A New Dawn

Discussion in 'Columns' started by Allygold, Oct 7, 2009.

  • by Allygold, Oct 7, 2009 at 1:14 PM
  • Allygold

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    The strains of Chas and Dave let me know I’d received a text message and the bedside clock informed me in no uncertain terms that it was indeed an ungodly hour of the night.

    My eyes struggled to focus on the phone’s display, but the words still hit the mark - ‘Ramos gone, Redknapp taking over’. What the hell? Was I even awake or was this one of those freaky twists dreams seem to take just when you’re getting to the good part.

    I have to lay my cards on the table from the beginning. For me, Spurs had lost a little of their lustre in the preceding months. I’d spent a year researching the life of Martin Jol for a biography I was working on for the Dutch market. I’d travelled across Europe, talking to his family, friends, colleagues and finally the big man himself after he offered to help me on my journey through his colourful past.

    I spent day after day at his home, talking football, talking life and enjoying his partner’s wonderful Dutch cooking. It’s fair to say I grew close to Martin Jol and my lofty respect for the grinning bear of a man was only reinforced as I listened to the good and bad times life had brought him.

    So the news that he’d been sacked on that October night hit me hard. I was recovering in a hotel room in The Hague after a day spent in the company of two of his brothers, Cornelis and Ger. At one point that afternoon, Cornelis’ phone had rung and he’d proudly shown me the name ‘Martin’ flashing up on the screen.

    He stood up and his immediate tone was one of affection, but he soon moved away from the table as his face grew solemn. I couldn’t work out what was being said, despite my recent delight at learning the numbers one to ten in Dutch, but it didn’t look good. When he returned Cornelis would only say, ‘It’s tough for him at the moment”.

    Martin was Spurs through and through. He knew the club inside out, from its history to every single person who worked at the training ground and the famous old stadium. He’d grown up idolising the double-winning side of the 60s - his first Spurs memory was watching the Cup Winners’ Cup final against Atletico Madrid on his black and white television as a child, sitting alongside Cornelis. Tottenham Hotspur represented the Dutch philosophy of football – it wasn’t just the sweeping play that defined them, but the way they carried themselves on the pitch.

    Having seen firsthand the passion Martin had for the club and listened to the struggles he frequently faced behind the scenes, it felt like I’d caught my wife cheating when I first heard about the sleazy Ramos hotel meeting and then finally the revelation that the Dutchman had been sacked amid the chants of 36,000 Spurs fans.

    Martin told me in the days after his departure: “It was and still is disappointing, because I still feel that if I could have done it in a different way, like Alex Ferguson, I could have gone on to do something.

    “If they had sacked me last year it would have been more of a shock, but not now. This year I guess I was waiting for it. It’s the same with a marriage. If it’s not right, you have to do something else.

    “In this structure, the manager is the scapegoat. I knew that, so it’s not a problem. I was expecting it to happen for months, but it was my mission to make Spurs great again.

    “I still feel that if I was solely responsible I would still be there. It was about making that next step and I could have done it. I miss people at the Lodge. I miss Chris. I miss the staff. I miss the supporters. I had a bond with them. Sometimes things happen and life goes on, but I will always remember them.

    “I looked back at the Getafe match in my home in The Hague. When I watched the scenes it plays like a movie. I look upset and the fans are all singing my name around the stadium. In Holland, they played it everywhere, all over the television. I didn’t know it at the time, but I could not have expected a better farewell.”

    So with that in mind I cut a forlorn figure during the ensuing Ramos era, torn between my love for Spurs and my displeasure at the events that had ousted the man who’d reinvigorated my club. It was strange to watch the Spaniard lavished with the type of players Martin had begged for each summer, but never received.

    I didn’t expect Ramos to fail or want him to – at the end of the day no man is bigger than the club, even a jolly Oranje giant. So to see that late night text last year made me think Tottenham Hotspur had finally lost the plot. Harry ‘Triffic’ Redknapp? How many fans would have been happy with it being Harry wined and dined in a South Coast hotel back in the summer of 2007?

    Ironically, Martin had talked up Redknapp to me as one of the few English managers who deserved a crack at managing a big club. Little did he know the affable Cockney would eventually be warming his plush dugout seat.

    Personally, I’d always liked Redknapp, but ultimately only ever associated him with mid-table mediocrity and wheeling and dealing. Yet his arrival offered me the chance to start afresh with Tottenham Hotspur, to wipe the slate clean with a wife who’d come back home repentant over her summer fling.

