N17 Nik takes a look at the
game today and Tottenham's part in it.
More articles by Nik
- my vote for the new cult hero ?
find Thimothee Atouba exciting - in a footballing kind of way.
As soon as he came on the pitch against
Liverpool on his debut we scored (albeit nothing to do with him) and he
then proceeded to run all over the pitch and in the process turned up in
the right-back slot to stop Harry Kewell from scoring. His goal
against Newcastle was sublime and was on his supposed 'standing
foot'. I wonder what Steve Carr made of that ?
When the ball comes across to Atouba on
the left-wing, I don't think even he knows what's going to happen. Will
he mis-control it? Will he shoot? Will he power his way down the line?
His build makes him look more like a Stuart Pearce-esque left-back
rather than a left-winger but this appears to work to his advantage. I'm
not sure many left-backs would want Atouba charging towards them. I'm
also still unsure when he blasts a ball across the box if it's a shot or
He doesn't have the dribbling skills of
David Ginola but I think he'll go on to have a successful Spurs career,
just as long as he doesn't fall to the Tottenham injury curse. It's
paramount that he doesn't as we are short of a quality replacement.
Johnnie Jackson is still young but appears unlikely to ever offer much
penetration down the left-wing.
I think that Atouba should become the new
cult hero - he's already mine -
and besides, he's already scored more than our last one.
season and yet another brand new start for Spurs. Here follows my first
impressions of the new and my predictions for the forthcoming season.
Frank Arnesen certainly looks the
business to me. He has a confident glint in his eye and seems the kind
of chap to be successful in any walk of life. His black book appears to
have helped bring in some new players from Europe and he has gone about
bringing in players in a realistic manner. Hopefully he will give us the
continuity that we've been lacking for years.
Jacques Santini was hailed as quite a coup
when we got him but the doubters have already surfaced. A poor Euro 2004
for France and an even poorer pre season for Spurs have not instilled
confidence. Injuries haven't helped to be fair but I'm not sure he knows
what his best team is. He looks to me like someone's uncle who falls
asleep in an armchair on a Sunday afternoon and not that inspiring.
Maybe that's why big Martin Jol was brought in.
was a great buy for the price. I think he'll be the first choice despite
Keller's good pre season form. He is sizeable and this should help him
dominate the box although it could lead to him putting weight on if he's
The three young defenders - Mills,
Defendi and Muller - have been purchased as ones for the future. Fans
have been given high expectations of young players before such as
Blondel and so we'll have to wait and see with them
Like it or not, Spurs are now in the same
bracket as Fulham and so getting Sean Davis is good business. He has a
bit of everything and although he's unlikely to break into the England
picture, I think he's about as good as we can do for now in central
I'm not sure about Pedro Mendes. He was
only at Porto for one season and so you wonder why they sold him on and
for such an economical price. Whether he can cope with the hurly
burly of the Premiership remains to be seen and I am sceptical.
I think Erik Edman will prove to be a
good buy. Swedish players tend to be able to adapt to the English game
and I'm sure he will also. He looks good on the ball and can get
forward. He's also a natural left back - something we've not had for a
Atouba was a surprising buy due to the
fact that Edman and Muller were already in the bag. From being short of
left backs, we now appear well stocked. I must confess to have never
seen him play but hopefully Arnesen will have spotted a diamond.
I certainly hope that we don't sign
either Bakari or Da Silva. Both players look like bad versions of Emile
I was disappointed that we didn't sign
Danny Murphy. I think he was undervalued at Anfield and whereas a bad
game by Gerrard was accepted by the fans, one from Murphy wasn't. I'd
rather have him in the side that Brown, Redknapp or Mendes.
Looking back at my squad assessment at
the end of last season, the club have purchased players in most of the
areas where I thought we were lacking. With Carr going, we're short of a
right back but strong in numbers on the other side. Two central
midfielders have come in also.
We're still short on the flanks though
but the rumoured signing of Wright-Phillips would help here. With
Postiga going also, we're short of a forward.
Danny Murphy aside, I think we've bought
as well as a mid-table Premiership club can. The days of us signing the
likes of Waddle, Paul Allen and Gascoigne are now over. The talent in
the squad means that on paper we're capable of challenging for a UEFA
Cup place and Aston Villa showed last season that a club can break from
the pack and improve. We have a tricky start though and could well end
up with no points from the first two games when a good start is needed
to boost confidence. I think we'll enter the final few games of the
season hoping to get enough points to finish in the top half of the
musing upon the likely fortunes of Spurs this season, I thought I’d
look back and pick my best Spurs XI since the inception of The
Premiership in 1992/1993.
