The Blog that's not always wrong.

Saturday, 21 February 2009

Tough Choices.

Well it seems that the realisation that we might in fact get relegated has caused consternation and confusion in the ranks, especially over Harry's team that played against Shaktar on Thursday. Is avoiding relegation the only game in town now? Or do we because of our fine history, cup record and to show faith with the fans need to go for everything and not subject ourselves to the indignity of prioritisation?

Can we qualify for Europe by beating Man.Utd. next week, or do we risk playing in the Championship by spreading our resources too thinly and risking injury to key players. Its a difficult one but Harry has declared his hand and pledged himself to do what I think he was brought in for, to avoid relegation. Its a limited aim but obviously a vital one.

Even over performances on Thursday we are at sixes and sevens. What firstly can we agree on? Dawson was a leader of men and Bentley was not; the youngsters especially Dean Parrett did not let us down. That's about it really.

Gomes is a clown, or like Cudocini at Bolton in almost identical circumstances, left hopelessly exposed by his defence. Cambell is just not up to it or did he play with heart and guts and do himself proud, closing down and running the channels all night.

Same with Giovani, Gunter, Chimbonda and Huddleston. All either hopelessly exposed at crucial moments or valiantly struggling against the cold, the pitch and a team from the Champions League ranks that had the edge in flair, skill, and overall team organisation. Jenas and Zokora have no fence sitters; they are either hard working and effective or 'shite'. There doesn't seem to be a middle way.

Again, did we play valiantly and despite the odds almost get the draw? Or were our understrength squad outplayed and lucky not to come back to White Hart Lane with an even bigger deficit? The proof of the pudding will be at Hull on Monday. If we put out a strong squad and win it then Harry is justified. Do the same against Shaktar in the second leg and beat Man.Utd. on Sunday and Harry is justified a second time.

However if we lose all three games what then? Out of everything, probably back in the bottom three with a tricky run in, more beating of chests and gnashing of teeth, and continued discussion of whether Harry Redknapp is our Saviour or the Antichrist.

Usually I am a play the best team you can; go for everything; play the Tottenham way at all times; go down with all guns blazing and relegation is nothing to fear, we've survived it before and come back stronger, sort of a guy. I expect us to win everything home or away, am continually disappointed because we don't but soon get over it and pick myself up for the next game.

Can I sustain this attitude when faced with the reality of relegation, which I have been facing up to for some time. I first confronted it head on when Juande'' ' two points in eight games' Ramos was with us. I said that if we were relegated he should stay and get us back up. Then came Harry and everything was again possible: top six and all the trimmings.

Now we're back to square one and I say again if we go down Harry should be given the task of bringing us back up. I don't think he has the complete managerial portfolio for the long term but has enough in his tool-box to be given the chance. I have been preaching stability and team building for some time as the basis for a revival at Tottenham and logically I can't abandon it now.

But does picking and choosing the matches where you make an effort undermine the mentality of the whole squad; that winning, or getting the draw on Thursday would have carried us forward into the vital league game at Hull in a more positive mood, and from there into the Carling Cup Final on a positively euphoric wave of team,club and fan enthusiasm.

Or is this season such a mess that we have no option than to abandon the Uefa and make sure that we don't go down? To be true to myself I have to go with the 'go for it on all fronts' agenda but I have been facing up to the possibility of relegation for so long this season that when Harry announced his avoid the drop scheme I was temporarily seduced.

In more recent interviews he is back on the 'we want to win every match' song sheet. But by the omissions on Thursday and the defensive way we played, we didn't have a clean shot on goal all night, I think we know where he's coming from. The trouble with Harry is not that he talks too much but that he contradicts himself, sometimes on the same day. He should start listening when he speaks. If he doesn't why should anyone else.

Thursday, 12 February 2009

JimmyG2's hot topic roundup

We could have, we should have, but we didn't. Not just a quick summary of the Arsenal game but in some ways a summary of the the season, and of the past couple of decades really. We are always on the verge of achieving something, unfortunately this year its avoiding relegation, but somehow lack the mental energy to pull it off. But on to more pressing matters.

JimmyG2's hot topic round up.

(1)Will we avoid relegation?
Almost probably. Much fervent filling in by a multitude of fans on prediction websites forcasting anything from 17th to top ten. This latter is backed up by the players on the official site and Glen Hoddle. No one predicts relegation. Our fans can stand up and be counted when it matters. I think that we will just scrape it , possibly 40 points which this year might just do.

(2)Is Wilson Palacios the new Dave Mackay?
There I've said it .Well its what you are all thinking, someone 's got to be the first. What after two games? Be serious. He looks good ; strong ,determined, good shot, tackles well, aware of what's happening around him. But he's new: he'll soon settle down.

