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.
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Parker: Completing The Circle

August 14, 2013 Leave a comment

When Manchester City tore us apart 5-1 at White Hart Lane, Harry Redknapp demonstrated succinctly to Daniel Levy that Spurs were in desperate need of a holding midfielder. Personally I would have preferred a demonstration that involved graphs, PowerPoint and a spread sheet or two, but the message was loud and clear. Days later Scott Parker arrived, nearly two years on, the English midfielder is set to depart.

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It’s difficult to describe the affect that Scott Parker had on our team. Rather like Didier Zokora, Wilson Palacios and Steffen Freund before him, we loved his spirit and determination, but he will be forever remembered for his limitations.

Last season as Andre Villas-Boas attempted to create a more progressive, possession dominated team; Parker fell well short of what was required. He still gave everything he had, but age, injury and a fundamental lack of class limited him. When Mousa Dembele collected the ball there was a swagger to his play, when Parker found himself in possession, Leonardo Da Vinci doffed his cap at his attempt of circular perfection.

A 360 spin when coupled with ball retention and slice of vision is a masterful thing to behold. It has become the signature move for Barca’s Xavi and Juve’s Andrea Pirlo, but for Parker the full circle spin became a maze, once he started there wasn’t a way out.

Personally I never took the Englishman to heart, his rejections in favour of the wages on offer first at Chelsea, Newcastle then unbelievably West Ham stung. Here was a player clearly following his accountant’s advice, rather than any footballing logic. His two years battling against relegation in East London were just deserts for a man who could have been playing at White Hart Lane before his twilight years came calling.

One attribute Parker has never lacked though is determination, and it was this overbearing willingness never to give up in our “Mind The Gap” season that forced me to put away my feelings of rejection.

As Spurs charged through the back end of 2011 into early 2012, it was clear that for all the brilliance on display from Rafa Van der Vaart, Luka Modric and Gareth Bale, it was some English spirit holding things together.

Bustling across midfield to the sound of “One Scotty Parker,” our former McDonald’s pinup rightfully won many fans and plaudits. Redknapp decreed that he was Dave Mackay incarnate, Stuart Pearce England’s caretaker manager bestowed upon him the captain’s armband, and not even a Mario Balotelli stamp could stop the combative central midfielder.

However, something did. Forces far greater than those he chased around the pitch. His own body caught up with him. Parker had found his place in a club where he belonged too late. As the “gap” vanished and Spurs crumbled so did Parker. He may have featured for England at Euro 2012 that summer, but his race had been run. He was never the same again.

Rotation, tactical naivety and nature caught up with him, no matter how hard he tried, he couldn’t best his own failing body. Injury and tiredness ravaged him, he would have to learn to rely only on his technique.

When the 2012/13 season began, Parker was absent still nursing the injuries that he had played through at the tail end of 2011/12 and the Euro Championships. Parker missed the start of the season and Spurs witnessed a dawn of a new central midfield partnership. As Tottenham beat Man United 3-2 at Old Trafford, we had had a glimpse of the future and it didn’t feature Parker.

Sandro and Dembele combined everything that exemplified Parker’s game, but they added the dynamism and skill that the Englishman’s game lacked. Both were capable of scoring and creating as well as tracking and tackling, when Parker returned from injury his role was clearly defined. The former Hammer’s role at Spurs became one of back-up only, until of course Spurs played QPR away and Sandro’s knee gave way.

Over the summer we have dissected what happened to Spurs and how they managed to finish once again below Arsenal. Many point to throwing away three points at Liverpool or a insipid display at home to Fulham, but for me it was the day Sandro’s knee abandoned him.

With Parker alongside Dembele the best of our Belgian was lost. Forced to patrol deeper his dribbling skills that had struck fear into opposition holding midfielders and centre-backs disappeared. For the first time in his Spurs career, Dembele became ineffective. Apart from a mazy run and a pile-driver goal away against Lyon, we never saw the Old Trafford Dembele again.

Parker meanwhile found himself further up field than ever before, in areas where as a young man he had excelled, now as a veteran he was out of his depth. Every professional footballer has that moment where his career at the top level officially ends, for Parker it was at home to Basel in the Europa League.

Having gone two goals down, Spurs managed to claw one back, then on the stroke of half time the ball fell to Parker with the Park Lane goal gaping. All he had to do was role it home, instead he contrived to hit the ball against a prostrate Lewis Holtby and saw his effort trickle wide.

