Shaun Livingston writes ...

    Shaun's articles are as follows : -

    13.4.2001  -  The season so far
    22.4.2001  -  Sunderland & Chelsea
    27.4.2001  -  A little bit of quality
    6.5.2001    -  Leicester City
    9.5.2001    -  Darren Anderton
    16.5.2001  -  Coventry City Reserves and Sol
    21.5.2001  -  Kor he's good, transfers and youngsters
    11.6.2001  -  Leaving SOLely for Europe ??
    18.6.2001  -  Sheep in Wolf's clothing
    22.6.2001  -  New Fixtures, New Tottenham
    28.6.2001  -  Campbell, Bunjy and Bill
    3.7.2001    -  Walker, a 1 in 30 million chance and New Arsenal defender
    29.7.2001  -  4midable back 4
    12.8.2001  -  Fiorentina & the lightweight midfield.
    21.8.2001  -  Unfortunately Predictable

13.4.2001

         I think I speak on all Spurs supporters behalf when I say that this has not  been a good season.

         Former Arsenal boss George Graham had spend £16m in the summer on three players. Neil Sullivan came from relegated Wimbledon on a free transfer, which went relatively unnoticed in the shadow of Ben Thatcher's £5m move from the Dons and Ukraine striker Sergei Rebrov's £11m arrival.

             This gave many Spurs fans optimism for the forthcoming season.  We had smashed our transfer record to get the talented Rebrov, who used to play alongside current Milan superstar Andrei Shevchenko at Dynamo  Kiev.

      And many felt Ben Thatcher just needed a big club to realise his international dreams. He was one of the few naturally left sided defenders in England.

              As it turned out, it wasn't either of these two who proved to be our best signing. Thatcher hasn't got near the England squad and has been dogged by injuries for lengthy periods, and Rebrov has failed to set the Premiership alight, showing only flashes of his obvious talents. Neil Sullivan, however, must be a strong contender for signing of the season. So many times we could have been crushed by a large margin if it was not for our goalkeeper. His most notable performances were both against Arsenal - at White Hart Lane and at Old Trafford. Ironically, the team that seemed to be playing the "Tottenham" way were wearing red shirts.

             With our league form mediocre, including only one league win away from home all season and defeats by Coventry, Derby and 3-0 capitulations to Ipswich and Southampton, it seemed our only hope for success would come in the cup.

               Worthington Cup hopes were wiped out when a near full strength side fell to Nationwide League Birmingham. Although Birmingham went on to be eventual finalists, it really was the low point of the season.

        So we turned to the FA Cup. A standard 1-0 win away to Leyton Orient was followed by a magnificent 4-2 win away to Charlton. With the year ending in 1, could it be our season? Next up were Stockport, easily beaten 4-0, with a brace from youngster Simon Davies. Then came a tough test. West Ham at Upton Park, the conquerors of both Man United and Sunderland. A touch of rare magic from Rebrov, dogged determination from Doherty and Ferdinand, and some vintage goalkeeping from Sullivan gave us a great 3-2 win.

        Then came the real test, against one of the Premiership elite. Arsenal.

         But first, Graham was sacked. The reason given by vice chairman David Buchler was that he leaked details of a private meeting to the press and defiantly refused to apologise. The news divided Spurs fans everywhere.  Some felt it was awful timing, just before the most important match of the season, but others were just glad to see the back of the ex Gooner. My personal thoughts were that he should never have been appointed, but since he had been, we should have at least waited 'til the end of the season if we wanted to get rid of him. This would unsettle the team, ahead of one of the most important matches of the decade. But, there's no point crying over spilt milk, and we had to loom forward to the upcoming match at Old Trafford.

             Build-up to the match consisted of 1991 nostalgia and the "will they play, won't they" sagas regarding Campbell and Rebrov. I was one of those who breathed a huge sigh of relief when both names came up on the team-sheet, as I sat watching Sky TV.

              The match started. It seemed pretty even, and suddenly, Les Ferdinand, broke free from two defenders in the area to fire in a shot that Seaman did well to block. A fluffed Iversen rebound shot bounced to the head of Doherty who simply nodded past Seaman. I, like Spurs fans all over the country, jumped up in ecstasy, but I was probably only one of a few who managed to fall awkwardly, twisting my ankle, to prevent any further jumping in the match, and for a couple of weeks after that. Well, maybe I was the only one to do that!

           Obviously, someone above took pity on my ankle, and gave me no further cause to jump up, as Arsenal began to dominate. The rest afforded to my ankle was more than made up for on my nails, or the lack of them afterwards. It was inevitable that Arsenal would score, but first Sol Campbell had to be taken out of the game, which he managed to do himself, obviously hurting his own ankle in a challenge on Parlour. Now with Campbell out of the way, and a free kick given against him for all his troubles, Patrick Vieira was free to rise and head the free kick past Sullivan.

               The came chance after chance after chance for Arsenal. At last they got that elusive second goal, Pires sliding in to convert a low cross. It wasn't long 'til the final whistle was blown for time. The whistle called time on the match, and time on our season.

                Now, all we can do is look to next season. I for one, though, think that we can make our mark on the league next season. We have
one of the best goalkeepers in the Premiership, and in Rebrov, a potentially lethal striker. Think of the best strikers in the League right now. Heskey? Henry? Cole? All of these strikers took time to settle in at their new clubs. Remember our first impressions of these players? Heskey was an expensive flop who just fell over all the time. Henry? He was simply an ineffective replacement for Anelka. Cole? How could £7m be spent on a striker who couldn't hit a barn door? Now, who wouldn't want these players in their side?

              Rebrov will be a success, and next season, I think he can really terrorise defences.

                 As well as these two, we have the best right back in the League in Steve Carr. I am resigned to seeing Campbell leave, but Ledley King can become a replacement. He has done really well this season, and I think he can become one of our best players. Gary Doherty also has masses of potential.

         We also have a manager who loves the club, and has taken a team who traditionally flirt with relegation to the brink of Europe. I don't think anyone would disagree that he needs to make a few summer signings, but if he gets a few decent players, Spurs can become a force again. Personally, I think he should check out the availability of Beni Carbone, a skilful attacker who would cost nothing; John Hartson, who has proved himself to be up to the Premiership, and will want to leave if Coventry go down; Frank Lampard, who may cost a lot, but would really be worth it; Seth Johnson, an excellent young defensive midfielder and Stephen McPhail, currently not
getting a game at Leeds, but a great talent.
      

         Spurs can be a force, and Glenn Hoddle is a great coach. Next season, we should qualify for Europe.

By Shaun Livingston (15)

If you agree or disagree with anything I have touched upon in this article,
email me at:
Just_shaun@hotmail.com

 

22.4.2001

        It was an absolutely magnificent win against Sunderland, wasn't it?  2-0 down at half time, and a clever change of tactics from our new boss, and our injury-hit side responded by hitting back three times to make sure that our first away match under Glenn Hoddle would be a success.

        Gary Doherty again, proved to be our inspiration, and you may remember that I said before that he had masses of potential. He is showing us this time and time again, and although we've said "goodbye" to GG, we must remember his "good buy", equally comfortable upfront as he is in defence. His versatility is an added bonus to his obvious talents. 

        It will take a while for Glenn Hoddle to settle in and make his presence felt at Tottenham. His team is far from perfect, as the following 0-3 defeat to Chelsea showed, but he does seem to be making a good impression on his players, particularly the youngsters.
               
        21 year old John Piercy spoke earlier this week of how he felt Hoddle had given him a new lease of life. Under George Graham, he never got to play, but Hoddle is giving him a chance.  It is nice to see that Glenn Hoddle is carving a good relationship with his players, many of whom have praised him or voiced their excitement at the prospect of working with such a legend, but I don't think it is fair to condemn George Graham.  John Piercy's recent flirtation with the first team has more to do with injuries getting even worse since Hoddle's arrival than Hoddle spying untapped talent in the midfielder. 

