The final weeks of Martin Jol’s tenure as manager of Spurs brought much vitriolic criticism of him and the team as messageboard fanatics came alive as a consequence of the team’s failure to add to their August success over Derby County.
The fanatics’ unreasonable criticism, apart from calling for Jol’s dismissal, poured blame on Paul Robinson for every goal that was conceded and called him the worst Spurs’ goalkeeper ever, called as usual for the removal of another of Jol’s ‘favourites’, Robbie Keane to be replaced by Jermain Defoe, called Dimitar Berbatov moody and lazy and a hundred and one other names, never wanted to see Jemaine Jenas pull on the Spurs’ shirt again and so it went on. Also the ‘experts’ wanted to see the Adel Taarabt and Kevin Prince-Boateng selected and despite their lack of experience these young players were seen as the ‘saviours’ of the team.
Such over the top criticism was unnecessary and way off beam.
To regard Robinson as Spurs’ worst ever goalkeeper – you either haven’t supported the club very long or you have a very short memory when in the past we have had to endure such goalkeepers as Mark Kendall and Bobby Mimms. The calls for Cerny to replace him were based on adequate performances in pre-season friendlies and early Cup games. However, when he met with the high pressure games at Newcastle and against Getafe, he was less impressive and failed to suggest he was the answer to the ‘supposed’ goalkeeping crisis. Such was an indication as to why Jol persevered with Robinson who was low on confidence behind a defence lacking an experienced leader.
On his arrival Ramos tried out a few players and then for the game against Wigan, a must win match, he selected his strongest available team.
How disappointed the Jol critics must have been – he selected the exact same team that Martin Jol would have selected – the team that Jol regarded as his best formation for most of last season (Kaboul apart) – Robinson, Chimbonda, Dawson, Kaboul, Lee, Lennon, Jenas, Zokora, Malbranque, Berbatov and Keane.
Perhaps Martin Jol actually knew what he was doing and what his best team was. I’m sure Jol felt vindicated when he saw that team selection – ‘his’ team was going out to play Wigan at White Hart Lane.
Then, of course, Jenas received plaudits for his two goal performance – ‘Ramos has got him playing well’ was the general opinion. Jenas has always been capable of performances like that in games when Spurs have been given plenty of space and time to display their skills – remember his Cup performance against Southend last season, his goal against Derby in August and many others. When Jenas puts in performances like that on a regular basis and against Arsenal, Chelsea or United, then will be the time to praise Ramos and Poyet for the influence they have had on the player.
Berbatov finally managed to show some interest and produce a performance akin to last season. Perhaps Ramos got through to him or perhaps it was his agent who had a word in his ear about trying to impress possible suitors.
Why did Ramos persist with Robbie Keane instead of Defoe – perhaps he saw, as Jol had done, that the team needed him to be creator as well as scorer and put in the extra work supporting the midfield.
Having watched the 125th Anniversary match against Aston Villa again, the performance against Wigan was similar to that earlier game but Wigan were unable to punish the defensive mistakes that Spurs made while Villa took advantage of every one of them.
In time Ramos will have a great influence on the team to get them playing in his way but for the present while the players will be putting in that extra effort to impress the new manager, Martin Jol can take some satisfaction that it was ‘his’ team that beat Wigan at White Hart Lane to bring Spurs three vital points.