what's going on ?

17.09.2008

Having been a Spurs supporter for 30 years I am desperately unhappy with the start of the season and more worryingly the clubís transfer policy which seems to operate with no short or long term strategy to strengthen the positions that need addressing. 

I will start this by saying that I was one of the few who was very sorry see Martin Jol dismissed last year.  Jol had led us to two successive 5th placed finishes.  This was viewed as not good enough by the management Ė who seem to think that if you finish 5th one year then you should be at least 4th the next year.  As football people know, football is not quite like business and does not always work out like we expect.  How we would all like a 5th placed finish this season.  Jol had a fantastic relationship with the clubs supporters and a real affinity with the club.  Letís not get into the disgraceful scenes in the Directors Box with senior figures smirking as word spread round the ground during the Getafe game that he had lost his job as our club descended to a new low level. 

I will say, when accused of being a fickle Spurs fan, that I do understand and accept the arguments against Jol.  His choice of tactics and use of subs was sometimes poor and obviously our lack of victories against the Top Four was not acceptable.  I will say that, although I was disappointed with this, we did seem to beat the rest of the 15 league sides at White Hart Lane Ė again something I wouldnít mind right now. 

However, when Juande Ramos joined the club we all got behind him and everyone was thrilled by the performances against Arsenal and Chelsea in the Carling Cup semi and final.  After we won the Cup the performances in the league were poor.  Again, although accused constantly by the media of being fickle, White Hart Lane was sold out and Ramos was given the benefit of the doubt as we felt that he was weeding out players and ready to make wholesale changes to the playing staff in order to mount a challenge on the Top Four or at least Top Seven next season.  My wife and I are members and we attended the Bolton and Liverpool home games where the results were poor and the performances were below average. 

We have now played four games and only taken one point.  However what concerns me is the Transfer Policy which to me and thousands of others looks like the right hand does not know what the left hand is doing.  Hereby let me enter our Director of Football into the equation.  Most supporters will tell you that what we have needed for the last two or three seasons are:-   

1   A midfield enforcer to win the ball   - This is quite obvious that with all the skilful players we have, if we cannot win the ball back then whatís the point of having them ? I think Bill Nicholson said something very similar in 1961.  For every Blanchflower you need a Dave Mackay.  For every Hoddle read Graham Roberts or Steve Perryman.  Paul Gascoigne read David Howells.  

  A left sided player - Although Gareth Bale is undoubtedly a good buy, we need another left sider to play either behind him or in front of him  

3    Centre Back Cover for our injured skipper Ledley King 

 

Now these are the three positions which I think most people who watch Spurs will tell you that we lack.  In the Summer of 2007 Martin Jol apparently asked for three players to fit the above and was given Kaboul a young prospect who struggled early on; Kevin Prince Boateng, a complete disaster and no left sided player. Again in defence of the club I will say that Steed Malbranque ably covered the left flank but his lack of a left foot always brought the play in field and we had a lack of balance that was always commented on.  Kaboul has now gone to Portsmouth and Boateng, we are, I understand, trying to offload to Birmingham.  Now according to Jol he was provided with these players by Comolli.  This is where my blood really begins to boil.  At this time we had finished 5th as stated above twice, only missing out on the ChampionsLeague on the last day at West Ham, surely Jol had worked up some kind of trust and was allowed to succeed or fail with his own players. 

Problem No 1  - Not only do we have Mr. Comolli buying the players, but Problem No 2 is they are nowhere near good enough for Tottenham Hotspur.  Darren Bent was bought for £16 or £17 Million depending which reports you believe.  "Why on earth ?", we all said at the time was he acquired.  We had probably the strongest strike force in the country in Berbatov, Keane and Defoe. One of these three had to be on the bench regularly as we played 4-4-2.  This was normally Defoe.  All the purchase of Bent did was relegating Defoe to a position where he did not even feature in the 16 man squad and therefore wanted to leave the club and did.  How we now wish for a Jermaine Defoe.  Why on earth was this £16 or £17 million not spent in areas which we needed strengthening as our manager at the time wanted ? 

