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Entries in the progression of harry redknapps tottenham (64)



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.



Harry Redknapp. Thank you and goodbye.

Two points. Eight games. We'll never forget the ride. Run out of gas in the end.

I thought it would be apt to go back in time to when Harry Redknapp was appointed Spurs boss and quote some choice paragraphs from a 2008 article (following on from a 2-0 home win against Bolton before we played Arsenal away). Times have changed in the space of four or so years. Our expectations have shifted. Interestingly, some of us forget (ignore) what that catalyst for the shift was. We didn't consider it at the time that a few seasons after his appointment we'd be gutted about missing out on 3rd spot in the league. Gutted and ironically disappointed at the very same catalyst that led to said progress.


And in comes the media whore that is Harry Redknapp. A manager with little integrity. Sorry 'arry, but it's true. His Pompey/Soton merry-go round will tell you all you need to know. Levy claims that he's had conversations with Harry in the past, suggesting that 'he almost got here' before. Shudder.

Yeah, he saved Pompey from almost certain relegation. But couldn't save Soton and also relegated West Ham. What exactly is so great about his CV? Have we now lowered our ambitions? Have we accepted a place alongside the likes of Blackburn and co?

Well firstly, scrap ambitions and comparisons, because that's what has got us into this mess in the first place - believing the hype.

We are now behind the likes of Villa and City. As they develop and progress, our work has to begin again. Maybe not quite from ground zero, but we are limping at the minute. Although in modern day football 5th - 8th spot tends to shift about every season so all we need to do is regain a bit of pride and form. And no matter the progression you make (that goes for Villa and City at the minute) - you still need to depend on one of the Top 4 having an off season if you. Which is rare. And even if it does happen, you might find hotel food conspire against you. So we are not that far behind if you go on recent Prem records.

The simple fact of the matter is - at present - we are bottom. The players were not playing for Ramos. Levy had to do something drastic. Sacking Ramos and co was the first part. Appointing Redknapp was the second. Because for the moment, the only thing that's important is remaining in the Prem.

Survival. That's it. That should be the mission statement for this season. And having tried every type of manager, we've now gone for the 'not really done anything, loves his money a bit, Sky and the tabloids love him a lot' type of appointment.

We've stopped acting like the 'big club' and just taken stock of our current predicament.

So, am I happy? Nope, unsurprisingly, I'm not.

Levy, for all his little boy lost innocence, is knee-deep in damage limitation and blame deflection. The players, having performed today well enough to claim 3 points are questionable commitment wise if you look at some of our prior performances (although, I'm happy to agree that Ramos wasn't helping himself with selection and tactics). New manager usually gets a reaction from the players, but I still can't get rid of this feeling that Spurs will never push on until they get rid of the vanity at the club. £15M+ for Bentleys hair is proving to be a hard pill to swallow.

Harry himself paid money for Kaboul and does select players out of position. Sometimes has three DM's in his team and still gets bullied by the opposition and generally isn't the most astute tactically. So, I would guess, it's down to his man-management to get things going again.

It's worked one game in. And come Jan, we might see the return of Defoe and one or two other players - including some very un-Tottenham like signings that might have some of us question wtf is going on (BRING BACK THE DOF!!!!!1111) but that's what we want isn't it? Players we NEED - and not superfluous signings. So, there is a positive, one hopes in his appointment. Although getting rid of the DoF and letting Jol sign his own players would have worked fine too.

So, is Harry an interim manager for the club? I hope so. Am I know being a hypocrite for suggesting we are too big for Harry? Call me that if you want. What I'm saying is, Harry isn't a great manager and has limits which will become apparent in a couple of seasons. But this all serves a purpose. A recovery period, washing off any remaining residue of the DoF era. It's the consequence, not of Comolli but of Levy. The buck does stop with him, and this I feel is the final sorry chapter of mismanagement. He's admitted it hasn't worked, so he has gained a final encore. And this is it. Harry will take us so far, and then Levy (if he's still around) will no doubt appoint someone new. We'll see how it all pans out. No point dwelling on this at the minute. If Levy suggests that Harry is the one to reclaim GLORY - then Daniel will be leaving us in the very close future.

If (there's that magic word again) Harry performs a miracle and is still knocking around with us in 4 years time then Levy will be deemed a genius and I'll have to eat a hat (preferably made of bagel).

In the mean time, I'll give him the benefit of the doubt (that's Harry). And do what any fan would do: Support the team with all my heart......and cry uncontrollably when it goes tits up. Again.


Well, I guess I got certain aspects of it correct. The main point that should be made and will probably be drowned out by a fair few is that regardless of Redknapp's inability to control his mouth and his lack of articulation and timing (and his contradictory statements that are based around reacting to the moment in hand rather than fitting into a more robust consistent bigger picture) - with all his faults he's achieved measurable success at Spurs. It's just that from that success we - he - could have achieved so much more.

When you look at the competition at the top of the table and the managers there, was there anyone else that could have done what Harry did? At that time, no. In the end, he's only guilty of being Harry Redknapp. That's Harry with all the good things and the bad. Much like I predicted he would be, even if he did prove me wrong along the way. The bad for me was not his media persona and love for car windows but his lack of cutting edge on the pitch when the chips were down. His man-mangagemnt skills don't always work when they're required the most. Harry is reactive to making sure he looks good at all times and walking slowly away from any blame. You've got to be accountable. So do we. We (the fans) have hardly covered ourselves in consistency either. Much like Harry, we've struggled to get to grips with the expectations that have continued to evolve over the past two seasons.

He was actually likeable when we were having success on the pitch. But then people tend to smile more when their team is winning and only point, complain and accuse when things go wrong. There was even a connection during his court case battle and during the immediate aftermath. But in the end, Harry looks after Harry and for the most part - we as a collective remain fickle but equally so ambitious and in love with our club. Something Redknapp was never likely to ever have.

Positives from all this? We've lost a manager but we're not 'in trouble'. Not unless in trouble is finishing 4th spot and akin to our past mid-table mediocrity (regardless of the fact we could have finished higher). We're not dizzy or confused or punched in the gut in tears on the ground. We've just sat down for a moments rest and a re-think. We have stability. There will be no mass change transitional season to follow. Not if Levy appoints quickly and appoints the right man and we go marching on.

(I'm sure that 'right man' comment will come back to haunt all of us, as most are already arguing the merits of certain potential appointments and disagreeing about them already).

Harry came in, fixed us up, got us playing like a team and got all the assembled quality playing to their potential (well, not all of them, the ones he didn't like he disowned to the detriment of the squad). The stats don't lie. And in that is the crux of the issue. We grew stronger and with others lagging around us, the opportunity was there to take advantage. We messed it up. Perhaps if Harry was younger or more willing to adapt. Perhaps if he saw eye to eye with Levy on the long term rather than short-term season-to-season moneyball strategies...perhaps if he was a little more shy in front of the camera. Who knows? He'd have got another crack at it next season. But alas, no. His lack of focus has seen to a not so surprising ending.

I should also cite the lack of investment into 'long term' signings in recent seasons. We'll soon find out if this was largely down to manager and chairman disagreeing on targets based on whatever the new man achieves in the transfer market.

In the end, that rather fragmented disassociated relationship he appeared to have with Levy dissolved into nothingness. Levy pricing out Redknapp from getting his dream job, a different catalyst to the one that started this journey. Redknapp then seeking a contract extenstion, with some irony. From the outside looking in. Harry voicing his position from tv interviews, the club remaining silent. The England debacle, the slump in league's the right time for change. We would have moved on had the FA given him the job so this doesn't change much. I'm not going to knee-jerk and concern myself about whether this will impact transfers. Levy will have a contingency. So, all that's left to say is...thank you Harry Redknapp. When we were good, we were very good. We made it to the promised land people! We had our adventure. We wanted more. We might still get more but it will be with another leader. So thanks for the memories. It's a shame that you couldn't quite find the balance of team selection and contain the pressure to guide us just that little bit further forwards (and upwards). It's a shame you couldn't be completely committed to the Cockerel or at the very least disguise your true intentions.