Spurs have had three main goalkeepers in
this time: Walker, Sullivan and Keller.
Spurs fans appeared split between liking Walker because he came through
our youth system and did have talent and disliking him for his often
sloppy play and constant flicking of his hair behind his ears. His
reflexes were first class but his failure to dominate his box eventually
led to a replacement being signed.
Neil Sullivan was purchased by George Graham from Wimbledon on a Bosman
and this was good business. He was magnificent in his first full season
and anyone who saw the FA Cup Semi Final defeat at Old Trafford would
never forget his display. It was a mystery why his form disappeared
almost overnight and he was replaced by Kasey Keller and never got back
in the side. He was flogged to be an understudy at Chelsea and is now at
Leeds – proof that his form doesn’t appear to be coming back.
Keller has been the only player to be ever present in the side for the
last two seasons. Since Sullivan’s departure there’s not been much
competition until now but he’s still a Premiership standard keeper.
There has been games when Keller has made save after save to keep Spurs
in a game – normally he’d let at least one in though – but he also
has kamikaze moments where he looks like his compatriot Sylvester
Stallone did in Escape to Victory.
1: Neil Sullivan
Filling in aside, this slot mainly comes
down to a choice between Dean Austin and Steve Carr.
Carr has been a regular in the Eire side for many years and has also
twice been voted in the PFA team of the year. Carr’s goal against Man
Utd is often remembered but I have equally fond memories of his goal the
same season against Sunderland where he somehow managed to keep the ball
in play, ran half the length of the pitch and chipped the keeper.
Austin didn’t get close to international honours, a PFA place or a
2: Steve Carr
Justin Edinburgh held this place for the
early Premiership years before being overtaken by: Clive Wilson,
Christian Ziege and Mauricio Taricco.
Justin Edinburgh, like Austin, came from Southend at a young age. He was
a combative defender who you couldn’t fault for effort and commitment
but lacked finesse.
Wilson was into his 30s when came to Spurs but had a calming influence
on the side. He was composed, good with the ball and still had a bit of
pace about him. Due to his age, he only lasted three years at Spurs –
it was a shame we didn’t buy him sooner.
Ziege played more as a wing-back under Glenn Hoddle. He was great going
forward and set up and scored quite a few goals in his first season. His
major fault was that he didn’t like defending and often switched off
if play was going the other way – I don’t think him and Ginola
would’ve made a good match.
Taricco is good on the ball and an expert at one-twos. I feel that he
was bought to fill in, but has spent more time in the team due to
extensive injuries to Carr and Ziege.
3: Clive Wilson
Spurs have tried out many centre backs in
the last twelve years and I’ve decided to ignore many who didn’t
last long or do that well. I’ll never forget an early substitution of
Colin Calderwood at home to Blackburn meant Spurs once had a back four
of: Austin, Edinburgh, Cundy and Nethercott – needless to say we lost
Gary Mabbutt typifies the footballing term ‘stalwart’. I’m sure I
don’t need to harp on about his merits but one of my fondest memories
of him was in his final season in a game against Aston Villa. He came on
as sub and was soon up against Dwight Yorke in a 50/50 race for the
ball. No bets were likely to be taken but Gal stretched every inch of
his body to slide in and win the ball. He wasn’t above gamesmanship
either and often prodded opponents in the back whilst defending a corner
– I think the shock of him doing this put attackers off.
Calderwood didn’t have an easy start to his Spurs career but got his
game together enough under Gerry Francis to become a consistent
performer and a regular in the Scotland side. Of all the players we’ve
had, he probably wins the most improved award.
A certain Sol Campbell isn’t so popular in N17 these days but it has
to be said he was a fine defender for us. Campbell had and still has
everything that a modern defender needs and I doubt there’s a better
centre back around right now.
Ledley King is the heir to Campbell’s crown and he too has all the
facets needed to be a top class centre back. The sticking points are his
positioning and leadership but hopefully these will grow in time.
5: Sol Campbell
6: Gary Mabbutt (Captain)
I don’t feel we’ve had a single
outstanding player in this area for the last decade or so. The early
protagonists: Sedgley, Samways and Howells were all a step or two off
international honours – Jason Dozzell was several more.
Tim Sherwood was signed for big money from Blackburn and settled in
quickly. He started well, slacked off, regained his form as Spurs
reached Cardiff under Hoddle but then slacked off again.
