Archive for the ‘Football Comment’ Category

Spurs and Soldado Need Adebayor

October 6, 2013 Leave a comment

There are very few places happier than White Hart Lane when Spurs score a goal against their rivals. The sheer impact of noise and celebration sweeps across the stands pushing every single thought from your mind, even in some cases the name of the goal scorer.


You know something great has happened, you know its important but at that split second you can’t quite grab the magnitude of it. Its like an having the Theory of Relativity downloaded straight into your brain, its just a bit too big. As Glyfi Sigurdsson swept the ball home, bedlam erupted in White Hart Lane.

The gentleman a couple of seats down from me, turned around looking for his mate, when they finally made eye contact he pointed down towards his leg, his blue jeans had a massive rip down them, from groin to knee.

How’d that happen?

I don’t know, I have no idea!!

The thing about going one-nil up to Chelsea is that nagging feeling that tugs at you. You know we need a second goal,  your whole body craves it, yet it doesn’t arrive. Ripped jeans man, euphoria slowly settling on him is left pondering how he going to get home with half his crotch exposed, the rest of us wonder where that second goal is coming from.

Paulinho sprints into the area, beats Petr Cech at his near post but the post deflects behind. From the Park Lane lower crouched and poised to erupt into more celebration it looked like the Brazilian shanked it, TV later reveals we were inches from more ecstasy. The game, unbeknown to everyone turned at that very point.

The killer second goal didn’t arrive, our dominance was converted into nothing more than a slender lead. With a defence apparently as impregnable as ours, this may have been enough, but against Chelsea, a team who bathe in luck, it was never going to be.

So why didn’t we ram home our superiority as a title challenging team would normally? Were we at our maximum? Are we only one goal better than Chelsea?

There has been an obsession amongst Spurs fans, since Dimitar Berbatov took his Café Crèmes north, for the perfect striker. This season it seemed that the quest for a 9 was ended when we signed a man bought for what was at the time a club record fee.

Roberto Soldado, is a Spanish international good enough to keep the face scratching Chelsea number 9 out of the national squad. His arrival was heralded as the sign of things to come, yet six games in he remains on two Premier League goals, two penalties.

It’s a worrying statistic and one that if it continues will soon become one to beat us and him with. The truth is Soldado needs to start scoring, for his confidence, for the team and because he is a £26 million investment, 100% of which was based on his ability to score.

I am not starting to question his talent, but if this run continues then it’s a question thatwill be asked. Proof that he is a class striker is the fact that he plays for a international team quite capable of operating without a number 9, I just wish he would start scoring for Spurs. Of course he needs time to adjust, but at 28 and a full international, how much time do we afford him?

The biggest fear I had when we switched tact from Christian Benteke to Soldado was the fact that if he doesn’t score what does the  former Valencia man do?

Thankfully it was Soldado that helped create Siggy’s goal on Saturday, but bar that he was anonymous. Against Cardiff his chances were snatched, yes he did brilliantly to be at the right place at the right time, but there is no point being there if you aren’t tucking them away.

One player who’s absence was sorely missed on Saturday, was the much maligned Emmanuel Adebayor. I believe that Adebayor is the key to getting the best out of our Spanish striker.

Soldado has spent a career attempting to prove himself worthy, first to Real Madrid after they cast him off on loan to Osasuna then sold him to Getafe. When he arrived at Valencia, he then spent his time attempting to  prove himself the best Spanish number 9.

At Spurs for the first time in his career Soldado is in a position of comfort as the clear first choice striker for both club and country. Adebayor can be the spark to ignite the Spaniard back to his most clinical form.

Whilst Defoe and Soldado are similar in their style, Adebyor offers the opposition a different conundrum. When AVB switched one small goal-getter for another, the pattern of anonymity continued.

Never before had I hoped that Adebayor would come smiling down the tunnel saying he was fit to play. His goal in the away fixture of this game last year, is a lasting memory that whatever his faults, Ade offers something totally different and game changing to our other strikers.

When he regains full fitness, it will be his ability and different approach to being the focal striker that will drive Soldado to better performances and a goal scoring record.