Football, is a funny game, because had that margin of a point been two in our favour, had Chelsea not beaten Bayern...this blog article would never have been written.





I've been without the pleasures of the internet since last Friday. I did manage a couple of Tweets over the weekend, but avoided delving into the depths of despair that appear to have destabilised everyone's emotions once more. I guess I can't put this off any longer, so head first in I go...

The Villa Game

Shades of 2006 with a reverse twist and the added spice of Martin Jol once more being involved on a last day heart stopper. You couldn't make it up. Because it's such the bleeding obvious. At the start of the season I'm sure plenty of you cited the fixture list and laughed about the potentiality of us having to beat Fulham to qualify for the Champions League. We shouldn't laugh, we should take it for granted that this beautiful beloved club we support will never do things the easy way. Once more our chest is sliced open and our heart pulled out and kicked around because pain is Tottenham and Tottenham is pain and pain is love masquerading as pain.

First of all the logistics of processing the Villa game. I've already been told had Arsenal beaten Norwich we'd have beaten Villa comfortably and the fact we didn't constitutes a choke. Well, no, it doesn't. Firstly Arsenal have been choking all season. They've been choking for several seasons now. Their choking (this season) simply creates an illusion that we keep losing the initiative or surrendering the chance to recapture it. It's an illusion because no matter the form of Arsenal or anyone else for that matter we will continue to produce erratic displays within the constraints of 90 minutes and across several games that illustrate key missing ingredients to the pot as we stew.

The issues are ones discussed more times than I care to mention. You know them well. Rotation (lack of), tactical ineptitude, squad depth and management of players. When we're good, we are good, when we're not we don't usually have a way of working out how to be good again. It's partly to do with the lack of decisiveness in the manager amongst other long standing transfer market issues. See? More times than I care to mention.

This latest spike in 'form' is thanks to Hodgson and the FA (science of football proclaims this). We're playing like a team again, be it one that is still making for heart out of chest dramatics. I can only be philosophical about the 1-1 draw with Villa. Deflected goal aside and perhaps one or two other moments, the hosts didn't really have any aspirations to win the game. That deflected goal against the run of play was almost a gentle slap in our faces from the footballing Gods.  

'This is what you get if you're going to make hard work of it you lowly mortals you'

Danny Rose getting sent off, yet with ten men, after regrouping, we looked the most likely to win it. But then that's far too obvious a story arc. It doesn't fit into the Tottenham mantra. We have no necessity for the easy way. Not a chance that we would make it comfortable for ourselves. Then again, last time we had it in our hands we puked it out of our mouths all over the Upton Park pitch. The eternal underdogs we shall remain. Always seeking to 'get there'. The chase is better than the catch.

Redknapp dithered with the substitution. Does he go for broke and risk a 2-1 loss? Was a 2-1 loss even conceivable against a Villa side content with surviving the draw? Would Defoe have made a difference? Bill Nicholson would have gone for glory but then Redknapp isn't Nicholson and Nicholson had Jimmy Greaves along with one or two other not so shabby players. But we're hardly weak either in selection. Harry however preferring to  protect what he's got even if what we've got might allow us to take 4th spot and then lose it thanks to the final Chelsea have to play in Munich. No echo of glory here. The Rose red card will be key in how we plan to line-up against Fulham. Does he go with Bale back in the back four? Wing-back system? Is King fit to play allowing Gallas to slot into left-back? Please don't be sticking Luka anywhere near that flank. Can we risk changing the balance of the side now that we are at least picking up points?

To aid with recovering from this (1-1) disappointment its best to not dwell on the game as a singularity. We've had plenty of lost moments that offered consolidation. Many of them are practically repeat showings. A ton of possession, crossing, corners but imbalance with player positioning and offensiveness. Defending set pieces, attacking set pieces. Tweaks in coaching that could have been made prior to the game in preparation or during it failed to materialise. Across the entirety of the season there are a number of disapproving shakes of head and shrugs.

Had we managed a second goal at Villa Park, all of this would probably be of no consequence as we drown ourselves with superlatives about spirit and guile and lose sight of some of the serious deficiencies we have in our set-up. Make no mistake, we have high end calibre and we're easily one of the best sides in the country. But cutting edge and that killer instinct in the dugout still teases us from afar.

Harry Redknapp is a decent 'manager' but you can't win all your games in the hope that your best players in their best positions (or roaming around) will be able to do enough. That's where the most telling guile is missing. If we fail to finish 3rd or 4th it's because we still can't be b*stards when it matters most.

We, the manager and the chairman, have to aspire to always be better to always want for more. If you prefer to take it one game at a time and wish to review it as a singularity then perhaps what we got at Villa is as good as it gets. Twenty or so chances and one goal, from a penalty. You could say we were unlucky or  failed to create our own luck. Doesn't matter, that singularity ceases to be one if it keeps repeating itself.

I don't want the season to end on a soundbite. To dare is to do, daring is achieving...this is not being embraced enough. I'll be shot down by some for the romantic notions and dancing emotively again, but traditions are there for a reason.

I'd rather this club is glorious in defeat rather than whimpering out like a soft sneeze.



Oh my days, we won a game at Bolton.

Bolton 1 Spurs 4

An away win, the first since December and our first at Bolton since Sky Sports invented modern football. Okay, so sure, Bolton are awful compared to the bullish physical side that has always made sure we get nothing up there but having comfortably beaten Blackburn at the Lane without having to dig too deep it was good to see us do the same here. Our hosts displayed fight, unlike Rovers. We had a wobble early doors second half, but came through it. A flurry of punches from them failing to do any damage. Three quick uppercuts our response. Floored. I hope they pick themselves up and avoid survive the count.

Emotional stuff before the kick-off with Fabrice walking out onto the pitch. The Spurs Drum was apparently smuggled into the ground, then confiscated after 30 minutes. Spurs won't be too impressed after their explicit instructions that no drum is allowed (home and away). That and the fact the 'Y' rhythm was played. Tut tut. Got next to no chance of ever seeing it return to the Lane.

Our defending is still not that great but going forward we appear to have rediscovered the simple things that can be so effective. Spacial awareness, wingers on the flanks crossing the ball for players attacking the box. Quick precise counters. Smart and tidy one touch from midfield to attack that sees the players instinctively run into space to pass the ball onwards with intent.

A similar confident display (excluding the opening six or so minutes in the second half) away to Villa and it's all smiles with a hearty farewell to that almighty blip that almost killed our season. It still hangs in the balance, but this is a far better position to be in than a month back.

The goal from Luka (from a corner no less) was sublime. Is there a way to fit him into a system so that he isn't anchored too deep? He doesn't score many but when he does he leaves you thinking how many he could score if he played more offensively. Then again, he wouldn't dictate the tempo as much if he found himself lurking outside the box. Perhaps when Spurs are bossing he can sacrifice himself to the giddy heights of the area around the penalty box.

He did make one mistake in the game, leaving Reo-Coker free early in the second half for the equaliser but he made up for it with a brilliant assist releasing Lennon on the opposite flank to cross for Adebayor (3-1). In amongst the goals, a van der Vaart textbook pass into the net (2-1) and another Adebayor close finish from a Bale cross (4-1). Bang, bang bang. All over in the space of nine minutes. Clinical Spurs of the Fall, how I've missed you.

