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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.

bale

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.

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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.

Premier League Chairman goes to Hollywood for Tips.

September 17, 2012 1 comment

As last seasons Premier League’s top three and sixth placed Chelsea prepare for their first round of Champions League fixtures, two managers decide to share high tea at The Ritz in London.

Andre Villas Boas is buoyant after finally claiming three points and exorcising some triffic demons, whilst the measure of Brendan Rodgers’ task, to transform Liverpool is finally dawning on him.

The Ritz

“Well done Andre you finally won, how does it feel?”

“It feels great, it’s been a long time, but I knew it would happen.”

“Tell me, how did you manage to pull it off?”

“Pull it off, no no Brendan, it was hard work, focus and tactics. Also having more than one striker helps.”

“But with all the pressure and stuff, how did you really manage it. I mean Bale scored with his right, Defoe with his left, Lennon got an assist? There is more than tactics at work here.”

“Hard work, communication and science.”

“Really? Do you have any tips? I am starting to get desperate, they are starting to call me the New Roy, not the new Pep. Please help.”

Pondering this AVB quickly scans the surrounding tables before leaning towards Brendan.

“I have always liked you Brendan, so I will tell you, but it can’t go any further.”

Earlier that week.

“Senor Jose, there is someone at the door for you”

“Who is it? “

“I don’t know but he says it’s urgent”

Striding across his grand hallway adorned with full length mirrors, Mourinho is annoyed yet curious as to who would disturb him at this time of night.

“Who’s there?”

The Real Madrid manager repeats himself, something he doesn’t like to do.

“Who’s there?”

The figure remains motionless, his features hidden in the dark afforded by the porch. Almost upon him the Special One suddenly senses a presence behind him and a handkerchief is forced over his mouth, the strong smell of Chloroform makes it hard to breath. A weariness sweeps over him, turning his limbs to jelly and making his eyes close, Mourinho just has time to think:

“This is a bit kinky.”

Within seconds the two figures are dragging him towards a waiting car.

Later

“Wake up Jose!! Steffen throw some water on him.”

“Yes boss.”

“What where am I?? Daniel Levy? Jesus, this is far from normal behaviour even for you!”

“Shut the f*ck up and listen to Mr Levy.” Adds a clearly buzzing Steffen Freund.

“Listen to me Jose, we don’t have much time. This could all have been avoided if you had taken the job offer in the summer but desperate times call for desperate measures.”

“What are you talking about?”

“I cant take it anymore Jose, the Redknapp lovers, the Sky Sports News’ panel of addicts and Jamie Fuc*ing Redknapp all laughing at me. They think AVB has lost it, well let me tell you, its me that’s losing it.”

“But why kidnap me? What’s that going to do? How can I possibly help you?”

“Basically, I need you. I need you but I can’t be seen to be using you.”

“What?”

“I need a man of your skills to fix this mess, but I can’t lose face again with the media. They have barely forgiven me for sacking Jol and replacing him with that Spanish idiot.”

“But what can I do? I am the Madrid manager!!”

“You see that man over there?”

Levy points at a hooded figure slumped in a chair.

“That’s your protégé AVB, he has failed me. Norwich, West Brom the Newcastle defeat, it all got too much for him. He has had a break down. I thought our media coverage was over the top with Redknapp in charge, but this is too much.”

“Way too much.” Adds Freund.

“I hate repeating myself, but what can I do?”

“We need you brains, but not your face.” The former Spurs midfield general remarks.

“Yes well technically that’s it. Its Steffen’s idea. We are going to switch yours and AVB’s face. Think of it as a Face Lift, you will essentially be Andre with a couple of swishes of a scalpel. You come to Spurs, look 15 younger, he goes to Madrid and manages a big team and we start winning. Its win win for everyone.”

“You’re mad!”

“I prefer the term revolutionary.”

“You can’t do this!!! The world will realize!!”