Battle Lost, War Far From Over

October 6, 2013 Leave a comment

Tottenham for once have signed the majority of their players before the deadline day, but after another loss at the Emirates, perhaps it wasn’t quick enough. Up against a team that hasn’t made any significant alterations for 12 months, Spurs were bereft of ideas, cohesion and understanding. A marked improvement is needed especially if we are going to challenge honours.

afc v spursThe Emirates bar two incredible turnarounds in recent years has never been a happy place for Spurs. Arsenal as usual in this fixture, or when the calendar turns to early spring, donned their “divine right win attitude” and new look Spurs had no answer to it. A cool finish by Oliver Giroud against the run of possession was all they needed to collect three points.

The moment they took the lead the script was there for all to see. They would sit deep and invite us on, before looking to hit us on the counter, had Arsenal’s finishing been better, or Hugo Lloris a lesser keeper, the result may well have been worse. The Frenchman pulled of a string of saves and kept us in the game, whilst as our wayward passing and poor crossing offered little hope of us getting back into it.

Our heralded midfield trio looked neat and tidy, but where was the drive and strength that three individuals of such physical stature should have?

Mousa Dembele continues to confuse me. As his form slumped in early 2013 many of us pointed to Scott Parker’s presence alongside him, yet even now with far better players next to him, he remains ineffective. For long periods of the derby Paulinho’s sole purpose was to sweep up behind the Belgian, his substitution was welcome when it finally arrived.

Etienne Capoue, before injury ended his derby was equally quiet. Up against lightweight opposition and a midfielder who hadn’t kicked a ball in anger since May; it was a poor performance from the trio.

It wasn’t much better for the rest of the outfield team, especially the wide men. Andros Townsend, barring a few trademark long range efforts was ineffective against a left back I believe he had the better of, and across field our Belgian winger had another average performance. Nacer Chadli for a wide man who stands at 6’2 and has a wonderful first touch, remains an anomaly. First impressions when we signed him were that he would be a decent squad player. He has done little to dispel these initial opinions.

Twitter spent the majority of the 90 minutes crying for a number 10, I can see the logic in this, but against an Arsenal team sitting deep and packing the central areas, I don’t believe this would have helped. What we needed was better passing from all 10 outfield players across the pitch, not just in the final third. Each time a promising move opened up especially wide, the passes or crosses into the front men were wayward.

As the game ticked away, even with the introduction of Eric Lamela, Spurs turning around the one goal deficit seemed unlikely. AVB so often an assured presence from the touchline, lost his pattern of thought, instead of re-jigging the attacking options he opted for the tired 442 formation, when perhaps removing Chaldi an introducing a more reliable passer in Glyfi Sigurdsson or Lewis Holtby would have been better.

In countless situations last season we saw AVB out think his managerial opponent and conjure up a substitution to change the course of the game, but at the Emirates rather like Spurs, AVB lost his way.  The moment that perhaps encapsulated how lost AVB found himself was when he scampered down the touchline to pass on a message to Kyle Walker to chuck the ball long into the mixer. Hardly something you could imagine AVB having a dossier on.

When AVB walked into White Hart Lane he had a big job on his hands, but handling this new look Spurs squad and defining who plays where and how, will be what makes or breaks his Spurs career. With £110 million spent, regardless of Bale’s fee subsidising it, he is under pressure to deliver.

The benefits of having a Director of Football are clear to see in the calibre of the signings we have made, but the danger for AVB is that there will be a contingency plan in place. Should he fail to get the best from this squad, Franco Baldini will have a sheet of paper with managers names on it. A DoF is hired to ensure continuance in the plan, not continuance in the stewardship of the man in charge of the plan.

Of course these are just the over reactive emotions of a Spurs fan after a derby defeat. Spurs have some excellent players in their squad; time is now the only thing we need. Lamela and the other signings from the Friday’s transfer spectacular need time to settle and come to terms with not only Spurs but also living in a completely different country.

The result, despite what noise may be emanating from the red part of London, doesn’t mean a great deal. Just as when we beat them 2-1 at White Hart Lane, Champions League qualification and final Premier League positions are set in stone. We are only three games in. They may have celebrated like they won the war, but this was just the first skirmish. The battle goes to them, but the war goes on until May 2014.

The Team That Bale Built

August 31, 2013 Leave a comment

As the curtain came down on the 2012/13 season, the overriding emotion was disappointment. We had missed out on lucrative European nights, by a single point. As the late spring developed into summer though it was the feeling that had it not been for Gareth Bale, those evenings under the floodlights would have been a pipe dream instead of an enticing smell coming from an open window just out of reach.


