N17 Nik takes a look at the game today and Tottenham's part in it.
More articles by Nik
|atouba - 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 a cross?
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.
Paul Robinson 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 not careful.
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 midfield.
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 few years.
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 Heskey.
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 league.
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.
|No 1: Neil Sullivan|
Filling in aside, this slot mainly comes
down to a choice between Dean Austin and Steve Carr.
|No 2: Steve Carr|
Justin Edinburgh held this place for the
early Premiership years before being overtaken by: Clive Wilson,
Christian Ziege and Mauricio Taricco.
|No 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
5: Sol Campbell
No 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.
4: Steffen Freund
No 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
|No 7: Darren Anderton|
The bets really are off with this
|No 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.
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
David 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
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
With 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
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
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
Spurs are crying out for a midfield general.
Spurs 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.
Verdict: 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 Paul Robinson.
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 here.
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 Ferdinand.
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 bet.
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 Defensive Midfielder.
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 last summer.
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 door.
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 read?
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 must keep.
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 altogether.
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.
|lessons from rebrov|
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.
|death of a passer|
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.
The 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 play.
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
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