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11.03.2006

Since my last web editorial there has been a lot that has happened, so we have a lot of catching up to do.

The arrival of the players in the August transfer window have been followed by Hossam Ghaly and Danny Murphy's signing in January.  The winter window also saw some outgoings with Pedro Mendes, Sean Davis, Noe Pamarot, Grzegorz Rasiak leaving the Lane.  Michael Brown also left to move across London to Fulham.  Perhaps the most illuminating departure was that of Rasiak.  Quite obviously a panic signing when it was nto possible to prise Kuyt away from Feyenoord, he came with a good goal-scoring record in the Championship and an international pedigree, but he showed in his first game what could have been.  A header against the bar and one disallowed against Liverpool, but that was as good as it got.  Some desperately poor performances and generally a lack of impact in the Premiership, he shone in the Reserves and scored some goals.  When it came to the first team, he had little to offer; mostly looking lost both in surroundings and out of his depth.  You would have expected him to have a good game in the FA Cup tie at Leicester, but he was bad even by Championship standards.  Interesting that now we have sent him off to SCBC, he has started scoring and playing well.  It should ensure our 2 million shelled out on him is paid back and perhaps he feels comfortable playing for George Burley again (his boss who took him to Pride Park).

Brown was always a player who gave 100% for the team.  He wasn't widely appreciated among Spurs fans, but he did a job that Martin Jol asked him to do.  I hope it goes well for him at Fulham, although current form might indicate otherwise.  As for the Pompey 3, it is a shame that we
a)   didn't see the best of Sean Davis, who suffered too many injuries
b)   lost Pamarot, who suffered by being replaced when injured and never really got another crack once Stalteri came in
c)   that Jol didn't fancy playing Mendes, who always looked classy when he played.
I am sure Harry will know what to do with them and with Mendes scoring twice in today's win over Manchester City, you just think he might have been capable of doing something for Spurs.

What we really needed in January was a big striker.  Kuyt is still playing hard to get and Feyenoord are bumping up his asking rate and for some reason, the club were not willing to go back for Dean Ashton, who looks like he will make a considerable impact in the Premiership.  Bringing in another midfielder in Murphy was to be expected once we had sold three in the transfer window.  The fact that we are supposed to have missed out on Portsmouth's Matthew Taylor shows that perhaps Jol is not sure about Lee's tenure of the left back slot and he has shown that if he has made a mistake, he will move quickly to remedy it.

But there may be a few other things for him to worry about at the moment.  On the other flank, Paul Stalteri is getting found out with alarming regularity.  His ability in the early stages of the season was to ensure that his opponent did not get past him.  Now, they are doing it more often than not and his hard-tackling start seems to have evaporated.  There is no doubt he has top experience and passes it onto his team-mates, but how long will it be before Stephen Kelly gets an opportunity to show what he can do again ?

And with a World Cup coming up, Jermain Defoe is constantly referred to in the media as being unhappy at not starting on a regular basis.  Robbie Keane has done well since coming in, looking more like the player we want him to be, which has obviously lead to him signing a new contract.  For Defoe, he has had limited on-pitch time and when he has played of late, he has scored (Charlton, WIgan).  However, he needs to get sharp and that preparation for the World Cup can only be by match play.  Perhaps Jol is playing a clever psychological game with him to get him fired up for a hot streak of scoring in our run-in to the end of the season.  His goals could make a big difference to Spurs and England in the next few months.

Murphy hasn't had much of a chance to shine, with him not being fully match fit, it has been a tough introduction for him.  Ghaly has been injured and with Davids paired with Murphy, there have been times when it looked a partnership that has been out-run and out-manouevred.  Jol likes to play players he knows and this appears to be even to the extent that he favours them when they are not totally 100%.  Playing a settled line-up has great benefits, but when one player is not fully fit, it leaves the side carrying them.  It may be possible with one player, but two make sit very difficult for the side to function properly.

