The Blog that's not always wrong.

Thursday, 11 June 2009

If it aint broke don't fix it

Well I knew I wouldn't be able to do it and so did all of you. You know, the 'ostrich' approach thingy towards transfer rumours. I kept it up for nearly 24hrs and then in a moment of stress in the early hours cracked and posted on the rumour about Van Nistelroy.

Since then I have indulged several times. My name is JimmyG2 and I am a rumour addict. I made the pledge to ignore the transfer window because I seriously thought that we had reached some sort of understanding about stability and some kind of contentment, with the team, especially the defence, in view of our good finish to the season.

Now there is not a team in the world that cannot be improved, but in view of our poor starts for the last three seasons due in no small part to the constant turnover of players and managers there seemed to be an appreciation that the priority was for a settled team to deliver this.

Its not the fact that we are being linked to several dozen players and that most of the team will apparently be sold that unnerves me. That is just the normal press feeding frenzy and it can be ignored though not completely as I have proved. It is the apparent abandon of many Spurs supporters who cheerfully embrace the idea that four or five players in and perhaps more out will enable us to start the season well.

Harry has certainly earned himself another season at the very least. The team has shown signs of playing to its potential; defensive records have been broken; injured players have returned with some success; the youth teams have done extraordinarily well and we still have some talented youngsters who may well make the step up.

However the lure of foreign stars, exotic names, bargains too good to be missed, fashionable players to replace the unfashionable ones as some have it, holds sway. Never mind that most of players who are an improvement on what we have won't come, and that the rest are no better and will need time to integrate.

My advice to Spurs fans is 'always look a gift horse in the mouth' especially if its 33 yrs old and been out for 7 months with a recurring knee injury. Nor do gift horses usually demand £70 thousand pounds a week in oats and hay. There isn't even an empty stall in the stable.

Is there some sort of attention span deficit problem with football supporters in general and Spurs fans in particular? In the old days you identified with the team and its players. Familiarity was part of the deal. There was a two way loyalty between players and fans. Players like Ledley and Gareth Barry were the norm: a decade at a club was nothing. You can't be a true Tottenham player if you are just in transit. I'm not suggesting we return to the slave conditions of the 50's but we seemed to have thrown the baby out with the bathwater.

Of course success is a powerful magnet and you are more likely to retain your players if you are playing regularly at the top level as Man. Utd have shown. But at the moment we are an escalator to higher things for the Carrick's, Berbatov's, and Keane's of this world and regrettably the Lennon's and Modric's. Keane's return was not only a kick in the teeth for those that stayed but a demonstration of our 'bitch' status in the general scheme of things.

This season things are made more complicated by the sudden riches showering down upon Man. City who have the ability along with Chelsea to outbid us on any top player we might fancy. They did so last season with Bellamy which just goes to prove that too much money clouds your judgement. I wouldn't have signed him if he had been on a free and accepted an 'Opus' as his first week's wages.

With the steady improvement of Everton and Villa and Fulham, to get into the top six this year will be an achievement which I would be very pleased to welcome. But the usual impatient stirrings are evident. If we just get a left winger, get some back up for Ledley, sign another left back, upgrade the midfield and the strikers we will be able to challenge for top four. I make that at least five new signings, which in my view is four, or even five too many.

Harry has moved from 'two or three top,top signings to 'three or four, whoever we can get' and the transfer window isn't even open yet.

Arrange the following words into a well known phrase or saying: broke, it, don't, it, aint, fix, if.
There's a clue in the title.

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

To be ( there ): or not to be (there )

In response to a recent thread about the release of a further 1500 season tickets leading to a lack of tickets for general sale I found myself responding to the joy of some of the new season ticket holders with the words 'I envy you'.This led me to think about whether I really did, and the relationship of attenders at matches to those who, like me, support from afar. Is there a hierarchy of fans?

I have not been in a position to be a White Hart Lane regular since leaving London in my late teens, a very long time ago now, to go 'up North' never to return to live or work. However since the advent of the Internet and Sky it is possible to watch nearly every game. Last season I missed only the Man. City match and that was due to a Grandson's birthday party. So given the cost, the travel problems, the time involved how much have I actually missed?

If I were a season ticket holder I would probably assert the superiority of the live match experience over the TV or internet version. Apart from the camaraderie, the atmosphere, the 'craic', there is certainly the advantage of seeing the whole scene: you look where you want, get a wider angle and choose your own picture.

There must be a feeling that having endured all the downsides in order to support the team you are a true fan. But the downsides, apart from the time, trouble, and cost have to be put into the equation too.

I like to watch and form my own opinion with the added advantage of immediate slow motion replay. I usually watch Sky with the sound turned down and the internet commentary is normally unintelligible to me in any case. I have attended enough live games to know that even one's mates can be a distraction from actually watching what happens as opposed to seeing only what you want to see or confirming your existing opinions. Its usually the biggest idiot with the loudest voice who dominates. 'Empty vessels' and all that.

The great Jenas debate is a case in point. If loud-mouth and his mates behind you groan and jeer only when JJ gives the ball away and ignore it when Modric does this can colour your reaction to both the game and to the individuals concerned. This applies to other crowd favourites and fall guys. Do Robbie and Ledley ever have a bad game or Darren and Roman a good one? They do if you watch in a neutral setting.