Sandro was again a beast this time without vomit. Adebayor, the paradox, scores and assists across the season (in patches) and has a first touch that has me pulling the hair out of other people (because I have no hair left on my head to pull). But still more effective than anything we've had since the last time we went out and signed a quality forward.

Lennon got better as the game progressed. Bale roamed and swapped but showed how important staying out left can be when the players around him are equally hungry but disciplined positionally. There might not be enough time left in the season to truly capture the rapturous solid full pelt flow of pre-blip, but this might just do. One journalist made a joke on Twitter when Spurs were 1-1 and on the ropes that it was because Harry was being linked to the England job, before the joke cut away with irony (what with Harry no longer linked as the job is gone). Further irony then that Spurs finally woke up which means it must be because there is no possibility of Three Lions, just the one cockerel dusting its self off. No follow up joke from the journo to balance out the comedy digs.

One point is now the monumental gap between us and third although only 4th spot is up for grabs. Woolwich won't drop points (hex). Chelsea look out of it (in terms of a league placing) after two ridiculous Cisse goals (apparently their announcer proclaimed pre-match that Chelsea would move into 4th spot when Spurs lose to Bolton...bless 'em). Pardew's men have the tricky remaining fixtures. I guess the shock would be them beating City on the weekend. Three points at Villa is now imperative. Let's just win the next two games because what happens elsewhere is beyond our control.

So where does this leave us, generally speaking?

Our away record across the past three seasons has been better than anything in the past 20 or so. As good as we've ever had it? Let's bury this fallacy once and for all. It's not as good as we've ever had it. Not when the 1990s and early 2000s were so abject. It's hardly difficult to call this Spurs side the best we've had in a long time when you look back to the ones we've had to endure sitting in mid-table going nowhere fast. We are simply playing to the standard that we've wanted to see since the 1980s left us forever. As good for some fans in their life time, perhaps, but that doesn't mean we gleefully accept and not want to push for more. Why should we be so defeatist ? This should never be about one man's ego but always about Tottenham and what we strive to be and play for. Glory.

It was as good as we've had in the past 20 years when pushing for 4th back in 2010. It's now better than it was that season but there is so much room for improvement, achievable improvement. Seems fairly obvious to me. Aim higher. Get better. Achieve more. Look how far off the top we are and yet we hardly took Europe and the League Cup seriously. Remove uncertainty and bulk the squad up rather than playing a game of cat and mouse nobody can decipher. That's a call to chairman and manager to take responsibility.

Harry is now focused on us having given up on England. Shocker. Although depending on the media, Hodgson and the England players there is no way you can discount another twist in a year or so. So if we are stuck with him, then it's back to accepting his strengths and his failings. Although he is not the most tactically astute or consistent with strategy (which means he might never have it in him to better 4th spot) we still compete. But you can't proclaim a title push one day and then admit we're lucky to be 4th the next. Harry will continue to be a short term custodian of team affairs, from one season to the next, reactive to whatever is happening at any given time. There might be no other manager out there that could do any better, but there might be one that could perhaps plan for the long term and allow this team to make that further step up.

If Levy believes in the gaffer and backs him, then so be it. I'll follow and support. We won't have a choice. Would be the more most prudent fiscal decision to make even if there are many that would prefer someone brand new to take the helm.

For now, I'll happily accept a smug Harry sound-bite on Champions League qualification, telling us all 'told you so'.

For now, all that matters is the next game.



I'm away until Tuesday, might log onto Twitter if I'm sober. Might log onto Twitter if I'm drunk.




The regression of Harry Redknapp’s Tottenham - Part IV

The progression regression of Harry Redknapp's Tottenham - Part IV


Daniel Levy

Our chairman famously said that he did not expect Champions League every season. The reasoning was that the competitiveness of the league would see teams share qualification. I can't believe for a second he'll be happy to miss out this year. Not just because of the importance of the money generated from gaining a top four place but also because we've had it in our hands and dropped it and appear disinterested to pick it up again. New stadium and retaining our best players along with attracting new players can sometimes be reliant on qualifying for the CL. But then we've only been in it the once and I'm sure if we miss out we'll still end up signing new heroes to appease the faithful. The risk is losing out if another monopoly is created but (IMO) that is looking unlikely. Chelsea and Arsenal will improve next season - but so will we. It's whether we have it in us to best the both of them that remains to be seen.

We can't be doing with more cheap and cheerful makeshift stop gaps. We need that sexy world class striker we've been lusting after for years and we need to be balls deep in it. We have to show the same strength again when it comes to clubs sniffing around our players. Regardless of whether Bale is wanted by X team or not, the tabloids will no doubt kick up a storm to populate their pages over the summer (although the Euro's might distract them a little bit and give us a moments peace).

Bale won't be sold. Can't see Levy allowing it to happen this summer. Luka on the other hand? Refer to what I wrote earlier.

Centre-back, right-winger, midfielder, striker (or two). There are plenty of incoming signings we need. Get it done early. Which means get the new manager in early. If this drags across the summer, kicking and screaming, it won't make comfortable viewing. Every window we say the same thing, and we get nothing until the very end and then we end up with something which always seems to feel like a stretch. This isn't about asking for the moon on a stick. We've seen the consequence of squad depth (lack of) this season and the cost of it.

I just want to clarify again. Yes, we've rotated. Yes, on paper we do look strong and arguably far stronger than most. But we are set up to play one way and one way only and the rotation of certain players is not always the strongest of option available to us but the only option. And when key players are either missing or not rested, it eats away at the team in a detrimental fashion that the manager has failed to get his head round and fix.

Our first eleven? Brilliant. Take one player out, we start to struggle a little. If your argument is the players coming in are good enough then it comes back to structure, instructions and the gaffer. If the gaffer and the chairman don't see eye to eye on transfer targets, it's never going to end well.

As important as CL qualification is to grow stronger for a title push, we should still be able to compete for other competitions instead of deciding they don't matter. Even as a supporter of Spurs, I've done just that this season. I now look at Athletic Bilbao with green-eyed envy.

Everything has been an afterthought this season in comparison to the league and yet we've still managed to shag that up. If you don't agree and we do have depth then why do we look like extras in The Walking Dead?

Harry Redknapp

Our previous manager lost the dressing room. We had a strong squad of players but no team in the true sense of the word. No unity and belief. The players did not want to play for their manager. It had gone from stale to rotten. As for the present day? Shades of Ramos, then? How ironic that Harry has managed to birth the very same thing he saved us from.

What Redknapp has achieved should not be scoffed but we have to be honest and admit he doesn't seem to have the concentration/focus/knowledge/love to guide us shrewdly to the next level. The level we're at has seen him attain stability. That's a good thing. The next level is hardly a mountain climb away. Yet this mole hill looks it.

Levy might have you think that Redknapp was someone he had looked at before, in the past, but the reality is probably nearer to being an appointment of a trouble-shooter. A fixer. Someone to get the team away from the bottom three and playing to expectations (based on players at the club). Harry has always been that for some of us. A tad detached. There's Harry standing and next to him, abstract object (as someone elegantly wrote on Twitter recently) he will use to his advantage until a more shiny object presents itself.

He succeeded in not only attaining stability but also pushing us onwards and beyond what we expected from a manager that had never managed a club this big before. This made people sit up and think that Harry had been waiting for Spurs all his life, that finally he was proving what he can do if he has top tier quality in his possession. We shared humble pie. We still had reservations, we still disliked some of his characteristics and habits. All part of the Redknapp brand package - we knew what he was like, it was no surprise. The small print is in a large font when it comes to understanding what makes Harry Harry.

What we're left with looking back at the past and present day is a distortion. He's a good coach, a very decent manager but the lack of extra dimensions to his football planning has left him cruelly exposed. Again. Last season and this season has plenty of damning evidence. As for that gap? Choke.