I can think of a number of examples of this and you may think it is opinion and everyone has a different one.  I will not list them all, but there are plenty of Comolli signings that are just not up to it.  Zokora was bought as a replacement for Carrick.  Please do not get me started on this, as Zokora, although blessed with energy and pace, cannot pass and certainly cannot tackle.  It is hoped that Tom Huddlestone will develop into the holding midfielder, but if we have Top Four aspirations, then he is not the answer now and possibly never will be. 

Some good players have been purchased - Bale, Bentley, Modric and Woodgate - but to me there seems to be no strategy or plan in place to make a balanced team.  We do not seem to identify where the team is weak and buy a player to fit this position.  It seems to me to be an approach of such and such is available, let's go out and buy him even though we are already covered in that position.  

This brings me back to the position of midfield ball winner.  Now, no player splits the Spurs fans like Jenas, however it is clear to me that he needs a strong tackler alongside him to fulfil his potential.  You only have to look at the amount of goals we concede from long range to know that we do not have an enforcer to close down shots on the edge of the area.  I believe this, amongst other things, contributed to the demise of Paul Robinson.  We then buy Modric.  Now ,undoubtedly Modric is an excellent passer of the ball, but if he plays in the centre of midfield with our vice captain Jenas, then we look very lightweight.  If Modric is pushed onto the left he is then a la Malbranque always coming inside on his stronger right foot and gives us no width.  Therefore, Ramos is left with all these attacking players and it becomes square pegs in round holes as he tries to accommodate all the attacking midfielders in the same team.  Please do not tell me that good players can all play together, as a balance to bring out the best in others is vital in a successful team.  

David Bentley was bought as the best if not one of the best right footed crossers of the ball in the Premier League and then is played on the left or central midfield to accommodate Aaron Lennon whose crossing is at best woeful.  I was delighted we bought Bentley, but he must be played on the right and letís fill that left sided position with a good left footed option please.  I was encouraged when Dos Santos signed, but he is young and I think is one for the future rather than now. 

It is becoming more and more clearer that our skipper Ledley King is not going to play many games, therefore why have we not signed top class centre back cover.  Michael Dawson, who back in 2006 was excellent, looks to be really struggling for the last year and itís clear he is not in the class of King or Woodgate.  Corluka to me does not look the answer although his versatility may help in the short term. 

After Jol was denied these players, it really is becoming worrying for us Spurs fans that as respected as Ramos is, is he going to be able to work with players thrust upon him ?  Please do not tell me that all parties are involved when signing a player, as if Ramos wants player A, a committee featuring Comolli may come back with player B and C and this is not the best way to progress a football team. 

The last nail in the coffin for me was how we have now been left with very little cover in attack.  As I said above, under a year ago we had four (well three) top class strikers.  After the fiasco this August we now have Bent (third or fourth choice last season) leading with Pavlyuchenko no Premier League experience (hopefully will prove to be good) and the young Fraizer Campbell.  Now nothing against Campbell, who has scored and done well in the Championship for Hull City last season, however, I really do believe that this was desperation when we were in advanced negotiationsí with Man Utd. minutes before the window shut and only had two recognised strikers on the clubs books.  How on earth does one of Englandís most famous and biggest clubs let themselves be in that position ?  It was no surprise that Berbatov was leaving as there had been talk of him leaving for well over a year.  Fair enough the Keane transfer caught us short and I accept that these things can happen, but we all knew that we needed to identify Berbatovís replacement and line up targets during the past year.  Surely the role of Comolli is to do exactly this and be working on targets all year round and set the wheels in motion for the club to the tie up loose ends and complete the signature of players during the twice a year deadlines. 

Who in England has had success with a Director of Football Structure ?  West Ham, Newcastle and Spurs are in a mess and Chelsea had Avram Grant, but this only led to the departure of Mourinho.  Chelsea has not for the time being filled this position.  I really cannot understand the role and do not for the life of me see how someone with the distinct lack of experience of Comolli has found himself in a role where he provides for Juande Ramos one of Europeís most respected coaches.  

Please please give the power back to the manager.

Come on Spurs 

Nick Drew
North Yorkshire Spurs

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