|Sergei Rebrov's recent
revelation that the death of his former Dynamo Kiev manager Valeriy
Lobanovsky brought him great sadness may tell us more about the reason
he has not reproduced his Champions League form at Tottenham than at
first it appears.
Rebrov will, no doubt, be one of the
players who leaves the club without fulfilling his potential.
Having become the highest scorer in the premier European competition in
his time at the perennial Ukrainian champions, he has fallen from grace
with a resounding bump. His feted move to Tottenham for a club
record £11 million was to be the start of Spurs' resurrection.
However, in two seasons he is now little more than a part time player,
producing cameo roles that are a sad silhouette of his striking self.
The one thing that Sergei stated on
Lobanovsky's passing was that he taught him more about football than
anyone else he had come across, so that must include Hoddle now.
The fact that he trained Dynamo Kiev in such a way that they were very
successful at home and abroad meant that the system he played suited the
little forward. Goals smashed in from all angles were his
trademark and alongside Andrei Shevchenko, he set up as many as he
tucked away. But away from his comfortable surroundings in the
Kiev team, he has been unable to fit the teams he has played in at
The Kiev method involved rigid tactics
and a regime that focused on fitness. Sir Charles Hughes would
have thought that he had found along lost son in Lobanovsky, as his
scientific and statistical systems produced a high level of performance
from his players, whoever they were. The beauty was that new men
could come in and fit the system automatically. Initially, players
might have found it strange as they were taken away from their home
towns and put together with the other Kiev squad members. The
squad was based at a special centre for the club and extensive medical
tests were carried out to ensure they were always at peak fitness.
The system of play was drilled into them to ensure that they would know
exactly what would happen in any given situation.
Some players might have been able to
adapt when they found themselves removed from the culture they were
accustomed to. Some might not. Shevchenko has maintained a
high scoring rate at AC Milan, while Rebrov has looked like a fish out
That might be because the football in
England is a lot different to that in Italy, but there should still have
been glimmers of the style that brought him such a reputation that
encouraged Tottenham to splash millions on him. He has never
looked happy playing the lone striker being up against hulking
centre-halves, who are happy enough to kick him all afternoon. He
has rarely linked up well with any of the other forwards at Tottenham,
making any impact only occasionally with Steffen Iversen, when he was
free of injury.
Sergei did show a flash of his class,
when he took the ball on the right of the box against Newcastle United
at home in early 2001 and chipped it inch perfect into the far top
corner of the net, leaving the keeper flapping at thin air.
Perhaps his best game was the FA Cup quarter final at Upton Park, when,
in a torrential downpour, he scored twice to take Tottenham through to
the Old Trafford semi-final against Arsenal, where he was pretty
anonymous, in a poor team performance. His body shape to give
Tottenham a 2-1 lead in the 31st minute was superb, producing a volley
that flew horizontally after it left his boot and left Hislop with no
But these were few and far between.
I would hope that he might stay at White Hart Lane to show us what he is
really capable of, but there is slim hope of that happening.
Hoddle has used him rarely, even from the bench and the five minute
run-outs he gets here and there are no good for him or the club.
He has obviously lost confidence and appears to be heading out of the
club with a price tag that has a large chunk reduced from the purchase
It's a shame that he didn't fit in here,
but maybe it was the system rather than anything else that made him fail
to live up to the expectations. May he find luck and form
elsewhere (although not at our expense) and may his replacement fit in
better (and hopefully the management will consider this).