Sunday, June 17, 2012

Can the Prospective Managers Do Better than Redknapp?

The removal of Harry Redknapp from Tottenham has resulted in the immediate drawing up of a list of potential managers to fill the vacancy.  Do their credentials suggest that any one of them is capable of doing better than the departing Redknapp and taking Spurs to the 'next' level?

The immediate favourite among the 'bookies' was the Everton manager, David Moyes, with Wigan's Roberto Martinez also highly regarded.  Other names which were prominent on the list were former Spurs player, Jurgen Klinsmann, Fabio Capello, Sven-Goran Eriksson and the man who is  looking increasingly like the next Tottenham manager, Andre Villas-Boas.  Other names to be mentioned in dispatches included Alan Pardew, Glenn Hoddle, Laurent Blanc, Didier Deschamps, Pep Guardiola and Slavin Bilic among others.

David Moyes
As I've blogged previously, Why David Moyes?  He has done a good job during ten years at Everton with a limited budget but has never won a trophy and on the one occasion that Everton did qualify for the Champions League, they failed to reach the Group stages and were then knocked out of the UEFA Cup prior to the group stages.

Moyes' teams are hard-working and have always been well-drilled and organised defensively but there has been a lack of the style of football that a Spurs' manager is expected to produce.  As Irving Scholar stated in his book, 'Behind Closed Doors', when considering a replacement for Keith Burkinshaw, the requirements for a Tottenham manager were 'winning and entertaining' football.

Roberto Martinez
Martinez has worked miracles to keep Wigan Athletic in the Premier League over the past three seasons when they have finished fifteenth, sixteenth and fifteenth.  In the past two seasons Wigan have been among the favourites for relegation until a late revival has saved them.  Only at the death have his teams produced the results.  They are capable of playing good football but have also suffered heavy losses.  As well as the 1 - 9 defeat at White Hart Lane in November, 2009 their final match of that season ended in an eight goal defeat at Chelsea.  The following season started with Wigan conceding ten goals in their opening two games at home to Blackpool and Chelsea.  They did turn it around with a single goal victory at Spurs in their next game.  Their survival in the Premier League was due to taking eight points from their final four matches of that season.  Hardly, impelling credentials for a Tottenham manager.

Jurgen Klinsmann
Klinsmann impressed in international management with Germany but only remained for two years.  His time with Bayern Munich was ended in less than a year due to a difference of opinion with the Board of Directors.  He has been manager of the American national team since last August.

Klinsmann has been mentioned before when Spurs have been looking for a new manager but the arguments against him then are still applicable.  He is always looking for new challenges as he did as a player, sampling football in different Leagues around Europe.  There would never be any certainty that he would see the job through and then his problem with the Bayern Board doesn't bode well for establishing a good working relationship with Daniel Levy and co.

Fabio Capello
He has an excellent record in club football with nine League titles in Italy and Spain.  However, he has never managed in Premier League and his time with England raised the problem of his communication skills due to his lack of fluency in English.  It would be a rather ironic appointment if the man Redknapp had expected to replace as England manager were to be his successor at White Hart Lane.

Sven-Goran Eriksson
Eriksson is another foreign manager with an exceptional record in club football across Europe.  He could have had the position at White Hart Lane in 1997 if Alan Sugar had known anything about him.  Harry Harris writes in his book, 'Hold the Front Page' that he received word that Sven-Goran Eriksson was interested in coming to England.
'I received a call from Bryan King on  my mobile.....He wondered how Spurs were getting on in their search for a new coach, and I told him, that they couldn't find the right candidate.
"How about Sven-Goran Eriksson?" ventured Bryan.
What a great idea, as he had a growing reputation built on steady progress through a number of European countries, such as Sweden, Portugal and Italy.......
Immediately I contacted Alan Sugar.  Naturally enough, the Spurs chairman hadn't heard of him, and really I didn't expect that he would have.  Alan suggested he would make some inquiries.....
The next day Alan called back and told me that he had consulted with people and Eriksson was not for Spurs."
Sugar went on to appoint Christian Gross.  Since his time as England team coach, Eriksson's dalliance with club football has been less impressive.  His time has passed.

Rafa Benitez
Benitez is another manager with vast experience and success in Spain taking Valencia to the title twice as well as winning the UEFA Cup.  In six years with Liverpool they were runners-up in the Premier League, won the FA Cup and took the ultimate prize in 2005 - winning the Champions League.

