DOOR CLOSES ON JOL
Martin Jol's two-and-a-half year reign as manager of Tottenham Hotspur came to its inevitable end last night when he was finally fired for his shortcomings. In a brief statement, chairman Daniel Levy described the decision as "one that will hopefully prove to the fans that we are desperate to move in the right direction".
The writing had been on the wall since this week's UEFA Cup Final at Hampden Park, where Jol's tactical naivety was horrendousy exposed once more in allowing Benfica to score a late consolation goal. Having led 2-0, Spurs' long-suffering fans were getting ready to celebrate the club's first clean sheet in 3 months, when Michael Dawson's slip on the wet turf allowed Simao to sneak in during stoppage time and fire past Paul Robinson. The 2-1 victory was unacceptable to most fans, and they stayed long into the night to protest to the board. A few blamed Jol's assistant, Chris Hughton, but it was clear to most that the blame lay clearly with the manager.
Jol himself was silent last night, although he did say in a post-match interview at Hampden that he hoped the board would see fit to give him some more time. When asked if he felt under any pressure, he replied: "No...I understand the fans' frustration tonight. Benfica were there for the taking tonight and to be 2-0 up at half time is what you want, but to almost allow them back into the game in the way we did was a shame. I hope the fans and the chairman will see that I am taking this team in the right direction, and allow me another year to turn things around."
Tottenham's defensive frailties are not the only reason for Jol's demise. Fans were frequently disillusioned but his seemingly indecisive team selection policy, in particular the rotation of forward players. His decision to leave Robbie Keane on the bench was seen as "amateurish" by one fan we spoke to last night. Keane's goal within five minutes of coming on to replace the injured Jermain Defoe was seen as nothing more than evidence of his mistake.
Chris Hughton will act as caretaker-manager for tomorrow's FA Cup Final at Wembley against relegated Watford, although it is thought that he will not be considered for the job on a full-time basis, regardless of the result. Potential full-time successors are rumoured to include recently jobless Glenn Roeder, former Spurs boss David Pleat, and David O' Leary.