is not Sherwood or AVB - both in their different ways have proved not good enough in the long term for Spurs.

 

While Sherwood has not helped himself in some respects,  the continuing period of uncertainty was cemented by Levy’s crazy decision of only appointing Sherwood for 18 months which meant that he was always only a defeat away from a crisis and players are unsure of who is in charge.

 

If there is anything negative happening at Spurs, Levy and the ENIC regime are never far away, but as they own the club - we are stuck with them even though its nice to think back to an earlier era where fan pressure groups actually made things uncomfortable for owners who kept screwing up and added a little more diligence to their decisions.

EnicOut.png

 

Will we ever get Daniel Levy in front of a microphone explaining his tenure at Spurs to someone other than an employee on SpursTV? Until he does, he is a cowardly little man who is never held accountable for any of his decisions and Spurs will suffer from poor decisions made in a consequence free environment.

 

While its easy to roll your eyes at most things ENIC do, one thing I find they have been harshly judged on is the Bale sale and the new signings over the summer. Bale had to go, Levy et al got a very good price and spent it on proven internationals. That they have not all worked (yet) is another matter - although Eriksen could easily turn out to be a great signing - but its difficult to see what ENIC could have done differently. However, with no net spend for the second summer, there needs to be funds available to the new manager - funds for players in key areas such as full back and another striker at the world class level - to give Spurs another shot at the top.

 

If Spurs were playing well, it may be worth persevering with Sherwood, but the majority of the results have been gained muddling through where the better class Spurs players with Adebayor’s goals have just enough to overcome non-elite EPL sides. Its an early call after 16 games after inheriting someone else’s players in a difficult time for the club, but the real question is - is there some other management team out there which are likely to do a better job at Spurs? And the answer has to be yes.

 

And if there is a better solution out there, Spurs have to go for it and go early so that the new man and his team has a proper pre-season and time to set their stamp on the club and draw a line under the current chaos. I’m not fussed who the new man is - although a spreadsheet obsessed foreign coach probably not a great idea - but they would be well advised to set terms and conditions for Levy that he fuck off out of all decisions and take his director of football with him and let ‘football people’ make the football decisions. Since Sugar took over, Spurs have had two good periods - the first when Venables was pulling the strings in 1993 and everything looked good for a great 93/4 before Sugar stepped in and secondly with Redknapp when a desperate Levy abandoned the director of football system and scuttled off for cover.

 

This perhaps is the most important issue Spurs as a club need to address. Spurs need to establish a culture of excellence throughout all aspects of the club. Currently, it is only the manager who has any sort of performance related aspect of their job. Levy and the directors to their thing and the players play and get paid, but when things go wrong … its always easier to sack a manager than a X1 players. The club needs to be focussed, from the top down, to achieving excellence on the pitch - first, foremost and only. No cult of ‘young players’, ‘no building projects’ … just a consistent and effective strategy to produce winning football, and a belief in the project and the people which can tough out difficult times while retaining the ruthlessness to try again when things are clearly gone beyond recall.

 

A culture of doing the right thing, showing some backbone in adversity and fighting for every last scrap. Historically, more Arsenal than Spurs in character but its all that really stands between Spurs and achieving our potential at the current funding levels. And an understanding of who Spurs are and what Spurs can realistically achieve is important for some perspective.

 

 

In his post match comments, Sherwood indentified Spurs weakness against the top sides this season:

 

While this is clearly unacceptable for any side in the league, it is clearly a factor of how Spurs approach these games - trying to take on the big sides toe-to-toe in an open way (even under AVB) rather than trying to nick a point with a cautious approach. Spurs can match these sides in many respects (when X1 vs. X1) but the real difference comes in the final third, where all that extra money buys you goals in tight games.  When Spurs had Bale, it was more of a contest but the goals for is as telling as the goals against without him and going a goal down, usually marks the end.

 

The flip side of being high up in the league despite the poor record against the best sides is that Spurs have a fantastic ability to beat the rest of the league , which has been a constant even before the elevated levels of the post Jol era. The only note of caution going forward is the goal difference, which is a greater reflection on performance than mere points and that 9 of the 15 wins have been by a single goal

 

 

These two examples provide a great insight to where Spurs are - both unable to compete at the very top also but well clear of the also rans - and performing as expected by ‘EPL wages coefficient’.

 

For all the marketing and flannel, this is who Spurs are and an understanding of this appears to be essential in enjoying following Spurs - appreciating what an excellent job Redknapp and the 2008-12 side did and not getting too upset when Spurs when things revert back to the long term average.

 

Over history, aside from the remarkable quarter century of the period of Rowe/Nicholson dynasty which contained both top division championships, Spurs have more than 100 years of some special moments in the cups mostly interspersed with moderate league form. Some great forwards and attacking flair undone by crappy defending and boardroom shenanigans. The previous match against Southampton was a microcosm of Spurs history - chaotic defending  followed by a rousing comeback with skillful forwards to win by the classic Spurs score of 3-2. If you did nt enjoy the Southampton win, complete with injury time winner, Spurs are probably not for you. And even the Liverpool defeat was not out of step with Spurs long term average where Spurs ship an average of 2 goals a game at Anfield, with one in every seven defeats up there coming with Liverpool scoring four or more.

 

This is who Spurs are - the lows and indifferent periods which made the cup runs and glory so special

 

For all the rosy nostalgia, this represents an above average season even though it lacks almost all of the feelgood factor that should accompany it.

 

From 1950/1 to 1973/4 under Rowe and Nicholson, Spurs league finsihes were as follows:

Champions, RunnersUp, 10th, 16th, 16th, 18th, RunnersUp, 3rd, 18th, 3rd

Champions, 3rd, RunnersUp, 4th, 6th, 8th, 3rd, 7th, 6th, 11th

3rd, 6th, 8th, 11th

 

This 24 year period contain both Spurs top division championships and three of the four runners up slots and five of the nine third place finishes (along with a stack of cups).

 

Which means in the remaining 71 years of the 95 football league seasons … Spurs have achieved one runners up position (in 1921) and four other bronze medal positions, the last of which was in 1990.. averaging a podium finish once every 14 years, almost a generation.

 

That’s not to say Spurs should never give up striving to be the footballing connoisseurs of the post war golden era between 1950-1974, but it should add perspective to events & a 6th place finish this season would rank it 30th out of 95 … nothing to shout about but equally, nothing deserving of the apoplectic rage apparently stored in every modern fan.

 

 

 

Spurs never repeat, but occasionally rhyme, and while it may have to get worse before it gets better … one day we’ll be back on an upward path again because …

SuperTottenhamFromtheLane.jpg

 

 

 

And lastly a crap plug for the TOPSPURS book - still a half decent Spurs book at bogtime and costs less than a pint thesedays

… the Glory of Spurs book in Kindle/ebook format http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Glory-of-Spurs-ebook/dp/B00C2JTO8G/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1364489602&sr=1-1

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16th January 2014 - RIP Trigger

 

Some very sad news today with the passing of comedy legend, Spurs fan and all round good egg Roger Lloyd-Pack, seen here at the Irish Centre as he was so often around White Hart Lane on matchdays having a pint with the rest of us (many thanks to Phil Todd & David McKean for the picture).

 

Trigger_Spurs.jpg

 

 

 

23 December 2013 - It’s Timmah!

 

…and there won't be Van Gaal in Tottenham this Christmas time,

Nooooooooooo,

The greatest gift we'll get this year is Tim.....

timmah_appointment.bmp

 

If nothing else, the period of uncertainty between AVB exit and new appointment was short, but that was more due to Levy once again appointing the person standing next to him as he sacks a manager (as he did when Jol arrived after Santini & presumably he was on the phone to Harry sorting out a transfer deal when the great man got the gig after Ramos).

 

It all seems a bit reckless around Spurs at the moment, from Levy sacking managers without a lined up replacement and appointing a new man after one win, which contained a considerably more bravado than brains with the players and formation used.

 

Just in case Spurs were looking for a bit of stability, Levy has ensured perpetual uncertainty and turmoil by only appointing Sherwood for 18 months which should see questions over the managers future almost from day one with the weakening effect that has on authority in front of players. That said, 18 month contracts do recognize the average length of an ENIC Spurs manager, as chairman and fans get bored quickly.

 

That said, I’d prefer instability and dynamic change over stability for the sake of stability. Football, like the modern world moves very fast and there is no place for 5 year plans written in ivory tower dogmas over being able to react quickly and effectively.

 

Spurs have appointed 19 different managers in my lifetime and while I’ve often been wrong, I don’t think I’ve ever been as undecided about how one will get on. On the negative side, its Sherwood who was a bit of a wanker as a player, esp towards the end when his legs had gone and only really had those two epic performances in the Semi final against Chelsea to recommend him. Although he was before my time, I’ve been told Venables was a pretty unpopular player with the crowd but came back to great effect as a manager and I think the bits that made him unlovable during his playing days, may also contribute towards Sherwood’s success as a manager. The box tickers amongst the fans have raised the issue of not having a blue peter badge in football which is total nonsense as Sherwood will either know what to do intuitively or will be no good irrespective of some bureaucratic qualification.

 

There is also the Spurs managerial pattern in his favour. Heavily deliberated over tactic laden foreign manager who bombed (Santini), replaced by common sense motivator with a strong character (Jol). Repeat again with Ramos & Redknapp and perhaps a third time with AVB being replaced by Sherwood. More pattern than substance but its been a decent guide so far.

 

Who knows, very difficult to form any sort of opinion at this stage other than hoping he does very well as he is the Spurs manager. If nothing else, his interviews will be interesting as they seem mercifully free of media trained dullness with very large doses of what is on his mind at that very time.

 

Sherwood will face many questions over the coming months but perhaps the greatest one at the moment is will he continue with the ‘Tora, Tora, Tora’ approach employed at Southampton, or will he use a bit of savvy now that its all sorted. Spurs did very well at Southampton, esp coming from a goal behind to win by ‘the spurs score’ of 3-2 but equally, the Saints are on a bit of a wobble and given AVBs wins at Fulham and Sunderland it was the most likely outcome anyway.

 

I can’t see that line up and that balance working against the better sides, esp as Adebayor has a game or two in him at most before he gets bored and it will be interesting to see if he can introduce some steel in the midfield without losing too much dash going forward.

 

There has been the usual guff about ‘the spurs way’ and the Spurs fans being different to all other clubs in demanding good football. All of which is crap - there is not one way to play and Spurs fans, like any fans, enjoy watching good football which is effective producing goals and wins. We were savvy enough to be concerned about unconvicing 1-0 under AVB and were right to do so as it did not take a lot for it to all fall apart against a decent side. It was similar at the end of Gerry Francis reign where a series of narrow unconvincing wins in 96/7 fell away to rubbish at the start of 97/8 as the star man left the sinking ship.

 

Along with the re-emergence of Adebayor and the very promising debutant Bentaleb, it was good to see Lamela get a start and see Soldado have enough chances for a second half hatrick. If Lamela can be nursed into the EPL pace and Soldado can keep getting those chances, Spurs could be very entertaining to watch and likely to score plenty of goals which should ensure plenty of wins.

 

Being Tottenham, and around Christmas time, pantomime farces are in people’s minds and after appointing Sherwood after one win, a potential nightmare scenario could unfold where Spurs fail to win three easy games - WBA, Stoke & Palarse and get walloped again by any of the half decent sides (and Man U) as the short term contract and potential shortcomings in the inexperienced management team are exposed, and come the end of January, there could be a very awkward situation where Spurs are on the lookout again for another manager. It’s a pretty extreme and pessimistic scenario but not totally implausible given Spurs luck. It could be that the absurd situation of appointing an untried manager half way through a season on the back of one win only to sack him a few weeks later as things lurch from bad to worse would trump even the Rivaldo letter and sacking a manager at half time in ENIC/Levy achievements.

 

In thinking about my comments on Levy and the Board immediately after the AVB sacking, I think I let them off a little easily. I still think that if you were mature enough to know Bale had to go and excited about the new players delivered before the start of the season, it’s after-timing to now call them wankers because its not gone to plan.

 

However, looking back a bit further, its easy to point the finger at the board - something I spent most of the early days of topspurs doing - both for making strange managerial signings (Santini) and getting rid of managers that were achieving very good results based upon Spurs resources (Jol and especially Redknapp). The latter, the great Harry Redknapp, may be remembered as the only ENIC era manager to prosper at Spurs as he was the only one to operate without a ménage à trois and did not have ‘Et Tu DoF’ on his managerial headstone.