It may have been bad luck or an act of an unkind God, but what he couldn’t hide was his complete lack of composure and technique. Two skills that our manager craves from his central midfielders, his career at Spurs has come full circle.

From being a player we were in despearte need of, he is now one we are happy to exist without. Parker leaves us for a club and a level of football where he will undoubtedly excel as he progresses deeper into his twilight years.

I wont let his below par 2013 form spoil the appreciation I had for him in 2011/12, he deserves better than that. I will forever though remain disappointed that he never joined us sooner, perhaps then we would be saying goodbye to a legend, not just a player.

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?

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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.

Bale Has More To Do Before He Outgrows Spurs

July 31, 2013 Leave a comment

It has been one of those weekends; actually it’s been one of those summers. Everything to do with Spurs has been analysed, inspected and the rumours have been incessant. Roberto Soldado is set to join, Emmanuel Adebayor is off to Turkey, and predictably Gareth Bale is set to become the world’s most expensive player.

bale man cityThis article was first published on The Fighting Cock

For most of the summer I have allowed the rumours and the nonsense to wash over me. On my way home from work the BT Sport posters, the PS3 covers and various internet stories have failed to elicit a response, until today. Until David Hynter’s article headlined: Gareth Bale’s ability and ambition mean he has outgrown Tottenham appeared on my screen.

It was the straw that broke the camels back, that ridiculous sentence: He has outgrown Spurs….Bale needs to leave because he has outgrown us, really? Really?

I have had a strong affection for our former full-back, winger and now penetrative number 10 for years. I remember his debut, all hair, ears and speed. I remember the free kick he scored against Arsenal and I was at White Hart Lane when he broke his losing hoodoo against Burnley.

Two years ago after recounting countless tales of Bale to my girlfriend, I finally took her to the Lane to experience the man himself. Sat on the Shelf, mere metres away from him she passed an Alan Shearer like nugget of punditry gold: “Wow, he’s fast.” With his heart shape celebration reflecting in my eyes, I nodded in agreement.

As brilliant as Bale can be though, its very naive to claim he is the finished article. Therefore Mr Hynter I have a question for you:

How has Bale outgrown us when he is still growing?

This claim that he has outgrown us must be a side affect of the long warm summer. The past seems to have been forgotten, Bale despite his heroics in 2013, was largely anonymous for most of the calendar year of 2012.

As the reign of Harry Redknapp crumbled around him, Bale was non existent. There were no last minute wündergoals where manager and player embraced, instead Spurs stuttered to a doomed 4th place, Real Madrid scouts were at Spurs, but they were watching a Croat not a Welshman.

For the start of the following season Bale picked up where he had left off, immersed in mediocrity with brief glimpses of talent. He was a player who dipped in and out of games as Spurs struggled to find form and cohesion under AVB’s new system.

The Bale that now apparently commands an £80 million plus figure didn’t truly arrive until Boxing Day when a hat-trick against a poor Aston Villa side sent him into a goal scoring frenzy.

The Welshman was an unstoppable force from January 2013 until May 2013. That’s five months, less than half a year. For a player to have outgrown a club of Tottenham’s size in 20 weeks,  Bale must have undergone some rigorous genetically modified growing.

The truth of the matter is; Bale is a fantastically gifted player capable of doing things on a pitch that very few mortals presently can, however, does this put him on a level with Cristiano Ronaldo or Leo Messi?

These are the globes two standout individuals. Footballers who have operated at such sustained a level for half a decade that it wouldn’t be beyond reason to claim they have outgrown two of the biggest teams in the world.

Bale despite his meteoric rise in form in 2013 has yet to out grow the 4th/5th best team in England. The Guardian’s article is pure sensationalism that has made me take not only the bait, but the whole rod, fisherman’s arm and boat.

Before Bale can hope to usurp CR7 in Madrid he needs at least to help Spurs usurp Arsenal in North London. Great players make great teams and great players have a power to bend a team to their will and define an era.

So far Bale has defined half a season and what it takes to make up bad headlines and as Mr Hynter shows; create angles where previously there were none.

For Bale, the dream has always been Real.

He spoke warmly of the club before he faced them at the Bernabéu with Tottenham in the 2011 Champions League quarter-final, first-leg and it was a sound-bite from that interview which has resonated.

“I’m not afraid to leave the country,” Bale said. “I left home at 15 [to join Southampton’s academy]. If I leave the Premier League, I’ll learn another language … I will grow as a person.”

