The story after Saturday’s win over Derby should have been about Steed Malbranque’s two goals. The headlines should have been about Spurs scoring three goals inside fifteen minutes. The media should have been crediting Jermaine Jenas for an improved showing and individual goal after disappointing performances in the first two games. They might even have suggested that the result had lifted the pressure from Martin Jol’s shoulders after the poor start to the season.
But no – we’ve had three days of leaks, speculation and reports of Martin Jol’s pending departure and the imminent arrival of Juande Ramos from Seville, arriving on a white charger to take over at White Hart Lane.
The news broke prior to the Derby game when betting was suspended on the possibility of Jol being this season’s first managerial casualty. Then Spurs officials had been spotted speaking to Ramos in Spain and while the Tottenham board remained silent, the media and message boards filled the vacuum in a wild frenzy of speculation.
Now, finally the Board have issued a statement saying that Martin Jol and his coaching staff have been made aware of the Board’s expectations for the season and that the manager is going nowhere.
Not a ringing endorsement or vote of confidence for the coach and his staff.
How did all this come about?
It has been alleged that all has not well within the club between some board members and the coach for some time. Last season, Spurs’ FA Cup win at Fulham came at a critical time for the coach and was a turning point for Jol who it was thought was in danger of losing his position. However, tensions remained, on both sides, and through a difficult summer of transfer negotiations there would have been many discussions, agreements and disagreements, over suitable players. The Board thought they had done well by spending £40 million on new players but the question remained, where they the players the manager needed or wanted?
Into the new season and the injury hit team played poorly in both commitment and style at Sunderland and against Everton. The team which was being widely tipped to break into the top four was now languishing at the bottom of the league, not what had been expected.
The Board, looking at the immediate fixtures, could see difficult times ahead - a home win against Derby was expected but then Manchester United at Old Trafford, Fulham away, the North London derby at White Hart Lane with a trip to Anfield a few weeks later. Going on past experience, the return from those games could be minimal and so the Board thought it was an opportune moment to take action to replace the manager.
Arrangements were made to speak to the manager of Seville but they were spotted and so the story broke across the media fuelling the speculation that Martin Jol was on his way out of Tottenham. Spurs said nothing, hoping to wrap up the matter quickly, especially when it was reported that Ramos was wanting to come to the club and was wanting to start before the commencement of the Spanish season at the weekend. It all sounded good from the Spurs’ Board’s point of view.
However, as the matter dragged on, Sevilla started to flex their muscles – Ramos was going nowhere, they stated, he would see out the final year of his contract. It was getting tricky and now instead of wanting to be in place by Saturday, it was being reported that Ramos wanted to think about it for a couple of weeks. Perhaps he looked at Spurs’ up-coming matches and thought United and Arsenal in the first three games was a rather poisoned chalice that was better not accepted, hence the delay. The most recent statements indicate that Ramos will be remaining with Sevilla, his improved salary for the final year of his contract agreed - Tottenham Hotspur are so useful as a bargaining tool!
Spurs hadn’t been thinking on that timescale so how could they turn around a situation that had been suggesting that Jol would be on his way in a matter of hours, without losing total face. They couldn’t sack the manager as there was no-one to replace him and they couldn’t deny that they had met Ramos as there was photographic evidence to prove it.
A face to face meeting with the coach and his assistant to lay down their expectations for the coming season, to make it clear what was expected and ensure everyone that Martin Jol was going nowhere while they were within their rights to look at ways of ensuring the best for the club in the future.
For the moment, Martin Jol is still in charge – wounded but perhaps like the wild animal which has been shot and injured, he’ll come out fighting more determined than ever to show the Board and the doubting supporters that he is capable of taking Tottenham into the Champions League and future success.
I am not an ITK (In The Know) and this is total supposition and speculation on my part about what has happened at Spurs over the past few days.