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Entries in the progression of AVB's tottenham (23)


We all need to make sacrifices (part II)

continued from part I

I’ve always believed that a football club chooses you. A club will suck you in and its traditions will slowly mould you into a supporter with traits and characteristics that are synonymous with it, forming part of the majority tribe. Even if you think its you doing the choosing because it's your local club or you like the badge or a player or you were mesmerised by a group of lads singing songs in the street - it's all part of the seduction process that emanates and then entices you in.

But even though, say one set of fans associated with one particular club are known for a collective trait (noisy, quiet, fickle, dreamers, deluded and so on) the experience of the individual still remains unique to that person. Obviously. Only you are you. You support and love your football club as you see fit and although it’s a tribal event every weekend there are no rules and regulations governing how you choose to follow them. Yes, okay, there are in terms of behaviour at games but I’m referring to how you follow from the heart and in the mind. That can never be policed. That should never be policed.

So, from one supporter to the next, their love for Spurs can be unequivocal and yet their opinions and the manner of how they conduct themselves with displays of passion, anger, thought-provoking conversations and analysis can be at complete odds with each other. Individually, it has no impact (one man’s voice on a blog has no far reaching influence) but football is tribal and by virtue of always having two sides it means that the individual will gravitate towards other individuals that think the same way. Hence the splintering of the fanbase and the arguments surrounding the right and wrong way to ‘support’.

Strip it all away, at its purest level, we support Tottenham Hotspur. But to do that we have to support the players in the shirt and the coach on the touchline. Just how you define said support if you are at odds with what is going on falls back to perception as an individual and how big the group of individuals are that agree their way is the right way. Just turning up to sing your heart out no matter the adversity at hand is, in this consumer obsessed generation where experts and pundits tell us what we should be thinking, not an option. You can't be involved and ignore all the politics at hand. Even if you want to you still end up talking about them. Where there is a want, a desire for success, when there is something at stake...the pressures are hard hitting and can weigh you down. Make you uneasy, nervous.

The below quote was posted by a regular reader to the blog (Ronnie), directed at me (not in an argumentative way), in the comments section of another article that involved disagreements on how ‘supporters’ should react and support when the team are not performing.

We are both pro Spurs and pro AVB.

We just happen to have differing opinions on fan behaviour in the stadium. I’m for liberty and communication; you’re for censorship and pretence.

Personally, I've taken the stance that there is no reason to panic and the very idea of it can be detrimental and has no foundation in aiding the team and that because of what’s happened (new coach, overhaul of training and tactics, inherited bad form) there should not even be a question of patience discussed – it’s a given that a new era has to work through transition first. What this means is, you appreciate that the team isn’t firing on all cylinders and you sing your heart out and try to inspire the players (even if that means screaming fiery shouts of encouragement with aggressive chest thumping). You react like this because you want change to occur from a winning mentality on the pitch so that the team goes forward and doesn't take a step back. Sitting back and worrying about the worst case scenario isn't going to help. You or the team.

So, in terms of the quote from Ronnie, do I advocate censorship and pretence? The team is not playing great. If you ignore the fine line between three points and one point that we’ve witnessed so far in our two home games you might accuse the other set of supporters that their decision to boo and want change/admit that we are failing was already switched on before the season had even began. That they don’t want to witness more of something they know will not improve and that change is not a step back, it’s saving us from making that step back. Arguably, these people are realists (pessimists to others) and are not easily blinded by the beating of the drum and fanciful dreams.

But what if you’re a supporter that wants the coach and team to improve and progress but still want to show your dissatisfaction and vocalise your honest reaction to what is playing out before you (like Ronnie)? Does showing your disdain for performance by matching those that are equally unhappy but are baying for blood actually work? Is there a way of classifying vocally what your despondency means when screaming it out from the stands? How can you differentiate between the two? You can't but then you shouldn't place your hand over your mouth if you feel that strongly about it. The issue here is that you can't tell the difference unless you're standing next to them and listening to their complaints. Some are constructive and are based on wanting to see improvement, others are unforgiving and have had enough and don't want to waste time on waiting.

Liberty? I see that. I more or less described it just now. You are Tottenham Hotspur and if you’re unhappy you’re not going to hold back. Love can make you do crazy things. Take the good with the bad but in equal measures when reacting to them. Loud when we win, loud when we don't. The split is on the latter and the ilk of loud that's made.

Communicating? So leading on from liberty - you are doing just that by making it heard that you’re not pleased and as an individual this freedom of expression spreads to others who feel the same way you do, validating the rebellion (or is it freedom fighting?). Defiant singing is the other argument. Sing regardless, can't smile without you, because it's Tottenham. If its aimed at the team, the coach...what would they react best to? Again, we're back to agreeing to disagree on what warrants a reaction to be one of booing or one of song.

So what of me and other like minded individuals that want to be loud in voice with song? Are we not embracing liberty and communication by deciding that singing and attempting to inspire is a more positive approach to the fatalistic one in direct conflict to us? Am I side-stepping the truth and dressing myself up in pretence and denial? How can I possibly know the future? Even if I retain pragmatism close to home am I still wired up blindly not to see things as ‘crisis’ and ‘turmoil’? Am I avoiding the inevitable? Are they perhaps not fatalistic but simply more robust to the truth?


concluded in part III


We all need to make sacrifices (part I)

A bloke starts dating a woman. There was chemistry when they met but they’ve had three dates and things have yet to really sparkle. Some friends are saying they should split up, whilst others are saying its early days and they’re obviously suited to each. They just need a really good night out to kick start things, open up a little and feed off each other’s personality.

But there's still some doubt.

“You’re on the rebound, you should never have dumped your last girlfriend”
“She was a flirt”
“Yeah, but she was as good as you’ve had it for while”
“She just wasn’t committed enough”

So what to do? That sparkle, where does it come from?

“You need to have sex”
“Sex. You need to sleep with her. Once you’ve slept with her you’ll know if there’s any true chemistry between the two of you”
“She does seem up for it, but I don’t know, there’s mixed signals in there. I think it might happen but then it doesn’t. We don’t quite go all the way. Maybe it's too early, we don't quite know enough about each other”
“Is she teasing you?”
“No, no. It’s like we fumble a little and...well, nothing comes from it”
“Sounds like you both need to relax a little, let it happen naturally”

The bloke has a think, a scratch of the head.

“I guess we shouldn’t stay in, we need to go out, go away for the weekend and something might happen”
“Enjoy a day out. You both probably feel a little anxious when staying indoors”
“I’ll do that”
“And if it doesn’t go well?”
“I’ll dump her. Plenty more fish in the sea”


So, what is the point of the adult themed Jackanory above? If the conclusion you’ve come to is that Tottenham needs to have sex with Andre Villas-Boas then, well, you’re obviously as disturbed as I am. For a start it’s not physically possible and the picture being painted in my mind is quite hideous. So that wouldn't be the point. But don’t fret, this isn’t going to turn into another ‘be patient’ speech. I guess the allegory (the one trying desperately to jump out of the narrative) is that relationships are complex and people’s perceptions of what might and might not work are based on gut reactions, instinct, attractions and past experience and comparisons. That includes the couple in the relationship and the friends that are being supportive or not being quite as supportive.

But then what exactly is defined as supportive in this scenario? Getting him to stay with her or getting him to break up?

This theoretical couple, the bloke, his friends are saying stick with it but there are some saying don’t bother its doomed to fail, there’s no evidence to suggest it will work. Are both sets of friends not being as supportive as each other by virtue of loyalty displayed to their friends well being? Is there such an act as not being supportive when you care for someone? Whether you agree with the relationship or not, you offer support based on what you believe is best. Unless you have an agenda. Which means you’re influenced to react a certain way to prove your point without caring for consequence to anyone else involved.

You care for your friend, you don’t want him to waste his time, you don’t think it’s worth his time – you think he should move on and just admit it's not going to work out no matter what. You don't want to see him get knocked.

You care for your friend, his happiness is imperative, you think he should stick with it as it’s too early to really know the person yet and it could quite easily blossom. The best things in life have to be worked at, the ones that last don’t necessarily start off with fireworks.

The friends are loyal but both have differing opinions. But offer protection with different paths outlined. But an argument might be that even if you're unsure about the woman and about the relationship - you should tell him what he thinks he needs to hear because most people, that early in a relationship, want to see where it goes. They want to give a chance. They want it to succeed. If its meant to be, it's meant to be.

Now if the allegory seems weak and misguided than it becomes fairly redundant at the point I’m about to move onto. The actual point I want to make about Spurs. Football transcends relationships. You love Tottenham Hotspur. You love a football club. You are stuck with the club for life. It's beyond marriage, it's a life style that's with you forever, it engraves itself onto your soul and you literally have to sell it to the devil to escape from it. But how does that actually work? What is it exactly you love and fall in love with? Its name? Its traditions? The players? The classic games? The pub before the game? The style of football? The people you go to the game with?