It’s a mark of how far Bale has come that vague comments from 2011 can be used as evidence for his love of Madrid and create headlines.

Before Bale can wear the crown of the world’s most expensive footballer, he has to earn it. The media, Twitter or his agent clamouring for this title means nothing, until he earns it.  The first step on this path is to remain White Hart Lane until he proves himself, leaving with a few PFA awards counts for nothing.

If he guides Spurs to a title tilt or a cup then perhaps he has outgrown us, but only then.

At Spurs we have regularly sold our best players, its part of what comes with failing to achieve. In my Spurs lifetime we have seen Chris Waddle, Paul Gascoigne, Dimitar Berbatov and Luka Modric all depart. However there is a clear distinction between these players and Bale.

They were players at their peak, at a club unable to sustain them or their ambitions any longer. Tottenham and Bale aren’t currently in that position. We can offer Bale the platform, we have the squad to accommodate and help him flourish, the only thing we lack is Champions League football, but that will come.

Bale is a class player but in a team that features the French captain, a Confederations cup winning midfielder who put Xavi and Iniesta in his pocket, and a couple of wondrous Belgian talents, Bale clearly has some more growing to do before he needs re-potting.

The pressure is on Bale this season, he has to perform, should he lead Spurs to some glory this season, I like a million other Spurs fans will not begrudge him a move, but first he needs to give us more than five months of brilliance.

The Spurs man needs to keep his head down, focus on the forth coming season and rather like me, avoid the nonsense spouted by Mr Hynter and the rest of the worlds sporting media.

Madrid will still be there in 2014.

He hasn’t outgrown us yet, not by a long way.

Tottenham and the Players that Got Away

July 25, 2013 Leave a comment

We all have the one that got away, that person that would have been perfect for you, but for one reason or another things just didn’t work out. Mine was this trendy girl bopping away at Looney Toons in Tufnell Park circa 1998. I still believe if she could’ve looked past my Oasis t-shirt and ridiculous attempt at a French Crop, Trendy Girl and I would be together now, instead she taught me some valuable life lessons on how to deal with rejection, disappointment and crushed dreams.

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This article first appeared on The Fighting Cock Website

Those life lessons have proved very useful through the years, especially when dealing with Spurs and that unholy time of year called the Transfer Window. For years we have had to deal with tantalising eye contact, a flash of leg, the scent of possibility, before it comes crashing down around us.

At Tottenham there have been plenty who have got away, but who are my personal Players That Got Away?

Please note I am only using the players where there was some shred of evidence of them joining us!!

 Rivaldo From Barcelona 2002

The Brazilian may look like an extra from Star Trek and be prone to faking a ball to the face, but there is no denying his class. In 2002/03 when Spurs were in the grip of Glenn Hoddle’s Ačimovič/Bunjevčević era, the chance to sign Rivaldo was very close. Unfortunately though, the dome shaped forehead genius chose AC Milan, however when that move fell foul, he sought out Spurs once more:

Maybe the Tottenham offer can be renewed again.”

It never was. Instead of having a Rivaldo, we all went on to worship an Irish/Brazilian in the form of the Ginger Pele.

It was a crushing disappointment.

Andriy Shevchenko From AC Milan 2001

In 2001 the impossible nearly happened.

Andriy’s situation at Milan is not the best and definitely he wishes to play with Sergei” said Sandor Varga,  Sergei Rebrov’s agent.

The most complete forward since Marco Van Basten wanted to be reunited to with his Dynamo Kiev striking partner £16 million flop Rebrov at Spurs. Even 12 years later, the thought of Sheva at Spurs still gets me excited.

It was an unbelievable story, made even more so by the rumours that Milan were willing to part with Sheva, as long as Steffen Iversen went the other way. Looking back this is truly one of those moments where the course of our history could have been changed, it wasn’t…well it was, but not for the better.

In came Gus Poyet and a raft of old pros and out went a captain centre-back now referred to as Judas’s evil twin.

 Marco Simone From AC Milan 1997

As an Anglo-Italian I have wanted a decent player from the boot to turn up to White Hart Lane for many years. To date we have had the joy of watching Nicola Berti, Paolo Tramezzani and Carlo Cudicini, not a great return for a country with such a proud football history.

In 1997 we nearly set a precedent with the attempted signing of Simone. He may have only be a sub in a great Milan team, but his goals to game ratio was decent, he had a lot of flair and played football the right way. When the news reached me I spent most of the afternoon ringing Club-Call, then later that month grounded after racking up a monstrous phone bill.