 

The interest of the supporter and the Chairman have always been diametrically opposed and perhaps it is the nature of the dynamic always to mistrust the other, and although they have plenty of gorblimey moments and do plenty wrong, they also get enough right from time to time and run Spurs sustainably outside the superrich playground which claim all the silverware. They cannot be my friends, but then again I don’t see them as enemies of getting Spurs to achieve our potential - they always look like they want the best for Spurs - even if its completely the wrong idea and/or on the cheap. Its just how it is, and probably always will be until some mega rich lunatic takes over gets Spurs to play in Red and renames the club ‘Cocks’ and we know for sure its all over.

 

 

& lastly, Merry Christmas and don’t have nightmares…. He comes from Borehamwood…

 

 

 

 

16 December 2013 - AVB gone

 

Since those pathetic words blaming the crowd after another dull unconvincing performance against Hull, the end came quite soon as things started to unravel around AVB. In the final analysis, without Gareth Bale to rescue the dull ineffective football, there was not a lot left in the AVB locker and although the stats will show Spurs have sacked another manager while riding high in the league, this time at least it was for the best interests of everybody as the trajectory was spiraling downwards.

 

As it turned out he was a small man in a big job who in my opinion, did nt instinctively love football, as opposed to football analysis, enough to be whole package of manager from tactician to motivator. 

 

He lasted less than a season at Chelsea, who shrugged off the ill effects of his alleged poor man management and straightjacket football by winning the Cup and CL within a few weeks of his departure (which should remind all Spurs fans that this season is far from over) but given his previous success at Porto, he was worthy contender for Spurs when appointed in summer 2012, esp given his ability to work within the dreaded DoF system.

 

Its common practice to blame the Spurs board at this juncture - usually with good cause over the years - but not this time. I can’t see that the Spurs board did an awful lot wrong in appointing him. I will berate them til I die for sacking the best manager in living memory earlier that summer and not backing him in the Jan2012 transfer window when Spurs were riding high, but given the circumstances at the time and the options available, it was worth taking a punt on AVB and I can’t see that they are due any retrospective blame for appointing him now that its all gone wrong. It happens, they can’t get it right all of the time and we move on.

 

In the early days of AVB, he rubbed the belly of the fans a lot better than the previous manager and was quickly accepted but early results were stuttering reaching a nadir with a desperate home defeat against Wigan (which was altogether worse than the away defeats to better sides at the same time). This setback ultimately proved the turning point of the season as the dull tactics loosened and with the help of a certain world class genius, Spurs won a stack of games to the end of the season and in any normal year 72pts would have meant the holy grail of CL football.

 

Once again, I think the board did all they could over the summer. The time had come for Bale to go, he’d spent a decent amount of time at Spurs but his exceptional talent deserved a bigger stage, just as it was right for Hoddle to leave in 87. People are deluded if they think Spurs are bigger than playing for Real Madrid, or indeed if you are an Englishman, managing England. I cant see how anyone is to blame for Bale not being here - he needed go and the board got a good price, its one of those things in football. However, the question of what to do with the money was an interesting one. Personally, I’d have broken the bank to get a proven EPL World class match winner superstar - Suarez for instance - but that’s just me and in the circumstances, Spurs did just as well to sign a stack of top class international players.

 

‘Sell Elvis and buy the Beatles’, or as its ENIC, the bootleg Beatles. I seem to remember at the time there was a pretty good positive vibe - who remembers this …

Mag7INkit_2013.jpg

 

I don’t think we’ve seen the best of any of them yet - Eriksen against Norwich is starting to look very much like Dominguez against Derby in terms of spectacular debut followed by nothing - but am sure they will flourish in the second half of the season with a more pragmatic approach from the new manager, especially Soldado and hopefully Lamela who has shown in one of those Intertoto’s one flash of that world class superstar Spurs need to win tight against top sides. We were never going to see it if old boring chops was never going to play him.

 

Even if they all turn out to be hopeless, what more could the Board do over the summer but back the manager with proper money (albeit no new money as it all came out of Bale/Caulker sale).  That it has nt worked out - thusfar - is down to a combination of factors, players taking time to settle etc but most of all was the inability of the manager to build a system of effective, winning football with the talented squad. It certainly seems harsh to have sacked AVB given his win ratio/points per game record but things were starting to regress very quickly and those behind the scenes at Spurs are much better to judge the mood of dressing rooms/training sessions

 

The funny thing about AVB exit is that I am neither happy or sad, just kinda glad its over and looking forward to what the new fella can do with what is a pretty decent league position and a very good looking squad. And in the mayhem of his sacking breaking, Spurs were drawn against Dnipro in the InterToto … managed by old boy ‘Wendy’ Ramos, another great footballing irony.

 

 

At a time of change like this its worth reflecting and the events of the last few weeks really do show what a great job Harry Redknapp did at Spurs. He took over a similarly talented but misfiring Spurs team with 2 points in 8 games and by the end of his first full season 18 months later we’d reached the holy grail of 4th place and CL qualification - and virtually all this before the emergence of the world class Bale. That Champions League campaign was stunning, winning a group with the CL holders while averaging 3 goals a game is worth more than half a dozen league cups or InterToto’s in current footballing currency. Add in the rise from mediocrity under Jol and it really was the mini-golden era, especially as it brought to an end the Sugar sleepwalk to obscurity, something I am sure which will resonate more in the future than it did at the time, especially if it turns out to be the high water mark of the era.

 

The odd thing about Redknapp was that up to his appointment, I had every reason to dislike him - funny transfer dealings and other stuff - and thought Spurs had reached the bottom when they were panicked into appointing him. But very quickly, his blend of good football, common sense and genuine love of football for football (rather than one-eyed joyless cult like devotion to a club exhibited by too many fans) won me round. At least I can say I enjoyed every minute at the time rather than worrying that the manager had said something the wrong way, unfortunately long remembered beyond the fantastic football and high achievement by far too many bitter people.

 

All that said, we cant go back and re-appointing Redknapp would be a very backward move - esp as it would mean shipping out a whole load of backroom suits. And also, we should not appoint a former favourite for nostalgic reasons. No-one loves Glenn Hoddle more than me but his time has come and gone unfortunately.

 

So who next? 

I’m not really fussed as long as they are able to take on this hugely talented squad and able to deliver effective winning football. The longer Levy has to think about it, the worse his decision tends to be but surely even he can see when he appoints a bookish tactically aware foreign manager with low man management skills things don’t go as well as when he ends up with (usually by accident rather than design) a pragmatic motivator who squeezes more out of the players than the sum of the parts.

 

Of the candidates available, early favourite Capello has outstanding claims on his record … but this is 2013 not 1993 and think his best days may be behind him although he would be a good fit with the Spurs management set up. Laudrup appears to have a lot going for him but am not sure its his turn in the foreign/domestic manager alternations. Aside from that, most names are either fondly remembered old boys or foreign coaches or Alan Curbishley. Once again, there is no obvious perfect fit.

 

While writing this crap, its been announced that Timmah! Sherwood has got the gig in the short term. A reward for hanging around in the background and agreeing with Levy. Almost exactly the same as Martin Jol - a manager in waiting without a real brief behind the scenes. It gets worse as Fraud has survived the cull and will remain as dressing room snitch to the boardroom and badge kissing snide for the less cerebral fans

 

The glory days of the Sherwood/Fraud midfield return! Sherwood standing somewhere in the centre circle, unable to run and randomly pointing with Fraud running away from Roy Keane as the old Spurs slowly died under Sugar. Back in the day, there was a great rumour doing the rounds that Sherwood has an Arsenal tattoo, the reason he never wore short sleeve shirt or celebrated what proved to be the winner against the Goons in 1999 but perhaps the defining word on Sherwood should be left to our friends down the road at Highbury who sang (while we joined in)

Oooh Tim Sherwood, Oooh

Oooh Tim Sherwood, Oooh

He comes from Borehamwood

He’s not very fucking good

Oooh Tim Sherwood, Oooh

 

Levy has now completed the loop: …tactic laden foreign manger replaced by pragmatic motivator(santini/Jol) … tactic laden foreign manger replaced by pragmatic motivator (ramos/redknapp), … tactic laden foreign manger replaced by the person standing next to him at the time (AVB/Sherwood). History never repeats but rhymes.

 

We don’t really know anything about Sherwood - as he has no experience or qualifications for the job - but I’d guess his style would be more art than science, and his chance of success will be based on his international and extensive EPL experience plus a heap of common sense and motivation. From the little I know, Sherwood has a strong character and could be a good leader if things go well and I’m open minded about his chances of success - esp considering I was similarly underwhelmed by what proved to be a great appointment in Redknapp. I’d love Sherwood to succeed, if for no other reason that he is the current Spurs manager and will be interested to see if the dressing room takes to him.

 

To finish on a positive note, Sherwood was topspurs man of the match with a stunning goal Sheringham Corner routine in Arfa Arfa game in one of the greatest games ever to be played at WHL. And if all else fails, we can say “Timmah!” like the South Park character for the first time since Atouba

timmah.jpg

 

All that really matters is that Spurs play well and win the next game, and then the game after that and the game after that, all the while developing a style which suits the players (and not necessarily the manager) which is able to allow Spurs to compete with the best around and also put away the crap, home and away. Hopefully Sherwood or whoever gets the gig hits the ground running and Spurs are back challenging playing effective football, as the last thing we want is further regression and mess.

 

 

 

No topspurs editorial is complete without a load of silly stats and graphs - so here come the numbers!

AVB joins Ossie and Pleat’s first stint in charge in lasting 54 league games. AVB shaded Pleat 29-27 wins but the goal difference of +31 vs +14 shows Pleat’s chokers were superior performers and although he only managed 16 wins in his time, Ossie’s Spurs only scored six goals less than AVB’s side - all of which point to some narrow margins for AVB, which were becoming narrower without Bale’s brilliance.

 

That said, in terms of points per game  - the following graph shows the performance of all Spurs manager since the great Billy Nick

 

Having sacked two managers while at the top, Levy will look a bit of a wally if the next fella rejoins the dead men below 1.35 points per game

 

 

 

 

TROMSO

On a brighter note, a big thank you to our great Norwegian Hosts on what was an epic trip to Tromso to see Spurs win in the Arctic Circle

1311-Tromso 013.JPG1311-Tromso 021.JPG

1311-Tromso 024.JPG1311-Tromso 023.JPG

1311-Tromso 025.JPG1311-Tromso 035.JPG

1311-Tromso 038.JPG1311-Tromso 044.JPG1311-Tromso 052.JPG1311-Tromso 056.JPG

1311-Tromso 213.JPG1311-Tromso 220.JPG

1311-Tromso 211.JPG

 

 

 

 

 

Tromso

The less said about that Man City defeat and the general direction Spurs are headed the better - it seems Spurs recent trajectory is not down to the fans singing or indeed any particular tactical nous from AVB, but without Bale Spurs can’t seem to score and without goals it’s a long way to the top.

 

The Spurs board have supported the manager over the summer and despite losing the world class Bale, Spurs still have a very talented squad full of international stars and it will make or break AVB reputation. The current run is not a crisis on paper - Spurs still have a respectable 20 points and AVB still on 1.80+ points per game (a higher average than any other Spurs manager) - but the lack of goals and in the City game which featured almost half a changed team, there seemed a distinct lack of team spirit and belief what Spurs were trying to do. A good manager would be able to arrest the decline and with the resources turn this around into a top 6 finish. Lets hope he’s not the limited character Chelsea jettisoned before winning the CL as Spurs immediate future and the continuation of the mini golden era depends on it.

 

Before all the serious stuff starts, there is the small matter of what should be one of the great Spurs away trips to Tromso and really looking forward to that with all the Norwegian Lads.

 

If you need to put the City defeat in context, p113 of The Glory of Spurs book contains 22 of ignominious defeats and it would be definitely be the 23rd. If you have nt got a copy, now down to the price of a pint (in London anyway) … the Glory of Spurs book in Kindle/ebook format http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Glory-of-Spurs-ebook/dp/B00C2JTO8G/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1364489602&sr=1-1

 

27th October 2013 – So far so good

 

Its been a while since the last update on here (remember the days of daily topspurs updates!) but its difficult to add to the comments in the season preview as they all remain in the balance.