“You think?? Have you noticed how Nadal has disappeared and Murray is winning Olympic medals and Slams? Open your eyes! This goes down all the time. Don’t worry its relatively painless. Steffen, grab the pills let get this started.”

“But! No!”

“Sssssssh Jose, it will only sting for a minute.”

Back at The Ritz.

“So you are Mourinho, dressed as AVB?”

“I am.”

“Bullish*t. Prove it!!”

“Have you seen Madrid play recently?”

“Oh.My.God,”

Later that evening at Casa Rodgers.

The phone rings.

“Hello.”

“Hi this is Samantha from Fenway Sports Group, I have John W Henry on the line please hold.”

“Erm ok.”

“Hi Brendan, just ringing up to see how you are, you know,  see if you are home, alone.”

“Thanks for calling Mr Henry, I actually have a few things to chat to you about…..”

“Really? That’s great, first let me ask you a few questions.”

“But Sir we need to discuss the Man U game.”

“All in due course. Now Brendan tell me, are you allergic to penicillin? Are you the same height as Pep Guardiola? How’s your Spanish?

Even Later at Casa Rodgers

“Brendan!!! There’s someone at the door for you, he says it’s urgent!!”

Deep Inside The Modric Saga

July 23, 2012 Leave a comment

When Luka Modric performed a masterful audition for the part of BA Baracus in the Croatian reboot of  the A-Team, a little bit of hope died in me. My blind optimism that Lill’ Luka, my girlfriends favourite player would see the error of his ways and change his mind, set sail.

Here is a man who is paid millions to do something I spend around £20 a week to try and do, walking out on Tottenham, the club that has driven me to despair since the late 80’s.

The realisation that playing for Tottenham isn’t good enough for little Luka, is a bitter pill to swallow, thankfully though I have an Arsenal sized spoon of RVP branded sugar to sweeten it.

The two North London rivals are in serious trouble of losing ground on not only the Manchester duo, but the Champions League winners across the Thames. Footballing Reasons has a lot to answer for.

Despite my spirit being broken Bruce Wayne style, I was still able to deploy my contacts and find out what has been going on behind the scenes.

Heathrow Airport

Luka Modric: No, I am not getting on no plane, no way.

AVB: Luka please get on the plane.

LM: No, I was promised move to a big team, yet still I am here, new kit, new boss but same stadium, same players. Luka is fed up, Luka wants new challenge. Luka has been learning some Spanish

AVB: Let me explain to you my project.

Advisor: (Whispered) AVB, please remember project word is bad, instead use words like we, progress, titles and team

AVB: Ok, we want to build a team for titles, to win….

LM: Luka wants sun, Luka wants real Mourinho and Luka wants Champions League. My agent says don’t get on no plane, and he said to make sure I make a scene. So I repeat. No plane, no flying, no more nothing.

Stewardess: Excuse me we really need to get this plane in the air; please can you either get on or move away?

LM: Do you fly to Madrid from here?

Stewardess: Yes we do; you want to go to Madrid? Do you have your parents or a guardian here to take you?

LM: Luka a man, Luka no baby, take me to Madrid NOW. I wanna go…. AVB you listen to me Luka wants…

AVB walks towards the plane.

Jenas, Bentley and Bassong: Boss!!! Boss!! Sit here Boss!! Boss!! We saved you a seat.

Later:

LM: Hi can I speak to Robin please.

Receptionist: Who is this?

LM: This is me, Luka. Who are you?

R: I am the receptionist at the Manchester Hilton, I have been told not to connect anyone to someone we have here.

LM: Please tell him it’s me and I need to chat. Luka has issues with fake Mourinho, Robin is very good out getting out of situations that get out of control. Please connect.

R: Do you always speak like this?

At Tottenham’s new training ground

Levy: Good afternoon Joao, welcome to Tottenham, before we continue, please sign the contract.

Joao Moutinho: errrrrm I am here only for a chat. You said I could leave my advisor in Portugal?

Levy: Don’t worry, just sign away, here’s my pen. We look good together.

(Banging and muffled shouts can be heard)

JM: What is that noise?