It doesn't help that he disassociates himself often with the club and the fans. The fact he never makes any sense when he talks, contradicting and changing ambitions based on the last game. One moment we have depth and don't need any players, the next he bemoans lack of depth. He tells the media what he thinks the media want to hear. It's all very basic and obvious. When it's going well, he'll bask in it. When it isn't, he'll look to blame or scratch the head. Or praise the opponents.

In terms of transfers, he has done some good (on the cheap) but Levy is usually the one signing the bigger name players. Harry is for the short-term. It has worked (Parker, Friedel) but equally so it hasn't (lack of rotation).

The biggest mistake made, the one that has probably cost us dearly is the failure to draw a line under the England job. That's when he lost the dressing room. Forget about the 'In the Know' exclusives and whispers. Doesn't take a lot to have it figured out by witnessing the body language of both players and manager. The lack of deceive commitment has failed us. Had that not happened, say if Fabio was still in charge of the national team, even with his (HR) tactical failings he'd have probably got us that 3rd spot or at the very least made 4th comfortable. But he switched off because he losses concentration and can't stay away from all the lavish attention the press send his way. Even now he isn't being criticised to the extent any other manager would be having thrown so much away so easily.

Top 4 was the objective at the start of the season even though many didn't expect or fancy us to achieve that (what with the manner of last season's poor run of form towards the end). But thanks to the quality of other clubs dropping significantly its now looking a wasted campaign.

Not sure what he'll be able to offer England. So many of the reprehensible players that make watching England grating are the very same ones he never stops talking about. The tabloids will continue to love him though. That's probably what matters most to him/them.

Harry Redknapp’s Tottenham? This will never be Harry Redknapp’s Tottenham. He might have the statistics to back him up but he has lacked the grace and measure. Yet he's still the best coach we've had for a long time. Although the true testament to this is the standard the next manager is able to attain with (more or less) the same squad plus new additions. Managing might be easier than it's being made to look. Or not, we'll soon find out.

There were moments though when you just thought, maybe, just maybe. Then he tells us, "I don't remember people like Martin Peters getting rotated, and they played in ankle-deep mud in those days", which is admittance that fatigue is not something he concerns himself with in modern day football because back in the day nobody suffered from it. I guess that means what? It's down to tactics? Anyone in the press want to ask him? Walter Mitty, anyone?

He's hardly endeared himself to the fans (you might have noticed). Although during the court case and just after it we sang for him. He applauded us and his words were heartfelt in appreciation for the support shown by the fans and the club. But then that was ruined from within with special thanks to the FA and John Terry. A job that he might not even be offered now thanks to the distraction it's had on his current one. Unless of course he knows he's got it. Which would explain things equally well.

Everyone should be grateful for that stability, he proved many wrong. But we need someone younger and modern and committed. Someone for the long term. Someone that wants to be part of the club beyond a cheap soundbite. The players appear mystified and confused. Redknapp has exhausted his chest of ideas, flat out. There's nothing to grab hold of.

If Harry isn't into us anymore, then best we get on the phone to the FA, agree compensation and let him go. In fact, I don't even care if the FA pass him by for the job. He hasn't stopped to consider us, so why not honour him with the same gratitude?

More importantly, we need unity in the stands.

The sentiment in '...and we of Spurs have set our sights very high, so high in fact that even failure will have in it an echo of glory' is being ignored.

The need for success, it can be ugly and discomforting, removing the enjoyment and love for the football itself. Turning fans bitter and twisting perceptions, pulling us further away from what it should truly be all about.

Above all else, we are Tottenham. Get behind the team, sing your hearts out and support them with everything you've got. This emotive stuff, it actually works wonders.

Love the shirt.



The regression of Harry Redknapp’s Tottenham - Part III

The progression regression of Harry Redknapp's Tottenham - Part III


Ledley King

Long live the King. There was always going to be a time when not training like an ordinary footballer would finally catch up with him. Ledley is no ordinary footballer. If he had more than the one knee, he'd be beyond the extraordinary player that he is. He's proven us wrong before. He might well do again but I'm hoping the player finally puts his own well being ahead of the shirt he wears and considers his future beyond football. A walk in the park is what Ledley has made it look countless times down the years but he doesn't want to rob himself of being able to do the same thing post-retirement. Offer him a coaching role, keep him at Tottenham.

We are so reliant on King that this has stopped us from truly moving on with building a solid foundation for the future at the back. We cannot wait for his cameo appearances and accept other players to simply adapt accordingly. Yes, he brings composure, maturity and leadership to the back four but then when he's injured/resting someone else has to slot in again. This can breed uncertainty. Caulker might be the future, we won't know until next season. We have Dawson and Kaboul. That's three. Is that enough? Probably not. We need another. King at the moment is showing signs of jadedness, as you'd expect he won't be up to the fitness of others what with the lack of training finally catching up with him. For so long this all sat comfortably in his back pocket along with several top Premier league forwards. He has to now consider putting Spurs ahead of himself. We need to consider that too.

For the past five years, every summer we except King to announce his retirement. He may still refuse to give in. I hope he doesn't take any of it lightly and does what he believes is best for himself and Spurs. Whatever he decides, his legacy will remain untouchable.

Luka Modric

If Levy knows the state of mind player and agent, and it's not good, he should make the decision the moment the season ends as I don't want yet another cryfest Daily Mail induced melting pot of petulance from Modric and Sky Sports.

If Levy does not want to sell him, then do the same as last summer and let everyone know this. If Levy does not want to sell him but believes player and agent will do their utmost to rock the boat, just get rid. It's not worth the instability. It might yet depend on the next manager in to influence whether Modric finally gets to write up his transfer request. We'll have to wait and see. But considering the media hell mouth that is about to rain down on us, we have to make sure we display the same strength and control.

Modric is another player suffering from a dip in form/burn out. He's a brilliant footballer. He provides the bullet to our gun. He's the heartbeat of our side. But we can't spend too much time scared and concerned about the possibility of him leaving. If he does, he's gone and that's that. We've lost better players in the past. You move on. He may appear to be indispensable, but the next playmaker/midfielder will offer us another dimension. Something new, something different. The negative impact is the possibility of making one of our rivals stronger.


Gareth Bale

Bale ties in perfectly (not so) with Harry’s flawed tactics and management. I’ve discussed this before. Remember Bale is only a kid and he’s one that went through a ridiculous amount of upheaval with injury and bad luck and was almost sent out on loan before catching his lucky break and then going from left-back to left-wing. No development or skilled managerial acumen here. Sheer luck found him back in the first team. It was lucky that we caught the kids rise to prominence before he disappeared into possible obscurity (or fame elsewhere). Confidence and self-belief has driven him forward. Do not under estimate what this can do for a player. He blossomed from a delicate flower into a rampaging monster.

Has he been consumed by ego and hype? Let’s think of this way. The more he plays the better he gets the more he learns to adapt. His development is key. The manager selects him and gives him instructions. You can see where this is going, right? When Bale destroyed Inter and surprised Europe in the Champions League he got doubled up on the league. He’s still found a way through and improved but the emphasis has shifted from left flank to roaming and what our manager is failing to grasp is the simplicity of discipline. Also, with Bale voicing the fact that he needs to be able to roam, the manager has influence over him. Which is something you would expect. But if the managers advice is not on key?

He should be an outlet on the left flank as a marauding winger. There are times when cutting in or running through the middle (or swapping wings) works and then there are times when spending most of the game doing so doesn’t. There is no control here. Bale has to believe he can be the best but this isn’t about believing the hype and having an ego. I’m certain he doesn’t go out there and think it’s all about him. That’s an easy punch to throw.