 

As predicted, results-wise its been another excellent season in which Spurs sit 3 pts off the top of the league having won 12 of 15 games in all competitions with 12 clean sheets. Its been a good few years for Spurs but form like this (and of current seasons) it is the exception not the rule and its always worth enjoying knowing it wont last forever.

 

However beyond the headline figures, much of which has been bolstered by a flawless campaign in the InterToto Cup or whatever its called now, things are a little less clear

 

In the EPL, Spurs have scored 9 goals in 9 games but have somehow stretched this out to earn 19 points to be 4th in the League. Is this something to celebrate or something that should be sounding alarm bells?

 

Is this a solid platform as the new players bed in before Spurs step up a gear with more expensive football for the rest of the season or just a reflection that Spurs have not replaced the matchwinner Bale who could turn tight games and are on a knife edge in close games where the oppo park the bus between a sneaky 1-0 win and getting mugged by the reciprocal scoreline after chasing the game.

 

This is becoming the narrative of the season and its eventual conclusion will determine the success of the season.

 

At a similar stage last season, Spurs found a way to lose at home to Wigan and after a similarly pleasing but unconvincing 17 points from the first 9 games. Last season, Spurs moved up a level and Bale was on hand to turn tight games Spurs way to achieve a record points total.

 

Will it be a similar story this season? It should be as if anything, Spurs are better equipped to challenge on all fronts. However, Spurs need to find similar momentum this season, a way of scoring more goals against a variety of opposition from good players in good teams playing open football to well drilled journeymen carrying out defensive orders of the lesser lights. There is not much wrong with Spurs that bit of attacking spark would nt solve but Spurs are not going to go anywhere scoring at just one a game/less than half a goal a game goal difference.

 

On top of that, there is AVB’s bizarre attack on the fans – who presumably could see through all the hype to see this was just a run of the mill league game against crap oppo in October, and on a Sunday and nothing much for which to create a carnival atmosphere.  If Spurs had gone 0-2 down and the crowd had remained silent while Spurs tried to launch a stirring comeback or had Spurs taken apart the reigning European Champions 3-1 with breathtaking football to a silent shrug … then yes, there is something wrong. But sitting bored through a cautious calculating slow approach against a parked bus is just as it should be – spectators watching a game without being moved. Lets hope the expectation for football fans is not to be humourless one-sided drone cheerleaders at a political rally.

 

There is a huge amount of goodwill behind AVB but I wonder if that performance and those comments will signal the end of the honeymoon period, and I wonder will the club wheel him out to “re-clarify” his position before any resentment builds.

 

With City treading water, Utd gone and the likes of Arsenal and even Liverpool touted as potential champions, this is very much Spurs big chance. Everything is in place for a great season, just as long as Spurs are allowed to play like Spurs.

 

 

 

 

 

16th August 2013 – Season Preview

Whatever happens this season, its been the best pre-season since 1994 possibly even the modern era for Spurs. That’s not to say the new signings will be great and make the decisive impact the summer 1959 signings (or indeed the 1980 or 1994 vintage summers) but it marks a very different and very positive sign of intent for Spurs.

For too long in recent times, Spurs rise up the English and world footballing ladder has not been matched in transfer dealings. 18 months ago with Spurs in the top3, Redknapp had to make do with Ryan Nelson and Louis Saha freebies as those who controlled the purse strings looked down rather than up and it has become the norm as the first week of the season approaches aside from a cheap squad player or two, no-one has been signed and its all going down to the PM of the last day of the window to squeeze either the buyers or sellers for an extra million or so as the season is four games and more than 10% completed.

This year its different. This year Spurs have shown some intent and gone out and landed highly rated established international players, all of whom should feature in the best first team squad. Marvellous. They could all turn out to be crap but it should not distract from the board backing the manager who has delivered Spurs highest league finish and also looking to mend some of the ‘uefa cup’ type signings from last summer to get the squad back to the CL quality throughout. 

As it stands, Spurs are one of the few teams who can genuinely challenge for the title, but the stats suggest the teams will finish in wages paid order, and as such Spurs should yet again regard a top4/70point season as a huge success as there is a lot of hard running to even stand still let alone progress in the world’s most competitive league where each season starts with a clean slate.

If Spurs are to win the title, Bale must stay and not just stay in body (like Modric sleepwalk season before being sold) but stay as good as he was last season. There are three genuinely proven world class players who can win their team the EPL – RVP, Suarez and Bale. RVP took a pretty ordinary Man U to the title last season, Suarez just about kept Liverpool top half and Bale won Spurs an awful lot of points in tight games. Perhaps Hazard or Mata for Chelsea or Cazorla at Arsenal can build on their EPL experience to step up to this level, and maybe one of the new City signings are at this elevated level. But that is it.

Team efforts can build the platform but these are the players who make a difference – the ones who turn defeats into draws, draws into wins – which is vital thesedays as more often than not teams right down to relegation contenders are stuffed full of internationals and can make a game of it with anyone else in the league.

As such, I would break the bank to sign Suarez to give Spurs two of these players and the best chance of landing the title since the early 60s (or even a cheeky bid for Dzeko). Spurs have enough good players elsewhere in the team to ensure goals are leaked at a relatively low rate and plenty of chances are created at the other end – it will be the superstar(s) who make the difference – just think of it… Tottenham Hotspur, Premier League champions … we could all pack it in from the day after!

More realistically, the bounty of Spurs spending this summer has come out of what Spurs will get for Bale when he is eventually sold to Madrid on the 31st August. If Bale goes, he has been one of the all time greats for Spurs, the spirit of the mini-golden era and it would be nice to think the many bitter little people who follow football thesedays could have the charity in their hearts to wish him well

10 years ago, Spurs were about to sack Hoddle 6 games into what turned out to be biggest non-event season ever. From that low point, Arnesen cured Pleat’s malign effect off the pitch and instilled a sense of professionalism which has lasted long beyond his short but productive tenure. First Jol steadied the ship and got the pride back, Redknapp took Spurs to the promised land of 4th and that memorable run in the Champions League and now AVB has guided Spurs to a record EPL points total in his first season (which in any normal run of luck would have been another 4th place and CL football) which was a phenomenal achievement.

Things started a bit slowly with perhaps too much tactics and reached a low point with the home defeat to Wigan, but he was savvy enough to change things around, a flexibility he apparently lacked at Chelsea. From the 5-2 defeat at Arsenal, Spurs picked up 55 points with a 16-7-3 record which equates to 2.11 points per game and the 80 points a season which puts you in the title race in May if it can be repeated over a whole season.

Of those 16 wins, 10 were by a single goal and in 8 of those 10, the great Gareth Bale scored. For all the modern cult of managers, it is still the star player who makes the difference. We need Bale to do that again and if no Bale, where do these match turning moments come from? The large number of hard running midfielders will ensure Spurs have a great engine room – but who supplies the magic? If Bale goes, the ability to replicate or get close to the points achieved will be a measure of AVB managerial talent, genius or just very good

After a great start, it would be nice to see the very likeable AVB establish himself as one of Spurs great managers.

In goal, Lloris had a good first season and looks likely to be the custodian for a while to come. With Friedel in reserve, Spurs also have good quality cover. At full back, Danny Rose will be looking to have the sort of effect Walker did on his return from Villa on loan but personally, I’d put up with Benny as he is the only Spurs player I’ve got any time for and a proper cult legend. Walker had a tough season last year but remains a fantastic talent and hopefully can resume his progress and even if not, he’s still a very decent player.

Spurs are a bit thin at centre back but the very likeable Vertonghen with the returning Kaboul give Spurs a very strong first choice pairing and the wonderful Dawson will never let anyone down

Spurs have the sort of midfield now we could only dream about with the wooden legged plodders such as Sherwood and Redknapp chased Viera’s shadow in our lost decade. Pair any two or three in the engine room and allow Lennon and hopefully Bale to provide incisions.

Up front, Soldado looks a much needed quality injection to the Defoe/Adebayor combo. Defoe with 120+ Spurs goals has had a good career but does not look to have the quality Spurs need for the next level and Adebayor is just too unreliable and not that good even when on song. Its being greedy, but another striker like Suarez or Djeko and another centre back would make the 33/1 about Spurs winning the title very tempting.

Difficult to give a prediction without knowledge of Bale’s fate but with reference to that season 10 years ago, watching Spurs now is an absolute pleasure – a team of great players who have been achieving year after year – and am sure it will be another good one for Spurs.

In terms of numbers, 70 points should be the benchmark Spurs investment should be aiming for this season. Most importantly for me would be CL qualification as it is the most important club competition  and Spurs need to be in it and I’d gladly sacrifice the long forgotten domestic cups for this end.

Of the other title contenders, United looked poor last year and never quite worked out how they won so many games, we’ll find out whether it was more than the loss of defensive stability mid-season which has seen City fall from the top, which leaves the best team Spurs played last season in Chelsea reunited with one of the world’s great managers who look most likely to win the EPL. Hopefully Spurs wont be far behind and at this stage we can dream that the title or Spurs highest league finish in a generation is landed.

Up the Spurs

 

 

For the rest of the views on the new season, read the TOPSPURS Vox Pop

http://www.topspurs.com/topspursvoxpop1314.htm

 

 

And don’t forget to join the TOPSPURS Fantasy Football League

Join up at http://fantasy.premierleague.com/  and then use league code: 391959-100844

 

 

For those that are interested, the Glory of Spurs book is out in Kindle/ebook format http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Glory-of-Spurs-ebook/dp/B00C2JTO8G/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1364489602&sr=1-1

TGOS_FrontCover_cropped.jpg

 

 

 

 

29th April 2013 - Bale

 

Well Done to Gareth Bale on being voted player of the year again, joining Clive Allen and Ginola in winning both awards in the same season and also established legends Big Pat and Danny B in winning the gong in more than one season, and the first Spurs player to do both.

 

Those Spurs Footballers of the Year in full ….

1957/58 Danny Blanchflower Football Writers Player of the Year

1960/61 Danny Blanchflower Football Writers Player of the Year

1972/73 Pat Jennings              Football Writers Player of the Year

1975/76 Pat Jennings              Professional Footballers Association Player of the Year

1979/80 Glenn Hoddle            Professional Footballers' Association Young Player of the Year

1981/82 Steve Perryman        Football Writers Player of the Year

1986/87 Clive Allen               Football Writers Player of the Year; and

Professional Footballers Association Player of the Year

1991/92 Gary Lineker             Football Writers Player of the Year

1994/95 Jürgen Klinsmann     Football Writers Player of the Year

1998/99 David Ginola            Football Writers Player of the Year; and

Professional Footballers Association Player of the Year

2010/11 Gareth Bale              Professional Footballers Association Player of the Year

2011/12 Kyle Walker              Professional Footballers' Association Young Player of the Year

2012/13 Gareth Bale             Football Writers Player of the Year; and

Professional Footballers Association Player of the Year

 

Luka who?

 

 

11th April 2013 – UEFA exit

 

Adebayor’s spot kick summed up his season, lacking conviction, effort or outcome but the real question is why are Spurs forced to compete at this level with only two strikers at the club? Spurs started with their one and only out of sorts striker and with the tie up for grabs in the second half Spurs introduced Carroll, Hudd and Benny – and allowing for how well Carroll played, no game changers or players able to offer something different from an attacking perspective.

At the same stage in Europe two seasons ago Spurs started with Crouch, Modric and VDV with Defoe, Lennon, Pav and Krancjar on the bench … with the ultimate irony being our very own useless lump up front managed to have a rare going day scoring twice for Madrid.

 

A gallant effort by the rest of the team tonight, all of whom chipped in with solid efforts, none more than our very own Lionheart Dawson who really deserves to have his courage on the pitch backed in the boardroom by little Levy .. the short armed, long pocketed chairman with a penchant for U-21 players with sell on value. Its not the path which ends in glory. Levy needs to be able to identify and buy a good player, and sign them in time and at a fair price before the season starts. Not easy but its an essential ingredient of his job. (and don’t sell Bale on 31 Aug, esp without a replacement)

 

Yet another penalty shootout exit – p158 of The Glory of Spurs lists the previous 16 first team penalty shootouts going back to a 5-3 win over San Lorenzo in a tour game in 1979 where Gordon Smith was amongst Spurs scorers. Spurs have won only 4 of the 17 now but in the scheme of things, they did win the important one in 1984 so should not complain too much

 

Two more In the ‘Spurs by numbers’ series .. Spurs won just 4 of the 12 UEFA Cup ties this season which seems incredible for a quarter finalist …

…. and also in the 5 previous European ties where Spurs played the first leg at home and failed win … Spurs have gone out in the second leg.

