|With Spurs having gone eight games unbeaten at the
time of writing, why is it that there is still dismay about the manager
and the future of the club ?? I realise that there have been a
number of 0-0 draws amongst those results and that the level of
entertainment has not been high, but why do the fans and more
relevantly, the news media insist on propagating the stories of doom and
While George Graham is as popular as a dog turd on the sole of your shoe, why is he so reviled by fans of a team he is manager of ?? I know the history of his career, but then doesn't that apply to most people in the game these days ?? Would you get on Greaves' back cause he once played for Chelsea or Clive Allen's because he played for most other teams in London ?? I know this isn't ex-Arsenal people we are discussing, but Allen was there - albeit for a very short while.
So why is it that GG gets a bad press, especially when most Spurs fans think he has nothing more than the ability to manipulate the Press for his own means ?? Let's do a comparison. Middlesbrough have gone through a run of eleven games unbeaten since Terry Venables took over there - or didn't - determined by which paper you read. In that time they have hardly set the North East alight with their scintillating play and have grabbed a number of draws along the way. Spurs' record since the turn of the year is won 4 drawn 4. This has included two away wins in the FA Cup and the first elusive away League win. The four draws have all been by the score of 0-0.
So what differences do you see ?? One manager famed for producing boring teams and one for attacking flair that means that teams go all out for a win in style. If you believe the Press that is. If you look at the results you will find not a great amount of difference. When Boro came to London to play Spurs, it was the start of the goal famine. The visitors hardly raised a shot on goal either, so they can't be too far behind Spurs when it comes to scoring some zzzz's for the fans. But Venables has been praised to the roof about his ability to get Boro "organised" and they are now so much harder to beat. Well, it's an old maxim, and one I am sure that Graham goes by as much as any other manager (even Glenn Hoddle), that if you don't concede goals then you don't lose the game.
George Graham seems to be pilloried for exactly that. Organising Tottenham's defence. Something that a lot of people have been moaning about for years and a regular point that is raised at the AGM is that we have never replaced Mike England at the heart of our defence. It is a matter for the board to decide how much is available to bring in new players to enliven things up, but when you can only work with what you have got, then pragmatism rules. The injuries to the forwards has left Spurs bereft up front and a loan move for Andy Booth might seem desperate, but would any of the top strikers sitting on the bench on the continent come to Spurs or fit straight into the side ?? A month's loan, isn't a long time and if it takes two weeks to fit in, then that's half the big money you would have to pay a European star wasted. The thought of a Spurs team consistently keeping clean sheets is anathema to most of us who have supported them through the 70's - 90's. It is hopefully making the defensive bedrock that a more attacking style can be built on. If ENIC give GG the money to do that, then we might move forward. If they decide he is to go and therefore want to save the money for the new boss, then we must hope that that defensive solidity will remain after he goes. It's not all about piling forward without a damn for the defence.
But why does Venners not get the caning that Graham does ?? Well, he's always cheery Jack the Lad with a laugh and a joke for the pressmen. Always available with a witty rejoinder to keep the news writers happy. George in comparison is darker and more gloomy than Tel, but his record speaks for itself, even if Spurs fans don't like that. People hang on Ferguson's every word, but his record is only slightly better than Graham's down the years. Why do people like John Gregory take the ear of the Press just because they have something controversial to say ??
George loses out because he is facing attack from two fronts. The Press and the fans. That makes it easy to get at him on the back pages, because there is always a ready supply of fans on radio stations and on websites ready to throw the verbal tomatoes at the Spurs boss. The face of one fan who said "Rubbish" to the Sky cameras at the end of the Charlton league match at the Lane made a fitting end to the round up of the highlights form the match. Yes, we all know it wasn't brilliant, but why not put it on a plate for them ?? When things don't go right, isn't that the time they need the support the most ?? And I am not saying that we should follow blindly as "turnstile fodder", just that this team means more to us than any other, so why do we turn on it like this ?? We all want the best for the club and all think we know what's best. Whether that is what side we should put out, what tactics Spurs should play or who should be in the manager's office. But George Graham is the manager at the moment and until things change in the boardroom, this are the players that we have in the squad to put out. No one is taken in by the thought that suddenly Spurs have turned into world beaters and his constant references to Arsenal do not help endear him to Tottenham fans, but he is trying. If he wasn't, these draws would be defeats and we would be sucked down into the relegation mire, which if he was on a mission to finish Spurs off he would surely manage. It's just things have conspired against him and he has made some bad decisions during his time here, but he is not alone in that. There has to be some balance in what he has done against what he hasn't.
If you don't like George Graham for who he is, then fine. But for footballing reasons, he should be judged on what he has done for Tottenham and only the individual can make that decision as they draw up the criteria any Spurs manager is measured against.
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