His teams are well prepared and were capable of playing attractive football.  He seemed to be at his best when preparing for the European competitions, especially when with Liverpool taking them to another Champions League Final in 2007.  The pressure of the rivalry with Manchester United seemed to get to him while at Anfield.

His time with Inter Milan was less fruitful where he stayed for only a season.  He took over from Jose Mourinho and was manager of Inter when they faced Spurs in two memorable games in the Champions League.  The master-tactician when faced with the pace of Gareth Bale seemed at a loss as to how to stop him.  Having been given fair warning of Bale's ability in the first game at the San Siro as Bale scored a hat-trick, Benitez failed to implement ant special arrangements to curtail his effectiveness in the second match at White Hart Lane.  Bale again reigned supreme as chants of 'Taxi for Maicon' rang around the ground during Spurs emphatic and well deserved 3 - 1 victory.

Alan Pardew, Frank de Boer and Glenn Hoddle and many others have also been mentioned along with Andre Villas-Boas who left Stamford Bridge in March after  a difficult time at Chelsea.

Andre Villas-Boas
After only a couple of days, rumours suggest that Villas-Boas has moved to the head of the vacancy list, to work along with Tim Sherwood as Director of Football.  Sherwood, the former Spurs player who was responsible for the Development squad at Spurs under Redknapp is the only member of the senior backroom staff to survive the cull.  Kevin Bond, Joe Jordan, Clive Allen and Les Ferdinand have all gone, leaving room for a new team to be appointed.

Villas-Boas had an excellent reputation for his work with Porto where his team won the League, Cup and Europa League in his one season in charge.  Porto went through the season undefeated and won the title by a twenty point margin.  This success attracted Chelsea to the young manager but his time at Stamford Bridge was problematic, where he had difficulties with the players, the owner and the media, eventually losing his post in March.

When Juande Ramos came to Tottenham he had an excellent reputation with Seville but it didn't work out in the Premier League.  Appointing Villas-Boas would be a huge gamble for Tottenham who are looking to get into the Champions League on a regular basis as well as win trophies.  Will he be given the time at White Hart Lane to get his new ideas across, that wasn't afforded to him at Stamford Bridge?  The press, opposing fans and supporters will be waiting for any signs of weakness as they did with a previous manager, Christian Gross, and Villas-Boas could find it difficult if he doesn't make an immediate impression as comparisons will be made with his predecessor.

Tottenham fans must also be willing to show patience if Villas-Boas were to be the chosen one.

Appointing a new manager is one of the most difficult tasks facing any Chairman.  The sudden departure of a successful manager makes it even more precarious a task that Daniel Levy has set for himself.


Saturday, June 16, 2012

Harry Redknapp is the 24th Manager Since ............

that day in 1984 when Chairman, Irving Scholar thought he had reached agreement with Alex Ferguson, the manager of Aberdeen, to take over at White Hart Lane.

The management merry-go-round continues at White Hart Lane.  After three and a half years (1327 days and 144 Premier League games), Harry Redknapp has been moved on and the search begins to find someone who will be able to take Spurs to the 'next level'.

Keith Burkinshaw 1984 UEFA Cup
In 1984, Keith Burkinshaw announced that he would be leaving Tottenham at the end of the season.  He went on to see Spurs win the UEFA Cup Final against Anderlecht in his final match in charge but the Chairman at the time had the task of finding a suitable replacement.

Irving Scholar writes in his book, 'Behind Closed Doors' (1992),
"So who could replace Keith? I had been talking to Alex Ferguson, then managing Aberdeen.  These conversations had reached a point of agreeing personal terms, and we shook hands on a deal.  However, he had second thoughts about the matter and decided not to accept my offer.
Ferguson would have been a good choice.  He had managed to break the Glasgow monopoly of Rangers and Celtic and had considerable European experience, having won the Cup Winners' Cup by beating Real Madrid in the Final a short time previously.  The way his teams played was also very important: whilst they were winning, they were also entertaining - a vital prerequisite for any Spurs side.  He was very intense and totally dedicated, something I found very appealing.  He also had a reputation for being a strict disciplinarian; it was a good combination for any manager.  Unfortunately, for Spurs, he had a father-son relationship with the Aberdeen Chairman, and I think, on reflection, he felt he would be letting him down if he left."
In 1986, Ferguson went to Manchester United and we know the rest.  It's interesting to read Scholar's criteria for a Tottenham manager - 'a winning side, playing entertaining football', 'considerable European experience' and 'intense and totally dedicated'.