(3) Should Robbie Keane have been made captain?
Another fan splitter along the lines of 'Should we have re-signed Robbie Keane?' General consensus seems to be yes to both. I think Harry has made a bold gesture here that may come back to haunt him. Apparently Woodgate and Dawson are happy with it but it makes it difficult to drop or sub him and we know he doesn't like either. The Defoe problem has been kicked in the foot until next season.

(4) Do we need a new manager?
Well Harry has been here nearly 6 months and Levy might be getting jumpy as we are not
making a lot of progress up the league. Chelsea are challenging us for the 'sack race cup'
but I think he will leave it until the summer. Just a guess but I'm not always wrong.

(5) Is Modric tall enough for the Premiership?
This is usually disguised as 'Is Modric strong enough for the Premiership' but I know where they are coming from. Its usually linked with Defoe (5ft6) and Lennon (5ft 5) the shortest player in the Premiership, who are rarely questioned about their strength. He's the same height as Jimmy Greaves ( 5ft.8) which is good enough for me. So that's a 'yes' then. However I have to agree that it makes selection and transfers easier if you discount skill, and just go on height.

(6)How many players will be sold in the summer?
Or given away. Bent our top scorer will be upgraded. Giovani Dos Santos will be fattened up and parcelled off. Rocha, Gilberto and Zokora will be thanked for their services. Gunter and one or two others will be loaned. For those searching for Jenas's name stop now. Harry likes him. Unless Harry can do the old arm,shoulder thing Huddleston might try to better himself.

(8)How many players will be bought in the summer?
Too many, especially if one of them is Stewart Downing.

(9) Will a sport's psychologist be appointed to Spurs this year?
A hot topic on some fan sites. It is designed to stop Tottenham's alleged fear of winning. I can exclusively reveal that the Institute of Sport's Psychologists (Enfield Branch) have
placed an embargo on any of their staff taking up any such placement. A spokesman said 'We know our limitations'.

Of course if we are relegated then all bets are off. There will be a lot of well fed rats leaving the sinking ship, and hungry mice snuffling their way up the gangplank. Harry will be sacked and Levy will resign.
Not all bad news then.

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

A Modest Proposal

I would like to present a modest proposal to prevent the complete ruination of the football league; to revive the public interest in the game of football; to raise copious monies for the grass roots of the game and to level the playing field for all of the clubs concerned.

It is my contention that the present inequalities in the current set-up of the Premiership leads to a gap in the ability of all but a few clubs to compete at the highest level . This not only causes the impoverishment of the majority of clubs even in the Premiership division itself but will eventually lead to a decline in support for the game as a whole.

This inequality is further compounded by the recent installation of a two-fold transfer window, effectivly a double glazing, which prevents the balmy draughts of competition and impedes the sunny rays of competitiveness.

My modest proposal will not only revive the happy days of childhood and fond memories of the playground but reinstitute the spirit of the Hiring Fairs which formed an important part of the rural landscape after the Black Death. At these both labourers and craftsmen with the tools of their trade would gather at country markets to present themselves for hire for the forthcoming season.

My modest proposal is that we abolish the transfer windows and long term contracts, which are never honoured in any case, and proceed as follows:

On August 1st each year at Wembley Stadium all footballers seeking work in the Premiership Division shall present themselves with their boots, and goalkeepers additionally with their gloves and caps and stand around the perimeter of the pitch. This has been accurately measured and I am assured that their will be adequate room.

Premiership managers will stand on the half way line in the order that they finished this season. Any player or manager failing to attend will be deemed to have made themselves ineligible for the 2009/2010 season. A reserve pool of Championship managers and players will be held in a holding area under the stands in the event that too few managers or players are available to fulfil the requirement of 18 teams. ( The proposed new limit for Premiership membership)

At the signal of the blowing of a whistle by the head referee Keith Hackett each manager will pick a player in turn, beginning with the Premiership winners, and that player will stand behind his manager in a straight line to avoid confusion.. This process will continue until each team has 24 selected players.

A number of senior referees will station themselves at regular intervals amongst the, as yet, unselected players to ensure that neither by gesture or sound, or any other means, mobile phones having been impounded, can players influence the decision of the managers. Jostling, jumping up with arms raised and shouting the name of the manager will be expressly forbidden, as will the words 'me, me'.

Tickets for the event will be sold and the event will be broadcast by the highest bidder (Sky Sports)
Naming Rights, Image Rights, Branding Rights, Corporate Hospitality Rights, Rights to any other Rights, ticket sales and advertising should raise several billion pounds from this event alone. These monies to be allocated to the lower leagues, Academies and youth training.