Levy: Nothing that you should be worried about. Sign.

JM: Its sounds like someone is…

Levy: Come now Joao, have I told you about NDP?  Sign.

(Adopts intense stare)

JM: Okay, but we have an agreement, if Madrid come for me, you can let me leave? Can we write that in the contract?

Levy: No need, shake my hand and it is done. Sign away.

(More muffled noises and a mobile rings).

JM: Okay, but what happens if I don’t sign?

(looks around nervously as Levy reaches for something in his draw as phone continues to ring)

Levy: Nothing. Just think very carefully about it. If you need somewhere to think, I have just the right place.

(Removes Duck tape and wire from draw)

Meanwhile at the same time across London

Adebayor’s friend: He should be here, he is late, he is never late.

Adebayor’s friend 2: He said he was seeing someone about a contract, he should be here.

AF1: Let’s ring him……Hmm no answer.

In cigar club, West London.

LM: Errg the smoke errrughh stop that.

Berbatov: Happiness is a cigar little one.

LM: Not for me, happiness for me Big Dimi is big games, in a big stadium, with real manager not fake knock off.

Berb: Listen to me, I was so keen to move to win things, but it didn’t work. Yes I won medals, and cups and was top goalscorer but I was never happier than when I was at White Hart Lane. Stay Luka, don’t go.

LM:  I am going, when Luka decides something, Luka does it. There is nothing you can say to change my mind.

(Phone rings, Luka looks at caller Id)

LM:  Its Levy, this is it, yes I can go.

LM: Hello Luka’s phone

(Silence)

LM: Hello, Luka speaking……Hello…Mr Levy? Mourinho?

Levy: Dick. You’re fined two weeks. Cross me again and you will be walking like Niko runs.

(Hangs up)

The Future Premier League Top Stories

July 17, 2012 Leave a comment

After over doing it at a friends wedding I decided to spend my Sunday in a hot tub recuperating. Whilst I was allowing the bubbles to soothe away my hangover, I accidently dropped my girlfriend’s I-pad into the warm waters and before I could shout:” Shoot Steffen!!”  I was sent hurtling into the future.

Through the miracle of magic, Steve Jobs and bubbles I found myself wandering the streets of Borisdon, the city formerly known as London,  some time close to the year 2040. For fear of causing a space time issue or something, I shall refrain from telling you too much, but rest assured football still exists, but not quite as we know it.

What happened to the all the 9’s

In Poland and Ukraine during the summer of 2012 we witnessed a miraculous event that changed football forever. A team without a recognised striker won Europe’s premier international competition.  In the years that followed a spate of copy cats occurred, Liverpool boss and Pep Guardiola incarnate, but without the pizazz and looks, Brendan Rodgers was the next to try this.

Over the following years most clubs adopted this style meaning players like Andy Carroll, Bobby Zamora and Mario Gomez were on the verge of extinction until demi-God of the lumbering number 9’s Peter Crouch helped create a sanctuary in Stoke.

It wasn’t all peace and happiness for the “Lumberers” as they became known; tragedy struck when Emile Heskey was gunned down trying to break in, it seemed they had lost enough dignity without having to associate themselves with the former Villa and Wigan man. Meanwhile a few years later Zlatan Ibrahimovic finally came out of the closest and admitted that he had been hiding his Lumbering for nearly a decade.

The Lumberers passed the rest of their days happy in those muddy fields, often at night stories of glories past could be heard wafting over the fence like a Rory Delap long throw.

Andre Villas-Boas. Terminated.

In a sting that would go on to be called operation Judgment Day, AVB and Jose Mourinho nearly brought the Premier League to its knees. The sting fronted by Jamie Redknapp,  the new Thomas Cooknapp owner, who was still angry about his old man’s sacking, discovered that AVB was actually a cyborg sent back through time to prevent any clubs rising up and challenging Real Madrid’s world dominance.