    And my preconceptions have since bitten the dust. With the director of football a thing of the past, the likeable Londoner’s vision is now the sole one at the club, which can only be a good thing in the long run.

    He does have the ability to say one thing with his hand on his heart one moment yet do the complete opposite the next, cue Carlo Cudicini waving a Spurs scarf behind Harry, who is strenuously denying any interest in the Italian stopper. However, there is no denying that he is blessed with the best group of players Spurs have employed in a long time and he is getting the best out of the majority of them.

    In the soon to return Luka Modric, Harry boasts a playmaker who could comfortably slot into any team in the world. I’d still like to see the diminutive schemer run the game from the middle with action man Wilson Palacios alongside him, rather than trying to influence matters from the touchline. He proved against the brute power of Stoke last season that he won’t be bullied in the engine room and he’s had 10 months of further settling in since then.

    With everyone fit, there are at least two quality players coveting every position on the pitch, meaning there are far more debates to be had than the old Keane-Defoe one – although that still appears to have spawned a much-talked about sequel.

    The starlets of yesterday are growing up. Aaron Lennon is finally learning that simply speeding along like Road Runner is not enough to sustain his reputation and Tom Huddlestone no longer has the turning circle of an articulated lorry.

    We’ve come up slightly short against Manchester United and Chelsea in recent matches, but the Liverpool victory and the merciless crushing of weaker sides show we’re slowly closing the gap that had re-opened between us and Sky’s beloved ‘Big Four’.

    Our ruthlessness and physical strength will be tested in the coming weeks before another chance comes to finally turn over that lot up the road in the league. If we can go one better than last year’s thriller at Cashburden Grave, then it could take more than a dodgy lasagne to dent our aspirations. It’s a new dawn, a new day and I’m feeling good.
     
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Comments

Discussion in 'Columns' started by Allygold, Oct 7, 2009.

  1. Stu
    I loved Martin Jol and I like to think that in his own way, he loved me.
  2. JD82
    Good read cheers! I will always love the big man, but the job Redknapp is doing now is helping to ease the pain of the way we dumped him.
  3. JimmyG2
    You take us through some painful and humiliating times here which you obviously felt more closely and keenly than any of us could.
    However you rightly end on an upbeat note.
    The director of football role has only been put on hold for Harry's reign and it will rear its head again. Handled properly it can solve the problem of stability at the club which we have gone some way to solving at player level with restricted new additions but could be tested again at manager level.
    'With everyone fit' is an important proviso as we currently have three of our best players unavailable though Harry has bought good players in to fill the gaps. In the light of this we have done particularly well.
  4. eViL
    Good to have you back Ally.
  5. gloryglory
    Great to have you back! It was your columns that drew me to this site in the first place, and despite several entertaining and incisive writers, the original has never been topped.

    The Martin Jol insight is fascinating - I knew Spurs fans who didn't rate him but I always felt that with backing he would have finished what he started (i.e. if Arnesen had stayed). I'd be glad to have him back if anything, ahem, happened with Redknapp, and suspect most Spurs fans would welcome him too.

    I don't think Comolli was bad at his job, nor Ramos, nor do I think the system couldn't have worked - but somehow it didn't, and the clean break Levy made was unexpected, bold and has clearly been vindicated. Like you I had fallen out of love with Spurs post-Jol, even with a Wembley win and a sporadically brilliant attacking side, headed by one of the world's best strikers.

    Unlike you I was unenthusiastic about Arry, seeing him as someone who could save us but never break the top 4. And fine, that was what we needed, and I'm not sure there's anyone at all who's more likely to get us into the top 4 anytime soon - Mourinho or Capello maybe, not many others. After all, on track record, Ramos is about as good as they come, and look how that went.

    So I've come around and I'm right behind him. Will we get into the top 4 this season? Highly doubtful. Next season? Highly doubtful. But it's fun along the way - and that's what matters.
  6. frosteye
    Freaky, I was sitting here just yesterday wondering what had happended to Ally Gold!

    Welcome back!

    I was in Thailand for my 30th when I got the text at some freaky hour about Ramos, Comoli etc leaving and Redknapp coming in. Was a bit like a wierd dream for me too!

    Then I didnt want to know the Arsenal result cos in Thailand they show all the games the next day on TV but woke up to a text from a mate saying "what a fcuking game"

    I knew it wasnt a bad result after that text!
  7. sheringmann
    Welcome back Ally!!!!

