The Blog that's not always wrong.

Saturday, 25 June 2011

Mod-Rich still at The Lane by Greg Meyer.

We don't agree on everything but Greg and I, and all the regulars at a Kent Pub, certainly do about super Luka. I make no apology for another column about our Croatian talisman.  Retaining his services is arguably as important as signing an accredited striker.
As usual Greg approaches the subject in his own way and is entirely responsible for the 'Lucre' pun. ' Mod-rich' is courtesy of Topspurs' Jim Duggan. Well I can't do it all on my own can I?

Saturday 25 June 2011... A Birthday Cake at Chez Redknapp.

 Lucre Modric.

 "He leaves over my dead body." Hopefully 'Murder at the Lane' does not become a best seller and Daniel Levy's career as Spurs Chairman does not suffer a fatal wounding in credibility.And then some.
 Luka in Croatia means "port" and as well "wound" Oops surely not but unfortunately yes.
Lucre in Kent means bitter disappointment if our Spurs fulcrum leaves for Russian roubles. Lots of filthy lucre changing hands. So what. Try finding another Modric for 25 Million pounds or 1.1 Billion roubles. The going exchange rate.
Our pub banker well versed in exchange rates,considers himself a dab hand at transfer rates also. Jordan Henderson 20 Million pounds (giggles galore), Cesc Fabregas ( Arsenal declined a recent Barcelona overture of 27 Million) and valued by Arsenal at 45 Million pounds. So where does that place our Luka. Surely not the derisory 20 Million initially offered by Chelsea.
Its completely unanimous here at the Kent Pub Luka Modric Appreciation Society. Arsenal went through this last year with Fibreglass.They announced a realistic value of the player to their team and stuck to it. Unless we have realistic aspirations to push on for a realistic title chase then sell. Some of our number may then follow from a distance. Some of our number may pay more attention to the garden. A very small number.
Most will fair dinkum edge closer to that slippery slope of disinclined involvement. It certainly tests the Season Ticket renewal resolve if he is allowed to go.
Hang on ... over my dead body.
Our lawyer says it is all just part of being a big club,showing how hard it is to be there and more pertinent to stay there. After all Luka is coveted by others because Spurs are a genuine title threat come August 2011.
The initial dust has settled but given the Transfer Window officially opens July 1 and slams shut 31 August ,don't hold your breath. Instead why not relax and escape indeed dream about holidays coming up ...

Kent Pub Travel Advice.

Mine Host was a big wig in the travel industry before setting up a Spurs outpost in Kent. Many's the night he and some of our regulars include designated travel agents talking of exotic locales.
As well who is and who has gone where with a football tucked in the suitcase. Without being comprehensive our Bureau reports .
You know who on a boat ... boat owner unknown but Russian registration suspected.Hopefully the boat is in port Bali where Senor Fibreglass is holidaying. After all the further away Luka is the better.
Harry flitting from 18 holes at the Berkshire Golf Club to Ascot for the evening dinner. As well on the phone to his solicitor. Something about the Portsmouth development planning appeal. Taxing times for your keen developer. About to become immeasurably more taxing down at Southwark County Court in July. Not much of a holiday break for our Harry.
White Vaart Lane and wife Sylvie have moved on from St Tropez to Las Vegas.At least Rafael seems settled at our Lane for 2011-12.
Another traveller touted to be off to Turkey next year is sunning himself in Barbados. Jermaine Jenas and wife. Yes probably should move on to a permanent appointment in the turkish sun.
Elsewhere Spain is popular. Not only our little speedster Aaron Lennon but Jimmy G2 as well. How the well to do manage to battle on.
Here at the pub Mine host about to depart Tenerife as usual. Yes Vinny Samways had a very popular bar there. Otherwise we regulars are standing by for a heatwave about to descend this weekend ...

At A Kent Pub.

A crucial month looms for Harry, Luka and our Pub.
The stress of a criminal trial cannot be underrated. The stress of following Spurs when your prize assets are under threat does not help. Perhaps more stressful if you are managing the same mob.
The general consensus here is day by day and heatwave by heatwave, After all he did say...
"Over my dead body ..."

Cheers ... fingers crossed and by the by Jamie Redknapp turns 38 today ... Greg Meyer.                   coys.

Monday, 20 June 2011

Who let the dogs out?

Please close the gate.

 Well it's a dog eat dog world in the Premiership as we know but, cards on the table; sleeves rolled right up to reveal nothing but arm; chrystal ball hidden under its cloth and tea leaves thrown straight into the recycling bin, I have absolutely no idea whether Luka Modric, apparently still of this parish when I last had access to the wonderful world of the web, will be a Tottenham player come 1st. Septemeber 2011.

