the richard kelly articles
In a fortnightly contribution, Richard
Kelly's look at what is currently happening
at White Hart Lane provides a thought provoking view on the club
09.08.2007 Double Vision
06.09.2007 The Missing Link
21.09.2007 The Wheels On The Bus Have
04.10.2007 Europe's Biggest Club Competition
A Different Piece of Cake
For more Richard Kelly Articles ... click below
A DIFFERENT PIECE OF CAKE
Ramosí arrival was as
inevitable as a train arriving at Tottenham Hale; you knew one would be
along eventually, it was simply a question of when and not if. Only
time will tell if the Spaniard will be a success at White Hart Lane, and
doubtless if he is the board will feel justified in their actions.
Maybe they were right, we wont know now; they didnít give the previous
incumbent the chance with a team capable of winning silverware.
We will never know what Jol
could have done this season, not properly anyway. The manner in which
the board approached Ramos in August was disgraceful, their treatment of
a man who had finally, finally, given Tottenham Hotspur some of itís
glamour back to the degree that I could actually say Spurs were in with
a chance of winning something this season and be taken seriously. The
simple act of speaking to Ramos ensured that Jolís time was effectively
The media sharks had long
been circling, slowly taking bites over the course of the weeks of
increasing size and frequency. The players seemed to lose interest and
ultimately stop playing for him, as shown vividly in the manner in which
Berbatov acted when called off the bench at St Jamesí Park. So too, did
there seem to be rumours of cliques and politics between them, all of
which further added to tensions at the club. The board did their best
to undermine Jol, never once offering him anything other than scant
public support and seeming content to leave him increasingly isolated as
the campaign progressed.
So when Spurs offered such a
limp-wristed surrender against Newcastle last Monday, the writing was
well and truly on the wall. The papers werenít surprised, the board
seemed to have enough ammunition for their sacrifice and the fans had
long been prepared for the inevitable. We, the fans, have been the only
loyal people in this sorry affair. We are the ones, laughably so often
derided as fickle (we are always there, and we are always behind the
side vocally), who stood by our man and arguably held him in his
position for such a length of time; he lasted two further months after
the first attempted coup, which is impressive for a man who hadnít won
since we played Derby.
Jol wasnít able to perform
to his best because of the boardís actions; it undermined him to the
point where his position was untenable. If he had been left alone for
until Christmas, at least, if not the end of the season, there was a
chance we could well have done something better to date in the campaign,
and perhaps win some silverware by the end of the season. Now, the
reality is that the club face short term upheaval and the chance of a
trophy once more seems a distant one.
I wish Ramos the best of
luck, I honestly do. I do so because I want him to succeed as Spurs
boss, but the treatment of Jol should have been enough to warn him off.
Nonetheless he is here, and he arrives with a superb reputation which I
genuinely hope will galvanise the club towards future success.
So before Jol is brushed
aside and forgotten with the old chip paper; and he will because Ramosí
first league matches as manager are Middlesbrough away, Wigan at home,
West Ham away, Birmingham at home and Manchester City at home. That
could very well be five wins in five matches, and if thatís the case
then Jolís legacy would be a small footnote in the clubís history.
But we should not be quick
to forget what he gave to us. Let us not forget, Jol wanted to manage
Tottenham from the very off. He left his position as manager of RKC to
come to Spurs, even settling for the First Team Coachís role, and that
shows his desire to be at Tottenham wholly.
Naturally, he was given his
chance. No doubt this was the intention of Arnesen from the very
beginning, yet the choice was sound. Santini arrived with a fanfare and
left with his tail between his legs; his remit was to turn Tottenham
into a top side once more, yet he was another in a long line of men
unable to work under Levyís controlling structure.
They were thrust upon with
Jol, and perhaps the support of Arnesen and the fact that Spurs were
struggling for the second successive season was enough to convince them
to plump for the Dutchman. By the end of the season that appointment
seemed a godsend. It did not matter when the Sporting Director left for
Chelsea, Jol was the real gem of the triumvirate which had kicked off
the campaign that August.
And boy, could the man forge
a team. Tottenham have always struggled in the Premiership era with
building a good side under a manager who knows enough to win more
matches than he loses. Some previous managers were unlucky in this time
period; they werenít given the time or they suffered because the squad
they had was lacking, yet Jol melded a decent basis for a team with some
astute signings (if they were his) and created a team spirit and self
belief which caused a sharp upturn in the clubís fortunes.
I should point out here that
before Jolís tenure I had been present at one Tottenham match. Thatís
not to say I was any less of a fan, because for a good portion of those
years I was at school and didnít have the money to buy tickets (I am
twenty-four), but certainly since I have had the money I have been an
almost constant attendee at White Hart Lane.
Before Jol, I saw one game;
Tottenham versus Leicester, circa 1995 (Klinsmann wasnít there, and
Sheringham was injured). Clive Wilson scored our goal and Ian Walker
saved a penalty in a 2-1 defeat. My next match at White Hart Lane, was
Tottenham versus Middlesbrough in 2004, a 2-0 win, and Jolís first win.
I remember that match more
significantly than the first. Jolís first season came off the back of
the Hoddle sacking, which left Pleatís Ďsteady handí on the tiller. At
the time, our good start under Santini had been quickly undermined by
some good performances with ended in defeat.
In the run up to the
Middlesbrough match, Tottenham had lost 1-0 at Portsmouth, 2-1 at home
to Bolton, 2-0 at Fulham, 3-2 at home to Charlton, 5-4 at home to
Arsenal and 1-0 at Villa. Six defeats in a row, and good performances
or not, it was not enough to convince me we would not suffer a second
successive season of struggle. I went the Middlesbrough match hoping
for a win, yet believing relegation could be on our horizon. After all,
good clubs do go down.
Since that match, I have
missed six homes games. Three of those were immediately following Jolís
first win (I was convinced enough to sign up as a member, and had to
wait until the New Years Day match against Everton to go again). The
three subsequent matches comprised two in that first season, and one in
the next. One was against Manchester City, and the other two were
against Portsmouth. As you can see, his tenure has coincided with my
devoted match-day attendance.
With that in mind, perhaps
its understandable that I feel his sacking is akin to your mother
divorcing your father and marrying another man; you cant blame the new
guy, yet you donít understand what was wrong with your dad in the first
Was it the win that kept me
going to Tottenham? I donít think so, Iím not a glory hunter. If I
was, I would have been a Manchester United fan; itís far less
stressful. No, it was the feeling that Jol had projected to me in the
weeks leading up to that game, that was what convinced me to come back.
Here was a man who appeared
on television and actually knew what he was talking about when it came
to football, and knew how to handle the media and his players. He was a
hit with the media straight away, the Dowie shoelace moment aside, and
it was easy to see how he gained his success at previous clubs; team
spirit clearly key.
In the last two years, I
felt part of something. I felt that Jol was doing his best to drive the
club forward, that he had regained the pride and ambition once
associated with the Tottenham which seemed so clearly lacking throughout
the 90s. Perhaps I read too much into it, but when I looked at the
players and staff at the club over the last two seasons, I felt we were
pushing forward as one.
Martin Jol, regardless of
whether he bought players to the club or not, was able to get the best
out of them. Keane and Berbatov have shown some of their best form in
their time under the Dutchman, and Dawson, Carrick and Lennon have been
snatched from the Championship and turned into England internationals
because of him. Carrickís sale ripped a hole in the side, and it is a
gap that the club still havenít filled now.
He was working towards
success. Something about the team he had built suggested that they were
a tight knit group that worked together. Doubtless that was undone by
the sale of Carrick, as plenty of players expressed their concern that
the board was so content to sell one of their star assets, yet
nonetheless I felt Martin Jol had a style of management that could bring
He isnít a Mourinho, one who
talks up himself, and his tactical failings have been well documented,
although just how great a tactical change you can make with a squad of
lesser quality than the big four, especially when playing against them,
is questionable. He is a man who forges a team spirit and feel good
factor amongst his players. That method doesnít lead to instant
success, and with Tottenhamís youthful side three or four seasons was
always the length of time it would take before any success could be
I have no doubt that if Jol
had been left alone for this season, then by the summer we would either
be ready for a genuine tilt at the trophies, if not even already having
a trophy in our possession. Tactical nous or not, Jolís Tottenham would
have brought it all together at some stage in the near future, if given
the chance. The quality of player, style of play, team spirit and self
belief would have surely given Tottenham a glorious season, perhaps even
two or three.
After all, what great
tactics does Wenger employ? His side play the same way against every
opponent, no matter the match. Laudable as that maybe, he doesnít
exactly alter tactics when things arenít going their way; Arsenal just
continue passing the ball around the box, or struggle to overcome
physical sides. Yet sometimes, and it seems this season could be one of
them, it all comes together and their club seems set for a title tilt
once more. Jol could have offered us that too, if he was given the
Perhaps older fans have seen
this all before; their club betraying their manager with disgraceful
actions, and a manager who deserved better treatment than to be
dismissed because the boardís collective ego was bruised by his. Jol
was the first Spurs manager I respected since Venables, he was the first
Spurs manager admired outside the club in the Premiership era. I hope
the boardís decision is justified in the next few seasons, as that is
the only chance Levy, Comolli et all have of winning back our trust.
Yet I hope that Jol finds a club willing to give him a chance as well,
and that he goes on to success in the future. He made our club what it
is today, he forged our reputation as the next best thing to the big
four and whatever success we do claim in the near future, no doubt it
will be because of the foundations he laid at the club.
If you agree
with Richard or even if you don't, e-mail us at
give us your view.
