Time to step up, boys.......

Discussion in 'Columns' started by xzander, Jan 31, 2007.

  • by xzander, Jan 31, 2007 at 1:43 AM
  • xzander

    xzander Member

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    Last week’s Arsenal game left me with that feeling once again, frustration mixed with irritation mixed with anger at letting a lead slip to our rivals and once again, committing the ultimate sin of standing off them and allowing them to dictate play for the entire uncomfortable second half.

    By Thursday I was considering returning to my special tree and settling up there in the same manner as last month following the ‘Emirates incident’ on 2<sup>nd</sup> December. I was certain I could survive as I’m sure there’s still mince pies up there which were thrown to me by worried relatives. But I decided against it, on the basis that a) my ASBO for howling obscenities at the moon is still in place and I’d rather not be arrested and b) I watched the game with a Gooner, which led me to be slightly more reflective and to take something of a step back from the raw emotion of the game and examine things with a more dispassionate eye. In doing this I was helped by my current location in Manchester, as there are very few people around here who give two hoots about the North London derby, so there’s no-one really there to rant at. Watching the internet message boards light up in rage the following day, and listening to the rantings of football’s most inarticulate commentators - the 606-radio-phone-in brigade - a few things struck me. <o:p></o:p>
    First we need to dispense with the illusion, promoted by some of our more negative fans, that last week’s result was a disgrace and a disaster because we were playing a ‘second string’ and therefore should have been murdering them 12-nil at half time. Not so. Wenger may have made a big play of resting key members of the squad, but he was still playing Almunia, Senderos, Toure, Fabregas, and Baptista, with Aliadiere, Walcott and Hoyte backing that up. That means they had a very strong spine to the team, with some of their most talented up-and-coming players with Premiership experience playing. Playing Charlton’s second string is one thing. Playing this lot is quite another. <o:p></o:p>
    The most worrying fact for a Spurs fan is that even when Arsenal rest players, they can move, pass and string attacking moves together with much the same skill and devastating effect that they are capable of when they are at ‘full strength’. Christ, at times last Wednesday it was like watching a mixture of football and pinball, so fast and accurate was their passing and movement. The uncomfortable truth is that Wenger has been allowed to realise a vision at Arsenal and every player brought into their youth set-up is now brought in with a view to fulfilling a role within his starting line up. His younger Gunners might not have many Champions’ League appearances to their name, but they are extremely talented and very, very hungry. When given the chance, the onus is on them to seize it, and more often than not they do so, in going to grounds such as Anfield and playing the home side off the park. This is the football equivalent of sharks' teeth; even as one player is rested or injured, another comes forward to take his place, and the opposition see no real difference in the level of football being played against them. <o:p></o:p>
    Spurs have (sensibly) been moving in this sort of direction for the last couple of years, although it’s important for everyone to realise that we’re about a tenth of the way there yet. Jol has been allowed to exercise a good deal of control over the club and in consultation with his director of football is on the way towards building a very decent team. Thing is, after over two years, we’re now getting to the stage where this team of Jol’s is going to have to produce a Cup-winning performance of some sort to keep momentum and to hold our attention as fans. Although in my opinion the reactionary calls of ‘Jol out’ were ludicrously premature following last week’s draw, it is the case that those of us who think Jol is building something special are running low on ammo to prove it. <o:p></o:p>
    Under Jol, Spurs have moved forward in terms of playing staff; any fool can see that from looking at the team when he arrived and the team now. However, in terms of the actual results, all we really have to show is a slightly more efficient disposal of mediocre opposition, which wasn’t really what we had in mind. What Jol’s team has yet to produce – what every Spurs team has failed to manage for the last 15 years – is a victory which is built on by further victories, a win of real relevance against a top team in a game of real significance which gets confidence flowing through the squad and which is then built on; in a success-breeds-success kind of way. This has patently not happened over the last few years (the closest we got was beating Chelsea in ‘that’ Worthington semi-final, the memory of which is tainted by the double 4-0 defeats to the same opposition a month later combined with the fact we lost the final in a pretty limp manner). Even Jol’s team has only been truly convincing in the most sporadic fashion, probably the best moment being away at Arsenal last spring, in a game which marked the first time I recall the Gooners actually being frightened of what a Tottenham team could do to them. <o:p></o:p>
    In the end, there is little point in appointing a manager and letting him build a team, only to wave goodbye less than 36 months later. The Gooners are where they are in part because they have picked a high calibre manager and backed him every inch of the way, even when results have been disappointing. Such stability is extremely valuable, as long as the person in charge is of the right quality. I tend to believe that Jol is still a relatively inexperienced manager, is learning with his team and that long term, we will find that he is the man to lead us forward. Given Tottenham’s habit over the past ten years of picking a mediocre manager, giving him half-arsed backing, then looking for a reason to dismiss him when the team proves to be shocking has gained us little so far, it may be sensible to stick with what we have here and see how far Jol can get us. <o:p></o:p>
    So to tonight. We’re away at the Emirates in what amounts to a one-off game for a place in the final. Should we be level after 90 minutes, it’s into extra time, after which time, if still level, away goals get taken into account. If we’re still level, it’s penalties. I’d say we have to score at least twice to have a chance here. Both teams have injuries, but it’s clear that Spurs as a club need a place in the final more than Arsenal do. It is time that this club won a match of this size and importance, and used that success as a springboard to further success. It is time Jol’s team stood up and showed us what they’re capable of doing and this game – this next four months to be blunt – is the acid test of how far they’ve come, and how far they have to go.<o:p></o:p>
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Discussion in 'Columns' started by xzander, Jan 31, 2007.