Make that six now, but it puts the task in context and shows what a creditable effort it was overall. Those previous ties:

12-Mar-08 UEFA 3 (2L) A PSV Eindhoven W 1-0 (a.e.t) Berbatov (Spurs lost 5-6 on pens)

06-Mar-08 UEFA 3(1L) H PSV Eindhoven L 0-1

20-Mar-85 UEFA. Cup 4 (2L) A Real Madrid D 0-0

06-Mar-85 UEFA. Cup 4 (1L) H Real Madrid L 0-1

03-Nov-82 ECWC 2 (2L) A Bayern Munich L 1-4 Hughton

20-Oct-82 ECWC 2 (1L) H Bayern Munich D 1-1 Archibald

21-Apr-82 ECWC SF (2L) A Barcelona L 0-1

07-Apr-82 ECWC SF (1L) H Barcelona D 1-1 Roberts

29-May-74 UEFA Final (2L) A Feyenoord L 0-2

21-May-74 UEFA Final (1L) H Feyenoord D 2-2 England, Van Daele og

 

Here’s hoping for Champions League qualification and a strong end to the season to round off what has been another good season overall

 

 

 

8th April 2013 – Which way now for the mini Golden Era

 

Stop me if you’ve heard this before … coming to the end of what has been another excellent season but Spurs are hitting wall, mentally and physically and all the good work of the season may be becoming undone as a threadbare squad runs on empty after a weak January transfer window failed to sustain the momentum.

 

Two seasons ago a 1-0 win in the San Siro was followed by a defeat to Blackpool and a run of one win in ten before finishing a creditable 5th overall in a season with a great Champions League run. Last season Spurs thumped Newcastle 5-0 at the start of Feb and then went on a run of one win in nine before coming back to finish what should have been a target finish of 4th.

 

This seasons is hardly a slump, as five wins in eight games since the start of February testifies, but the recent performances in all competitions and importantly injuries tell a different story. Some of the recent wins were gained by the worlds third greatest player being in the goalscoring form of his life and now with him gone for a few weeks and injuries to Defoe, Lennon and er Gallas and a run of tough pressure games coming up thick and fast, even the most optimistic will be fearful as the momentum seems to have stalled

 

As always, the best way to understand the world is through numbers and the following graph of season points accumulation paints a very interesting picture of Spurs recent seasons.

EPL_Graph10-13.png

 

As the seasons start to take shape after about six games, this season has followed the 2010/11 season – another season with a long challenge in Europe - quite closely. However, whereas the 2010/11 team really flattened out in Feb, once again through lack of goals from misfiring forwards, the recent Bale inspired wins have taken Spurs up to the points level of last season, which although forgotten in all the anti-harry bullshit, was still the second best season going back 25 years.

 

And since getting up to the level of last season, its funny that the graphs have matched each other over the last few games. Which way will our season go? It was tough enough for Spurs to come again and grab 4th last year but it would be even more remarkable if Spurs can somehow match or even improve on the points haul of last season with the current form and injuries, esp to Bale. You never know and its still all to play for, but it would be remarkable. And even if Spurs fall short, its still been a very good first season from AVB, who deserves as many plaudits for keeping things ticking over as much as trying to change things

 

The other thing the graphs show is that we are still riding high in the Spurs modern golden age which through a bit of luck (being rescued by Redknapp/Jol after Santini/Ramos) and a bit of good management has been delivered by chairman Levy and his team. Spurs are achieving just about what they should be for a club without a sugar daddy owner/large stadium – not just ahead of Everton and Newcastle, but also the likes of Liverpool, Arsenal and until today Chelsea.

 

As well as Spurs have done, there is one area which holding Spurs back from an even better performance – and that is the transfer policy in both summer and especially winter transfer windows. While I appreciate that considerable difficulties in attracting top players to Spurs wage structure and don’t want Spurs to do anything financially reckless, how did Spurs end up in a position of only having two strikers this season and have situations where one or none of them were fit? And why did Spurs only end up with yet another U21 roll of the dice for the “premium feeder club” model when it was clear the priorities were elsewhere in the latest window. Where was the intent to correct the imbalance? as it was evident for a very long time

 

No one will object to a few rolls of the dice with the likes of Holtby but quality must be replaced by more quality and Spurs cant take the mini golden age for granted. In the mid 90s when Francis turned Klinsmann, Barmby and Popescu into Armstrong, Sinton and Vega, it still took a season before things properly imploded due to Sheringhams goals masking the real decline for a while. From VDV/Modric/King to Siggy/Demspey/? and Bale’s goals ….

 

While Spurs are on a much higher plane thesedays, it is a lesson worth remembering, esp as the goal difference is painting a less rosy picture. Not many pay much attention to goal difference but for me it is the true measure of quality which is often masked by the cap on 3 or 1 point per game. This season Spurs have +15 after 32 games, half a goal a game superiority, around about the same as Everton on +12 and Liverpool flattered by Suarez on +19. In contrast, despite being perceived to have poor seasons, City, Arsenal and Chelsea are up near a goal a game superiority which is typical of a top 4 side.

 

Even when Spurs finished 4th in 2010 and 2012, +25 and +26 goal differences while being generational bests for Spurs were still on the bottom level of the normal EPL average for a top four side, and its telling that the only other team who have not registered a +25 goal difference in a top4 finish were our fellow top-table interlopers Everton who somehow got away with a -1 goal difference to finish 4th in 2005

 

What does all this mean – it means that money provides wages, which are a good corollary for quality and quality buys goals which buy league position.

 

If Spurs want to stay near the top or even improve on the current level (which will be very difficult given the financial clout of some of the opposition), Spurs cant afford just to pick up bargains with potential re-sale value - Spurs have to go for quality, top class match winners.

It will be tough to attract them to Spurs but the footballing upside could be enormous – imagine Suarez/RVP or even a circa 2007 Berbatov in that Spurs side this season, a season where the league title and even 2nd place have not taken much winning.

 

 More people from Levy’s fantasy league team or U21 players for the ‘never never’ wont keep Spurs at this level forever.

 

The warning lights are not flashing but they are on. 11 of the 17 league wins this season have been by a single goal, including all the five wins since New Years Day where the magic man Bale has scored in everyone. Spurs have not been a one man team but when he went over on his ankle against Basel, the world looked a much tougher place for Spurs

 

Despite the “doom and gloom” reputation of this column, I’ve been almost totally upbeat about Spurs since the Redknapp rescue, aside from the uncertainty caused by his sacking last summer and hopefully, the next few weeks will see Spurs come together in adversity and see the season through with a top4 finish and maybe even a European final, followed by a strong transfer window to replace good with better and to fill out the squad in weaker areas. However, anything less (and god forbid the loss of Bale), and the mini golden era will be seriously under threat.

 

 

4th April 2013 – The Glory of Spurs out on Kindle

 

Good to see Spurs arrest the slump at Swansea although League Cup winning teams are often a soft touch at this time of the year an tougher challenges lie ahead in the quest for League and UEFA glory

 

For those that are interested, the Glory of Spurs book is out in Kindle/ebook format http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Glory-of-Spurs-ebook/dp/B00C2JTO8G/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1364489602&sr=1-1

TGOS_FrontCover_cropped.jpg

 

 

4th April 2013 – The Glory of Spurs out on Kindle

 

Good to see Spurs arrest the slump at Swansea although League Cup winning teams are often a soft touch at this time of the year an tougher challenges lie ahead in the quest for League and UEFA glory

 

For those that are interested, the Glory of Spurs book is out in Kindle/ebook format http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Glory-of-Spurs-ebook/dp/B00C2JTO8G/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1364489602&sr=1-1

 

And as its that time of year again, the traditional TOPSPURS Grand National pinstickers guide http://www.topspurs.com/gn13.htm

Managed to have 33/1 winner, 2nd and 4th on the shortlist of 9 last year but feel a bit less inspired this year with nothing really standing out as ticking all the right boxes for National success. Have fun and fingers crossed all the horses return home safely

 

 

 

19th March 2013 – If you know your Spurs

 

For those of you who have invested in the TOPSPURS book, The Glory of Spurs (now reduced to £6.39 at Amazon with free UK delivery) you will have seen P186, Spring Collapses … repeated here ….

 

With Spurs in a good position as the days get longer, a collapse is more likely than glory. Here are ten examples of Spurs throwing away strong league positions through a collapse commencing around the start of March:

1.       2011/12 http://www.topspurs.com/201112.htm

From 2-0 up after 40 minutes at Highbury on February 25th, Spurs season went into reverse with 5 defeats in 9 to end League Title and ultimately Champions League hopes under Redknapp.

2.       2010/11 http://www.topspurs.com/201011.htm

On February 22nd Spurs lost 1-3 to soon to be relegated Blackpool, a week after Beating AC Milan in the San Siro. This started a slump of 1 win in 10 and missing out on Champions League requalification.

3.       1999/00 http://www.topspurs.com/9900.htm

Four defeats in five from mid-March to mid-April end hopes of UEFA qualification under Graham

4.       1984/85 http://www.topspurs.com/8485.htm

Four consecutive home defeats starting in March end Spurs title hopes under Shreeves.

5.       1977/78 http://www.topspurs.com/7778.htm

Only 2 1-0 wins from the last 8 games cost Spurs the 2nd Division title but fortunately not promotion.

6.       1963/64 http://www.topspurs.com/6364.htm

Three consecutive home defeats and four defeats in five from the start of March see Spurs blow a four point lead at the top of the table to be 4th and five points adrift by the start of April under Bill Nicholson.

7.       1962/63 http://www.topspurs.com/6263.htm

Four games without a win from the end of March see Spurs blow a three point lead at the top of the table before eventually finishing runners up to Everton.

8.       1961/62 http://www.topspurs.com/6162.htm

Five games without a win from the end of February including the infamous 1-3 home defeat to eventual Champions Ipswich Town put an end to a Double Double as the title passes from Nicholson to Ramsey, former team mates in the push n run championship.

9.       1959/60 http://www.topspurs.com/5960.htm

Only one win in seven including four defeats from the middle of March sees Spurs give up a 3 point lead in the title race in the warm up to the Double season, which also had its only consecutive defeats at the start of March.

10.   1956/57 http://www.topspurs.com/5657.htm

Only one win in eight in the league after the FA Cup 5th round shock at Bournemouth sees Jimmy Anderson’s team drop of the title pace before rallying to finish runners up.

 

So its something that has been with Spurs from Jimmy Anderson, through successive Bill Nick teams, Omar Shreeves and now Redknapp and AVB. In a more modest way, is incredible how 62-64 are mirroring 2011-13

 

On one hand it’s is as good as Spurs are entitled to be. As topspurs favourite Spurs columnist RBS has mentioned in his piece today, http://www.topspurs.com/thfccol-rbs.htm there are few mysteries in football thesedays – you get what you pay for, and you pay for what you can afford. Spurs are invariable 4th-6th in most of the financial measurements in football and without an idiot in charge, tend to finish in that position in the league

 

And on the other hand it’s the culture of the club, Spurs can accumulate more points than the long term average during less pressured times of the season but with the intensity and focus of a season run in, successive generations have under-performed. The club with the skillful players but lacking bottle to outsiders, still seems to lurk somewhere within the modern form which superficially appears quite different

 

Nothing to complain about  - its who Spurs are – all the more reason to enjoy the victories when they come along, be thankful we don’t follow a club any lower down the pecking order and laud those on and off the pitch who can keep Spurs above the long term average

 

… and you never know, despite the tricky fixtures ahead there is still a great opportunity to break this spell and enter a new dimension for Spurs.

 

 

 

4th March 2013 – TOPSPURS “The Glory of Spurs” book Competition – Part 4 – Winner Mat Snow

 

Another great win for the mighty Spurs against Arsenal and another book on offer as part of the new book launch of the now amazon bestseller “The Glory of Spurs”.