Managers are often
blamed for the failures and deficiencies of their teams, yet few fans
blame the players responsible for it. That is, of course, until the
team suffers a prolonged sequence of poor results which brings the
quality of the squad under the microscope. Younes Kaboul recently came
out in defence of Martin Jol, saying that he felt the criticism aimed at
the manager should be more properly pointed at the players themselves.
In Tottenhamís case,
he may have a point. Before Martin Jol, no Spurs manager had taken
Tottenham to a top six finish in the Premier League, and the club hadnít
reach that level since Venables was in charge. Jol may have his
failings; he may rotate the team slightly too often, he might make a
number of high profile and poor tactical decisions, but he took us to
fifth, twice in a row, playing good football and with many good
players. He isnít a bad manager.
But nor are his
players poor quality. The first team squad boasts nineteen players
capped at international level, of which seven are starters for their
respective countries when fit. Include the nine Under-21 Internationals
within the squad and there is both actual ability and potential within
What has let us down
so remarkably is the blend of players and the way the players work
within them. No doubt we have been unlucky, but when you look at our
forward line, containing two first choice starters for their countries
and two players who are either on the fringes of the squad, there is
plenty of talent at our disposal.
Plenty of people have
questioned the decision to outlay £16.5 million on Darren Bent, and with
his return for the club thus far being the fourth goals against Derby
County and Anorthosis Famagusta respectively. Both at home, and both
against the weakest side we will probably player in either competition.
Yet Bent has not just been bought into the squad to ensure the team has
four strikers, Martin Jol says he has come in to put Berbatov under
pressure for his place, but perhaps he has actually arrived as the
No-one knows what
Berbatov has in mind for his future; I donít even think he himself
knows. The man is clearly desperate to use his skills at the highest
level, and win trophies, yet I also believe his is loyal and honourable
and therefore he wants to give something back to Tottenham. I think the
board want to keep Berbatov, but they know that should he decide to call
it a day there isnít much they can do about it, therefore Bent provides
the perfect substitute.
The club would earn a
lot from Berbatovís sale, although none of us would be pleased about it,
but Bentís signing is wholly to do with an opportunity that could not be
passed up. He was clearly the clubís next choice if Berbatov were not
to stay, and Charlton obviously knew that too. But Bent hasnít hit the
kind of form and goalscoring threat he was suppose to, and there are
numerous reasons for that. No doubt the pressure of his price tag, more
than that of Thierry Henry has affected him, but I believe the most
significant change he must make to his game is in the way he plays.
When Charlton were in
the Premier League and were successful under Curbishley, Bent played as
a lone striker hanging on the shoulder of the last man. Because of
this, Charlton were able to exploit his pace and strength and get him
behind back fours to score. However, plenty of sides play against
Charlton with a high line because they take the game to them, a lot of
sides we play against play deep and pack the box, so you need your
forwards to drop deep, pick up the ball and operate with some guile.
Take our match up at
Sunderland as an example; they set themselves up to get behind the ball
and pack the defence, they were quick to close down and they nullified
our forwards. In the last minute they counter attacked and got the goal
which won the game. Okay, so we didnít play well in the match but
Sunderland took their chance and executed their tactics perfectly, and
part of the reason we were so poor was because they made it very
difficult to play our game.
The game is about
blends of players more than anything, and when you look at our squad the
best forward partnership is Berbatov and Keane. That was the pair that
looked so deadly at the backend of last season, and between them they
link up incredibly well. The problem is that the pair lack pace, and
Berbatov lacks the physical strength needed in the roughest of games.
Defoe, who seems to
have become a surprising favourite amongst the fans this season, is too
selfish to me. His shots are vicious and he is a great player, he was
unbelievable in Jolís first season, but too often he attempts a shot
from a narrow angle when a pass to another player would be the better
option. Because both Berbatov and Keane are able to score and create
for each other and their team-mates, they will always remain the better
Bent has a lot of
adapting to do to fit in as well. He has to learn how to play in and
around the box, linking up as well as finding a way to make his own game
flourish for the team. It wouldnít be such a problem if he was playing
his normal game initially, after all, that is what we saw which
encouraged us to sign him. But I do wonder if his style of play is
suited to playing against sides who pack themselves deep, and that means
he is only playing teams who take the game to us, games where you want
your best forwards to play; Berbatov and Keane.
Equally, look at the
defence. I have spoken many times about the fact that they play as
individuals, and I donít like it, but there is no leadership back
there. I hate it when fellow Tottenham fans say to me that this will be
sorted when King returns from injury. Yes, it will. But what if he
gets another bad injury? What if the rumours are true about this one?
This should have been a warning that regardless of which back four play,
one of them needs to be genuine leader of men.
Rocha was supposed to
be that man, but he seems as unable as any of them to take ownership of
the defence and cut out the silly goals conceded. Between him and
Robinson, the pair seem to contrive to concede the very worse of the
goals we let in. This season, it was Rocha who deflected the ball over
Paul Robinson for Fulhamís second; it was Rocha who crashed into
Robinson which allowed Osman to score Evertonís second at White Hart
Lane. Perhaps he is unlucky, but it serves to symbolise the entire
issue. Tottenham concede too many goals too easily. We score a lot,
compared to most Premiership sides, yet the pressure we put on opponents
to score our goals is way more than that which they put on us for
Then we have the whole
Robinson problem. Clearly he lacks confidence, but dropping him wonít
improve that. On the contrary, it will probably make him worse.
Robinson looks fine, albeit shaky, for England. You donít keep as many
clean sheets as he has for England without having some ability, and I
donít think you can blame him for either goal, including the Neville
backpass/bobble, in the match in Croatia where he did concede.
But with Spurs itís
different. On Saturday one the Estonians had a pot shot from distance
which Robinson fumbled but snapping up. The first man there was Rio
Ferdinand, ensuring that no opposition player had the chance to profit.
The previous weekend, Voronin pounced on just such a spillage from a
Gerrard freekick to put Liverpool ahead. Okay, so it hit his knee, but
do you imagine Cech, Reina or Van der Saar would have conceded that kind
of goal? Would Lehmann have done so?
He isnít confident,
but the only way to give him confidence is to get him out there and show
faith in him; if you drop him in favour of Cerny his personality isnít
strong enough, he will be broken by it. The problem is that every side
we face in the Premier League knows he isnít confident, and even the
worse players will try their luck. I play football on a Sunday, and
there is one goalkeeper in our league who is terrible. Whenever we face
him, everyone loves it; players who havenít scored for years, if ever,
are rubbing their hands together with glee. The strikers are arguing
about which of them will score more, and even the defenders arenít
afraid to get forward and try their luck from distance.
That creates a
problem, because determined and confident players are more likely to do
well than those without confidence. And as everyone thinks they can
score, Robinson has to deal with more shots than you would ordinarily
expect. After all, its worth a crack from thirty yards if youíre
Carvalho isnít it?
I have seen a number
of World Class saves from Robinson, saves where I had already been
expecting to see the ball hit the back of our net and somehow, Robinson
has got there. Those saves have one thing in common; they are all
instinctive. The saves I am talking about are the ones where the
opponent is six yards away, where Robinson has to stick a hand out and
hope, or fly across the goal instantaneously.
They are without
thought and without worry. I believe part of Robinsonís problem is he
is thinking too much about his mistakes. He seems to be carrying them
with him, blaming himself when the ball goes in and his body language
shows he isnít coping when we do concede. He knows he should deal with
high balls and crosses into the box, he knows he needs to organise his
defence, he knows he needs to be in the right position for long shots
and he knows he needs be tidy with general defensive duties. The
problem is, he canít do it.
Question is, what do
the club do? Do you stick by a once solid Ďkeeper in the hope he
returns to his best level, or do you note that he isnít confident and
canít handle the pressure, the kind of pressure which would be put on
him if he was at a title challenging club, and cut your losses?
That is why blends are
so important. When King returns, not only will he organise the backline
for Robinson, but he has pace in abundance to cover the rest of the
defenders when opponents get in behind, witness his tackle against
Robben last season as an example. It is how the players work best
together that is the key to success, not the best players necessarily
Last season Manchester
United won the league because they removed the player who had become the
focal point of their attack; Ruud Van Nistelrooy. Fergusonís reasoning
was that United had become too predictable in their attacks, as
everything went through the Dutchman. The striker also failed to offer
the link up play that others in the side could. When he was sold United
continued to score goals, became a much more aggressive and determined
side, and were able to alter their system throughout matches.
In the summer Arsenal
sold Thierry Henry, the figurehead of their club in a way wholly
different to Van Nistelrooy. Not only was Henry able to link up and
create of his team-mates, he had been the top scorer in the league for
four of the last six seasons. Just like Ferguson did with Van
Nistelrooy, Wenger believed that the time was right to let Henry go. So
far, it seems like a wise decision (although their early fixtures have
actually given them confidence and self-belief. They were lucky in
their first two away games at Blackburn and against us, they could have
lost both) but it remains to be seen if the impact on the side will have
the desired affect in terms of silverware.
All of this doesnít
bode well for Darren Bent, who is a focal point forward. He doesnít
offer much to his team-mates apart from getting on the end of balls and
using his pace and strength behind defences. He hasnít got a link up
game, and he isnít as dominate in the air as Drogba is, nor able to hold
the ball up on his own in the same way as the African. If Arsenal go on
to win the title, they will have proved that you donít actually need a
focal point forward to do it for the second successive season, and when
you consider Chelseaís two titles it shows that no club with a
traditional twenty plus goal a season centre forward has won the league
for four seasons.
