The Blog that's not always wrong.

Monday, 27 July 2009

The Future's bright

You gave 'em a chance Harry and they didn't let you down. Gawd bless you sir.
That's the main positive I take from the Wembley Cup, played at Wembley by the way, between four teams chosen at random by the Premium Bond computer.

Bostock, Livermore, Rose and Naughton are ready in my view to be introduced to the first team squad. Against Barcelona, where Livermore scored a brave headed equaliser, and Celtic they made the difference in both second halves with their skill and enthusiasm. This could be a brilliant boost for the club when injuries are giving us some problems especially to Woodgate, King and Dawson. Dervite needs to be paired with an experienced centre half which helped bring out the best of Dawson when he first started.

Pre -season is going really well now .We've hardly won a game for ages which augers well for the start of the season. I was surprised to learn that we hadn't lost a friendly for four years. In fact since Celtic beat us 2-0. Statistics are uncanny sometimes. Perhaps this season we will achieve something in the EPL instead of in pre-season.

Barcelona gave us a demonstration of how to keep the ball, a modern take on the old coaching manual's instructions:

(1)If you haven't got it, get it.
(2)When you get it, keep it.
(3)While you've got it, use it.

However we didn't buckle and kept our shape. In the second half we came back strongly and in the last 15mins, when we had five youngsters on, we not only equalised but looked the more likely to score again. Celtic, who have a Champions' League game coming up, seemed fitter and more determined than us; they were quicker to the ball and with the ball.

But that is what pre-season is for, to step up fitness, to appraise the squad, to see how it performs under pressure, and try out tactics and pairings. Its more for the coaches than the fans. Even Modric played poorly today which must tell us something about something. Bent had possibly his last chance, or in fact his last three chances, to save his Tottenham career but declined the opportunities.

We look as if we are to replace Bent with Crouch and there is about as much difference in their footballing abilities overall as in their names. Harry said he didn't learn much from the game against Celtic, which is cagey manager speak for 'I learnt plenty but I'm not telling you'. I hope.

Our youth teams throughout the club have had a brilliant season and we could be about to reap the rewards. With the addition of Naughton who looks a real prospect we have four or five players who are hovering on the edge of the squad and have this pre-season to show how ready, or not, they are. Bale and Giovani must also come into the reckoning if they are still with us. Search teams report 'no sightings'.

I would rather go this route than bring in a couple of grizzled old pro's to give us more backbone. Give the youngsters their heads and lets enjoy finishing 10th. If we are going to finish mid-table, which we well might, I would be happier to do it with the judicious mixture of age and youth which we already have on the books. Then we can really look forward with some optimism.

I am reserving judgement on our prospects for the season until we get the dreaded pre-season 'vox pop' summons from Mr. Duggan. The arrival of our youngsters gives me a reason for optimism, I always find something, even if some of the individual and team performances do not.

Friday, 24 July 2009

Famous player and six mates attacked by unknown DJ

You are the DJ of a small bar. Actually you're in charge of the card that controls the CD player but let's not split hairs.
You are approached by a very famous footballer who doesn't think much of the music on offer and tries to take over.
He is out celebrating a victory with his six mates. They are 7/10ths drunk by famous player's own admission

Do you
(a) Smile , say 'well done against the bar codes mate' and pass over the card.
(b) Refuse and appear not to realise to whom you are talking.

One of famous player's mates whacks you in the face with his elbow just as famous player is trying to smooth things over.
Do you

(a) Run
(b) Take all seven on starting with famous player who delivers three uppercuts in rapid succession not realising that one of his mates has just initiated an assault.

Six of the seven plead guilty to causing an affray. Famous player pleads self defence and is found not guilty and leaves without a stain on his character.

Do you.

(a) Think yourself lucky not to be on a charge of wasting police time..
(b) Apply immediately for an Everton season ticket.

Mostly (a)s
You are a very nice man; a sensible and law abiding upstanding citizen.

Mostly (b)s
You are a trouble maker who doesn't know his place and deserve everything you got.

Thankyou Aldershot

Thank God, we lost a pre-season game at last. It was shaping up to be a repeat of last year, storming run until the league actually started then eight games, two points, complete dismantlement of the management structure and Harry Redknapp to save our skins. The rest is history.

But now we're OK. because Aldershot , its in Surrey, beat a Spurs X1 3-1 on Thursday. So bring on Barcelona and Celtic. Our pre-season fixture list reads Exeter, Bournemouth, Peterborough, Aldershot, Barcelona ,Celtic, two games at the Beijing Stadium and the last one in Hong Kong. You couldn't make it up.