               Although I must say that I am glad to have GH at the helm, GG did a lot for Spurs. I don't think he should have been appointed in the first place because of his Gooner connections, but when he was appointed, he got the side out of relegation form, won the Worthington Cup (dubbed the "worthless" cup when Leicester or Spurs win it, but when Liverpool win it, it signals their return to the big time) and signed some great prospects for the future, such as Doherty, Gardner, Davies and Etherington. Sullivan on a free transfer wasn't such bad business either.

         Although GG never made the kind of progress that he would have liked at Spurs, he still helped us through a difficult period, and although perhaps at the end of the current season, his time may have been up (depending on if he had won the FA Cup for us), I don't think it is right for any Spurs fans, or players, for that matter, to criticise him after all the good work he had done for us.

             Moving on to the Chelsea match, we had so many players missing against a hugely talented Chelsea team, we never looked like winning it, on paper, or on the pitch. The harsh decision to send Korsten off effectively ended our chances of getting anything from the match, and any faint hopes of sneaking into Europe by finishing 6th or 7th.  Glenn Hoddle had hoped to end our Chelsea jinx, but with the players available, it was always going to be an uphill struggle, although to lose by three goals to nil, at the supposed fortress that is White Hart Lane, was still disappointing. Hoddle will have a lot of work to do in the close season, not least to increase our strength in depth. 

      After the match, vice-chairman David Buchler tried to console dejected fans, and made all the right noises, although next season, the football should do the talking.  He promised that Tottenham would never again suffer the huge gap that exists between them and their London rivals.  He also said, most encouragingly that the club will pull all the stops out to ensure that Sol Campbell would stay at the club, although I myself think that he will leave at the end of the season. But  at least they're trying.

      Many fans may be disheartened that he appeared adverse to sending Hoddle on a spending spree, saying that it is possible to get quality players without spending "many millions at once."   To be honest though, I can see Buchler's point. While I don't think for a second that Spurs don't need a lot of new players, rashly spending millions on any old Carlos Kickabals may backfire on us. Cast your minds back to when Spurs last delved into Europe for new recruits. Tramezzani, Vega, Saib, Berti, and worst of all, Christian Gross, still make me shudder when I think about them.

               I think that GH needs to carry out thorough research on any possible signing before getting the chequebook out. He needs to check that they are not injury prone i.e. Korsten, Thatcher, the price is not too high, i.e. Ferdinand, Thatcher and most of all, that they aren't absolutely useless, i.e. Vega, Saib.  Even when we have stayed in England to find players, we have failed miserably to buy players who produced the goods. In fact, we seem to have wasted the most money buying players from the UK. Remember £4m Ruel Fox? An expensive Newcastle reject, who proved why he was a Newcastle reject. What about Andy Sinton? Although it cannot be said that he was a waste of money, (he came on a free) [Ed: - I think we did pay money for him - about £1.5.million], he was a waste of time and space. Chris Armstrong cost £4.5m, and although he scored a few goals for us, he's languishing in the reserves now. Thatcher cost £5m, and this season, it seems the transfer fee was £500,000 per game played. Even Les Ferdinand's price tag was far too high, between £4 and £6m, when he was 30 years old. Although now he is doing OK, I am sure the big man would be the first to admit that he has not really justified the sum of money paid for him.

             In fact, we're almost as bad as Middlesbrough!

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27.4.2001

It is obvious that Spurs need some quality signings urgently in order to be able to challenge for honours next season, but having more than five or six new players would probably work against us, as it would take a lot of time for each player to individually adapt to the Premiership (assuming we haven't signed them from the Premiership), and even longer for the team to gel together as one.
       The names we have been linked with are very exciting, e.g Guardiola, Petit, Shevchenko, but at the moment its all speculation. I can't think why any of these players would really want a move to Spurs. I know both Guardiola and Petit are unsettled at Barcelona, but would they really want to go from a team who just missed out on the UEFA Cup final, to a team who look likely to just miss out on  a top ten finish? As for Shevchenko, I have heard he wants to play with Rebrov, but would one of the best players in the world really want such a relatively small stage to perform on? I would love to sign this trio, but I am also a realist. Although Guardiola is a small possibility, we can forget Petit and Shevchenko.
               As I have said though, we don't need to sign more than five or six players. We do have some very good players at the club. Our fringe players must replace many of our first team players though. I would love to see Simon Davies given a more active role next season. He has done very well whenever he has been given the chance, and I think he, along with Ledley King, Anthony Gardner and Gary Doherty can emerge as a star next season.
     Against Liverpool, we showed that we have some great talents, and we simply need to utilise those talents, by giving them more chances next season.  To do this, some regulars will have to make way. Out with the deadwood and in with the youngsters. Tim Sherwood, Oyvind Leonhardsen, Chris Perry and Steffen Freund are all players who need to go. It is not as if we don't have anyone to replace them.  
            Our main weakness this season was our midfield. They simply did not pass the ball well enough, and were devoid of any creativity. Our defence is not too bad, with the classy Stephen Carr, the determined Gary Doherty, and of course, Sol Campbell.
             And of course, any attack that boasts Sergei Rebrov can be considered to be a force. I don't think much of Iversen though, who has been "one for the future" for too long now. The future is fast becoming the present, and I think we need to leave the feckless Norwegian in the past. 
     This season, we have had more than our fair share of injuries (I remember a quote from a TV programme about going on tours of White Hart Lane, and they said "you might just bump into a Spurs player on your tour ... but be careful, they'll probably strain a ligament!") and that has contributed to a mediocre season, but some of the first team regulars mentioned are just not good enough. When we had a "full strength" side against Arsenal in the FA Cup, we capitulated against our North London rivals.  Some may point to the fact that we only really went down when we lost Sol Campbell, but the likelihood is that the England international is on his way out of the Lane. We will have to cope without him, which is why Glenn Hoddle must put a centre half at the top of his shopping list this summer. 
      Hoddle himself has said that he sees the basis of a very good side at Spurs and with the likes of Davies, Doherty (man of the match in Ireland's recent world cup qualifier against  Andorra), Rebrov and Sullivan in our ranks, I think he just may be right. 
            Spend wisely Hoddle, and the future may just be white.

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6.5.2001

     I have heard through a reliable source (well, a tabloid newspaper) that Alex Ferguson, hurt by his Manchester United side's European KO is ready to try and lure Stephen Carr to Old Trafford. Well, with Gary Neville currently occupying the right back slot at United, it is hardly  surprising that he is looking for a replacement, but anything less than an outright refusal to negotiate over selling Carr from Spurs will be  unacceptable, just like any bid for Stephen Carr.

      We are currently, at best, a mediocre side, and if we lose one of our best players in Carr, the best right back in Britain, as well as Sol Campbell, I fear we may be dragged into a relegation dogfight, and although even without Campbell and Carr we are too good to go down, a season any worse than the one we have just had would be too hard to stomach. 

       Carr is not for sale at any price.

       Saturday saw our makeshift side lose 4-2 to Leicester, ending their run of nine successive defeats. Glenn Hoddle blamed poor defending and claimed that Leicester's penalty, which got them their fourth goal was earned by a dive from Calum Davidson.  However, he did acknowledge that Leicester deserved the win, saying that his forced usage of inexperienced players showed. He refused to criticise our youngsters though, who are showing a lot of promise.  He also says that talks with Campbell are going well, and he praised old friend Peter Taylor for Leicester's convincing performance.

       Leicester were, by far the better side, although Hoddle is right when he says that the inexperience of our players showed. If our injuries weren't so bad, we could have condemned Leicester to their ninth successive defeat with ease. Maybe it is a blessing in disguise, because a lot of fringe players are now gaining valuable experience that will stand them in good stead if they are required to play a bigger role in the team next season. Players such as Gardner are giving  Spurs fans a lot of hope for the future, and games like these can only help them mature into better players.  We are neither challenging for Europe nor fighting relegation so might as well give the kids a chance, which we have been forced to do anyway.  