Our rivals have learnt
something the Italians and to a lesser degree the Spanish have known for
a decade; to be successful, you need to be fluid. The top clubs from
Spain and Italy will adapt the way they play to suit the opposition.
They donít play a set formation, but they deny their opponent and play
to their strengths. They disrupt your rhythms and incorporate their own
patterns of play. English clubs have always approached European matches
as being different to league games, both in terms of style and
attitude. This is because when you play in England you seek to impose
your game on your rival, which is a throw back to now defunct version of
football last played in the 1960s, where sides would play each other to
win, and play to attack.
These top foreign
clubs donít often have players who can play in only one position, apart
from the keeper. Take Milan as an example; Cafu and Maldini both have
the ability to push up the wings, and the later certainly has the
ability to hold his own at centre back. In midfield, Pirlo, Seedorf and
Kaka can interchange, hold up the ball, play others in and score goals
and upfront Gilardino is a hardworking forward who can create as many as
he scores. And when you consider that the other two players in their
backline are Nesta and Kaladze, both as capable of passing the ball
around as some of our midfielders, you can see that these players are
comfortable interchanging formations, and moving positions when there is
Getting the right
blend on players on the pitch is the key component to being successful.
At the beginning of last season Chelsea signed Ballack and Shevchenko
and everyone gloomily predicted that they would capture their third
successive title. But Ballackís arrival served to unbalance the
midfield, and Lampardís goals dried up. Shevchenko may have succeeded
in making a proper football out of Drogba, but his friendship with the
owner meant there was always pressure for a place to be found for him.
The pair were two of
the key factors which ultimately left Chelsea with too much to do, and
saw the title go to Old Trafford. Both players have undoubted ability,
both are the main stars of their national sides, yet neither have found
form in England. Ultimately, the west Londoners got the blend wrong,
Manchester United got it right and they won the title.
We need to make sure
our blends are right, and to start with that means the basic blends
across the pitch. What I mean by that is the obvious pairings which are
in evidence every week we play. Everyone understands the importance of
having a good strike partnership, because when it doesnít work it has
the most staggering affect on the clubs fortunes and its failings are
the first to be seen. In Berbatov and Keane, we have a partnership that
works, and when it really works and they click utterly, it is
But what we need is
for the other two forwards to gel and start a rival pairing, so that
both Berbatov and Keane are pressured for their places by Bent and
Defoe. This can only work if that pairing are working hard together,
not only taking the chances for themselves, but in the modern game as I
have explained above, it is also important that they create
opportunities for those around them.
Equally, the left back
and left midfielder need to compliment one another, as do the right back
and right midfielder. They need to be able to switch jobs in affect,
even if it is only for a brief period in the match. The left back must
be capable of getting forward and providing a cross and some width, and
the left midfielder must be able to get back and defend when needed.
We saw last season
that Lennon and Chimbonda linked up well on the right, and thus far Bale
has been the shining light of our season in left midfield, his best
performances coming when Lee was behind him. Itís unfortunate that so
far we havenít seen both Lennon on the right and Bale on the left, and I
worry that Jol has concerns about playing both and exposing our back
line. He is right to think about this, because the midfield has to
provide cover for the defence; getting the right blend in action.
In the centre of
midfield, the blend needs to be spot on. We have all seen how Lampard
and Gerrard failed to replicate their club form for England, and how
Gareth Barry and Gerrard as a pairing seem to have given England a
breath of fresh air, Tottenham need to find the same. Jenas provides an
energy to the centre of the pitch which no other midfielder seems able
to do. He can also score which is something plenty of the others fail
to do, but does he go missing too often? Malbranque likes to play in
the centre, and for Fulham he tore us apart from that position, but is
he too weak?
Huddlestone can pass
the ball around the pitch with breathtaking ability, picking out a
team-mate in space at will, but he seems slow and unwilling to use his
physical strength. Can he become what we hope him to be? Zokora can
drive and dribble with the ball, he can tackle as well, but he doesnít
hold his position, canít pass and we all know he canít shoot. Are these
obvious deficiencies a problem? Tainio is a hardworking and tidy
player. He isnít afraid to get stuck in and will do a job for the team,
yet he isnít as talented as any of the others, will that present a
The point is, it
doesnít matter what their individual strengths or failings are, it
matters how formidable they become as a pairing. From out of that group
Jol needs to find a pair which work well together for the team. It
doesnít matter if it turns out to be Zokora and Tainio, as long as
between them they nullify the opposition and create and score goals in
support of the attack.
That is one area of
the pitch which we still havenít sorted out, as it last really worked
well for us when we had Jenas and Carrick in the centre. Yet perhaps
the most crucial of all these blends at present for Tottenham is at the
back, between Dawson, Kaboul and Robinson. This blend is unique because
it incorporates three players rather than two.
Of course, a Ďkeeper
has to work well with both the fullbacks and is reliant on his midfield
to do their job too, but the most crucial of all the relationships he
has is between himself and the centre backs. After all, they are the
ones that head the ball clear and have to know what he is going to do
without being told. We have seen that King, Dawson and Robinson did
work, but can Kaboul come into that group and find his feet? It remains
to be seen, but at least Jol is giving them games together to get to
known one another.
All of this
presupposes we are playing the system that is best suited to our
players. Jol favours attacking fullbacks, he favours the big man-little
man frontline, he likes quick wingers who can dribble, switch wings, get
behind the backline and score goals. To my mind, the 4-4-2 formation is
ideal for what he wants but it shouldnít rule out consideration of other
We saw Jol attempted
4-3-3 against Everton, and then attempt to rescue a point with it
against Arsenal. It didnít work, and in both games we ended up
suffering a 1-3 defeat at home. That said, it did work against Aston
Villa so memorably. In each case, it caused us to become one
dimensional in our play; hoofing the ball towards the front three, who
queue on the top of the eighteen yard box for the ball. Movement from
the forwards ceases and the clever play which the midfield could provide
disappears as they never get the ball. There is also a big issue around
width, and a consequential over-reliance on the fullbacks to provide it.
Yet 4-3-3 is the
method favoured by the Dutch, ever since the Ajax Total Football side of
the 1970s. Even now, Ajax play that system from the youth teams to the
first team. It works because the players can interchange and because
they are all good football playing footballers. The Dutch system works
because there is only really one centre forward in the side, the two
other forwards are encouraged to get wide and play in the style far
similar to Van Persie and Robben.
The fullbacks are
encouraged to get forward, which wouldnít be a problem for our side, but
it is in the centre that it is most important to get the right blend.
In that trio, one player is there as a predominate playmaker, one is
there as the enforcer and another is there to help out both. This is
the system Chelsea used with success, although when they did so Mourinho
encouraged his wingers to come back and create a five-man midfield and
thus created something far more defensive than the original.
Could we play 4-3-3?
I think our fullbacks are setup to do it, it might help the midfield to
have three players in the centre, but I donít see it helping our
forwards. Keane might be able to fill in as a winger, but the only
other player I can see as capable is Lennon for the other side, with
Berbatov in the centre. I donít believe it is feasible for the vast
majority of our squad as 4-4-2 is.
In which case, what
about 3-5-2? Dawson and Kaboul would have an additional centre-back to
help them out, there would be three in midfield and Keane and Berbatov
wouldnít be broken up as a partnership. Bale would be comfortable on
the left, but who could play on the right? It would push Lennon out of
the side because he is too attacking. Iím ruling out 4-5-1 from my
considerations as I see it as far too defensive for a Tottenham team to
play for anything other than the occasional one off match.
So that leaves us with
4-4-2, and out of all the variations on that formation there are, the
current one seems the ideal to get the best out of Lennon and Bale, the
best two midfielders in our team. But even that isnít the answer; the
side which should play is the one which works best together, which has
the most blends. Lennon and Bale are fantastic individuals, but they
need to fit into the unit.
Therefore you canít
rule out any of the formations until we have tried them out and seen the
results. It doesnít matter if we play 4-3-3, 3-5-2, or even a diamond
4-4-2 formation, what matters is that we get behind the team, that the
eleven we put out start getting results and we start to climb the
table. And the sooner we do that, the better.
If you agree
with Richard or even if you don't, e-mail us at
give us your view.
have a confession to make: I hate the Champions League. Essentially the
whole thing is designed in order that the big clubs make millions of
extra pounds per season. Itís a boyís club, and I hate it. Itís not
jealously or envy that makes me despise the tournament, although
doubtless people will say it is. No, I hate it because it rewards
Arsenal; a club who have qualified for the Champions League every season
since 1998/99. In the last nine seasons they have competed, they have
been knocked out twice in the group stages (the initial ones in the
cases of the two group stage years) finishing third in the groups on
both occasions (in 1999/2000, they reached the UEFA Cup final after
going out, another thing which makes me hate the Champions League. But
weíll come to that in a moment). They have also twice been knockout in
the second round groups, finishing third both times, and twice in the
first knockout stage, making it four seasons out in the second round.
Aside from that, they have reached two quarter finals and finished
runners up. And despite this they are top seeds.
