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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.

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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.

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.

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

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