What we’ve seen is a drop in confidence because of the lack of impact when roaming which has made him lose composure and when you think too much the edge you get from instinctive play is lost. You end up attempting to do it all yourself because you're so self-conscious that you're not influencing the game.

It's all part of the learning curve.
Bale has phenomenal potential. Can’t see Levy letting him go this summer, so its best you support and defend the lad rather than allow the weight of expectation on your own shoulders weigh him down as long as he desires to wear our shirt*.

This could be evidence enough that Redknapp can't man manage a particular quality of player.


* Update: Bale on Football Focus today (Saturday 28th) saying he would review his position if we fail to qualify for the CL, the suggestion being he would consider leaving. Does the Spurs PR department have no control over player interviews? Is this the right thing to be speaking about at this point in the season considering the mess the manager and players have made of it on the pitch? What's best for yourself Gareth is to shut the **** up and play football for the club and fans you represent. Modern football is a self-preservation society for most where responsibility is an easily detachable commodity. Transfer request at the ready then. Get rid of them all and just pluck eleven fans from the stands.

Where's the heart sign now, Gareth? Too busy mugging me off.


The Rest

A quick run-down of the rest of our players.


Friedel - Quality. Has been one of most consistent performers. Short term. We need to resolve the issues of Gomes and the long term.

Kaboul - When confident in a confident defence, he's superb. Has shown great resolve this season.

Gallas - Thank you but time to move on.

Dawson - Might turn slower than a brick, but he's got the wallops about him as a defender. Brave and at times, alongside King, has looked composed. Can be left looking anything but at times. Injury hasn't allowed him to push on and prove people wrong/right.

Walker - Deserves his Young Player of the Year award. Development, from a defensive standpoint (positioning) should be the priority of the next coach. Not surprised he is making mistakes at this late stage. Hasn't stopped running. It's key that we have cover next season and actually use that cover effectively rather than ignore it and then send it out to Germany on loan.

Assou-Ekotto - Same with Benny. Hasn't stopped running. Re: cover, as above.

Nelsen - Stop gap. Can hardly criticise him. He is what he is. All our Jan signings were stop gaps.

Khumalo - Signed for the South African market? Makes a mockery of our transfer strategy. I'm sure the lad is a good bloke, seems honest and hard working but what role exactly was he signed for at Spurs? If he was any good he's have gone to a Prem side. He's struggled on loan.

Huddlestone - We've missed the options he can give us to aid with unlocking defences in those tight tight games. Apparently Redknapp wanted to send him to the MLS. Has he not been out injured all season?

Lennon - Liking the treatment room far too often. When he's at full fitness he can be one of our best players, running at the opposition. Also tracks back. We just need to give him help out on the right wing as he can't be the only out and out winger on that side in our squad. Pienaar was hardly like for like and not much liked by manager.

Parker - Tremendous signing. Gave Modric the freedom to recycle the ball to his heart's content. Burnt out.

van der Vaart - Fitness still an issue. Non-effective anywhere but behind the forward or in a three-man midfield ahead of the defensive players in the middle. A true professional who can and has galvanised our play on so many occasions. We need others to match his desire to be a winner.

Kranjcar - Not utilised to his strengths. Cruelly exposed when asked to play in the middle of the park.

Rose - Not enough games, we should continue to give him a chance. Might not be spectacular in any given way, but then how can you possibly ever follow-up on that volley?

Livermore - Determined. It's good to have someone promoted from the youth ranks into the first team and he's showing signs of making more of a career at Spurs than O'Hara managed. His future is probably dependent on the next manager.

Sandro - Not that much game time this season due to injury so not selected often enough and has looked out of sorts when he has. Might blossom in the middle as a direct replacement for Parker. That's if he sticks around and doesn't join Madrid/Barca/Milan. Has the tools, love his personality.

Adebayor - A forward that can play as part of a footballing side. If he scored more we'd be set. When he doesn't play, it shows up how one dimensional we are.

Saha - Short term cover. For the sake of a handful of game time.

Giovani - A mistake that the club just won't admit to and thus here he is, still at Spurs, priced out of moves away.

Defoe - Will never be first choice. Impact player.

Pienaar - Why did we sign him? Why did we let him go out on loan? According to Bill Kenwright in the back of a black cab, he's never coming back.

Bassong, Bentley - To be gone.




The regression of Harry Redknapp’s Tottenham - Part II

The progression regression of Harry Redknapp's Tottenham - Part II

Momentum and Mental Strength...dressing room lost?

Our form, aside from the opening two games of the season, was sensational. Here was a Spurs side winning consistently home and away and if we came unstuck (Stoke away) we bounced back. It's all very muddled currently. It’s a combination of ineptness and a devastating disappearance of belief.

The court case will have distracted everyone at the club. It would have taken a lot out of the manager and regardless of what the players have said in the past, its birthed uncertainty. Our form began to display signs of degradation around the same time. We kept winning games but the victories were not always convincing, although it’s always good to claim a win when you’re not playing well because that’s the sign of champions. Enter another variable. The media. Everyone was appreciative of Spurs. The pundits, other managers and even opposing fans. It’s how it works. Much like Harry Redknapp, everyone is reactive to what is happening at the time, so naturally everyone rated Spurs and talked us up.

I have no idea what Harry is like in the dressing room and whether enough was done to keep us grounded. Equally so, not sure Parker is one for the rousing speeches at Spurs. Easier done at a club like West Ham where he was infinitely better than the quality of players surrounding him. We have no Roy Keane type figure. King is a leader by virtue of his football (and his football has not been great this season). Did we start to believe in the hype? If so, surely the experienced players in our squad took responsibility? From the looks of it they either they haven’t or it was beyond their influence.

The City game destroyed us. An inch away from winning it and in the blink of an eye we lost it. There’s no doubt there is a lot to be said for experience (take a look at United and Ferguson). But we reverted back to the fragile Spurs of old when as opposed to the past when we didn’t have the players to back it up, we do this time and yet somehow we’ve still managed to p*ss it all away.

To compound things further, Harry’s tactics started to have a clear detrimental effect - as witnessed at the Emirates. Our first major run of form that was underwhelming saw us play okay in some of the games, but we were powder-puff up front and lethargic at the back. We lacked that much needed leadership at the first sign of trouble. There was no team reaction. With every game we waited in anticipation of there being a battle cry, a want and desire to reclaim some pride. But it hasn’t been forthcoming. The semi-final was the concluding cluster of catastrophe which has summed up the second part of the season with the QPR game an encore of hurt.

D Wolves 1-1 - Dropped points
L Man City 3-2 - Toe to toe, could have been 3-2 to us, wasn't, footballing Gods say 'no'
W Wigan 3-1 - A response
D Liverpool 0-0 - A stutter
L Arsenal 5-2 - A capitulation aided by naivety and a distinct lack of belief
L Man Utd 3-1 - Mugged by a patient experienced side that knew just how to pick us off on the break
L Everton 1-0 - Woeful first half followed by a clueless second which entailed just 'attacking' them with no game plan
D Stoke 1-1 - Dropped points
D Chelsea 0-0 - Congested the midfield then took a stranglehold of the game. Should have won. Since then we've gone to pieces, they've got two Cup finals
W Swansea 3-1 - An anomaly that had us believing again
D Sunderland 0-0 - Could not break down a team that just sat back and defended
L Norwich 2-1 - Pathetic display
L QPR 1-0 - Equally gutless, shapeless


Add to it the Chelsea 5-1 for good (bad) measure.