There are only eight top seeds, which would make Arsenal, in UEFA logic,
at least the eighth best team in the Champions League. How? How does
finishing three times in the last five in the last sixteen, once in last
eight and once as second place mean you are that highly placed. The
only answer I can find is that they keep qualifying, and their rivals
from other league do not manage this each and every season.
example of this is Valencia. In the same nine seasons, Valencia have
reached two Champions League finals, two quarter finals, won one UEFA
cup and reached the quarter finals of that competition. In terms of
consistency, Valencia do not compare to Arsenal as they have not reached
the tournament every season, yet perhaps that highlights the relative
strength in depth of La Liga (the barometer of a strong league is the
UEFA Cup, not Champions League; the Champions League highlights, one or
these days a number of good sides in a league, the UEFA Cup highlights
sides who arenít good enough to win their league. Essentially the more
clubs a nation has in the latter rounds proves that leagues quality),
after all Dynamo Kiev qualify every year and apart from one season in
the last ten they havenít reached anywhere of note.
is all based on the rather clouded issue of the club co-efficient system
UEFA uses. Every club who plays in Europe (and many who donít it seems)
have a point score which is awarded to them. Part of this is based on
your countryís performances as well (you see Rafa, it does matter that
Gerrard plays for England), but most is based on your performances and
scores against other teams. Itís based over the last five seasons, so
if a club bursts onto the scene, they will certainly face a more
difficult run that a club who qualify each and every season. This isnít
an open and fair tournament; it has been designed to rewards the usual
see what I mean about it being a boyís club. The same teams qualify and
are rewarded for qualifying by a higher co-efficient rating as they play
easier sides and win by more goals. Equally, they play less demanding
matches and do not have the same physical or mental demands put upon
them as less regular qualifiers. Now, can someone please explain to me
why we want to play in this competition, apart from the financial
rewards it offers us?
Letís be fair, weíre not going to be seeded favourably. Most likely, we
would end up being a fourth seed, perhaps if we are lucky a third seed,
and that would make a successful tournament one where we survived until
after Christmas. And we would need to back up that season with another
few successive ones in the Champions League, all to make us a second
seed. That might be enough to let us have a tilt at the trophy, because
I doubt we would have the kind of side that could blow any opposition
away anytime soon.
donít want to suffer through a number of seasons of early exit and
disappointment, especially in the knowledge that it might not mean
anything at the end. Call me crazy, but I donít get excited about Spurs
earning money, that is undoubtedly a pleasing thing, but its trophies
and glory I want. Thatís why the UEFA Cup is better, and for every
Sure, there are clubs who enter season on season, but the reason they
are in the UEFA Cup is because they lack the consistency to be in the
Champions League. That makes the competition open, and one in which the
strongest sides in Eastern Europe suddenly become a threat. In the
Champions League they are thumped with alarming ease, but in the UEFA
Cup an away match in the Ukraine, Romania or Russia can be a daunting
one, exactly as they should be.
European competition should be open and unpredictable. In the old days,
clubs in the east would have a collection of talented players amongst
their ranks, whilst clubs in the west would have had significantly
weaker sides. The cold war created a restriction of player movement,
but there was also a good deal more loyalty from players and less
transfers in general, especially from abroad. This created a far more
even and open playing ground in all competitions, and it made European
football something to savour when it came along, not the minimum
requirement of a season.
Nowadays, all clubs in Europe seem to have legions of foreign players,
and any player who shows even the smallest piece of skill seems to get
snapped up (either by a club from the middling European leagues if they
are seen early, and in rare cases by someone from the major leagues).
Increasingly, this has destroyed European football. The early rounds
are littered with clubs who qualify year on year and who at best reach
December competition. Their best players are sold and they never have
the chance to see them in their prime. As a result, the competitionís
winners all come from a select band of leagues, and the in case of the
Champions League a small select band of clubs (In the fifteen seasons
there has been ten winners from six countries, and I donít include the
cheating Marseille in that list, but ten of those fifteen seasons have
seen an English, Italian or Spanish winner) have lifted the trophy.
Thatís something else I hate about the Champions League; it has eroded
the special feeling which surround European football. Only two weeks
ago we saw Chelsea record a pathetic attendance of twenty-five thousand
for their match against Rosenberg. We all know Chelsea donít have many
fans anyway (because they still arenít a big club), but thatís fifteen
thousand down on a full gate. That is one hell of a drop, and despite
the fact they donít have many fans when it comes to later rounds, they
will fill their stadium.
Chelsea fans expect to get through, they expect to reach the later
rounds and they only hunger after European football against significant
teams. Dropping ticket prices may slightly increase their attendances
in subsequently matches, but they have rather missed the point; Chelsea
fans arenít excited by a match against Rosenberg. When you donít play
many European matches, or you have a huge fan-base (ala Manchester
United), you get a full house. When you have few fans and play
regularly in Europe, fans pick and choose.
love the UEFA Cup matches at the lane, but perhaps thatís because a
great deal of our history is in Europe, and the whole thing is
relatively new. Perhaps five years of it will leave me jaded and picky
(then again maybe not), perhaps others will feel that way, and
attendances will start to dip in the early stages, but this is UEFAís,
and the G14ís, fault.
fans should love European matches, and that comes from less, not more,
games. But no, that cant happen because the G14 wont allow less games
and UEFA donít want the those big clubs to be in a different
stratosphere to the rest of us. Therefore we have to play extra games
of little note, we have to play in a group stage (five teams but only
four matches, what is that all about?), and we have to suffer through
the Champions League rejects.
yes, the ultimate insult. To be deemed not good enough for the
Champions League yet good enough for the UEFA Cup. How insulting is
that for everyone. Here are eight clubs who may conceivably have picked
up two points (defeats by both the top two, two draws with the bottom
club and a better goal difference or more away goals in the ties with
the bottom side) dropping into a competition where eight sides could
have won six games. How is that fair?
donít deserve to be down there, and we donít deserve to have them in our
competition. Added to that, it massively undermines and lessens the
UEFA Cup when they dropping in and do well. It highlights the UEFA
Cupís flawed sides, and it only serves to undercover the difference in
quality between the Champions League and the UEFA Cup. People will tell
you they donít watch the UEFA Cup (I know I didnít take much notice when
Spurs werenít in it. But then watching Bolton, Newcastle and Blackburn
a few years ago was hardly a relishing prospect) and they will tell you
that the Champions League sides add a degree of quality, yet all they do
is highlight the lack of it in the rest of the sides and as a result
diminish the competition. By keeping them out, the UEFA Cup becomes its
own separate entity.
There should be fewer qualifiers too, because that would make the whole
thing more of an event and rarity when you enter. Iím not simply
talking about the UEFA Cup here, but the Champions League too. People
might moan about the lack of quality in the UEFA Cup, but surely the
reason for that is because so many teams from the big leagues make the
Cup sides donít have the income of the Champions League teams; they
donít get the prize money and they donít have the additional revenue
that the plastic fans bring to a club. The big clubs snap up the best
players from within their divisions, and the best players from the
smaller leagues move to clubs in the bigger leagues. This is because
the Champions League has made football about money.
Perhaps if only one or two clubs made the Champions League, and another
three made the UEFA Cup you would actually see a decent competition (you
might see more exciting seasons in general in the Premier League too,
because the money has only increased the gap between the top four and
whole thing is sickening, and Iím expected to watch it. Over-hyped
teams, four of which I cant wait to see beat on the weekend, receive
hugely inflated amounts for beating hugely weakened teams from eastern
Europe, before playing the same rivals season in season out after
Christmas. Thatís why Iím pickier about their games. I won't watch a
match played in Arsenalís group this season apart from their trip to
Seville, itís the only one they could lose. I might watch the big
matches, but most of the competition is uninteresting, uncompetitive
least the UEFA Cup can serve up its share of upsets and interesting
ties. Arsenal or Liverpool might have no problems going to Bucharest
and winning, but you can bet Everton or Blackburn would struggle out
there. Then take our enthralling matches against Braga and Seville;
both memorable ties from last season. Equally, Newcastleís two legs
against AZ, where they were defeated on aggregate was fantastic.
Compare that to Chelseaís comfortable victory over Porto, Liverpoolís
annihilation of PSV, Arsenalís limp display against PSV in the round
before, and quite possibly the most turgid display of football ever
witnessed, when Liverpool beat Chelsea in the semi final (possibly the
only satisfying thing in the whole match). Where is the endeavour to
win? Where is the attacking sentiment?
Okay, so not all matches in the UEFA Cup contain the same technical
quality, and not all of them are attacking feasts, but that isnít the
point; teams qualify for the UEFA Cup far less than regularly than they
do for the Champions League. Teams that play each other often know each
other well and the matches become tight as they guard against their
weaknesses and try to nullify their rivalís strengths. They fear to
lose, and they know their opponents too well to risk attacking them.
Anyway, that lack of technical ability creates more mistakes, which
makes a more open game. There is a balance that needs to be achieved
here; take away too much skill and you end up with Championship
performances, put in too much and you end up nullified.
my opinion if you throw out the Champions League teams and the
competition goes back to a straight two legged knockout format, as all
European contests should be (but then we can let those poor old big
clubs only play two matches in Europe, can we?), you have a fine trophy
to win, and one that every club involved should covet. And in these
times when the big four win everything domestically, it represents
something they canít get their hands on.
course, that will never happen. Financially, the Champions League is
too far ahead of the UEFA Cup. The powers that be canít allow that,
especially as it seems there is a war between the G14 and UEFA on the
horizon. If they allow too much wealth and control into those clubís
hands, they weaken their own position. Equally they donít seem to be
able to backtrack, and take the control back that they once had. That
means they can only move sideways.
Platini has been quite clever in this respect. His proposal that
domestic cup winners qualify for the Champions League was met frostily
(the FA Cup was once rated as the most important competition in England,
if the FA want to raise itís value they should give the winners a
Champions League place. They could do the same with the League Cup too,
for that matter), yet when it was suggested that the clubs who do win
these trophies get a place in the top competition in Europe, it was met
with a decidedly mixed reaction.