Can it be defined?

It’s not the love of bricks and seats or a postcode. Although that forms part of it allowing memories to anchor. Tottenham Hotspur itself is memories and experiences and friendships you live through. Some live as you watch it all unfold and some relived through books and recorded footage. Tottenham exists and yet its very essence is you and what you witness and process. It’s a constant, it’s always there but you are also a constant and far more important because you and you alone define what it means to be Tottenham. You define what it is that makes the club the club it is. You give the club an identity. You become part of a collective of identities, all unique but with one thing in common. You are all Tottenham Hotspur.

A man that walks the earth alone may as well not exist because he has nothing to be defined by, aside from his own thoughts. You are who you are in everyday life because you have family and friends and work colleagues and people you speak to online or casual commuters and pedestrians in the streets. You, your actions and the person you are is illuminated through the eyes of others around you. You need them to make you who you are.

Tottenham is what it is because of the supporters that follow Tottenham. Otherwise, it's just bricks and a postcode without a voice and without heart.

Okay, so I’m about to drown in existentialism and I can already feel myself moving away from the point that I’m supposed to be travelling towards (you really expect me not to take the long and winding road to get there?)


to be continued in part II



Harry Out!

Here's some more pro-Villas-Boas commentary (or should that be pro-Tottenham?) from other apologists, via my Twitter time-line, also taking the balanced approach. No agenda here. Just common sense.


AVB is going to need time. Fixing a "broken" squad, coping with life after King/Modric, introducing new methodology. Can't expect top 4.

The majority of Spurs fans (anyone vaguely level-headed) can see this. The rest expect too much, too soon. We will likely fall back this...

Those "fans" booing Jenas at the first home game, booing at half-time, and booing at full-time need to get a grip & get behind the team IMO.



I think its important to remember that we have won 3 league games since that demolition of newcastle in mid february

None of these players were performing before avb took over

And we have weakened the squad by selling 2 out of our 3 best players and arguably the 2 most creative players in our entire squad

"there are rich teams, there are poor teams and then there is us". No not something Daniel Levy said - it's a quote from Moneyball but v apt



When you look at the squad Redknapp left, he would have needed to majorly overhaul it for this season if he had stayed.

Only Walker, Kaboul, Daws, Caulker, BAE, Bale, Lennon, Parker, Bale, Sandro & Defoe realistically in his plans for next 2 seasons



I've gone into the season expecting a step back before we take 2 forward. The media will use the fans booing as signs of trouble.



Who was the last high profile big name player Spurs brought? Excluding the reasonably priced fluke of VdV

The likes of Rebrov and Bentley have probably burnt Levy. Truth is that we have never been a club to buy a player at their very peak

Without CL it is perhaps completely understandable that Levy remains tight with purse strings

As fans we perhaps expect too much to keep up with the city's and Utds... But in recent years we have always nurtured young talent...

... Or given a final chance to great players.

This is what saw us finish 5th twice under Jol, and 4th, 5th, 4th under Redknapp

If you were Levy with that success you would probably be rightly cagey to spend money.

However as fans we want the best and want that marquee player

Parker and Friedel. Now Dembele, Sigurdsson, Dempsey. All reasonably priced, all proven in Premiership

If players all had exotic Spanish sounding names or were from Brazil or Portugal and cost 2x as much, I think we would all be delighted

... But we get two players from Fulham and a guy from Iceland (no denying Lloris and Vertonghen are great though)

Maybe Harry had a point? "Never had it so good" - wasn't referring to 61/62, but the 90's - fan expectation high compared to recent success

Wanna play in Premier League or spank all our cash and end up deducted points, playing in League One, or worse, bankrupt?

Levy is tight, likes a bargain. Sometimes it works, sometimes it don't. But we still have a club in the premiership. (Portsmouth Leeds)



Following tweeted (via TwitLonger) by @EwanRoberts. You'll find it's familar as I've been banging the same drum.

Wrote some stuff about Spurs' form in 2012, pre-AVB:

Many people have said that all AVB had to do to succeed was continue the good work done by Redknapp and build upon healthy foundations. But that’s just not the case. Totally ignoring the players we’ve lost for a moment, AVB’s having to repair rotten foundations, re-build the soul of the team, boost confidence and morale, get a losing team back to winning ways.

Our form now is a hangover from our form at the end of last season. AVB was given a team that was rock bottom in so many respects. We may have finished fourth, but that did not adequately represent just how truly awful we’d been in 2012.

If you take the second half of our season – the second set of 19 games – we won just seven matches. A win percentage of just 36%...and three of those wins (none of which were convincing) came in our final four games. If the league existed just over that period of time we’d have been in 9th position, behind Wigan, Fulham, Everton and the usual suspects.

Those figures include an additional game for us compared to all the other sides (the postponed Everton match @ WHL, because of the riots). If those three points are discounted, we drop to 11th place.

There’s been lots of people saying “mid-table here we come” and such, well mid-table’s been beckoning for a while. We’ve had the form of a mid-table side for 5 months prior to AVB’s arrival. This isn’t his fault, our poor early season form isn’t exclusively of his doing.

If you look at the nine game run from the 5-2 loss at the Emirates in February until the 1-0 loss to QPR in April – a period that represents almost a quarter of the season – we were 19th in the form guide. Played 9, won 1, drew 3, lost 5. 6 points from a possible 27. Goals scored = 9, goals conceded = 14. 0.67 ppg. Only Wolves were worse off. Only two sides (Wolves and Norwich) conceded more goals.

Five teams conceded five goals twice or more in a single game in the league last year, and we were one of them. Norwich, QPR, Bolton and ourselves conceded five goals twice, Wolves conceded five goals three times. Two of the five teams are now in the Championship.

We’ve been crap for a while. Not only is AVB having to prepare for life after King, Modric and van der Vaart, he’s also having to turn around the fortunes of a club that has been in a six month slump. Frankly, given the form of the side it’s easy to see why AVB is happy to undertake wholesale changes to the squad. And it’s also clear that it will take time for AVB to mend a broken team. And that's what AVB inherited: a broken team, not a title-challenger.

Want more of that brooding drum?

From The Fighting Cock forum, via @vadimivich:

On 08/02/12 Harry Redknapp was cleared of tax evasion charges. On 12/02/12 Tottenham absolutely smashed Newcastle 5-0 in front of a delerious crowd at White Hart Lane

Since that night...Spurs have won only 4 of 16 Premier League matches:

That's 18 points from the last 16 league matches, which is barely above the relegation mark. And we're talking about almost half a seasons worth of matches now. The frustration setting in with the crowd isn't just for a few matches under AVB, the entire club has been in a very long, deep funk for quite a while now - and under 2 different managers.

We know there's quality out there on the pitch, but it's been a long time since it showed itself. The club is mired playing relegation level football and something needs to happen to snap everyone out of it. I'm not sure what that needs to be, but this isn't just a few games under a new manager kind of's set in deep at this point.

I think the point is that it's not really all on the manager - there's a group of talented players that for whatever reason haven't been playing to their talent level for some time now.

Frankly, it looks like a confidence thing ... the players on the pitch look tentative and lost, not just attacking but also defending. There's not the assertiveness and aggression we saw when this group was playing at their best. I'm sure the nervous home fans aren't helping, I'm sure the negative press isn't helping, but what this teams needs more than anything else is to just go out and smash someone and get that confidence back.


Notice the trend? It's in there. I promise if you look deep enough you'll see it.

It's the international break now, so this civil war is going to drag on for a little while longer. With any luck I'll find something else to blog about by the time the weekend arrives. If you want the flip side of the argument, then please read the comments section on the last few articles published on this blog.


Follow @Spooky23 on Twitter.


Fear and loathing at White Hart lane

Now for the less ambiguous approach.

There is a split in what people consider to be 'support'. The sense of entitlement and expectation appears to have bestowed some Tottenham's fans to demand it all now without any pragmatism or patience. There's a do or die attitude that has spread like cancer through the fanbase that seems to think it has to be top four or else we're doomed. A fatalistic attitude at best.

I've on many occasions advocated the necessity to qualify for the Champions League. Not just for all the possibilities of more wonderful expeditions and Glory Glory nights against some of the finest clubs in Europe but because it will aid in consolidating and improving stature and being able to lay foundations to compete for the league title - as attempting that at the moment is a faraway possibility due to the financial clout of other clubs around us and their seasonal consistency in finishing in one of those top four places. A sustained title challenge would be fantastic. We've not been in such a position since the 80s. It's not something associated with us so its good to remember that nothing is owed and everything should be earned.