The drop in form crept into our game prior to the City game but that match at the Eastlands felt like a boxer coming off the floor from a technical knock-out to then win the remaining rounds only to lose the fight thanks to a late flurry of punches giving them a split decision. It was demoralising. If that game robbed us of our belief and that the Gods were against us, we deserved nothing from a game that meant everything when it come to visiting Arsenal. Here we witnessed a strange selection and an absolute joke of a choke. Unlike anything we’ve seen recently in league meetings against them. It was an unequivocal surrender. Tactically shambolic. Players switched off too.

We were ‘okay’ against Utd. This found myself (and one or two of you) thinking we simply had to find a moment in a game to rejuvenate ourselves. Confidence comes from winning but if you feel hard done by and you come through it against the odds it can inspire that spirit and fight once more and with it will return momentum. Except, with each passing game it never happened. Aside from the Swansea win where Harry actually showed some astuteness and away to Chelsea in the league the rest have been near diabolical. Nothing has changed sufficiently enough to warrant that all it will take is such a moment.

We look like a side that has lost sight of the grand prize and have given up. There hasn’t been enough coaching or hands on management to aid with navigating the players through this. And the players, for them to react in this way by not reacting. It has the touch of the Ramos about it. Now that’s irony we could do without. Has the dressing room been lost? Yes. Lack of decisiveness and commitment from the manager whilst he flirted with all concerned regarding the England job has impacted team morale and has deflected Harry’s thoughts away from Spurs to the FA headquarters. He hasn’t given us his full intention, so why would his players do the same? A teacher that sits at the front of the classroom, playing guitar and singing a sonnet to himself is hardly to going to capture the attention of his students who are too busy throwing conkers out the window.

The players haven’t exactly covered themselves with glory either but as witnessed under Ramos, good players can turn to bad players because of lack discipline and focus and belief in the man in charge.

Whatever happens on the training pitch isn’t good enough either. Forget set pieces and corners. This has been a problem for years (next man in can fix it - ha!). The lack of planning and preparation for each opponent seems to be non-existent. i.e. Let them cope with us. If they cope with us, break them down. If we can’t break them down, make sure you mention it in the post-match interview that we couldn’t break them down.

Who knows what might have happened had John Terry not allegedly said what he said to Anton Ferdinand. He should have gone. Instead Fabio did and the rest (Harry for England) fell into and then out of place (Spurs).

Fact is Harry Redknapp has already left Spurs. He left the moment the England job became available. The issue is not that the job has distracted Harry, it's the fact that Harry has allowed it to. Not sure what has been said by Levy on this matter in-house, but it would have been good for the club and the manager to have released a statement immediately off the back of the rumours to draw a line under it. They didn't. Harry whored himself as Harry does. It's impacted us but it's not the only reason. It does however illustrate the undying loyalty he has to himself.

Regardless of the 'outside of Spurs distractions', they mask the real problem. Harry hasn’t got the edge and he bottled it. We’ve got a manager who can control his own destiny when it’s going well but is limp when adapting to the occasion of elevated expectation and fixing problems of his own creation. Players, teams...they need instructions. They simply can’t completely rely on running around and kicking the ball forwards. As good as we can be when it flows, we’re not exactly reinventing push and run.





The regression of Harry Redknapp’s Tottenham - Part I

The progression regression of Harry Redknapp's Tottenham - Part I


I'm working towards something. It's fairly drastic but considering I've managed to contradict myself with a number of footballing beliefs I can only find redemption by first cleansing myself of this season's dramatics. This means I have to get it all out of my system.

It would be easy to give a knowing nod of approval towards hindsight and then dissect Redknapp’s tenure in relation to the 2012 season and our mental and physical collapse. Except most of the subject matter I’m about to discuss has been discussed before and many of us have/had given the manager the benefit of the doubt on numerous occasions.

He has built Spurs up to be a competitive team. There has always been fragmentation of opinion regarding his transfer dealings and his tactical prowess and in addition his working relationship with Daniel Levy. We’ve tolerated his sound-biting and the manner in which he displays loyalty to himself above all other things. Most take it for granted that anything he says publicly for the camera or mic is reactive to whatever is going on at that precise moment, suiting his own agenda to protect himself and whatever predicament we happen to find ourselves in. Except it's hardly ever 'we'. It's mostly 'them'.

The media adore him, a comforting extra shield of protection he wears like a badge of honour. Never heavily criticised, unlike some of his counterparts at other clubs. This isn’t to say that he should not take credit for what he’s done. He’s taken plenty of that already. Also, he deserved the right to give it a go at Spurs post-Champions League season. He’s failed. Even if by some miracle we suddenly start playing like a team and other results go in our favour and we qualify in 4th spot (which might not happen thanks to Chelsea), he’s still failed. I’ll explain the reasons why I feel this to be the case. I will also work my way through one or two other talking points.

I guess I should add a caveat here that I'm not setting out to knee-jerk or promote propaganda against Redknapp just because things have turned sour. There's a popular misconception that we're fickle and don't complain when things are going in our favour. That's partly true in some instances (don't change a winning formula for example, was one way of us attempting to deal with the lack of genuine consolidation in the transfer windows) but in most cases we've always admitted to weaknesses and shown concern in some of the decision making. Even when winning.

It's lengthy. So I've broken it up into four blogs. Read at your own leisure.

Transfer Windows

We are never going to know exactly what happens behind the scenes. Sorry to break the hearts of the ITK community but aside from leaked info from football agents its tricky to guess with any certainty what the dynamics are between chairman and manager when it comes to scouting and signing players. If we go by what Redknapp has said in the press (take the Scott Parker saga as an example) you could wager that the chairman wasn’t too keen on signing an ‘aging’ midfielder. With no technical director of football I imagine that Levy keeps an eye out for players that fit into the mantra of who we should be signing (ideally top class 20 - 26 year olds players for example that can provide longevity and that infamous sell-on potential to keep the accounts happy). Levy signed Rafa van der Vaart as a consequence of talking to Madrid in the past. We were given the chance when the Dutchman’s move back to Germany fell through. Opportunistic. A case of manager agreeing to it because the player is ‘top class’ and cheap and the window was about to close.

Did we need Rafa at the time? Maybe, maybe not. You can't say no to such a gift of a transfer and you therefore find a way to accommodate him. That’s what we had to do. For £8M we made it work (although his fitness has always been subject to a variety of question marks). Rafa has a winners mentality and we should have no regrets. But during that window, it was a forward we wanted more than anything. So in truth, we signed someone without having a strategy.

We’ve wanted a genuine forward to lead the line since the Berbatov/Keane partnership disintegrated. Seems to be the most difficult of tasks to accomplish, as with every passing window we shrug despondently at yet more tentative links that turn out to be nothing more than rumours and clubs using the media to leverage price tags or look strong in rejecting.

We’re stuck with a loan player, an old player and a player that’s in and out of the side.

In January we wanted/needed consolidation. Either the money isn’t there or it is but Levy doesn’t want to commit to spending masses of it because of the uncertainty of Redknapp’s future (even back in the new year this was a reason discussed). The money might well be available but chairman and manager are not on the same page if you go by consensus. Harry has turned his nose up at suggested Levy signings and vice versa.

I get the distinct feeling that most of the big name European and South American players we are linked with and supposedly interested to sign are ones that our scouting system target and report back to Levy who then presents to Harry. Harry has his own list of players he targets via expertly not tapping them up via the media.

Fact is, Redknapp thinks in the short term. Literally, from one season to the next. As witnessed by the players he has signed. Some of which have worked. The rest (the ones that arrived in Jan) appeared to be nothing more than cheap cover for the players we allowed to leave. Players that had to leave because they were simply not in the managers plans. Discarded.

To be fair he has got the 'money ball' touch about him. But we should not always be so reliant on cheap options. We've failed in the past when spending big but that doesn't mean we should not be brave enough to speculate in the present.