  1. Seaforthspur
    "Thing is, after over two years, we’re now getting to the stage where this team of Jol’s is going to have to produce a Cup-winning performance of some sort to keep momentum and to hold our attention as fans."

    I agree with the tenor of your piece whole-heartedly, and might add that, as well keep our attention, Jol's going to have to pull off some "small" victories of a silverware nature sooner rather than later to retain the belief and services of our best players. The league Cup would be a welcome start.
  2. Bixo
    Good article, agere wholeheartedly with what you´re saying.

  3. davidmatzdorf
    I really think that's one of the best-thought-out and best-written articles I've ever seen on here. Plus it rather helps that I agree with every word. It's tough without being negative and it's positive without being hopelessly unrealistic.

    I'd just want to add/reinforce two points.

    1. We actually did thrash Arse***'s "youth team" last time. We were 2 goals up and heading for a very good result. We did lose our grip of the game a bit after half time, but it was only when Wenger brought on carefully selected members of the first team that they managed to force their way back into the match. By the time we were under real pressure, we were playing against Touré, Eboué, Hleb, Fabregas and Baptista - not exactly a team of novices.

    2. It isn't just that Jol is relatively inexperienced, although that's true, too. It's important to remember that Wenger, however much Spurs supporters may dislike his personality, is one of the canniest coaches in the world and, crucially, has had a couple of decades to develop and hone his own, very distinct style of football. He was already a success at Monaco when Hoddle was still playing and it was already possible to see where his style was going then.

    The single greatest reason why he has all of his players, young and old, playing in such a consistent and positive style is that he has been at one club for so long. Unlike Jol, he inherited an excellent setup when he arrived. Jol has had to work through 2-3 years of a constantly-changing squad, with better players coming in every 6 months to replace lesser ones. As he pointed out the other day, for most of this season we've been playing one defender (Dawson) and one midfielder (Lennon) out of last year's first choice team.

    If we're fortunate and tough, we might win something this year. It's possible, but unlikely. As long as we can keep the squad together (a big "if", but it can be done, as most of the key young players are on very long contracts), we can look forward to another 4-5 years of gradually improving results and football, with a distinct style developing and a well-knitted team of young stars maturing together.

    I still think that, 2-3 years on, this is a team that can win things:

    Chimbonda - King - Dawson - Assou-Ekotto?
    Lennon - Zokora/Jenas - Huddlestone - ???
    Defoe/Keane - Berbatov

    Add most of these - Alnwick, Dervite, Ifil, Routledge, perhaps Barnes, O'Hara, Dixon and Pekhart - to the mix and then account for their improvement as they mature and it's a daunting team.

