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03.06.2007

With a run that saw Spurs only lose one Premier league game from the second week in February, the team repeated their fourth place finish of last season.

It was a team effort of course, but there was one outstanding performer and you don't really need me to tell you who it was.  Dimitar Berbatov has been a revelation and has left bigger clubs kicking themselves that they didn't get in on our Bulgarian striker early enough.  While Tottenham might be missing out on the likes of the Portuguese wonder kid Nani, as he heads for the champions, while we can keep picking up star players who fit into our team pattern and more importantly keep hold of them, then it should spell a bright future for the club.  The signing up of current players on longer contracts (although they are not worth anything if some big enough bid comes in or the player wants to leave to "win things" or go to a "bigger club") is another good sign that the players are happy and that they feel that big things are about to happen at the club.

One of the constants that has been central to the improvement over the last three seasons has been the influence that Martin Jol has had over the team.  Not one to rant and rave (he is the typical laid back Dutchman in public), Jol has shown a tactical ability, which, although not unflawed, can pitch in with the top four managers and give them food for thought.  The performance in the first half of the FA Cup tie at Stamford Bridge showed that he had out-thought Mourinho and Wenger might have had a few wins against Spurs, but in most of the draws, we have been the better team.  Liverpool still remain a problem in games against us and Man U will take some catching, but the next step is to start taking points of these teams regularly.

Jol's substitutions sometimes lack impact and sometimes he seems to take players off which gives the initiative to the other side (Arsenal away last season when Lennon came off and Chelsea away in the FA Cup, when Berba was withdrawn and Mido put on spring to mind).  No doubt there are occasions, which evade my memory at the moment when his substitutions have paid off, but the one thing that I hear many supporters criticise BMJ for is that the team sit back and try to defend a lead, which we still do not appear able to do.  Sometimes, we appear better at chasing the game, as we did at Wigan, but then we should never have been behind three times in a game against a relegation struggler in the first place.

I am not sure the team are given instructions to defend a lead.  It might be that they are asked to play a bit deeper, but this invites the opposition to push into our half and the players drop even deeper to cope with that.  Another reason might be that they put a lot into the first half and especially with all the games we have had this season, are feeling the drain on player's energies.  Lennon certainly looked like he was suffering with the number of games he played and also playing on with a knock or two, when Spurs entered the last two months of the season.

Some players have just not looked up for it at all.

Mido has done nothing on or off the pitch to show he has or wants a future at the club.  Ghaly will probably be on his way after his show of dissent in the Blackburn game, when he threw his shirt to the ground in front of Jol.  You just don't do that to BMJ.  Others such as Young-Pyo Lee might be moving on, as Bale will be a player vying for that position and at 10 million, you get the feeling he will be played as first choice, although we need to rest him during the long season ahead.  The same will be true of Lennon and with Routledge returning from loan at Fulham, I would hope he would want to stay and share the right wing duties with Aaron.  I am not sure where Benoit Assou-Ekotto fits into the left back picture now.  He had a decent start this season, but he lacks a bit of defensive resolve in my opinion and he might be released if he doesn't oust Lee as second choice, as the Korean was playing well up to the point where he got injured.

I am sure the club will make the signing of Adel Taarabt permanent, as he has show some talent, although he needs to show a bit more determination when he hasn't got the ball.  A skilled performer, he has demonstrated in the few cameo appearances he has had that he can cause problems for opponents.  It might mean that Danny Murphy will be released, as he has been hit by injuries over the last season which have kept him out for long periods.  Paul Stalteri might find his chances to star in the first team limited, but I would keep him, as his end of season performances showed he can play well in different positions.

One player I would definitely want to keep is Jermain Defoe.  I am surprised that there is so much talk about him leaving, although I appreciate other teams might want him more than we want to lose him.  He has scored well this season - 10 goals in 34 league appearances (14 of them from the bench) - and belied the myth that he doesn't play often, as he made more appearances in total than either Berbatov and Keane.  He is a different striker to both of them and if Spurs do secure the services of Darren Bent, Tottenham will have two top Premiership pairings with Berba/Keano and Bent/Defoe.

Talking of signing players, buying Gareth Bale is a good start and came just as season ticket deadline day was coming, so it was an indication to fans that our money was being spent in the right direction I suppose !!  A few players will bolster the squad for the coming season and as long as we don't waste the money we have to spend on Stewart Downing, Nigel Reo-Coker and Marlon Harewood, we should be alright.  The links with Kaboul of Auxerre sound promising and I am sure that the contacts of Dominic Comolli will have made enough sightings of decent players that we will be able to unearth a few more diamonds.

An interesting summer, as always, lies ahead.  With some players still to come in and some to move out, the squad must be strengthened if we want to try and break the stranglehold on the top four Premier League places or to win a trophy.  but whatever happens, I will ...

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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