 

The Glory of Spurs, Competition 4

Spurs also won the North London Derby at White Hart Lane the last time we finished above Arsenal in the 1990s. Who scored the winning goal that day (and as a clue, he later scored decisive penalty to beat Arsenal in a UEFA Cup final)

 

Answers to nicolaberti [at] topspurs.com or reply to @topspurs on twitter or on the facebook page comments

 

 

& a very nice review of the book by the Spurs institution, Martin Cloake: http://blog.martincloake.com/2013/02/10/his-eyes-have-seen-the-glory/

 

 

 

 

TGOS_FrontCover_cropped.jpg

 

26th February 2013 – Super Spurs

 

Aside from bemoaning a weak transfer window which did not delivery a top class striker, there’s never a lot to complain about Spurs thesedays – its all good. West Ham were the latest to be blown away by the one of the worlds top three footballers at the top of his game  & while the other 10 have been water carriers in recent weeks, they are more than good enough to chip in to keep things going when necessary.

 

It was not always like that, before Jol Spurs were between inconsistent and rubbish for the Sugar years but the big Dutch lad laid the platform, which after the wobble of Ramos Redknapp took up to the next level … and now AVB seems to be going even further.

 

After his 27th match at Chelsea he was sacked and after his 27th with Spurs he has taken Spurs into 3rd with an astonishing 1.89 points per game – by miles Spurs best manager record (see graph)

avbGRAPH.bmp

 

Maybe anyone could do it with Gareth Bale (and his post-it notes do worry me) but with a record of #WDWWWDDDWWW (and #WWWLWDWWWDDDWWW if you go back to the reverse fixture against Arsenal), Spurs are right up there with the best in the land again.

 

The bottle has failed the last twice against Arsenal, this time hopefully there will be no mistake and Spurs can crack on for that first podium finish this season as a platform for the big one next year

 

Here’s hoping & up the Spurs

 

 

25th February 2013 – TOPSPURS “The Glory of Spurs” book Competition – Part 3 – Winner: Stephen Lawrence

 

As part of the new book launch, TOPSPURS has 5 copies to give away in a series of competitions over the coming weeks.

 

The Glory of Spurs, Competition 3

Spurs have faced three teams twice in major Domestic and European Cup Finals – and of course lifted the trophy on all six occasions – name all the beaten finalists

 

Answers to nicolaberti [at] topspurs.com or reply to @topspurs on twitter or on the facebook page comments

 

 

 

 

 

11th February 2013 – TOPSPURS “The Glory of Spurs” book Competition – Part 2 – WINNER: Leigh Richards

 

As part of the new book launch, TOPSPURS has 5 copies to give away in a series of competitions over the coming weeks.

 

The Glory of Spurs, Competition 2

The last Chinese New Year to usher in the Year of the snake saw Spurs on a run of four consecutive 0-0’s under George Graham in early 2001. Which then record signing broke the spell with the late winner up at Manchester City?

 

Answers to nicolaberti [at] topspurs.com or reply to @topspurs on twitter or on the facebook page comments

 

 

 

 

 

6th February 2013 – TOPSPURS “The Glory of Spurs” book Competition – Part 1 – WINNER: Stuart Allison

 

As part of the new book launch, TOPSPURS has 5 copies to give away in a series of competitions over the coming weeks.

 

Each competition will run for 1-2 weeks and will feature a question relating to a topical issue which is also covered in the book. All you need to do is email in the answer to win, with lucky winners announced on here

 

The Glory of Spurs, Competition 1

Spurs played Lyon in the ECWC in a bad tempered affair in the late 60s. Who was the Spurs and England legend who was sent off after being kicked in the face?

 

Answers to nicolaberti [at] topspurs.com or reply to @topspurs on twitter or on the facebook page comments

 

 

12 January 2013 – New Book, out now

 

As some of you know, I was asked to write a book which at long last is out now & cheapest place to buy it seems to be amazon (although if you hang on a month or so, its going to be even cheaper) … and ereader version out around then as well.

 

12 January 2013 – New Book, out now

 

All good with Spurs again thesedays and a bold transfer window could see even better in the new year. After the depression of the Sugar era, its great to see Spurs play so well and so consistently and after one or two teething problems, it looks like the transition of managers has gone very well. Onwards and upwards and hopefully the chairman can believe in the vision enough to buy one or two game changing players (who the manager wants) rather than a load of U21 players for the never-never.

 

 

19th November 2012 – Notebook Man

 

Aside from the giddiness of the unlikely win at Old Trafford, its been a difficult season so far for Spurs. There was a winning run of four games but the performances did not quite match the results and things have regressed since then in the face of difficult tasks.

 

With all the changes at Spurs over the summer the first part of the season was always going to be difficult with new players bedding in and a new system to be adopted by the squad. And even with no managerial changes over the summer, the squad who over-achieved last year were looking in need of renewal and this season was always likely to be a major challenge to retain top4 status

 

AVB has done ok so far. Not brilliantly but equally not badly. Spurs have adopted for the most part a progressive looking 4-2-3-1 formation which makes best use of players available in the squad. However, it has not worked effectively (so far) breaking down dogged sides at home or holding on to advantages. There have been criticisms of AVB negative approach at the club which is celebrated for flair football, especially when holding on to a lead into the last 20minutes of a game. We’ve been here before with Jol and while it is mostly frustrating, managers are judged on results and its just one we’ve got to wear … as long as its effective.

 

However, after about 30mins of the Arsenal game, the Sky cameras panned over to the Spurs bench to reveal the Steffan Fraud looking blank and AVB ruffling through a notepad. It was an awful moment of Television, invoking images of a manager by numbers who never played the game looking for what to do next in a specific situation (as crackers tweeted, you don’t want your pilot looking at the manual when he is flying the plane), but hopefully not an insight into the future

 

The pressure is on AVB, but then again its on every manager in this over-obsessed EPL. First and foremost, Spurs need to start playing well. Effective, pragmatic football which they players are comfortable with and most importantly gets results. Wins are always welcome, but a sequence of games playing well will herald the new dawn … we wait and hope.

 

 

29th September 2012 – A win at Old Trafford at last!

 

Its been a long time coming but Spurs have finally won up at Old Trafford. Glory Glory Hallelujah! (and we’ll have our Glory Glory back as well as the three points). Funnily enough Hallelujah by the Happy Mondays was one of the songs of the moment the last time we won up there back in December 1989; a time of the Acid House, Joe Bloggs clothing and the Berlin Wall coming down

 

8990-a-mufc(newspaper).jpg

I was lucky enough to be up there that day, hidden amongst the cockney reds in the Stretford End until our the joy on our faces at Lineker’s greatest goal gave us away to the miserable Mancs and we’d slipped away to nearer the exit for the final few minutes.

 

Standing on a proper football terrace - its definitely been a long time coming!

8990-a-mufc(newspaper1).jpg

 

This is a very important win for Spurs. Before todays game, Spurs had played 20 times at Old Trafford in the EPL. In those games Spurs had only taken 3 points and scored a paltry 8 goals and lost 17 of the matches. Of those 8 goals, only a Jenas goal in 2005 was good enough to earn a point as the other two points had come in 0-0’s (albeit one with a Mendes winner). United have been a dominant side in the EPL but this record went beyond the level of difference between the two sides, especially in recent seasons as Spurs have improved and Utd, for all the League titles, don’t look as good as dominant thesedays, which suggested a mental weakness at Spurs which was as evident in the toothless 0-2 defeats as in the infamous collapses 2-5 & 3-5

 

Going 1-0 and then 2-0 up so early on, with goals of great pace and passion, gave Spurs a great start but it also gave them a long time ahead before the final whistle – which has tended to be a curse rather than a blessing, esp with that recent defeat to Arsenal so fresh in the mind. During the game I always try and stay positive- there is nothing you can do about it and you may as well enjoy your team in the lead rather than worry it away thinking the other team are going to get back. However, its impossible for your mind not to drift to other similar situations where Spurs have built a lead playing well, stopped going forward, the other team have got back into it and Spurs have failed to find a reply before being rolled over.

 

But it was different today. Just as in the 5 goal capitulations, Spurs conceded just after half time to let United back in.  But for the first time in years, rather than get swept away by the other teams comeback, Spurs went up the other end and scored. When was the last time Spurs took the lead against a good side, saw them make a comeback and then go away and increase the lead? 1991 Semi? For me, this was a very important line in the sand.

 

United managed another goal and it felt like Spurs sat back too much inviting United on but the final score showed a memorable win for Spurs.

 

And its not just recent teams that have been no good at Old Trafford, this was only Spurs 11th league win up there 76 League games http://www.topspurs.com/thfc-manchesterunited.htm

Division 1        04-Nov-11       26,000             A          W         2 - 1     Minter, Middlemiss

Division 1        25-Sep-20        52,000             A          W         1 - 0     Grimsdell

Division 2        19-Feb-38        34,631             A          W         1 - 0     Sargent

Division 1        30-Nov-57       43,307             A          W         4 - 3     Smith R (3), Blanchflower og

Division 1        12-Sep-59        55,641             A          W         5 - 1     Mackay, Harmer, Smith R (2), Dunmore

Division 1        09-Mar-63       43,416             A          W         2 - 0     Saul, Jones

Division 1        28-Oct-72        52,497             A          W         4 - 1     Peters (4)

Division 1        23-Mar-74       36,278             A          W         1 - 0     Coates

Division 1        04-Sep-76        60,723             A          W         3 - 2     Coates, Pratt, Moores

Division 1        16-Dec-89       36,230             A          W         1 - 0     Lineker

 

A few weeks after the OT win in Jan 1990, another Lineker goal helped Spurs to a 2-1 win at Chelsea which has not been repeated since. Would nt it be great for Spurs and esp AVB to go to Stamford Bridge next year, a game which could be shifted back to St Hotspur day, and end the last remaining hoodoo

 

 

Where does all this leave Spurs? The infamous 6th game into the season and he has a record of W3-D2-L1, progression in the League cup and a respectable result in Europe which is a healthy start for any manager. Perhaps a point ahead of expectations (2 points lost against Norwich or WBA vs 3 points gained at Old Trafford) which gives a decent platform for the rest of the season. Spurs only got 2 points from 9 as the Levy transfer circus dragged on to the end of the window yet again, but have won all three since the return of players after the international break, which in effect becomes the pre-season.

 

However, aside from the sensational win against United and the consummate performance at Reading, Spurs have looked a bit shaky with poor home performances. Two of Spurs wins have been against sides who are bottom and second bottom and its fair to say a bit of luck helped Spurs against Norwich and QPR (and indeed in hanging on against United). Villa should be a gimme but the performance side of things will need to improve with three elite sides in the next five. This should come with time and much of the previous issues have been attributable to the new players settling in & injuries to Kaboul, Parker and BAE have not helped. All the new signings look useful players or better and should be able to do a job for Spurs over the season.

 

As for AVB, it came as no great shock that some of the players were not happy with the new set up but like all of these things, if the changes happen when Spurs are winning no one is too bothered but if Spurs have changed a winning system for one which is not producing results, the players are not going to be happy, although one suspects its more workplace grumbles than full on revolt. Hopefully the imminent removal of the ever loyal Sherwood will see an upturn in morale (another great decision by Levy to retain him as DoF). 

 

I do look at how Chelsea seem to have progressed after his removal and have concerns in the back of my mind about him over complicating things (which have yet to be borne out by fact) – which does not make me ‘anti-AVB’ but are just that, concerns (before the monks of the twitterati descend upon me as a non believer in the new online fan fascism) - but AVB seems a good chap who works hard and is determined to succeed. I like the 4-2-3-1 system which gives Spurs a more contemporary look and allows Spurs to simultaneously look solid but hit other teams with a blast of pace. As with all Spurs managers, I want him to do well and the more I get to see him, the more hopeful I become that Spurs can remain at the top table after the turbulent summer.

 

All in all its been a decent start. The challenge now is to step up the level of performance over the coming months and maintain the winning/points haul. Spurs have 14 more games in 2012 and a quick look through suggest Spurs should be able to produce a record of W7-D5-L2 which would give an overall record of P20-W10-D7-L3 and a wave full of optimism going into the new year. And why not, we’ve just beaten United away!

 

 

 

And one last one, this unsporting image which lacks class appeared in the United programme in the return fixture after the 5-3 defeat in 2002.