Steffen Freund has been the most popular midfielder for some time. His
effort, commitment and winding up of opponents were legendary around the
Lane. My favourite Freund game was when we bear Man Utd 3-1 at home. Roy
Keane couldn’t handle him that day and ended up trying to kick lumps
out of anything. When Carr scored his great goal, five or six Man Utd
players surrounded Freund to have a go at him. He simply jogged away and
Allan Nielsen will go down in history as the goal scorer against
Leicester at Wembley. He had a good engine and the knack of scoring
goals. His downsides were his passing was suspect and he often had
trouble staying on his feet.
4: Steffen Freund
8: Tim Sherwood
Paul Allen was a fully committed player
but was being edged out of the team as the Premiership began by Darren
Anderton. Anderton got injured almost as soon as he joined us (a sign of
things to come) but then showed the kind of form that brought him so
many England caps. Anderton was at his best when keeping things simple:
get on the outside, find half a yard, then whip a cross in. His career
started to flounder when he decided he wanted to play central
Simon Davies is probably Spurs best current player. He’s a busy player
with an eye for goal and let’s hope he doesn’t follow in the
footsteps of Anderton and be injury prone.
7: Darren Anderton
The bets really are off with this
Andy Sinton nor Ronnie Rosenthal don’t match up to our most gifted
player since Paul Gascoigne – David(e) Ginola. His critics say that he
didn’t defend and this was true but he worked ever so hard going
forward. He often left his wing and worked across the pitch and I doubt
many players in the Premiership have had so much ball time. Despite
being in an average Spurs side, he helped us to Wembley and also won the
PFA player of the year award.
11: David Ginola
Spurs have had many big money forwards in
the Premiership and most of them have had one thing in common: injuries.
Chris Armstrong, Les Ferdinand and Steffen Iversen spent more time on
the treatment table than on the pitch.
Even if they were always fit, none of them could budge the magical
pairing from 1994/95 – Teddy Sheringham and Jurgen Klinsmann. Was it
really only a year that they played together? If only it were longer…
9: Jurgen Klinsmann
10: Teddy Sheringham
|On the face of it Euro 2004
was disappointing from a Spurs point of view. Not one of our
players was a regular selection for any of the competing teams and our
total pitch time was around 150 minutes – and a third of that was due
to extra time. Our manager-in-waiting also failed to guide the
favourites to victory.
Ledley King was seen by many as being the
star of the show for his accomplished defensive performance against the
French. He proved that he can play at the highest level and it’s
satisfactory to know that he came through our youth system. Unless
he gets snapped up by one of our Champions League chasing sides, Ledley
should play at the heart of Spurs defence for the next ten years.
Helder Postiga’s goal against England
appeared to spark great interest in him. Tottenham claim that
Porto made a bid for the player that they sold to us less than a year
ago, but this was turned down. It’s true that his goal changed
the game, but I wonder if the level of interest would’ve been shown in
him if he hadn’t scored. I also think that he mis-kicked his
penalty and that he meant to chip the ball a lot higher, but still, he
showed the kind of confidence in that moment that he was devoid of for
most of the season with Spurs. The goal brought some bold
statements from Postiga that he wants to be a first choice striker
otherwise he’ll look elsewhere. I’d rather have Keane and
Defoe in the team.
Jacques Santini’s French side were hot
favourites for the tournament, but only offered glimpses of why this
was. For the most part they looked arrogant and seemed to think
that they only had to turn up to win the game. The playing squad
at Tottenham do have talent, but require the attributes that took the
Greek side to victory in order to be successful: fitness, organisation
and hunger. A few ex-Spurs players have noted that many of our
players thought pulling on the lilywhite shirt would be enough to
guarantee a performance but we know all too well that this isn’t the
case. Santini’s French side appeared to have lacked motivation
– the one thing that Spurs have showed little of over recent
years. The playing staff at Tottenham is talented enough to be
chasing a UEFA Cup place and this will be the benchmark for Santini.
Following any major tournament there’s
always a glut of transfer activity involving many of the players
involved. Two big name players, Davids and Lizarazu, have both
come out in the press to declare that they’re interested in joining
us. These declarations come with a warning though. Big name
players have used Spurs before in order to secure better deals elsewhere
– remember Rivaldo ? The fact that both players have mentioned
that Champions League football is a factor obviously means that they are
hankering from offers from other clubs and Spurs will be the fall
back. If no other offers are forthcoming, I’d gladly see both of
the players at The Lane though. We need a left back and a midfield
general and these two fit the bill. Davids would also be a dream
for the marketers at Tottenham.