There were a surprising number of big clubs across Europe who warmed to
this proposal, which is a heartening thing. However, both Liverpool and
Manchester United opposed the proposal in full, all of which doesnít
bode well. If UEFA canít win the support of the big clubs, then it
becomes incredibly difficult to make this a reality. And if Platini
decides to push on regardless, then we may well see just how powerful
the big clubs are in Europe.
proposal such as this could led to the long awaited European Superleague,
and it would be the clubs closest to the big sides which suffer the
most. Many of our players, such as Bale and Kaboul, have joined the
club specifically because they want to play in the Champions League. If
the chance of matches against the big clubs disappears, as it would with
a breakaway, those players would undoubtedly look to leave soon rather
to that the obvious financial issues at stake, because there is no
question Premier League cash would drop if the big clubs, and star
players, left. For a club so close to the Champions League spots, and
with the obvious intention of breaking that quartet (however unlikely
that now seems) this could well devastate the club.
what does this all mean for Tottenham ? Well, why would we want to
enter a competition we have no hope of winning in the short term, one
that rewards repeated qualification over actual achievement and which
panders to the biggest names in the game ? At present, itís simply an
issue of cash over glory, yet in the future, if the big clubs choose to
form a breakaway European Super-league, non-qualification could well
leave the club in tatters. This is a difficult issue for any supporter
who wants their club to be successful.
If you agree
with Richard or even if you don't, e-mail us at
give us your view.
THE WHEELS ON THE
BUS HAVE FALLEN OFF
Sometimes, the sound
and pictures donít match. Take Arsenal as an example; our biggest
rivals and the one club which we want to beat more than any other often
proclaim that the North London derby is like any other match for them,
that it no longer holds the special feeling it once did. They
increasingly treat us as a lesser species, the way Manchester United
fans treat City supporters, and continuously crow about how we are
deluded to think that we can catch them in the league, or even beat
Yet these well worn
words, so often spouted by our rivals, donít match the pictures. If it
is like any other game why did Fabregas beat his fist against the
Arsenal badge after scoring? If it is no longer special why did
Adebayor sprint over to their support twice to celebrate? And why did
he choose to run behind the goal, and directly past our home fans, to
get there (something the FA should investigate - he did it last year and
Pires has done it on numerous occasions previously too, as I was under
the impression that inciting the opposition fans was not something
The fact is that the
game still has a great appeal, and for both sides. Clearly, the rivalry
needs a few Spurs wins in the near future, and the clubs need to trading
league places and facing each other in cup ties in order for it to
really become what it was in the past, but that doesnít take away from
the fact that both players and fans should be delighted to win the
matches between us.
I was hoping that the
derby would galvanise our team into producing the kind of performance we
had threatened in patches and so far failed to deliver. Even against
Derby, quite possibly the worst and most disorganised side I have ever
seen at White Hart Lane, were not put to the sword in as thorough a
manner as they should have.
Our problem has been
that we only seem to play in fits and burst through matches. In every
game so far we have had periods where we were very good and looked like
we might take control of the game and dominate it, yet in each one, with
the exception of the woeful Derby, there has been points where we were
really put under pressure. Of course, you canít dominate each game as
thoroughly as you want, and no-one plays to their best in every match,
but the failure to take control when we are on top shows exactly why we
arenít as good as the top four. It also shows that we lack a real
Iíve heard people
speak about us reaching a Champions League place, even after what has
gone on already, and I wonder what planet these people are on. Our
dreams of the top four were doubtful after we lost to Everton; they died
utterly when we failed to beat Fulham. To be honest I am now looking
towards the cups to salvage our season and a quick upturn in the league
because of it. That might give us a top six finish, and after what has
gone on so far that would be an achievement in itself.
There are plenty of
reasons why we have not done as well as we would wish; injuries, the
undermining of Jolís position, defensive frailties and pure bad luck
most well documented. But letís not forget the failure of our forwards
to convert our chances, the fact we seem to fade worryingly in all
matches, the loss of form of key players, speculation regarding playerís
transfers and event happening outside of football.
We have had many
injuries already this season; Ledley Kingís absence being most crucial.
Yet we have also lost Dawson, Kaboul, Lee, Ekotto, Bale, Lennon,
Berbatov and Bent as well. That is one long list of players to lose in
the first seven weeks of the season, especially as at least six of those
are first eleven players. That points towards poor conditioning on the
part of the Club, poor training facilities or bad luck. As injuries are
no new thing for the club (in fact the only time we seemed to avoid this
was when we almost finished fourth), I would say that some blame must
rest with the way the players are conditioned and the training ground
the club uses.
Equally, when you lose
the first two games of the season and you aim to be amongst the front
runners some questions should be raised, but not alarm bells. The fact
that there was so much unrest within the club during that two week time
period, ironically sandwiching our only win of the season, has not only
wholly undermined Jol, it has also thrown our club under the spotlight
of the media in a far more significant than we are yet ready for. And
the subsequent actions of the board in dealing with that attention,
specifically banning the Evening Standard from the club, will not
Our poor defending has
been well documented this season, and even the most obtuse football fan
will tell you that our defence is leaky. Worse still, itís not simply
one area that is being exploited. On paper, the reputations of our
defenders seem to be good ones; Robinson is Englandís number one, Lee is
an international full back and starred in a PSV side which made it to
the Champions League Semi Finals, Stalteri is a former German Champion,
Chimbonda is a French international and in the Premier League select XI
for season 2005/06, Kaboul is a French Under-21 international, Rocha is
a Portuguese Champion, Ekotto was highly rated prospect as a youngster
in France, Dawson and King are both England squad regulars, the latter
of which reckoned to be the third best English centre back (according to
McLaren and behind Terry and Ferdinand- we all know he is the best), and
even Gardner has won an England cap. Not one of the players above has
not had international experience in some capacity, be it Under-21 or
with the full squad, so how does that collection of players fail to keep
more clean sheets ?
The answer, Iím afraid
to say, is teamwork. Our defenders seem to work independently of one
another and rely totally on the knowledge of the strengths and
weaknesses of those around them. When one player is injured it seems
that the whole defence loses cohesion, when King is absent we lose all
voice, organisation and strength.
Considering the fact
that this issue has been long recognised by the management, coaching
staff, players and fans I am surprised more effort hasnít been made into
rectifying it. And we have further problems on this score too, as
strikers will go into matches against us believing they can score. This
confidence means they are more positive, try harder and take more shots
against us; all of which means our unconfident and flimsy defence has to
deal with more than most.
Bad luck has affected
us; Fulhamís last two goals had a degree of luck in them, both going
against us, Arsenalís first goal on Saturday was a retaken free kick,
Manchester Unitedís goal took a deflection, as did Evertonís third and
in the second our centre back and goalkeeper collided, taking each other
out in the process. Yet this should be counted as an excuse. If you
want to achieve thing you have to overcome stumbling blocks such as bad
luck, you have to work to get luck in your favour too; something which
has yet to happen this season.
Iím also concerned
about our forward line. Again on paper the threat we have to opponentís
goals looks to be one of the best in the Premiership, yet despite that
they have managed just two goals between them, and one of those was a
tap in against Derby. Perhaps the competition amongst them has caused
this problem, but I am more inclined to believe it is a combination of
Berbatovís lack of effort and the inevitable exit of the Bulgarian from
the club, Defoeís contract wrangling, Keaneís loss of form and Bentís
struggle to live up to his price tag.
Out of those four, Jol
must pick his first choice as the ones which are the most workable. The
clearest problem he has is he doesnít know which of these players will
actually be part of his squad in the long term. Last season, we saw
Berbatov and Keane emerge as a formidable strike partnership and
following our FA Cup win at Craven Cottage we were third in the form
charts behind Chelsea and Manchester United.
But can Jol really
continue to put this partnership out, especially if Berbatov decided to
leave? My belief is that Bent was bought to replace Berbatov, and the
Defoe situation has complicated matters. Defoe is without question a
good player, yet his selfishness and lack of creativity for others mean
that he is not as effective as the other three. If Jol wants to keep
him he has to play him, but that would mean one of the others doesnít
get a chance and potentially it might not matter anyway and Defoe could
still leave; leaving us with Bent and Keane only.
This creates a
difficult situation for Jol, and it seems that the number of quality
strikers competing for a place has caused them all to fall out of form.
Defoe and Bent both want, aside from to play for a side hopeful of
winning silverware, to establish their reputations and help their
chances of playing for the national team, Berbatov is still on the books
seemingly to return the favour of us creating his reputation in England,
only Keane has no agenda for playing for us.
this, the teamís fitness or concentration seem to present a problem for
us. I donít understand how we contrive to concede so many last minute
goals (three in six matches so far this season) and can just put this
down to luck, or simply not making the block for a shot. Sunderlandís
winner was down to Chopra getting away from Chimbonda, and when a side
are on the attack in the final minute you should be more aware than
that. Thatís a mental thing, and it is something that needs to be
resolved sooner rather than later as it is the difference between
winning trophies and winning nothing.
If you agree
with Richard or even if you don't, e-mail us at
give us your view.