Since 1984 when Scholar had that appointment to make, Spurs have had the following personnel in control of team affairs, although some were only in a caretaking capacity:

  Keith Burkinshaw (1984 UEFA Cup)
1984 Peter Shreeves
1986 David Pleat (1987 FA Cup Finalists)
1987 Trevor Hartley (Caretaker)
1987 Ossie Ardiles, Ray Clemence, Doug Livermore (Caretaker)
1987 Terry Venables (1991 FA Cup)
1991 Peter Shreeve
 1992 Doug Livermore and Ray Clemence (Terry Venables)
1993 Ossie Ardiles
1994 Steve Perryman (Caretaker)
1994 Gerry Francis
1997 Chris Hughton (Caretaker)
1997 Christian Gross
1998 David Pleat (Caretaker)
1998 George Graham (1999 Worthington Cup)
2001 David Pleat (Caretaker)
2001 Glenn Hoddle (2003 Worthington Cup Finalists)
2003 David Pleat (Caretaker)
2004 Jacques Santini
2004 Martin Jol
2007 Clive Allen, Alex Inglethorpe (Caretaker)
2007 Juande Ramos (2008 Carling Cup)
2008 Clive Allen, Alex Inglethorpe (Caretaker)
2008 Harry Redknapp (2009 Carling Cup Finalists)

Harry Redknapp is the 24th manager or management team, permanent or temporary, to have taken control of Spurs since that day in 1984 when Irving Scholar thought he had reached agreement with Alex Ferguson.  

If only Scholar's arrangement had been fulfilled twenty eight years ago, the history of Tottenham Hotspur might be somewhat different or perhaps Daniel Levy should consult Scholar to get his views on the current candidates or better still, does Scholar know a modern day 'Sir Alex Ferguson'.



Friday, June 15, 2012

Redknapp - From Prospective England Manager to Jobless

In four months Harry Redknapp has gone from being the hot favourite for the England manager's position to being jobless following his departure from Tottenham.  How could things have turned around so quickly?

Timetable for Redknapp's Demise at White Hart Lane
8th February:
When Harry Redknapp stood on the steps of Southwark Crown Court he was a relieved man having been cleared of all charges of tax evasion.  It had been a harrowing thirteen days for him as he juggled his responsibilities at Spurs with attendance at court.  All seemed well in his world - he had received the backing of the club throughout the trial and had been shown fantastic support by Spurs fans at White Hart Lane in the match against Wigan Athletic.  With Spurs third in the Premier League, seven points ahead of Chelsea in fourth and ten points clear of fifth placed Arsenal, everything looked good.

A few hours later, a decision would be made that was to turn his world around and would be part of the reason for his departure from Spurs four months later.  At the Football Association headquarters, following a meeting with Fabio Capello, the England manager's position became vacant and Redknapp was immediately installed as the 'people's and media's favourite'.  It was well known that Redknapp was keen to take the England position and it seemed to be only a matter of time before he would be approached.

Saturday, 11th February:
There was an out-pouring of emotional support for Harry Redknapp at White Hart Lane as fans put across the message that they didn't want him to leave for the England post.  The players responded in kind and Spurs put in one of their best performances of the season against Newcastle United.  Spurs were four ahead by half-time with Emmanuel Adebayor creating all of them.  He scored the fifth himself and it seemed that everything that Redknapp touched would turn to gold.  

Sunday, 19th February:
Following the previous week's euphoria, Spurs landed at Stevenage in the FA Cup with a bump and a scoreless draw.  In a less than satisfactory performance Spurs struggled against the Division One side, seeming to have no clear plan of attack, having focused solely on stopping the hard working lower League team.  As Redknapp admitted afterwards it wasn't a very good performance to put on his CV in front of the watching David Bernstein, the FA Chairman.

Sunday, 26th February: 
At approximately 2.04 pm at the Emirates as Emmanuel Adebayor scored from the penalty spot to give Spurs a two goal advantage in the north London derby, Spurs, in theory, were thirteen points clear of Arsenal and looked set to strengthen their hold on third place and the Champions League qualification that meant so much to the club and had been the number one priority for Harry Redknapp throughout the season.  Within nine minutes that had crumbled as Arsenal drew level and Spurs had no second half response as the home team went on to score three more goals.  The gap between third and fourth was now down to seven points.