I went to the Peterborough game as its a reasonable run from my home in the North. Afterwards I remembered why I vowed not to go to any more pre-season 'friendlies'. It was a work out of sorts ; a nice evening trip in a very smart coach for the lads; it gave some of the fringe players a go but a spectacle that lingers in the memory it is not.

Dervite who I have not seen before didn't look out of place at centre half with either Corluka and then Huddleston. Just as well in view of the fact that Ledley, Woodgate and Dawson are all unfit according to Harry. Boateng to my surprise only had one head and looked and played quite normally. He came on for Jenas in the second half and was replaced after injury by Livermore. Both looked competent as midfield back ups. Defoe and Modric who came on in the second half looked more interested than most but they would probably be up for it if you produced a tennis ball in Tesco's car park. Or Tesco's frozen food aisle come to that.

The rest ran about only when Harry and Joe, especially Joe,were watching and were obviously thinking about Barcelona on Friday. Peterborough were poor and we won 4-0. Nice little ground, good pitch, pleasant people, good seat for £12 , but no veggie burgers. I'm sticking with Spurs.

Now for some more facts that don't need much elaboration. We signed another couple of young right backs to go with Hutton, Corluka, and Chimbonda. But we had sold Gunter and Zokora so there was obviously a gaping hole there. These two new boys are both from Sheffield United, both called Kyle and the supermarket practice of 'Buy one; get one free' is clearly at work. Harry's plan is to corner the right back futures market and hold everyone to ransom a couple of years down the line. Could just work.

In the parallel universe that we have come to know as the transfer window its either Crouch or Huntelaar. Now I've already backed Crouchy as he is used to English food, has met Harry before and though not an upgrade on what we have and probably inferior to JVH signing him has that ring of truth about it. Bent will then go to Sunderland to join the Tottenham Old Boys Association. Harry happy, Levy and the accountants happy and no patriotic Dutchmen hanging round The Lane making caustic remarks about Martin Jol. In fact no self respecting Dutchman would come to us after the way we treated his fellow countryman.

We are falling into the reality gap,time warp, Catch 22 thingy. We can't get into the Top Four until we get some Top Four players to sign on: but we can't get the Top Four players to sign on until we get into the Top Four. Discuss.

Now I suggest that we forget about where we might or could end up; build a decent team starting from the decent squad we have now; make sure that we adhere to the footballing principles and practices of our glorious past; buy for the future with some decent youngsters to join the promising group we already have ; give the fans some good football to watch and see where it takes us.

Do I lack ambition? No. Who wouldn't want to be playing the top teams in the world in the Champions' League. But would I sell my Granny to achieve it? No. Do I want some oil rich consortium to buy us up and pump a billion pounds into the kitty? Man. City are you listening? No. Success which is bought over the counter, as Chelsea can affirm, does not bring respect and any sense of lasting satisfaction. Even their own captain, 'Mr. Chelsea' feigns dissatisfaction in order to improve his already obscene weekly wage.

I'm not dooming us to mid table mediocrity for ever because I believe a club with our history and tradition by playing good football and enhancing our reputation can attract top players, as we did with Berbatov and Modric, and that we can make progress. Not fast enough for some but fast enough to satisfy those who want to keep their respect for the players, the team and the club.

Friday night won't prove much even if we win given the nature of these games and the slight bearing they have on the proper football which starts with Liverpool. Come to think of it Aldershot needn't have bothered as Friday might well puncture our pre-season glory run. As Butch Cassidy said to the Sundance Kid (or vice versa) why are you worrying about drowning in the river at the bottom? The fall will probably kill you.

Monday, 20 July 2009

Give ' em a chance Harry

And so the whirligig of time spirals on and at its centre in the heart of stillness lies Tottenham in the current transfer window. I'm following my own advice from a previous blog and if I can't find facts I'm making them up. In this case its quotes. If Shakespeare had been alive that's what I believe he would have said in relation to our lack of activity in the transfer market.

Is it a steely eyed , poker faced, determination in the battle to secure new players on the part of Harry and Daniel? Or can't we afford them? Or don't they regard us as a step up in their careers? Who knows and frankly who cares any more. So Crouch it is then, to be reunited with his chum Defoe and his mentor Mr.Redknapp and the the club that let him go years ago.

He would join an ever increasing band of returning players and I hope he has more success than his predecessors, who apart from Defoe who has been mainly injured since his return, have done little to justify the fanfares at their return. Why are we buying Crouch? Because, like Everest, he's there. An apt metaphor I think.

