more !! of oliver (phil)
The return of columnist Phil Oliver sees MEHSTG feature
his work about all things football and Spurs in particular.
transfer window has shut and the Tottenham squad is in place for the
first part of the season. It was frenetic stuff in the closing hours, as
it had to be – we were short of numbers in some areas and had a player
whose position at the club had become untenable.
known as one of the league’s top spenders, but this summer’s transfer
activity will please the club’s accountants. Around £68m was spent, but
we recouped an estimated £73.5m. The books are balanced, but should the
fans be happy with the manger’s resources ?
strength in depth and each first choice position has been improved,
apart from in attack. This reflects a transfer policy that was a mixture
of intentional overhaul and enforced buys; Heurelho Gomes, Vedran
Corluka, Luka Modric, Giovani dos Santos and David Bentley had all been
tracked for long periods and were primary targets for a new-look squad.
the departures of Dimitar Berbatov and Robbie Keane were obviously not
planned, although contingency had probably been made for the Bulgarian
sulker’s departure. It is a safe
football bet that Juande Ramos and Damien Comolli did not sit down
in May and identify Darren Bent, Roman Pavlyuchenko and Fraizer Campbell
as our strike-force to start the season.
hand forced is all part of the transfer window and there is consolation
to be found in large fees received for Keane and Berbatov, although
hindsight tells us that Jermain Defoe’s new year move to Portsmouth
should have been blocked.
It is no
coincidence that clubs that have had difficulty in the transfer market
have suffered stuttering starts to their campaigns. Everton, due to a
lack of activity and Spurs, due to the Keane and Berbatov sagas, have
both underperformed. It is early days and both clubs should have their
Premier League odds checked in the race to finish fifth.
has clearly been disrupted, but the management must take some
responsibility for out poor start. Spurs eased to numerous pre-season
wins last year and came unstuck in the league openers, and the same
thing has happened again. Pre-season preparation needs to be looked at.
made his mark on the squad and it is evident that he is a man who has
faith in his decisions. If he doesn’t rate you, don’t expect a second
chance. Pascal Chimbonda and Young Pyo Lee fell so far out of favour
that they were allowed to leave despite Alan Hutton, the first choice
right back, being injured. Paul Stalteri was not even given a squad
this also means that Ramos is happy with his squad, as no one would
arrive that he didn’t have full faith in. Pavlyuchenko and Campbell
might be last minute replacements for last season’s front two, but we
have to believe that they will produce their impressive goalscoring form
from other divisions in the white shirt.
predominantly strikers who look to convert chances rather than create
them, and whilst Bent is also not known for his link-up play, enough
ammunition should come from the contrasting creative talents of Bentley,
Modric and Tom Huddlestone.
week international break has come at the right time and there should be
no more talk of a squad being unfamiliar with itself when Aston Villa
arrive at the Lane on 15th September. Last season’s
corresponding fixture was one of the turbulent matches that marked the
beginning of the end of the Martin Jol regime. This time it should
denote the real start of a new managerial era.
Have the transfer window buys satisfied
your needs ? Tell us
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LET'S HAVE A BOOS
transfer sagas of Dimitar Berbatov and Robbie Keane look like ending in
their departures, so I, a little prematurely, begin to wonder about the
type of reception they would receive on their return to White Hart
excellent last ‘View from the
Shelf’ suggested our star strikers’ behaviour is systematic of
modern-day disloyalty, claiming they deserve to be booed when they visit
in their red shirts.
many factors that contribute to former players’ unpopularity and
Berbatov and Keane indeed appear to have ticked most of the boxes.
Massively popular in our colours – although Keane still divides opinion
– their public agitation for a move leaves a sour taste.
they are moving to
Champions League clubs and can’t be begrudged the attempt to further
their career. Keane is content at Spurs and would surely not leave for
any other club than the one that he supported as a boy, who more
importantly provide a good chance of first team football.
therefore tempting to think that players who move to ‘bigger clubs’ as
part of their career progression should not receive too much criticism.