Simone had the chance of joining Spurs, but turned us down for pre Arab PSG. The Italian said:

I had to choose between Barcelona, Liverpool, Spurs, Bayern Munich, Monaco and Paris St Germain. It was a very difficult decision.”

It must have been.

Mark Van Bommel From PSV Eindhoven 2004

At Spurs we are always crying out for that one player to complete us. Today it’s a striker, tomorrow probably a left-back but back in 2004 it was a midfield enforcer. Not just any enforcer, a central midfielder who could tackle, rough up the opposition but also pass and shoot. We still love Steffen Freund, but would he get in anyone’s dream team?

Therefore when Van Bommel became available, my heart skipped. Here was a player who encompassed everything good about a central midfielder, to make the match even sweeter; he had scored a thunder strike at WHL a couple of years earlier in an England v Holland friendly.

The Dutchman said:

I know Frank Arnesen and Martin Jol very well, and I really hope something will happen. Spurs are a big club, a sleeping giant, and I want to join them” he told the Daily Mirror.

After that quote he tiptoed out of the room whilst Spurs, Frank and Martin were sleeping and joined Barcelona, giants who were very much awake.

Andrey Arshavin From Zenit St Petersburg 2008

Its 2008 and the world had just witnessed Spain clinch the Euro’s with a new football phenomenon called Tiki-Taka, but the undoubted star of the tournament was little Arshavin.

At Spurs things looked on the up, Juande Ramos had just led the team to the Carling Cup, Luka Modric and David Bentley had signed and the last piece of the jigsaw was supposedly Arshavin.

When Tottenham made their offer I was sceptical at first, but after Ramos called me personally and told me that he wanted me in his side, the situation changed. I also like the way Tottenham play, so I agreed in principle to join

Unfortunately, as what happens most times with Spurs, the correct transfer fee never followed and after two points from eight games Ramos was sacked. Arshavin stayed with Zenit for a few more months before he joined Arsenal in January 2009, where after some promising performances faded away.

I still believe though that had we signed him that summer and played him in his favoured number 10 role behind Bent, greatness would have been ours.

Diego Milito From Genoa 2009

Harry Redknapp was looking for that star striker to replace Sandra Bent and help build on what had been a promising first half a season in charge. In Italy Milito playing for lowly Genoa had been scoring goals for fun, even at the advanced age of 29 he was a striker that would have thrived at Spurs.

The prospect of him joining and playing in a team that was developing its own exciting brand of attacking football was enthralling. The striker was also an Argentine, a country with whom Spurs have a great affinity with after the success of Ossie Ardiles, Ricky Villa and… Mauricio Tarrico.

Daniel Levy went to work his unique way to sign the forward; however his tactics were met with a now all too familiar refusal:

The figure of £10 million that they are offering is ridiculous – for that I wouldn’t give them his ear.”

Milito eventually moved to Inter where under Jose Mourinho his team marched to an historic treble. The Argentine also bagged two goals and the UEFA Man of the Match award in the  2009/10 Champions League Final.

Spurs had missed out on a classy striker, a feeling that we have become all too familiar with in recent days/weeks/months/years.

Roberto Soldado From Valencia 2013

Next?

Levy Learning The Hard Way

July 25, 2013 Leave a comment

The blinds had only been part way closed and the sun streaked across the office straight on to the face of Andre Villas-Boas. Behind his mahogany desk, Daniel Levy smiled as he pushed a plastic cup of water towards his manager. It was the oldest tactic in the book, divert sunshine into a mans face and they would be yours. Even though he had deployed this to great affect recently, he couldn’t help but shudder recalling that time in Blackburn it had been done to him.

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It will be £16.5 million for the next Beckham.”

Could you please close the blinds?

Ah northern sunshine, crisp day eh? Here’s the pen, let me close that for you, sign it first though.”

From that moment Levy had vowed to learn from his experiences, to take what ever happens to him and use it to his advantage. This morning he had intended to break the news to AVB that JD and Emmanuel Adebayor were class strikers to drive the club forwards, but he couldn’t form the words and there was something about AVB this morning that didn’t quite add up.

The Portuguese man had an air of confidence around him; despite sitting in a chair with one leg shorter than the rest, the light across his face and the slight change in air temperature. His posture exuded belief, a posture very few could master in a chair that didn’t balance and he looked cool and totally unperturbed, a far cry from the boy who had arrived 12 months earlier.