    All we have to do is to keep the squad together and not sack the manager and thus start all over again.
  4. paxton_soul
    Have to agree with all said above - that just about sums up where we are.
  5. speroni
    Probably shouldn't say this as it breaks the unwritten code of being a Spurs fan but I think the team is in with a chance tonight.

    As others have noted, Spurs should be the hungrier team. That's often what decides the result in a game of football. A win at the Emirates would be the ideal catalyst for the winning streak that xzander so rightly points out has been lacking.
  6. rupsmith
    Top post

    Great write up - pretty much sums us up right now. I think we should wait for at least 2-3 years before anyone can start the "Jol out" campaign if at all. Our management team of Levy Commoli and Jol seem to be doing the business off the pitch and Jol seems to be able to attract the right talent.

    As for todays game, to be honest I dont see us winning it. But the noises that are coming out of the Lane (Keano, JJ and Robbo) seem to suggest that the players are really up for this one. Looking forward to a stomach cramping, high tempo game at the very least.

    By the way, there is a rumor going around that good old Ted Sheringham is coming back? Anyone knows anything?

    Dimitar Berbatov's Left Foot (Spur in Dubai)
  7. parj
    i have to disagree about the second string..... they are good players, but they dont have experience. Having just the spine is not good enough, you still need good quality players around them. A lot of spurs fans say our team is young and needs experience, so why does that not apply to Arsenal Reserves? They are younger, less experienced and still play great football, beat Liverpool, and come to WHL and get a 2-2 draw after being 2-0 down.

    The difference between the 2 sides is not experience or age, its the "want" to win. They have a winning mentality, the first team and the reserves, SPURS DONT. Dont believe me, watch the first leg again, watch the reading game, watch the fulham game etc...... Its not about just creating chances, its also about showing the determination to get back and defend, or playing ugly to win the ball back and keeping pressure on which is what we dont do.

    We have the players to be a top 4 side when it comes to ability, but there is also a mental side to it too, which i believe is where we struggle.
  8. banks_18
    Nail hits head ! Very well written mate. I think you put down in that article what most people actually think (some just have rather over the top ways of showing it). Like Jols said himself the only thing that really matters is winning things and he will solely be judged on that. Last season we fell at the final hurdle in losing to West Ham when it truly mattered. Tonight we have a chance to show our supporters that we're mad of tougher stuff ! To dare is to do !!!!
  9. jimbo
    The only thing is that Wenger got success pretty much immediately with the arse. Whereas we're still waiting for some.

    As is pointed out, he did inherit a better set-up and I'm not for one minute suggesting the situations are comparable, but it is still galling none-the-less.
  10. tommyt
    Thats because they are used to winning as they've been doing it consistantly for years. so with that comes the mentality. If you read the other posts then you must see that we are on a journey to become a great football team again, we are not there yet but on the right path.
  11. doom
    Great article although something is missing from the equation. In the last week we have played 2 totally different teams barring Lennon & Dawson. With Tanio and King back we can also put out 2 great teams. The difference with Arsenal being that our teams have been mixed together more.
  12. DCSPUR
    I would also like to point out that there "youth" team is not exactly a bunch of freebies. For instance they have Denilson - the Brazil U19 Captain who cost the same fee as Hudd and Lennon combined.
  13. riversmonkey
    The Key player for me is Jenas. Although we only played Southend last weekend, his return made a more dynamic forward running midfield. His ability as a counter attacking runner will give Arsenal something to think about.

    Our away form in cups this season has been pretty darn good, not many teams can get results against the likes of Besiktas, Levekusen and Cardiff City so lets be positive.

    I have not been this excited about a match for a long time. So come on Spurs lets get to Cardiff.
  14. Boaman
    Good article xzander, I enjoyed reading that.

