Archive

Posts Tagged ‘football’

Spurs Fixture Pile-Up Glory

October 6, 2013 Leave a comment

Madness it has been declared, dangerous says AVB, personally I think it’s brilliant. After a saga filled summer, tennis and some match involving a barbecued wicket and a wooden ball, three Spurs games in a week? Every Spurs fan will be delighted, especially if they are all as easy as the Tromso home game.

BUjknplCUAAzUW4

Next up for the Lilywhites is Cardiff away, one of those games that historically Spurs would struggle at, however, AVB has, Emirates apart, instilled a real strength to our team away from White Hart Lane. An away day doesn’t have the same connotations it used to have, in most instances, we actually perform better away from the Lane than we do at it. Perhaps it’s the release of pressure from a now continually expectant White Hart lane crowd, but more likely it’s the mentality of the opposition.

Most self respecting home teams will attempt to attack, or at least feint to attack. An away team’s 4-6-0 formation, without even a gesture at employing a false 9 has become as much a part of a home fixture at WHL as the Sunday kick-off. The side affect of this negativity has been slow patient football from Spurs, something that doesn’t sit well with how we were all brought up to watch football.

Last night against Tromso AVB’s reign was perfectly encapsulated in 90 minutes. Start at a high tempo, score a goal then nullify the opposition. If we score another goal it’s a bonus, if we don’t control the game and don’t concede. Its not the thrilling Charge of the Light Brigade football, instead its well communicated football science. It may not be to everyone’s taste, but you have to admire the structure and planning behind it.

This weekend however, I expect a different game. Cardiff, Man City game apart, have had an average start to the season. Four points from four games is a decent return, but the feeling is growing that Cardiff really need to start picking up more than a point a game. The former Blue Birds need to benefit from Sunderland acclimatising to an influx of players, West Brom struggling to score goals and Crystal Palace’s tendency to implode.

They need points, not a point. Surely they will attack?

The opposition’s tendency to sit back and deny Spurs space behind them used to be a worry for me. Last season we saw West Brom, Southampton and Sunderland nullify us, only for the world’s most expensive player to bail us out. This year without him, the fear of being nullified again is non-existent.  Where once we relied on pace and power, new Spurs is all about guile and intelligence.

Pace and power can only bloom given the right conditions, space, plenty of space. Football intelligence and creativity though can spring up in the smallest of gaps. A run off the shoulder, a delicate through ball, a quick shift of direction, seconds later the best laid defensive plans are in smithereens.

When Willian chose the Rouble, many of us despaired at our desperate search for a number 10. However, this may have been a blessing, instead Spurs snapped up the much cheaper and younger Christian Eriksen. Of course its still only early in his Spurs career, but last Saturday he operated behind Roberto Soldado and knitted the team together beautifully. Then last night in a short cameo he proved that he has that something extra many of his teammates lack. Glyfi Sigurdsson is good, Lewis Holtby is good, but Eriksen is special.

A quick shift out of his feet and then a rasping drive which dipped and spun straight into the top corner. A beautiful goal from a player who should not be compared to a former Croat, Welshman or Rafa Van der Vaart. Eriksen is his own man.

Last night we also got a good look at Eric Lamela. He may not have had the impact that Erisken had on his full debut but you have to remember that despite being the same age (Lamela is one month younger) they are coming from two very different backgrounds. Erisksen has been playing Champions League football and winning titles for years. The Dane has been to a World Cup and Euro Championships, he is much further down the road in terms of development, Lamela is still learning.

The Argentine I have no doubt will turn into a superstar, but he needs time. He came to Europe only because his boyhood club River Plate were surprisingly relegated from the Argentine top division. Arriving at Roma he then had to deal with four managers in two years, including the brilliantly erratic Zenek Zeman, and fit into a team boasting one or two small characters.

Added to this he doesn’t have the benefit of 30+ international caps to his name. Lamela is a young 21 year old and I get the feeling he will need to come to terms with life off the pitch at WHL before he can shine on it.

 The only concern to come from last nights 3-0 win are the injuries to Danny Rose, Mousa Dembele and Younes Kaboul. At central defence and across the middle we have enough back-up, the most concerning issue is the injury to Danny Rose.

This is a testament to his development, many including myself had written him off, but Rose has knuckled down, came through a career defining loan move at Sunderland with glowing reports and made the left-back role his own.

Very few full-backs are born great, it’s a specialised role that needs time, dedication and maturity. Rose is giving the role the respect it deserves, hopefully his rise in form and ability can motivate Kyle Walker to step up his waning game.

Tromso done, Cardiff, Aston Villa and Chelsea to come. Fixture congestion? More like fixture glory. Give me more.

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.

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.

r

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?