If that means there is sacrifice or transition, as difficult as it would mean having to suffer a little indignity and bruised ego with opposing supporters, surely in the long run it's worth it? Because of the short-termism of Redknapp's tenure, restructure was unavoidable. The short term is important but can not be detrimental to the long term. If supporters are getting on Villas-Boas back already then that will not help matters at all. How can it possibly help? It's hardly comparable to George Graham taking the helm which went against everything we as a club aspire to through the fans. But then regardless of the person at the helm of coaching, you still want Spurs to win games and you still want to be part of that by being vocal and proud of the shirt. Anything less is just that. Keep it up and it will compound the negativity that the tabloid hacks feed off and you'll end up appeasing all the people outside of the club that want us to fail.

You want indignity, actual indignity? Do you remember the past at all well? Sure, we've moved on and yes we have to be hungry and focused for success to be able to continue our progression but would you prefer longevity to complement our new training ground or Chelsea's chop and change philosophy which to be fair isn't too dissimilar to our past either. People demanding immediate success, people believing it's okay to abuse or boo so soon into a new era as acceptable behaviour - sorry, I just can't see any side of your argument that makes sense to me. But I guess that's the beauty of football. Opinions and perceptions vary from one club to the next and from one fan at the same club to the next. Maybe this isn't about football itself and simply a reflection of each individuals outlook on life and challenges.

The club should breed success, whatever it takes, taking the good with the bad. But it seems the very desire for success is breeding fear and loathing. Failure should not be feared. It should be despised. But that hatred needs to be born out of rejuvenated spirit. You think that's going to happen with in-fighting?

Our form hasn't been great for a while. If you think Villas-Boas can suddenly handle an overhaul of players, training and tactics in a few weeks you're dreaming. If you think he shouldn't change a thing and keep it the same way then you're delusional. We've not been playing well for more than just three games in Season 2013.

Perhaps there's emotional confusion at play. The loss of Modric and van der Vaart is a massive blow regardless of the politics and replacements. The fact we did enough to qualify for the Champions League last season in terms of league placement but had the privilege mugged off us. These are bitter pills to swallow. There's no shame in being downbeat, but for the love of all things Lilywhite, pick yourselves up from the floor and man up. Players included.

If you're not feeling good about our current form, sitting at home or at the game or the pub just sing a chorus of 'Can't smile without you' and remember what it means to be a supporter of Tottenham. We got relegated in the late 1970s. If you don't know what the Spurs fans did at that game then browse away from this blog and do yourself the favour of finding out.


Follow @Spooky23 on Twitter.


Boas-urns Boas-urns

It still quite hasn't clicked for us yet. A consequence of transition. Although a fair few (media included) seem to expect a continuation of what Harry Redknapp left behind to spark our season into action. Even though what Harry left behind was a side that crumbled mentally like a dunked digestive for the last quarter of the season throwing away all the work achieved in the early stages. I guess that's a cheap shot and I shouldn't sit here comparing the past with the present but it seems that the people already on the managers back or slating Daniel Levy for his lack of effort in the transfer window are happily citing Villas-Boas Chelsea tenure and the fluidity of Redknapp's side as reasons for this transition to be renamed a crisis. I guess that makes me an apologist for daring to remain balanced. Probably no reason for me to do so what with the support VB will obviously enjoy from the friendly tabloid hacks.

The pressure will be quite enough from out side the club, I see no productivity in joining forces with the outsiders.

Seems Villas-Boas promise not to change too much hasn't blossomed well. Probably because the reality is things do have to change and it's not a fluid transformation from old to new. If we wanted him to play the way we played before he arrived he might as well just tell the lads to get out there and kick the ball about a bit. Worked for the last gaffer. Is he still available, the last gaffer? We could bring him back in as an advisor. Organise a proper handover.

So are we playing well?

No, not across 90 minutes. In patches we've shown encouraging signs of focused attack and intent but we've been a little too static in shape. The lack of creativity from the middle of the park means we're pushing our efforts out to the wings and it's not quite paying off with neither Bale of Lennon quite finding form. New players in will need to bed in. The same can be said for the system which seems to be very slow in positive movement. No much sign of the high-line either at the moment and far too much sitting back towards the end of games which has cost us (although individual error has been just as responsible).

Lack of leadership on the pitch? Sure, there has been no true accountability. But then there's no King (forever) or Parker currently. Those new players will inject that extra something we're lacking. Shake up a few of the current batch that seem to think it's still pre-season.

The rhythm, the tempo. Its lethargic, disjointed. Ghosting in for a cameo and then disappearing. There's no link from defence to midfield and into attack. Goes to show just how vital Luka Modric was and just how gutting failing to sign João Moutinho is. This is why we can't play to that old swagger tune we've been spoilt with.

Adebayor still doesn't look fit enough (let's blame Levy). Defoe will never quite fit into this system, unable to hold the ball up with intelligence and far too inclined to hold onto it just to shoot the ball into defenders body without any spacial awareness. The two holding midfielders isn't working. Can't play Livermore and Sandro together, there has to be a mix in there and there was a marked improvement with Dembele on the pitch who scored a superb goal. So I can already see how we'll improve post-international break with him in the centre with perhaps Clint Dempsey who will take the place of previous chief galvaniser Rafa van der Vaart, looking to inspire players to match his effort and urgently. Dempsey could even go wide.

Two home games played, we've made hard work to just get our noses ahead and then two very late equalisers - both avoidable yet open invitations on both occasions. It won't breed confidence but then had we sneaked both games at 1-0, even with the disjointed play, they'd be a little bounce about us. Winning when not playing well, we'd have heard plenty of that. Whereas at the moment it feels far worse than it is because we've thrown away four points and haven't looked like a side with a clear identity of style.

On the subject of points:

Huddlestone was stupid. Wasn't as bad as it looked but with that type of tackle you won't get away with just a yellow unless you're playing in red at Old Trafford. Dive in like that, even if you get a little of the ball or appear to pull away last second - it doesn't look good. Ref should have given Norwich a penalty for a shirt pull by Benny (unless I'm misremembering that incident). Erratic.

Vertonghen, Sigurdsson are still settling into the side.

Defence too deep in latter stages of the game. Not much of the high line. But then not sure how much the high line would work currently as side not pressuring opposition enough.

Livermore and Sandro as holding midfielders in a home game is not positive enough (as neither drive forward half as much as they should attempt to do) and it doesn't provide an outlet when the attacking midfielder (Sig) can't dictate play, which is no criticism to the individual. Just a consequence of making do with what we have. He's not playing as a central midfielder, just one that's pushing up to offer support to the striker. Imagine the difference Luka would have made in there. It's that simple. Or at least it would be but we have to move on without him and adapt until January. From what is being said, Mout almost signed. He agreed personal terms. The fee was agreed. The documents sent to us from Porto needed correction and we run out of time.

Sigurdsson (in that forward position) was there to create for Defoe but isolated thanks to lack of flank support. The less possession he has, the less chances will be carved out.

Defoe himself is in a state of limbo. He can't find comfort in the system and we can't accommodate his strengths.

Livermore is getting plenty of game time, confusion on Sandro being subbed off - but not sure if this was tactical or due to a knock. Villas-Boas might be testing the kid or doing something extraordinarily left-field and believing in him. Something a fair few have already given up on.

Bale is not sticking to the left.

Lennon's crossing is far too opportunistic on second attempt.

Not enough composure on the ball. Players not passing the ball, moving and passing. I've said static once already right? They need a rocket up their a*se.

Friedel was superb.


The booing, the fact we've dropped points at home twice on the trot - we should remember that fine line and that we're hardly looking in complete disarray. But then some believe we're looking just that. So either I'm not facing up to the truth or others have already predicted the future.

We started on fire against WBA. If it wasn't for poor finishing we'd have been out of sight. So easy to just ignore that fact. We didn't however start well against Norwich. Villas-Boas has to get that intensity from kick off in how we compete from the off. Because it takes one goal (well two actually to hopefully gauanntee a win) to awaken that sleeping belief and confidence so that both supporters and players truly now a new era has started.

Things are not half as bad as they are being perceived. Some will never give the new coach their full support no matter what as they've already decided he will fail and are behaving accordingly to fit into their belief system (lack of). Remind you of someone else's early tenure?

If he fails, I can't quite believe I'm being forced to even talk about that possibility three games into a season, but if he does at least I'll be able to say I got behind him and the team. I'm I deluded? Am I avoiding the inevitable? Am I in denial? No.

I'm hopefully the majority that will out sing and shout the minority in support of the team.

Some of you are proud of the fact that you believe he will fail and want to fragment yourself from the rest of us and disassociate yourselves from being supportive of him. You wear your disdain like a badge of honour claiming it's your heart on your sleeve. If it was your heart on your sleeve you would muster up words and songs of encouragement instead.

It's not even about the booing. The booing is just a time-stamp on the lack of support.

Seems we are more disjointed in the stands than we are on the pitch. Getting what we deserve at the moment.