     The high point of the match was definitely Carr's magnificent free kick, a feat he should be repeating for SPURS next season.  (Anyway, would Beckham really let Carr take any free kicks?)
             

      Before the match, I was looking forward to seeing Steve Guppy play, a player I have always admired and hoped that Spurs may sign. As it was, he easily outshone our own left sided player, Clemence. Guppy would really be a useful addition to our squad, with his pinpoint  crossing, and really almost anything would be better than Clemence.

        Anyway, to sum up, it was a learning curve for our youngsters, and in the end it will do more good than harm. As Hoddle said, we performed better in the second half, and really this result was meaningless for both sides in terms of League position. I accept that Leicester's win did mean huge psychological relief for Peter Taylor's boys. Roll on next season.  A bigger squad next season will mean injuries won't hit us as hard.  On the subject of injuries, Ledley King is on the road to recovery after damaging his cheekbone in the 3-2 win at Sunderland. It'll be good to have the combative young midfielder back in the side. He is one of the most promising of our current crop of youngsters, along with Davies and Doherty. 


        The only League match left is at home to Man U, who also have nothing to play for, although in a very different way to us. Lets hope Carr (put in the PFA team of the season despite being injured for lengthy periods) puts on another superb display, just to rub it in United's faces that we do have a at least one player that stands head and shoulders above any United player in his position.
             This Carr is remaining parked at the Lane.

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9.5.2001

Darren Anderton has signed a new contract which will keep him at Spurs until 2003, worth a reported £30,000 a week.

I remember when Anderton was one of our biggest assets, as well as essential to England's plans. The flying right winger ranked among the best in the country, (before David Beckham arrived onto the scene) and was loved by Spurs fans. He was my favourite player. Apart from his great talent, he was also very loyal, deciding to stay at Spurs when Manchester United were eyeing him up. 

Unfortunately, as we all know, his career has been plagued by injuries. This has resulted in a big loss of form, so although the Darren Anderton of a 2 or 3 years ago would warrant £30,000 a week contract, now this could turn out to be a big waste of money. We just have to hope that "Dazza" returns to full fitness, because if he does, and plays like he has the potential to, he can get back into the England frame, although I doubt he will manage to win back his once regular place in the side, with Beckham and McManaman also vying for his position on the field.

On top form, Anderton is a crowd's favourite and a class act. Let's just hope that he can gain his fitness again. Les Ferdinand, who last week, signed a new contract, would really benefit from his crosses.
We are also meant to have made a £7m bid for Petit, which has been accepted, and apparently we are just waiting to see if he wants to come. I don't believe a word of it. Although he would be a superb addition to the squad, the chances of him coming are "très Petit" 
 

       Anyway, the FA Cup final looms, and I think it would be rude not to mention it. George Graham, free of his Tottenham links can concentrate on supporting the Scum. On the outcome of the match, he says that whoever scores the first goal will win. My prediction? 9-0 to Liverpool, and Barmby (a former favourite) scores all 9 of them. My real prediction? 1-0 to Liverpool, and it's an own goal, or a penalty or something like that. I also reckon/hope Vieira will get sent off.

 

          Well, I think that's enough of my sour grapes. Roll on next season, when maybe we can go one step further in the magical FA Cup. Then, maybe we can wipe the infuriatingly smug grins on the faces of idiotic people who say "I thought you won things when the year ends in one? Perhaps, also, you don't win things when the year starts in two?" Pathetic!

                     Anyway, so Anderton and Ferdinand have signed new deals, so who is the SOL contract rebel?  Well, Buchler says that Spurs will fight all the way to keep him at the club, and that Barcelona, the latest club linked with Campbell's signature, will have "a hell of a fight on their hands" to get him.  Unfortunately, I think this fight will have the same result as the fight Harry Redknapp (who's parted company with the Hammers, today, incidentally) put up to keep Rio Ferdinand at Upton Park, except it will include 18 million pounds less than with the West Ham's situation.  It sounds pretty sensational, but if Barcelona are interested in Campbell, who is definitely leaving, folks, (I mean, what would keep him at White Hart Lane, the new contract being signed by "Sicknote" that signals our ambition? Maybe a cup or two would help, but its too late now), and we are reportedly interested in Petit, how about a little swap deal?
        It'll never happen, but it sounds interesting. 
 
*If you agree or disagree with anything I have touched upon on this article, email me at Just_shaun@hotmail.com

 

16.5.2001

Although we have had another painfully mediocre season in 99/00, one tiny consolation has been our form in the reserve league. On Tuesday, we just needed a win against Coventry's second string to cement second place in the league, behind champions Derby. (Maybe the Rams ought to take a closer look at their reserves?) We lost. 2-1. We didn't play very well and the Sky Blues deserved their win, our goal coming from a flukey, mis-hit Toner shot. But the really sad thing is that Walker and Etherington got themselves sent off. Not for bad tackles or even good tackles that the shortsighted ref deemed to be illegal. Not for handball inside or outside the box respectively, but for using foul, abusive language.

                 Now any player should be ashamed of being dismissed for this kind of offence, but for these particular players, they should be even more determined to concentrate on letting their football do the talking. There's Ian Walker, who has moaned all season at not being given a fair crack of the whip, although Sullivan's form throughout the season gave George Graham no choice but to stick with the Scot. However, Walker still thinks that he should be the man between the sticks. This kind of behaviour will really not help him wrest the goalkeeper's jersey from Sullivan. He will be an absolute liability if he acts like this, especially added to the fact that he is prone to silly mistakes sometimes.

            And what about Etherington, an exciting young prospect signed from Peterborough along with Simon Davies. Since joining, Davies has broken into the first team squad whilst Etherington has only had a few cameo roles. Now, I cannot say that attitude has helped each player get to their respective status at Spurs, because I simply don't know, but it does seem interesting that the one sent off for abusive language was the one that has not got into the first team squad. Was it previous examples of this kind of behaviour from Etherington that has sidetracked him in his bid to get into the first team squad? It is not certain, and I am not saying that he has done anything like this before, but am suggesting that if he has, then it could have helped to deny him access to playing in the Premiership for Spurs.

                  Both will receive suspensions at the start of the season, which means that Walker won't be given a chance at the start of the season, because he himself has blown it and Etherington won't be allowed to be in the squad, when maybe, if he worked hard over the summer, he would have been allocated. I am sure that the suspension will make the pair learn their lesson. If they do continue to behave like this, they will never get a chance in the squad because of suspension and the gaffer's concerns that if he does use them, he will end up with 10 men on the field.

           Anyway, onto the first team, Chris Perry has become the latest person to offer his opinions on Sol Campbell. He says that Tottenham should break the bank to keep Campbell. Thanks, Chris we didn't think of that. 

            Barcelona and Chelsea, amongst other interested clubs can easily match or even beat whatever salary we offer Campbell, and the only way we can get him to stay is to convince him, as Perry also says, that his heart is at White Hart Lane. However, I think the key to this is cups, and Sol is no mug. He'll leave alright, so brace yourself.  He wants a side that can win silverware, and unfortunately, Tottenham are not good enough for honours yet. Maybe some shrewd summer signings from Hoddle can change that, but I think it is already too late to convince the defensive rock to stay. It'll be heartbreaking to see him leave, and I just hope we'll be able to plug the huge gap he'll leave behind.

             Arsene Wenger says he admires Campbell. Good, good. Not many Spurs players are admired by Arsenal. "But", says Arsene, "it is too early to decide whether I'll try to sign them". Mr. Wenger, do not even go there. Sol Campbell has been at Tottenham for a very long time now, and must have picked up on our feeling towards your club! I do think Campbell values the big fan-base he has at Spurs and would be loathe to risk it by moving to our most hated rivals. It is not too early to decide whether you should try to sign Campbell, Mr. Wenger. Make that decision now. Don't. I know that your defence is rapidly ageing and will crumble imminently, but don't try and get Campbell. You do not stand a hope in hell.