The Best Kits Spurs Have Ever Dropped

June 28, 2013 Leave a comment

The lack of domestic football has had quite an affect on me. Occasionally I find myself emerging from a tube carriage, controlling an imaginary ball, performing a step-over and sweeping it past the good looking lady in the pencil skirt. At other times I find myself praying to the Gods, either old or new, for a doping ring to be discovered at Arsenal, however on occasion I do find time to do something constructive.

In this football famine I have devoted my time to reading books on Spurs, and last week I finished Roy Reyland’s excellent: Shirts, Shorts and Spurs.

Roy is a former kit man at Spurs who has been associated with the club since the 70’s. He started life as an odd job man/groundsman before eventually taking charge of the first team kit. It’s a great book and full of nice anecdotes from playing football with Steve Perryman, pool with a young Mickey Hazard, to watching Gazza run riot with an air-gun, dealing with an OCD Robbie Keane and being knee deep in the Lasagne gate aftermath.

This great book got me thinking, not only when are Spurs and Under Armour dropping the new kit, but also what has been my favourite shirt?

Of course trying to pick just one would be too difficult, it’s like deciding between Gareth Bale or Chris Waddle, so instead I have gone all chicken and picked a selection.

1991-1994 3rd Kit Umbro

There was a time when Spurs or any English team for that matter didn’t appear in Europe. However after claiming the FA Cup in 1991, Tottenham found themselves in Cup Winners Cup and they launched a special Euro kit to mark the event.

$T2eC16d,!zoE9s5ngH)OBRYZqHHWO!~~60_35

It may not have been everyone’s cup of tea, but for me I loved the light blue colour and the Spurs name across the chest.

Yes it was probably a waste of money as we hardly ever wore it, but I loved that shirt and the fact it signalled we were back in Europe.

1999-2001 Home Kit Adidas

After years of Hummel, Umbro and god forsaken Pony, Spurs finally had a world famous kit manufacturer. Adidas with their iconic three stripes down the arm and smart shorts, coupled with the return of Holsten, ticked all the right boxes.

Tottenham were Worthington Cup champions and even back in Europe. Our Euro adventure however didn’t last long, a Stephen Carr 92nd minute OG away at Kaiserslauten ended our dreams.

However despite an average domestic season there were some highlights, we beat Arsenal at home, and thanks to a Carr wonder goal at the right end, we beat Man United 3-1.

2010-2011 Home Kit Puma

This is the kit that has been immortalised by Bale’s destruction of Maicon, however a few months previous it could have been totally different.

Stood in a pub in Old Street with my fellow Spurs supporting friends, our dreams of Champions League football were in tatters after only 30 minutes. Switzerland, Young Boys, a plastic pitch and some amateur defending threatened to make us a laughing stock.

Thankfully though, we recovered and made it through to the quarter finals where Real Madrid, with the help of Aaron Lennon fainting, two Peter Crouch slide tackles and a flap by Heurelho Gomes ended our journey.

That Puma kit was beautifully tailored and suited our attacking, bordering on occasional suicidal European form.

1988-1991 Away Kit Hummel

We all remember Gazza’s freekick at Wembley in the Hummel kit, but for me it was his goal on the plastic pitch at Kenilworth Road in 1989 against Luton that burned this Hummel yellow kit into my mind. It was a classic breakaway goal, defenders back peddling, options either side but Gazza just slides between two men and rolls it home.

In our squad that season were also Chris Waddle, Gary Linker and Mabbutt and Erik Thorstvedt, enough for any young boy to fall helplessly in love with Spurs.

2012/2013 Under Armour ?????

What do we all want from this year’s kit? A return to navy shorts? A brown away number?

Personally as long as the third grey/black number is ditched and we have a number 9 shirt with a class strikers name on the back, I will be happy.

For The Sake of English Football Bale Must Stay

June 14, 2013 Leave a comment

There is this rumour doing the rounds, you might have seen it at some point. In case you have been lucky enough to miss it, or you have opted to spend the summer in a lead lined fridge avoiding the nuclear fallout from limited live football, here it is: Gareth Bale may depart for mainland Europe. According to many sources teams that have been bankrolled by the black stuff are stuffing multiple suitcases with cash.

943618_513335332067764_871386295_n

This article first appeared on The Fighting Cock

It’s hardly the most surprising rumour ever. The best player in England currently on holiday with his partner, AVB-ette and granny, is being linked to clubs who have a history of more money than sense. It’s the kind of news that makes the summer unbearable.

Phil McNulty noted angrily on Twitter that journalists hate being called lazy. In honour to a man I follow and enjoy reading, I therefore will opt for slothful. These headlines and quote lacking pieces are entirely sloth-like and show that journalists like many of us, are in desperate need of column inches.