I don't go to football matches to sing, to chant, to stand up if I hate Arsenal, to abuse ex-players or even current players but to watch the game and reflect on what I have seen. I find everything else a distraction. You may think that having spent your several thousands of pounds per season supporting Spurs then you have the right to do and say what you like, even booing the team off at half time if they have played poorly.

However you don't. This conflict was highlighted by the Sol Cambell saga which resulted in several Spur's fans being prosecuted and showed in an extreme example the limits. Moreover you are the representatives of the possibly hundreds of thousands of Spur's fans who would perhaps like to be there but cannot for a variety of reasons: poverty, distance, laziness, work, age, decrepitude and the simple fact that there is a waiting list.

You are also the public face of Tottenham's fans and have responsibilities in this regard. Our reputation especially in broadcast matches or with journalists present is in your hands. You may not see it as a privilege to be a season ticket holder, after all you pay heavily for it, but to us 'outsiders' it certainly is. All these considerations are outside the actual game and to me a diversion.

Sometimes there is an implied criticism of us external fans for not being there and therefore having less right to comment. I reject the 'Were you even there?' approach. In my view not being there has some advantages in terms of purely appraising the football and forming your own opinion.

There is probably a hierarchy of fans within the ground. I detect sometimes in the threads a sense of superiority from certain parts of the ground; the real fans as opposed to the poseurs and hangers on over there. You would know this better than me and I look forward to your guidance on this.

We outsiders may be seen as the bottom of the pile. But I come in peace brothers and I do envy in some ways these new season ticket holders. There seems to be two different experiences here: the matchday jamboree and looking critically at the game. Obviously it might be possible to do both but its harder if you'r actually at there. So I am prepared to argue the advantages that I see in not being there. But then I would, wouldn't I?

Thursday, 4 June 2009

No football and plenty of bad news

No proper football and a self imposed ban on reading and responding to transfer rumours makes for a bleak outlook at chez JimmyG2. There are ominous lists appearing on the kitchen pin board of tasks to be completed before the season starts, though I have managed to successfully argue that the season actually starts with the pre-season games. That just means that I've got the same amount to do but in less time but it seemed like a victory at the time.

But the Barry transfer to Man. City started all sorts of alarm bells ringing. Delusional Tottenham fans have been speculating that he might do a 'Robbie Keane' and come to his boyhood club citing that his two brothers were season ticket holders at the Lane. At £12 million he was a steal. If he had been £15 million we might have gone for it.

But last season Liverpool, his preferred destination because of Champions' League status, couldn't match the £18 million valuation and now he goes to a team that's not even in Europe for considerably less.

No doubt £100 thousand a week, doubling his current wage, may have influenced his decision and the silky smooth soft sell for which Hughes is famous, probably along the lines of ' Fill yer pockets lad they've more cash than brain cells this lot' clinched the job. That makes him earn in a week as much as the Prime Minister earns in a year. Oh sorry I forgot about the expenses.

No doubt his disappointment at Villa not making the top four puts Villa in the same kind of bind that Spurs are in. You need top class players to get into the top four but they won't come until you are in the top four and you are in danger of losing your best players in the meantime. But Barry a one club man for over a decade has gone to Man. City. Its like Ledley signing for Portsmouth because multi billionaires have taken them over.

And this morning the Guardians' two page spread on the finances of the Premiership League although it doesn't tell us anything we didn't know, give or take a fact or two, it just concentrates the information and the mind somewhat. I had barely got the muesli out of my beard and found my sandals before coming across this tale of financial hubris and woe.

Foreign owners, oil money, tax havens, vast debts and wage bills that in some cases are three quarters of turnover and in Stoke's case more than their turnover. It makes you wonder how this shaky edifice stays up. Reminds me of another shaky edifice called 'the banking system' and we all know what happened to that.

Another shattering figure is the amount that Chairman and directors are taking out. Step forward our very own Mr Daniel Levy. A cool £1 million and one has to ask 'For what?' Now I know we are a well run club but we aint that well run. How can an enterprise about the size of your local supermarket generate such sums for all concerned. Nearly half the clubs have a director taking out more than a million per year and in some cases at clubs who actually lost money. Mind you I can't see Sky putting on 'The Big Four: This week Sainsbury's and Tesco's go head to head'.

Our wage bill even with a big squad is only 50% of turnover which is one reason why we are financially stable but also why we can't attract the more ambitious types. For ambitious read 'greedy'. Less than half the clubs make a profit and all are in debt..Now the banks got bailed out when it all came tumbling down but I don't think that the Premiership will be.

It reminds you of the old cartoons where you were fine as long as you didn't look down and discover that you went over the cliff several minutes ago. Fascinating reading and you can draw many conclusions from it as Jim himself does in his season review. My conclusion is that it can't go on like this for ever. Regular readers will know that I have been saying this for some time.

I have a dream that the club will be sold to its fans who will elect the board annually and that our sponsors are a charity which is paid for the privilege. Oh sorry that was Barcelona. They're not a bad football team either.

It only remains for us to sell Tom Huddleston to Bolton for my bad news week to be complete. Quite what he will do there is anybody's guess.
'Passing? You can cut out all those fancy London tricks now lad'.