The thought of Bale disappearing was one that most of us didn’t even come close to contemplating. Finally he had thrown down the shackles of being an albatross, his ears had been pinned back, the hair restyled, the YouTube Channel created and the celebration trademarked, on there own they meant nothing but together they pointed to an exit, but surely not this summer. Bale had more to do before he was the complete brand, until of course FIFA, BT and NBC got hold of his image.

Suddenly Bale was the poster boy of anything to do with the round ball. His marketability although still miles off Cristiano Ronaldo, Leo Messi and the now retired David Beckham was growing. Real Madrid wanted this new phenomena and Daniel Levy was only to happy to secretly sell the dream.

As Spurs fans we have been here before. In my lifetime of Spurs supporting I remember Chris Waddle and Paul Gascoigne leaving and more recently the departures of Dimitar Berbatov and Luka Modric, star players sold but never replaced. The money recouped was and in fairness to the club, mostly reinvested, but it was spent by gentlemen out of touch with how to recreate and fill a void.

 This summer at Spurs credit must go to Daniel Levy and Franco Baldini, although the sale of Bale must have been a reality since before the Confederations Cup started, we were left thinking this was nothing more than SKY stirring things up. The ITKS’, the sensationalised reports, were it appears true after all. While we guffawed at suggestions Bale was distressed, and pointed to the posters and PS3 games as proof of him staying, he was in reality secretly saying his goodbyes. It was a tremendous bluff by Spurs and one that has enabled us to dip so successfully into the transfer market.

Across London whilst that team in Red proudly announced that they had, and still do have, £70 million to spend, at Spurs we remained quiet. Instead we haggled, bartered and delayed with various chairmen and agents across the globe. The narrative was the same for weeks, with Bale staying we didn’t have a war chest, we had to fight for the right price. Had Bale disappeared to Madrid in July, then effectively every player bar Roberto Soldado (we met his release clause) would have been more expensive.

Its quite incredible to think that whilst Spurs have been spending on credit, Real Madrid are about to sign the most expensive footballer that has ever existed and he hasn’t even had a pre-season. Pressure better be something Bale thrives on because if he thinks the media glare this summer was bad, he is walking into a city obsessed with football, boasting its own newspaper, dedicated radio shows and 80,000 fans who think nothing of burning a Ferrari or two.

Thankfully though Bale’s state of mind is something that we no longer need to contend with. Instead we need to focus on his legacy at Spurs.

 Nacer Chadli, Paulinho, Etienne Capoue, Roberto Soldado, and what looks like Vlad Chiriches, Eric Lamela and Christian Eriksen. If with Bale we were a one man team, without him we are one squad of terrific potential and potency. What the Welshman failed on the pitch to achieve, off it he may just have created a legacy.

In previous windows, especially those in the summer we have signed two, possibly three players who have taken us forward. Bale’s inflated price has enabled us to reconstructed our core. Add the names above to the those that are already at the club and is anything but our own pessimism holding us back from a title tilt?

Bale left the building seconds after the final whistle blew at Newcastle and the Geordies failed to win a £1 million bonus for their tea lady and other backroom staff. He wanted something he along with the rest of the squad were unable to give. Bale though has given us something we have waited a lifetime to see, an exciting, young and motivated squad with a manager at the helm we unanimously believe in.

I am going to miss Bale, as a player he was at times perhaps the finest I have ever seen. I wish we could have had Bale and the team he has enabled us to buy, but greed is a vice I try to steer clear of. Instead I will wish him well and I hope Madrid is everything he wants and needs. I along with every other Spurs fan now turn my attention to what has remained at White Hart Lane.

Tottenham is the club that Bill Nicholson built, but this is the team that Bale built. As it stands the greatest thing Bale has ever done for Spurs, is leave.

Three Points, Zero Fuss

August 26, 2013 Leave a comment

Tottenham have come a long way since Andre Villas-Boas sent his team out for their first home fixture in 2012. Back then the club was fragmented, fans split and opinions two a penny. Some lamented the way in which Harry Redknapp was sacked, others doubted a man who had been ousted by the changing room at Chelsea, twelve months though in football is a long time. This Sunday everything was different.


There is an undeniable sense of unity around the ground and surrounding area. A drink may be hard to come by with the Bell & Hare closing their outside bar and employing a skeleton staff inside, but even this failed to dampen spirits. Spurs fans have taken to AVB and believe in Daniel Levy’s negotiating and Franco Baldini’s eye for talent.

