the young and the old


With the new season just weeks away and the new managerial set-up in place, the dying embers of the 2003-04 season that burned so bitterly, are now nothing but glowing reminders of how things should not be.

The fact that we could have been close to relegation is the ever-present reminder that things had to be addressed to put that right and make sure that the club started moving in an upward direction.  The presence of a caretaker manager in post for three quarters of the season saw us sit through some of the most uncomfortable of performances through his tenure.  To assuage the pain we suffered during that time, we now need to be repaid with some hope of better times.

I am not suggesting that there will be an immediate turnaround in our fortunes, but Spurs fans need to convinced that there is some end product in mind by those in charge rather than the aimless meanderings that the club has taken over the last twenty years (at least).

Announcing that Frank Arnesen would be coming in as Sporting Director is a good move.  Not just because he takes over the non-first team affairs, but because he has such a good reputation in the game.  His prestige will add to Tottenham's standing in the eyes of others on the continent and further abroad, which is something that has needed improving for a long while.  I heard something about his being one name that ensures that when he rings a big club, he gets through to a person in authority.  That sort of power will open doors that the club will need to recruit players in the future.  And when Ronaldo says that other clubs will be kicking themselves that they did not snap up the former PSV Technical Director, it speaks volumes for the stature of the Dane.

Allied with the former French national coach as Head Coach, this looks like a good partnership.  Both speak in glowing terms about each other and Jacques Santini is obviously a top coach, even though his side flopped at Euro 2004.  But then they reached the same stage as England, so they can't be that bad then !!

Santini has shown at club level that he has the ability to organise teams who are not in the top echelon in their league to do well and in Lyon's case take the French league title.  He can obviously work well with a defence, as France had not conceded for ten matches before they met England in Euro 2004 and that ability will be useful in matches where things are tight.  If we have players who can win games at the other end, we need to make sure we don't give them away at the end we are defending.

The hiring of Martin Jol is an interesting appointment.  Previously with RWC Walwijk, Jol had established a reputation as a progressive coach, who used modern techniques, while ensuring his players were guided with a firm hand.  At six foot plus, he is a formidable figure and he was sought after by such luminaries as Manchester United in the recent past.  Having played in England for West Bromwich Albion and Coventry City, he knows the passion for football here, but that league was a million miles from what the Premiership is now.  But, the achievement of getting his club into the top flight, keeping them from relegation and turning them into a club chasing a place in Europe shows that he has the skills to organise and to motivate players to achieve things that may be beyond their individual means.

Dominique Cuperly is a coach that I know little about, but reading from various articles about him, he is a coach that Santini has worked with before and obviously rates highly.  It seems from the material written about him, he has studied the area surrounding training and recuperation, so his role is likely to be that involving fitness and rehabilitation of the first team squad.  This is something that has been needed for some time, as players fitness is crucial to the team being at full strength in terms of quality and not just numbers.

With Chris Hughton staying on as a link to the Premiership and assisting in the ways of the English league, I am sure it will help the coaching staff out rather than let them make their own way in a new league in which they have little experience.

One of the things I like already is the return to the signings being a mix of heard of players who have some experience at a high level (Robinson, Davis and Mendes) and some for the future (Defendi and Leigh Mills).  This echoes the area that Pleat once specialised in (signing Davies and Gardner), but this appeared to take a back seat as other players were brought in without a view to their future with the club or their sell-on value.

Arnesen said he was not content at PSV because he had to sell his players on and he was frustrated that they were not able to form a side before some moved on.  Hopefully, he will have the opportunity to form the Spurs team of the future with Santini and it appears to have started, as he has used his links in South America to secure Rodrigo Defendi, who it is rumoured he saw playing in a youth tournament in Holland last year.  His expertise in spotting talented young players before others get a sniff of them will benefit Tottenham, as they will know that they are coming to a club that gives chances to talented players regardless of their age.  Mills built up a name for himself in the England Under-16 team, where he was captain and a star at his club Swindon Town.  Now he has joined Spurs, he makes the step up to the next level.  But did Arnesen know about Mills ?  Probably not.  But his comments in a Sunday paper that he has been consulting with David Pleat shows that he is not afraid to seek the advice of others who might be able to assist him in securing the men he wants for Spurs.  Pleat might well have been trying to line up Davis and Mills before the news of his impending removal from his post on the board.

Whatever the goings on behind the transfers, they address areas the team need strengthening in and will be a boost for the side in the future.  Long may the men in charge sign up the young and the old to make Tottenham a force once more.

Aidensby Quernhow

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