As a postscript to the series of 2013 diary summaries we have run over the New Year period, here is a summary of the summer’s close season diaries too.
It is quite interesting to be reminded of how the transfer rumours developed and what players and clubs said – and then what they actually did. As usual, up to date commentary is in italics in square brackets.
Chickens already coming home to roost in respect of failing to secure a Champions League place.
1. Christian Benteke is quoted as saying he would leave Aston Villa if a team like Arsenal came in for him (although his agent swiftly denied it). If we had finished 4th, would he have said, “a team like Tottenham Hotspur?” Wasn’t it Hazard who had been saying this time last year how much he was looking forward to joining Tottenham until that Drogba penalty hit the back of the net?
2. Long time AVB Porto favourite Moutinho chases the money by joining Monaco, who have been taken over by another Russian billionaire and promoted back to French Ligue 1 with Claudio Ranieri in charge. They seem to be intent on fighting Paris St. Germain to be the Man City of France.
Come on Mr. Levy, this year don’t let the grass grow
The news about Andros Townsend being charged with betting offences is not good. Even more reason for ensuring contracts need to tie down behavioural issues and disciplinary procedures as well as footballing ones.
Bayern Munich beat Borussia Dortmund at Wembley to win the Champions League
They do it by signing Mario Goetze, Dortmund’s best player just before the final and announcing it in the press. He is “injured” for the final and sits it out in the stands. How could he have played against his new team? What would the situation have been if it had gone to penalties and he was supposed to take one? Despite this, Dortmund dominate the first 30 minutes but just can’t score. Ribery does a forearm smash on a Dortmund player but is allowed to stay on the pitch to lay on the winner for Robben. Dante survived his own inferno when he should have been booked conceding a penalty for kicking a Dortmund player in the stomach in the area. That should have led to a sending off when he committed another bookable offence but the referee bottled it. That certainly made up for last year’s bad luck in spades. If anyone in that team deserved the win, it was Arjen Robben, for reinventing his game, adding defensive play to it and having the courage to step up to the mark repeatedly in one to one situations this season, right up to the last minutes of the final.
[4 Jan2014 – Now Bayern say they have signed Levandovski for free from next summer on a 5 year contract too]
I remember when we finally sold Modric to Real Madrid, much play was made of the “special relationship” we were henceforth going to have with them and the potential for loan deals and co-operation between the clubs. I haven’t seen much tangible evidence of that since.
Watford and Udinese though, now that’s what I call a special relationship. Looking at the Watford squad and considering it so soon after the situation in the Champions League final, I am wondering what’s happened to the idea of a “level playing field”. I like Gianfranco Zola. I like the way he played football. I like the way he gets his teams to play, so I choose to think that the situation at Watford is not at his instigation.
Their behaviour has parallels with that of Bayern Munich (see above), tipping the scales in their favour for the run in and the play-off final. I was surprised when Ian Holloway pointed out in a programme the extent to which they are relying on players loaned to them by the Italian club, who are also owned by Watford’s new owners. He had circled 7 of them in the squad in black marker pen.
Goodness knows how the rules allow that to come about. Still, if it’s within the rules, how about Real Madrid loaning Tottenham half a dozen of their squad for next season, instead of just hitting us with a massive bid for Gareth Bale? Perhaps they could loan Modric back, given that he was voted the worst value transfer in to the Spanish League last season. He seems very popular with Mourinho but not with many others.
Watford have just substituted the injured Matej Vydra with Alexandre Geijo, pronounced Hey-ho by the commentator on Sky. I have a feeling he is going to have a significant impact at some point. It has just gone into extra time. If Watford win, can I be the first with the headline? “Geijo, Geijo, it’s off to the Prem we go… “
[It didn’t work in the end though and now Zola is out of work]
28 May – Sebastian Bassong featured in the national newspapers posing with a handgun.
Sunday 2 June – Apparently, the People say that Madrid are about to offer £85 million for Gareth Bale. It is their new president’s way of showing they can outdo Barcelona’s signing of Neimar. £85 million is a sum even I would consider, if Bale as his agent has said, is really open to listen to offers. I would so like us to build a cup winning team around him. However, if he truly wants to go, that would pay about a third to a half of the cost our new stadium. If Mr. Lewis and Mr. Levy do consider such an offer, they need to insist on full payment, up front, tax paid. No bits and pieces instalments deals thank you very much. As Freddy Mercury said, “I want it all, I want it all and I want it NOW!” Not with only days of the window to go.