The first 18 players selected will receive a maximum wage of £60.000, the second 18, £55.000 pounds and so on down to the tenth position where a minimum wage of £15.000 will be reached. The proceedings will be concluded by a match between the first two elevens chosen, in future to be branded 'The Annual( insert name of sponsor)Hiring Day Experience'

This process I am confident will make the Premiership more equal and therefore more competitive; will substantially decrease the number of foreign players and therefore increase the opportunities for native players and substantially improve the balance sheet of all clubs.

It is estimated that season ticket prices and prices in general will decrease by some 50% and attendances increase by 25% because higher quality players will be spread more evenly throughout the division. Special measures will be needed for the collapse in the market for agents and contract lawyers.

These arrangements will last initially for 3yrs with no changes of players or managers permitted (except in the event of death or bankruptcy.) Additions to the squad will only be permitted by recruitment from their own Academies, 50% of whose entrants to have been born within 5miles(urban) and 25 miles (rural) of the Club's main stadium.

I am sure that correspondents will be able to refine and reform these measures but I commend the basic arrangement outlined here in the interests of the game which we all love. Suggestions for the second 3yr phase are welcomed.

Sunday, 1 February 2009

I must not lose heart

I must not lose heart. I must not lose heart. I must not lose heart. Sorry you caught me in a private moment there. What a very difficult team to support Tottenham are. 3-0 up against Stoke and cruising, I start to relax, we concede a goal out of nothing and its behind the sofa time again.

2-0 down against Bolton, it looks all over. I relax because we're not even remotely in the game, Bent comes on, scores twice in two minutes and the three points could be ours. But we don't go for it until we concede another late goal, then we perk up, but its too late. We go down to another late goal and another goal from a set piece. What do they do in training? That nasty Juande Ramos made them run about and practice things for ages.

We are not short of decent footballers but we are short of something and its head doctor territory rather than general medical practice. Is it the club? This particular bunch of players? Or the modern footballer in general?

Harry has been talking good sense this week but then he goes 451 away to Bolton, although it didn't work at Wigan or away to Burnley in the Carling Cup. Then by changing to 442 almost pulls it off. A very cunning plan indeed. Too cunning for this simple supporter. Our defence couldn't defend set pieces or concentrate for the full 90 minutes if you paid them £30.000 a week. What? We do! Your pulling my leg. And some earn more! You're havin a laugh, right?

OK Defoe's injury was a blow, similarly Modric, and new boy Wilson Palacios has to settle in. But how many times does Pavlyuchenko have to prove that he can't play the lone striker role; or Lennon that he is more effective on the right; or Bentley, though slightly more effective lately, is not worth a starting role, or putting on the line for corners.

14 games to go and probably 16 or 17 points needed. But we have been through our easiest phase of the season and only picked up 15 points in the last 14 games. The run in looks distinctly ugly and I am not convinced we can do it without a change in application, performance, tactics and mentality. Not a lot to ask for really. At home to Arsenal next week would be a good time to start.

Bent's two goals seems to prove that slagging him off in the media works but its Mrs Rednapp I feel sorry for. I hope Harry bought her a dozen red roses when he told her that she was no longer first choice striker. The life of the modern football manager's wife can be cruel at times.

The first half against Stoke was as good as we have played all season. The cross field ball from Defoe to Lennon was excellent, unless it was a mishit pass to Pavlyuchenko, I'm joking, I'm joking.
Pavlyuchenko's diagonal pass to Defoe was sublime and his finish... .'clinical' is the only word in the sports writer's book of clich├ęs. Perhaps 'surgical'? Doesn't quite do it somehow. A bit of Modric magic on the left and a precise cross to Dawson's head and the game was ours. Well more or less.

We slackened off and let Stoke back in. Man.Utd are not shy about thrashing W.Brom 5-0 so why don't we do it? Head problems again. We only played at Bolton when we were losing and turned off the heat before the joint was cooked. Perhaps we are just too polite. Can you be too polite to go down?

We are not a complete laughing stock yet, we've still got Newcastle and Man.City to take the heat off us. But if we buy back any more players that we sold last week, Keane is on the agenda again having been left out of the Liverpool squad to play Chelsea, we surely will be.

Its not buying them back that's disconcerting, Defoe Chimbonda and Keane are all good players; its why we sold them in the first place that confuses me. How did we get the reputation for being a well run club? Or does that only apply to the balance sheet?

Now every time I write in this depressed mood I add the rider that I expect to look very silly in two or three weeks time when we are in the middle of the table. Well unfortunately I'm not looking silly yet. I hope we don't need to beat Liverpool away in the last game of the season to survive.