Seems we'll have to agree to disagree.




(title of article plagiarised from here)


Run-down of 'first team' squad


Lloris - Could see a similar situation to David de Gea as he settles into life in the Prem, which I hope we don't, mainly because we don't quite handle the fragility of some our goalkeepers very well. Massive signing though. Sweeper-keeper, a vital ingredient in VB's plans.
Friedel - Knows his role, understands he's long in the tooth but aside from not attacking the ball more often he remains reliable. Aside from when staying on his line and not attacking the ball.
Cudicini - Back up.
Gomes - Forgotten about.


Vertonghen - Not just a class in defence but brings the ball out of it and into midfield and forward positions, with an eye for goal. Will lead by example from the back, can see him being very inspirational as the season drags on.
Caulker - Sparky form for Swansea, if King was The Legend, Caulker is The Future.
Kaboul - Out for 4 months.
Gallas - Question marks on fitness, age, experience not in doubt but perhaps desire is.
Dawson - Not considered a fit in Villas-Boas model (too slow, immobile) but with Kaboul out, he might be called upon to do a job.


Assou-Ekotto - Positional concentration important and rotation paramount to retaining form.
Walker - Improvements on defending as he has no trouble going forward.
Naughton - Lack of experience in Prem, signed new contract, has to step up and make the grade.
Smith - As above with making the grade..


Lennon - Big season for the little man with the new contract. That fiery pulsating Aaron running at opposing back fours with speed, cutting in and out, is a sight to behold. Needs to impact games and pressure full-backs (especially at home) and needs to do it consistently. No cover here. We wanted something extra here, to aid VB and his 433.
Bale - Massive season after last season's erratic one. Was allowed to roam under Redknapp. Has to be controlled this time round. From the left, has to deliver the type of crosses he's capable of and hopefully our forward(s) and midfielders attack the box with intent to get on the end of them.

(Defensive/Holding midfield)

Sandro - Should be key this season marshalling the midfield.
Parker - Post-injury recovery, will be interesting to see if he gets in the side ahead of Sandro. Older legs so doubt we'll see the burn out Redknapp was responsible for last season. Rotation.
Livermore - Has proven he can do a job for us. Young, hungry to impress and promoted from within. We've got the DM position covered well.

(Attacking midfield)

Dembele - Box to box beasting. Can work the ball around, keep things ticking over and get involved with the less glamourous work. Dynamic. Will link up well with Dempsey.
Dempsey - Goals from midfield, from out wide or deputising up front. If he can replicate the form he had for Fulham last season then he'll be the one to grab those vital points in tight situations.
Sigurdsson - Another high up the pitch attacking midfielder with an eye for goal. His development and influence under Villas-Boas is something I'm waiting to see play out. We're not short of goals in midfield, with Rafa gone. Not short on strength and agility either. It's craft and guile that we need to be comforted with. 433 is dependent on that playmaker. Dembele might just cover that.

(You tell me)

Jenas - Almost went to Sunderland on loan.
Huddlestone - Needs to regain fitness, possibly doesn't fit into Villas-Boas model due to lack of pace.
Townsend - Could provide cover on flanks if given the chance.
Carroll - Too light-weight?
Bentley - Not a clue.


Defoe - Impact sub. Can't lead the line in one-man attacking formation.
Adebayor - Links up play with midfield, drops to channels/wings. Not an out and out striker but can lead the line. Harry Kane is on loan to Norwich. One injury away from a breakdown. Bare bones anyone?


Midfield looks great, really does. Even the 'benched' players could do a job in covering in early cup matches. They have to be involved more often than not but considering the 'first team' options available, (who will have first dibs in that rotation pool) they might be surplus to requirements after all.

Attacking midfield can cover flanks in 443 formation. So versatility is there. Bale and Dempsey can play in forward positions if required. Dembele is the key for the time being to keep the ball moving forward with lack of a more obvious playmaker. You feel VB won't be able to fulfil his ambitions until we sign one. Can't ignore how much this will potentially impact our fluidity and movement in midfield. He'll have to adjust our evolution here.

Full-backs? Injuries aside, pressure on Walker and Benny again to perform across the season but we'll need to rest them so that means we might have to call upon the young lads to cover.

Centre-backs are fine. Would be perfect if Kaboul wasn't recovering from surgery. Have to hope this won't be a reoccurring theme. Dawson stays for now but get the feeling he's behind Gallas in pecking order.

Brad to retain his number one jersey, but Lloris to own it in time. Brad already well aware (due to age) that he might have take a step back. As for Hugo, not expecting him to be boss from the off. All dependent on how quickly VB wants to push him into first team action.



Reports of our death have been greatly exaggerated

Spurs 1 WBA 1

I guess our season doesn’t kick start until after the summer transfer window closes. Points dropped again, not too dissimilar to last season (one point better placed, are you counting?) with key signings yet to be finalised. The most definitive knee-jerk has been the gentle nod of disapproval at our lack of decisive business before the opening game away to Newcastle. Then again, had Harry Redknapp not ballsed up the last ten games or so we’d have found things a tad more comfortable in perhaps ushering in new blood during the summer months as opposed to what we appear to be doing now. Working hard to sign someone, anyone before it shuts up till the new year.

At the end of last season I cited we would need to get things sorted asap. We did in parts. New coach, couple of new signings. Negotiations for another signing that dragged on (Adebayor) and an outgoing one that bored us to near death (Modric). The essence of the knee-jerk is to proclaim we’ve started with a stutter because we’ve not targeted and signed more than what we’ve got and therefore it’s costing us.

Sure. Okay, I’d agree with that. But new players in might have still produced the same outcome. It’s hardly a criminal act of neglect. It’s not anywhere near as important or costly as some seem to believe it is. For a start, we were in a rut at the back end of last season. Our form wasn’t convincing at all. Neither was our transfer strategy that came before it. That much maligned lack of communication and agreement between the coach and chairman. So is the expectation truly one that would have seen our coach begin with a complete squad with points bestowed on us for certainty? Had we achieved all transfers, and still dropped points, another angle of complaint would still be mounted and humped ragged by the angry mob. Its perception, its conjecture it’s whatever you make it to be. Despair if you’re a commentator that wants to over dramatise events. Disastrous if you’re a supporter of a nervous disposition distracted and concerned by what others think of your team. Is football now an imprisonment with every single day chalked on the wall? I guess it's whatever you make it. It's your team, you can support them to any degree of fanaticism as you so wish.

My perception? It’s a new era not error and if you’re counting points already then its best you take a sabbatical and return when things have settled down. I’m fascinated by some of the insight and how paradoxical it all is. If he (Villas-Boas) doesn’t change a thing we'll still have a reminisce of what Redknapp left behind, a side capable of so much but faltering when it matters most. If he does makes changes then he’s tampering too quickly, making the same mistake twice. Players that are being pushed out are suddenly vital to the squad when reality nods and shrugs without care. It’s still only two competitive games. What happened at Chelsea is completely of no relevance to us. There has to be a period of transition, be it one that shouldn’t impact us substantially enough to scrap any ambitions for a top four challenge. That reminisce, good and bad, is still with us and will be slowly and surely pushed aside and replaced with something more accomplished but still complementary of what it's replaced.

We played well at Newcastle, struck the woodwork, shaped up with backbone and grace. Lost the point thanks to a clumsy moment of madness, an error that sits solitary with the players that gave the penalty away.

At home to WBA we caught a further glimpse of that transition. The same little annoyances that plagued performances last season welcomed themselves ominously back into the fold, although perhaps for one final encore. Initially, it didn’t look like they’d gatecrash the stage. When they did, no standing ovation was forthcoming. Not for our star performers that forgot their lines in the rousing climax.

We started off  so well. Good early tempo, pace when working the ball towards the penalty area. It was lively. Early possession was dominated by Lilywhite. Tasty one touch football, it flowed and the flankers were effective with movement and involvement. There was even creativity from the middle. But alas, no cutting edge. No ruthlessness. Just rusty and rueful.

Lennon, Bale, van der Vaart, Vertonghen...we looked good. But not great where it mattered most. Now you can blame it on bad luck or lack of composure or perhaps the fact that Leandro/Remy or Adebayor (who we’ve actually signed) wasn’t in the starting line up. Much like someone can blame the lack of transfer activity to the dropping of points, I can lay claim that the fact individuals got themselves into goal scoring opportunities and failed to capitalise as the reason we were not home and dry at half time. I know, amazing punditry there. You can really talk yourself into rationalising anything by either making excuses or suggestion an alternative which in your head would have been more productive. But it’s still men kicking a ball about. On this occasion, not that well in and around the opposition goal.