I see Falcao has gone to Monaco. Another player putting money before football….
Sun 2 June: After last week’s tired looking performance in Ireland, England are overwhelmed by Brazil in the first half of the friendly held to celebrate the opening of the refurbished Maracana stadium. Joe Hart plays a blinder and restricts Brazil to a 1-0 lead into the second half. Hodgson brings on Oxlade-Chamberlain for Glen Johnson. He plays without fear and galvanises the team, standing the match on its head. In one of those fantastic twists of fate that football throws up, he scores with a lovely volley from outside the area in the corresponding match to the friendly his Dad played in, in 1984. Wayne Rooney scores a beauty (slight deflection) from outside the area 6 or so minutes later. England are well worth the 2 – 2 draw that is the final result.
Clint Dempsey inspirational as Jurgen Klinsmann-managed USA shock everyone by hanging on to beat Germany 4 – 3 in their friendly. Yes!
Wednesday 5 June: Everton finally announce Martinez as their new manager. Bill Kenwright immediately puts him under unreasonable pressure by revealing that the first thing Martinez said to him was “I’ll get you in the Champions League”.
Thursday 6 June: Manchester City are splashing the cash in their usually vulgar way. They have paid a reported £35 million for the Brazilian Fernandinho. That leaves Man City with about a dozen midfielders, enough for 3 other Premiership teams. They seem to be maintaining their policy of even if we don’t play them, we’ll make sure nobody else can either. It didn’t win them the FA Cup. Let’s hope it doesn’t win them the league next season
Saturday 8 June: Sky announces that Spurs have released Bentley and Gallas. The Sun says Assou-Ekotto is having a medical with Fenerbahce. Apparently he only made 12 starts last season. Seemed like more and it was like he had a different haircut for every one. I thought he was a very good option when we were varying the wing back support. Bentley; what a sad waste of talent and money…a potentially brilliant career has evaporated.
Monday 11 June: Mourinho gives his first press conference as the manager of Chelsea. Wants his nickname this time around to be “the happy one”. Hmm. No transfers in at Tottenham yet.
The allocation of Champions League places in English Football. Awarding places to runners up, even 4th placed teams is rewarding the hamsters who do a bit better on the treadmill throughout the season than the others. On the other hand, if you actually win a competition, you have proven yourself a champion. EUFA have now recognised it by allocating a Champions League place to the winners of the Europa League. It’s time we did the same for the winners of the FA Cup and the League Cup. This would ensure that the biggest teams take them seriously.
Manchester City announces the purchase of Jesus Navas, no doubt looking for divine inspiration as they try to buy the Premiership title again. It’s obscene, or should I say “offensive”? (See below). That’s £50 million spent this summer already. Over to you Roman…
Wednesday 12 June: The Sun reports Paris San Germaincity’s (geddit?) serious interest in AVB. Apparently he has a £10m buyout clause in his contract with Spurs. If he goes they’ll get him on the cheap then. Don’t want to lose him but if he goes I’d try and tempt Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. Failing that, Michael Laudrup. I’d have Glenn Hoddle back in a flash, just as I would for England if Hodgson left but I get the feeling they have burnt their bridges on that possibility.
Managerial merry-go-round update: Eoin Coyle is chosen by Wigan, apparently in preference to Steve McLaren. Manchester City confirmed signing of Pellegrini yesterday, what must be the worst kept secret of the past two months.
He is quoted as saying they will play offensive football. I agree it all seems pretty offensive to me. City’s ugly use of their resources means that they currently have 3 midfields. The use of the word “offensive” by managers and commentators when they mean “attacking” is right up there on the “nails down a blackboard” scale as the usual suspects; “Big Ask”, “Good watch”, “difficult watch” and “mistake” when you mean “crime”. See previous blogs. Just because “offensive” is the direct opposite of “defensive”, it does not mean it is right to use it to describe an attacking style of football. The context is all wrong.
The Sun has a two page spread on “who would be a football manager?” It points out that the job lasts less than two years for most of them. The answer of course, is “we all would”.
Offer any of us the chance to manage a football team for £500,000 for 6 months, spend £50 million on players and still get my contract paid up after failing to win a match and I’d bite your hand off, thank you very much. So no more sob stories for those who get away with it, please.