I set off for the beautiful Azahar coast of Spain with mere rumblings and general disquiet in London. amongst the Spurs fans, to find that the pool is cool but that the promised wiffy is decidedly iffy. When it finally whirred into action I find that Luka is apparently off to Chelsea even though Dan.Levy is playing an admirable straight bat and catagorically pledging that he will not be sold under any circumstances.

This much we know. Now Luka is going to cost somebody an arm and a leg eventually and that is precisely what Chelsea's initial offer of £22 million would have got them: just the one arm and the one leg. Now the statements seem unequivical from both Harry and Levy and from Luka that he will not request a transfer.

End of story; nothing to see here; five minute wonder; move on. But of course Tottenham have form here and I have predicted for some time that any offer for Bale or Modric in the £35 million area would cause at the very least minor tremors in the Lilywhite eco-system if not a major quake and resulting transfer tsunami.

For some, including me, the selling of any of our key players but especially Modric is the litmus test of where we are today. We are not talking mere aspirations here but solid achievements over several years culminating in our thrilling Champions' Leaguer run last season.

We are in a dfifferent place now from the days of Carrick and Berbatov. To sell Modric, Bale, Van Der Vaart, Sandro, add your own 'must keeps' would be to confirm that nothing has changed and that we are still the hand maidens of the the old and new top four. Chelsea fancy our delightful Croation temptress for the Harem so send her up without delay.

Great thanks O mighty Russian oligarch. Please feel free to walk all over us; to sully our dignity; we hasten to obey; the privilege is all ours. The price? Whatever you feel able to give your Abramovichness. It's not on; it won't do and it will finally shatter the pretence that we are ready to take our place once again amongst the European elite.

Now some may argue that Modric or whomsoever are not indispensible and that the money would buy us what we really need, a top striker, and that we have midfieders enough and to spare. A 'Never mind the quality: feel the width' kind of attitude.But if you aspire to the top you need top quality players not just to get there but to stay there.

Modric is just such a player. Topping up with the Parkers of this world, decent player though he might be just doesn't cut it at this level leaving aside the message it sends to our rivals and as importantly the fans.After the pronouncments of Harry and Levy would we ever trust them again. Would it spell the end for Redknapp and ENIC as far as the fans are concerned?

I'm not sure that the scenario painted by the Modric interview rings true in any case. Did he hammer on a journalist's door to make a clear unsolicitated declaration of his love for Chelsea, his regret at leaving Spurs and his undying gratitude to Harry?

No he did not. Interviewed on holiday on a boat he responded to leading questions such as
'Would you like to play for a club that is regularly in the Champions League and is London based?
Perm any one from two here. What my legal contacts call 'leading qustions' and the inevitable spun replies. Notice the subliminal reference to 'a boat'. Doesn't that nice multi billionaire Mr. Abramovich have a boat?

Now the Internet is down again and by tomorrow we may have lost the battle already. So the pool and the beach it is and fingers crossed for later. It will be slow progress until the £35 million threshhold draws near.(Upped to £25 million today apparently. So that's another bit of Modric secured.

The attack dogs of the Premiership, and you know who you are, will have moved away for the moment to consider their positions and lick their wounds. But they can smell our fear as all dogs apparently can and will be back before long. We are relying on the integrity of Mr. Levy and hoping that his football cap takes precedence over his business bowler to keep the circling hyenas at bay.

Past events make us jittery and quite rightly so. But we don't have to sell and if we are serious about our current status we should not. Modric is already back-tracking from his interview saying that he would only move to Chelsea if Spurs negotiated such a deal. So who let the dogs out? Was Modric just seeking reassurance? Did he need to feel the love? Or was it his agent seeking a new contract?

The whole thing stinks to me of jounalistic manipulation perhaps with Chelsea's involvment but that could just be me being paranoid. Rumours are circulating of a £32 million bid. The threshhold is nigh. Did I read that Real Madrid want Sandro? And so the moving finger having writ moves on. The dogs of war come sniffing round again

Only another 2 months and 10 days to go in this window. More than enough time to buy a couple of strikers and dispense with the services of players not up to it but not Luka Modric. He is now our touchstone; our talisman and our symbol of ambition.Throw the coyotes a bone but not one of Luka's.