Berbatov would join Michael Carrick and Teddy Sheringham as recent
United recruits – the Red Devils raid us whenever they need a classy,
clever player – and there is seemingly nothing wrong with leaving when
the best team in the country come knocking.
those who seek new challenges on the continent generally don’t earn
supporters’ scorn. Steve Archibald, Glenn Hoddle, Clive Allen, Chris
Waddle, Paul Gascoigne, Gica Popescu and Jurgen Klinsmann’s moves to
European clubs represented an endorsement of successful Spurs careers
rather than a jumping of the Tottenham ship.
no set rules for the treatment of former players, although those who
leave for smaller clubs generally earn appreciation on their return,
depending on their contribution to Spurs. Few can question Pedro
Mendes and Jermain Defoe’s conduct in seeking first team places at
Portsmouth and their success on the south coast acts more as a reminder
of what might have been.
good money for those who are past their Tottenham sell-by-date – Mido,
Wayne Routledge, Andy Reid, Stephen Carr and Simon Davies spring to mind
– gives the players an easy ride on their return.
receive special treatment after making a good connection with Spurs
supporters. The Shelf would have applauded Steffen Freund if he
scored against us in a Leicester shirt and Michael Brown, another
midfield workhorse, achieved great respect for his insistence on
acknowledging the travelling support rather than his new fans when
unveiled at Craven Cottage after his move to Fulham in January 2006.
Keane would surely expect a good reception on his return
to the Lane after six years’ fine service, but will have to make do with
a mixture of polite applause and boos. He might even get a better
response than he will if his
transfer request is ignored and he stays as Spurs player.
What will you do on the return of Keano
and Berba ? Will it be S.Cumball all over again ? Tell us
your view by e-mailing
around this time last year that the Tottenham board made known their
expectations for the impending season. Two successive fifth place
finishes encouraged Mr Levy and co. to openly state that fourth spot was
the next goal.
entirely logical now, but, at the time, it amounted to little more than
an ultimatum. We have not made the same mistake this time around
(‘Carling Cup last season Juande, so
FA Cup this term, or you’re out’) but expectations remain high.
nothing wrong with aim-setting – no one wants to stand still – but the
targets have to be realistic. Martin Jol was put under pressure to
overhaul Arsenal or Liverpool in the league last season, despite the
pair being stronger than they were in the previous campaign.
is that many other clubs have similar aspirations to us. Everton,
fourth in 2004/05 and fifth last year, have the most valid designs on a
top four finish, but the rich overseas owners of Aston Villa, Manchester
City and West Ham all want to receive the reward of Champions League
football in return for their investment.
and Blackburn also finished above us last season and will be eyeing UEFA
cup places this season. Middlesbrough continue to spend big and
Newcastle, no strangers to delusions of grandeur, possess a manager who
said last term ‘if Tottenham can finish fifth, so can we’.
this competition, it is clear that Spurs should finish fifth.
Supporters of our rivals will probably claim the same thing, but an
impartial comparison of squads reveals ours to be the strongest.
It has the
most depth and, at the time of writing at least, the most outstanding
individuals. Money is in the bank waiting to be spent and recent
acquisitions Luka Modric and Giovani Dos Santos are of the stature to
attract some other star players to the Lane. The manager isn’t bad
therefore unsurprising favourites to repeat our
fifth place Premiership finishes of 2005/06 and 2006/07. Spurs
are more likely to win the UEFA Cup than finish fourth, which reveals
both the strength and weakness of the Premier League.
Is fifth place attainable ? Does
the Tottenham squad fill you with confidence for the coming season ?
Tell us your view at
European Championships are nearly over. I am weary of them not
because of the tournament itself – watching an England-free,
high-scoring event has been a pleasure – but because of the punditry and
I like to
feel relaxed when watching football from the sofa. A neutral should be
able to take in the game without getting irate and tense, yet this is
what happens to me when watching the Euro 2008 coverage.
shouting at the screen, but still wanting to tell Lee Dixon that he is
wrong. All the time.
perfected the smug confidence of the bad pundits with ease and is
following the Tony Adams and Martin Keown template for TV persona of
former Arsenal players – a bizarre mix of earnest self reverence and an
ability to talk rubbish. I think I’ve just described Garth Crooks, so
I’ll quit while I’m ahead on that one.
should be able to add to our enjoyment and knowledge of the game. Both
major channels have recruited some respected names in management and the
viewer should therefore get some expert opinion.
happens. Martin O’Neill is generally asked what the mangers are thinking
but usually comes up with something we can discern for ourselves,
although Sam Allardyce is occasionally insightful and is capable of
shedding light on teams’ tactics and strategies.