0102-a-mufc(nextime).jpg

At last, up yours!

 

 

27th August 2012 – Modric sold at last

 

After nearly 18 months of Modric being unsettled and looking for a new club, any of the super clubs with unlimited wages, Spurs have finally got the deal done – this time with five days rather than five minutes before the end of the transfer window. Its not the deal itself, which was inevitable and in the end the right deal for everyone involved, but the bullshit around the deal from Spurs which has flushed me out. This is how Spurs announced the deal to the world:

http://www.tottenhamhotspur.com/spurs/News/club-announcement-27082012.page

 

Just embarrassing. Rather than just yield to the inevitable and say player sold to bigger club who can offer more wages, in the light of Daniel Levy’s ‘we will not sell any under contract players’ from last summer, the club have chosen to erect a bullshit smokescreen with some woolly nonsense about a partnership with Real Madrid, and even announce the transfer as an add-on to the sub headline  “CLUB ANNOUNCES PARTNERSHIP AGREEMENT WITH REAL MADRID AND TRANSFER OF LUKA MODRIC”

 

The world of Real Madrid is not so rocked by this relationship – failing to mention it at all in its main Modric Signs for Madrid article http://www.realmadrid.com/cs/Satellite/en/1330111187690/noticia/Noticia/1330111187690.htm

although it did rate the smallest of mentions elsewhere:

http://www.realmadrid.com/cs/Satellite/en/Actualidad_Primer_Equipo_en/1330114620841/noticia/ComunicadoOficial/Oficial_Announcement.htm

 

The idea of a special relationship with Real Madrid is there just to mug off the most gullible of fans and comes from the same PR think-tank which 10 years ago almost to the day gave us the equally unconvincing “Rivaldo letter” when the jelly legged Brazilian expressed his regret at not being able to sign for Spurs.

 

Quite how is this going to work for Spurs: Real Madrid have a good player – just as now, Spurs will not get him if they are any good. Just as now, Spurs will not get them if someone else offers more money but Spurs may get them if Real Madrid don’t want them and Spurs offer the most money … er just as now. And not sure anything has changed the other way – if Real Madrid are after a Spurs player, the player is likely to want to go to Madrid both for financial and footballing reasons as Madrid can offer more on both counts and they are likely to move. Its just the way it is. Spurs do it to smaller clubs, and the bigger clubs do it to Spurs.

 

The ‘relationship’ is utter nonsense, a smokescreen for Levy’s climbdown, and once again no appearance from Levy in front of the press to answer questions. I think the idea of trying to keep Modric last summer was done with good intentions although it possibly proved counter productive as it widely accepted the player was below form for most of the season. Maybe its good that he did not go elsewhere in the EPL but that was more a coincidence than policy as Carrick and Berbatov were both sold within the league (and neither has particularly done much to harm Spurs)

 

18 months ago, Spurs and Real Madrid contested a Champions League quarter final and now … we apparently have a partnership, and presumably it will be a UK-USA relationship which is only really recognized by the smaller partner until the more powerful partner pays lip service to it when it needs something – presumably Gareth Bale at some stage.

 

Should Spurs ever qualify for a European competition that Real Madrid are involved, I wonder if this relationship will be exposed to UEFA independence/competition lawyers. And have n’t Spurs got some special love in with Internacional after the Sandro deal? Not seen many fruits from that tree thus far.

 

And then there is the fee. No announcement on either club website although BBC and ESPN quoting a leak from Spurs suggesting 37m Euro (£29.5m in real paper money)

 

And with five days to go, presumably Levy has no wriggle room but to reinvest some of the profits in squad improvements for his new manager. Not just available bargains, but in players the manager wants in the areas of the squad which are looking thin. But past history suggest that big money in is rarely reinvested in new players. Going back to Berbatov’s £30.9m transfer, Spurs got Frazer Campbell on loan and then spent some money to avoid relegation on three re-signs (all at lower prices, so no net investment) and Wilson Palacios. And the rest of the dough …. And Carrick, it was nearly a year before Spurs spent a record £16m on 4th striker Darren Bent after £3.5m on Ricardo Rocha (how we have missed the director of football inputs!)

 

Modric was a good player, but Spurs will survive ok without him and all still to play for this season

 

 

 

As for the season thus far, its too early to make any judgments which is why I intend to stay away until there is enough evidence to start to form an opinion, but its worth remembering that Spurs ended last season in 4th with a squad who won 20 of the league games and there is no particular need for this to be a transitional season which is starting to be wheeled out. A transitional season occurs when a new manager takes over a failing side and needs a season to get his ideas across. If Spurs slip back to mid-table, it will be a ‘deconstruction of success’ season rather than a transitional season.

 

Early days though and AVB not had much luck so far (both on and off the field) and hopefully over the coming weeks with a new signing or two, things will start to take shape under his guidance and Spurs back amongst the top six, pressing for that fourth champions league place which is the realistic ambition of a club with Spurs spending power.

 

 

 

 

 

13th August 2012 – Season Preview

 

After the wonderful Olympics, it was always going to bad enough going back to a load of ponce footballers ‘simulating’ their way through 90 minutes for the love of money but its been made doubly difficult by the changes at Spurs over the summer where a successful football person has been sacrificed for the dogma of more control from the directors box. All organisation structures where the most powerful person is not the most able suffer in a similar away and further melancholy is added to the brew by extra voices (some of which are frustrated at not getting the main job) where there should only be one, the football man doing the football thing.

 

Spurs success has been inversely proportional to the level of input from our esteemed Chairman. When he is active, Spurs slide back into chaos but when he is shamed into his box, a football man like Redknapp can get on to achieve the potential of the club, which in the modern era is between 4th-6th with a strong run in the cups.

 

Spurs appointed a complicated Frenchman in Santini and he lasted 11 league games. After being rescued by Jol, Spurs returned to the DoF dogma and appointed a complicate Spaniard and just over a year later he left Spurs with 2 points in 8 league games. After being more than just rescued by Redknapp, Spurs have now appointed a complicated Portugeezer. History does nt repeat but I’m picking up a rhyme

 

On paper, AVB is a strong candidate for the Spurs job given his success at Porto and I’ve still got an open mind that he may be ok, esp as he ‘speaka da lingo’ a bit better and inherits a squad who have finished 4th/5th/4th with a world class match winner in Bale. However, when reading up about him, perhaps the most telling negative was that Chelsea had to build him a pod at the training ground as he was working so late! Blimey, anyone who cant get the job done in normal time is struggling, over complicating by not seeing wood for the trees and as all successful managers have proved, keeping things simple is the key to success. This over analysis from someone who never played the game at the top level is sure to run into resistance if its not instantly successful, let alone the fact the club that sacked him last season reverted back to ‘simple’ and won both FA Cup and Champions League.

 

AVB worked at Porto but not at Chelsea. Its too early to even hazard a guess at Spurs, but given his chairman (and director of football entourage) have sent him into the last week of pre-season with only one full forward on the books, its easy to be cynical. Throw someone as ‘charismatic’ and self serving as Sherwood into the mix, the inexplicable Steffan Fraud as his cones man and rumours that David Pleat is lurking again and it’s a slow motion car crash.

 

Its been years and years since Levy has been interviewed by anyone other than someone on his payroll and once again some or all of these baffling decisions will not face the normal rigour of judgement. Targets were conspicuous by their absence in the dictated stuff on the appointment of AVB but surely its natural for success to be measured as being more successful than the last fella.

 

Over the last three full seasons, Spurs have finished 4th, 5th, 4th with a record of P114, W57, D30, L27, FA188-128, with a 1,763 points per game which equates to 67 points over the season (and got to the last 8 in Champions League, the only Cup competition taken seriously). Anything less, and Spurs have gone backwards is a fact.

 

67 points – are you a buyer or a seller? Sporting Index are 64.5-66

 

I’m sure some ‘new’ qualitative targets will be introduced to make things look a bit better if Spurs are not in the usual top4 position. The ‘cult of young players’ has once again risen where people are judged on their age rather than ability to do the job in the next game, manna from heaven for the supporters who have morphed into a ‘mini-chairman’.

 

The Squad

Friedel did a great job last season, adding some consistency between the sticks and emerging with a +25 goal difference with 30 games where one or fewer goal conceded. The sands of time are going for the EPL legend but to think he may be usurped by Gomes who’s lack of consistency did so much to weaken the 2010/11 season is a major worry.

 

At fullback, Spurs are well served by BAE and Walker who are in the best traditions of the club. They will make mistakes but overall they should continue to be excellent. Not such good news in the middle of defence where Ledley has jacked it in after great service  to Spurs and he will be much missed. Kaboul has stepped up to the mark for one of the CB places and hopefully Jan V will be the other but with the admirable Dawson at 28 coming back from another injury, the poor bassong and old Gallas, its looking a bit thin and hopefully Caulker can go on like Walker did after his loan year away.

 

Spurs have one world class matching winning player in Gareth Bale and we have been very lucky to see him at Spurs, now entering his 6th season at the club. Assuming he stays fit and continues his awesome form, footballing gravity means he will no doubt be made an offer no one can refuse over the next 12-18 months and hopefully the fans can act like adults for once and wish him well. 

While Levy was mostly in the background last year, his one big play was to say Modric was going nowhere and while he stuck to his guns with commendable conviction it did nt really do Spurs or Modders much good over the season. Modric is now in the pantomime of a Spurs transfer which will be done on 31 August for an extra quid or two but leaving Spurs without time to reinvest. Greater people than me saw the brilliance of Modric but never quite registered with me.

An injury to Parker makes AVB start more problematic but with Parker and poss Modric out of the way, Sandro has a great opportunity to make that central midfield jersey his own. In fleeting moments, he certainly appears to be good enough. The new signing Siggy should add some goals and has the potential to be very useful.

In terms of stats, Lennon has been a model of consistency over his previous 7 seasons with between 19-26 starts and 3 goals. Not quite the superstar but still very useful on his day and hopefully stagnation will not affect his performance.

 

Up front, VdV likely to get game time beyond the 75th minute at least in the opening games as Spurs have only him and 118 goal Defoe as proven EPL performers. Injury or suspension leaves Spurs in a very big mess, at least until Rasiak or Frazer Campbell signed in the closing minutes of the window. The rest of the forwards who have played do not look ready to step up.

 

All in all, some good players but lacking balance and depth in certain areas. As Spurs buy on a bargain basis, don’t expect this to change anytime soon.

 

Prediction Time

Obviously, I hope my worries are totally unfounded and Spurs step up on what they have achieved under the previous regime. I am very open to be impressed by AVB getting Spurs winning matches playing good football as Spurs doing well is all that matters. I can’t reiterate this enough. I like Spurs winning, which is why I liked Redknapp. I had huge misgivings about Redknapp’s appointment at the time but was easily won over by simple, winning football done well and will be the same if AVB can pull it off.

 

However, the task at Spurs this season looks enormous: a decent but unbalanced squad and a football structure that does not seem to work with the wrong people given too much influence in decision making. This represents a massive challenge for anyone and all indicators point to a slip back to something around 58-60 points (and whatever that buys you in terms of League position next season). Given the nature of the squad, it was a little alarming to see AVB target the UEFA cup which will be another almost half season to get to the final. The League Cup is a cheaper and easier target if Spurs feel the need to improve upon one trophy in the 11 Levy years but even that could go to hell to concentrate on the EPL and re-entry to CL or even better.

 

The first three home games look very winnable, even if they are muggy 2-1’s while the players get used to the new system/new signings but the four elite sides in the next seven (with three away) will represent a very serious test. While nothing will be decided during that period, it should give us a good indication of the direction of the season.

