Putting The Football World to Rights, Tottenham, England…


[Photo: Logan Holmes]Alan’s 2013-14 Season Diary No. 16

Monday 21 October 2013

Glenn Hoddle [Photo: Logan Holmes]We have been enjoying some good analogies recently and Glenn Hoddle used a cricket one yesterday to explain the timing of the announcement of Roy Hodgson’s membership of the commission in a Sky interview, “sometimes you keep your best bowler up your sleeve when you want to pick wickets up.”

Nice one Glenn.


"Greg’s done it at the perfect time and there are people that have written some stuff that might have a little bit of egg on their face. Greg Dyke has identified that something needs to be done. In my opinion Greg Dyke is the right man for the job at this moment in time. Too many people in the past have gone in to wear the FA blazer. He’s going in there to try and make a difference. If it doesn’t happen it doesn’t happen but at least he is trying. If we just tick along like we have for 40 / 30 years nothing’s going to happen. We must make some changes."

That’s just what I’ve saying in my blogs but it is great to see one of England’s best former managers spell it out live on TV. Talking of some people with egg on their face, Heather Rabbatts has put out a statement saying the changes are not enough but from here it looks like the start of a climb-down albeit grudging and trite. Now would be a good time to offer her an olive branch and a chance to put out a joint positive conciliatory statement. If she is genuinely out to help England and should be offered another chance to prove it with a united FA front.

Yesterday I was looking at all the reports on the web, including Logan’s article for HotspurHQ on Glenn Hoddle’s marvellous performance 30 years ago against Feyenoord when Johann Cruyff himself admitted that Glenn played him off the park. I was mulling over why I wasn’t at that game, why don’t I remember it? It has just dawned on me. My life had just changed forever. I’d only just got back from honeymoon and had moved to Bournemouth from London. I would never again be living on the doorstep of White Hart Lane with my biggest concern being when to leave work to make sure I got to an evening European game on time and where to have a pint. That was the first real biggie I’d missed in years.  27 years old and finally joining the world of grown-ups. Thank God for an understanding wife who has let me dip my toe back in to that old world on a regular basis ever since. Talking of which, it looks like I’ll be at the Man U and Liverpool games in December. Thanks luv.

Ian Holloway left Palace during the week. [photo: Alan Hill]Monday night 21 Oct

The following was drafted before Ian Holloway’s departure from Palace was announced on Tuesday. Crystal Palace 1 Fulham 4. Cracking goals. I feel a bit sorry for Holloway. He is always at a club with limited resources. When the playing field is more even, down in the Championship he has proved time and again that he has got what it takes to get his bunch of players to do better than most other managers he is up against. Then he hits the Premiership with limited resources and a comparatively weak squad and finds his team bumping along the bottom despite his best efforts.  I think there are some similarities with Harry Redknapp, in that it would be interesting to see what he could do if given a chance at a big club, like Harry was at Spurs.

Wednesday 23 October

I had a jokey story prepared about how funny it was that the Palace sponsorship logo looked like cac and there was cac everywhere you looked at the game. In the light of Holloway’s departure, it doesn’t seem so funny, so it’s now in my deleted items folder instead. Quotes in the press say that Holloway said that at the age of 50 he felt too tired to be able to turn the situation around. It takes a big man to admit that. He needs to put his health first and take a break. Sometimes you can care too much.

“To rectify past blunders is impossible but we might profit by experience of them” – George Washington’s original line resurrected in the Times on Saturday. There are so many people and organisations that could have benefited from applying that wisdom rather than repeat the same mistakes over and over again. The FA is one of them.

Once a Londoner…

Recommended reading – Patrick Barclay in the standard on Monday. He has written the best article yet on the point we have reached with Greg Dyke’s commission. It is brave, honest and analytical.

I have recently started getting the Standard as a free app. I am so glad I did. As a Londoner in exile, it helps to keep in touch with what I feel deep inside is still home. Career and marriage took me away from London. Getting the Standard just makes me feel like I belong a bit more again. I guess I’m like an ex-pat. It’s nice to see the articles on Spurs and the other London teams but also to read what’s on in the West End and about London’s issues. Combine that with the WHL season ticket and getting back for some games and I feel more “London” than I have for some time. It’s interesting what makes you feel you belong. London was my home for the first 18 years of my life. Then again in a few spells of a couple of years at a time in my twenties, so say 22 (formative) years in total. The remaining 33 years of my life have been based in Bournemouth. I love the area and all it has to offer; sea town and countryside, yet ask me where I’m from, where home is and without hesitation, I say “London”. I have an affectionate spot for our local football team but ask me who I support and its Spurs.