 
If you agree or disagree with anything I have touched upon in the article above, feel free to email me at
                  Just_shaun@hotmail.com

 

21.5.01

                 Well, at least we ended another instantly forgettable season on a high note. A 3-1 win against a Manchester United side, who, despite having nothing to play for after their title rivals fell way short of them months ago, looked like they were up for a battle at White Hart Lane. However, Willem Korsten turned in his best performance since signing for Tottenham and we won convincingly 3-1. Hoddle was delighted with his side, praising his "inexperienced team" generously.

                  Of course, there is still a lot of work to be done, a lot of which should be carried out in the summer, but the young guns coming through give us a lot of reason for encouragement. Gardner, Davies, Doherty and King are just four youngsters who look like they have bright futures ahead of them. All have international experience, be it for their respective under-21 sides, or the senior side, except Gardner, who has recently been drafted into the England U-21 squad. Davies has been picked for the first time in the senior Wales squad after great performances for the Wales U-21s and Spurs, Doherty is now an established member of the senior Eire squad, and King is a key player in the England U-21s.

                 Although in Hoddle's seven league games so far, our results have been dubious (10 points from a possible 21), he can hardly be expected to start working miracles just yet. Next season, when he is with us from the start will test his managerial talent. I think he can rise to the challenge and have us playing in Europe in a couple of years.

                    Willem Korsten is finally starting to look fit, and dangerous. I really think that next year he can make the left flank at White Hart Lane his own, and that he will start to look the player that had Leeds falling over themselves to sign after a loan spell at Elland Road, with Tottenham nicking him from Leeds' jaws at the last minute.

                            We do seem to like nicking potential Leeds signings, incidentally, like John Scales, and Ramon Vega, although Leeds have probably seen, with hindsight, these three players moving to Tottenham instead as  blessings in disguise. Hopefully, Korsten can prove his worth next season. His two strikes against United were good goals, and he had a fine all-round game.

                   As I have said many times before, a few decent signings, and we may have a team capable of finishing in the top six. A creative central midfielder, a predator in the box and a central defender should be on our list of priorities.

             Les Ferdinand has signed a new contract for two years, and although he has not been one of our best signings in the past few years, he is still a useful squad player, and I imagine that the younger players would look up to him, because although he has not spent his best years at Tottenham, his achievements at QPR and Newcastle were fantastic, in terms of goals, and perhaps he could become a coach when he does finally hang his boots up.

                  Anyway, this summer, Hoddle needs to be busy, looking for players to improve the side. Apparently we're close to signing Yugoslavian defender, Goran Bunjevcevic, and although he is a relative unknown, so was Franck Leboeuf, Sami Hyppia and Lucas Radebe when they arrived on these shores.

               Other players we have been linked with, such as Petit, Guardiola and Lampard, seem to have not much substance, but we shall see.

 If you agree or disagree with anything I have touched upon in this article, you can email me at Just_shaun@hotmail.com

 

11.6.2001

So, Sol's upset about how Tottenham have treated him?

       He's upset that we have made his wage demands public, and denies asking for anything like the amount that Spurs have said that he is asking for.

        If, like he claims, he is not money mad, then he will settle for a "paltry" £50,000 a week at Liverpool or Manchester United.  There, he will get Champions League football, which, of course, is why he is leaving.

        He makes a point of saying how loyal he has been to the club, but when asked if he is going to move to deadly rivals Arsenal, he says "I have not decided yet".  Not, "Having been a Spurs player for a decade, I would not consider moving to their arch rivals", but "I have not decided yet".  Besides, it was hardly loyal to keep the club guessing for two years as to whether he was going to stay or not.  I myself, had made my mind up at the start of this season that he was going to leave at the end of his contract, and I think that Campbell also knew that he was going to leave.  But, 
instead of telling us before so we could have offloaded him for a hefty price, he decided to wait, and wait, keeping us guessing, but always knowing what he would do in the end.

          So now, we are going to lose our best player, and easily one of the best centre halves in the country, for nothing.  He has hardly been loyal.  He has behaved disgracefully, and has lost the club a potential £10m+ sum.  If he does decide to go to Arsenal, which I am still hopeful that he will not do, he will have become Public Enemy Number One at the Lane, if he is not already that now, and would not enjoy 
an easy ride whenever he returned to the Lane.

           Let me make it clear that I do not begrudge Sol wanting to leave.  A defender of such quality deserves to play in Europe, and we have not been able to offer him European football, except for a brief period in 98-99 when we fell at the second hurdle, albeit in an extremely unlucky fashion.

           But what I do object to is the way he has gone about it.  Instead of mucking us about for so long, not saying anything about his future, he should have shown some loyalty and told the club he was going to leave, before his contract had expired.  I remember reading Spurs Monthly magazine about 6 months ago, and it featured an interview with him, in which he was asked directly if he was going to leave the club 
at the end of the season.

          However, he simply avoided the question totally.  In reply to a "Will you be leaving Spurs at the end of the season", he said "No one can deny that I have played my heart out for the club. " I'm sorry, did you not hear the question. Well, perhaps he misheard the question to such an extent that he heard it as "Can anyone deny that you have played your heart out for the club?"  Or perhaps not.  Perhaps he was just trying to string us faithful, adoring fans along, giving us a straw to clutch at, which he has mercilessly yanked out of our reach, and hurled to the dusty floor (A bit over-dramatic, but you get the gist of it).

           And, we don't need people like Darren Anderton condemning the club for not doing enough to keep Campbell.  Does he not think that his energy would be better spent trying to prove to the club that he is worthy of a place in the team than pushing his luck with a club that has remained so loyal and patient towards him during his injury nightmare.  He is a good player, and I think he can prove it this season, but we do not need someone talking before he is even walking. In other words, shut up and get fit.

          Anyway, on a lighter note, the signings of Sheringham and Poyet have been encouraging, Poyet in particular.  Sheringham is 35, but still has one of the shrewdest soccer brains in the business, and he even rejected a last minute plea from Fergie to come back to Spurs.  No one can deny that his time was better spent at United than wasting his prime at aimless Spurs, but it is good to see the clever striker back.  Although his role has been transformed at United from the goalscoring predator he was at Spurs to a chance creating attacker at United, he will come in very useful to us and should help Rebrov with his intelligent running and passing.

          Gustavo Poyet is just what we need, a creative, goal getting midfielder, to play in the centre.  I am sure Tim Sherwood and Steffen Freund have their attributes (!), but we really need some creative influence in the middle of the middle.  He gets a lot of goals, and really is a force coming forward.  I don't know what possessed Ranieri to freeze 
him out, (probably the same thing that possessed him to leave out sublimely skilful 
Dane Jesper Gronkjaer), but Poyet has been magic for Chelsea when he has played 
for them.  He is 33, but at a reported £1.25m, he is good business, especially when you consider that we sold 33 year old Ginola to Villa for £3m, and what a good piece of business that has been!  I always knew his natural position would be in the sweeper role!

          Hoddle is starting to shape the team the way he wants it, and so far, it looks good.  Hopefully we can shore up the hole that "mud" will leave, Anderton will stop whingeing and start crossing, and Rebrov, alongside Sheringham will fulfill his obvious potential. 

If you agree or disagree with anything I have touched upon in this article, you can email me at Just_shaun@hotmail.com

 

18.6.2001

    Arsenal fans were left gutted on Sunday as a Rivaldo inspired Barcelona crushed rivals Valencia to secure qualification for the Champions League.  The world class Brazilian scored a hat-trick to ensure that they will be playing in Europe's top competition next season, and will have Sol Campbell on their books to bolster their campaign.

                       Sorry Arsenal.

 

      I'm glad that he's going abroad, so we don't have to see him much, although the English media will be desperate to record his every move in Spain, at least for the first few months, but the arrogance of the man defies belief.
     

