Excerpts from the year’s articles.
I’ve been looking back over my articles for Hotspur HQ and found it interesting to review what I said as events unfolded. I hope you will enjoy doing the same. Up to date comments are in italics in the square brackets.
Harry Redknapp has a disaster with his “Ask Harry” Twitter forum – Read more
Tottenham Hotspur 1 Hull 0
Spurs beat Hull 1-0 with another Roberto Soldado penalty for a handball that only the ref thought was deliberate. Someone tweeted “at least we get penalties now Bale has gone”.
How to make Friends and Influence People
Anre Villas-Boas’ criticism of the atmosphere at White Hart Lane. I have come to the conclusion it was a mistake to for AVB to say all that it in a public press conference. It was ill-judged because it has exposed a weakness to our opponents. He has admitted to the whole world that our group of players is uncomfortable playing at home in front of our own fans. Now everybody knows it, so he has weakened our position. Opposing managers who may have suspected it about Spurs now know for sure. They will be telling their players to get even more stuck in from the outset because our players are uncomfortable at home and the crowd make them nervous. They will be saying not to give up if we go ahead because we are fragile mentally at home.
[I wonder if that is what Brendan Rodgers said to the Liverpool squad before the game at WHL]
The opposing fans will be using the information to take the p*ss. They could have a field day about being scared, especially around Halloween.
AVB could have got the same message across in a much more succinct and positive way but it’s too late now.
Christian Eriksen has said he expects some stick when fans realise the name of his home town. “There is no Upperfart or Lowerfart – just Middlefart”.
Everton vs Spurs second half live instant impressions79 mins: Lloris goes down and stays down in a collision with Lukaku. A nasty whack to the head from Lukaku’s thigh snaps it right back. Ouch. Lukaku is booked. Whilst Lloris is down for a few minutes and the stretcher comes on, part of the crowd chant the “referee’s a w*nker” which continues to be broadcast loud and clear by Sky. “W*nker is clearly not a word they think they need to worry about before the watershed.
It becomes clear it’s the Everton fans when having been helped off and with Brad Friedel just about to step on the pitch, Lloris runs back on and insists on continuing. With apparent head injuries, I don’t think players should be given the option to do so. They can sometimes be too brave for their own good. The same thing happened with Townsend last week. If we are not careful we could end up with a tragedy on the pitch. The memories of Fabrice Muamba and my own undiagnosed brain tumour bursting are far too vivid for me.
Full time: 0-0. For me our men of the match are Vertonghen and Dawson. A fair result overall. We are 4th on goal difference. What I like to call equal 2nd on 20 points, five behind Arsenal and just about clinging on to their coat tails. Still not quite cooking with gas.
How not to succeed as a young man in football management
Having a point to prove, I could try and show how innovative and talented I really am. If I had a large squad of top class players, how would I go about it? I might play them out of position and hope they would blossom following my plan and formation. For example, I could take one of the best centre halves in Europe and play him at left back. I could leave a solid loyal English centre half who does best as part of a steady consistent partnership and give him a different partner every week. I could take one of the best right wingers in England and play him on the left. I could take one of the best left wingers and play him on the right. I could take one of the most prolific goal scorers in Europe and leave him isolated without service or a partner. I could make my team play patient slow build up football and tell them that goals will come and we don’t need a Plan B. When the goals don’t arrive, I could tell the disappointed quiet fans that have traditionally always craved and cheered style and excitement that it’s all their fault. That’ll work. I’ll be redeemed in everybody’s eyes across Europe and ready for the Barcelona job when they come calling.
Tuesday 26 November
One of the best headlines on the Sports pages in a while in the Daily Mail. Daniel Sturridge has allegedly said that there is no way that anyone will stop him playing for England. Brendan Rogers is said to be unhappy that he had to leave Sturridge out because he was not match fit after playing 90 minutes for England. That should be the attitude of all England players and not just in the run up to a World Cup. Your country should always come before your club. The fact that the club pays your wages is a red herring. If you worked for Sainsbury’s and your country asked you to represent them, you wouldn’t turn them down because the shop manager wanted you stocking the shelves next week. The principle is exactly the same. Any good large business should employ sufficient cover for predictable absences.
Thursday morning 28 November: The next four days are going to be a real test for AVB.
Sunday 1 December: Sky announced Jol’s sacking at 4.20 pm. Let’s hope the new manager isn’t in place for Wednesday].
The Sunday papers are also full of speculation about who will replace AVB. Gus Hiddink? Fabio Capello? I am surprised they don’t mention Alf Ramsey. It would all look so different if we beat Manchester United at lunchtime.
Who’d have believed it a month ago? Newcastle 5th. Alain Depardieu’s French players have scored more goals this season than any team in the French Ligue 1but Lyon.
Arsenal despite having played in the Champions League in midweek won 3-0 and are today 7 points clear. Everton continue to play attractive football as they thump Stoke, who have slipped into the same run of performances as most recent Mark Hughes teams.
It is reported that Hull’s owners are prepared to sell the club because of the opposition to renaming it. Obviously scurrilous mischief making because nobody could be that stupid. Could they?