We shall wait and see what changes are
afoot at N17 over the next few weeks…
Great Summer Sale
Pleat has claimed that Spurs are in good shape for whoever is appointed
to take charge of the team. In terms of finance, support and location
he’s certainly correct. Obviously Pleat was referring mainly to the
team but is he correct? Below is my analysis of the current squad and
some suggestions of realistic (no Morientes et al) potential signings.
purchase the second choice
goalkeeper for £1.5 million is damn good business.
Paul Robinson has many years ahead of him and should even improve.
It’s true that none of the teams that qualified for the Champions
League wanted him but he’s certainly one of the better keepers in the
Premiership. Kasey Keller has had his critics this season but he’s
also produced some outstanding performances. It’s likely that he’ll
be number two and he’s certainly a strong back up.
No need to strengthen here.
future of Steve Carr is uncertain and it’s likely that he’d leave if
a Champions League chasing club like
came in for him. He’s still one of the better
right backs in the league but has under performed this season. If his
heart is no longer at the club, it’s obviously better to part with him
in the summer for a small cash sum rather than lose him to a Bosman. If
he does leave, Stephen Kelly would be our only other right back and due
to his inexperience, we would need to sign a replacement. Unpopular as
he is, Danny Mills is going for an economical fee of around £1.5
million and could be an option. Spurs certainly need toughening up and
connections, he could well be worth a bid if Carr
Christian Ziege being released, Taricco is the only out and out left
back at the club. Although he’s neat and tidy on the ball, I’ve
never thought Taricco is a tight enough defender and so I think we need
a new left back. I must confess that nobody springs to my mind but I’m
sure there’s someone on the continent. Not Tremazzani though!
We certainly need a new left back and a right back if Carr goes.
King has been selected in the
squad for the European Championships and has the
talent to be an international centre back. Anthony Gardner has also
this season and certainly has ability but perhaps
also has a mental slackness. Talent wise, the King/Gardner partnership
is fine but I worry that neither of them is a leader. Even so, I think
they are worth a trial for a season. Doherty and Richards have both had
their critics this season and could easily find themselves on their way
in the summer but either is OK as back up. Let’s hope that Mabizela
gets a chance to prove himself in the close season though.
OK for now but an area to keep an eye on.
is certainly an area where Spurs are short. Simon Davies is probably our
best player and hopefully will hold the right side of midfield for many
years to come. All the other wide players in the squad are largely
unproved. Rohan Ricketts is worth a close look preseason and
and Yeates still have time on their side. Spurs
could bid for two probable
cast offs: Zenden and Gronkjaer. It’s likely the
pair could be purchased for around £5 million and would give the side
good balance and squad depth.
We definitely need a left sided player, possibly two and maybe cover on
was surprised that Redknapp was offered a new contract and I would
prefer Spurs to have two battling central midfielders. We’ve been
linked with Van Bommel but whether he’d want to come with us is a
different matter. One man who is surely available is Nicky Butt and
I’d snap him up for £5 million. Another big name option could be
Mendieta who has done well for ‘Boro and could command a similar fee.
Matt Dawson from
has been strongly linked but having not seen him
play, it’s impossible to comment.
Spurs are crying out for a midfield general.
are well stocked in this area but it wouldn’t surprise me if there was
some movement up front. Kanoute has had his differences with Pleat and
Postiga is unlikely to be happy with being fourth choice. That said, if
they all do stay, we won’t need to purchase anyone else.
Our strongest area.
the squad is decent. We have a number of young English internationals
that could form the nucleus of the side for many years to come. In order
to form a UEFA chasing side, I think we’ll need to purchase four or
five new players. What Spurs need above all are leaders both on and off
I was reading N17 Nik’s
analysis of the team a little while ago and I remembered doing my own
analysis a few weeks ago. It comes out pretty close to what Nik has said
and I thought it would make an interesting back-up to his points. It was
completed prior to the release of several players & the signing of
When you analyse the
squad in fine detail it does show that we are nowhere near a top 4/5/6
side at the moment BUT the transfer policy of buying young is (I hope)
building to that.
Keller - decent shot
stopper, distribution terrible, can't command his area: You're out of
Carr - Below his best
certainly from what I've seen this season but still in the top 3 or 4
RB's in the country. New Contract & Stay.