It's going to get worse before it gets better whatever Mr.Levy, Mr Redknapp or even Mr.Modric. say I'm afraid. The dogs are off the leash; it's open season on our key players and the two Manchesters haven't even stirred yet, just sleeping in their kennels with their noses in the water bowl and one eye open.

Friday, 10 June 2011

Looking through the transfer window.

Looks like the windows could do with a clean

Get your panic in early before prices rise has always been my motto as a hardened Tottenham fan. But it does seem to me that this season is taking on a make or break aspect which makes the transfer window even more crucial than usual.

Of course every season has the capacity to be a desperate plunge into the depths of a relegation fight or a rocket trip to the edge of the universe, top four and beyond.

Actually since the Premiership began we have had a steady ride and Managerial sackings or resignations apart things have gone pretty predictably. Well 'predictably' if not always 'prettily'.
We have only once finished as low as 15th and this was the Ardiles hiatus. The most recent blip was the Ramos saga where we finished 11th in 07/08.

Our mid-table mediocrity period was 96/97 until 03/04' a period when we had 7 managers in almost as many years until Martin Jol arrived in 2004. In the last 7 years we have been out of the top half only once (Ramos) and have had three 5th and one 4th place finish..

Now I know it's not good enough but it's not as bad as I sometimes remember it. My point is that we have been on the up for several years, making steady progess under reasonably settled managers with an improving squad. This trend has culminating in last years 4th finish and an exhilerating CL run. But are we about to begin the slide back down again? A fear which always haunts the back, and sometimes the front, of my brain.

The average stay of our managers, 12 in all, since Wenger took over at Arsenal has been 18 months. This trend has been reversed with Harry and Jol and we have had only 2 managers in 7yrs. The reviv al in our fortunes is no coincidence in my view. Two of the current top four have long serving managers; the other two are the playthings of billionaire owners who have bought their success.

The following points make me apprehensive.

We will probably require a new manager next year. Harry will be in prison or will have got the England job, or the sack, or something.

The revival of Liverpool under Dalgleish could make it a real six horse race for top four. There are no real signs that any of the current top four will implode.

4th will be the minimum requirement to retain our key players, if they are all still with us.

We still have a lot of players on our books that we need to re-deploy before we can upgrade.

The mood this year is not as upbeat as it was when we grabbed 4th and had the CL to look forward to.

The striker situation is in urgent need of resolution whatever Les Ferdinand thinks.

The new stadium project is still unresolved and could drag on for several months or even years. This cast a shadow over our ability to generate income under the new fair play rules.

Any finish lower than 5th will raise the possibility that we have peaked and are on our way back down to mid table mediocrity. In the past 7 seasons we have only been out of the top half once.

The chances of us clearing unwanted players at prices high enough to enable us to upgrade to real quality seems unlikely. A cash injection looks necessary unless we do a Liverpool and cash in on one of our highly sellable players. Bale or Modric.

Some of our players are problematic: Gomes for one and Friedel at 40 is at best a temporary appointment; Ledley is always an uknown; Gallas cannot be relied upon for much longer; Woodgate appears to be finished; Bassong and Kranjcar want to leave.

The age of the players we are being linked with (Drogba, Friedel, Rio Ferdinand, Parker) suggests a stop gap policy to fill in the season before Harry leaves.

Any of the above might destabilise us particularly Harry or key players leaving. I feel we are at a very precarious point in our history. Perhaps we always are; perhaps it's just me but I don't have the confidence for next season that I had for last.

'Stop-gap' is the word that appears to summon it up for me. It's hyphenated but still counts as one. 'Consolidation' is another perhaps nicer way of putting it but that implies to me standing still and if you stand still whilst everyone else is moving forward you get trampled in the crush.

Now it's early days and a couple of exciting signings, preferably up front, might change the view out of the transfer window entirely. On the other hand selling Modric or Bale might make it very gloomy outlook indeed. We wouldn't would we?

Saturday, 4 June 2011

Life gets tedious don' it?

 Patience is a virtue in short supply at my age.

 It's been the driest spring for a hundred years: that's the weather not the Spurs strikers' record since February. Anyway it rained sufficiently last week to get the grass growing and I have now mowed the lawn and taken the overflow compost heap down to the allotment.

I have also been up to the re-cycling centre, very high on the list of local attractions, another job not possible during the season. There are ominously large tins of paint appearing in the garage following Mrs JimmyG2's visit to our local Focus store which is in receivership and having an 'Everything must go sale'. I will not draw the obvious parallels with the rumored 'Clearance of the dead wood'. Our very own annual non event.