     He failed to turn up to a meeting that Liverpool had arranged privately for him to discuss the possibility of moving to the club. Then he tells Barcelona that he will only consider joining them if they qualify for the Champions League. Although when you consider that Liverpool beat Barcelona on their way to the UEFA Cup final, perhaps he would pick up more silverware at Anfield. But if Barcelona can offer more money, who cares about cups? That's not really what football is about. Football is about earning as much money as possible and making as many enemies as possible. 

      Though I don't really want to talk much about him any more. He doesn't really deserve any publicity, I will say this. Campbell is Tottenham's very own Nicolas Anelka. "Nicolas who?" I hear you all cry. Well, Nicolas Anelka was once an Arsenal striker, who demanded  an obscene amount of money to stay at Highbury. Wenger flatly refused, and sold him to Real Madrid for a cool £23m. I hate to admit it, but a shrewd piece of business by Wenger, who bought the troublesome frog for £500,000.  Anyway, Nicky obviously wasn't as good as he thought, and he failed to live up to expectations at the Bernabeu, and is now living a relatively low profile life at Paris SG, who finished mid table in the mediocre French League last season.

 

       I expect Sol to suffer a similar fate. Whilst everyone has something to say about this £130,000 a week saga, an important fact has been overlooked.  Whisper it, but Sol Campbell is not that great a player. This guy, who thinks he is worth £130,000 a week, is not even the best defender in the Premiership. Campbell or Stam? I know who I'd rather have. Campbell or Les's cousin, Rio? I know who I'd rather have. Campbell or Hyppia? I know who I'd rather have.  And, being so hated by everyone, I predict he will suffer a massive loss of form. But Sol was never one of the best in the world anyway. 

 

       Although he is a superb shot stopper, he is not very good at bringing the ball out of defence. So, although his tackling is probably second to none, his ability to actually keep the ball once he has got it really does leave a lot to be desired. And its certainly not worth £130,000 a week. £130 a week best sums up the defender's ability to bring the ball out of defence.  

 

        Finally, if he is worth that £130,000 a week, then what are players like Rivaldo, Thuram and Raul worth? Sol is good, but is not world class, by any stretch of the imagination. He is certainly not worth £1.3m every 10 weeks. Especially when you consider that with around that amount of money, we have signed the Footballer of the year, and the classy Gustavo Poyet.

      Anyway, he is in the past. A possible newcomer is Christian Ziege. Anyone who saw the full-back play for Middlesbrough will be satisfied of his quality. He has lost his way at Liverpool, but is a quality player. Besides, we have a tradition of signing Liverpool rejects and turning them into... Tottenham rejects (Scales, Leonhardsen). However, the difference is that Ziege is a quality, experience international player whilst it is hard to define the other two.  

 

      If we did get Christian, it would spell the end for the Spurs career of the thuggish Ben Thatcher. Although he has said he would welcome the challenge of a fight for his place, he does not come close to the classy Ziege. Whilst Ziege's best assets are his tricky feet, Thatcher's best assets are his elbows.   The time has come for Big Ben to leave. He was never worth £5m and there is no way we could recoup the money by selling him, but I think we should cut our losses, because he is a liability.

 

       Our other full-back, Stephen Carr, has been linked to Barcelona.  Not so long ago, he was linked to Manchester United. Carr is going nowhere. The Catalan giants are welcome to the arrogant Sol, but Carr is one of a few potentially world class players we have at the club (Rebrov and Davies would complete this list), and there is no price at which we can sell him. He is classy and consistent, and next season, I would give him the captaincy.  That, somewhat bizarrely, has been promised to Tim Sherwood, to try and prevent him from moving to Wolves. With this baffling gesture comes a statement form David Buchler that Hoddle will build the team around Tim.

 

       A captain must be influential, respected and vocal enough to get his thoughts heard. Whilst I would not fault the former Blackburn player on the last attribute, I cannot see how he can influence the players to up their game when he has been so awful for the past season. The same goes for having the respect of the players. How can the players respect him when he has done nothing of note to help the team since his arrival?  
                                       Throw him to the Wolves, I say.  
Hopefully Sherwood will show a bit of heart, and feeling for Spurs... by leaving, although this good deed would probably be cancelled out by the cruelty he would impose on Wolves. But, we're in the Premiership, and so deserve better!

      With him gone, I think Poyet and Davies in the centre could be a potentially lethal combination, who will provide plenty of chances for Rebrov and Sheringham/Ferdinand upfront. You will see there is no place for either Steffen. Neither the dull German nor the dizzy Norwegian (ruled out for the whole of next season after a series of concussions) are good enough for Tottenham, and we must try to sell both of them.

 

        We may get some poor suckers who remember Freund from his Dortmund days, when he looked a little like a football player, but unfortunately, it looks like we're stuck with Iversen. A club is hardly going to want someone who cannot stay conscious. Why didn't we sell him to PSV, who came in with a generous £5.5m offer a year or two back?
 

         My message to Hoddle is, sign more players, and get rid of the deadwood.

If you agree or disagree with anything I have touched upon in this article, you can email me at Just_shaun@hotmail.com

 

 

22.6.2001

We will kick off the season at home to John Gregory's Aston Villa, where we will finally see the new look Tottenham playing a competitive match under Glenn Hoddle. Villa, like Spurs, had a mediocre season, and like Spurs, will be looking to bolster their squad with a few decent summer signings. So far, former Spurs target Hassan Kachloul has been added to their side, and chairmen Doug Ellis promises there are more to come.

              I think that there will be a lot of new faces coming in and out before the big kick-off at both clubs, but it certainly won't be the easiest of games, although it is good that we start the season at the Lane. They are very resilient, and we drew 0-0 to them in the same fixture last season. 

           We then travel to Everton and Blackburn, both of whom will probably be fighting relegation next season. All in all, not too demanding an opener, and hopefully we can get off to a good start, which will give us confidence for the rest of the season. 

           But, before the start of next season, we need a few more players. Christian Ziege now admits talking to Glenn Hoddle about a possible move to Tottenham, and he says he was impressed, but had not decided his future yet because there were two other clubs trying to sign him. One of these two clubs is reportedly Bayern Munich, and to be honest, if I was in Christian's position, I think I'd opt for the best club in Europe. (And no, I don't mean Tottenham!) However, hopefully Hoddle can persuade the classy German to join, if only to keep Ben Thatcher out of the side. 

               Although David Buchler has promised that more big name signings will be on their way, at the moment there don't seem to be any more deals in process, and if there are, they have been kept top secret. But, there is no need to worry. The big kick-off is almost two months away, and there is plenty of time to strengthen the squad with at least 3 new signings, excluding Ziege. 

                        However, we do seem to have quite a good side at the moment. Sullivan is undoubtedly a quality keeper, whilst Carr, Doherty and Bunjevcevic are 3 very good defenders. Thatcher is a liability, but hopefully Ziege will have his position. If not, then we must look for another left back, or resort to Luke Young, although his best position is in the centre. 

            On the right wing, Anderton is getting himself fit, and I think he will get better as the season goes on. We probably need cover for him in the unlikely event that he gets injured (!), but if he stays fit, his passing and crossing is a real asset to us. On the left, Korsten still has to prove himself, but I think he may prove himself up to the challenge. After all, there was a time when Leeds were desperate to sign him., (although there was a time when they were desperate to sign Ramon Vega and John Scales!), so he must have some degree of ability.

                   I think that in the centre, we should have Poyet, whose class and experience must make him one of the first names on the team-sheet, especially regarding our total lack of creativity last year, and Davies, a fantastic young player who is destined for great things. Upfront, we should have Sheringham and Rebrov. Due to his age, we should probably rotate Teddy with Ferdinand. They both have their different assets, and it would be a healthy mix to rotate them sometimes. 

                 On the subs bench would be Ian Walker (still an OK shot stopper, although he looks extremely dodgy on crosses), Anthony Gardner (an exciting  young prospect, who can succeed Sol Campbell eventually), Ledley King (a tigerish young defensive player), Oyvind Leonhardsen (Sub-standard midfielder, but we don't have any better ones) and Les Ferdinand (or Sheringham, depending on rotation). 

