Roberto Soldado celebrates [Photo: Alan Hill]

Look Back At Tottenham In 2013: A Summer Of High Hopes


2013 Summer Diary Summary Part 2

Paulinho [Photo: Alan Hiull]

Paulinho [Photo: Alan Hiull]

As usual, up to date comments in italics in the square brackets…
@UnderArmourUK

@UnderArmourUK

Tuesday 9 July: This is more like it. After a barren few weeks, things are moving again on the Spurs and football front. A few days ago we had the official confirmation of Paulinho’s signing. Christian Benteke puts in a transfer request at Aston Villa.

Not only do Tottenham launch their 2013/14 kit with the return of Hewlett Packard as sponsors but the photo shoot includes Gareth Bale in the new kit and he says in the interview broadcast on Sky how much he is looking forward to achieving at least 4th place with Spurs next season. Hooray!

Wednesday 10 July: Following my comment yesterday, the Sun’s transfer gossip feature suggests Daniel Levy and Randy Lerner will slug it out over Benteke. Real Madrid also apparently interested though, so that’s probably that then.

Women’s Football

I’ve had a bit of a tough week and slumped down in front of the TV last night and the day immediately picked up. My wife had tuned in to the second match of the Women’s European Championship live on BBC3. Another first for me – I have now seen a female goalkeeper save a penalty – two in one match actually. Her ball handling skills were magnificent.

An injury is an injury, I know.

Doesn’t it strike you as odd though that Wayne Rooney is back home already after picking up a hamstring injury in his first training session on Manchester United’s Far Eastern tour? If an injury could ever be described as fortunate and perfect timing, this is it. It no doubt means both he and United have met their contractual commitments because technically, he went on the tour. No one would suggest he or the club should be sanctioned for picking up such an unfortunate injury, despite the massive disappointment it will be to all their Asian fans and sponsors. It may even mean that a claim can be made on an insurance policy somewhere. Man Utd fans will be relieved that David Moyes clearly stated he is staying with Man United next season because otherwise Rooney would find it much easier to negotiate a move with his agent whilst at home with his feet up for the next month than he would on the Asian Tour. Everyone will also understand if he starts the season overweight and out of condition because how can the poor guy possibly stay in peak condition if he can’t run around? Wake up and smell the coffee everybody.

Another cloud with a silver lining for the player involved is Luis Suarez’s ban for the unfortunate biting incident that has given him time off to try and negotiate a move from Liverpool. He has now come out and admitted he wants a move away because he wants Champions League football. Don’t we all?

Mohammed Al Fayed has sold Fulham FC to Shahid Khan, a billionaire who already owns an NFL Franchise. Mr. Khan has so far shown remarkable restraint in not responding to Al Fayed’s constant jibes about his moustache, although actually wearing a false one in the photo shoot on the club’s doorstep takes the biscuit. I wonder how Fayed would react if Mr. Khan appeared in the next shot in a bald wig and a fat suit, carrying a Michael Jackson doll?

Wednesday July 17:  Is Sky running out of news? Their main story this morning is that Wayne Rooney is angry and confused. I have an idea for some headlines in a similar vein that they could use; “The Sun will come out tomorrow”, “Sony’s follow up to PlayStation 3 is called PlayStation 4”, “Gareth Bale scores for Spurs”.  “Andy Carroll is out injured”..Oh, he is.

[4 Jan 2014 - and he still is]

Saturday 20 July: Another striker slips through our fingers. In a surprise about turn, Benteke signs an extension to his contract and commits himself to Aston Villa after all. Well done to Paul Lambert and co.

Just as we are all getting wound up and carried away with the build-up to the new season, something to make us take stock and put it into perspective; the sad news that Barcelona’s coach, Tita Vilanova has had to resign because of the return of throat cancer. It is a timely reminder of how fragile life is and how lucky we all are to be here at all. Let’s treat our rivals with respect this season and make the most of the opportunity we have to enjoy it all.