Sunday 11.20 am
When AVB was at Chelsea, towards the end the players looked like they were deliberately playing to get him the sack. I am sure that wasn’t the case and their below par performances and on field demeanour must have been just a coincidence. He had clearly been instructed to clear out some of the old wood by the owner, even though that has proved since to be premature. The thing is, it has just struck me that is what our recent performances, particularly the one against Man City have reminded me of. Whether that is another coincidence will become clear over the next few hours.
In the end it was a much better performance against Manchester United, ending in a 2-2 draw. A good match and we played with pace and spirit for the first time in weeks. It could have gone either way.
We should get 6 points from consecutive away games against Fulham and Stoke and that should set us up nicely for the game against Liverpool.
Monday 2 December: Until recently AVB had been handling press conferences remarkably well, coming across as calm, urbane, even cool. Yesterday though he reacted to recent criticism in the Daily Mail by singling out journalists and Alan Sugar for criticising him and challenging his integrity. He sought out an on camera confrontation with Paul Hitchins, accusing him of personal attacks. That has already prompted a reaction in the Telegraph suggesting his behaviour is verging on paranoia. It’s a sad fact of life that you don’t win confrontations with the media, whether you are right or wrong. As a football manager, you will only get them off your back by winning and winning well.
Tuesday 2 December
Benteke – Is he playing to get out of Villa?
Last season he scored for fun and then sought a transfer with Spurs amongst the front runners. This season he isn’t cutting the mustard. That means he either is a one season wonder or he is deliberately being a liability so that Villa will let him go in January and perhaps at less than he is really worth. Either way, I would not buy him now.
Wednesday 4 December: Tonight it’s Fulham vs. Spurs amongst a full Premier League programme. As expected Martin Jol got the boot at the weekend and they have already installed Renee Mullenstein as their new coach. Let’s hope we don’t suffer from the new manager bounce. They say Berbatov will be back in the squad from illness, despite his agent stirring for a move in the papers.
We are 1-0 down again to Fulham. Decide not to look at the app again out of pure desperate superstition. Depression sets in. All the good work of Sunday undone. If we don’t win this one the sh*t will really hit the fan… Yes! We came back with goals from Chiriches and Holtby. Pure relief.
AVB looked like a man who had just escaped a firing squad.This night will go down in Premiership history. 32 goals in 9 games; 4 of them from Luis Suarez in a magical performance from Liverpool against Norwich. His third reminded me of Gazza’s against Scotland in Euro ’96.
This afternoon’s results have set things up nicely for us. Let’s hope we can take advantage. Chelsea lose 3-2 in at the death to Stoke City. Manchester United lose again.
Sunderland: Three centre halves out injured. Surprisingly Chiriches has a swollen knee. Vertonghen and Kaboul out too. AVB forced to play Capoue out of position alongside Dawson. Poyet has decided to go for it with two strikers against this makeshift defence. Defoe gets his second game on the trot for Spurs. Will Holtby be positive enough to get that ball through to him?
Dembele powers down the left wing in the 50th minute and his cross along the floor results in what proves to be a winning own goal. Spurs up their game and dominate the 2nd half. Could have had 5 or 6. Defoe hits the post twice. Having said that we were lucky when Sandro got away with a handball in our area. It was so blatant, it looked like he was putting his arm out to stop a bus on Tottenham High Road.
3 points off second place. That took some effort. Watch out if we really get our act together.
Wednesday 11 December: Arsenal and Chelsea get through to the knock out stages of the Champions League. All week the papers and pundits were bigging up Napoli’s chances of beating the Gunners 3-0 to prevent them qualifying. Seriously? Come on that was never going to happen. This is not the Arsenal of the last few seasons.
Thursday 12 December:
Attacking football, Townsend flying down the left wing. Decent crosses for Soldado and we end up with a comfortable 4-1 win. When we were 2-0 up, the commentator on ITV4 announced that AVB has the best win percentage of any Tottenham manager since the 1890s. Now there’s food for thought.
A personal report from Sunday
I had a wonderful day apart from one thing which I will reveal at the end of this blog. Something tells me you will guess what it was. I witnessed a great Spurs team at White Hart Lane performing at the top of their game with some real individual stars. David Levy should be proud of them. Really. I am talking about the guys and gals in the stewards and security and door team in the West Stand. They have a difficult job and – it’s no fun on a wet and windy day like Sunday. They were friendly and could not be more helpful.
Ledley We stopped off at the Spurs shop on the way to the café. Right there sitting behind a desk was Ledley King signing copies of his autobiography. He was a real gent, signed a book for me and one for my nephew.He shook my hand and even posed for a few pics.We strolled back the short walk to the car watched some luminaries arrive, Ginola, Capello, Steffen Freund greeting friends and then went in for the game and was able to sit in my own season ticket seat for the first time. I’d had to sit elsewhere previously as it took a while to enable it.
Oh yes, that was the other star of the Spurs team that day. A certain gentleman called Cliff Jones was interviewed at the side of the pitch after recently being inducted to the Hall of Fame.
Erm…and that’s when it all went wrong. On the pitch. The game kicked off. The actual footballers’ performance was rubbish. You know what happened next, so why spoil a nice story? See my Match of Shame blog and Logan’s match report for that.
Received a text from Logan saying I was on the tele! Phew what a day!
[That’s it for summary number 6. Just one more to go…]