    I was listening to the 606 crazy fools after the game and in truth the 'Jol out' brigade made me laugh with their stupidity. I just can't believe any Spurs fan can think another change of manager would be a fillip for success, like you said we have done that and it has never worked and a new manger would want new players and the whole instability thing would creep in again, like before and the time before.

    My view on this season is that we haven't moved as far forward as we did last season, which is disappointing at worst - not critical. I think our players and squad have got better but the team is worse off.
    I don't go by the notion we were 'given' 5th last season by other teams not performing, I believe we were easily the 5th team in the league and only a lasagne away from being 4th best. However this season we have struggled with the consistency that made us the 5th best team - like not losing more than one game in a row, or not letting in more than 2 goals in a game and never losing a game in which we scored 1st these were great stats, CL quality stats but we haven’t really kicked on from there which is my disappointment. However we are doing well in Europe and still in both cups (for a few hours at least) so there are plenty of positives to take from the season so far and it could turn out to be a very successful season. So to question Jol’s ability to do this job right now, in his 2nd full season is ludicrous and only the opinion of a minority I hope.
  15. topaz
    I’d like to add my handclap to the applause, xzander. I think you’ve expressed what the majority of us feel. Anyone crazy enough to contemplate life without Martin Jol can surely not be remembering clearly the wilderness of the last 15 years. Just in case anyone has actually forgotten how low we sank, I’ve dug out this little number from my computer. Read it (apologies for the length) and weep that we could ever have gone there…<o:p></o:p>
    <o:p> </o:p>
    George Graham, Antichrist<o:p></o:p>
    I am and will always be a Tottenham supporter - I have no choice about that, so deep is it etched in me. But I will not set foot in <st1:Street><st1:address>White Hart Lane</st1:address></st1:Street> while George Graham is manager.<o:p></o:p>
    I say this not out of tribal hatred of anything to do with Arsenal, though I admit am far from devoid of such feelings. I have the utmost respect for Arsène Wenger, who has such a belief in football played with style, skill and intelligence that he has successfully cast off the weight of decades of defensive Arsenal tradition. He has created a team that I reluctantly admire – of course I still want them to lose and would like his whole master plan for Highbury to go completely awry. But while he prevails and his team continue to play attractive football a good half of the antipathy I have always felt for Arsenal will remain dissolved.<o:p></o:p>
    George Graham, on the other hand, is in these terms the Antichrist - and not just because he was banned from the game for corruption. He is the very embodiment of everything that Tottenham fans most despise about Arsenal. An Arsenal player himself, he subsequently constructed as manager a side that was a byword for negativity, for soaking up the excitement and artistry in a game and then flushing it down the plughole of a grinding 1-0 victory that most neutral football-lovers would have to be paid to watch.<o:p></o:p>
    The Tottenham tradition has always been for attacking football played with skill, panache and flair. When I first saw the young Glenn Hoddle in a youth-team game at White Hart Lane I was in seventh heaven not just because of the outrageous ease of his control, the sublime quality of his long passing, but because he was so quintessentially a Tottenham player. <o:p></o:p>
    Every Spurs supporter has received a lifelong education in the traditions that Hoddle embodied - it is part of our sense of ourselves, let alone our sense of how football should be played.<o:p></o:p>
    It is why, amid all our troubles and travails over the last two seasons, we have still had solace in the consistent magnificence of David Ginola who, for all his French origins and his detour to <st1:City><st1:place>Newcastle</st1:place></st1:City>, has found at <st1:Street><st1:address>White Hart Lane</st1:address></st1:Street> a temple built on the worship of precisely the qualities he brings to the game. Yet you sense that if George Graham became manager the first player to find himself on the transfer list would be the same David Ginola.<o:p></o:p>
    I must admit I am still reeling from the news that Tottenham are pursuing Graham and prepared to pay millions to entice him away from <st1:place>Leeds</st1:place>. When the story first emerged in the press I dismissed it as routine tabloid speculation, unable to credit that anyone in a position of power at Tottenham could contemplate such idiocy. <o:p></o:p>
    When The Guardian ran the story for the second day running, on the eve of our home match with <st1:place>Blackburn</st1:place>, I became profoundly worried. I marched my children around from tabloid back page to tabloid back page in a state of high anxiety. I phoned up my father and my brothers (Spurs are, you will see, in our blood) to express my disbelief and wonder if we should be trying to organize a protest. They tried to calm me, saying ‘it’s not going to happen - it couldn’t happen’. <o:p></o:p>
    I wasn’t so sure - I could still remember how I felt when another former Arsenal player, Terry Neill, was appointed to replace the great Bill Nicholson (and what a disaster that turned out to be...). <o:p></o:p>
    Nevertheless there were enough anti-Graham chants around the ground during the Blackburn game to make me think that if any half-witted Board member were still contemplating this appointment they would have been forced to think again. <o:p></o:p>
    I comforted myself with the belief that even if Alan Sugar did not understand why George Graham is the last person on the planet who should be appointed manager at <st1:Street><st1:address>White Hart Lane</st1:address></st1:Street> then other Board members such as David Pleat and Martin Peters surely would.<o:p></o:p>
    Yet, lo and behold, Tottenham fans now find themselves trembling on the brink of a new era in which all that we hold dearest in football and in our own club will be torn apart. We will see a Tottenham team constructed in Graham’s own image. It will certainly concede fewer goals. It could hardly fail to win more games than the team did under Gerry Francis and Christian Gross. It might even win trophies. But I honestly believe that no Spurs fan would choose to win trophies with a team in the mould of Arsenal in the 1980s. And why on earth should we have to do so at a point where Arsenal themselves, under Wenger, have proved that you do not have to sacrifice your principles for success?<o:p></o:p>
    How has it been possible for Alan Sugar to be in charge at the club for as long as he has without understanding this, without having imbibed some of the Blanchflower spirit of ‘success with style’ which oozes out of every crevice of the club?<o:p></o:p>
    We all know that it does no good to threaten Sugar, that opposition only makes him dig in his heels. And he will not even be present at today’s game with George Graham’s <st1:place>Leeds</st1:place>, since he has a ‘prior engagement’ in <st1:State><st1:place>California</st1:place></st1:State>. But I see no alternative but to make the rafters echo with the utmost disdain for George Graham and all he stands for - and maybe then Graham himself will think twice, will realize that he would be leaving another club with dour traditions for two or three years of sheer hell. <o:p></o:p>
    <st1:Street><st1:address>White Hart Lane</st1:address></st1:Street> is not exactly renowned for its singing but today we have to sing him into submission. There may be no other chance for Spurs fans to stand up for the heart and soul of the club we love. <o:p></o:p>
  16. haxman