We have signed Nacer Chadli a Belgian international winger who has been sending out “come and get me” signals. I have no problem with that per se but everyone knows that what we really need is a world class striker. Why would we sign a winger unless we knew that we were going to sell a winger that we already have? You know who I am talking about. I have that sinking feeling and am beginning to wonder if a deal has been done somewhere that we will soon find out about. I hope not.

Tuesday 23 July: Sky Sports News reports that the Spanish media are saying that Real Madrid have done a 6 year deal for Gareth. He has now missed our last two friendlies with a minor injury but AVB still says he is not for sale. One way of the other, the truth will out soon.

[not for sale, huh]

Saturday 28 July: On balance, the past week hasn’t been a great one for Spurs but it ended on a bright note. We were comfortably beaten by a hastily thrown together Sunderland in the Asian trophy in horrendous conditions on a pitch like a ploughed field. Jan Vertonghen damages his ankle ligaments falling awkwardly coming down from a header.  Still no new striker and Benteke scores a hat trick for Aston Villa. Things start to look up with a 6-0 win over South China in the 3rd place play off. Adebayor continues as the nearly man but Defoe finds his scoring boots and Dempsey remains Mr. Dependable. I’d rather we held onto him when the striker shake up eventually comes. The Soldado saga staggers on as we try and avoid meeting the fee in his buy-out clause.

Front page of Tuesday's Marca newspaper.

Front page of Tuesday’s Marca newspaper.

Sunday 28 July: The Bale hysteria goes into meltdown in the Sunday papers. Everyone has a different slant on it, mainly on exactly how much Madrid have got him for. From £50million to £100 million, depending on which paper you buy.  (I am sure that none of you reading these blogs is the sort who stands at the shelves reading the print off the papers without shelling out for one. That’s what libraries are for. Shops are businesses that rely on you purchasing the products they offer. So please don’t obstruct those of us who just want to get in, buy the things and get out again). Meanwhile I promise not to write another word about the Bale transfer saga until either he has been sold or the end of the transfer window. A bit of summer gossip and speculation is fun but this has all gone beyond a joke.

Wednesday 31st July: Mathew Sayed does a great job on Rooney in the Times (sorry Logan!). I think he is after Simon Barnes’ top columnist gong. He says that the Wayne Rooney transfer saga is comedy gold. He reminds us that in 2010 the England forward released a statement saying that he wanted out because his team mates were not good enough. The club did not match is ambition.  Today he wants out because his team mates are so good he can’t get in the team. He says Wayne should be asked in the next interview; “Do the club fail to meet your ambitions now? Or do you fail to match theirs?” Ha ha.

Thursday 1 August: we have signed Roberto Soldado subject to a medical. Wouldn’t it be great to see him playing just ahead of Bale as we romp into the top 3 and stay there? Like that’s gonna happen. Still, let’s hope we see him whacking in Chadli’s crosses instead. I wonder if they’ll both still be here as we kick off in the Gareth Bale stadium in a couple of years’ time. Presumably that’s what it’ll be called ‘cos his fee will be paying for it….Like throughout our history, one good /great player goes through the outdoor as another comes in. When are we going to get a situation where they all play together in another truly great team?

Daniel Levy deserves real credit. Whatever happens with Bale, he has improved an already really good squad in plenty of time for the start of the new season. This time he has signed a top class striker that we have been crying out for. For me, the real icing on the cake would be to now restore a bit of britishness to the squad. He may well have a lot more money available soon. I would like to see him use some of it by returning for Tom Ince, who we thought we had lost to Cardiff, and Callum McManaman who I think has Bale–like potential. That’ll do on the spending front, thanks very much. Put the rest towards the cost of the stadium.

Do dreams come true?

After many, many years of being on the season ticket waiting list, both my wife and I have floated to the top. Imagine how I feel. It’s a lifetime’s ambition

Friday 2 August: Newcastle United are said to be after another 3 French players; Loic Remy (en passant QPR), Kurt Zouma and Bafetimbi Gomis of Lyon.  If these signings come off, the team will henceforth be known in my column as Nouveaucastle, managed by Alain Depardieu.