I also have the seeds of an idea for a betting game or a board came, or perhaps even a card game about football management. It would involve having a set of managers and a corresponding number of clubs commonly in the bottom half of the premier /challenging for promotion from the Championship. It would look something like; Wigan, Bolton, Sunderland, Hull, Blackpool, Middlesboro, Blackburn, Stoke (sorry Dad), Wolves, Crystal Palace, Q.P.R. The managers list would include Mark Hughes, Dave Jones, Eoin Coyle, Ian Holloway, Nigel Adkins, Steve Bruce. You could do a betting game a bit like the Sun Super Six, where you have to predict the scores of 6 selected league games, only it would be a long term bet, a bit like betting at the start of the season on who will win the trophies at the end. You could select six managers from the list and predict which of the listed teams they will be managing in a year’s time, or if they will be between clubs. The most accurate prediction wins a prize. A darker version would be to predict which manager would be the next to have a heart procedure, heart attack, a stroke or be prescribed blood pressure tablets.
Saturday 15 June pm: Just watched last 10 minutes of Spain vs. Norway. What a gulf in class over England. Isco and Morata look like brilliant prospects. So calm in front of goal under pressure. Confidence that comes from ability honed by practice.
Sun 16 June: Congratulations to Justin Rose on winning the US Open. An English champion. Savour it, it doesn’t happen often. A reward for self believe and perseverance.
Gareth Bale to trade mark his heart shaped hand celebration in an attempt to develop his own brand. Let’s hope it boosts his income sufficiently for him to decide he is comfortable enough to stay on with us for a while.Tuesday 18 June: newspapers comment on ex Spurs regular Joe Kinnear’s shock appointment as director of football at Newcastle, who he used to manage.
In the afternoon, watch the European Under 21 Championship Final. Spain beat Italy 4 – 2. Great play from both sides, once again underlying the gulf between their players and ours. No sign of fatigue from their kids.
Wednesday 19 June: Sky announce that Andy Carroll has passed a medical at West Ham.
[Who conducted that, Doctor Nookey from Carry on Matron?]
The Football Association say they will not be renewing Stuart Pearce’s contract. There’s a surprise. Like I said the other day, he was on a hiding to nothing.
Wednesday 19 June: Spurs confirmed Franco Baldini’s appointment as technical director with an announcement of the official website. OK, that’s the management team sorted. Now let’s move quickly to make the squad changes to get a settled team in time for the kick off.
21 June: They are at it again. Roy Hodgson is said to be frustrated by the fact that the Premier League has scheduled the north London Derby and Liverpool vs. Man Utd a few days before the World Cup qualifier against Moldova. I am not surprised. They used to call actions designed to harm your country’s interests treachery and it was a serious offence. The Premier League is at it all the time.
Although, I suppose if the people owning the teams and running them are not English, then they can’t be traitors when England is not their own country in the first place. The owners of several of them are more likely to have the national interests of Russia, China, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates at heart and it shows. I guess that’s why they can say they don’t understand what the fuss is about. We are being undermined from the inside out. As I have said before, it’s time the government intervened and at least granted the FA and the England manager total authority over league teams and players when it comes to the interests of the national team. Whilst we are about defending the FA’s interests – could this be where we start the campaign to have the winners of the FA Cup allocated a Champions League place?
Wednesday 26 June: Watched Uruguay vs. Brazil on BBC TV. No love lost there, is there?. Closer than one might expect, then but it seemed inevitable that Brazil would get a winning goal. Sure enough it came from the head of Paulinho.
I bet Daniel Levy cursed, that’ll be another £5million on his asking price.
The media sages say that now Ancelotti has moved to Madrid, things will start to move on the transfer market. A massive bid for Bale is anticipated with possibly even Higuain as a makeweight.
It seems he will have the pick of what he wants and we will all be scrapping over his leftovers. Interesting to see that one of Pellegrini’s first moves is to let the hard working but troublesome Carlos Tevez go to Juventus for £10 million. I think it’s a good move for City; stamps his authority and makes it clear he wants team players.
The ideal Confederations Cup Final coming up on Sunday; Brazil vs. Spain.
Sun 30 June: Ha ha. Another Alan Hansen gem, up there with “you’ll win nothing with kids”. Fred has just scored for Brazil against Spain, 1.5 mins into the Confederations Cup Final, less than 5 minutes after Hansen said he was vastly overrated. 3-0 after 47 minutes. Brazil are making Spain look ordinary. Ramos even misses the goal completely when Spain are awarded penalty. There were cracks against Italy but this is emphatic. Fred gets a second, the crowd are amazing too. Incredible, Hulk’s been substituted! Sorry, couldn’t resist that.
