So, many of you might think it
strange that there was not a "View" at the end of the season in which
Spurs recorded their highest Premier League finish and qualified for the
we're not ones to jump on the bandwagon and raise the roof just because
we finished fourth, even though it is a fine achievement for a team that
only had two points from eight games the season before. However,
the much missed point by many is that Spurs have not qualified for the
Champions League by finishing fourth. They have qualified to
qualify for the Champions League. While the majority of Spurs fans
are hopeful of getting to the lucrative group games, there are some very
good and experienced clubs in the qualifying stages (Ajax, Zenit St.
Petersburg, Fenerbahce, Dynamo Kiev) and it will need some good
performances in the early part of our season to make sure the hurdle of
qualification is successfully negotiated.
Spurs have done pretty well in
European competition, even though we are not regular qualifiers.
But losing out in the qualifiers could mean that a place in Europe this
season will be in the Europa League. And getting into the
Champions League the following season will be harder with more games in
the Europa League and other Premier League clubs strengthening to
challenge at the top of the table. While the league battle will be
harder, it might mean that Tottenham have to win the competition to be
in it again in 2011-12 and with this season's final on home soil at
Wembley, it would be a great occasion to do so !!
A format changing rule has been
introduced by the Premier League requiring clubs to name a squad of 25
senior players by the closure of the summer transfer window, with eight
of the squad being home-grown (trained by English or Welsh clubs for
three years before the age of 21). Clubs can have as many Under-21
players as they like as they are eligible to be in the squad with no
restriction. The 25 players included will not be able to be
changed until January, while the winter transfer window is open to allow
incoming signings to be included. What the change means if that
many players across the Premier League will go out on loan to get
regular football. At Tottenham, fringe players and those
youngsters who are over 21 and not quite ready for the first team will
be shipped out to the lower leagues for at least four months to ply
their trade. With no changes allowed until January for the 25
senior players, any kind of injury crisis will lead to a panic, with
younger players having to be drafted into the side. This could
well lead to some clubs being seriously disrupted and some might find
themselves in false positions.
It is thus obvious why Spurs have
been cautious in the transfer market so far this summer. There is
no point bringing in players if you are not going to be able to use them
and the talk surrounding a move for Croatian keeper Stipe Pletikosa is
prudent as the need for an experienced third keeper as back up is vital
should injury hit the glovemen. Strikers have been touted as
another area of possible interest to the boss, but with four strikers
already at the club, it would mean that someone (or two) might have to
be shipped out. Robbie Keane's future has been under the
microscope since being loaned to Glasgow Celtic and Roman Pavlyuchenko
wanted away last season, but it appears that both might be among the 25,
with Keane having done well in the US games and Pavlyuchenko's agent
saying he wants to stay or go and play in Russia, where clubs do not
seem to be able to come up with an acceptable bid for the forward.
Midfield is pretty well catered
for, with Sandro coming in when the Copa Libertadores is over for his
club Internacional, where they have reached the semi-final stage and
they will finish on August 6th. Again, without some room being
made by a sale or two, there will probably not be an new arrivals there,
but in defence, it is necessary to buy in one more central defender to
cover for Ledley King and Jonathan Woodgate (who seems to be no nearer
sorting out his groin problem) and to add to Michael Dawson, Sebastien Bassong
and Younes Kaboul. Cover at left back might be an issue, with Bale
likely to be deployed in midfield, where he can do most damage in the
other half of the field and have Benny Assou-Ekotto behind him.
The World Cup shambles will
hopefully not have had a detrimental effect on our England players who
were out in South Africa. Michael Dawson didn't get a look in and
Peter Crouch hardly featured, with Aaron Lennon probably being on the
pitch for about 90 minutes in total, while Defoe played only a little
more than that. Ledley managed half a game before getting a
hamstring pull that ruled him out of the rest of the England matches.
The problem with playing Defoe
with Rooney up front is that they are too similar in style and the
pairing did not work, with the midfield unable to provide enough service
and Rooney being out of form. Crouch's scoring record for his
country counted for little as he rarely called upon and Aaron Lennon was
a starter on a couple of occasions, but the way he stuck tight to the
line seemed at odds with how he plays for Spurs and the passes he got
scarcely gave him much opportunity to run at his man.
Fabio Capello watched Spurs on
numerous occasions last season and it is odd that when he picks our
players for the national team that he does not utilise them in the way
they are for the club. That is the basis that he has selected them
on and yet, they are asked to play in a different manner and with little
of the ball and still expected to produce. Defoe got the goal that
took England out of the group stage, but once there, Germany made
England look inept. At least we don't have to worry about it much
more for another two years when the European Championship finals.
At least the three Spurs players
in the England Under-19 side gave good accounts of themselves.
Steven Caulker was outstanding in the middle of defence and he might be
promoted up the ranks at Spurs, having made rapid progress through the
youth system. Rumours of a loan to Leeds United were mooted, but
if he can gain the requisite experience quickly after his spell at
Yeovil Town last season, he could provide cover in his position.
Dean Parrett also did well in midfield for England, but picked up two
yellow cards in three games and missed the semi-final, which saw the
side lose to an excellent Spanish team 1-3.