It seemed to Levy that AVB thought of himself as a man in power. A feeling three weeks ago in that very office, Levy had once had.

Three weeks ago

The Spurs chairman’s phone was alive. The LED’s were flashing uncontrollably, his inbox was full and his spam filter dealing with any agent from Internacional was creaking. It was a good day if only he had some hair so he could stand there and run his hand through it.

Being follically challenged he instead opted to show his power by summoning his son into his office. Wrapping his arm round the boys frame, Levy put on his best Mufasa like impression as she showed his young cub the territory.

Look how they flock to me, look at my importance; this is the dawn of the new Spurs.

That day though had proved to be a mere one off. Since then his phone had not rung, his secretary had been sent home and White Hart Lane was deathly quiet.

The strikers, agents and offers had all gone, the watering hole that was Tottenham had dried up. Paris, Manchester, Madrid, Monaco, Turin and pretty much every European city had sucked up all the players previously desperate to sign. From a position of power, Spurs were looking at a rather troubling end to the close season.

Levy consoled himself with a sip of water and the thought of the interest £25 million nestled safely in the bank would generate. The drink though didn’t help in the way he expected. His throat seemed even drier, so he poured himself another glass and drank it in one go. The liquid did little to sate his thirst, so he downed two more.

The water was cool and Levy enjoyed the sensation it gave him, but still he felt peculiar, his thoughts turned towards competing in the Premier League. Surely JD and Adebayor wouldn’t be as bad as last season again? So the squad number 9 would have no takers again, Madrid haven’t had a number 11 in two years. That thought stopped him in his tracks.

What if Bale goes? What if Ade doesn’t play again, JD is 30; can I pick up a Dempsey this year?

Levy’s stomach had dropped, sweat formed across his brow, his pulse rate quickened, the room seemed to stand still and his peripheral vision blurred. The images of legendary Spurs figures, hung so proudly on his egg-shell white walls stared at him intently.

What’s happening to me?” He gasped.

He moved painfully slow to his Hewlett Packard laptop, hit the on button and waited an age for it to power up. Finally he opened IE and googled his symptoms.

Panic. The sudden uncontrollable fear or anxiety, often causing wildly unthinking behavior.

As his breath continued to get shorter and the sweat beaded on his dome shaped head, before sliding down into his eyes, he sensed movement. He peered towards the door, but the salt from his sweat, combined with his continual eye wiping, blurred his vision. The pain stung and briefly broke him free of his panic, before he was thrown back in.

Cold air then swept across the office; falling to floor he crawled towards it, seeking its respite.

Daniel, you have wronged many believers. You mocked the Gods of football, you had your opportunities to claim a success through many different phases, but instead you chose greed.”

Lifting his head towards the sound he could only make out a figure robed in white. The light around the figure was beautiful, yet terrifying and enchanting at the same time, his heart lifted at the sight, but dread was still his overriding emotion.

What is this?

I am here to inform you that you must seek alternate methods in which to lead this club, you can no longer keep crossing your palm with client’s silver without returning gifts.

You continue to sell assets and fail to replace them. Modric, VDV and Berbatov, think of how we could send others into downward spirals with them, but instead you sell to mercenaries to feed your own and your bosses coffers. This must stop.”

But I give back, Stub Hub, shiny cards and free Spurs TV…..”

Daniel, do not mock me. They want North London for years, not an afternoon. They want European Glory, they want their pride back. They need a striker.”

The feeling of nausea continued and his heart beat so ferociously that he was afraid it would burst from his chest. He wanted to move, to do something, but the slightest turning of his head made him feel uncomfortable.

I understand, I will try.”

Do or do not Daniel. There is no try.”

Ok I will.”

Excellent, now drink plenty of water.”

As the figure backed away and the light dimmed, Levy began to feel slightly better. Down the hall he heard murmurings, but he was unable to focus on the words, with his head resting on the lush carpet sleep crept upon him.

Back to the present

So Andre, I have been thinking, perhaps we could do with a striker.”

That’s uncanny, both Franco and I have had the same thought.”

Good, I am glad to see we are thinking alike. Now I have something to show you, where is it?

Levy starts searching through various pieces of paper on his desk, when a yellow invoice catches his eye.

Oh look yours and Franco’s first expense report. Industrial fans, pharmaceuticals, lighting and a voice magnifier.”

Franco’s idea, he done something similar at Roma. Worked a treat there, seems to be having some affect here also. I’ll let you get on with your work.”