THE MISSING LINK
Tottenham have always tried to play with flair, panache and style. I
have always agreed fundamentally that Spurs should play the game in the
right manner because that is the way to glory and the way clubs should
strive to play. I want to see the team play the game in this style,
because in the words of Blanchflower; ďitís about going out and beating
the other lot, not waiting for them to die of boredom.Ē
the whole ethos of the double team, yet they played in an era where
attacking invention and audacious football were demanded by all
supporters. In those days clubs where expected to go out and give the
fans a show, rather than shut up shop and keep a rival at bay. And
perhaps like reasonable player wages, loyalty to a club, shared gate
receipts, Divisions Three and Four and fair play, this too has gone out
of the window.
donít win matches by pummelling their opponents through champagne
football, they win by exposing weaknesses and using their superior power
and strength to beat teams. Having an excellently drilled defence and
World class keeper makes it even tougher, and with Drogba upfront they
are always a threat to their opponents.
Liverpool have played some shocking football in their time, and itís not
been until this season that I think they have played anywhere near the
level of football the players on their books should have produced. Yet
you canít deny, they have got results. Equally, before Wenger turned up
Arsenal were notorious for being boring; a reputation secured through a
resolute backline of Adams, Bould, Seaman, Dixon and Winterburn. When
Wenger did turn up, what was the one area that he didnít overhaul ?
Thatís right, defence.
Manchester United, who refreshingly play sparkling football and did
remarkably often last season, dig in and scrap when they need to. Last
season when they arrived at White Hart Lane what was most memorable to
me was not the football they played to take us apart but the
gamesmanship they employed; the Ronaldo dive, the intentional fouls by
Scholes, Neville and Rooney to intimidate our players and the aggressive
attitude of all their players towards the referee (and in particular the
fact that the offender never approached the man in black; it was always
one of his team-mates who protested).
a look at Tottenham. I donít see anyone in our side who will scrap and
fight tooth and nail for the inches that win you matches. You need
those players to win things; they are the ones that never quit and say
die. But where are they for Spurs ? Keane will battle away upfront, he
is the closest thing we have, and thatís indicative of our problems.
Saturday we dropped two points against Fulham, in a game we should have
won comfortably. Many factors contributed to this; we took off Keane,
who was the best player on the pitch, for Defoe, and we made tactical
changes by bringing on Dawson and going more defensive when we leak more
than a sieve, and of course there was a degree of bad luck too; after
all, how many overhead kicks will be scored in the final minute this
season ? I willing to bet that we wonít see another by any side through
the whole campaign.
arenít the only reasons we failed to hold onto a lead which should not
have even been under threat. Aside from the unavoidable pressure there
is on Jol and the team to secure points as quickly as possible in order
to lessen media and board pressure on them to pick up points, there is
also three fundamental problems with our side; we donít have enough
battlers, we donít have enough experience, and far more crucially, we
lack the natural, never say die, winners.
types provide the flair and flamboyant players the platform and stage to
win games. Why is it that Makeleleís departure from Real Madrid
coincided with trophy-less campaign after trophy-less campaign ? Why is
it that when he arrived at Chelsea, they went from good team to
champions in his second season ? He does the ugly work that is needed
in the game; breaking up play, feeding his team-mates safe passes and
shielding the defence.
arrived at Chelsea, he added a winner's mentality to the squad as much
as his experience and battling qualities which are so important. Spurs
have a young squad, they also have players of immense talent, but what
they lack are the ones who have been there and done it, players who will
never give up across the pitch and more importantly, the ones who win
desperately need players who can bring these qualities to our side; who
can put their foot on the ball, battle, fight and wonít give an inch.
If you need anymore proof think about the number of goals we concede
from very little pressure; that is indicative of a weak willed side.
Against Manchester United, where we played well and were well organised
throughout, whenever they put even the smallest amount of pressure on
our defence we looked decidedly shaky in dealing with it.
current crop, we have a number of players who could one day become the
type of player I am describing; in the future Dawson could be one of the
players, Huddlestone likewise, but these are players who are still
learning the trade. They havenít won anything in their careers, and
despite both beginning life in the second tier, they have never even won
promotion at their respective clubs. A play-off semi-final defeat
apiece is hardly the beginnings of the spirit required.
where within our squad are those who have achieved the high standards in
the game ? Where are the players who have won major honours ?
Berbatov, despite being the only world class player we have, has won
nothing in his career to date, and the only ones who have done are Lee,
Stalteri and Rocha. Considering they are reckoned squad players and not
key (although Lee is massively underrated, especially when you remember
he has had no cover from a left midfielder since he arrived, and that he
is playing in left back despite playing the majority of his career on
the right) they hardly provides the experienced, calming voice needed to
modern game it is not simply enough to focus on the cups and disregard
the league as Spurs once did under Burkinshaw. The league has become
the main attraction now and you simply cannot bring in players of the
highest quality to a club that isnít competitive in this area. Add to
that the fact that in the last ten seasons only Chelsea in 2000 have won
the FA Cup from finishing outside the top four, and six of the last ten
League Cups have gone to sides in the top five, and you see how
difficult it is to win trophies in the modern game if you arenít a
decent performing side in the league.
believe that winning silverware is the objective of the game, not simply
qualifying for the Champions League. I want to see good players play
well and I want to see Spurs playing in the style which their history
demands, but I am realistic enough to understand that in order to do
this nowadays you must be a top league side; something we have not yet
want to take the biggest step; that giant leap between to the top four
and away from the rest, you need players who have the experience and
ability to bridge that gap. Players who are natural winners are
generally only available to the top sides, command big transfer fees or
are reaching the end of their careers. Isnít it a remarkable
coincidence that since we stopped playing Edgar Davids in the midfield
we could not compete with Arsenal in the league, and when he left the
club the goals we conceded dramatically increased ? Ledley King might
have something to say about both of these issues as well; after all his
injuries have coincided with exactly the same problem, yet Davids had
the top level experience which our team lacks in abundance.
board seriously want to put Spurs into a Champions League position they
would be wise to consider where that winning drive, experience and grit
to dig in will come from. The truth is we donít have it anywhere on the
park at present. People will blame Jol for the tactical errors in the
Fulham game; they will bemoan our defence for not being able to secure a
much deserved victory, but do the players at our club have the right
mentality to see these games out, especially when things are going
against us ?
not mask the truth here; Jol did make poor decisions in that match, yet
he has on a number of occasions made the right decision and won us
games, he must have in order for us to reach fifth twice. Take last
seasonís match against Blackburn at White Hart Lane; Ghaly was clearly
the worst player on the pitch, and Jol had the guts to take him off,
despite being a sub, and throw on Defoe. It changed our formation and
the game and we got a return from the game. But we should be able to
make a degree of changes to our team without falling apart as we did.
opinion goals will continue to go in against us until we get that
winning belief and that desire in our squad. There was an interview
with Alex Ferguson recently, discussing the signing of Roy Keane. He
said that although Keane was not the technically most gifted of players,
his spirit, desire and enthusiasm more than made up for that. Keane had
a mighty engine; it was one of the reasons he made such an impact on
Manchester United as he did, but it was his ability to stand up and be
counted that made him the crucial player he was. The inches he fought
for as a player were the ones that won matches, and ultimately titles,
in his time.
see that with numerous other Ferguson players; Cantona, Rooney, Scholes,
and Neville all have that tough winning mentality. Naturally, they have
a good degree of talent too, as did Roy Keane, but these are the type of
players who wonít give an inch when it comes to winning.
increasingly inevitable that Spurs will soon oust Martin Jol from his
position at the club. As much as I like and respect Jol for what he has
done, I fear what will happen to us if he remains in his position match
after match. There is so much press speculation and interest
surrounding us, with the potential for upheaval hanging in the air above
the club like a dark cloud, that it must make working in that
environment strained and pressured at the very least. And whenever we
are beaten, the pressure simply mounts.
own perspective, the situation with Jol has not altered my thinking
about him; he is a good manager; hard working and able to get the best
out of a good many players. In terms of what we have had in the
Premiership era, he is by some distance the best manager we have had.
Yet there are questions over his tactics, and there are issues about his
capabilities of taking us to the highest level, including beating the
current incumbents of those positions along the way.
of his sacking has come far too early. In fact, his position should not
have been even up for question until at the earliest the summer, if not
the following campaign. Tottenham have the resources and ambition to
challenge the very best, it is right that we should aim to, as indeed
should all clubs, but stability and solid foundations cannot be lightly
written off. Everton are a prime example of this; a club that has stuck
with their manager through thick and thin and now looked a very good bet
for a place amongst at least the top six, if not higher. And what of
the clubs that thought they could do better ? Charlton fans were
dissatisfied with Curbishley, they often asked if he could take them to
the next level; one season after his leaving they find themselves in the
was always going to be a time when this board considered Jol's position
at the club, and if he was the right man for the job. What is so
disappointing is that in doing so this early in the season and so
publicly in a ham-fisted way the board have then compounded the issue by
making the worse possible choice. Pressure and press interference
surround the club whilst Jol remains, his position is continually
speculated on, whatever results or performances we have, and every week
another manager is linked to his position. Players will be unsettled
and will consider their futures as that goes on and the cloud builds
around the club. With each point dropped, regardless of the
circumstances or the opposition, there will be question marks raised
about Jol's abilities.
leaves but two choices; a caretaker to manage the side until the end of
the season and the manager the board want is available (Ramos), or
another man they donít want to take over and rebuild. This brings me
back to my initial point; when you want something you need to rely on
people who know how to, and can, achieve that aim for you. That is what
Tottenham lack; it is the reason Spurs leak goals so easily, it is the
reason they fold when put under little pressure, it is the reason they
suffer so many away defeats, it is the reason they struggle to regain
parity when they fall behind, it is the reason the big four beat us, it
is the reason we are knocked out of the cups, it is the reason we cannot
hold onto leads and it is the reason why Jol is under pressure and will
eventually, inevitably, lose his job.
board had the foresight, they would have seen the need for that
experience and fighting spirit to pepper the youthful potential and
would have tailored their signings to meet this need.