Editor: We have a page to fill!!
Journo: Hmm Bale to Monaco and or Madrid?
Editor: Brilliant! England has been knocked out of the Euro Under 21’s we have a page to fill tomorrow?
Journo: What about AVB to Paris?
Editor: Isn’t she currently with Bale? Fantastic!! PSG swoop in on father and daughter.

This summer scrolling through general Twitter nonsense the possible departure of Bale has grown in its significance. Should the Welshman depart, it wont only be Spurs be left reeling, but the whole of our domestic game.

The general perception of the English game will be irrevocably damaged; SKY, BT and thousands of billboard poster-sticker-uppers will be affected. There is also the small matter of the 36,000 or so that squeeze into White Hart Lane, who will be left with a Bale sized gap to fill.

This season watching Bale fire in howitzers from all angles has been one of my most enjoyable Spurs experiences.

I have come to terms that we won’t be trotting out to Tony Britton’s masterful adaptation of Handel’s, Zadok the Priest, I have even accepted that we won’t sign Edinson Cavani or any other player of similar ilk. Fate has been accepted, rather like the £47 quid that whizzed its way from my account straight into Joe Lewis’ wallet.

What I can’t accept though on a purely selfish reason is the prospect of losing Bale. He may not really have been born to play for Spurs, but there is no denying that his style suits the ethos of our club and has made us globally recognisable.

When I went to Colombia in 2008 and football came up in conversation it was rather like this:

Him: Who do you support?
Me: Tottenham (said Tot-nham)
Him: Who?
Me: Tott-ing-ham, you know,  Ledley King? Ossie Ardiles?
Him: Are they close to Chelsea?

In 2011

Another Him: Who do you support?
A Wiser Me: Tot-ing-ham
AH: Ahh!!! Bale!! What a player!!
AWM: I love him.

It was a common theme. Despite being the first club to do this or that, Glory Glory Hallelujah and other things we take so much pride in, the truth is, it’s the Welshman that has given us a profile. Bale is that type of player that you can feel proud of, he is that good and he is still getting better. He along with help from Modric, VDV, Hugo Lloris and Jan Vertonghen have increased the profile of our club.

Of course Spurs existed before Bale, and we will exist after he has swaggered off to somewhere thousands of miles from his granny, but there is no denying he puts us on today’s global football map. Football as we see by the astronomic rise in TV revenue is now a global game and personally I like having a player good enough that even in a remote part of Indonesia, a nippy 7 year old with big ears being inspired.

The possible departure of Bale would have a serious affect on the credibility of not only Spurs but also the Premier League.

So far this summer we have seen some of Europe’s best players avoid the PL. Colombians, Portuguese midfield generals, rising German stars and Neymar have opted against a move to our shores.

Is this down to money? Surely Man City and Chelsea would not allow a newly promoted AS Monaco out bid them? Why then are the English paying public missing out on the best players?

The truth is these stars chose something else other than money to not come to the Premier League. These snubs coupled by the fact that the rest of the worlds best players are all abroad only serves to make the tag: The Best League in the World, seem more outlandish than ever. As the Americans do with baseball, we should just give in and call it the Premier World Series League.

The PL is left with only a handful of stars: Bale, Luis Suarez, a 30 year old Robin Van Persie and an overhyped/inflated Wayne Rooney.

Suarez can be found currently using his mouth in more ways than one to orchestrate a move away from Liverpool, whilst Rooney heralded in 2004 as the new global star of football would be happy to move anywhere willing to pay him.  This would leave only Bale and RV-OAP.

There are some clubs attempting to stop the flow of talent heading off to Europe. Chelsea has powered up a DeLorean to 88mph in order to recapture past glories, but even that reeks of decline. Pep Guardiola the man who Roman Abramovich has a major man-crush on left him hanging, with no other option he returned to his ex-ex3 manager Jose Mourinho.

Up north Man City have lit a small beacon of hope and splashed of £50 million on Jesus Navas, a 27 year old who suffers from homesickness, and 28 year old Fernandinho, who in one of the worst Seleção pools in recent years, has been unable to collect more than five caps for Brazil. That noise you hear in the distance isn’t the rest of Europe quaking in fear, but the sound of sniggers being muffled.

There is a vast difference in the business being done here and what is going on in France, Germany, Spain and even cash strapped Italy.

The greatest league in the world? Perhaps briefly once, but not anymore.

The Premier League is on the wane and the national teams are wobbling, attendances are down and it’s imperative for SKY and BT that the Premier League keeps hold of at least one global asset.

They need Bale to stay as much as we want him to stay. If Bale left this year, not only would Spurs lose a fantastic and vital component, but it would signify the end of the Premier League as a force.