Redknapp stated in his historic press conference: “I travelled around the world in style thanks to Thomas Cooknapp and it became clear that something was amiss. Chelsea with AVB were terrible, then without him they won the Champions League and FA Cup. Spurs with me old man challenged for fourth, with AVB they crumbled. It wasn’t right

Suspicions were aroused when AVB was heard speaking shortly after taking his role at Spurs. (See video here)

Listen to his voice, that interference is caused by Assou Ekotto’s electric car and Oyster card.  In our studies we found those two things, combined with Gareth Bales ears affects the voice box on all Cyberdine Cyborgs. My wife noticed it to be fair. ”

In the court cases that followed AVB was found guilty and was officially terminated by being lowered into molten metal by a crying Daniel Levy, whilst Mourinho walked free after pulling a Terry (see below.)

However the courts were granted access to the secret files at Cyberdine , where they discovered a shocking fact. Apparently it reports that that Arsene Wenger was assassinated after The Invincibles stormed the Premier League from 2003 to 2004 and replaced him with a system known only as The Captain Seller aka Trophy Denier.

Gerrard FC

Steven Gerrard the Champions League and FA Cup winner for Liverpool finally managed to get his hands on the Premier League trophy, unfortunately though it was as a club owner not as a player. When he finally hung up his boots after quite a glorious career at Anfield, Stevie G realised he had quite a lot of time on his hands.

Never one to shy away from the advances of white stilettoed blond lass, the former number 8 found himself with a rather large amount of male heirs 17 years later. In a move suggested by his tax advisers he started up his own club, which thanks to a healthy DNA sequence and great vision propelled itself to the very pinnacle of English football.

Normally when a team creates history the player’s names will be etched into history and splashed across the media, however thanks to Stevie’s lawyers, Gerrad FC, also known as the Super Injunctions, not one player’s name or face is known to the greater public.

Oxford English Dictionary Revisions

Just like football the English language underwent a series of changes, here a list of a few new words i noticed in everyday language:

The Levy: A business term, it means to drag out a deal so long the media, the player, the fans and in fact the buyers actually forget who they were buying in the first pace.

Terry: To be something, be proved to be something, but then be adjudged to not actually be something or have done something despite overwhelming evidence.

Paddy Kenny: To be fat.

Celtic: To win multiple titles in your sleep after your closest rivals have been booted out of the SPL.

RVP: To believe you are actually better than you are.

JJ: To be able to remain at a top four club despite being rubbish

Wilshere: As in to do a Wilshere, to promise so much but in actual fact turn out to be just above average and a figment an Arsenal fan’s imagination.

Unfortunately I can not reveal anymore, but please rest assured it’s not all bad. However, should I happen to find myself there again, I will be looking for lottery numbers, the latest water proof i-pad and of course the truth.

The Wait to Reclaim the Title Continues….

May 14, 2012 2 comments

The twentieth season of the Premier League finished exactly how Sky and MOTD wanted it, full of drama, red cards, flaps and late late goals.

Manchester City deservedly broke Man United’s reign as Champions in spectacular fashion as a £84 Million strike force combined to hit two late goals. The Citizens ended 44 years of waiting to finish as the top club in England.

This fact, as soon as I had got over Marton Fulop’s incredible inept performance, left me thinking:

Which current Premier League clubs are enduring a similar wait to be Champions again?

West Bromwich Albion: 1919-1920 (92 years)

In spectacular fashion West Brom signed off the 2011-2012 season with three goalkeeping howlers, but 95 years ago they were smashing records, not Spurs fans hopes.

The Baggies cruised to the league title in 1920 bagging a record 104 goals and 60 points. These days West Brom, after a few years of yo-yoing between divisions, have become a regular part of the PL season, but a return to be champions looks as unlikely as Roberto Mancini splashing out 20 Million on Marton Fulop.

Interesting facts of 1920: Government introduce £1 car tax and the Scots vote against prohibition (shock.)

Newcastle United: Champions 1926- 1927 (85 years)

For a team that claims to be one of the biggest in the country, it has been over a eighty years since they were crowned champions.