Our transfer strategy is lopsided.

It's a cluster of crazy if you take the words of Bill Kenwright (Everton chairman) to heart. He spoke to my brother-in-law (cab driver in London) this past week and stated the following about the Steven Pienaar transfer:

- Pienaar was desperate to join Spurs and only Spurs
- Kenwright offered him an increase in wages/new contract, the player rejected any further talks
- Signs for Spurs
- Within 6-8 weeks is back on the phone to Everton saying he hates it at Spurs, he's made a mistake and wants to rejoin Everton. Begs to be signed back asap
- Everton sign him back on loan
- Pienaar will never return to Spurs

Bill appeared to be genuine when discussing this and not that bothered with sharing Pienaar and Everton's experience. Equally interesting and damaging is the alleged comment he made concerning Levy and Redknapp. Pienaar was signed by Levy without Redknapp's knowledge or approval. Crux being that Harry didn't want him or even know he was about to be made a Spurs player.

The worst thing about all this? It's quite believable.


The Squad

This brings me onto the actual squad. We are so finely tuned a side that a single players injury can cause imbalance. We have a wealth of talent, audacious and vibrant and for most of the season hungry and determined. But there are some fundamental flaws in the squad. Again, nothing we don't know but concerns that were very easy to box up and place under the bed and ignore when we we’re jumping up and down on said bed having fun. Now the springs are broken we find ourselves on the cold hard floor without a clue what to do for entertainment.

Pound for pound we have a fantastic first team. Let’s not pretend otherwise. But our squad falters to deceive because it's not been handled with care. We’ve been unfortunate with one or two injuries but this happens to everyone and has happened to us every season for as long as I can remember. It’s no excuse. It does link in with our transfer strategy because say for example, in Lennon’s absence we had no natural cover for the right-wing. Playing Rafa or Bale there is not the answer. Playing either in that position is a solution to a problem created from within. Almost feels like we didn’t think about every position pragmatically and decide where our weakness might hurt us during the course of the season.

We've let players go out on loan which would have been better suited to rotation. Some of our first teamers play if their fit to play rather than being rested periodically to allow for a more sustained challenge across the season and avoid fatigue/burn out.

We have problems in key areas because of the risk that comes with the (successful) system we play and that lack of rotation early on has cost us. I guess you’ll argue why tinker when we’re winning games? Why should players struggle with fatigue in the latter stages of the season when we’ve shown disdain towards the League Cup, pretty much the same towards the Europa League and mis-mashed sides in the FA Cup? Well they do and they have.

You know how you've probably thought 'play the strongest line-up' a few times this season? Works when you show intelligence with selections rather than being completely reliant on certain players and combinations. Harry has rotated players but this is about rotating key players, something he's failed to do.

Parker has old legs. A brilliant signing, one that proved the Harry doubters wrong and equally the ones that did not trust Parker was up for the job (i.e. me). But when there was opportunity to perhaps rest him Harry didn’t. Sandro was injured, Livermore did came into the fold and Huddlestone won’t be back until next season. So with all the graft Parker provides if he’s out of sorts we are instantly weakened in the middle. Playing Niko there has proven to be suicidal. The same principle applies with Lennon on the right as mentioned. There is no genuine depth. And if there isn't you need a workable plan B which we don't appear to have. This in-turn affects tactics and fluidity which ends up with us constantly banging on the door and trying to kick it in rather than simply take the key out of our back pocket.

Up front we signed Adebayor (another Levy signing). A footballer in the true sense of the word that fits into our style of play. He can work the channels and link up. Sadly, he’s not a clinical finisher. If he doesn’t play we revert to two up front and all shape is lost and the midfield surrendered. We are smooth when it works, stutter when important elements are missing.

Our defence has a variety of question marks, prominently the centre-back positions. We need rebuilding here for the future. We were keen on Cahill so the Levy/Redknapp are more than aware of the issues at play here. We ended up with Nelsen. That sums it all up. King and Gallas look spent. Dawson’s injury hasn’t helped. Kaboul has shown promise but needs to play as part of a settled pairing. Caulker will no doubt be part of the squad next season having shown he can cope with the Prem at Swansea. Although we (club and fans) should not weigh him down with expectation. Which is why it's key to sign a new centre-back to give us complete strength and faith at the back.

The squad is light because of the way certain players have been dismissed and others ran into the ground. Our fringe players moved on. We've got no reserves, so our younger players are loaned out. The simple philosophy embraced by Redknapp is not a forward thinking ethos for success.

When things are going well you naturally build on the confidence and rhythm attained with each passing game. When you suffer injuries your resolve is tested. We’ve come through several tests during the first part of the season. So why has it gone so horribly wrong?


Tactics and Formation

Not really sure Redknapp believes he knows what our best line-up and formation is. He has enough about him to take a talented squad and make them play for each other. Back to basics, players in their best positions. Well, for the most part players in their best positions. He seems far removed from this particular trait currently. There is a naivety that sees him struggle with retaining shape. There are times when he has delivered (recently against Swansea). And his record at Spurs is a very strong one (in terms of win %). But he has limitations. Whether this is heavily influenced by outside story arcs or not, on the pitch we have failed when it was so easy to succeed (taking into account our pre-new year form).

The persistence with 442. Accommodating players when perhaps they are better dropped to the bench for the sake of team fluidity. Making decisions based on basic logic rather than tactical engineering (i.e. we can't break opposition down, so change to 2 up front). And so on.

Harry has no patience. He can’t wrap his head around the long game. It’s always a sprint, never a marathon. Everton away is a perfect illustration of ‘just go out and attack them, a goal will come’ team talks. No guile or intelligent game plan to break them down. Just keep on plugging away and it might just happen. The more it doesn't happen the more difficult it becomes to shake off the rust and morale will consequently drop.

There’s no doubting that we’ve played some of the best football in the league this season. When it works, it works. It’s easy to send out a confident team and just get them to keep working the way they’ve been working. Not much in this football lark he’d have you believe. Players need formation as much as formation needs players. When we don't play well, it's not because we're so miserable and calamitous in our performance (okay, maybe once or twice this season) but because we are not functioning correctly. You can almost see where it's going wrong, endlessly, without ever reaching a satisfying conclusion.

On paper and in practice we have been majestic at times. Then the same set of players look like headless chickens in a chaotic den of madness. I guess when Rafa said we never discuss tactics he was telling the truth.

One up front, three men behind the striker with Bale on the left and Rafa as the most forward midfielder. It works. It did work. Parker was a revelation protecting Modric and allowing the pixie playmaker to dictate possession. When it does work its magic. When it doesn’t nobody can find the wand.

The fundamentals are all wrong. There's no balance. There is stagnated application and misfiring effort. The midfield is isolated and without influence. The most forward players are detached from the rest of the team so we're left with few options when attacking. It always looks desperate rather than calculated. Adebayor ghosts to the already over-populated flanks where he finds our over lapping fullbacks running into space (have they actually stopped running this season?) and leaving plenty of available space behind them for the opposition to run into.

We've gone from the side asking all the questions to one struggling to answer them. It's comfortable for teams to have a go at us. We're making it easy for them. The manager is struggling to mix it up and refresh the team to bring back that lost belief. Obviously, there's always room for desire to impact the side, but even that appears to be AWOL.



Only a wise cracking soundbite can save us now...

Here's the match report.

We were crap.

No inspiration, no shape, no creativity and no cohesiveness. Another repeat performance, lacklustre in desire to somehow claw something, anything back. QPR value staying up more than Tottenham value top four.