So as you can tell there's not a lot happening. People are calling for an early marquee signing, here we go again, to settle the Modric and Bales of this world into the realisation that we mean business next season. But as we all know it's not our style.

Firstly, apparently, we have to turn over some cash in order to buy. Secondly all the world knows that we are desperate for strikers or even one striker, but that we won't pay over the odds and like a bargain. This is not a strong business negotiating position to secure world class players. Thirdly we are not in the Champions League this year.

Now we built a squad and got there without being in it thus disproving the 'Catch 22' conundrum that you need world class players to achieve CL status but without CL status you can't sign world class players. But keeping them is going to be another matter.

Comforting e-mails have been received by fans seeking a firm denial from the club of the Bale and Modric rumours but I don't believe for one moment that a bid over £30 million pounds would be rejected in the end for either of them. Cynical moi? Where sport and business meet there is a nasty interface usually resolved in the favour of business.Quatar to host the World Cup and the Bahrein Grand Prix spring to mind.

Anyway nothing is happening: Modric hasn't gone to Man.Utd; Harry hasn't gone to Chelsea; Defoe hasn't gone to Sunderland or Arsenal; Friedel* and Parker have not yet arrived at Spurs; Ruud Van Nistelroy has gone to Malaga and not just for a holiday, so cross that one off your list, and none of the young explosive S.American strikers that we have been linked with have set sail for these shores, as yet.

That's the trouble with blogging during the transfer window, you can easily get behind the news curve. But it's not our style to sign early except in the cases of Modric, Berbatov, and Bale which should be sending us some sort of message. Levy likes his days, weeks even, in the limelight and Harry has been lost in France muttering, 'If it's good enough for Arsene it's good enough for me'.

As yet he hasn't seen anything as good as Roman Pavlyuchenko, but for goodness sake, where's he been looking? The yoghurt aisle in 'Monoprix' is not noted for the quality of its strikers. French starlet, that's journo speak for a youngster that nobody's ever heard of, Gameiro is off to Spain; Rossi is on his way to Barcelona; Berbatov is staying to fight for his place at Utd so our list is getting shorter by the day.

At least if Harry does leave we won't be getting Allardyce or Hughes** as they are spoken for at W.Ham and Villa.

So as Hank Williams sang in the late 40's

'You open the door and the flies swarm in.
Shut the door and your sweatin' again.'

and yes I do remember it, just.

Pretty accurate picture of chez JimmyG2 during the current transfer window.

What about painting the shed Jimmy?
I cant' I'm very busy . When they say it's the 'close season' it doesn't mean nothing's happening'.
'Well what is happening then?
'Exactly. Here's a paint brush'
'Hold the Emulsion!. Gio's just scored two for Mexico
Gio who?

Anyway that's the shed painted in a sort of blue and white camouflage effect. Wait till she sees it. I'll just sit here and watch it dry until something more interesting happens.

'The sun goes up an the sun goes down
Hands on the clock keep goin' around.
An' I just get up and it's time to lay down
Life gets tedious don't it.'

Tell it like it is Hank baby.

* Update on Friedel. Apparently signed while I was giving the shed a second coat. I knew it would all kick off while my back was turned. Appropriately more a shed than a marquee signing.
But at least he's not an over the hill 30 yr old. On OPTA stats he is not clearly a better keeper than Gomes and not exactly sending a positive message to Luka. Manchester Utd are apparently willing to spend £15 million on the young and exciting De Gea and we sign a man at the end of his career on a free.

Friedel v Gomes

Conceded 59-39,
Clean Sheets 7-7,
Saves/game 2.8-3.7,
Save % 64%-74%,
Catch success 96%-96%,
Errors 2-5.

Courtesy of OPTA via visceraleyes from COYS.

Presumably just back up then. At his age more like back out I fear. An archetypal Harry signing, old, sorry, experienced, cheap if not free, no sell on value. Is Daniel having nightmares?  With Parker to follow that's two players in positions we don't need to cover.

** Update on Hughes. Got his application and resignation letters mixed up and rather foolishly
resigned from Fulham before he'd got the job at Villa.

Is there a vacancy somewhere closer to home here that I've missed?

This start to the transfer window is verging on the depressing rather than the just tedious with Liverpool leading the pack for several young stars, Connor Wickham included. Yeah, I know it's early days but the signs are not auspicious. 

As I sit on the veranda chewing a straw in my sun hat and string vest it seems that at Spurs it was ever thus.
'Patience' you say, 'it's only just begun', thanks Karen, but at my age patience is a luxury I haven't really got time for.