We recently published an item asking if you though we should take on Arsenal in a fight for Luis Suarez’s signature. If you have read many of my blogs, it won’t surprise you to hear that my view on that one is NOOOO! Suarez, Tevez, Rooney –all cut from the same cloth. They don’t meet the moral standards we should aspire to, nor yours Arsene. So don’t sell your soul to the devil after all this time. If you do you are going to have to spend a lot of time pretending you didn’t see the incident that just occurred on the pitch, let alone what occurs off it. I thought you’d left all that behind years ago.

The Spurs official website announces that an agreement has been made with the MLS for Clint Dempsey to leave for Seattle Sounders. I’ll be sorry to see him go. Good luck Clint. He wasn’t with us for long but proved reliable and did the business when called upon.

The Monaco Game

Looking at the team list, we are having our usual bad luck with the centre half position. It makes you wonder why we let Steven Caulker go when Vertonghen and Dawson are both injured. Presumably AVB is confident those injuries are short term. It’ll be no fun for those left facing Falcao this afternoon. No Paulinho, no Soldado. Adebayor said to have stayed at home for personal reasons. Bale was quoted as having what I thought they said on Sky yesterday was a minor buttock injury. I guess that’s another way of saying a small pain in the a**se. ‘Nuff said.

The game starts off at a very slow tempo down there on the Riviera. Defoe is substituted by Harry Kane after 8 mins with what looks like a tweaked hamstring. I don’t think we are going to get much of value out of this game.

Hugo Lloris beaten right down at the base of his near post by a snap volley from the edge of the area by Raggi. Shortly afterwards we are lucky to get away with a split offside decision, or it would be 2 – 0. Fairly uneventful for the rest of the half. Spurs survive a free kick on the edge of the area that hits the top of the wall at the end of the first half. I was right when I said we weren’t going to get much of the game. 5 – 2 to Monaco, who took full advantage of our makeshift defence. Our second is a late consolation from Andros Townsend.  Most of the team look like they are still on their summer hols. After that, I wish I was.

It’s a relief to see Soldado has passed his medical.

The Ashes. The great British weather works in our favour for a change and the series is England’s. Hooray. The Aussies have already shown enough though, to show things are going to be much tougher out in Australia in a couple of months.

[5 Jan 2014 -You can say that again! England have just been whitewashed 5-0]

Paul Gascoigne avoids jail after pleading guilty to another drunken assault at Stevenage station.  Come on, now Paul. Hold it together; make sure it’s a temporary lapse. PLEASE.

Thursday 8 August: It’s handy having the Suarez situation taking some column inches away from Gareth Bale. It’s interesting to see Liverpool owner John W Henry has said he is not selling Suarez and especially not to Arsenal and he seems deadly serious.

Saturday 10 August: I’m starting to get those gut feelings about the Premiership. I see Chelsea as champs, with Arsenal as the wild card if they capture a world class striker this summer. Moneybags Man City buying 2nd regardless, United 3rd or worse. I think Rooney has already cost them the title and it would have been the same if Ferguson had stayed on. Mourinho’s unsettling of him is a masterstroke, whether Chelsea get him or not. Moyes has just lost his first home game, the vibes aren’t great. Spurs 4th or 5th, Better if Bale stays and resumes his commitment to the club. If he goes, it looks like we will still have improved the squad overall, particularly if we solidify the midfield with the purchase of Etienne Capoue, the French international. Apparently Arsenal are after him too, so there is No Time Tolouse.

For us it’s all going to depend on how quickly the new signings gel and if they can transfer their undoubted talent to the demands of Premiership football.

[So it’s proving]

Greg Dyke has made a couple of significant statements. I am pleased to see him stick up for the England team and having the courage to point out the difficulties caused by the approach of Premiership clubs and some players to international tournaments.  Many fans will feel the same. However, the Qatar situation could undermine any good works he tries to achieve. He has come out and said that the FA oppose having the Qatar 2022 World Cup being played in June. Don’t we all?

The problem arises when he appears to acquiesce to the idea that it will probably be played in the winter. I guess he feels obliged to say that because the FA is part of the wider FIFA organisation that awarded it to Qatar in the first place.