Same old Spurs? In parts, sure, it’s practically the same old players. Players that will take time to adjust to new instructions. Our coach has been employed to fix up the mistakes we were guilty of last time out. I can’t see that happening over night. Can you see it happening in just two games? The fact he’s inherited a solid team, is it unforgivable if he wanted to slowly slowly mould it into his vision, one that isn’t anchored down with comparisons to you know who, who can do no wrong? Time and patience. Neither equate to sacrificing to the extent of wallowing in self-pity trapped in mid-table. I’m not fragile. Hope you’re not. Some of those problems that need fixing obviously are. That's what the training pitch is for. And unlike pre-season, that's what the early few games are for also thanks to the importance and pressure of the league as opposed to friendly games out in the USA.

At half time, we created without creating clear cut chances (in terms of testing their keeper) but did get ourselves in positions of promise. Work-rate was impressive. Defence coped well. But no genuine genius, no Luka Modric to pull the strings and conduct proceedings. Scratch of the head perhaps with selection? Sandro and Livermore in the middle, could we have afforded Sigurdsson in the mix along side Rafa? The fact remains, we had ten efforts to WBA’s one and over 60% possession. A loaded gun with a trigger that wasn't working and the lack of fortitude to pistol whip our opponent on the back of the head.

If half time itself belonged to Ledley King. The second half belonged to the visitors.

Defoe worked hard but his lack of intelligent movement, his insistence to always shoot and physicality was once more telling. Telling Adebayor to warm up. We had our first shot on target and saved just after the fifty minute mark. Kept pressing but still lacked that extra aggression to browse West Brom. Rafa went off, Adebayor (hasn’t had a pre-season in terms of match practice) came on. WBA, unconvincing for most of the game made a substitution with Lukaku who terrorised our back-line, if anything to add some extra weight for Sunday’s match reports in the tabloids. Did you know Villas-Boas didn’t take much notice of him at Chelsea? Not sure that has been shared enough in recent days.

They began to test us. The game opened up. No grip in midfield, a loss of control with the pace of the game. There was no stamp of authority from anyone in our side, no leadership. He was sat in the stands watching on. Friedel was called into action once or twice before Assou-Ekotto scored with a deflected effort from around twenty-five yards out. I’ll take that. I took it, punched the air with delight. For all our endeavour, a slice of luck might just allow for a steadier platform to consolidate all three points with another goal.

As if.

The footballing Gods mock us once more.

We seemed to invite WBA to attack. Tactics, witnessed in the opening forty-five, only account for a percentage of the success on the pitch. If you don’t have the quality in the right area(s) then stutter you will. In the second half, the stutter saw our shape wash away. Even though we crafted some chances, the equaliser was fairly dreadful. That fabled final ten minutes of pressure the opposing side always enjoy was evident again. Another reoccurring historical quirk that will need to be ironed out. Bossing the closing minutes has to be imperative at home. Friedel’s lack of assertiveness, the foul/non-foul involving Vertonghen, the almost slow-mo movement and lack of urgency. And yet at 1-0 we’d have probably said ‘good work, job done, hard day at office, need new players’. The exact same thing applies with the draw. Season won't be defined by these two games.

Frustrated? Yes. Disappointed. Yes. We seemed to counter attack but clearly if you don’t have that one true playmaker to dictate the ball and its movement you’ll struggle to own the midfield and create from deeper positions with better effect. What Villas-Boas does here, if we intend to replace Luka Modric, remains to be seen and we’ll know within the week how the team will set itself up for the season. Then the real work then begins and our style of play will be allowed to settle and evolve.

I can’t talk for you, everything I write is my own opinion, my own perception and therapy. Do I have an agenda? Probably. It’s one that involves wanting Spurs to swagger. Wanting the very best. Add to that, I do attempt to remain balanced in discussion. I think we have, for quite a while now, been a very good side. We've suffered dips, but rarely are we calamitous in comparison to the dead end sides of the 90's and early 00's. We've lacked an edge to our game and the appointment of a new coach allows us to refresh, reboot. Pre-season will get players up to scratch with fitness. The first few games are the ones that can set foundations for the future. There’s still no damning evidence of anything other than us starting a little slowly. We've shown glimpses already of some positive play. The distractions off the pitch, the uncertainty, will continue to deflect up to the end of the month. It's the nature of the game and it's petulance to stamp feet and demand to have something yesterday when it won't, can't happen until some time later.

If you want to blame the chairman for that, surely you should blame yourself. If he’s going after the very best targets then he retains consistency in our ambitions to compete with the very best - something we all want. If that means not settling for second best at the cost of having to sign said players after the season starts, so be it. Fact is, we have no power or control over the transfer activity. Just hope, hope that Villas-Boas is content with our business once September begins. He’ll only be able to build if he has all the bricks. And a cement mixer. The one we've currently got is in transit to Madrid.

We’re going to rationalise either way it's how we cope with results. Whether you’re criticising or just sitting back and waiting to see how it all pans out. Depends whether you think we’re meant to be managed as a continuation of what has come before or that there’s acceptance that change means exactly that, with some bumps along the way. I’ve not changed my outlook, it’s the same as it was before we played Newcastle and after we played Newcastle. I won't be told what to think by pundits and hacks. Equally so, I refuse to sit in a corner and rock back and forth foaming at the mouth. I had confidence after the opening two games last season and in the end was let down by the coach. This season will be defined by the run we go on and how we handle defeat after prolonged success and pick ourselves up and pick up form again and how we handle the run-in. It's the games you win to build on the wins that came before it which define you.

The media, idiotic fans that boo Jenas, Redknapp sympathisers...your expectations are skewered. Each to your own. Whatever makes you happy.




It's the calm before the storm. The perfect storm. Our manager denying transfer talk, suggesting we're not in for another striker. I scratch my chin then laugh out loud. Surely misdirection, mind games? Deflect attention away from us then BANG official announcement to reveal our new forward? Although all the conjecture only serves to attract more attention, mostly of the knee-jerk variety. We all have a lust to know something before it happens, something we have no control over yet simply can't wait to see it play out. One or two of our tribe appear to be rather fragile at the moment. Which in turn is then echoed and exaggerated by the media and other fans. Levy placing business ahead of football, sacrificing early points. Villas-Boas wanting to move on stench Lilywhite players. Sentimentally blinding most. Why anyone gives a sh*t about the bullsh*t being stirred by non-Spurs I don't know. Haters will hate no matter what. No reason to lose our swagger. No reason to panic.

Squad depth is being highlighted as an issue. Sorry, is this season 2012 again? We had squad issues last season. Same supporters, same complaints. We all have our own perceptions of how the club and the team should be managed. That lack of depth cost us not only thanks to lack of rotation but also because the players we did have in reserve were not called upon often enough. Benched players have now been sold off. Players that have spent a couple of seasons injured and will not figure in the first team this season are being shifted out also, on loan and permanently. This is the job of the coach, it's why we pay him. It's why he's been employed. He has to be left to fix things and he's not answerable to me or you, not yet, not this early in his tenure. It's ridiculous to even talk about it, yet here I am talking about it.

He respects our traditions and the ambitions we have at the club. He's been very respectful in how he's carried himself since becoming our head coach. He's been respectful to us. Can we just sit back and trust the bloke to do his job instead of swimming neck high in pessimisms after one sodding game? Is football  so highly strung these days that people fear the very idea of failure so assume it's happening when it isn't? Bit melodramatic for you? Not for some.

I guess the brilliance of all the nervous dispositions is when you compare us to last season, the fact that chairman and coach did not see eye to eye on transfer strategy and selection was based on players rather than formation and tactics. And mistakes made on the pitch were not magnified thanks to agendas. Not that playing your best players in their best positions isn't a decent starting point, but it's limited if alternative preparation and planning is never truly considered.

Fact is, we're shaping up to being far more professional without the circus of sound-bites anchored to us. But it doesn't help if the benefit of the doubt given to Redknapp isn't awarded in the shape of patience to Villas-Boas. If Spurs was a boxer, we'd be a little raw, flash and dancing away with fancy footwork but running out of steam in the latter rounds, TKO'ed. We need to fight, we need to box, we need to know when to defend and when to attack and most of all we need to take each opponent and compete with intelligence and craft, as well as graft. Full distance and the odd KO in our favour the outlook we should be embracing.

The less time spent trying to validate how not getting our business done earlier is costing us points the better. You'd need to believe in the assumption that we're half arsed about signing players and if that was true then best we lower our expectations. That's not really a good place to be is it?

When Redknapp arrived at Spurs did you consider him the right man for the job? Probably not. I didn't. So settle down people please. Let's reserve our frustrations and theories post-deadline day if we fail to cement key areas in the build up to deadline day. Watch negativity turn to positivity off the back of a couple of transfers. Then hear the cries of 'fickle' echo through social media like a Kraken baying for blood. For now, sing, sing for the shirt.

If I'm wrong, I'll dust off the effigy and you can take it down the Lane.


And so it begins...

Here we go then. Season 2013 is upon us. You ready?