The build up to the game had been dominated once again by a Welshman having avacaciones en Madrid, but the team were anything but distracted. From the first minute Spurs were in control and the few moments Swansea mustered up an attempt at goal, Hugo Lloris was more than equal to it.

As the Welshman flies back to the UK, apparently frustrated at not being paraded on a temporary stage at the Santiago Bernabeu, he will do well to watch the highlights of our game. Tottenham have yet to miss him and in his absence have grown. Any hope Madrid had that his injury would destabilise us and force our hand, in order to focus our players have been quashed

Swansea arrived with a reputation of possession and colourful attacking football, but up against a team that has found resilience and added strength to its ranks, they were unable to impose themselves.

During AVB’s reign Tottenham have often been rather lethargic at home, against Swansea though with a midfield trio of Etienne Capoue, Paulinho and Mousa Dembele, lethargic is a redundant term. The trio were an awesome sight, combining industry as well as skill. The Brazilian in particular impressed again, playing neat one touch football with Roberto Soldado, or driving at the heart of the Swansea defence. As the weeks pass, he grows more and more into our key midfield component.

Sandro who had a brief cameo towards the end of the game, will be hard pressed to break back into the team once he is fully fit.  It is a measure of how well Spurs have conducted their transfer business that last season’s key midfielder, is no longer a guaranteed starter.

Of course, this wasn’t the perfect home display from Spurs. The same issues that troubled us last season against teams that sit back and defend deep remain. We are on occasions predictable and the final ball from Kyle Walker, Danny Rose and Nacer Chadli when is does beat the first man is often wayward. At half time Glenn Hoddle gave an interview and the consensus from those around me old enough to remember him was unanimous, with a player of his ilk operating in our team, we would be title contenders.

However great Baldini is though, strapping a flux capacitor to a Delorean seems well beyond him, so instead he has eight days to conjure up the player to add inventiveness to what has become a resolute starting XI.

 In the absence of our Welshman and injury to Aaron Lennon, local boy Andros Townsend was finally given his opportunity in the spotlight. Personally, I have never been a big believer in the wide man, but happily, his level of performance is starting to win me over.

With Chadli often dipping back inside and slowing the game, Townsend was the polar opposite on the right. His runs and ability to nick the loose ball won Spurs countless free-kicks and the crucial penalty. Townsend has still to develop the telepathic relationship with Walker that Lennon has, but the signs are there that given time a fruitful partnership could exist.

With Spurs currently lacking something different in offensive positions perhaps this is Townsend’s breakout year?

On the opposite flank, Rose is taking full advantage over the absence of Benoit Assou-Ekotto, who was in attendance with Emmanuel Adebayor. The former winger now turned fullback is finally getting the game time he has desired for years and is contributing well.

Rose has cut out the cheap free-kicks that littered his pre-season game with Espanyol, and kept former Spurs winger Wayne Routledge deathly quiet. This summer Spurs have released quite a few Englishmen, so to see four in the starting XI with another three on the bench was heartening. Amazing as it is to see wonderful continental talent on display, the sight of Englishman wearing the Lilywhite is the foundation of our great club.

 The season is only two games old, yet Spurs have prevailed through inches of tabloid speculation, clubs poaching nailed on signings and certain individuals being MIA. We have a 100% record and are already +5 on last year points tally. Two games, six points and zero fuss. Bring on the next team.
Categories: Football Comment

Palace v Spurs: Doing What Was Expected

August 26, 2013 Leave a comment

Opening weekend of the season has never been a specialty for Spurs. When the Premier League fixture computer pitched Tottenham an opening fixture away from home to newly promoted Crystal Palace a banana skin had been laid. A London derby, a raucous Selhurst Park, the passionate Holmesdale supporters group, integrating four new players into our XI and minus one Welshman, what could go wrong? Thankfully, nothing.

It wasn’t the most impressive Tottenham display I have ever seen, but it was a very typical Andre Villas-Boas victory away from home. Had Jermain Defoe and Glyfi Sigurdsson been sharper in front of goal, the result would have had the score line the dominating performance deserved.  After a record haul of points last season, it’s a comforting thought to know we are already at +3 for 2013/14.

It’s easy to forget amongst the cheerleaders, Jigsaw banners and a bird of prey winging its way from one goal to the other, that Spurs entered into this game with everything to lose. The narrative, once the Sky pundits, had stopped salivating over the return of the “Ousted by the Madrid Players One” was clear. Build Spurs up and hope that Palace claim a victory which can then lead into an even better narrative of “Spurs Without Welshman Crumble.”