John Bostock was the other Spurs
Academy player to feature and while he showed glimpses of what he could
do, there were spells in games when he was on the pitch that he appeared
to we strolling around. He scored a very good goal in the semi and
his passing looked good, but when he tried a "Hollywood" pass and it
didn't come off, it looked bad and gave valuable possession away to a
side who did not let go of the ball. His comments after the
tournament that he is not getting an opportunity a Tottenham because
they keep buying foreign players, who will be played in front of him as
they cost a lot of money, perhaps showed a little naivety, as we would
have had to pay a lot of money (or a lot more) for him, had he not been
the age he was and it is not entirely fair to claim that foreign players
are played ahead of him, when the likes of Aaron Lennon, Tom Huddlestone
and Danny Rose have all come the same route as Bostock and made their
way into the first team more than him. The key to making your way
in the game is to show that you are worth a place in the team and the
whispers about his loan spell at Brentford last season might indicate
that it is not the amount of skill he has that is keeping him out of the
first XI, but the amount of hard work he is willing to do to achieve
Harry Redknapp's comments about
Giovani dos Santos point to the need to put the hard miles in if you are
to make the grade. Many players with less talent than Bostock and
Gio are probably plying their trade in teams across the country because
they show it in training as well as on the pitch on a match day.
Giovani is a long way from home and has had his problems, but in the
World Cup he displayed the sort of talent we hoped we would see him
doing for Tottenham and although it was an injury that stopped him at
the start of last season, I am sure he would be a hit with the fans if
he can show the application to get into the 18 on a match day on a
Harry has blasted the pre-season
schedule ahead of the first game against Manchester City, which is
quickly followed by our first game in the Champions League, which would
mean entry into the group stages if they can negotiate the qualifying
round. A trip to the USA was said to be a good work out fitness
wise with record temperatures in New York helping players re-gain their
match sharpness. However, a 1-4 defeat against Villarreal later,
when they showed the Spanish style of holding onto the ball without any
problem and the games are coming too quickly and the players are
suffering jet-lag and why are England playing a game a week before the
season starts and ...
If the teams needs to be on the
training pitch, then the manager has to make this clear to the board,
although the fixtures may well have been arranged before Harry arrived,
as I believe some pre-season arrangements are put in place two seasons
ahead. Other teams are doing just as much travelling as this
mileage list from the Independent states ...
Blackburn Rovers 23,475
Birmingham City 16,561
Tottenham Hotspur 13,733
Manchester City 12,897
Manchester United 12,318
Bolton Wanderers 8,492
Some of those clubs will not clock
up that much mileage during the season, as they have no European
football to look forward to, but perhaps it will get the players used to
playing Wednesday and Saturday. We all know that they are
over-worked, under-paid and get first class air flight, but two games a
week isn't too much to ask from them, is it ?
The news being reported about the
new ground is conflicting. Spurs seem to want to stay in Haringey,
but having spent more money on a revised planning application, it looks
like it may once more fail to seek approval. The Police Commander
appears to believe that there is insufficient separation of opposing
fans, which may lead to trouble and the building of a Sainsburys
supermarket at the Northumberland Park end of the ground will lead to
traffic chaos (or even more traffic chaos) on match-days. Wow !!
Who would have thought it ? A Major Premier League football ground
and a Sainsburys which looks set to be the biggest supermarket in the
borough ... all on the same site !! The main problem with
Tottenham remaining at White Hart Lane lies out of their hands.
Not just in the planning authority wanting or not wanting a football
ground in the borough, but the infrastructure around the ground.
The new design has obviously been
drawn up in consultation with Haringey, as a road will disappear as part
of the scheme ... not something THFC could do without agreement.
The issue is around getting 56,000 people in and out of the area on
match-days. It used to be feasible to do the same for 50,000+ in
the 50s, 60s and 70s, but nowadays it is more of a problem. There
are only three main roads that empty the area adjacent to the ground.
The High Road which takes traffic to Tottenham Hale one way and the
North Circular the other. White Hart Lane which links with the A10
and Northumberland Park that takes traffic towards the North-South route
of Watermead Way (A1055), then on to Tottenham Hale, the A10, the M25,
the North Circular and the M11. Even with the CPZ around the
ground, the traffic is very congested outside the ground in all
directions with a capacity of 36,000. Without any input from TfL
and the local council, this situation cannot be resolved.
Grounds on the continent and new
developments in this country have made the provision of access around
the ground a priority, but then there are examples where getting away
after a game is still arduous (cf. the new Highbury). Proper
transport links and more roads would be necessary to ease the clearance
of the locality surrounding the ground, but the chances of that
happening are less than slim.
That leaves the Olympic Stadium in
Stratford. With the Legacy committee now open to the prospect of a
football club coming in after the Games in 2012, it will sit in a public
park with excellent transport connections from central London and Europe
and the world (City airport is not too far away and the links to
Stansted are not too bad). You can see why it would appeal to
Daniel Levy, especially as it is there already, so thee would be no
planning issues involved and although it would mean leaving the area the
club currently reside in, it would not be a huge distance away and many
fans would find it convenient to get to from the North and East.
Such a move might upset some fans, but more West Ham United fans would
be upset by it and therefore, it would have that spin-off benefit.
The issues raised now by the
Police and by heritage campaigners are ones which might be the defining
criteria for moving on and out of Haringey. If that did happen, I
fear for what would become of the area, as the income generated in the
locality by the club would lead to a loss of revenue for many of the
businesses in Tottenham and could leave a black hole that would not be
filled by such a similarly money-generating attraction.
There is also the other aspect of Spurs having already spent a
considerable amount of money getting the plans together and paying for a
revision, which may now have to be revised once (or maybe many times)
There is not an endless pot of
money for the redevelopment and having already secured the land on which
the new stadium is set to be built, that might not be fully recouped
should it be sold for non-footballing purposes.
So, at the moment, nothing has
been achieved on the stadium front, nor in the Champions League and the
new Premier League season will be tougher than last year. However,
the squad is still strong and I expect it to be stronger by the time the
Premier League starts (or at least a few games in when the transfer
window closes). Pre-season friendlies count for little, as the
season we began with a cleans weep, we ended up with two points from
eight games (now who said that ?). But then Spurs never believe in
doing things the easy 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.