Modric is still with us. Just about. Should be gone any day now if you believe the latest 'news' suggesting Madrid upped their bid (a day after we supposedly accepted a far lower one) and that Spurs are asking for some time to confirm a replacement. Which sounds ridiculous. None of it matters really, aside from the official club statements which will tell all. I'm still confident Luka will be gone, Adebayor will arrive and another player or two. But for now, we look forwards with what we definitely know to have in Lilywhite.

Couple of things here to discuss then.

Firstly, patience. Without it we're doomed (I'm being over-dramatic because we don't do things by half measures). It's going to be bad enough to have Redknapp's soundbites and the media's agenda on our back - let's not meltdown early doors. A lot being discussed about how we've massively cocked-up by not getting all our business done before the first game of the season and how we could lose several points like we did against the Manc sides. Except this season is not in any way comparable to the last. We have a new coach, therefore all the prep work and training ethics will take time (hopefully not too much time) to bed in. There's so much you can get out of pre-season. It's also not comparable because Villas-Boas is unlikely to start a player equivalents to Niko in the middle of the park and leave us beyond light-weight in a key position.

Positivity is the key on and off the pitch. VB will hopefully not fully commit to the high-line set-up (mainly because we still don't have a keeper that can play it). I think the main difference I'm hoping to see is the player instructions and how the team push up, pressure and pass the ball. What type of tempo we'll be playing with and how we counter attack. For example, will Bale stay on the left, swap wings, roam? How will Sig or vdV fit into the hole behind the lone forward? How will that lone forward link in with the midfield? No Adebayor (not yet, any day now), who was superb at dropping deep and holding the ball up. We've got Defoe, altogether a different type of forward, not as complete and robust as Adebayor and for some arguably not a long term first team choice (has he ever been that?). Still he's one with confidence after his England goal. Kane will be on the bench. That more or less illustrates the work required for the next couple of weeks.

Plenty of questions then, although it is only the first game and it is away at a place where we traditionally don't get too much from. It's going to make great viewing. That goes without say. It's Spurs.

So how should we shape up for it?

Defence selects itself with Brad, Walker, Kaboul, Vertonghen and Benny. Sandro (or Livermore) as holding midfielder alongside either Livermore or Tom Huddlestone (as a replacement of sorts for Modric). He's not a like for like replacement obviously but he's got a range of passing that will add an offensive touch to our player in what would otherwise be a pedestrian central midfield. No Luka to recycle possession so Tom will give us another type of dimension to our play. Alternatives? Jenas? I won't go there. Of course, there's a chance Sandro won't play as his pre-season consisted of a silver medal and not much training field work with the gaffer. But his quality should be enough to allow him to 'get stuck in' for the shirt. Livermore can stake a claim off the back of last season's mature performances (on occasions) and his England call up. Would still opt for Sandro.

The three players sitting behind the forward will be Lennon and Bale on the wings and either van der Vaart or Sig spearheading the threesome. Perhaps for continuation of familiarity, he'll opt for Rafa. Will have plenty of work to do, supporting Defoe. The good thing here is, both Rafa and Sig are not goal shy players and are sweet at positioning and finishing.

The rest, the flow and pace of the side, the movement...that's for us to sit back and be entertained with. Either way or draw, I'll be getting smashed afterwards.

Enjoy your Saturday.





Follow me on Twitter @Spooky23



What makes Tottenham the club we are is personified by our style of play. There were moments even when we were abject (Gross), ordinary (Graham) or just plain ridiculous (Ardiles) where you could still see our traditions shine through the dark brooding thundery clouds. We like to play football. ‘Attractive and entertaining’ is how it’s usually labelled. Arthur Rowe, innovator, redefining the game and giving football push and run. Bill Nicholson with a side that won the title in black and white with elegance and flair and power and yet will probably still be revered long after other Technicolor and HD teams are long forgotten. We've witnessed a dip or two but we’ve still managed to add our ribbons to silverware in each decade since the 1950s. Jack Jones and wife of Morton Cadman would be proud. But more importantly, we’ve held onto our ethos, even if at times we’ve done so with the tips of our fingers, in the absence of a hearty grip. We are Tottenham because we like to do things in style and with a flourish.

What we’ve lacked on so many occasions in the past is a spine. A backbone. A growl of tenacity. It’s been a culture of comfort, with pillow fights and daydreams rather than looking into the eyes of a Balrog in the Mines of Moria muttering 'come at me bro'. We’ve had our echoes of glory but the harsh reality is that for a long time competing to become one of the elite was beyond our reach. The intent to play was there but the execution has mostly resembled a guillotine with feathers instead of a razor sharp blade. Flattered to deceive, delusions of grandeur, misplaced expectations and confused entitlement has left us with the unwanted pretenders tag. A tag that’s sometimes been undeserving because pretenders don’t sit in mid-table mediocrity. But times have changed.

In terms of upholding traditions and aspiring to play the game in the way the likes of Rowe and Nicholson would love to see it played, we've always aspired to such glory but to be truly glorious you have to be more than just a pretty footballing team. You need fortitude and belief. Even hard boiled grit and intent, the type that is befitting a true contender, is still not enough if you can’t see out the execution and chop the heads off the opposition without an ounce of remorse.

We've had plenty of mediocre days where our hearts were bigger than our brains and we dreamt of impossible dreams but came nowhere near fulfilling them. We’re not that football club any more. Sorry, we are. We still dream, but they're far more lucid. Our awakening is upon us. Times have changed. We’re most definitely not comparable to any of the sides that languished during long spells in the 90s and early 00s. Those particular sides from the past, they have no actual relevance to us carving out a sparkling new future. They were teams that were mismatched, broken. We've outgrown that particular anchor. Their problems, their issues, they belong in the past. They're not comparable to any of the new challenges ahead of us so we shouldn't concern ourselves with inheriting them.

However, the immediate past, of this current side, is important. We're working our way through a learning curve, evolving the current squad. The days of Rowe, Nicholson, Burkinshaw, Pleat (87) along with Jol's side are simply examples of us upholding our traditions with substance. Something Redknapp picked up and Villas-Boas will seek to continue.

We know we have intent and the ability but we under-performed last season when considering the projected potential of the current side. We failed because we’ve not quite mastered that last level of the playing field. The one that when reached sees you move onto the next tier where experience of success allows you to grow stronger. You win a title, you understand what it means to win a title so next time you’re prepared for it because you’ve already fought through the fight. If you missed out that first time you’ll still be prepared for the next battle because the mistakes made will make you stronger. In our case, titles are not in our sight just yet. But if we wish to push on we can look to the immediate past to improve the immediate future. Titles are not in our sight and yet for one brief moment last season, if it wasn't for an inch or two...

We still need to jump from that last level onto that next tier. We didn’t attempt the jump last time of asking, we bottled out of it, lucked out too, in the run up.

Belief and desire, it’s an absolute given at this level. For us, it's no longer about attaining that because without it we won’t be where we are today. In a solid position. One that Villas-Boas understands and one that is appreciated with the work achieved by our previous coach. Our football will hopefully become a more robust beast under VB. Shrewd, measured and disciplined. Players will need to raise their game so that the team can rise to the occasion and execute the opposition. Leaving us with a clear run up to make that jump.

Intensity. Relentless intensity.

We have to be bullish and kill teams off. We also have to be assassins, last men standing, when least expected. This is something we've seen in recent times, mugging teams. Not playing very well but coming away with all three points. But what is missing is that drive and committed focus to keep that instinct going from the first game to the last. It's not an easy task and last season was a harsh lesson, a reminder that we have to improve. A winning mentality is one thing, but one that is aggressive and progressive and punishing is the difference between fourth spot and first place. That's where the coach truly earns his keep, with guidance and balance.

All the basic foundation work is done. Our away record is decent, one key thing you can compare to those darker days because we are performing with consistency and confidence on our travels. Our home form also retains strength. But it comes back to that extra edge, that extra something, to really push us onwards...we still need more.

Tottenham have rarely been cut-throat killers. We’ve turned it on and brushed teams aside but we can still choke up with indecisiveness. That cutting edge, tactically (to change a game) via the bench and projected onto the players on the pitch is an area that we have displayed evolution that compliments the squad at our disposal. But it's not perfect. And at times it's suffered, it's been stale and unimaginative. That extra edge can only be birthed from the failed attempts that come before it. Our mistakes, our shortcomings from last season are sacrifices that have to make us stronger. Otherwise our evolution stagnates.

Villas-Boas will only be as good as the players are in translating his instructions. With better players alongside our best players improving further, we'll find that extra edge. We were very good under Harry Redknapp but when we were found wanting it was because we had no answers to some of the questions being posed. We lacked depth, physically and mentally.