Here’s hoping we’re dusting off the old #WWWWWDWWWWW hashtag on twitter

 

 

 

7th August 2012 – Vox Pop time

 

As the season draws near, its that time again to record your hopes and fears for Spurs for the new season for the TOPSPURS Vox Pop

Anything from one word to an essay along with the name you would like it published under over to me at the usual address - word or email text (but not funny apple softwares)  and it will form the latest in the long line of unique records of the mighty Lilywhites (see below from previous seasons)

 

The vox pop will be officially published on the friday before the first game so any time before that if you can be arsed

 

Here’s what went before …

 

http://www.topspurs.com/topspursvoxpop1112.htm 

 

http://www.topspurs.com/topspursvoxpop1011.htm 

 

http://www.topspurs.com/topspursvoxpop0910.htm 

 

http://www.topspurs.com/topspursvoxpop0809.htm 

 

http://web.archive.org/web/20080101152519/http://www.topspurs.com/topspursvoxpop0708.htm 

 

 

Jim

 

 

3rd July 2012 – Its AVB

 

As expected, AVB or Luís André de Pina Cabral e Villas-Boas to give him his full name was unveiled as Spurs manager & TOPSPURS wishes him all the best in keeping the good form of the last few years going and hopefully even improving upon it or failing that, just giving it a bloody good go with common sense and passion. Its not just the policemen who are getting younger, at 34 years old AVB the youngest Spurs manager, being born just a few days before the 9-0 win over Bristol Rovers in October 1977 which has to be a good omen.

 

Its too early to have a serious opinion on AVB – good or otherwise as he has not done anything yet in the job but my feeling about him personally is mostly positive but my main worries are not with him personally but beyond him at the re-introduction of the director of football system (or technical co-ordinator system – windscale to sellafield name change) and the all the boardroom meddling which failed in various guises in the past at the club.

 

When going through the potential manager list a few weeks back, his summary was:

“AVB fits very nicely into the Levy system. Young, worked under DoF and desperate to get another chance and given his record at Porto may have something to offer. However, with any sort of pressure on how much weight will his team talks carry with his Chelsea failure fresh in the mind.”

 

I’ve not got a great deal to add to that now he has been appointed. He seems to have a strong character, is well versed in English football and should not suffer the communication problems of Santini or Ramos which should end all comparisons. He has worked with some of the greats ad despite his lack of years, he has been a coach since his teens. Given his meteoric rise, its probably not a surprise that this is his fourth different job at the start of each of the last four seasons. My main worries are that he will over complicate things tactically and there is still a nagging doubt over his ability to command a dressing room giving his lack of playing record/what happened at Chelsea. All those stories of him overanalyzing stats, bombarding often dopey footballers with too much info and sleeping over in his pod at the training ground are a concern. There is also the fact that Chelsea went on to win FA Cup and CL after he left by keeping things simple/relying on experience which indirectly adds some pressure

 

That said, I am definitely more worried about the thin areas of the squad more and these need to be solved in terms of quality and volume well before the season kicks off, let alone any last minute stuff at bargain prices for positions Spurs don’t need.

 

Spurs recent transfer dealings come under two distinct phases. In the first year of Redknapp’s time at Spurs masses of money was thrown at the problem of keeping Spurs in the EPL. Since then, Spurs success on the pitch has not been supported by big transfer fees off it (mostly as Spurs don’t have money to burn/world financial crisis) but the last two windows has seen turn a profit, which seemed a false economy with Spurs in the title race in the last window. A pinch of salt is required with all these fees given the lack of accurate reporting but assumes the net difference evens out.

 

Winter 2011/12 – Net surplus of £8m on Sale of Pav

2011/12           Ryan Nelson, Blackburn Rovers, free

2011/12           Louis Saha, Everton, free

2011/12           Brad Friedel, Aston Villa, free

Summer 2011/12 – Net surplus of £24.5m on Crouch, Palacios, Keane, Hutton, O’Hara

2011/12           Scott Parker, West Ham United, £5,000,000

2011/12           Yago Falqué, Juventus, loan

2011/12           Emmanuel Adebayor, Manchester City, loan

2011/12           Souleymane Coulibaly, Siena, Undisclosed

Winter 2010/11 – Net spend £4.5m

2010/11           Steven Pienaar, Everton, £3,000,000

2010/11           Bongani Khumalo, Supersport United, £1,500,000

Summer 2010/11 – Net spend £14m

2010/11           William Gallas, Arsenal, free

2010/11           Rafael van der Vaart, Real Madrid, £8,000,000

2010/11           Stipe Pletikosa, Spartak Moscow, loan

2010/11           Sandro Ranieri, Internacional, £6,000,000

Winter 2009/10 – Net spend £5m

2009/10           Younes Kaboul, Portsmouth, £5,000,000

2009/10           Eidur Gudjohnsen, Monaco, loan

Summer 2009/10 – Net spend of £9m with Sale of Bent, Chimbonda, KPB

2009/10           Niko Kranjcar  Portsmouth, £2,500,000

2009/10           Sebastien Bassong, Newcastle United, £8,000,000

2009/10           Peter Crouch, Portsmouth, £9,500,000

2009/10           Kyle Naughton, Sheffield United, £4,000,000

2009/10           Kyle Walker, Sheffield United, £4,000,000

Winter 2008/09 – Net spend £46m

2008/09           Robbie Keane, Liverpool, £15,000,000

2008/09           Pascal Chimbonda, Sunderland, £3,000,000

2008/09           Carlo Cudicini, Chelsea, Free

2008/09           Wilson Palacios, Wigan Athletic, £12,000,000

2008/09           Jermain Defoe, Portsmouth, £16,000,000

 

 

In the 18 months before, under Comolli as Director of Football …

2008/09           Frazier Campbell, Manchester United, loan

2008/09           Vedran Corluka, Manchester City, £8,500,000

2008/09           Roman Pavlyuchenko, Spartak Moscow, £14,000,000

2008/09           Cesar Sanchez, Real Zaragoza, Undisclosed

2008/09           David Bentley, Blackburn Rovers, £15,000,000

2008/09           John Bostock   Crystal Palace, £700,000

2008/09           Heurelho Gomes, PSV Eindhoven, £9,000,000

2008/09           Giovani dos Santos, Barcelona, £4,700,000

2008/09           Luka Modric, Dinamo Zagreb, £15,800,000

2007/08           Gilberto, Hertha Berlin, £1,900,000

2007/08           Alan Hutton, Rangers, £8,000,000

2007/08           Jonathan Woodgate, Middlesbrough, £7,500,000

2007/08           Chris Gunter, Cardiff City, £2,000,000

2007/08           Kevin-Prince Boateng, Hertha Berlin, £5,200,000

2007/08           Danny Rose, Leeds United, Undisclosed

2007/08           Younes Kaboul, Auxerre, £8,200,000

2007/08           Darren Bent, Charlton Athletic, £16,500,000

2007/08           Adel Taarabt, Lens, Undisclosed

2007/08           Yuri Berchiche,Athletic Bilbao, Undisclosed

2007/08           Gareth Bale, Southampton, £5,000,000

 

This equates to around £42,000,000 net spent with £122m of fees the above being covered by about £80m in sales inc Berbatov and Keane. As with all of these lists, there are some good ones like Bale and Modric but perhaps the most telling is the transfer of Darren Bent who arrived on what is still now Spurs record fee paid for a player. When he arrived, ahead of him in the pecking order were Berbatov and Keane and possibly Defoe which was a crazy situation for the record signing. In more distant history, Carrick (who bizarrely was not wanted by Santini) and Postiga are other examples of players not wanted by the manager but signed anyway which creates tensions between the Board and manager (Carrick’s omission was up there in reasons for Santini’s plank walk) and wastes resources

 

When having a look at the transfers, Spurs best value seems to be hunting the lower leagues for first or second season players who are showing a lot of class. For every Andy Reid there is a Michael Dawson and with the example of the two Sheffield Utd lads and the youth team’s Caulker, a season on loan is a better grounding than mooching round in the stiffs, even if it is in Spurs state of the art training facility.

 

If Spurs set aside someone specifically for this role, perhaps working in tandem with another few scouts combing the world for the best talent – then it would provide Spurs with a very strong intake of good players at a low fee. Where it has fallen apart in the past is that when the chief scout is called the director of football, they are promoted beyond their natural support role and hinder the first team manager doing his job of winning the next match. And also, it allows the club owner to have a voice in first team matters irrespective of their only qualification for the role is finance rather than football ability.

 

Maybe it will all be different this time but years with a director of football system 11th, 10th, 12th, 9th, 10th, 14th, 9th, 5th, 5th, 11th & 1.36 points per game or 52 points a season, and the four years without 8th, 4th, 5th, 4th & 1.66 points per game or 63 points a season

 

If Levy keeps out of the way, if Sherwood is a benign DoF … there is no reason why someone with AVB credentials cannot keep the consistent form going at Spurs but history suggests is massive task.

 

The club announced the deal via the website:

http://www.tottenhamhotspur.com/spurs/News/tottenham-hotspur-appoints-andre-villas-boas-as-new-head-coach-03072012.page

 

This statement was a bit depressing for what was in it and a bit interesting for what was not mentioned.

“Andre shares our long-term ambitions and ethos of developing players and nurturing young talent, and he will be able to do so now at a new world class Training Centre.”

 

Going on about youth development was the depressing bit and the missing bit was no setting of EPL or trophy delivering objectives. 

 

Until FIFA start to award special points for average ages of teams or number of young players – it does not matter how young a player is, how good he may be in 18 months – its about the best player for the next game. There is a lot of feelgood about long term plans, jam tomorrow stuff about developing young players but all that matters is the next match, and then the one after that. When Crouch swept home the winner in Milan, did it matter that he was 29 or 19. That is not to say that the team should be all old players – they should just be the best possible around – where neither age or nationality matter, and the first team the number one focus of the club. One of the drip fed articles from the Spurs press office into a newspaper suggested that at 22 and 20 respectively Sigurdsson and Oscar are ok but Vertonghen is on the fringe at 25. This sort of stuff is nuts. They are either good enough or not, and the manager who has to use them decides.

 

Having  just sacked a manager who delivered a 4th place finish, it was always going to be a tough one to set achievable objectives for what Levy expects from the first team but its complete omission tells you a lot. The long and short of it is that Levy wanted his club back and is prepared to sacrifice near term success on the pitch to provide a management system which gives him greater control of all areas.

 

While Levy did not make any reference to EPL targets next season, Topspurs will. Spurs have a good squad but it is becoming increasingly light at centre back and only one forward is owned by the club. In this context, it will be difficult to expect anyone to improve upon last seasons 69points but with what looks like the first serious backing for four seasons in the offing and with current players, AVB should be able to produce a team to get 62 points or thereabouts. Anything above that will be a very good season, and he will be a total genius if Spurs can crack the 70 point barrier. Anything down to 55 points (a 14 point swing) will be a bit disappointing while anything around 50 points or lower may have the little man itchy for a new playmate from next summer.

 

I’m hopeful AVB will be a success at Spurs and believe he has the ability to do so, I just worry that the change in direction away from the first team will make it a very difficult task for anyone.

 

Boa sorte a partir de Topspurs

 

 

17th June 2012 – Regression by committee

 

The news of Redknapp’s dismissal did not come as a total shock but it wrong footed me enough to forget to mention the director of football system.

After a decade of shambles ending with Spurs rooted to the bottom of the league with doughnuts like Pleat and Comoli being a nuisance to the managers in that time, surely the appointment of a very successful Redknapp working in a conventional way put all that shit to bed

 

Apparently not. Fuck my old boots.

 

Anyone can make a mistake but the definition of an idiot is someone who repeats that mistake

 

And fucking Sherwood as Director of Football

 

I’d like to be optimistic, but if the rumours of Spurs going back to the Director of Football system/Levy more hands on - Spurs are on the way down.

 

Whether it was Redknapp or someone else is in charge at the start of next season, its going to be a struggle to get that thin squad to match the achievement of last season. Ledley, bless him, seems to have finally gone, Bale and Modric are looking elsewhere and the forwards look pretty thin on the ground. And Spurs plan to address this by going back to a system that has not worked and will not work. Everything is pointing one way, and Yazz aint singing. And if there are funds to spend this summer – net funds not just sale proceeds – and they were denied Redknapp in January to allow a director of football/Coach/Levy to spend them in the summer ... its almost too sad to contemplate

 

There were times last season when fans seemed to be getting very used to being in the elite, like it was somehow Spurs right and not a brief rise out of a majority of mediocrity through hardwork and talent. Successful clubs keep doing the right things and unsuccessful don’t. Just how far are we away from falling into shambles like Liverpool, or falling back to nothingness like Everton or Villa. Even with everything in place, Spurs financial backing is unlikely to get much higher than 4th/5th given the financial resources of rivals.