If you agree
with Richard or even if you don't, e-mail us at
give us your view.
Sometimes I wonder
about Tottenham. Just when you think sense has finally prevailed, the
circus comes back to town. The seven days starting from the defeat to
Everton until Tuesday night when Jolís position was reconfirmed by the
board have been an all too real reminder of the bad old days of the mid
nineties; where the club lurched into the embrace of calamity all to
readily and illogical decisions were made from on high on a seemingly
How the board could
have contemplated sacking Jol is beyond me, notwithstanding such an act
would have been disgraceful and disgusting, Jol has been the only
manager we have had in the Premiership era to deliver us a top six
finish, and not once but on two occasions. Tactical errors aside, you
could tell he was starting to build something special at the club, and
that we were beginning to worry the clubs above us sufficiently for me
you receive endless text messages from delighted Manchester United and
Arsenal fans following our opening two defeats. We seriously worried
them over the summer, the reaction to our defeats bears that out, yet in
one stupendous sweep of idiocy, our board wipes that out, and possibly
so for a number of years.
I donít want to rumble
over the details of the last few days, depressing and painful as they
are, but this whole affair has served to alienate the board from the
fans. There has been so many contradictory stories, rumour and official
denials to make this whole episode one of the most embarrassing in the
clubís history, and if the men responsible amongst the board had any
class at all, they would tender their resignation now.
Except we know that
they lack that class in precisely the way they went about this farce.
It now seems to me that;
Jol lost the faith of the board last
Members of the squad which he works with
are not what he wants.
They are times when he is at the very
least Ďpressurisedí into playing certain players.
He has increasingly less influence on
transfers into the club.
The board made up their mind after two
defeats that Jol was not the right man for the job.
They approached Ramos and he considered
Before rejecting it hours before Jol was
about to be sacked.
Then to cover themselves they issued an
aggressive statement demanding Champions League football and
appearing to be a vote of confidence for Jol.
If Ramos had accepted,
Iíve no doubt that Levy could have got away with this. I want Jol to
stay on as he has done a very good job in his time at the club, but
Ramos is a manager I rate highly. The board could have portrayed it as
quite a coup to bring in Ramos, especially as by next season I would
expect the worldís top clubs to be seriously considering him for their
own managerís seats.
The fans, myself
included, would have been distinctly unhappy with the change of manager
but Ramos would have won games (as Jol would have done anyway) and in
all probability quite a few fans would eventually be won over to the new
However, that is
besides the point as Ramos did not come in, and the way he was
approached was all to public, wholly undermining Jolís position in the
process. His position is beginning to look increasingly untenable, and
it now seems a case of when, and not if, he will leave us. If I was Jol
I would have walked out rather than suffer through this, and the only
reason I can think that he might want to remain at the club is that
there are some individuals, either players or behind the scenes, who he
has loyalty for.
The truth is that I
donít know what to think anymore, as I want Spurs to do well this
season, but I want the instigators amongst our board punished for their
actions. Equally I want Jol to do well and remain in his position, but
I want him to keep his dignity and self respect; which more or less
means he should walk out of the role.
Largely, I believe a
good deal of how the season will run will be seen in our performance at
Old Trafford. If Jol can motivate the team to get behind him and really
play for him, then we could see a fantastic result at the home of the
champions. If that is the case, I would say we may get out of this
without damage being at its worst. However if the squad are listless,
and fail to perform over the season, I wouldnít be surprised to see us
slip right back into the chasing pack once more.
Regardless of what
happens, Jol wont stay at our club after this season. I think it would
be a big ask for him to survive to next summer anyway, especially with
so many doubters with knives poised behind him, waiting for their first
opportunity to strike. So what are we to do next season? I think its
unlikely Ramos will agree to come after rejecting this offer, because I
have already mentioned I think the big clubs will move for him.
So who else is out
there ? Redknapp ? Lippi ? Capello ? None of these would be right
for Tottenham. Redknapp is nowhere near as good as Jol, and he had big
money at West Ham and hardly bought in talent worthy of the cost.
Capello and Lippi are both respected coaches, but at their age they wont
stick around for a five year project at Spurs, not to mention the fact
their style of football is the polar opposite to the traditions at our
That means we will be
looking for a Martin Jol Mark II; namely an up and coming manager out to
prove himself after doing a good job at a smaller club. And as we are
going to continue with the continental system of Sporting Director and
Head Coach, that more or less guarantees a foreign manager will take up
the post, and as we have seen it generally takes them at least one
season to adapt to English football (Rafa Benitez is still adapting; he
still rotates too often for instance).
Speaking of our
Sporting Director, Daniel Comolli, he seems to be the main culprit
behind this civil war. Donít get me wrong, Levyís lack in faith in Jol
should not be brushed under the carpet, but the way this Frenchman has
accumulated increasingly influence in the club should be a cause for
Take this summers
signings; Bale, Kaboul, Bent, Boateng and Rose. With the benefit of
hindsight it is clear that although Jol may have been consulted these
were players bought in by Comolli. None of them are over 23, and only
one has experience of the Premiership. I have no doubt that in the
future these players could star in a Tottenham shirt, along with Lennon,
Huddlestone, Taarabt and Dawson, but you cant expect a Champions League
finish if you donít bring in the experience where itís needed.
Itís obvious to
virtually everyone that Tottenham lacked a left winger, two top level
central midfielders, a left back and a centre back last season. In a
normal club, these would have been the areas improved on by signings.
If Levy was committed to giving Jol the best chance to succeed, he
should have targeted our two left side positions. By all means bring in
Bale, but why didnít we make more of an effort to bring in Petrov. If I
was the chairman I would even have bought in Matthew Taylor from
Portsmouth, for that extra added cover.
The point is that our
signings seem more like ones made by our Sporting Director, whoís role
is primarily to ensure that the clubs personnel are there for the
future, than those made by a man looking to take the big step from UEFA
Cup qualifier to Champions League entrant. All of which makes it seem
strange that the board should demand Jol secure a top four finish, as
the players we bought in over the summer are hardly experienced at that
And itís not like our
squad is as good as the other four either. Manchester United have
OíShea and Brown to bring into their squad when injuries hit, we have
Gardner and Stalteri. There is a difference in class there, and you
canít expect to qualify for the top tournament in Europe if you have to
rely on players unable to make that level. Injuries hit teams all the
time, and unless you have a lucky season as Everton did in 2004/05, they
will be the downfall of the rest of us when it comes to breaking the big
So Jol was already
working for the club without full control of the signings (he must have
some input), and now he must use what he has been given to break the top
four. That is arguably going to be as tough as the task facing Billy
Davies to keep Derby up this season. And as anyone who saw them against
us on Saturday will tell you, that is one mammoth task. Spurs have lost
two games already this season. Arsenal finished fourth last year and
lost eight. Therefore Jol canít afford to suffer more than two defeats
this side of Christmas, and arguably the board could sack him at anytime
citing he isnít producing Champions League form.
It gets tougher still
when you consider he might not be free to pick the team himself. With
Comolliís influence as powerful as it is, and a number of his players
within the squad, I wouldnít be surprised to hear he had the ability to
interfere with team selection. Letís take one of his major signings,
Zokora. The midfielder was dropped on the weekend, and Spurs were
fantastic in their win over Derby. I would have expected to beat Derby
in any normal season anyway, but perhaps the selection on Saturday
reveals what Jol would prefer to play, as opposed to what he is asked to
This is all
speculation, but there is no question that Didier Zokora has not done
what is on the tin. Bought in to replace Carrick, he is no holding
midfielder preferring to motor up and down the pitch. However, with him
in the team it affects Jenas, who has to do more defensive work, and as
Jenas is the only one of the two that can shoot, this seems wasteful of
I think the Carrick
affair hangs heavily over the club still. It is obviously a bone of
contention between Jol and Comolli and is probably the start of their
rivalry. Because Levy buys into Comolliís argument that it is not a
case of Zokora being unable to play in the Premier League but that he is
not being deployed correctly, it has increasingly isolated Jol.
Of course, this is all
speculation as we donít know the extent to which anyone but Jol has on
team affairs. However, it would be naÔve to assume that he is given a
free hand, as after all, I donít believe many majors are given complete
freedom in their choice of line up; there are bound to be times when
chairmen up and down the country have a polite word to their managers or
make a suggestion, but that should be a rarity and not at the
consistency it happens at say, Hearts.
I canít believe Jol
would have remained in the job for this length of time if there was
massive interference into his team selection. He can clearly handle
bruised egos, he has shown that in the way he dealt with Jermain Defoe
in recent seasons. Therefore I would guess it is a case of a few words
here and there, although presumably when they lost faith in him last
season there was a more thorough inspection of his line up than
It is heartening to
hear some of our players come out and back Jol, especially senior ones
like Keane and Robinson, but what I think was most significant of all
was the reaction of the fans. We are the lifeblood of the club, and
without us there would be no team and no success. It is our money that
goes into the club through gate receipts, merchandise and it is us that
the sponsors aim their products at. That shouldnít be forgotten. It is
always difficult to get football supporters to boycott their club; this
isnít a supermarket we are talking about here, the club is ours they
just happen to run it. Perhaps there will come a time in the near
future when we have to consider just that.