Everything that continues to be wrong with us persists and festers from one game to the next with no apparent fix attempted. There's no doubt that we have to shrug and admit that lack of rotation and burn out has cost us along with avoidance to repair parts of the squad (cover wise) that so many of us predicted might come back to haunt us. Whether that's chairman or manager or both to blame for the consolidation we needed is there to be debated. But on the pitch there still isn't enough fight and there is no managerial astuteness. No leaders. No plan. No change. We've gift wrapped it for someone else to open.

Once more...Everything that continues to be wrong with us persists and festers from one game to the next with no apparent fix attempted. It's that simple. Or not so when you look at the results we've produced since late February.

When things are not going our way, when we lose form and heads drop there has to be guile on and off the pitch. Harry has sadly exhausted his talents. The players look exhausted. Four games left. On current form, not a chance. We could get lucky. It's unlikely to happen. That's it.

I've given this match report as much energy as Spurs did during the game so apologies for its flatness.

I feel desperate for us that we've lost so much of our strength, physically and mentally.


If this was a magic trick we haven't disappeared a playing card. We've made the Statue of Liberty vanish. Except it hasn't vanished. It's still there, you just can't see it. It's an illusion. We are being made to look the opposite of what we've fought to become over the past several seasons. What happened at the back end of last season has repeated itself once more. Credit for what has been achieved but there has been a spectacular loss of control suggesting its just too much for some to be responsible for keeping things steady in troubled waters.

Everyone else has navigated their way through the storm, we're left sinking with the captain of our ship already sat in a rubber dinghy paddling away.

It's too much to ask a side tragically out of form to aspire and recapture that long lost tempo. Do I still believe? Of course. Football is so much better if you give it everything you've got, even if it can leave you drained in doing so. Six points from nine games will hardly lead into twelve points from four, will it?

Let's move on.

I said in the match preview that Spurs would pull the heart out of my chest and kick it about for 90 minutes. I'd like my heart back now please. What's left of it.

Love Tottenham. Hate this.


Harry. Spurs. Knee-jerk here.

The catalyst  for this seasons epic blip is not the moment Fabio lost/quit his job as England manager. It's the moment our manager refused to draw a line under it. Redknapp should have come straight out and stated "I'm not interested in anything other than Spurs. Don't ask me about it, please respect Tottenham and the job I'm being paid to do". Even if he is interested in it, that's what the summer is for. No such luck. Did anyone expect it to pan out any differently?

Instead he whored himself like he always does. Focus is lost. Respect is lost. Court case probably rattled him a fair bit too. It's been discussed before, we all know this. It masks other issues at play relating to lack of decisiveness with selections. Actually no it doesn't, we can see them as well. It's all rather blatant and obvious. There's also the fragile mindset of our players that saw them so easily effected by it. Collectively, motivation is easy if everyone is on form, its more tricky if only a select amount of players give a s**t all season long. Lack of rotation, strange line-ups and a hefty sack of inconsistent soundbites...whatever happened to back to basics?

I don't know, perhaps it's too soon after the game to discuss all this. Usually when things are going well we all lap it up (fans and manager alike) and when things are not going well we react accordingly and criticise. Which is well within our rights to do so (as long as we attempt to retain some level of balance). Most of us don't, which more or less matches up to the way Harry handles it. Ironic that we are as fickle and reactionary to what is going on at the time and what best suits us - much like our much maligned manager. But then that's what we are meant to do. We want the best for our club, within the constraints of what we possess. Although every person will have a varying perception to the next person.

We're underachieving. That's my perception. In the past when we claimed we were underachieving it was misguided because the reality was we did not have the team to truly compete. We do now (be it one for the short term not the long term) and we're half way to ballsing it up. We can't have one of the best sides pound for pound in the country one minute and then claim we're over-rated the next. We're good enough. We are desperately letting ourselves down. That's more than perception (IMO), it's just another harsh reality.

There's nothing wrong in recognising the lack of leadership. The formation, selection and tactics against Arsenal, Man Utd, Everton and Norwich (Chelsea in the cup included) during this blip are pretty damning. Distinct lack of mental and positional preparation.

We've also muddled through all three cup competitions (Carling cup and Europe hardly bothered at all) with the league always the priority and yet somehow we've managed to surrender momentum in the only competition we've taken seriously.

The players are equally accountable. Far too many have switched off. Still it's better to be competing (and throwing it away) than it is to be sat dead in mid-table, right? Right? Someone? Anyone?



Five games left to make this article look stupid.


Latest Redknapp quotes

"Let's be honest, without me they'd be playing Championship football"

"It's going to be swansong for Luka. Chelsea will sign him, he's got to go there"

"If we win the cup its because I won it not because Spurs won it"

"I'm going to play Bale at centre-back, he's a natural, he can play anywhere and it's his best position"

"If you delve into history, I invented football in China just after I cracked time travel"



Echoing what you know already

It's times like this I was wish I was single because I can't see how I could explain hookers and coke away to the missus. THE DREAM IS OVER. MID-TABLE, PLEASE RETURN TO MY BOSOM cries out the voice in my head as it attempts to scratch its way out to escape from inside my skull.

Lacklustre, complacent, distracted and disjointed. No desire and no apparent attempt to grip the game by its neck and tighten our hands around it slapping it down and forcing it to abide by our rules. If we fail to turn up at Wembley next week I'm going to laugh. Proper laugh out loud with tears. Never ending tears. Of blood.

Credit to Norwich but this was gift wrapped for them. The ref did his best to aid us (two penalty appeals ignored for the visitors) but only time travel and a chalkboard for reference would have saved the day. Early season Spurs wherefore art thou Spurs? An Italian might have the answer to that particular conundrum along with an English man who failed to draw a definitive line under it.

Where (also) has the determined focus, drive and astuteness of the Swansea home game gone? Just when we thought our belief and swagger had returned, it's deserted us again. Just when our manager showed a glimpse of tactics and strategy it wasn't anywhere to be seen on Monday. Selecting eleven players and hoping they just happen to play well isn't good enough. From the boredom at the Stadium of Light to the White broken hearts of the Lane.

Momentum and mojo replaced with morbid misery. We had players for width and yet had no width. We had players of quality with no heart. We had very little of anything that deserved the three points so I really can't argue against it. Saha and Defoe don't work and yet there it was, both of them leading a 4-4-2 formation. Players rested but with Chelsea evident in the forefront of the manager and players.

Still, 442 or not, substitutions made or otherwise, we should be doing more than competing against the likes of Norwich. We should be beating them. We're now the team with the fragile inconsistent mindset. A shadow of what came before.

There is something far more fundamentally at fault here than the inability for professional players at the top end of one of the best leagues in Europe (supposedly) to fail to battle on two fronts. Psychologically we've displayed so much growth and maturity in the past with backbone and fortitude but we are still some what soft when it matters most. There's a failure of control. By manager and players. Both are accountable.

Here's some depressing stats copy and pasted off Twitter:

- Spurs form in last two years since January under Redknapp: Played 34, Won 12, Drawn 13, Lost 9, For 46, Against 40. Just 35% win percentage.

- Spurs before 8th February, the day Capello was sacked: 23 games, 50 points. Over 2 points per game. After: 9 games, 9 points. Two wins, three draws, four defeats. Relegation form.

- 24 - Spurs have gained just 6 points out of a possible 24 in their last 8 Premier League games. Dismal.

No point suggesting X manager at the helm would have had us sitting in 2nd spot. We haven't got X manager. We've got what we've got and until the season ends that isn't going to change. So what now? Don't know about you but I'll do the only thing I can do, the only thing within my power to do. Support. My hands are tied with the rest of it. If the players don't understand the importance of winning all the remaining games, if they don't grasp that reality like I do then there's very little I can do to motivate other than hope. The hard way is the Spurs way is the only way.

So wake the **** up and man up please Tottenham. You're better than this. So much better.