                       Some players are just surplus to requirements. Chris Perry looked a great player at Wimbledon, but just looks out of his depth now. Perhaps he has been overawed at being at such a big club. Ben Thatcher is a thug, and doesn't deserve a place in any team. Besides, he can't defend anyway. Steffen Freund, for all of his determination, just can't play football. He can't pass, tackle, dribble or do anything that once made him a key player for Dortmund. The same goes for his English equivalent, Tim Sherwood. My analysis of him would be the same as the one for Freund, except replacing the word "Dortmund" with "Blackburn." Steffen Iversen, who says that he is actually not going to miss the whole of next season, and that he is going to pre-season training as normal, is just not really up to the Premiership. He misses too many chances, and never looks very lively. As I have said, we should have sold him when PSV came in for him. We rejected the bid though, and he has repaid our faith in him with.. endless mediocrity and concussions. And, Chris Armstrong, needs to go too. One of the biggest wastes of money at £4.5m, he was an OK player at Crystal Palace, scoring about nine goals for the Eagles when we signed him, so what one earth made us think that he would be any good for Spurs. Although he briefly made the critics eat their words with a goal spree, they quickly came spurting back out when he went back to appalling mediocrity.

                  If all of these players were sold, then we would get a hefty sum overall. Perhaps about £15m, or even higher, if some poor mug comes in with a high bid for Iversen. This money could be put to great use by Glenn Hoddle. Sell them, Glenn! And leave Sherwood to go to Wolves. When a club comes in with a bid for one of your worst players, do not reject the bid, offer him the captaincy and then promise to build the team around him! Just accept the bid! I think it was Buchler who did this, but hopefully Hoddle will decided to offload him, and the other seven people I have cited as surplus to requirements.

                We have got too much deadwood, and Hoddle needs to get rid of them just as much as he needs to sign new players. Go on Glenn. 

If you agree or disagree with anything I have touched upon in this article, you can email me at Just_shaun@hotmail.com

 

28.6.2001

            We have finally obtained a work permit for Yugoslavian defender Goran Bunjevcevic, and his £4m transfer from Red Star will be a mere formality now. Although he is hardly a well-known player, Franck Leboeuf, Sami Hyppia and Ronny Johnsen were all unknown foreign defenders who came to their clubs and did a good job. £4m is quite a hefty sum for a defender, so hopefully he will plug the gap that C*mpbell will have left when he leaves (for Barcelona hopefully).

            At the moment, Spurs have been finding it hard to talk to new players about coming to White Hart Lane. At this time, nearly every player is soaking up the sun, and blowing their extortionate wages on various luxuries, on holiday. However, Hoddle's assistant John Gorman says that at the start of July, Tottenham will step up a gear in their search for new players. 

            We still need a top goalscorer, hopefully a proven one that will  settle in quickly. We do not need another Rebrov, not in terms of adaptability, anyway. The little Ukrainian had a torrid time in his first year at Spurs, but he obviously has talent, and hopefully has settled in well enough to start showing in regularly. Steffen Freund has backed him to score a hatful of goals next season, and with Freund behind him (not on the pitch, though), I am sure that he will have the confidence to do just that. Lets just remember how long it took the likes of Bergkamp and Henry to settle in at Highbury. 
            Another centre half would not go amiss either. Though we do have a lot of talented youngsters who can play in defence, a proven, experienced defender would help the likes of Gardner, Doherty and King immensely. Also, we need a bigger squad, because it will come in handy in the unlikely event that we get injuries(!)

             But, at the moment, all is quiet on the Tottenham front. It is, however, refreshing to see the latest goings on at our dear neighbours, Arsenal, who once again (remember Nicky Anelka?) , have a talented, but moody Frenchman on their hands. It has been great to hear Vieira slagging off the club, and saying how they lack ambition. Hopefully, his prophecy that they will not finish in the top five next season will come true. But, with Arsenal fans all laughing at us for the C*mpbell situation, it is nice to see it happening to them. And, Patty is truly their most influential player. If they lose him, I honestly cannot see them reaching the Champions League next season. In fact, I can see them going through a sad decline, and they will be playing in Division 2 in 5 years. OK, that's a little optimistic, but I can't see them challenging the other reds for the title next season, the season after next and so on. Wenger would probably kill for our talented young defenders, when he looks at his ageing stoppers. Buying a jug eared attacker who's price works out at 1.33 million pounds per goal last season, probably has not got Van Nistelrooy's side quaking in their boots.        

                Moving on, once again, Bill Nicholson has been criminally omitted from the Queen's Birthday Honours. Who does she think she is? Or, perhaps, who does she think Bill Nicholson is? Obviously, she can't know that he was the man who's side achieved the first League and Cup double, or she would have been falling over herself to give the man a knighthood. Never mind, Bill. You'll always be a knight to us Spurs fans. The Queen just doesn't appreciate a decent manager. She may be the Queen, Bill, but you are the King! Nicholson is more than a good manager. He is a credit to football. In an age when greed and corruption rules the game, there remains only a handful of good, honest hard working individuals, and they don't come more honest than Bill Nicholson. All Spurs fans, go to www.geocities.com/harryhotspur61 and sign a petition to give one of the most honorable figures in the game a prefix of Sir in his title.  65 years of loyal service alone should warrant some kind of reward, so for shaping one of the best, and most legendary sides of the last half century deserves nothing less than a knighthood. 

                  Anyway, back to the current side, and Spurs fans not travelling to away games will be able to see the side play at Goodison Park live on Sky TV. The match will be our second of the season, and the new look Tottenham will still be finding its feet. It is a good chance to show other fans what a force we are, and I am sure that we can impress viewers and comfortably beat an Everton side who have already lost Jeffers, and will be losing Michael Ball soon. I would be surprised if the Toffees finished higher than 15th next season.                Come on you Spurs.  

If you agree or disagree with anything I have touched upon in this article, you can email me at Just_shaun@hotmail.com

 

3.7.2001
           
            Well, Shevchenko has signed a new contract at Milan, to quell rumours that we were supposed to be signing him for £30 million. We had high hopes of signing him, because we had his Ukrainian strike partner Rebrov and thought he might like to join him. A tad optimistic, perhaps? Whilst Shevchenko may like playing with Rebrov, I am sure he also likes winning things and although things are looking up for Spurs with Hoddle at the helm, I don't think Shevchenko will have heard of the up and coming youngsters Doherty, Gardner, King and Davies, nor will he have observed the shrewd signings of Sheringham and Poyet, so he knows nothing about our ambition! Why would he want to join a team who failed to finish in the top ten of the Premiership last season? Why would he leave the beautiful city of Milan for London? Why would he want to play in a team that could possibly contain Chris Perry? I think I've made my point.

             I like fantasy as much as the next guy. In fact, it plays an important role in my life. I will not go into further detail, but my point is that fantasy should never be portrayed as fact. That is unforgivable. So when the press start saying that we are going to sign Shevchenko and trying to make Spurs fans believe this silly story, I really do get quite annoyed. Then to top it all off, they make it completely unbelievable by saying that Milan would want Iversen in exchange! What do they take us for? I am surprised that Cinderella and Rumpelstitskin have not entered the equation yet. It is pure fairy tale. 