If we’re going to improve and impose ourselves on the league, more so than last term and in a more sustained style we’ll have to want it more than the next team, at all times, training pitch and on field. We're going to have to get it right off the pitch, with transfers, before we can really shape up for the battle on it. That much maligned conundrum, the search for a striker or two, will be most telling once the season starts. It's a defining moment that will play out between now and the end of the transfer window.

A lack of focus and astuteness cost us dearly but equally so did the simple fact that as good as our team was on its day and as good as we looked on paper, from one man to the next in our starting eleven we didn’t pack enough punch and fizzled out when it mattered most.

This is as good as we’ve had it for a long time, no argument there, but that is no accolade. It's no historic page in the next edition of The Opus. It’s no badge of honour. It's not a piece of silverware. It's just a factual statement based on league performance and statistics. It’s just an obstacle we’ve found our way through. It's not tangible history defining success. It's simply a pin in a wall chart chronicling our progress. Stop for the acclaim and you’ll stop yourself moving onto the next challenge.

So onto the next one we march. And we don't look back.



Villas-Boas Opus: Beginnings


And so it begins. A new error. Sorry, era. Damn it. I forgot myself there for a moment. Thought I was sat behind a desk staring at a Sky Sports News camera reading an auto-cue. Or walking around N17 aimlessly searching for an armchair. Or perhaps even picking up the phone and calling into talk radio to complain. What was that famous line about idiots? I need to choose my media outlets more carefully in future, avoid the confusion. Okay, so let's try this again.

Welcome Andre Villas-Boas to the Lane.

Finally, the worst kept secret is out, done and dusted. Even though we knew it was coming it still managed to pack a punch by knocking out the server the official Tottenham Hotspur site sits on. Only Spurs could make an announcement but not physically share the statement. The traffic bulldozing its way through bandwidth like Harry Redknapp seeking a working microphone after a round of golf. Relentless, such was the anticipation of all the speculation. We've been expecting this news for a while so you can't blame us for foaming at the mouth just to hear it from the only source that matters. Having it finally confirmed by Daniel Levy allows us to get on with things, with pre-season training and working towards consolidating the current transfer sagas we're involved in and targeting new players for that new era.

Villas-Boas is now part of the family. Kitted out in a curious Under Armour training top (with the crest on the opposite side it usually sits proudly on) and shown around the Lodge in Chigwell - no doubt already getting involved in tactics, appointing a sweeper to clean up all the chalk pieces used up by the previous regime. Someone no doubt busy wiping that board clean. I'm thinking we don't have to worry about the Portuguese for ‘run around a bit and kick the ball’.

Pull up a chair. Thoughts in response to Levy’s statement on the OS:

> The Club is delighted to announce that Andre Villas-Boas has joined as our new Head Coach on a 3 year contract.

Standard contract. Probably a clause in there to renew. If he’s a success, he stays and continues to build or he packs up and moves on. Club wins. If he doesn’t go well and he’s 'let go', we don’t want to be forking out masses of compensation. Modern football is all about the short-termism with players, with managerial appoints and with expectations. There is no seasoned patience. You get a bedding in period and then you’re thrown to the dogs if you don’t produce the results. I don’t want to keep referring back to Harry Redknapp (here I go again) as I’ve covered practically everything there is to say on his tenure in previous articles. What we’ve been left with, his legacy, is consistency and stability and in some ways the potential to be better. Redknapp is already talking up how Villas-Boas and Tottenham (to be more specific) have the squad to challenge for the title.

Yes, it’s more Redknappology from the great man, applying the right measure of pressure on his replacement and allowing the media to build up their portfolio of disparaging evidence if we find ourselves in the midst of a transition. The fact is, Redknapp has left us with some very tasty looking stats. But no side dish to complement them, therefore the belly is left rambling with food for thought. He had us believing then adapted his ambitions based on where the team sat in the league. The squad was, in Redknapp’s own words, ‘good enough’ but yet fell short for a variety of reasons. Depth in key areas, lack of rotation, lack of shrewd calculated preparation and so forth. So although in relative terms, based on our Prem history, we have excelled we have also failed to maximise the resources in our possession – that’s based on the very same logic Redknapp preaches. But he contradicts to his heart content. Stripping him (perish the thought) and the rest of the ideology behind ‘this is as good as we’ve ever had it’ – the fact remains, it can be better. Harry lost the opportunity to have another go at it. Villas-Boas is now that man. So is he under pressure?

Please, someone point me in the direction of a football manager that isn’t under pressure? There is no easy job in football. Equally so, managing Spurs is hardly the easiest of tasks. Mainly due to a combination of entitlement, ambition, delusion, heart on sleeves, fickleness, impatience and traditions and ethics of football we expect to see played out. We’re not an easy lot to cater for. In the past it was a poison chalice. Mid-table and struggling for consistency we aimed upwards via yet another rebirth only to spiral back down once more. Then from Jol to Ramos to Redknapp we’ve found prolonged form. The club now has the players and the fortitude to be contenders, as proven. We’re just not quite experienced enough. For all the swashbuckle and swagger we still get kneed in the balls too often.

Villas-Boas is no different from the Redknapp appointment in terms of risk. Harry came in to steady the ship. Did we expect or hope for more? With so many failed experiments, back to basics was the winning formula all along. But it’s not robust. It’s not perfect. Does a club and its fans accept it all because it’s a vast improvement on a decade of disappointment or does it look to progress, evolve further in order to truly consolidate its new founded stature and work towards the next level? Why should we tag ourselves with being the perpetual pretenders and just embrace stability at the risk of it going stale? You take risks all the time. Audere est Facere. Is that not at the very core of our footballing DNA? For years we’ve endeavoured but we’ve simply not been good enough. Now we are, we should continue to aim higher. Daring is achieving.

In my footballing fantasy I wanted Villas-Boas at Spurs when he was at Porto and was gutted he went to Chelsea. The guidance undertaken with Robson and Mourinho, can’t be ignored. His achievements at Porto were amazing. I bet we all fall in love with the Europa League this season because we take it seriously and attempt to win it. Don’t underestimate the power a manager can have on the supporters and how the team approaches the challenges ahead of us. The simplest things can be reinvented, the meaningless become meaningful.

He made mistakes at the Stamford Bridge club and appeared to drown in all the dressing room conspiracies and tabloid backlash. He was waterboarded out of a job. So the hottest thing in football management is what, suddenly not that very good? Chelsea is hardly the most comfortable chair to sit in. There was a feeling he tried to do too much too quickly with the wrong set of players and ideas that simply did not fit his template. Look at some of their previous appointments and how they suffered at the hands of player power and boardroom baying. Some of his selections and tactics appeared erratic but even with best intentions they won’t play out if the players hearts are not in it (Ramos and Spurs the perfect illustration).


Lessons learnt? We hope. But let’s not patronise the man for being thirty-four years of age. He’s no idiot and he’ll have taken his hellish baptism and had a quiet word with himself, hopefully exorcising any lingering demons. It was a rush, botched up job by all concerned because of the ill-fated variables festering at that club. It’s a different challenge at Spurs altogether. Chelsea are expected (by Roman) to dominate every season. Even managers that win trophies are shown the door. Even the special one was made to feel not so special.

Fact is, he has the balls to come back to the Prem, to a London rival and be up against the same people that loved to watch him fail. He's back even with the added bonus of all the Redknapp-worshippers already piecing together their obituaries which they probably won’t be able to hold back from previewing come the first defeat we suffer. With any luck Villas-Boas has worked on his deliver a little in prep for future post-match interviews. No point making a difficult job even harder. Humility can be a vital characteristic. Not just in public, but also on the training pitch.

We have not a clue how things will pan out. All we can be is positive. All we can do is back him. And more importantly, the chairman – the key to unlocking the preverbal door to that next level – has to back him unequivocally. The players also have a duty to the shirt and the supporters. Massive difference between Redknapp and Villas-Boas. They need to also be unequivocal in their trust of their new coach.

> Andre was previously at Porto and led them to an undefeated season in the league, winning four trophies and becoming the youngest manager ever to win a European title in the process, before joining Chelsea and extending his run to 39 games undefeated.

This alone excites me. He hasn’t suddenly forgotten how to manage successfully at the top level. The players at Porto adore him. Okay, managing a club in your home country is going to be more agreeable with all concerned than managing one abroad. Blanc was the only other preferable choice out there in terms of experience. Rodgers would have been a risk as big as any other appointment. We have tried all sorts of coaches and systems and it feels right that this appointment ties in with the clubs future. We need to be progressive. Villas-Boas is a modern manager and rather than say allowing him to use Tottenham as a blank canvas to create a vision, we have given him a chance to share our own. The training ground, youth development, the quality of our first team. This has been ongoing for some time – it simply needs a football philosophy to bring it altogether. Our last manager worked wonders for the team. The new one might work wonders for the club.

