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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.

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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.

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.

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.”

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?

Mo Money, Mo Options

April 19, 2013 Leave a comment

As Chelsea prepares to spend £20million on Bayer Leverkusen’s André Schürrle, Spurs must brace themselves for tough times ahead. Despite not being guaranteed Champions League football, the Russian backed club are signalling their intent for next year early. Whether or not they finish in the top four will have no bearing on their ability to write the cheques that we can’t match.

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This article first appeared on The Fighting Cock

We have been fortunate for the last few seasons to count ourselves amongst the great and the good of the Premier League, but for how much longer?  Through astute purchases and two consecutive managers who have managed to galvanize us at points, we have carried the fight, but as the season winds down, we must not lose sight of the big picture.

Even securing Champions League qualification over Arsenal or Chelsea will not guarantee that a player will wear our shirt in 2013-14

Chelsea’s much revered attacking trio of Juan Mata, Oscar and Eden Hazard are all players who could have joined us,  instead they opted for Chelsea because unlike us, the Blues aren’t affected by wage budgets, transfer fees and a fear of Financial Fair Play.

Schürrle, a decent player with potential is not signing for Chelsea’s starting XI, he will instead join Victor Moses and Marko Marin as squad players. Take a cursory glance over our bench at any time this season; do we have even one player of similar quality let alone three?

This season Spurs have managed, when injuries have been at their lowest, to string a decent run of results together. Through December to early March, when Europa League games were not taking their toll, we cruised into third, but the moment our schedule became heavy, our squad was unable to cope.

This isn’t Andre Villas-Boas’ fault, or even Daniel Levy’s, it’s a sign that unlike Chelsea we are unable to rotate quality for similar quality. Ponder for a moment our backup players Tom Huddlestone, Clint Dempsey, Scott Parker, Kyle Naughton? These are decent players but would they get anywhere near the other top Premier League team’s starting XI?

Chelsea last night played their 60th game of the season, but were able to call upon two players who have captained England and a £50 million striker, all of whom never started the FA Cup Semi against Man City on Sunday. Therein lays the difference between us and them.

We have to stay realistic and most importantly positive. Thanks to good management and a stable atmosphere we have capitalised on Liverpool’s fall from grace and last year the backroom chaos at Chelsea.

This season and last, with our first choice starting XI, we have shown on countless occasions that we do possess that something extra, but currently shorn of Gareth Bale and Aaron Lennon; we are good, but not great.

Manchester City arrives this weekend on the back of what has been a disappointing season. They are 2nd in the league and have only a FA Cup Final left to play for, that is what one billion pounds does to your seasons expectations.

At Spurs we can not compete on that level. We are a club that is sustainable and as our latest accounts show we are operating within our means. Great credit must go to management staff, both Redknapp’s and AVB’s that has seen us outperform teams who have either spent more, or paid more in wages.

As we lack the oligarch or Sheikh injecting a constant stream of money into us, we need to rely on AVB, a good scouting system and his charges doing something special on the pitch. However “Special” is not a quality that is on tap. Bale has on occasions done this, but you can’t rely on just one man, we need alternatives. Unfortunately though, alternatives cost £15 million upwards, not £6 million from Fulham.

Last summer the Spurs scouting and management staff pulled off some masterstrokes. We signed the Ajax captain, the French captain, a striker that had scored and assisted in double figures the previous year, but for some that wasn’t enough. What did they expect? Leo Messi? Radamel Falcao? Genetic clones of Alan Gilzean or Danny Blanchflower?

We have to realise that there are very real budgetary constraints on us. Our stadium, our lack annual CL campaigns and boardroom mantra not become the next Leeds or Portsmouth. These are factors taken into consideration every transfer window, yes I want my club to spend, but not at the risk of its very existence.

Thanks to the draw at the Emirates on Tuesday night, CL qualification is back in our own hands. This is a fact that every Spurs fan should be proud of, we are competing on a playing field that isn’t close to be level, yet still come May we are in the mix. On Sunday let’s show City something that money can’t buy passion, belief and Love for The Shirt.