 

Levy’s tenure at Spurs has little to recommend it apart from the success on the pitch between 09-12 under Redknapp as manager/no director of football … a time where he took a back seat and prevaricated over developing a new stadium, a project which has entered its 10th year without a brick being laid. The rest of it has been pretty poor. Santini, Comolli, waiting to the last minute of the last day to sell Berbatov (and get Fraser Campbell), Rasiak and Pleat as manager during 2003/4 which is the lowest point in the clubs recent history.

 

Take away the good years of Redknapp and it starts to look pretty thin. The successes – Jol, a lucky appointment after taking 9 months to appoint Santini and Redknapp gone to in extremis after his disastrous interference – have both been sacrificed to his better judgement when he thought he knew best.

 

I watched the Wicker Man the other day and the scene at the end where Edward Woodward’s Sergeant Howie looks across at Christopher Lee’s Lord SummerIsle and says “ your crops failed because they cant grow in this environment. Even if you sacrifice me, they will fail again next year and then the only sacrifice the gods will accept will be Lord SummerIsle himself”

Levy has sacrificed yet another manager and in trying to implement a failed Director of Football arrangement, is trying to get crops to grow outside nature. If he screws up this time, will he finally accept some responsibility and walk the plank – or will another manager go up in flames as Lord SummerIsle sings madly on. Remember 4th & 69 points is a sackable offence.

 

As for the managers mentioned...

AVB fits very nicely into the Levy system. Young, worked under DoF and desperate to get another chance and given his record at Porto may have something to offer. However, with any sort of pressure on how much weight will his team talks carry with his Chelsea failure fresh in the mind.

Martinez is just some sick joke who you would not even wish on West Ham

Moyes does not do a lot for me in terms of setting the imagination racing but am starting to come round a little to his pragmatism, experience and ability, every now and then, to get Everton to out perform their budget. In someways he represents the safest pair of hands but then again he’s done less at Everton than Redknapp did at Pompey and there is not a strong case for bobbing Redknapp for him. Also has the common sense to want work away from the DoF system

Capello. He would be a fine choice having experience of the EPL as well as a fine CV of success. The only worry with him would be the hunger to keep winning in his most challenging role outside managing the best club in the league

Blanc Success at Bordeaux and the international team make him a high quality candidate but that controversy over quotas taints him a little.

Poyet. May not be the most obvious candidate but a strong character who has done a great job at Brighton and knows Spurs very well. It would be a massive gamble but he definitely has the potential to be great manager and possibly a silver lining to this whole mess

Mouninho or Pep. Unconditionally Yes but they wont come

 

If they are insistent on a director of football and all its nonsense, AVB seems the best fit. If they want to build on the platform Redknapp has left them, not cos I want him but cos he’s most likely available, Moyes should be the choice. But do either of them or any of the others really give you more confidence than Redknapp?

 

As ever the Betfair manager market is the best place to get the real feel for whats going on rather than a load of vain phoney ITKs

http://sports.betfair.com/football/market?id=1.105931046 esp if my old mate is betting again ‘-)

 

 

The press reaction to the Redknapp sacking has been fairly predictable. Redknapp has a lot of friends in the tabloids which have come out in favour of him, irrespective of the common weight of opinion supporting his case – while some of the broadsheets have been briefed by the Spurs press office ‘daniel levy did not go into that meeting to sack Redknapp … ‘ trying to repaint Levy as some sort of victim have been equally partisan

 

The two I have chosen to link here are from award winning journo David Conn … “Delusions of grandeur haunt the men running Tottenham Hotspur

Sacking Harry Redknapp will not solve Spurs' pressing need to generate enough revenue to compete with the elite”

http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/blog/2012/jun/16/tottenham-hotspur-delusions-grandeur?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+theguardian%2Ffootball%2Frss+%28Football%29

 

and an Arsenal fan on his blog

http://www.arsenalinsider.com/6717/spurs-shoot-themselves-in-the-foot/?#axzz1y30obr00

 

Both contain simple home truths which make awkward reading for those looking to be optimistic about Spurs future. Perhaps the fans will have more than just the manager not referring to the club the first person to outrage them next season

 

 

And finally, I thought it would be interesting to visit the topspurs editorial from the time of the last shambolic sacking. To put it in context, in 2007 they had sacked Jol at half time two good seasons and almost exactly a year later they sacked the whole of the new coaching staff just a year on – with Levy blaming everyone else and Spurs in a total shambles at the bottom of the league

 

http://web.archive.org/web/20090120124417/http://www.topspurs.com/jmdview.htm (scroll down to 26th October 2008 – Whatever happened to Tottenham Hotspur. There have been some gorblimey moments following Spurs ….

 

You’ll see a number of recurring of themes, not least – why does Levy not come out and speak to someone outside his payroll. If he has the confidence in his vision, it would be a great way to get that across to the fans. Has anyone ever heard Levy speak? Or is it that there is no justification in his actions or worth to his vision?

 

Here is what he dictated to the Spurs website the during the last crisis on the sacking of Ramos/appointment of Redknapp – when for once expediency overcame dogma

http://web.archive.org/web/20090627112018/http://www.tottenhamhotspur.com/news/articles/openletterfromthechairmandaniellevy261008.html

 

Here are some selected quotes:

In Harry, we are also accepting with his appointment that now is the right time for us to move back to a more traditional style of football management at our Club, one which we believe will be capable of initiating our climb back up the Premier League table and to maintaining our challenge in the UEFA, Carling and FA Cup competitions.

 

Not even a mention of the Champions League at that desperate moment – and yet this manager and this manager system  outperformed all expectations at that dark hour.

 

And …

Quite simply, we failed because we were not as decisive or as successful in identifying or replacing the two strikers as early as we should have been.

 

With this weakness identified, surely Spurs fans can expect their esteemed leaders to do business – whether selling Bale/Modric early and buying players to strengthen the squad early rather than panic buys on the last day. How confident are you that this is going to happen?

 

Look out for more cobblers ‘youth’ & ‘planning for some future’ when all that really matters is the next match as there is no point planning more than a seasons given the nature of player contracts/average length of stay of top players.

 

 

 

As ever when pessimism reigns, I hope I am wrong but it’s all starting to point to another very Spurs shambles

 

 

 

 

 

 

14th June 2012 – Redknapp sacked

 

Its been coming. Undeserved, but coming and if one there is one consolation the uncertainty is over and Spurs have plenty of time to prepare for next season. Levy may have basked in the reflected glory of the success Redknapp delivered to the club but has not been a big enough person to be able manage the first serious tensions with Redknapp without sacking him. The inevitable outcome of the weaker man being in a position of greater authority.

 

Levy has now sacked a manager at half time during a UEFA Cup game and now one via rumour on twitter/Sky Sports news. Very classy, well done.

 

The facts of the matter are Spurs have sacked a manager who has just guided Spurs to 4th place and has won 10 of the last 12 points. In his reign, Spurs improved from 2 pts in 8 games to finish 4th/5th/4th his full seasons in charge -  the first time since the early 1960s Spurs have achieved this, has the highest points per game record of 1.74 of any Spurs manager ever, got Spurs to the last 8 of the Champions League - the first appearance in Europe’s top competition since 1962, a League Cup final lost on penalties against Manchester Unite and 2 FA Cup semi finals – and for the most part playing attractive football in the best Spurs traditions

…but he did n’t ‘love’ Spurs or say the right things at press conferences – boo fucking hoo

 

His ‘crime’ was to only finish 4th – let down by a very suspicious display from Marton Fulop and Chelsea’s unlikely CL victory. Most of the ungrateful masses forget Spurs won 20 of their 38 games that season, only beaten by the 21 of 09/10 (manager HJ Redknapp) which is a lot for a team without a billionaire backer. Arsenal nicked 3rd place by a point and for all the collapse after the England job stuff, it just came down to not being able to beat a shit Aston Villa side, even with 10 men. That draw felt like the worst result of the season at the time and so it proved.

People say Arsenal were shit this season but to get 3rd, Spurs would have needed to equal or better 70 points with a plus 26 goal difference which is something Spurs have managed once in all the EPL seasons (Manager HJ Redknapp 09/10). And conversely, something not achieved but any number of other managers in the other 20 years. Too many people focused on the games lost rather than the points accumulated. And lets not forget, Spurs are the first team ever to be denied a CL place after reaching the start of the season criteria – there were some huge elements of cursed luck involved.

 

Some fans reckon that Redknapp has no tactics and was holding Spurs greatest ever squad back. I don’t see that – Redknapp was getting a very good return out of a very good squad, but it was a world away from the sort of players Man City/Utd were going after – Spurs best forward was on loan from one of em! Maybe we’ll find out now under the new man or will we? as players will use this incident to demand a new contract or a reason to bugger off if they are any good as Ruddock did when Sugar cut Venables loose in 1993. More instability

 

If Levy somehow delivers a Mourinho level manager (and backs them with sustainable money), so much the better onwards and upwards. There should be respect for achievement but no room for sentiment in helping Spurs progress. But can Levy deliver something better? Lets check

 

So far Levy (and dear old Kemsley) spent 9 excruciating months scouring Europe to come up with Jacques Santini (sacked after 6 goals in 11 games) but was bailed out in that Arnesen had already got Jol to the Club in 2004. In a similar situation to this one in 2007, Levy sacked a consistent league manager for another manager who struggled with the lingo in the bizarre Ramos who left Spurs with the infamous 2 points from 8 games less than a year later. Confidence cannot be high that this sort of decision making is going to bring Spurs a better replacement.

 

Of the current front runners, Moyes is a Scottish Curbishley, who has played drab football and not even got a League Cup final out of 10+ years with Everton. Martinez has presided of huge numbers of defeats at Wigan and seems to have no credentials whatsoever on his CV, Benitez is a crap snide, AVB was poor at Chelsea, Pardew a lucky Curbishley and when you get to Steve Bruce its time to call the Samaritans instead.

Perhaps Capello or Deschamps may have something to offer – but are they definitely better than Redknapp on Spurs budget over the course of 38 game season? In the unlikely event Spurs get Mourinho/Guardiola or one of those lads, fair play but Spurs won’t as they can’t, as Spurs are not the biggest club in the world as some fans fail to remember when calibrating their expectations.

 

I’ve been guilty of it on here, but the cult of manager is getting out of hand. They get too much praise when things go right and too much crap when they go wrong. Sorting Ramos shambles into a winning formula shows where a manager can have an impact but Redknapp has a massive team of coaches at Spurs (more compensations which wont go on transfers) and pretty much makes the players feel good, claps his hands at 255pm and says good luck lads as they go out and deals with the press after. It was the players who fell apart and also by the same token the players who put together the #WWWWWWDWWWWW sequence.

 

Aside from Ramos weird spell – Spurs results have gone pretty much like this for the last 8 years. Under Jol, Spurs win a lot of games at home against all the crap and quite a few away but rarely beat the elite sides and get circa 60-65pts. Under Redknapp, Spurs maintained the wins against the crap but added a few more wins against the elite and edge up the points from 62-70points http://www.topspurs.com/thfc-league-history.htm

 

In 2007 I was skeptical that someone could build on Jol’s good work and take Spurs higher and after the Ramos experiment, Redknapp did deliver. Now in 2012 – can Spurs get a manager (and a beefed up the squad) to take Redknapp’s 70 points and turn them into 75, 80 or even the 85 points required for the title. On Spurs budget, that seems very unlikely but we live in hope. Looking the other way, it would take a total clown to take Spurs back beyond the Jol threshold of 60 points given the resources available.

 

Whoever Spurs get, lets hope they are a genius who can take Spurs higher (or keep things at current levels) as no matter what everyone’s thoughts on Redknapp, Levy, the players etc – the most important thing is that Spurs do well.

 

With a raised bar: 68 points or less and 5th or worse is failure. Something Spurs have achieved twice in 20 EPL seasons, both under Redknapp.

 

Good luck & here’s the challenge ahead

 

 

And when defining the fine line between success and failure – here it is. Bill Nicholson and Harry Redknapp after 144 League games using 3 pts for a win. One is a Tottenham Legend who won the double in the period shown with Spurs greatest team & the other one sacked and hated by half the fans

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Disclaimer: Please note the words on this page are the opinion of the topspurs columnist and are just that, opinions, not facts and are nothing to do with Tottenham Hotspur Football club PLC. Just a supporter having his say nothing more nothing less. Any commentary on betting is meant for discussion purposes only and does not constitute any form of advice or recommendation.