With that AVB stood and walked out, from down the corridor Levy could make out some familiar murmurings, but as he felt the sweat starting to form on his head again, he picked up the phone.

Shelia, get me Valencia.”

There is Nothing More Satisfying than……

July 19, 2013 Leave a comment

It hurt like hell for a few days, but now my sun burn has started to peel. Is there anything more satisfying than peeling away dead skin? Women’s Football, Two and a Half Men and even an in-depth report on the Ashes all become far more enjoyable as you attempt to peel off a large section of unbroken  skin.

sunburn-peeling

As I scanned for my next area of attack, I pondered, what else other than an enthusiastic 7 minutes, when the mood strikes the girlfriend leaves me so satisfied during the summer?

“We are proud to announce….”

Those magical words that appear not often enough on the official Spurs website. Occasionally they leave me rather deflated when the name Dempsey, Saha or Nelsen appear after it, but when it says Lloris, Vertonghen or Paulinho it’s a different matter.

Spurs signing a top class international in pre season, before SSN start their countdown is once of the great moments of the summer.  I remember fondly the day we signed Jurgen Klinsmann, announced Luka Modric and David Ginola swept into White Hart Lane, brandishing his newly Veeted chest.

In long summer days where football news of a concrete nature is scarce, what beats an official club announcement of a new classy signing?

“I think Spurs will be my team.”

Last week my girlfriend and I had guests over from Colombia. Their youngest son, a magnificently well mannered boy of nine is besotted with Barca, Messi and anything which has “Mes Que Un Club” printed on it. When I asked him who he supported in England, he shrugged his shoulders and mentioned without enthusiasm Man U and Chelsea.

As he prepared to leave to early Monday morning he confessed: “I support Spurs now.”  Glorious is the mind of a child, and how easy is it to turn to the Lilywhite with a few pieces of merchandise, playing only with Spurs of FIFA13 and a YouTube clip of Bale.

The moment a new Tottenham fan is created, especially one who will now become an emissary to all things Spurs in Bogotá is truly satisfying.  The first step to Latino domination has been taken.

<silence>

You hear that? Listen hard, really strain yourself? Can you hear that noise from the Gooners? Are they still walking with a bounce in their step? Has their glorious fourth place cup win faded? Or are they concerned that they are now nothing more than a bargaining chip? Something other clubs/players/agents use to get the star client a move.

Real Madrid want to sign Luis Suarez, Liverpool want 40 million, deep inside Anfield a marketing intern comes up with a bright idea….”Lets leak a story about Luis chomping at the bit to go to Arsenal and force Madrid’s hand.”

In Florence Stevan Jovetić wants to go to Juve or Man City, so he drops a big hint about signing for Arsenal, the result…it looks very likely he will get his move to City.

In France young striker Yaya Sanogo and his agent hatch a plan.

I want to go somewhere successful” says Sanogo

Agent replies: “let’s start a rumour about you going to Arsenal.”

Sanogo signs for Arsenal. Agent given a slap, which echoes satisfyingly round the Emirates.

Number 11

Its summer so pretty much anything which can be used to link Bale with Real Madrid is apparently newsworthy. Marca and various British papers announced that to make Bale happy the Spanish giants have reserved the number 11 for the Welshman. The fact that no one at Madrid wore this number last season seems to have escaped most people; in fact the last player to don this historic number was QPR’s midfielder Esteban Granero.

It really is incredible foresight for Madrid to reserve a number for two years, especially since their actual interest and Zinedine Zindane’s annoying sound bites only started after Bale’s epic performances last season.

The 8th July Spurs kit launch may have been a bit of a cheese fest, but there is no doubting the satisfaction that we all felt when Bale emerged from the wall wearing his number, at our club.

Le Nouveau Riche

So it may in the long run be bad for English football and it may inspire Bale to go and play abroad, but if you don’t find PSG and Monaco out Man Citying/Chelseaing, Man City and Chelsea, you need to check your pulse. For too long these two clubs have waved their golden cheque book and been able to claim pretty much whoever they liked, but no more.

PSG and Monaco between them are sweeping up the players that once looked destined to wear sky or dark blue. Yes we won’t get to see Edinson Cavani and Radamel Falcao being critiqued by pundit Overlord Alan Shearer, but at least we won’t have to stomach them celebrating a deflected goal with a racist, lardy boy and air rifle wielding sex text pest left-back.

My fellow Spurs fans get your satisfaction wherever you can this summer.