The best players will all be elsewhere, the fantasy and style that signifies a truly class act wont be on show at White Hart Lane, Old Trafford or Wonga Village. England, the Premier League, football fans and Spurs supporters all need Bale to stay.

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.

Franco-Baldini

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.

Spurs: Close But Not Quite Ready

May 22, 2013 2 comments

One thing we as Spurs fans have learnt over the years is that the league table doesn’t lie. After 38 games we find ourselves the 5th best team in the country. Is this a catastrophic disaster? Is it the end of the world? Of course not, we are where we are because that is where after ten months of football, we deserve to be. The summer will be painful, but think back, we have endured worse hours than finishing a mere six points off second.

Andre Villas-BoasThis article first appeared on The Fighting Cock

Personally, although the Champions League brings increased revenue, allows us to play our league games on a Saturday, I am happy we didn’t qualify. The thing about Spurs is; we aren’t quite ready for another pop at Europe’s elite.

Having spent a large portion of money and time at White Hart Lane this season, I couldn’t shake the fact that we are a work in progress. Everyone who stood/sat at the ground, watched on SKY or some juddering stream will have seen our deficiencies. We aren’t ready yet, who would put out their best china, invite their in-laws round then serve a meal which is undercooked and missing the vital accompaniments?

We lack quality in certain areas and we lack 16 years of experience of doing just enough to win fourth place and qualify for the CL. We and Tottenham have learnt far more about ourselves this season by failing to qualify, than we would have by being thrown into a mid August two legged qualifier. When our time comes, we will qualify because we deserve to, not because a North East team who have been poor all year decide to start playing.

This will lead many to claim that by failing to qualify we automatically limit who we can sign, but truthfully is this really the case?

Could we really match the wages that are on offer at Chelsea or the soulless Emirates?

Could our wage structure be flexed to convince an Edinson Cavani or some other exotic import to forgo an oily pay slip in favour of a 50-50 chance of even being in the CL?

Our best hope remains having faith in Andre Villas-Boas, the team he is developing and capturing some bargains from across the continent. If it turns out to be yet another false dawn then so be it.

Those that support Spurs, (under the age of 52 at least) don’t support them for the league titles or regular silverware. We chose Spurs for that piece of magic that is unquantifiable.

If you fail to see what supporting Spurs is about, then you need to take this summer as a chance to collect your thoughts. It’s the Glory Game, but is also one full of pain, bitterness and disappointment, yet to be Spurs, is to always offer the other cheek and give the team another chance.  We wear White and Blue, not just Blue.

From the last ten months we need to take the positives out of what has been a transitional season. Spurs have lost players, changed the staff, moved training base yet still we have moved forward. This season we have taken the first steps in hopefully putting together something tangible for 2013/14.

The biggest positive from 2012/13 is obviously the metamorphosis of Gareth Bale from being an added dimension to a focal point. His goals, his attitude and the way he has conducted himself should make us all proud at his development.

Whether we had finished 8th or 16th his emergence will prove to be priceless (or at least 60 million.) There will be a time when he leaves, but he will leave a product of Spurs not Southampton. Just as Man U is attached to Ronaldo, Bayern to Franz Beckenbauer, Boca to Maradona, Santos to Pele,  so will Spurs be eternally connected to Bale.

What Spurs need to ensure now is that for the time we have left with him, AVB and Daniel Levy provide him with the right sort of players to help him continue his meteoric rise. Should those two combine well over the summer, perhaps we can hold on to him for a little bit longer?

In defence Hugo Lloris and Jan Vertonghen have added a fortitude to our back-line not seen since Ledley King’s knees started creaking. They have been stand out performers, and these two players will only improve and their role within the team will only increase in significance next year.

We signed these two players without a Tuesday/Wednesday night theme tune, which doomsayers amongst you honestly believe we can’t do similar this summer?

As we spend the long summer nights attempting to fill the void that football leaves behind, we must remember not to be too be depressed and despondent about what could have been. We could waste days analysing a sloppy back pass at Anfield, or a late goal at Everton or even a dull performance here or there, but we shouldn’t. Take the positives, move on and look forward.

We all know an Arsenal fan who has already started his summer boasting tour, but regardless of whatever Arsene Wenger spin you put on it, the truth is the gap is closing. Why else would their fans be shaking with delight at Wonga Stadium as their team time wasted by the corner flag?

Arsenal haven’t done anything of note this season, bar finish above us. They came second in their CL group, were then dispatched by Bayern Munich, held to ransom by a forward, witnessed black scarf marches against their board and then endured home games with row upon row of empty seats.  If this is the measure of modern day success, I am happy to wait for ours.

Tottenham are coming, all we need is patience. We’ve waited this long, what’s another summer in the grand scheme of things?