Champions League games

All the stars come out to play. Giroud scores even though Arsenal lose at home. Ibrahimovic scores 4 including a wonder goal for Paris St. Germain.  Ronaldo scores. Messi scores, Ribery scores Drogba scores. Wayne Rooney is man of the match and nearly scores. Gareth Bale comes on as a sub and nearly gets a decent cross in. With Wayne Rooney’s recent return to form everybody is full of praise for him. It is great to see him doing so well for club and particularly country. I just hope this isn’t a repeat of what we have seen so many times before.

Explaining why he dropped him last season, Ferguson now says, “He wasn’t playing well enough” Exactly. He also says he took too long to get fit after time out of the team. Exactly. We have seen that time and time again over the last decade. Souness now says, “He’s on fire at the moment, he looks to have his appetite back.” England and United’s problem has so often been that he lets his fitness and standards slip so far that he has to get that appetite back whilst we watch lacklustre performances at sometimes crucial times. Because of his abilities if he is on top form, Hodgson has pinned his colours to Rooney’s mast. England will be relying on him in Brazil if he stays fit and finally manages not to let the red mist descend again. I will therefore not draw attention to how he has let us all down in the past any more, for the sake of unity and maximising England’s success. I haven’t forgotten though and if he lets us down again, expect to see a video of me doing the “told you so” dance but it will bring me no pleasure.

I’ve got a book to sell…

With all the controversy about whether Wayne Rooney asked to leave Man Utd this year, even after being interviewed about it, neither of them have said what he actually did say. Alex Ferguson says “he asked away”. That’s not English and doesn’t make any sense. It implies that he asked to leave but does not actually say so. He then says Rooney did not submit a transfer request. He explains that under the terms of the contract that it counts if you put a request in writing or make one verbally but then does not say that Rooney did so. The closest he comes up with is “he asked away” which gives an impression but has no clear meaning. Rooney says “Thankfully he’s come back and corrected the story I put a transfer request in. He’s come back and proved I haven’t.” Why didn’t the interviewer ask “so what did you actually say Wayne?” One of them has lied. Unless one of them owns up or repeats what was actually said, we’ll never know the truth. I wouldn’t care but for the fact that they both keep dancing around the subject instead of giving a straight answer.

It’s like watching MPs giving non-answers to questions about their dodgy expenses claims. I’m disinclined to buy Ferguson’s book because of what it leaves out. The biggest issue in there would have been his version of what happened over the racehorse and his dispute with the previous owners but it’s not covered. Apparently neither are the specifics of the 2nd Rooney alleged transfer request. Nevertheless, I guess I will buy it for the sake of completeness, a bit like my wife bought the Robbie Williams (c)rap album. I’ve already bought Harry’s because it’s Harry. He is giving the proceeds to the Bobby Moore foundation.

Thursday 24 October

Roy Keane commenting on Fergie’s autobiography says that he doesn’t know what loyalty means. This seems a bit rich from a guy that ranted obscenities at his international manager in front of the squad at a World Cup before they had even played a game. At the time he appeared to be behaving like an alcoholic who couldn’t cope with being cut off from his booze, although I am sure nothing could be further from the truth.

At the Man City game in Moscow last night, CSKA fans were doing monkey chants and actions at Toure. He pointed it out to the ref, so there is no excuse not to take action. Toure is right when he says CSKA should be banned from the competition. Too right. Fines haven’t worked.  FIFA should threaten to ban Russia from its own World Cup. Other nations should threaten to boycott it. They have been allowed to get away with it for too long.  It shouldn’t need a society for black lawyers, or Kick it Out to take action. Governments and national FAs should take the stance on their behalf. CSKA’s statements to the press since have made it worse. Their PR rep said Yaya Toure was the only person who heard it. No he wasn’t. Millions of us did. Representatives of every FA and government should step up to the mark and say so now.

Thursday night

Spurs win 2-0 away in Tiraspol against Sheriff. My summary is in a separate report on HotspurHQ. 3 games played, topping the group with 9 points. No goals conceded, plus 7 goal difference. Steady progress, rode our luck though. Hull at home on Sunday.