 It never happened and honestly it didn’t even come close to happening. During the summer there has been a clear brief sent through to Technical Director Franco Baldini regarding what kind of players to sign. In Paulinho, Étienne  Capoue and Roberto Soldado we have signed not only physically impressive specimens, but mentally strong also.

Where some players may have bottled a penalty on their debut, especially one in such hostile settings, Soldado didn’t even blink. Stepping up the Spaniard slotted the ball coolly into the inner side netting, the trademark of all good spot kicks. We were unfortunately denied a goal from open play, but in his opening 80 minutes of competitive football as a Lilywhite, it is clear to see we have a class striker capable of leading us like RVP does for United. One issue that did concern me regarding Soldado though, was the quality of service to him.

The Spaniard is all about sharp movements off defenders, darting runs and near post flicks, to do this though he needs the right type of service. From wide areas Spurs must to better, and centrally Sigurdsson must offer more support. The Icelander playing in his preferred role was the only player who didn’t fill me with confidence. Should we lose a Welshman in the next two weeks its clear why we are being linked with Willian and Erik Lamela.

 Further back Paulinho was a controlled and measured presence. This has been such a good signing that his performance didn’t startle me in the slightest. I expected him to be good and he was. Busy, effective, disciplined and deceptively strong, he moved across the central midfield area at Selhurst Park as if it was his own back yard. Sky co-commentator genius Niall Quinn, awarded him Man-of-the-Match simply for playing at his regular level. Make no mistake; this is a significant signing in the history of Tottenham Hotspur.

As the game wore on we also got to see more of our Belgian winger Nacer Chadli. Initially I was underwhelmed by the wide man, rather like Lennon on the opposite side, when he received the ball in advanced areas, he seemed determined to take as many touches as possible. Chadli also became rather predictable, opting to lay the ball off square, or attempt an optimistic strike.

At half-time however, someone must have spoken to him, he remained as disciplined in his defensive duties, but he offered more going forward. Where previously he kept checking back on his stronger foot, in the second half he had the confidence to cross and shoot with his left. It added an extra dimension to our play and showed that maybe we have a player of potential on our hands.

The final debutant for Spurs was French international Capoue. When he strode on for the excellent Mousa Dembele, it was as if Sandro had stepped onto the pitch. They both share the same build, looping run and squat and tackle technique. As Palace made their triple attacking substitution, Capoue’s entrance was well timed by AVB. The Frenchman added a new dimension to our defending and worked well in setting up counter-attacking opportunities.

Full judgement of the central midfielder will have to wait. His involvement in the game came at a stage where the fixture had opened up and spaces appeared where previously there were none. Capoue nevertheless though showed some nice touches, good reading of the game, a few forceful runs and enough to suggest he is a very decent acquisition.

 Spurs were in a no win situation against Palace, they were expected to arrive in South London and collect the three points which is exactly what they did. Bigger tests await, such as long trip to play Dinamo Tbilisi and Swansea at home on Sunday, but should Spurs do exactly what is expected of them for the rest of the season, then a very good 2013/14 looks on the cards.

Spurs vs Espanyol: The Promise of More to Come

August 14, 2013 Leave a comment

It was a preseason friendly yet the importance of Tottenham’s game against Espanyol at White Hart Lane can not be underestimated. It was three new signings first opportunity to play at the Lane and feel the weight of expectation that belonging to Spurs comes with. At Tottenham we spend most of our lives demanding greatness, yet for two generations we have feasted on mediocrity, are these the players to finally deliver?


I am not going to insult your intelligence and claim that a 1-1 draw with a mid-table Spanish team is the start of a triumphant reign over England, but the signs are promising. Paulinho and Roberto Soldado our two most expensive ever transfers seemed to have an immediate understanding and camaraderie. They looked for each other, they spoke constantly to one another and seemed to have that natural understanding that two great sportsmen can build instantly.

Soldado who joined up late with the squad due to his participation in the Confederations Cup and another protracted transfer saga, was playing his first game for Spurs in full view. Although relatively small in stature, the Spaniard is deceptively strong and affective with his back to goal. In 60 minutes he managed to link the play with centre-midfield more times than Emmanuel Adebayor managed in 20 plus games last season.