    Yeah, well said. We let Arsenal back into the game last week, there's no way they'd have scored twice if we'd kept up the slick flowing football we played in the first half, I actually think we'd have been out of sight heading to the shithole tonight. I can understand (but dont like) sitting back and defending in the last 15 mins, but for the whole of the 2nd half? When we were so much on top in the first half? If we don't make the final its our own fault and the damage was done in the first leg.
  17. JoeT
    Pretty well everybody posting here agrees that those "Jol out" 'fans', are being counter productive to what the club is trying to achieve long-term. However I feel that Jol should not be immune from criticism, especially in that game.
    His substitutions following Berbatov's injury were questionable to many of us, and almost certainly contributed to our poor second half. To my knowledge he hasn't admitted that he may have been in error, and I haven't seen any self-refection on his part at all. (Somebody did post that he could hardly do this publically, but why not?)
    If he is lacking some experience - and on this point most of us agree - why doesn't he have some help? I have posted this argument before and I will repeat it: Jol needs another assistant coach... not a Houghton, (and maybe I'm being unfair here, but I suspect C.H. tells Jol what he wants to hear much of the time), but a tactician who can firmly give a touchline opinon, while not undermining Jol's authority as head coach.
    Also another coach would be invaluable in training...maybe just working on defending set pieces for example, (how many times has Jol said after games "it's something we will have to work on") Is he just too stretched at times? Maybe Sheringham would be a good addition in this role?

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