Gardner - On the verge of
becoming a superstar, is starting to add a bit of aggression to his
game, poised, comfortable on the ball, reads the game well, the next Rio
King - I'm unique in that
I don't think he's out of his depth in midfield, a great ball winner and
has decent distribution, I am surprised though that with Jamie Redknapp
fit he hasn't been reverted back to Centre Back. Another long term good
Tano - Honest(ish),
always gives 100% but not really up to it, keep as a squad player as he
can cover both flanks.
Richards - Not sure 12
months ago was one of our best players, now we are consigning him to the
scrap heap (fickle us??). I know he's had a shocking season but I think
he may come good again.
Doc - Similar to Tano,
honest, Mr. 100% good in the air good on the ground but not top class,
decent cover though. Keep as a squad player, for now.
OJ - This boy could go
one of 2 ways, if we don't give him a chance we'll never know. All I
will say is look at Radebe. OJ is rated higher than he was in SA,
youngest ever Captain of Bafana Bafana & Captained Orlando Pirates
to the PSL title prior to joining Spurs. He has the ability, we need to
trust in him a little bit. Also he is a Centre Back by trade and not a
Ziege - the time has
come, another injury prone player bought by Hoddle who hasn't
contributed enough for me. Goodbye.
Kelly & Marney - The
only 2 of the youngsters I've seen. Marney looked lost against Man U but
I don't think Pleats tactics helped him or the team. Kelly looked has
looked solid from what I’ve seen and is very, very highly regarded in
the Irish set up.
In summary I like the
look of our defence except for left back. Kelly seems right footed to me
and this is an urgent purchase. We desperately need a new keeper and
I’m far from convinced that Robinson is the answer. He may be better
than Keller but he lacks that physical presence that all great keepers
have. If there’s no one else then by all means get Robbo but I stand
by my belief that we should have been in for Sorensen from Sunderland
Davies – Put up or shut
up time, like Carr behind him this boy has the ability but has been
below par. A top class player in his day we need to hold on to him and
get him back to the days of old.
Brown – Great signing,
no world beater but does the simple things well. If Hoddle had bought
him 18 months ago we would be a different team now.
Redknapp – Injury prone
will never get more than a dozen or so full games a season. Time to go.
Poyet – Should have
been pushed last year.
Anderton – played well
in patches early in the season but is now past his best and becoming
even more (if that’s possible) injury prone, another one for the exit
Bunjy / Acimovic –
Adios 2 examples of Hoddle's insistence on buying players incapable of
making a tackle.
Jackson – Looks decent
enough, another season as a fringe player beckons but it will give us an
indication if he really is capable of making it.
Ricketts – Looked great
early in the season appeared to be rested and then never came back!!
Don’t know what’s going on behind the scenes but I had high hopes
for this kid, hopefully he can come back strong.
Yeates – Another highly
regarded Irish boy. Has apparently played exceptionally well in the
reserves and seemed to do well when getting his chance against Wolves.
So Midfield, 2 players
for the first team & 2/3 for the future. Sobering reading when you
think we need 2 first team players and a couple of squad players. To be
fair on Pleat I think this is why he persisted with King in midfield as
he probably thinks we can’t possibly sign 4 midfielders in the summer,
it’s also why he was trying OJ there in the reserve reports I’ve
Keane – I can’t
believe there are transfer rumours about this man, he has been a shining
light in very dark times. He is a quality player, okay he’s not Henry
or Van Nistelrooy but he’s far better than Forlan, Wiltord et all. A
Defoe – What a signing,
this lad is the next Clive Allen, looks a natural goal scorer and
destined to become a WHL legend.
Kanoute – Fantastic
prior the ANC but having lost his place looks lazy and methodical. An
excellent striker with a better than you’d expect goal scoring record
needs to be loved and is one to hold on to. Also gives us an aerial
& physical presence up front which none of the other 3 do.
Postiga – Ah Helder,
what high hopes we all had back in August. To be fair to the kid (and he
is just that) he started the season well despite not scoring. I still
think he has what it takes but I am concerned that he won’t progress
without games and he is firmly in 4th place in the pecking
order. Like Jackson & Ricketts in midfield has a make or break
season coming up but I would definitely hold on to him for now.
Saturday sees the final home game of the
season for Spurs and I expect all home supporters are happy about that.
I can’t really see the review of the season video selling well.
The bare facts are that we have a squad of players that are capable of
getting us into Europe and have the finances to boot.
So, what has gone wrong?
Our last game against Aston Villa says it
all for me. Player for player, be it in the team or squad, we are
better than them. Whilst they are chasing a Champions League spot,
we’ve just about staved off relegation. The finger of blame has
been pointed at Pleat, Levy and the players and for me; the latter must
take the majority of the blame.