Perhaps the most promising of Soldado’s attributes though is his movement. He is constantly looking for space, darting past defenders to attack the ball and craving the through ball, when he has more minutes under his belt and better service from his team mates, those darting runs will undoubtedly start to produce chances then goals. It was a shame he was unable to register from open play, but without decreeing he is the second coming, he is definitely an infinite improvement on last season striking options.

Further back was Paulinho, a man many of us had not heard of until he helped Brazil to Confederations Cup glory, with some crucial goals and a 3rd Best Player of the Tournament award. The Brazilian looked composed and confident on the ball, his burst from midfield into the opposition area after good pressing from Aaron Lennon shows that he is that “direct” midfielder that AVB has been coveting. Paulinho may not have the metronome grace of Joao Moutinho, the dazzling strength of Mousa Dembele or Sandro’s sheer grit, but he possess enough of all three to make him vitally important to Spurs this season.

Operating wide on Saturday was Nacer Chadli. The Belgian is far from being the next wing wizard, but he looks comfortable on the ball, confident in attacking spaces and without doubt is a step up from the ponderous wing performances exhibited by Clint Dempsey and others at points last season. The former FC Twente man still has areas to improve in, but as most people thought when he signed, he looks like a decent squad addition.

With the new season fast approaching, it was also a massive positive to see the return of two key players, whose physicality and on the field presence was missed during the back end the last campaign.

Younes Kaboul was the stand out defender of Harry Redknapp’s final season at the club. The French man has evolved from the clumsy, naive kid that arrived during Martin Jol’s reign into a international class centre-back. Kaboul posses all the physicality of Michael Dawson, but has the extra skills that AVB craves from his centre backs, composure and ability on the ball. It was great to see him get 45 minutes under his belt, cause a nuisance at attacking set pieces, and drive forwards from the back with the ball.

It’s a cliché, but only because it’s rightly over used: “He will be like a new signing for us.”

Making his comeback alongside Kaboul was the indomitable Sandro the third member of the Spurs squad after Kaboul and Lennon to opt for the skin-head and beard look. It’s too early into his comeback to expect to seem him chopping Espanyol players in half, but the sight of him alongside Dembele again is one full of promise.

Personally the most promising display at White Hart Lane on Saturday was that of Kyle Walker. The 2011/12 Young Player of the Year seemed to have shaken off the doubts and sloppy errors that came to define his 2012/13 game. Offensively good and defensively sound he looked rejuvenated.  He possesses all the attributes expected of a top right back, he just now needs to engage those with his decision making on a regular basis.

Becoming a top class full-back takes time, you have to learn your role and hone your craft, we must remain patient with him, only by making mistakes will he develop into the player he has the potential to become.

Of course there were some negatives to come out of the game. We failed to win another friendly, we are yet to master zonal marking, Danny Rose isn’t the answer at left-back and Jermain Defoe’s remains ineffective unless given acres of space to operate in.

However these are issues the new season will bestow us ample time to ponder. For now we should be satisfied that our record signings deserve their “record” tag, our long term injuries are returning and life will continue to exist regardless of whether Madrid’s Welsh population increases by one or not.

Franco Baldini: Do We Need Him?

June 11, 2013 Leave a comment

When it was announced that Franco Baldini had agreed to terminate his contract at AS Roma, optimism washed over Spurs supporters on Twitter and other social media platforms. He may not have been a striker, but at least we were about to sign someone, even if it is a Director of Football.


However, with the initial excitement starting to settle its time to finally look at the man himself and ask is this what we really need now?

In English football the appointment of a Director of Football, has generally signaled that a chairman is about to sack a manager. From the North East to the South Coast of England, whether you are Jose Mourinho (at Chelsea), Kevin Keegan or Harry Redknapp, having a man put in place above you has caused discord.

At Chelsea, the appointment of Danish man Frank Arnesen, formerly Tottenham’s DoF, was one of the reasons why Mourinho’s successful reign came to an abrupt end. Relations became so strained that Mourinho, referred to the Dane as “The Dutchman.” For a manager used to the DoF system, something had gone very wrong.

At Spurs the falling out between Damien Comolli and Martin Jol, was cited as one of the reasons why Jol was ousted in favour of a Juande Ramos, a manager more attuned to working with a DoF. However, when Ramos led Spurs to their infamous two points from eight games start to the 2008/09 season, Levy pulled a Ned Stark not only on his manager but his DoF also.
Since then Spurs have operated reasonably well without one. Redknapp became, in league position terms, one of the most successful managers in our history and AVB despite losing key players and suffering unfortunate injuries, has managed to sustain an air of promise around the squad.