              Looking more realistic, though, is the imminent transfer of Ian Walker to Leicester. Its beginning to become clear why Taylor was so much better at managing the England Under 21s than a club. Transfers. He spent £5m on Heskey wannabe and fail-to-be Ade Akinbiyi and now is offering a reported £3m for Walker. Lets us pounce on this gift right away! Sell him now! One of the worst keepers ever to wear the England jersey, Walker has become disillusioned at losing his place to Neil Sullivan. We must thank Graham for the superb move of signing Sullivan. Not only did it net us a brilliant goalkeeper for free, but it also made the erratic Walker want to leave.
              Walker came up through the ranks to get into the first team at Spurs.  He even went to Lilleshall (the FA's school of excellence), but somewhere it all went wrong. A colourful array of errors over the past couple of seasons has always made Tottenham want to look for another keeper and finally we got one last year.  Walker wants first team football to help his international dreams (!), and who are we to stand in his way. Good luck Ian, and hope to see you between the sticks when Leicester visit the Lane. No, I really do. With Walker in goal, we'll have a lot of fun.
               Our hopes of signing Ziege looked to have been dashed when he said he would prefer a move to Schalke. However, they say that his wage demands are too high and so are not going to buy him. I am not sure if that leaves the door open for us to sign him again and I don't even know if Hoddle will be too hurt by his initial rejection of Spurs to try and get him again. Hopefully he will, because he is a quality left back and we don't have any of them at the Lane. If we don't get him, perhaps we could go for John Harley? I know Chelsea want to keep him, but he may want to leave if Graham Le Saux keeps blocking his path to the first team. Otherwise, we could try and get Michael Ball from Everton. He looks to have a great future ahead of him, and although he may cost a bit, he would be worth it, if only to keep Ben Thatcher out of the side.
                I think that our priority must be to sign a left back, because in all other positions, we have capable, or just about capable, players, although we must add to our strength in depth. We must attend to this urgent problem before then start of the season. We need Ben Thatcher like we need a hole in the head, which he'd probably punch, given half the chance. Its an old joke, but his position is "Left-back in the changing rooms".           

                 Darren Anderton reckons he has nothing to prove to Spurs fans after signing a new contract. Well, there probably is at least one thing he has to prove. His fitness. The guy has not played for the last two years. People have probably forgotten what he looks like. On a new £30,000 a week contract, he has a lot to prove. He has to prove he is worth that kind of money. 

                 I think, that when he plays like he is capable of playing, then he will be worth every penny of it, but he does have to prove that he can play like he used to, week in, week out. Really, he should keep his mouth shut and let his football do the talking. He's not the master of tact. He hardly endeared himself to fans already weary of his constant injury problems, by criticising the club recently and saying he may leave, and now, he is being defiant. Shut up, Darren and start playing football. Its what you're best at.


                   Hey, has anyone heard about the new Arsenal signing? Apparently, they've broken their wage structure to sign some loser of a defender who thinks he's a lot better than he really is! 

            Football's a funny old game. But I'm not laughing.

If you agree or disagree with anything I have touched upon in this article, you can email me at Just_shaun@hotmail.com

 

29.7.2001
 

I have only just come back from Israel, the birthplace of the great Ronny Rosenthal, where Maccabi Tel-Aviv have won the League, and may be playing Liverpool in the next round of the Champions League Qualifying Round, and where on average, a bottle of coca-cola costs 12 shekels (£2). 

               Anyway, on arriving safely home in England, my first thought was... well never mind, but my second thought was Tottenham. In Israel, they don't have English newspapers, and infuriatingly, all BBC World in my hotel room would tell me, about football, anyway, was that "Valencia wasted little time in finding a replacement for Gaizka Mendieta by signing Someone or Other Dos Santos from Malaga for 9.2m". I almost know the damn thing by heart.

                   But anyway, a look at "White Hot Lines" and Teletext gave me some  of the information I so craved. It seems like a lot of things have been happening at Tottenham lately. I will include the things that interested me the most.

        First of all, Ziege. A great signing, and at last we have signed someone to keep Ben Thatcher out of the side. Not only that, but Ziege is an experienced international, who just lost his way a little at Liverpool. There can be little doubt, though that Ziege is a quality left back. His play resembles that of Carr, except of course, it is on the left. He's pretty handy with set pieces as well. If we have paid less than £4m for him, then I think it is a bargain, especially when you consider that we have sold Young for £3-4m.

               Young was a promising.. well, young, defender, but was never going to dislodge Carr at right back, and with Doherty, Bunjevcevic, King and Gardner all vying for centre back slots, it would have been pretty difficult to get a place there. I would have been happy for him to stay at Spurs, but the price we have got for him is a very good one. Young is a good defender, and I think he can form a formidable partnership with Richard Rufus at the Valley. He never gave us much trouble, and perhaps would have been a more integral figure to us had he not got injured. I wish him all the best. It is a good career move for him. Tord Grip, (S.G Eriksson's assistant), said that it is good for young English players to move to get regular first team football.

                 With that left back problem finally seen to, we now need a reserve  keeper. We have, reportedly, gone for Alan Kelly, and Matt Clarke. Given the choice of the two, I would plump for the latter, but it doesn't matter too much, as long as we don't pay over the odds. £2m is a bit steep for Bradford's reserve keeper. As long as we get a goalkeeper to deputise for Sullivan, it will be OK. If we get a really good goalkeeper, it is unlikely that he will want to play second fiddle to Neil. So, Alan Kelly would be fine. I think someone like Hedman would be too expensive, and he wouldn't settle for a place on the bench. As I have said, we just need any goalkeeper, really, because he won't play much. Sullivan missed only a few matches last season, and we can do without him for one or two matches. I don't think we should search high and wide for a goalkeeper. Just go for someone's reserve goalkeeper. Kelly,  Clarke, Arphexad, Myhre. Any of these 4 would be fine, but anything more than a million would be too steep.

              In front of the goalkeeper, we look to have quite a good back four. Ziege, Doherty, Bunjevcevic and Carr are all good players. Hoddle has said that there is still work to do on the defence, but you can understand that, since they have not played together once as a back four. Ziege is probably lacking match fitness after spending so long on the bench at Anfield, Doherty is still inexperienced and Bunjevcevic has just come from Eastern Europe, having never played in England, except against Leicester in Europe. Carr, of course, has a lot of experience in the Premiership, and I think must be considered for the captaincy.

                    All four are internationals, and Carr and Doherty play together for Eire, so I think they can gel. As Hoddle says, there probably is a bit of work to be done, but I am confident that they can gel as a quartet. 

                    I still think we need a striker who can score 20 goals a season, and Villareal's Victor Fernandez has been mentioned. I have never heard of the guy, but the price of £10m seems a lot. I wouldn't want a Juan goal wonder Pablo Angel in my side, but if he can score goals, then I think it would be money well spent. Does anyone know anything about him? Is he any good? How many goals did he score last season?

          As for our current crop of forwards, Sheringham has been saying how he wants to manage Spurs in the future. He has a coaching position reserved for him when he hangs up his boots, but lets stick with Hoddle for now as the gaffer. If Sheringham proves himself to be a decent coach, he could be a possibility, but he'd better not f*** off to Man United for a few years if he gets bored!

               Then there's Iversen, who is saying how much he is enjoying pre-season, and that he is scoring a lot of goals. Forgive me if I don't wet my pants in excitement. I recall last season that Spurs were sweeping all before them... in pre-season friendlies. I don't really think that it has any bearing on League form, and besides, if we are playing sides like Portsmouth, then we should be beating them comfortably. Iversen scored a hatful of goals last pre-season and then, inexplicably, didn't in the actual season. I still want him to leave, no matter how many pre-season goals he gets. He's not good enough. He misses too many chances, and I just don't think he should feature in the first team.

                Likewise Oyvind Leonhardsen. I have no vendetta against Norway, but really, we do seem to get crap Norwegians. There were reports that he was going to Southampton for a cool 1.5m, but they have denied it. I can only pray that the Saints change their minds and take this awful player away. If we don't manage to shift him, then we must keep him away from the first team. If we even put him in the first team squad, it would be an insult to players like Davies and Poyet to have to play with "Leo." 

                  Finally, Rebrov is reportedly unhappy at Tottenham's lack of trophies, and may want to move if they don't start spending. Hopefully, he will decide that we do have ambition, and will stay. He is a very talented player, and we need his creativity. I think that this season, he will really start to show the Premiership what Sergei Rebrov is all about. We must issue a hands off warning to the likes of Fiorentina and Valencia. Rebrov is going place with Spurs, and going nowhere else.