Will he be more successful than Bent and give us better options? Is he better than Pavlyuchenko?Doubtful in either case but transfer windows are for transferring players and we want our share regardless. Actually they are to enable players to move to a club that pays better: Barry to Man. City. Or to enable players to improve their current contracts:Terry at Chelsea. As we don't pay top rates we can't attract 'ambitious' or greedy players but that to me is a blessing in disguise.

As for the players that we've sold so far, Zokora and Gunter, the first I've already paid tribute to but Gunter has raised some searching questions as to our 'youth policy'. This year we have had some very successful junior teams but few of the younger players have made the step up to the first team squad. So as usual the big headlines are created by the foreign 'stars' we might buy not the likelihood that Dervite, Bostock or Rose might save us a few millions by coming good. Even the precocious youths that we bought last year, Giovani and Taarabt, seem out of favour and likely to depart.

Gunter might not have the flair and promise of Bale but whenever he played he seemed sound to me but of course we have already assembled an 'overlap' of right backs, including the prodigal son Chimbonda, so he was deemed surplus to requirements. We didn't even make a profit.

Now perhaps these youths are just not good enough, or have nasty personal habits that only Harry sees on the training ground or in the canteen. There is bound to be some wastage in the Academy and young player process but if only one every couple of years makes it, even if we sell them on, this covers the cost of the entire process and can be justified on cost benefit terms. Whatever that is. I put that in for my large following amongst the accountancy fraternity

It goes deeper than this though. Harry came to us with a reputation for his flair at discovering and nurturing young talent. Last year we couldn't risk it as we struggled to escape the clutches of the dark lady of 'The Zone'. And this will apply if we make a bad start for the fourth year running. I'm worried already as pre-season, like last year, is going really well. Always a bad sign at Spurs.

But if we make a good start we won't want to jeopardise it and we don't have Europe to play about with this year. Promoting and nurturing youth is a mindset and requires vision by the manager and patience by the fans who are sometimes too quick to reject and must bear some of the blame for demanding instant success.

Rome wasn't built in a day and football teams that mean something to the fans can't just be bought over the counter. With Sunderland last year it was buy two and get one free. Send it back if you don't like it. It may work for Morrison's but is no way to run a football club.

Besides, which of our young and fringe players couldn't have done better than at least one of our expensive stars. Price tag, reputation and even experience don't always guarantee performance and a punt on some of the youngsters, not all at once obviously, might just surprise us and save us money too. Our lack of action in this window might just be to our advantage, if it continues, which it probably won't.

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Its too quiet number one. Jerry's up to something.

The fans are getting edgy; nothings happening. Its all gone quiet over there, and over here too. We're like an upside down duck: plenty of action on the surface with the rumour mill but absolutely zilch occurring under the water with actual comings and goings.

This is not the Tottenham way. We've usually sacked a manager or two by now. This is not what we got Harry in for. What do we want? 'Turmoil'. When do we want it? 'Now'.

This is because a lot of fans associate activity with progress. Like swapping Bent for Kenwynn Jones. Will he score 20 a season for us? Who cares. We want action. If you stand still you get left behind goes the theory. Do I need to remind you of the fable of 'The Tortoise and the Hare'?

We're not sure why this frenzy of inactivity has settled upon us. Is it because we can't afford anybody decent, or that all our targets have signed for Man. City? Is it because crafty Harry is trying to lull our competitors into a false sense of security and that he is poised to strike with some sensational signings late in the window?

We just don't know and hence the edginess. Could it be that Harry now that he is at a club with a more than decent squad has decided to play the hand he's been dealt if he can't secure the upgrades he wants? Barry for example.

I would like to think so. Zokora wanted to leave and so back up for Palacios is required if O'Hara is deemed not good enough. We've been without a left winger for so long we wouldn't know what to do with one if we had one.

Now unlike some of my fellow bloggers I am not going to wander into the realms of maudlin reminiscence about the days between the wars; conduct a survey of my favourite away kits ; or as in one case present the case for replacing Gordon Brown if the Labour party is to have a chance of winning the next election.

This is not what we Spurs bloggers should be doing. We should be at the interface between rumour and reality. We should be bringing our steely intellect and knowledge to bear on the activities at the club. If there is nothing actually happening we should make it up and the more unlikely the better.

So lets start with Patrick Vieira coming to Spurs on a free transfer and with reasonable wage demands. Yes that Patrick Viera. Quality player but ex-Arsenal two clubs removed. This has been a persistent rumour backed up by ITK gems like 'my mate is an estate agent and has been asked to look for a house for Patrick Viera in London'. Its certainly a Harry type signing and it is unlikely enough to be true.