The last two England man of the match
awards have gone to Ledley King and Jermain Defoe: two international
bright young things that play for Spurs. Anthony Gardner has also
made his England debut this season and joins the likes of Carr, Doherty,
Keane, Postiga and Kanoute as being current internationals. Couple
that with: Anderton, Redknapp, Keller, Poyet and Ziege who are
ex-internationals, the squad seems pretty healthy.
The squads of Birmingham, Charlton,
Southampton et al pale into insignificance compared to the names in the
Spurs squad, yet while they are chasing Europe, we’re relying on Leeds
to lose so that we can stay up. Watching Alan Smith chase every
ball hits home what his club mean to him. Can we say the same
about any Spurs player ?
In a recent interview on the Spurs
website, Chris Hughton told that if he could have any ex-player in the
current team it would be Steve Perryman. I’m sure many
supporters would rather see Hoddle, Gascoigne or Ginola, but I take his
point. It appears that Chris knows about the lack of heart in the
team, but does everyone else at the club ? So much lip service is
given to playing the Tottenham way, but this is complete rubbish.
We’ve not been attractive for years and the game has changed.
Spurs haven’t been successful for ages, but we’ve normally had
players like Paul Allen, David Howells or Steve Sedgley who knew about
the shirt. Given our current predicament can the same be said of
our current crop ?
Saturday’s game against Blackburn means
nothing in terms of the result, but I wonder if the players will have
the cheek to do a lap of honour ? I would urge fans to leave the
ground before the final whistle. The end result is they get paid
more than you, but they sure do care less than you.
At the end of this season,
David Pleat will come to the conclusion of his caretaker-manager spell
and will then revert back to his real job on the board of
directors. I think the club would be better off if Pleat left
Pleat re-joined the club to
add football knowledge to the board. At the time of his
appointment, this seemed like a good idea. Pleat had a brief, but
attractive spell in charge of Spurs in the late 1980s and was one of
football’s respected elder statesmen.
After the sacking of
Christian Gross, Pleat had his first spell as caretaker-manager and many
fans voiced their support for him to get the job rather than George
Graham. Despite steadying the ship, Pleat was overlooked and
Graham got the nod. Whatever Spurs fans thought of Graham, he was
definitely his own man and didn’t take kindly to Pleat making waves
about signing players such as Craig Bellamy and Robbie Keane that Graham
didn’t wish to. In retrospect, signing these players at that
time would’ve been great business and also signings such as Anthony
Gardner and Simon Davies were undoubtedly brokered by Pleat.
Probably due to feeling a little redundant, Pleat made several waves
about ‘doing a Ron Atkinson’ and coming down from up high to try and
save clubs from relegation. No offers appeared forthcoming.
When Daniel Levy came in and
sacked George Graham, no one could argue that Glenn Hoddle was the man
to manage the club. Pleat and Hoddle appeared to have had an
uneasy relationship during Pleat’s spell in charge and when Hoddle was
sacked, mutterings from Hoddle about Pleat’s interference
surfaced. Hoddle even suggested that Pleat be given the job to
prove if he could do it or not.
Pleat started his second
spell as caretaker-manager and things started brightly. He spoke
about the need for a continental system of a General Manager and a Head
Coach: presumably, Pleat himself would be that General Manager.
However, when results started to suffer, Pleat began to back track and
made it be known that he was simply the caretaker-manager and that
he’d soon be back on the board.
Throughout Pleat’s time on
the board, he’s always hinted that he’s wanted the manager’s job.
Well, he’s had that now and has failed. Pleat obviously craved more
involvement with the team during the spells of Gross, Graham and Hoddle,
but all that produced was friction with the manager. Pleat is paid £300k
a year for his football knowledge, but in his time at the club, it
hasn’t moved a single step forward. In any other industry, Pleat
would’ve been sacked for failing to achieve his objective, i.e. to
make the team more successful.
Daniel Levy has made great
noises about the club bringing in a top-notch European coach and some of
the names banded around are impressive. If we do employ someone of
the ilk of O’Neill, Capello or Trapattoni, do you really think they
would want Pleat’s help ? I can’t think of another club in the
Premiership who have an ex-manager on the board purely for his football
knowledge and I don’t think Spurs need one either.
second time in recent close-seasons Spurs splashed out a big sum for a
relatively unknown European striker. Sergei Rebrov arrived in 2000
from Dynamo Kiev after scoring many goals for them both domestically and
in Europe. Helder Postiga arrived last summer from Porto with a
similar record, albeit over a shorter time span. Like Rebrov,
despite becoming a bit of a crowd favourite, Postiga has impressed few
neutrals with his time on the pitch. Worse still for him, due to
the recent signing of Defoe and the form of Kanoute and Keane, he will
be lucky to make the Spurs bench.