Let’s face it; the World Cup is a summer competition. It is a football competition and must be played in a location and environment that is conducive to football. That means not in the middle of the desert. It means not on the mountain slopes of the Himalayas. It means not underwater. They should make that clear before bids are invited. Otherwise the Greeks could put in a bid for it to be played in Atlantis. It would make about as much sense as playing it in Qatar.

I am always saying that players should show more respect for the national side and never refuse a call up. This is the one case when I would make an exception.

I think the PFA should speak up on behalf of them all and make their position clear, now, years in advance.  A statement along the lines of,  “On behalf of the young footballers who may be skilled and lucky enough to represent their country in 2022, we are concerned about the risk to their health and safety of playing competitive international football in the summer in Qatar. We are also concerned about the risks to fans in such heat.  We are therefore issuing this statement now in good time, recommending that players make themselves unavailable for this tournament. We would also support them in refusing selection if the tournament is moved to the winter, due to the disruption it would cause to their Premier League careers over successive seasons and the problems it would cause for their clubs.”

If FIFA don’t back down, I don’t think it would be unreasonable or beyond the capabilities of the FA / Premier League to lead in the creation of an alternative competition for the summer of 2022, along the lines of Kerry Packer’s break away in cricket, or the current Indian Premier League. Food for thought…

Espanyol at WHL this afternoon Here’s hoping for an improvement over the performance in Monaco. I’ll be watching it on ITV4.

It’s the big kick off this weekend, so I guess this is my last summer diary. I hope you have enjoyed reading them as much as I have enjoyed writing them. I was delighted to see HotspurHQ got over 100,000 hits in July, so we must be doing something right. I thought I might struggle to find much to write about in the close season but what with all the transfer drama and the major events in cricket, formula 1, golf, women’s football it’s been a second successive great sporting summer.

Monday 12 August: One Soldado does not make a summer (ouch!) but by the time you add in a Fryers, a Chadli, a Paulinho and perhaps a couple of others, it bodes well for next spring. On Sky Sports transfer news, Tom Ince is back in our sights too. Come on Daniel, you know you want to…

It is the England Scotland “friendly” tonight. Yeah right. I just hope no-one gets injured, spectators or players.  This is where you get to see the Scotland supporters in their true colours. Let’s hope that this time they leave the new Wembley in the same state they found it, i.e. with goalposts intact and seats where they found them.

Steven Howard’s column on England and Scotland in the Sun today is well worth a read. Howard is brutally honest about England’s performance at major competitions in recent years, saying they “stunk the place out” in South Africa. In his view, unless we cut down on the number of foreign imports, England will end up the new Scotland. Couldn’t have put it better myself.

[Photo: Alan Hill]

[Photo: Alan Hill]

6pm. Sky says Tom Huddlestone has signed for Hull. Sorry to see him go but despite all his skill he never quite made that breakthrough to superstardom. He’s not going to do it at Hull but he will light the place up if he hits a bit of form.

It’s a shame to think that the next one of his overdue thunderbolts could be hitting the back of our net. At least he’ll be able to get his hair cut. Thanks for the memories Tom and good luck. Jake Livermore has also gone to Hull on loan. Fulham and Q.P.R. are said to be scrapping over Scott Parker and Harry says he wants Jermaine Defoe with him again.

Back to England vs. Scotland.  Well, that was a lively, entertaining game. Better than expected. 5hrs ago I said that I thought Ricky Lambert would do OK and it feels so good to be right about that. He scored 2 minutes into his debut at the age of 31 after he came on as a sub for Wayne Rooney. Very nearly got a hat trick and probably ensured Wembley stayed in one piece. Scotland had no trouble giving us a real run for our money and led twice. England looked every bit Scotland’s equal and deservedly edged the game, proving stronger over the last 20 minutes. Let me just emphasise again, that was Scotland, 50th in the World rankings, up in the last 6 months from 72nd, so let’s not get carried away.

…And finally, N. Ireland beat Russia 1-0 at Windsor Park. Bet you wished you kept your mouth shut now Fabio!

Crystal Palace here we come… [again!]

Tags: Featured Gareth Bale Popular Roberto Soldado Soccer Summer Diary Tottenham Hotspur