Tuesday, 1 May 2012

About the Author. A longer than intended introduction.

I have supported the glorious Tottenham Hotspur Football Club since the glory days of late in the 2000/01 season. I was just turning 10 at the time and the association with the club came from my dad, who has supported Spurs since the late sixties, and enjoyed better times than I.

My dad is a point of frustration for me. He’s one of these guys, not unlike our current manager, who has one opinion one week, then changes it the next if it’s blatantly obvious his previous view was wrong. Sound familiar? He's likely to feature in several of my ramblings, as he sleeps most of the time and it seems unfair to take my frustrations out on him.
The only real memory I have from those early days, is what is in fact, our last win over Manchester United. A 3-1 win after they had already sewn up the league title and Willem Korsten bagged a brace.
The 01/02 season is when my support of the club really kicked into life. Glenn Hoddle, one of dad’s favourites, was firmly at the helm, and we embarked on what was to be one of many false dawns I have endured in my ten or so years.

A cup run to the final of the Worthington Cup was a highlight; the tears that followed our 2-1 defeat a low.
That season Christian Ziege etched his place in my heart forever. He was a real favourite of mine, and when we switched to Kappa kits the following season, ZIEGE 23 was on the back of my painted on away kit.

Supporting Spurs hasn’t always been easy. False dawns are something I’ve stupidly always believed in 100%. Hoddle, Santini, Jol, Ramos, Redknapp. There’s been a few.
Season 04/05 was the first time I believed we could be on the verge of something special, and we were, 9th that season, following Jacques Santini’s sudden departure and Martin Jol’s taking over.
Paul Robinson would become a mainstay in goal, until the England incident ruined him for us (Someone I would love us to re-sign should Blackburn find themselves relegated).
There was an overhaul of the playing staff it seemed; Mendes, Davis, Pamarot, Atouba, Naybet to name a few.
Martin Jol was a big favourite of mine and I was distraught when he was sacked. The manner in which his dismissal was handled still doesn’t sit well with me. Watching us lose to Getafe on ITV4 was bad enough, but to hear at half time that Uncle Jol was being sacked, horrible.
Ramos was never going to be accepted by me personally as a result, and despite our Carling Cup win in 2008, I was adamant that the team would have won it with Jol in charge too.
The following summer excited me. We got more access and information to the clubs plans for the first time. Daily training updates from our pre-season training camp in Spain and a diary from our fitness coach Marcos Alvarez on what was being done with the players. The pictures being provided of the players really getting stuck in pleased me most, and the young players being integrated with the squad.
As we know though, that season started awful, 2 points 8 games eh Harry?
When Harry did join, I was pleased. I liked him at Portsmouth and I thought he was what we needed to help us out of our slump.
From early on though, the signs were there. We were force fed quotes on his man management, how good he was at making players feel like world beaters, even when they obviously weren’t, and putting an arm round the players’ shoulders.
Darren Bent was ruined in one quote. Whether Harry meant it to be such a personal attack on Bent only he knows. Though the look on Harry’s face on the bench as Bent headed wide from around a yard from goal after a cross from David Bentley might make you think he knew exactly how the player would take it.
From then, no amount of arms round the shoulder or anything Harry had in his little black book of ‘Making players play good’ could help Bent.
The White Hart Lane faithful never took to Bent, or in fact fellow Spurs fan Bentley. But both were favourites of mine. Bent scored goals, and to me, provides more to the team than a Jermain Defoe. Who other than scoring reasonably consistently, does little else than throw his arms up in the air, shoot when he could pass to a better placed team mate, or of course, stand offside.
I watched Bent score a hat-trick against Dinamo Zagreb in the UEFA Cup that season and thought we had someone who could go on to break into our list of top scorers. He didn’t.
Redknapp’s reign has been hard to watch at times. Admittedly he has given me some my best days as a Spurs fan; the game at Eastlands in May 2010 was absolutely fantastic. Watching Kaboul burst down the line and cross for Crouch time seemed to stand still. And seeing Bentley and co soak Redknapp during his post match interview still makes me chuckle to myself.
Then the Champions League nights, beating Inter and AC, stuff dreams are made of. But it's not all rosy. No pun intended. Well, maybe a small one.
My problem with Harry has been his failure to learn from his mistakes. He’s bought players for the short term, or bought players we all thought could be part of our present and future and discarded them, or worse, let them rot and decay only to be forced to call upon them and watch them underperform before we, the fans crucify them, despite knowing that they shouldn’t be expected to perform when they’re well short of match fitness and unable to blend into the team when they’ve been training with a different coloured bib for the last few months.
He’s also tactically naive. His recent insistence on playing 4-4-2, despite saying in the media that we shouldn’t because it leaves us too open, really makes me twitch.
No plan B either. Sacrifice a midfielder and put Defoe on. That’s as far as it goes with Harry. No tactical bit of magic to see us crack an otherwise stubborn defence. Usually it results in us throwing away the game, because we then get overrun in midfield, which he's happy to admit, but doesn't seem to work a way around it.
It’s all too familiar. We could excuse it happening on occasion, but it’s a regular thing with us for the past few seasons.
It now seems we're stuck with him. Roy Hodgson is about to be confirmed as the England manager, and suddenly it's not White Hart Lane singing 'We want you to stay', it's Harry singing that he wants to stay.
Deep down, I'm resigned to the fact that he'll probably still be here at the start of next season, even if we fail to make the Champions League. I'm not convinced finishing outside the top four, or even fourth but missing out thanks to Chelsea winning the Champions League would be enough of a failure, despite the advantage we had over Arsenal, for Mr Levy to get rid, as much as we may want him to.
However, I don't expect him to be offered a new contract, and a poor start to the season or another failure to crack the top four will see Harry gone, and my pick to replace him....Roberto Martinez.

It is better to fail aiming high than succeeding aiming low. And we at Spurs have set our sights very high, so high in fact that even failure will have in it an echo of glory” Bill Nicholson.

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