In the games that he’s played, Postiga
has certainly come across as a trier who has decent control, technique
and passing ability. However, he is a main striker and they are
judged on goals. He is not, for example, like Dennis Bergkamp,
whose creative ability is probably more important than his goal ratio.
Forwards are often described as
confidence players and this appears to be Postiga’s biggest
problem. A miss from a striker is much like a mistake from a
goalkeeper in that it gets remembered. It has been Postiga’s
main failing that he’s struggled in front of goal and therefore his
confidence has dropped as his mistakes get a lot of attention.
It appears great to have four big name
strikers at the club but we’ve seen with Rebrov that an odd appearance
or five minutes here and there simply don’t help a bit part
player. As discussed, forwards rely on confidence but they also
need time to gel into the team: to get used to a partner and know what
runs to make etc. All this can only be gained by actually
playing. David Pleat can’t put Postiga in the team simply for
these reasons as, however unlikely, there is still the glimmer of
obtaining a UEFA cup place and so the other forwards must be selected as
they are in good form.
There is the suggestion that Postiga is
‘one for the future’ but he was purchased to be very much one for
the team. Even if the former statement is true, the three forwards
ahead of him still have plenty of Premiership years left in them.
Spurs are not in the Champions League and
so there isn’t the need to rotate the players. Some Man Utd
players such as Forlan, Kleberson and Fortune seem happy to play twenty
odd games a season because they are involved in trophy chasing.
Our first team squad is smaller and the big name players will be less
inclined to be rotated as they won’t need a rest and they’ll also
want to play in order to obtain international selection.
We obviously have two choices with
Postiga – keep him or sell him. If we keep him, it’s unlikely
he’ll get back in the team this season, unless we have an injury
crisis, and so he won’t improve. Ditto for next season
too. Also, the longer we keep him, the more his value
decreases. It’s likely that we’re going to get zero return on
the £11 million we spent on Rebrov. Can the club afford a repeat
If we decide to sell Postiga in the
summer, he’ll still have some of his reputation in tact and so we may
get a fair price for him. We could also use him as bait like we
did with Zamora for Defoe. Spurs don’t have a limitless budget
and one idea is to swap him for players in other positions where we are
short, like central midfield or the left-hand side.
It is true that there is the danger that
if we sell Postiga, he could go on to do well elsewhere. The club
could protect themselves though by inserting clauses into the transfer
based on more money if he scores X amount of goals, for example.
You can talk all you like about building
for the future but football is all about the now and I think needs must
and so I’d seriously consider moving Postiga on if I were in charge.
I appreciate that Spurs do need four capable strikers but I see Postiga
as a risk and I’m sure there are more sure-fire goal scorers around
who could be purchased for less than half of what we paid for him.
I first started watching football in the early 1980s all top league
teams had at least one passer in the centre of midfield. For
example, we had Glenn Hoddle, Manchester United had Arnold Muhren and
Liverpool had Jan Molby. The job of these players was to receive
the ball from their less technically gifted team mates and then attempt
to conjure a killer pass. If no such pass was on, they would
ensure that their team kept possession: rarely did these players give
the ball away. Tasks such as sprinting up and down the pitch or
flying into tackles were not in their job descriptions. This was a
certainly a relief for Jan Molby in particular.
the current comeback of 80s pop sensations Duran Duran, it’s unlikely
the ilk of the passing sensations will be seen again in our top
league. The emphasis on central midfielders nowadays is much more
on speed, strength and stamina and passing midfielders are rarely seen
in the Premiership.
at Spurs, we have two senior squad members, Anderton and Redknapp, who
could be classed as ‘passers’. Both of them like to play
central and both like time on the ball – although they rarely get it
in the hurly-burly of the Premiership. The change in midfield
emphasis has evolved during the careers of the duo and to be fair both
have tried to adapt. However, Anderton and Redknapp are not
blessed with great physical strength, pace, stamina or fitness. I
feel sorry for Redknapp in particular, as he’s certainly a trier and
twenty years ago probably would’ve been one of the top midfield dogs.