Michael Dawson had formed an outstanding partnership with Ledley king at the back and looks a fine signing.  His dominance in the air has strengthened the team and his passing is another asset.  Hopefully, he will be with the club for some time to come, which is what we hope for Ledley as well.  Rumours of contract disputes over a new deal might have been exaggerated, as he still has two and a half years to run on his current deal.  As club captain and a fine performer in defence, he is the cornerstone to our future ambitions and I am sure the club will be able to find a way to satisfy our skipper and sign him up for a longer period.

Off the pitch, the main talking points of recent months have been the new club badge and the anti-gay chanting issue.  The badge was covered on the website and the general consensus was "So what ?"  There is not a great change in it, as it harks back to an older bade, but has supposedly been given a "contempory" look.  It's OK, but frankly, why bother going to all that trouble for such a minor change.

What did make more headlines was the threat of expulsion from the ground if fans were caught singing homophobic songs.  This followed one about Sol Campbell and was exacerbated by the News of the World story about Premier League footballers undertaking odd practices with mobile phones.  While this is an initiative to be applauded, it is a minority who take part in such behaviour and the lack of action in the past about racist abuse makes me wonder what will be done in this instance.

Rumours of a move away from White Hart Lane persist and the ground is currently sold out for every match because we have improved since the end of last season.  The need for greater capacity and the added revenue that brings is seen by the close proximity we currently have with the top three.  By getting into the Champions League, the money we can raise would elevate Spurs into the top few clubs in the country.  It has been touch and go for Arsenal this season as to whether they will have European football for their new stadium and that is always the risk, when spending big on a new ground.  But for Tottenham, a team on the up, it is surely a matter of time before we get back into Europe and then the club might really take off.

If the club do reach that stage, it will be down to one man.  Daniel Levy.  The chairman has done an outstanding job, in a dignified manner, in taking Tottenham on to the next step.  Some of the know-it-all presenters on TalkSport claim it has all happened by default, with Santini leaving and Jol being called up to take over.  However, it is my belief that Jol was always going to manage the club, but at the time, a big name was needed to show that THFC meant business.  The Dutch master has done a great job, but without the European style management structure in place, bringing in someone so quickly might not have been an option and even when Arnesen was poached by Chelsea, Damien Comolli was able to be added to the staff without causing any problems.

The reaction of the crowd at the Blackburn Rovers home match was quite unbelievable at times.  I hope that many of you were not sitting where I was, as there was so much negative comment coming from "supporters" around me that I wondered what was going on.  Constant abuse of players who were unable to play the way they wanted to because of Rovers' closing down and when Tottenham did hang onto the ball, there was general uproar, as we were not getting the ball forward quickly enough.  Heaven forbid that we get into Europe and have lots of the ball outside of the final third, as it appears a large majority of fans will wish they were watching Wimbledon of old.

As far as our league position goes, we have been in fourth for so long, you might assume that we will finish in that place at the end of the season.  However, it is not a foregone conclusion, with other clubs starting to breathe heavily down our necks (and not in an amorous way).  Having failed to beat any of the clubs above us so far this season, we will need to beat those around us that we still have to play.  The games against Bolton, Everton, Manchester City, Arsenal and even West Ham might be crucial to our fate.

While I have some minor gripes about our inability to keep the ball out of our net in the final minute of a game and why some decisions by Jol away from home seem to put ourselves no the back foot, when attack might be our best policy, any finish above where we did last season will be progress and while we are within touching distance of Europe, the expectation of where the club should be have been raised in line with our league position.  It is not necessarily a false position, but we have been helped by results of teams around us going our way.  Now let's stand or fall by our own results and take the possibilities in our own hands.  As always with Spurs, it will be a roller-coaster ride until 7th May.  All we can do is get behind the team and do what we can to help them on the way.

Keep the faith.


MY EYES HAVE SEEN THE GLORY OF THE CUPS AT WHITE HART LANE
MY EYES HAVE SEEN THE GLORY OF THE CUPS AT WHITE HART LANE
MY EYES HAVE SEEN THE GLORY OF THE CUPS AT WHITE HART LANE
AND THE SPURS GO MARCHING ON.

BRUCE CASTLE

 

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