Extracts from an article in The Scotsman
Underdogs show G14 elite money can't buy heart
DESPITE failing to invite Chelsea to join their number, Europe's G14 group of elite clubs remains saturated with the smug arrogance of Harry Enfield's old "considerably richer than yow" character. While they continue to lobby UEFA in attempts to make their privileged status even more cosseted, it is encouraging that this season these clubs have shown signs of vulnerability, at least on the pitch. While the massive clubs continue to harvest the trophies, there have been signs in some of Europe's major leagues that they can be challenged.
In England, it is tempting to make West Ham United the heroes of the Premiership, having held their own in the league and provided the best FA Cup final in living memory, thanks to a devotion to open attacking football.
To be fair, though, the most-improved side was Martin Jol's Tottenham Hotspur, consistently bold and competitive. Tottenham's excellent season was overshadowed by events on the final day of the Premiership, when their chances of qualifying for the Champions League were flushed down the Marriott Hotel's toilets.
Notwithstanding Steve McClaren's latent talent for baffling selection policies, Spurs are presently the future of the English national team. Paul Robinson, Ledley King, Michael Carrick and Aaron Lennon (Pic: Lennon - a name for the future) are all likely to be first choices after the World Cup, while Tom Huddlestone is on track to be acclaimed as the new Bryan Robson by November at the latest.
Comment: it is interesting to note the two names missing from the list - Jermaine Defoe and Jermain Jenas.
Defoe has a crucial season ahead of him to try to re-establish himself in the England squad, having been omitted from the party for the World Cup. a new england manager may give him more opportunity but he will first have to re-capture his goal scoring form with Spurs and show that he is deserving of the chance. However, it will be difficult with England as Rooney and Owen are automatic first choice when fit.
The omission of Jenas is more surprising as he is in the World Cup squad and has had an improving season since his transfer from Newcastle United at the beginnng of the season. He has had an increasing influence on the Spurs team during the season, scoring some important goals, and had started to develop a good playing partnership in central midfield with Michael Carrick.
Jenas may get an opportunity in the World Cup Finals to show his worth but if Defoe doesn't get a late call in place of one of the 'injured' strikers, he may have to wait until next season and the question remains - will it be with Spurs? Rumours abound - Liverpool and Newcastle are mentioned as two clubs interested in signing him.
Personally, I don't want to see him leave Tottenham and especially not to any of our rivals. If he were to go, it should only be after a better replacement has been signed and has worn the shirt at the press conference. The lesson of Kanoute must be remembered from last season - Sold without a suitable replacement and during the season he would have been a very useful alternative and increased options for selection and when Mido was unavailable, he could have been very useful.