we are about to move into yet another new era at Spurs it will be
interesting to see if the new manager intends to play with two
up-and-down central midfielders like the top Premiership teams do:
Arsenal have Vieira and Gilberto, Manchester United have Keane and
Neville and Chelsea have Parker and Makelele. David Pleat is
trying to mirror this with King and Brown, but it’s well recognised
that King’s best position is centre back. Brown is certainly a
new-age central midfielder and looks worth persevering with. With
around £10 million in our transfer kitty, Nicky Butt is affordable and
could well provide the answer. The outlook for Anderton and
Redknapp could well look glum, with the creative players mainly being
the wide players these days.
current pace of the game has killed off the pure passers and I think
this is a shame. I doubt that Messrs. Hoddle, Muhren and Molby
would’ve been as successful in the modern era and so I’m glad that I
got to watch them in their pomp, in a time when they were allowed to
say that life goes in circles and so it appears in N17…
The news that Glenn Hoddle has been in talks
with Rupert Lowe about the vacant Southampton post has been reported to
have been greeted with divided opinion amongst their fans. I have many
friends on the South Coast and I can tell you that a Saints fan who
actually wants Hoddle doesn’t appear to have been found yet. The
reactionary element doesn’t want him because he walked out on them to
join us – the more thoughtful element doesn’t want him because he
simply didn’t succeed at Tottenham.
Hoddle did have an immediate effect at
Southampton when he took over. They were waning under Dave Jones and the
results and the football were not good. With the exceptions of Kevin
Keegan, Graeme Souness and possibly Peter Shilton, Hoddle was the
biggest thing to ever walk into a home Southampton dressing room. The
players probably couldn’t believe their luck and I expect that they
hung on his every word. Results and performances vastly improved and
Saints were on the verge of a European spot until Daniel Levy came
If you ignore the tail end of the 2000/2001
season, Hoddle’s reign at Tottenham started well. Ziege provided goals
and ammunition from the left and the cliché about Teddy being fine was
true. However, at the business end of that season; things went wrong.
How we failed to beat an average Blackburn team who had four key players
suspended for the final beggars belief. The performances for the first
three-quarters of that season mirrored that of Southampton under Hoddle.
Losing that final to Blackburn cost us a
European place and the cash and prestige that goes with it. From that
point on, with a few good performances apart, things started to decay.
All of the leaders in the camp – Sheringham, Sherwood and Freund –
fell out with Hoddle and they left chewing sour grapes.
And so it was that Hoddle was sacked in
September of this season. The team looked leaderless both on and off the
pitch and, adore him as we did as a player, the decision was the correct
It’s pretty clear that Rupert Lowe does
want Hoddle at Southampton but whether he’s brave enough to go against
the fans remains to be seen. Lowe obviously remembers well the bright
start Hoddle made at Southampton but doesn’t appear to have paid close
attention to the parallels of his Tottenham managerial career.
The pattern of having a good start and then
tailing off is one that us Spurs fans know too well. Remember how under
George Graham we won the Worthington Cup and got to an FA Cup semi-final
in his first season but were then forced to watch stale football? George
Graham wasn’t a popular choice to replace Christian Gross, a bit like
Hoddle isn’t to replace Strachan. The antagonism can be quietened
after a few good results but the pressure mounts if an unpopular choice
doesn’t produce the goods – even if he has to face injuries etc.
Remember how under Gerry Francis we
immediately rose up the league and go to an FA Cup semi-final in his
first season only for it all to turn sour? Gerry Francis’ managerial
career went in a perfect circle. He began at Bristol Rovers, progressed
to QPR and then was elevated to Tottenham. After resigning from Spurs,
he went back to QPR and then soon to Bristol Rovers.
Remember how Christian Gross won his first
game away at Everton? He also won his last game at Everton.
The tales from our recent past should strike
a note of caution to you all that, whoever Levy and Pleat have up there
sleeve, if they have a good start it doesn’t necessarily mean it will
a personal note, I hope that Hoddle doesn’t get the Southampton job. I
never shouted a word against him when he was here because he was my hero
as a kid: I even wore my shirt outside my shorts when playing junior
football. However, I think the flaws in his communication skills,
probably coming from his quiet self-arrogance, will mean that he’s
unlikely to be a success in Premiership management. At a smaller club,
like Swindon, he could well succeed as the players would be puppy-like
in his presence. Premiership players are so up their own arse these days
that they need an expert communicator as well as a tactician to make
them tick…and even then it doesn’t always work. On the flip side, if
things go well for him at Saints, they might beat us!