If you agree or disagree with anything I have touched upon in this article, you can email me at Just_shaun@hotmail.com

 

12.8.2001
 
A 3-0 win over a Fiorentina side containing a good few seasoned internationals sounds excellent, but I can't help thinking that the scoreline flattered us a little.  Certainly Gary Doherty, Ledley King, Gustavo Poyet and Sergei Rebrov had good games.  King, in particular, I thought, came in with some great tackles, and I think that he could help banish memories of, oh, what's his name again? Something to do with a bell? Oh, forget it.

               Certainly Les Ferdinand's goal was well taken, as was Poyet's and Iversen may just prove me wrong if he keeps producing those sort of quality finishes.  Certainly we passed the ball well a lot of the time.  It looks like WHL may be in for some much more exciting times, certainly, to watch, anyway, under GH. 

                  What worried me, though, was the way that Fiorentina seemed to be able to ease through our midfield when they had possession.  I haven't heard anyone else mention it, but the Italians seemed to effortlessly glide through the middle of the park, with us making little or no attempt to get it back.  A lot of the time, our defenders made last gasp clearances or tackles to deny Fiorentina when they had got to our area, but we cannot rely on them all the time.  Although Freund had an OK game, I don't think he is the player that we should be fielding.  We need a really commanding defensive midfielder, and I think we already have someone who can fill this role.

       Ledley King looked great on Wednesday in defence, tackling tigerishly and showing his general class.  I think that if we put him in midfield, alongside Poyet, then he would make sure that our midfield can win the ball, as well as do pretty, creative things with it when we do manage to get it.

               Fiorentina had their chances, and but for poor finishing, could have had quite a few goals.  And, Alessandro Something-ini was desperately unlucky not to have hit the target with that bullet header against the post, the last touch before half time.  So, although we did play well at times, I think we need more bite in midfield, and deadly Ledley can be that bite. 

                     I know that Glenn was disappointed with the anti Campbell chants, saying  that he would rather that we focus our energies on current team affairs, but I think it will take a lot of time before the fans get over the ultimate act of betrayal for the scumbag that is Sol Campbell.  I don't think it is such a bad thing if fans release their aggression and grievances by singing, rather than beating the crap out of someone, even if it happens to be Campbell.  And, if he doesn't suffer another mystery illness (White Hart Laneitis? ScaredOfTheAbuseaemia?), like the one he is suffering now, just before the England game at WHL,  it will help the team if he doesn't play very well against us in November, obviously.  Sol knew what would happen if he left to join Arsenal from Tottenham and he's going to have to live with it.  I do not condone physical violence towards him and I don't see why fans should have to live with it, without saying anything. 

                     But, it was a good match, and a fitting tribute to the great Bill Nick, who looked delighted  to be there. 

                   Moving on, does anyone else feel a tinge of envy, seeing Newcastle and Aston Villa getting easy access to the UEFA Cup, by beating a couple of mediocre foreign sides?  Why did GG not apply for us to go in for the InterToto Cup?  The sides we would have to play, although mediocre, would be better than the likes of Portsmouth, Millwall,  Stevenage, etc, and would be better preparation for us for the season.  Although we would have to come in for training early, at least we would get pretty easy access to the UEFA Cup.  Oh well.  We'll just have to qualify for Europe properly this season. 

Up the Spurs. 

If you agree or disagree with anything I have touched upon in this article, you can email me at Just_shaun@hotmail.com

 

21.8.2001
 
"Unfortunately" and "predictable" are the two words I would use to describe the outcome of our first match of the season against the dour Midlands outfit that is Aston Villa.  We were the only side to draw 0-0, in a weekend that brought about some exciting results, notably Bolton's crushing 5-0 win over the hapless Leicester (that Michael Ricketts can certainly finish!), Manchester United's 3-2 win over Fulham (a valiant attempt from just promoted Fulham) and some other side won 4-0.

               I didn't attend the stalemate and had to rely on ITV's appalling "The Premiership" programme to see highlights.  As it turned out, there were only two of them, a header from Hassan Kachloul (is that how you spell it?) and a superb shot from Doherty.  The match was given roughly 10 seconds coverage, although we cannot complain, since ours was the only match not to produce a solitary goal. 

               The Everton match was a little more interesting. I saw this one on Sky and we didn't play too well, letting Everton dominate most of the match.  I thought Sullivan had a good game, although he didn't have too many back breaking saves to make.  He looked assured throughout the match and did make an excellent finger tip save from Alexandersson, I think it was.  I also thought Anderton did well, contributing to much of our build-up play and passing intelligently.  Although he is not back to his best, I think he is getting there and he should improve over the season.  

                    I was pleasantly surprised with Mauricio Tarrico's impressive performance.  I had previously dismissed the Argie as deadwood, but this performance suggested otherwise.  He looked extremely comfortable in possession and often beat a player with runs down the wing.  His crosses looked very dangerous too and one cross would surely have brought about a goal, had Steffen Iversen not been so dozy and simply nodded.  Although I can't see him ousting Carr from his position, the former Ipswich man may just be worth keeping if he keeps playing like that.  However, he must never, ever repeat the horrendous tackle he executed on Thomas Gravesen.  Gravesen may be out for two months no and really, I would not have been surprised if David Elleray had sent him off.  Correction.  I would have been surprised, because it would have meant that Elleray had made a good decision.

                       The sending off of Doherty was unbelievable, after he had made a perfectly good tackle.  Duncan Ferguson was only too pleased to convert the penalty to put the Toffees back in the game and at an advantage that they never should have had.  Doherty had been impressive, especially in the air up til then and he was a big loss to the side.  As was Poyet.  Although he had had a better first half, it was still a big blow to lose him and although his tackle was very careless, I think a yellow card would have sufficed.  The victim, Steve Watson, clearly bore no grudge against Poyet and playfully touched Poyet's face to show that there were no hard feelings.  However, Elleray had to interfere and he sent Poyet off, which left us with 9 men for the last 25 minutes.

                I thought we held out admirably to keep it at 1-1.  Overall, though, it is a slightly disappointing result, although Everton played very well, especially Steve Watson, who marshalled his defence superbly and never seemed to lose possession. 

                     I was disappointed at the performance of our strikers Iversen and Sheringham.  Iversen never seemed alert and missed a golden opportunity to score, when Tarrico's pinpoint cross came along straight to him.  

                    Sheringham's passes always seemed to go astray and although he improved a little towards the end, I think we can expect a little bit more from the Player of the Year.  Perhaps we should consider using him only sparingly during the season to keep him fresh and sharp, because I would rather have Sheringham at his best for 19 games than an average Ted for 38 games. 

                   Anyway, we didn't lose, and so we are still unbeaten after 2 games.  It was also an away game, so let's not get too depressed at the result.  Hopefully, Hoddle's appeals against the sending offs will be successful.  

                   Off the pitch, it seems that we are getting closer to getting Dean Richards.  He is a good player and reports suggest that we are going to make a bid of around £6-8m.  In today's crazy mixed up (and expensive) world of football, £8m for a decent defender is not too steep.  Richards is a solid centre half and I think that a back three of Bunjy, Richards and Doherty would be quite good.

                     Reports also suggest that we may be offering Korsten, Perry or Iversen for him.  None of these players are indispensable to the club, but out of the three, I would be most happy to see the back of Iversen.  Although in the previous article I said that if he kept finishing like he did against Fiorentina, he may be worth keeping, he had a very poor match against Everton and never looked likely to threaten them at all, even when he was presented with a great cross from Taricco.

                Blackburn next. We should beat them. They're a pretty poor side, apart from Matt Jansen and they'll definitely be fighting relegation.  Hopefully, we're done with 0-0 draws for now. 

Up the Spurs.   

                  

If you agree or disagree with anything I have touched upon in this article, you can email me at Just_shaun@hotmail.com

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