Still, there was no decision regarding the England appointment as the Football Association made the apparently sensible option of delaying any announcement until nearer the end of the season to avoid unnecessary disruption at any club.  Stuart Pearce took the role on a temporary basis for the friendly against Holland.  Redknapp, however, was still regarded as favourite.

March, 2012:
Spurs went through the month without a Premier League win, losing at home to Manchester United, at Everton and drawing with Stoke City and at Chelsea.  In fact the home draw with Stoke saw them drop to fourth, a point behind their near neighbours.  Spurs' slump in form took them into a battle for fourth place when in mid-January they had been considered title contenders, only three points behind leaders Manchester City and level with United.

The FA Cup now acquired greater significance for Redknapp as he sought silverware to bring to the club.  Previously, he had always regarded the Cup competitions as a distraction and often fielded under-strength teams.  Stuttering progress was made to the semi-finals where Chelsea awaited.

The England position still remained on the cards with only passing mention of any other possible candidates, Roy Hodgson, in the media.  It still appeared to be Redknapp's with Tottenham making contingency plans for his departure.

1st April:
Spurs ended their run of defeats with success over Swansea at home - perhaps the team had turned the corner.

7th April:
Arsenal's defeat to QPR the previous weekend had given Spurs a lifeline and they briefly returned to third with a goalless draw at Sunderland but it was a particularly uninspiring performance as they were unable to break down the home side who had been set up to defend in depth and were content with a point from the outset.  It was a return to the days when Spurs simply ran out of ideas against a well organised, defensive orientated team.  The rumblings of discontent among fans were growing as they despaired at the team's loss of form and the manager's inability to turn it around and then Arsenal defeat Manchester City to reclaim fourth - nothing was going in Spurs' favour at this time.

9th April:
A home defeat to Norwich added to the general gloom around White Hart Lane - these sort of results happen to every team during a season but Spurs were totally outplayed by the visitors who deservedly took the three points.  Frustrations were increasing among fans with many venting their anger against the manager on message boards.  There was talk of players' meetings to try to sort out the problems and talk of their dissatisfaction with training routines, at lack of preparation and tactics.

15th April:
Another semi-final loss in the FA Cup, another 2 - 5 defeat as Spurs again crumbled to Chelsea who admittedly were aided by the referee's decision to award them the second crucial goal just after half time when the ball hadn't crossed the line.  The team that had been lauded earlier in the season for playing the best football since the 'Double' team were a pale shadow for their former selves.  Fans' dissatisfaction was growing by the day.

21st April:
Spurs had been provided with another opportunity to close the gap on third as Arsenal lost to Wigan Athletic and then drew with Chelsea but they dropped to fifth after a single goal defeat against relegation threatened QPR as Newcastle United moved above them.  It was another poor performance and left fans infuriated at the use of Gareth Bale on the right and Aaron Lennon on the left.  It again led to cries of " Gareth Bale - He plays on the left" and "Aaron Lennon - He plays on the right".

Even at this stage the press was still predicting that Redknapp would soon be announced as the next England manager.

1st May:
The Football Association announced that Roy Hodgson had been given a four year contract as England manager and that he had been their preferred candidate and the only person who had been interviewed.  Redknapp accepted the news graciously, as always, but must have felt great disappointment as he knew it was his last opportunity to manage his country, a position he had set his heart on.

Tottenham had been resigned to losing him and some had suggested, even before the FA's announcement, that regardless of what happened over the England position that Redknapp would be leaving Spurs in the summer.  Spurs' season had taken a dramatic turn as soon as the departure of Fabio Capello was announced with many feeling that the constant media questions about England had been a distraction for Redknapp.

With four matches to go Spurs needed maximum points to have any chance of playing Champions League football next season.  They defeated Blackburnn Rovers at the end of April and the win over Bolton Wanderers was a display more akin to their early season form.  They then needed to win at Villa Park, their fourth successive match against a team concerned about possible relegation.

6th May:
A win would see Spurs move into third with a Champions League place in their own hands.  Spurs were the better team but Aston Villa defended as if their Premier League lives depended on it, which they did.  in a rare home attack, Villa went ahead when a shot deflected off William Gallas and looped over Brad Friedel.  A goal down at half-time, Spurs then went down to ten men when Danny Rose was sent off.  They regrouped to equalise with just under half and hour remaining but Redknapp appeared indecisive on the touchline, looking to bring on Jermain Defoe, then deciding against it and once he knew that Newcastle had lost, he appeared to settle for a point, leaving Spurs dependent on other results going in their favour on the last day of the season.  Redknapp's acceptance of a draw against a poor Villa team seemed a very negative approach at such a crucial part of the season, when many other managers would have gone all out for the three points.