To a degree, media
speculation has clouded this issue. The pathetic way The Sun has tried
to suggest a rift between Berbatov and Jol is nothing short of
disgraceful, and I have no doubt some media hacks are not only revelling
in our ham-fisted actions, but also seeking ways to destabilise us
board have been left with egg on their faces, and they have undone all
the goodwill and respect we have built up over the last two seasons
under Jolís steady hand in little over a week. And if they think that
by issuing two statements to the effect that Martin Jolís position is
secure they are sorely mistaken. There are plenty of unresolved issues
surrounding this, and the issue wonít die down in the media until all
are out in the open.
It seems to me we have
opted for the worse choice for all parties involved. After all you
donít go to a party with a girl, only to make a pass at another in front
of all her friends without repercussions, do you? Jol positioned has
been totally damaged, his position undermined. The longer he stays in
the role the more people will question what he has to gain from staying
there. The board have shown themselves up as being impatient,
backstabbing men, jealous of Jolís regard amongst the supporters. And
Comolli tried for revolution and failed, despite the blood on his hands.
How can they continue
to work together now ? It all seems totally unworkable and clubs that
were looking to immediately challenge us for fifth, now look like they
might overtake us if this affects the squad negatively. And even if
that doesnít happen, what kind of picture does this paint for people
like Berbatov of our club. He is only world class player we have, and
in acting as we have it is almost certain he will leave.
Sometimes I wish we
acted more like Arsenal in these types of situation; you never hear the
fully story and confession and the club always act in a discreet
manner. When David Dein left their club it was quick and hardly
anything was brought up the media, that is how our club should look to
But what I still canít
understand is why there was an attempt to push Jol out in the first
place. He has been our best manager in the Premiership era, arguably
since Burkinshaw, yet like our best manager since Nicholson the board
attempted to oust him for little reason at all. If there was justice,
Levy and his cronies would resign, this would give respect back to Jol
instantly. But of course, that wonít happen anytime soon, the people to
blame at the top are never the ones caught.
If there is one thing
the board should have heeded before this attempted coup it is this; the
two longest serving managers in their current positions in the Premier
League are Ferguson and Wenger. They are also the two most successful
managers in the division. Perhaps they have heeded this advice at last,
with Daniel Levy announcing tonight that Jolís position was safe for the
remainder of the season, and although the aim is fourth, it is not make
quite a climb down from where we were on Tuesday after the clubís
statement, and one that perhaps underlines the club realisation (at
last) that events like this cannot be conducted in the public eye. They
would do well to remember next time that stability and patience are the
keys to success in this game, and Martin needs time to do his job, after
all, not even Rome was built in a day.
If you agree
with Richard or even if you don't, e-mail us at
give us your view.
When I heard that
Darkie Nicholson had died last week it bought a back memories of Bill
Nicholsonís death, in October 2004. I never saw the great manís teams
play; I was not even born when he was bringing glory to the Lane with a
brand of football that should have pleased any football fan.
Nicholson was a
perfectionist, first and foremost. Every Spurs fan should know who he
is and what he stood for in football; he wanted Tottenham to be the
best, play in the right manner and always look to win games. The style
he demanded bought its fair share of trophies to our club; in fourteen
seasons he won one First Division title, three FA Cups, one Cup Winners
Cup, two League Cups, one UEFA Cup and three Charity Shields. Thatís a
phenomenal record, and one Iím always shocked to see overlooked when the
media discusses the great managers of the game.
Itís easy to see where
this perfection came from; a childhood growing up in the depression
would have given him an appreciation of what he had, whilst a career in
the Army as a fitness instructor during the Second World War gave him a
solid grounding to be a coach and get the best out of those he trained.
Augment that to his success in the push and run side, which won the
Second and First Division titles in successive seasons, and you can see
his background before becoming manager was a sound one.
Our club are rightly
proud of our past, yet have struggled to live up to it and fallen
someway into its shadow. This is particularly true for my time as a
supporter, where memories of Gascoigneís goal in the FA Cup Semi Final
are hazy at best. I donít even remember the Cup Final of that year (I
was seven), so my only proper memory of a trophy is the League Cup in
Looking at the team
Martin Jol has assembled now, on the cusp of the fifteenth Premiership
season, I am proud of the team we put out to play in our colours. When
I remember the days when Austin, Vega, Edinburgh, Armstrong or Iversen
donned the white shirts, I shudder to think of how woeful some of our
players were. Since 2004, when Pleat was named interim manager of the
club, I have seen our squad get better and better until we now are well
placed to challenge for a trophy and a place in the Champions League.
Yet I still want
more. Three or four years ago, if youíd have offered me what we have
done so far, I would have bitten your hand off for it. But now I still
want to progress up the table and hunger for the trophies that we once
competed for on an almost annual basis. More than that, I want to be an
established challenger for the title; something Tottenham havenít been
since Nicholson was manager.
Of course, we are a
number of players short of a title challenge, these days its not enough
to have a few gems and some very good players, you need quality
throughout, including within your squad. The summer has seen us
make major strides in this respect; Bale is a fantastic talent from the
Championship, Kaboul is rated one the top centre backs in France,
Boateng is a great prospect from Germany and Bent is a prolific striker
at Premiership level to name a few.
Yet Iíve always felt
that we expect a lot of our players, and often we seem to compare them
to the best we have had; but the players of the past we so good how can
a new player make the grade ? Thatís something they have to cope with;
after all it was Nicholson who taught us that we should expect the very
best from them. What price would a Mackay, White, or Blanchflower fetch
in the modern transfer market ? How much hype would surround them ?
What about a player like Greaves, who was the great striker of his age
? I find often find myself wondering if the players we buy will match
up to the great ones we had in the past. In some cases, such as
Berbatov, the player has shown a rare talent and skill which make him
stand out, but for others there will always be the comparison to the
past. Look at Huddlestone; who burst into the team at a young age,
despite his much talked about potential, and then proceeded to spray
passes across the pitch prompting comparisons with Hoddle. That is a
weighty burden indeed.
Yet that is something
our players will have to deal with. We have always compared our players
to the great ones of the past, just as we have always demanded good
football. Read the Glory Game and youíll see that even in 1971
Tottenham fans were comparing Chivers to Greaves. And that was at a
time in the past when we won trophies three years in succession and
reached four finals in four seasons.
Last season we fell
down because we lacked the depth to compete across the board, and these
signings will go some way to negating the impact of injuries, fatigue
and loss of form on our season. Yet there is no question that the title
will elude us once more this season; the top two are far too far ahead
of us and even to catch Liverpool would be a monumental achievement.
Yet thatís not to say
it is impossible. If Nicholson left us with only one legacy from his
reign, it should be that the club should always strive for the best.
That means that we should play the game in the right manner, have the
ambition to win trophies and progress up the table. We still have
weaknesses within our squad, most notably on the left wing, although
Malbranque has by all accounts been outstanding there in pre-season, and
we should be justifiably aiming for third.
If you have watched
any pre-season friendlies Arsenal or Liverpool have played, itís pretty
clear neither of them are the finished article either. Arsenal donít
create enough shots from the possession they have, they are reliant on a
lot of youngsters and they look to be building around an injury prone
Van Persie. Liverpool lack quality on the wings, and will be more or
less staking their attack on Torres and his ability to adapt to the
Premiership. As it took Berbatov half a season, I would expect the same
from Torres, and it will be worse if he starts to doubt himself if
things donít go his way.
We can beat these
teams, both in games and in final league positions; itís simply a matter
of self belief and ambition. I think Jol and some of the players have
the hunger, and there certainly seem to be some winners within our squad
now, which is better than the days of Gross, Pleat, Graham and Hoddle,
when our soft underbelly saw us collapse when pressured (and anyone who
witnessed the 4-0 third round defeat at Southampton as few years ago, or
the lacklustre way the team capitulated to Man City in the 4-3 a few
years later will testify to that).
Iíve said this before,
but we need to make a good start, and that means winning at Sunderland.
Two years ago we won at Portsmouth and then beat Middlesbrough at home;
these wins gave us the confidence home and away to almost snatch
fourth. This time around our squad is better but the same start is
needed; a win away at Sunderland, backed up by one at home against
Everton. That is platform which can springboard our success. Start
well and we put pressure on Arsenal and Liverpool from the off;
especially as we play both within the opening ten matches of the season.
We have every reason
to be hopeful and ambitious with the squad we have and the way the club
is run. We arenít tied to a new ground or financial restrictions that
others clubs face; we are one of the few to make a profit in the
league. We are in healthy position with our squad and we have players
in our ranks that we donít want that we can sell for a good deal of
money (Mido for £6m and Murphy for £2m are recent rumours that spring to
mind- these are squad players that we could afford to release without
harming us and we could still pick up £8m for them).
And why shouldnít we
aim to upset the apple cart at the top ? So many people are dismissing
our chances itís bordering on the ridiculous. They look at us and say
we have gone backwards because we finished further behind Arsenal, yet
we did so playing an extra eighteen matches, and still we finished
fifth. Now we have significantly invested in our team and the team has
adapted to playing so many matches, so there is no reason why we canít
push them a lot closer in the league this time around.
We should be proud of
our team and proud of our club for itís past, especially the period
under Nicholson, but perhaps this season, for the first time since the
Mabbutt lifted the FA Cup in 1991, arguably even since Burkinshaw was
manager, we can emerge from the shadow of the Nicholson era and start
competing once more. It will be a long campaign, but when it starts on
Saturday we have every reason to be hopeful and confident.
will be significant for the progress we have made under Jol, but itís
all about taking it one step at a time, having the belief in ourselves
and remaining ambitious. If we take the example that the double winners
set us in their mentality, standards and ambition we can make our
highest expectation in the year ahead.
If you agree
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