Can he overcome the stigma of being an Arsenal talisman? I give you two names: David Bentley and George Graham. No sorry, bad examples. What about one who went the other way? Patrick Jennings. Spooky what, same christian name. Everything is falling into place. The deal could be. on. Personally I don't care if he's coming straight out of Dartmoor though I concede that to some that would be preferable. If he can do a job for us the laugh would be on them.

That's a big 'if' though as his form and performance at Inter has apparently not been that good over the last two seasons. But Davids did well for 18mths and his influence was inestimable. You don't lose experience and tactical nous even if you lose a bit of pace. Desire is the crucial element and if he still has it he would be a good call.

If Harry has done his homework here then this could be a defining moment for Spurs. If its all true of course, or any of it. I claim the blogger's right to ignore anything or anyone who might spoil the story and so I ignore completely the case of Mr. Sulzeer Jeremiah Cambell another famous or more correctly, infamous, player that made the forbidden journey and who is still fondly remembered on the terraces at White Hart Lane.

Bad cases make poor law as they say at the Inns of Court. Or is it the other way round? Anyway don't blame the messenger love.

Sunday, 12 July 2009

Harry or Luka?

In a throwaway line in a recent blog I remarked that the nightmare would begin if Modric were to be sold and that I'd rather Harry left than Luka. I've been thinking about this and considering whether in fact I do actually believe this.

This was in the context of little or no action in the transfer market until the long signalled sale of Zokora to Sevilla. Now little or no action in the market this summer actually suits me as I think that the squad performed well in the run in last season and should be allowed to continue without the turbulence created by the sacking of the manager or the wholesale replacement of players.

The sale of Modric who is our best player would be as big a breech of faith as the sales of Berbatov and before him Carrick though under different circumstances of course. It would indicate once again that we are a selling club and that we know our inferior place in the scheme of things.

It would be worse than Berbatov because as far as I know Modric has dismissed any question of his wanting to move. However if we fail to make some progress he almost certainly will at the end of the season. He is certainly good enough to play for any of the top four.

Now I realise that I have to genuflect and kiss the hem of Saint Harry before I voice any criticism and I have paid tribute to the man, who I like, on many occasions. Harry was brought in to save our skins and he has done that and more. But I don't subscribe to the ' in Harry we trust ' school of fandom and the topic of Harry's competence is not off the agenda.

I am also on record as saying that Harry should be allowed to get on with the job for at least another season whatever happens, but then I said that about Juande. We all know that at Spurs under the present regime it just won't happen.

My initial reaction to Harry's appointment is not printable on a family blog but he has done the business and all credit to him. There is a school of thought that says that anyone but Ramos would have done the same but I seriously doubt that. Harry's pragmatism, experience, personality and Englishness was a cocktail that was crucial to the transformation of the squad.

However the question pops up for the new season ' Can he take us any further? Does he have the tactical nous and the experience at the top level to motivate the squad to achieve even more than last season. He has a reputation for being good with young and talented players but we didn't see much of that last season due mainly to the difficult circumstances we found ourselves in.

Tactics and team selection were doubtful at times: Bolton and Wigan away spring to mind. The collapse against Man. Utd demanded decisiveness and got theatrics. The appointment of Keane as captain I predicted would be a hostage to fortune and in my view it was. All these items lie heavily in the scales.

Now this is not to question Harry's past performance: he did us proud, but what does it tell us for the future. In other words I have my doubts. Now in the hypothetical situation I have posed: Harry or Luka, where do I stand. Now politicians always refuse to answer 'hypothetical' questions but they are often the most interesting ones. As I am not a politician I am quite happy to answer the question especially as I asked it in the first place.

In my opinion Luka Modric is a very fine footballer who could play at the highest level and is one of the few who could take us there and perform quite comfortably . Harry, in brief, though a decent manager could not. We could do as well or better under any number of home grown and foreign managers who although they might not have done the business last season because of the pressures might be better placed to take this settled and competent squad to the margins of the Champions' League.

So the answer is that if forced to choose I would prefer to keep Modric and lose Harry but obviously in the name of stability and with respect to Harry's achievements last season I would be much happier to keep them both.

Thursday, 9 July 2009

Farewell Zokora

Hold the front page! Something happened at last. The earth didn't exactly move for me, more of a tremor than an earthquake but enough to wake me from my transfer window slumbers.

Didier Zokora finally left us for Sevilla for roughly the amount that we paid for him so the accountants as well as many fans will be happy. He left us for the same reason that he turned down Chelsea, amongst others, to join us , to be sure of first team football and enhance his International prospects as he approaches his peak. The arrival of Palacios has certainly threatened his first choice status with us.