Newcastle thanks to some astute transfer purchases this year may be back on the right track but there is no denying that 80 years is a long time to still claim you are a big team.

Interesting fact of 1927: 1600 people ended up in hospital after slipping on the icy streets of London. Born Slippy.


Sunderland: 1935- 1936 (76 Years)

On Sunday they may have been taunting United fans with the Poznan, but its doubtful that any of those involved were old enough to remember their last day at the top of the pile. The 75 year wait may be shorter than that of their enemy Newcastle, but nevertheless for a club with aspirations and a rather large transfer budget it remains a long time.

Will Sunderland ever hit these heights again? With a team boasting Titus Bramble, John O’Shea, Nicklas Bendtner and Phil Bardsley, perhaps not.

Interesting fact of 1936: The first  Butlins opens in Skegness, setting in motion the future careers of Jimmy Tarbuck, Des O’Connor and legendary house party host Michael Barrymore.

Wolverhampton Wanderers: 1958 – 1959 (53 Years)

Wolves remain eligible for this list, just. With their Premier League status about to disappear as fast as a Defoe one night stand to The Sun, Wolves can sink happy with the knowledge that in the 1950’s they were declared “Champions of the World”  by the national press. (Over exaggeration it seems is not a modern disease.)

The Wolves side of the late 1950’s dispatched Borussia Dortmund, Real Madrid and the Honvéd team that included Ferenc Puskás and many of the Hungarian “Magical Magyars.” Their successes over the greats of Europe in exhibition matches helped create the Champions League née European Cup. It’s a shame Wolves will probably never play in it.

Interesting facts of 1959:  The first section of the M1 opens and the Mini goes on sale.

Tottenham Hotspur: 1960-1961 (51 years) 

For a few moments this season, even the most down beat Spurs fan must have thought this record might be broken. Spurs were playing fantastic flowing football, sat in the Shelf at White Hart Lane, an old man leaned over to me and said:

You know what? I have seen all the Spurs teams since the late 50’s but this is the best, easily.”

Unfortunately he turned out to be wrong; technically its not even Redknapp’s best ever Spurs team. The 2009-2010 team collected 70 points to the 2011-2012’s 69 points. The season that offered so much promise went downhill thanks in large parts to poor performances, bad refereeing and a manager who was already picking the furniture for what he thought was his Wembley office.

Fifty one years for a club who have won the Double,  helped found the Premier League and have aspirations of glory, is a long time, as Arsenal fans like to remind us.

Interesting facts of 1961: Songs of Praise airs for the first time and the Beatles play the Cavern Club for the first time.

Football fans endure an incredible amount of pain and disappointment through the season. For these five clubs listed, the pain of seeing the years tick by has been exacerbated by countless false dawns and broken promises.

Newcastle saw their team throw away a 10 point lead to eventual champions Man Utd in the 1995-1996 season as their wonderful attacking team, was undone by horrific lapses in defence and Sir Alex’s Jedi mind tricks.

Wolves were nearly bankrupt,  have been promoted and relegated for fun, and this season had to witness Sebastien Bassong at centre back. I truly hope they make a swift return to the PL, the manner in which Terry Connor has handled the sinking ship with grace and composure reminded me of the captain in Titanic. Heroic, but he really should have seen it coming.

West Brom have bounced up and down between the divisions, enduring managers such as Bryan Robson, Ron “I love Marcel Desailly” Atkinson, Gary Megson and John Terry’s puppet Roberto Di Matteo. Now with Roy Hodgson off to the England job, the appointment of a good successor looks likely to be a defining moment in their modern history.

Sunderland meanwhile under Martin O’Neil, are sure to improve but the financial gap between the top clubs and them will probably see the clock keep counting, especially if they continue to sign and then get rid of top strikers within a year and loan Nicklas Bendtner.