It is for
this reason that my spirit is lifted when Alan Shearer is touted for a
Premier League job. A walking cliché, he is unable to say anything
of note unless it is blindingly obvious and if a club who secures his
services is successful, I will begin to wonder what managers actually do
to change a club’s fortunes.
rarely offers more than the conversations fans are having at the same
time. BBC and ITV might as well go down Sky’s fanzone route, a comical
commentary option that at least guarantees passion and opinion.
It is a
shame they have lost Ian Wright, who was effectively there as an England
fan, once famously refusing to pass comment because he was ‘too gutted
frustrating element of current punditry is the misinterpretation of
events on the pitch. Opinions are formed lazily, with rules of the game
discarded in their quest for referee ‘common sense’.
there has never been a golden age of punditry, commentary standards are
certainly declining. John Motson has become a caricature of himself and
Clive Tyldesley is becoming ever-more infuriating in his search for the
perfect sound bite.
watch the final with the sound off.
Do you think Phil opinion is as valid as
the experts who he is taking about ? Should the sound of silence
be the way that the TV stations go in future ?
Let us know at
6 + 5 = ???
president Sepp Blatter has had many strange and controversial ideas to
improve football, but his latest might actually be of benefit for
Tottenham. Forget his proposals of bigger goals and skimpy female
players’ kits; the ‘six plus five’ rule represents a massive step and
would only be a good thing for Spurs.
It is of
course early days for this foreign player quota. There are clearly legal
ramifications and Premier League boss Richard Scudamore is confident
that EU employment laws will prevent the implementation of such
suggested European clubs should adopt voluntary quotas and it is pretty
evident that this will not be allowed to happen, especially as UEFA
president Michel Platini is also currently opposed to the idea.
still no harm in speculating on the effects of such a rule change, not
least because Blatter is determined to prevent English club domination
European competitions (although he also suggests the proposals are
for the benefit of the English national team and Premier League).
knock-on effect of a lack of top flight English players is for another
day – although last term’s all-time low of 34.1% is worrying for any
follower of the national team.
clubs fare under the new rules, which would involve a maximum of seven
foreign players in starting line-ups from the 2010/11 season ?
half of the
Premier League clubs fulfilled that requirement last season, with 11
fielding an average of at least four Englishmen per game, with Spurs
being the eighth most ‘home grown’ team, with an average of 4.37 per
many clubs meeting the proposed quota without even the intention to, it
is clear that the supposed problem is not as bad as is suggested,
although the foreign allowance is planned to decrease by one over the
next two seasons to create ‘six plus five’ in 2012/13.
clubs fielded an average of 7.3 Italian players on the last day of the
Serie A season, compared to the Premier League’s average of 3.9. The
difference is stark, and if Blatter wanted to break the monopoly of the
so-called ‘big four’, there is no guessing who will lose out.
United and Chelsea fielded 10 English players between them in the
Champions League final and they are unlikely to be unduly troubled by
the rule thanks to their ability to recruit young talent at will.
Liverpool and Arsenal had best start developing their youth academies,
having had respective English player averages last term of 2.34 and 0.34
per game. At least little Theo would be guaranteed a game.
on the other hand, have nine established first team Englishmen to
currently choose from (Robinson, Dawson, King, Woodgate, O’Hara, Lennon,
Huddlestone, Jenas and Bent).
have no problem in adjusting to the quota system and would be
strengthened in relative terms to other clubs – that pool of English
players is stronger than that of West Ham and Aston Villa, who had the
highest average number of English players last season.
much debate about how the money-soaked English game is changing for the
worse. It is doubtful whether this proposal will improve it, however
nice it is to think of us as champions because of it.
Do you think Phil is right ? Will
Spurs be OK or might things change after this summer's purchases ?
Let us know at