    (I always tought his brothers were named Dick and Cock.......)
  8. Spoilt4_the_spurs
    Welcome back Ally

    Great read :) I still miss Martin, but old Honest Arry has grown on me :) he's triffic
  9. Allygold
    Yeah, that's actually one of football's urban myths. The Dutch way of shortening Cornelis is Cock, so it's kind of half true. There is also a Dick Jol, a famous Dutch referee, who grew up in the same part of the Netherlands as Martin - Scheveningen - but he is not related to the big guy. Martin's three brothers are called Cornelis, Ger and Klaas.
  10. Chedozie
    I really miss Martin Jol, to think we sacked him so that 18 months later we could have Harry Redknapp in charge (who is great) just sums up how ridiculous this club is sometimes.

    I feel like an old wound has just been re-opened.
  11. tttcowan
    Welcome back sir! Awesome article as per usual.

    ...And if god forbid things were to go wrong with 'Arry I'm sure every spurs fan would have Jol top of there list for his replacement... this time without a director of football.

    Personally I always rated Harry and I was happy when he took over from Ramos... But I do still miss the big man and this article reminds me why. Cheers.
  12. tttcowan
    Me too, me too... I'd like to think at some point down the line a chorus of "I love Martin Jol" might be sung again at the lane.
  13. cwhite02
    Great read. Loved MJ, probably my fav manager of my era....Was there on the final game for him and it was pretty emotional, the game kind of didn't matter. HR is doing a great job and am very happy with him and the team....The futures bright
  14. THE.FIEND!
    I feel an aching nostalgia for the Jol era. It happened to co-inside with the best time of my life; I was traveling across europe and banging cultured totti. However, one thing thats sometimes forgotten is in the season where were we a dogy lasagne away from being 4th we were crap in both cups, & played a lot of defensive long ball stuff. The team we have now is a better footballing side, but what it lacks that we had then was a top keeper settled and sure of his place (tho I think this won't be a problem once harry just sticks gomes in there), plus a really tough to beat CB pairing (with King in world class form) which I don't think we'll match this season. The form of Carrick was also key, but in Palacios we have a different but just as influential player.

    All in all I think redknapp is a better manager. Whats more he's got control of transfers.
  15. guate
    Allygold, YOU are the reason why I switched to SC and as much as I've enjoyed other people's articles it's so very good to have you back. Hopefully we'll now get to see and read a lot more from you.

    Martin Jol, in my book, has been the best manager Spurs have had for a long while and I'll never forget what an inspiration he was for the majority of us. With his departure, I for one, lost confidence in Levy and our so called board of directors for dabbling in areas where they shouldn't have.

    However, time moves on and we now have 'Arry the architect of the amazing turn around from the Ramos fiasco, and who now earnt our respect and support. Hopefully he'll prove the Messiah we are so desperately looking for to return the true Glory Glory days to W.H.L.

    Bienvenido Ally.

    QUE VIVA LOS SPURS
  16. jolsnogross
    Nice read Ally, thanks for posting. I should get a copy of your book. That line about the old wound is a good one too.

    It's pretty disappointing to see some people touting the director of football as anything other than a negative for our club. We did the experiment and it failed fairly miserably. Yet some on here would like to replicate it again.

    The thing that bothered me most about the Jol episode, was that he had a really solid CV and was an obvious football man who is interested in the bigger picture issues and history of football. He was also a success at Spurs. But our chairman chose to back the opinion of the Suit from Monaco, who had no real CV to speak of and whose footballing philosophy is unknown (if it exists). The direction of our club was entrusted to this guy!

    It was a crazy time and will always make me suspect Levy's judgement. Levy hung his hat on the DoF system, and it's amazing that he didn't find himself in an untenable position when it collapsed. He's not all bad, but it's not necessarily a good thing that such a collapse would happen and our board has no-one else to step up to replace the man behind it. It also highlights that no matter how well Harry does, he could get the boot sometime, even if he gets a top 5 finish or two under his belt.

    To a similar extent, Ramos was touted by some Jol-out merchants as the 2nd coming of Bill Nick. But a look through his CV showed some pretty average or below-average achievment and short-termism prior to Sevilla. And he didn't speak the language, which while not a pre-requisite, we had some experience of the problems it brings (Santini).

    I suspect many of those who wanted Jol out, wanted Ramos in, don't like Harry the cockney half-wit, are very upset with Keane when he scores 4 in one game, and are beside themselves that Gio doesn't play every game (he played for Barca, by the way).

    Long post. Old wound indeed.
  17. ricardo_archibald
    Nice piece, enjoyed the tempo. I have your book too.
  18. Fergus
    Great article Ally, almost brought a tear to my eye. Jol may not have achieved as much as he wanted (or some misguided fools demanded), but he gave us back our self-respect.

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