As for Tottenham, another season ends behind Arsenal, but at least the gap has closed. Should Gareth Bale and Luka Modric stay, and Robin “I will always love this club” van Perise leave, perhaps next year we can finally get rid of the ridiculous St Totteringham day.

(BTW technically this wasn’t the worst Arsenal team ever, it scored more points than the 1995-1996, 2006-2006 & 2010-2011 team.)

The Greatest Thing is to be Loved

April 14, 2011 Leave a comment

  

The driving force behind Real Madrid this season is not winning La Liga or the Champions League, but snatching the title of the most loved club in the world, from their fierce rivals Barcelona.

Real Madrid manager Jose Mourinho, may be one of the greatest managers to ever sit in a dug out, but he has never been one of the most loved. He has built a fantastically successful career out of functional and loyal players. Every club he has managed has had silverware fall upon them, but they have always been criticised by the media for being too rigid or lacking flair.

Roman Ambramovich, owner and bankroller of Chelsea, was frustrated by the style in which his team was dominating the domestic scene. The Russian billionaire craved flair and worldwide adulation for his multi million pound team. Mourinho instead gave him a team that only won.

       Since Mourinho’s tenure at Chelsea came to an abrupt end, Chelsea have struggled to find the same level of dominance and are still craving their first Champions League trophy. Even more upsetting for Ambramovich, is that his team still lack flair and only ever seem to function when they revert back to the Mourinho formation.

At Internazionale, the Italian Double winners and Champions League winners were described as “Anti Football” or “Destroyers” when they knocked out Barca in the Semi final. Also throughout the course of that year Mourinho, had had running battles with the Italian Press and FA. A flash point occurred when he received a three game touchline ban and a fine after he made “handcuff gestures” when Etoo became his second player sent off in a game against Sampdoria.

Mourinho has had undoubted success, but he has courted controversy, split opinions and been vilified. Real Madrid, left with no choice after slipping even more into Barca’s shadow, finally made their move and hired a man who could turn them round, but this time there must be a difference:

Real Madrid must be loved and worshipped as Barcelona are.

The Champions League, the biggest club football tournament and key to world wide exposure, is the stage upon which Real Madrid must deliver. Not just winning performances, but wins born out of care and love for the game. Mourinho got off to an auspicious start, with his team already qualified, it is alleged that Sergio Ramos and Xabi Alonso got themselves intentionally sent off in a 4-0 win against Ajax, meaning they would  start the knockout round with a clean slate. Instead of hailing a magnificent 4 goal victory and early qualification, the press had a field day attacking the Portuguese’s tactics, once again Mourinho, not his team’s performance were making headlines.

Since then though things have changed, Real came into a game against Tottenham as clear favourites, but throughout the two ties Mourinho has handled himself with dignity and respect. This has even transferred to his players. Iker Casillas Spain’s World Cup winning goalkeeper was a shining example when he refused to celebrate the tie clinching goal, after a terrible mistake from his opposite number Heurelho Gomes.

Of course it is always easier to be respectful in victory; we have yet to see Real deal with defeat in the Champions League this season.

When the 1st leg of this quarter final was still in the balance, Marcelo celebrated Peter Crouch’s dismissal like it was a goal. From then, however, with the tie never in doubt Mourinho was able to really get the PR, machine running. He consoled Crouch, whispered words to Gareth Bale and hugged Harry Redknapp like a long lost brother, all the while informing whoever had a microphone that Redknapp must be the next England manager. Mourinho even went as far as to say that the tie was not over, even though the rest of world could see it was.

Now we have the semi final that most people wanted as the final, Real Madrid v Barcelona. We will see if Mourniho has finally changed, has he become a manager who can build a team the neutral can love as their own?

      The last time they met, Real were destroyed by 5-0 and had Ramos sent off for trying to break Lionel Messi’s legs.  If Mourinho is serious about creating not only a loved but winning team, much will depend on how his players react at the hard moments in this game.

Real fans may accept an Inter style victory over Barca, but the rest of the world will not. It is now time for Jose Mourinho to give back the title of most loved club to Real Madrid.