So it should all be sorted in a matter of days. What do you reckon? Paulinho and Villa to Spurs – or is one going to Real Madrid and one to Arsenal? Good luck Mr. Levy.
Just read the editorial on last month’s official Hotspur magazine saying it’s the last one. That’s a shame, I’ll really miss it. I’ll especially miss going into branches of WH Smith and rearranging their magazine display so that Hotspur Magazines covered all the other teams’ mags on the shelf and then taking a snap for my records and personal pleasure. I hope they have factored in the costs against the loss of custom accurately. I for one, would write for the mag for free, just like I would have played for the team for free 30 years ago!
Tuesday 2 July: Another mid – season surprise managerial appointment. Right up there with Kinnear to Newcastle. Steve McLaren joins Q.P.R. as a coach. Spot the odd one out; chalk and cheese, oil and water, Redknapp and McLaren…oh, there isn’t one!
Formula 1 – what a farce.
I know they say there is no such thing as bad publicity but having watched those tyres shredding again and again at Silverstone, would you buy a set of Pirellis for your daily commute in your pride and joy and to take the wife and kids on holiday? They have announced that they are going to allow in-season testing in an attempt to put the problems right before the next Grand Prix. For all teams except Mercedes that is, because of their previous breach of the rules. It will be interesting to see them trying to explain that away if Lewis Hamilton dies from a tyre blow out in the next race.
And Wimbledon. I have been surprised to see the number of top seeds falling by the wayside. Some of them have blamed the grass. D’uh? - It’s Wimbledon! It reminds me of British Rail in the winter, “wrong type of snow on the line”. Where is he consistency in the administration of the dress code? We all know it’s supposed to be all white. Roger Federer is told, allegedly, that he can’t wear his tennis shoes with the orange soles and immediately suffers a shock defeat and exit in the next round. In contrast Serena Williams was allowed to wear a pair of garish pink knickers as she crashed out. Personal taste, I know but I am glad I don’t have to suffer those anymore.
Saturday July 6: Hooray! At last the official Spurs website confirms the signing of Paulinho following the successful completion of his medical.I know you have to be careful with these things but one look at him at the Confederations Cup would have done for me). Now, we just need one more top class striker and I’ll believe that we can win something next season. If it wasn’t for the ridiculous rule about 4th place getting a Champions League spot, I’d still rather win a cup. Whatever happens if we do get a world class striker and hang on to Bale, then we cannot blame management for failing to make the necessary signings like in the last transfer window. So well done Daniel Levy and Co. Come on, just one more…
A great victory for the British Lions. Always preferred the game to Rugby League. Not surprising really. I went to senior school just a mile or so from Twickenham and had to learn to play it properly every winter for 5 years on the trot. I was not really built for it but that made no difference at our school. At least that means I can appreciate a well-played game when I see it.
Hats off to the coach Warren Gatland, who stepped up to the mark as a manager and coach, made sweeping changes to the team and dropped a great player. He was already being crucified in the media before the game. I didn’t think the Lions would cope with so much change and thought we would lose, so the victory and especially the margin of it was a pleasant surprise. It must have felt like the icing on the cake for the 10 Welsh players who had already won the 6 Nations championship.
Sunday 7 July: Another passing shot puts Andy Murray 15-40 up at 4-4 in the third set and he leads by 2 sets to love.Takes the next point. 5-4, he comes out to a roar to serve for the Wimbledon Championship. 15-0. Reads the drop shot. 30-0. 40-0. 3 Championship points…40-15. 40-30. Is he bottling it? Deuce. Slams a return into the net. Advantage Djokovic. Break point. Deuce. I think he’s going to do it now. Net cord to Djokovic after it looked like his last shot was long. So, advantage Djokovic again. Great disguised forehand from Murray. Deuce. Brilliant cross court drop from Djokovic at the net. Advantage Djokovic again. Great serve and volley from Murray. Deuce. Crowd chants “Murray, Murray” then respectful silence. Comes back with a lob and rushes the net as Djokovic’s return hits it. Championship point again.
He has done it! My God, he would not let that game go. What an effort. He goes down in history as one of the great Scots. Congratulations. When I started typing this, watching it live, I thought it would just take a couple of sentences but the game just went on and on and on!
[Part 2 to follow]