Therefore why are we moving towards this system once again?

What makes Daniel Levy think it will work?

The first guide we have that it’s the right move for Spurs is the positive reception from AVB. The former Porto boss said:

It is a position I am used to working with and ideally it is someone that will help us to move forward. Since the first day I told the club that it’s somebody who is extremely important in my view to the structure of the club.

However, we must remember that AVB has shown before a reluctance to rock the boat, or attempt force Levy’s hand. In January when Spurs obviously needed a striker the former Porto boss stated:

We have always believed in Dempsey as a striker. We have always thought that was an alternative. It is highly unlikely we will do anything.

For a team that were pushing for CL qualification and Europa League glory, it was a bizarre statement. It leads me to question some of the comments from AVB, does he really want a DoF, or is he just going along with it?

Regardless though of his wishes, its seems that Levy is ploughing on.

So who exactly is Baldini and what kind of experience in a DoF role does he have?

As a professional footballer, Baldini was mediocre at best. He enjoyed a short spell in Serie A with Bologna, before spending the rest of his career in Serie B. The highlight of his playing career was an un-capped call-up to the Italian Under 21 set-up in 1981.

After hanging up his boots he took up a role at Roma in 1998 and oversaw the signings of Gabriel Batistuta, Emerson and Walter Samuel. In 1999 when Fabio Capello joined the duo steered Roma to their first title in 18 years.

Capello however jumped ship when the financial wheels came off at Roma, and after two season with Juvents landed at Real Madrid in 2006. Baldini followed Capello across the Mediterranean and swapped the Italian capital for that of Spain. The duo enjoyed a successful season in Madrid, leading Los Merengues to the 2007 La Liga title. However as is the way in the Spanish capital, he was axed for failing to win in style.

This sacking coupled with England failing to qualify for Euro 2008 opened the way for the duo to lead England to the World Cup in 2010 and then secure passage to Euro 2012. Their time in England though ended thanks to the fallout from the John Terry captaincy/race row. The duo then went their separate ways, Capello to Russia, Baldini back to Rome.

The former Bologna man was once again appointed DoF, though this time by the clubs new owners who sought to install the “Barca Model” system.

However, despite promising beginnings and a great deal of positive PR, the wheels started to come off. You would be hard pressed to call Baldini’s return to Rome a success.

Former Barca and Spanish international Luis Enrique was appointed as manager, then sacked after one season. Roma then tried to bring back the glory days of Zemanlandia by reappointing Zdeněk Zeman. The Czech manager this time however, couldn’t repeat the success of his first stint at the club and after a run of bad defeats, he too was fired.

Two managers in a season and a half, for a man who was appointed to help introduce a Barca system, Roma had gone all Madridista.

There have been some bright moments in his second spell at Roma. There has been the emergence of Erik Lamela, Fabio Borini being sold at a profit, Mattia Destro maturing and the purchase of Michael Bradley, however the rest his signings have yet to shine. Baldini clearly puts a lot of emphasis on youth and youth development, but Roma have yet to reap the rewards of his philosophy.

The Giallorossi with Baldini in place as DoF have finished 7th and 8th, and have only a Copa Italia runners up medal to their name. Unlike Man City’s new DoF, Txiki Begiristain, the man who helped implement the real Barca system, Baldini isn’t arriving with a résumé bursting with silverware.

There is no doubting that Begiristain was Levy’s first choice, but nevertheless Baldini may prove to be clever acquisition. @WindyCOYS stated on Twitter recently: It’s what AVB has wanted all along; bridges the gap between training pitch & boardroom, takes burden off AVB.

The role of Baldini is clear, however does he have the aptitude for it? He has proved himself at England and Madrid to be a competent assistant but what about a DoF?

His signings at Roma in the cash flush late 90’s of Serie A are hardly the unearthing of gems. Batigol, Emerson, Christian Chivu et al were all pretty established stars. Roma rode the money train to the title, before it derailed spectacularly. As a DoF he arrives at White Hart with very little to boast about.

His appointment reeks of settling for second best after we failed to employ Bergiristain.

Time will of course tell, but I doubt even 1000 Baldini’s will loosen Levy’s grip on the purse strings. We can only hope that appointing Baldini is the right move, but one thing he must be given, is that precious commodity…time.