> Commenting on the appointment, Chairman, Daniel Levy said: “I am delighted that Andre has agreed to become our new Head Coach.  He has an outstanding reputation for his technical knowledge of the game and for creating well-organised teams capable of playing football in an attractive and attacking style.  Andre shares our long-term ambitions and ethos of developing players and nurturing young talent, and he will be able to do so now at a new world class Training Centre.”

One or two of you (discussed on social media) have found concerns with that last sentence in the above quote. You’ve seen it as some formal acceptance that we’ve unofficially returned to the ‘director of football’ science of running a club. Firstly, earlier in the quote Levy refers to Villas-Boas as ‘head coach’. Not manager. It’s all the same thing. Wasn’t Martin Jol head coach? VB will have agreed the setup and vision outlined by Levy so he’s hardly going to accept a job where he feels he will be undermined. I’m not going to entertain the suggestion that Levy’s ego can’t take being second best to the person running the football team. His relationship with Redknapp was not working. Hopefully what we’ll have here is Levy acting like a general manager (as he has been doing since the DoF system was discarded). VB will want to sign his own players, Levy will handle that. Support the coach. I don’t see an issue with this unless Levy and VB do not agree on transfer targets. Which is how the previous relationship suffered. The fact we have players ‘in talks’ might even be a gentle nod towards VB’s approval during talks between club and coach before a contract was agreed upon.

In terms of short-termism, it’s still relevant. We have to sustain a top four challenge. But already you can imagine VB being ambitious in wanting to win every competition he’s involved in. This should be about tweaking and improving the side, making sure that the best players fit the best formation and tactics to lead the club forward. Redknapp was brilliant at getting the players playing in their best positions but there has to be another dimension to how you approach games. You only have to look at the truly successful clubs in football to understand that you can't always just go out there and attempt to out play the opposition.

In terms of the long term vision, why should we not want to make the most of our new Enfield training ground and make sure that in the years to come we actually have a youth academy that is producing first team players. Another bugbear of modern football, one that we’ve been guilty of ignoring for years and just splashing out on big money signings all the time. Although when we have produced a good player, they’ve been world class (Campbell, King). Our current development squad and youth teams are also impressive (at their level) but time will tell if they are good enough to break into first team football.

Not suggesting we are in any position to recreate La Masia in North London, but do you think Manchester City aren’t thinking of something similar when they build their £50M state of the art training facility? Having the facilities is great but there’s a mindset and a sense of pride, ethos and identity that also needs to be instilled. That might still remain a function of Tim Sherwood’s and I’m probably getting way ahead of myself. Mainly because this won’t be the priority, but I already sense there’s a master-plan behind this particular part of the clubs vision. We have to be ambitious at every level. We have a tradition at Spurs. If the academy are worked towards adhering to it and players are signed based on a style of football...perhaps I'm over-dramatising this, but grass-roots is criminal to ignore.

> Speaking as the new Head Coach, Andre Villas-Boas said, “Tottenham Hotspur is a great club with a strong tradition and fantastic support, both at home and throughout the world.  I feel privileged to be its coach.  For me, this is one of the most exciting coaching positions in the Premier League. I have had several discussions with the Chairman and the Board and I share their vision for the future progress of the Club. This is a squad any coach would love to work with and together I believe we can bring success in the seasons ahead."

It’s what you want to hear from the new man. Back of the net. We’ve got ourselves a hungry football manager that has a massive point to prove. As long as he keeps that determination contained and channelled, getting the very best out of Spurs then we’re going to enjoy seeing a very good side mature into a beast.

> Andre brings with him two members of his coaching staff - First Team fitness coach Jose Mario Rocha and Daniel Sousa, head of opposition scouting.

Already, I’m smiling. ‘Head of opposition scouting’. Fitness coaches. I’ll take a guess that our set-pieces and pre-match preparation will be unrecognisable to what we’ve been used to in the past several years. Redknapp gave us entertaining football, the style of which we come to expect at Spurs, but he also gave us substance and backbone. We had heart and grit to go with the free flowing football. But there was still an apparent lack of cutting edge, on the pitch and from the bench. There was no acceptance that we actually under-achieved – not compared to the past (it’s hardly a difficult task to better it when you improve tenfold) but compared with the untapped potential it's arguably wasted in the present. Unless the harsh reality is the reason we lost that ten point gap was because we are not good enough on all levels required to retain such a gap. In other words, as good as we can be its not quite good enough if 3rd or 2nd place is the target you wish to embrace.

A truly focused manager would demand more from himself to be able to inspire. What Villas-Boas has to do is introduce the mind-set but also retain the togetherness and avoid trying to mix things up too quickly. Our squad is far more adaptable to his tactics than his previous one. More youth, more pace.

By mind-set, I'd point towards our failings last season. Say the lack of coverage in the box when attacking leading to loss of clinical finishing in front of goal. Misuse of certain players. If you fine-tune the side and we continue to create but also score and improve on performances from last season - then we're going to win more games. It's logic you can scribble on the back of a handkerchief. Far more difficult to deploy from training to dressing room to the pitch - but then that's why we've upgraded our manager.

Redknapp’s strongest ability was man-management of players he favoured. If VB can retain the unity - we are onto a winner. It’s the area he was scrutinised for at Chelsea. Failure of managing the players (although one or two did not appear to want to be managed). It will be very interesting to see which of our players find themselves in favour with VB in terms of being allowed a chance to prove themselves again. Equally so how much other players will improve with more disciplined responsibilities.

> Daniel Levy continued: "We are constantly looking to move the Club forward.  It is important that we now look to develop the potential within the squads at all levels, whilst strengthening the First Team in the summer in key positions with players who will become part of the future success of the Club.”

Levy has his hands full with the stadium. There are rumours of investments, naming rights. We’re also about to find out how much money we have in the War Chest. Which might tell us plenty more about the Levy/Redknapp transfer relationship. If we suddenly spend big, was it because Redknapp wasn’t interested in the big money signings Levy wanted or did Levy simply not make the funds available to him?

Modric will be sold if we fail to trick him into staying (won’t sell to an English club so La Liga beckons). So expect a major signing to replace him. VB might look towards his former club, Porto and Moutinho (or the Brazilian Oscar). We've got the new boy Sigurdsson, an attacking midfielder who plays further up the pitch rather than sitting deep. At some point we might even see Vertonghen in a Spurs shirt. VB will possibly look to mould us into a dashing 433 with over-lapping fullbacks, high intensity inside forwards, high line. Bale on the left, cutting in with effect rather than roaming aimlessly. Where does van der Vaart fit into it if at all? One (Parker) holding midfielder or two (+ Sandro)? Is Defoe good enough to lead the line? Are we planning on going back in for Adebayor on a permanent basis or look for a blockbuster striker elsewhere? We’re also going to need another winger for the right-hand side to assist Lennon over the course of the season. That's if we play 433 and if Lennon can fit into the forward three. All rather wonderful questions that need to be answered in time for Newcastle away. These are good problems to have.

Levy understands we need to improve the squad. Not only because of Villas-Boas requirements but because we were left wanting last season by not rotating. Possibly because Redknapp did not trust or did not manage the players on the bench with enough astuteness. The league – no matter the arguments over what truly matters in football (i.e. winning silverware) is where VB will be judged because of the prioritising of Champions League qualification. We need to be Trojans, we need to last a long time. The whole course of the season.

This will be a monumental summer. It can’t be anything else. It's started well. Bale contract, Villas-Boas, Sig. Levy knows we are 5 years or so away from having the revenue to compete at the same level as the other clubs in the top tier of the Prem, financially. That’s when the Northumberland Development Project finally gets under way. Balancing everything – it’s no walk in the park. We have to compete in Europe every season until the NDP is complete. Ideally it would be the Champions League we're competing in. Which is why short-term and long-term has to become one and the same thing. Regardless of ENIC’s end game (to sell the club to keep their shareholders happy), to get there they know the club has to be successful on the pitch as well as continuing to bolster the bank account.

We have to retain faith. Levy has to retain faith. We have to have faith in Andre Villas-Boas. It’s a team game. With traits of redemption.

In terms of us, the supporters, it’s worth noting that even with the success we’ve had in recent years (aside from the Carling Cup) we haven’t actually won anything. 4th, 5th and 4th have simply given us a foundation to build on. For me, the team I watch has to be a Spurs team. You know what I mean by that so I won’t explain it. We’ve got ourselves a new architect now. One that we might all find ourselves enjoying his work more so as a collective than the previous builder who at times didn't bother to plaster over the cracks in the wall preferring to stand outside enjoying the sunshine.

The future is always bright because it’s no way to follow your team worrying about negatives that have not played out and might never play out. Being Spurs means you are in the eye of the storm of the greatest footballing soap opera there is. We’re made of stern stuff, suffering all the dramatics, year after year. Hopefully with this appointment the team will be made of equally stern stuff with a plethora of sexy coated on.



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