The fans who thought he wouldn't take us to the next level, by which they mean Champions League, will be pleased. They only saw the name Zokora and 'headless chicken' inextricably linked, like Huddleston and ' lacks mobility'. He played 134 times over three years and failed to score, which endeared him to some.

He was probably as bemused as me by the rapid managerial changes but never failed to give his wholehearted effort for the team and remained loyal in his interviews to the club. His athleticism was widely praised but his other skills were not at the same level. He was a 'model pro' according to reports.

His performances this season certainly improved particularly his passing and the reduction in those exhilarating runs which in his early days with us excited only to deceive. He was man of the match on this forum several times in mid season. He was very effective at right back, memorably against Ronaldo, and played at centre half with some success. Although Palacios is more effective in midfield he would have been a useful squad player. I note that Wilson has inherited the curse of Freund and Zokora and has also failed to score.

Loyalty, effort, flexibility and a decent level of ability are not freely available in the Premiership, particularly for less than £10 million, and I would have liked him to stay but his International ambitions seemed to have made this impossible.

Two good things arise from his departure: firstly our feud with Sevilla over Ramos seems to have been settled; and secondly it makes the departure of Huddlestone less likely.

At least he leaves behind a couple of memorable songs. He played his football in the right spirit and I hope that this is not a sign that the successful squad that developed in the run in last season is to be dismantled in the delusion that we can achieve Champions' league status in one mighty bound. This has undone us before and may well again.

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

I'm so excited I'm falling asleep

Relax fans, JimmyG2 has re-entered the building. I have been on holiday on the Orange Coast south of Valencia in Gandia with daughters, wife, and grandchildren. They call it 'Madrid on Sea' as its an easy motorway drive down from the capital and the closest point from there to the beautiful beaches and the sea.

Last year we went 10 miles further south to Oliva where the following week Spurs were based at the golf club. No sign of them this year as Harry obviously doesn't have Juande's contacts. Any more for the Bournemouth bus? Admit it you thought there wasn't going to a Tottenham connection there. JimmyG2 doesn't do just idle holiday reminiscence,though I've got some great shots of me and the grandchildren (4,5,6 yrs old) practising our defensive and attacking corner tactics. I'm Gomes obviously as I'm the tallest. We did penalties the second day. But I digress.

With no newspapers, only Spanish TV and very limited Internet connection I have been well and truly out of it for three weeks. And yet, once again, nothing has happened. Berbatov is still with us. No sorry that was last year. But as far as I can see nobody has left and nobody has come in. Yet according to one paper the whole squad bar three untouchables is available for sale. This lucky trio are Woodgate Lennon and Defoe.

Actually we all know that at Spurs as at every other club everyone is available at a price. Would our leaders turn down a decent profit on any of the squad including these three? I very much doubt it. At £20 million it might be touch and go but £25 million would probably buy any of them.

How did Modric who Harry says he is building the team round and Palacios who pre-dates sliced bread get missed off the list. Why am I wasting my valuable time discussing such drivel? Because friends there is nothing else to do; that's all there is; gossip, rumour, and who Man. Utd or Man. City have bought. Michael Owen, who would have thought it? I'm glad his wages priced us out of that one.

When I left the debate was all about how many Real Madrid Dutchmen would be supping from the Edgar Davis memorial chalice, but that all seems to have been forgotten, or have they all signed for us and gone on holiday?

The only thing more mind destroying than the newspaper speculation is the ITK speculation, sorry 'inside information'. You know the, my wife's sister's hairdresser's karate partner gets on the same bus as a girl who used to work on the switchboard at Tesco's when Defoe's ex girlfriend used to do her shopping there. They not only contradict each other but themselves on a daily basis. I know I know 'don't shoot the messenger love'

The transfer window is an affliction really: the rumours are an itch that you know you mustn't scratch; they're like the box in the attic that you mustn't open; the fruit of the tree you mustn't eat; the siren songs that lead to death on the rocks. You want them to go away; you despise them and their perpetrators and then spend hours writing blogs about them.

Headline: 'JimmyG2 found crushed under weight of Tottenham rumours'. Eldest grandson says 'we knew he'd lost it when we went zonal instead of man for man on the Monday at Gandia. On the Tuesday even little Luke(4) beat him three times running with penalties. Gomes? Gormless more like.'

So there you have it; another wafer thin tissue of gossamer spun out of mindless posturings of those who haunt the fringes of the football world. I'm so excited by it all I'm falling asleep. Wake me up when something actually happens,when somebody actually joins the club, or leaves. Unless its Modric of course and then the nightmare truly begins. To be honest I'd rather Harry went than Luka
but that's another blog, another day. Everythings going very dark.