13th May:
Spurs won their final match against Fulham but Arsenal defeated Roy Hodgson's West Bromwich, courtesy of two goals gifted by former Tottenham goalkeeper, Marton Fulop.  Arsenal claimed third and for this season fourth did not guarantee Spurs Champions League football due to Chelsea's late season revival taking them to the final of this season's competition.

19th May:
Bayern Munich conceded a late equaliser, missed an extra time penalty and as Didier Drogba scored the crucial penalty in the shoot-out Chelsea claimed England's fourth Champions League place as holders, demoting Spurs to the Europa League, a competition for which Redknapp showed such disdain that he consistently sent out weakened teams and regularly talked it down in the press.

Spurs' season which at it's mid-point had the potential to become of the most memorable in recent times, had tailed off alarmingly and disappointingly.  Redknapp appeared to have lost the support of a section of supporters, there had been talk of disquiet among the players and the Board seemed less than enthusiastic about extending his contract.

For some time, Daniel Levy had been in America due to family commitments and there seemed to be little news coming out of White Hart Lane.  There were matters to be decided over current and potential players and Harry Redknapp's contract which had only one year to run.  It was thought that he had been offered a rolling contract but that didn't satisfy his needs and there were rumours that Chelsea were interested in taking him as manager ahead of Roberto Di Matteo.

June, 2012:
On the day of the funeral of Daniel Levy's mother, Harry Redknapp made media comments about the need for Tottenham to sort out his contract.  He raised the issue of the uncertainty for the players next season, knowing that the manager was in the last year of his contract having previously stated that the speculation over the England position had no effect on players, 'They don't care who's manager'.

10th June:
For the first time, a story appeared in the press that all was not well at Tottenham concerning the manager's contract and the uneasy relationship between manager and Chairman.  Discussions were due to take place and if not resolved could lead to Redknapp leaving the club.

12th June:
Following rumours circulating on Twitter that Harry Redknapp had resigned, Redknapp, himself, came out and made a very strong denial that he had resigned having a year to run on his contract, describing such comments as 'scandalous'.

13th June:
The meeting between Harry Redknapp and Daniel Levy did not reach agreement over the contract and news broke that the manager would be leaving Tottenham after three and a half years as manager.

14th June:
Tottenham issued a statement on their website at 3.37am to confirm what everyone already knew by announcing that Harry Redknapp would be leaving his post as manager of  Tottenham Hotspur. 

Many Spurs supporters were not surprised at the developments, aware that it had been a possibility for some time.  In the wider football world there was shock that a manager who had twice taken Spurs to fourth in three seasons had been removed.

A few hours later, Roy Hodgson who had beaten Redknapp to the England post and whose team's defeat in the final match of the season had seen Spurs miss out on Champions League football, spoke of his disappointment that Redknapp had departed Tottenham.

In four short months, Redknapp had gone from potential England manager, a position he openly craved, to an unemployed manager albeit with a handsome severance package to soften the blow.  The only question that remains is, Will Harry be back in football before or after Tottenham appoint his replacement?  Only time will tell.


Thursday, June 14, 2012

Harry Redknapp Leaves Tottenham

In the early hours of the morning of 14th June, 2012, Tottenham Hotspur made this official announcement on the departure of Harry Redknapp:

The Club can today announce that Harry Redknapp will be leaving his post as manager.

Chairman Daniel Levy commented, "This is not a decision the Board and I have taken lightly. Harry arrived at the Club at a time when his experience and approach was exactly what was needed. This decision in no way detracts from the excellent work Harry has done during his time with the Club and I should like to thank him for his achievements and contribution. Harry will always be welcome at the Lane."

Harry said, "I have thoroughly enjoyed my time at Spurs and am proud of my achievements. I have had a fantastic four years with the Club, at times the football has been breathtaking. I am sad to be leaving but wish to thank the players, staff and fans for their terrific support during my time there."
After weeks of speculation and two days of intense rumours, the decision has been taken and Harry Redknapp has left his position as manager of Spurs after three and a half years.

Harry Redknapp was a surprise appointment in October, 2008 when Juande Ramos' team was entrenched at the foot of the Premier League table with 'two points from eight games.'  Within hours of his appointment Redknapp oversaw Tottenham's first League win of the season as they defeated Bolton Wanderers at White Hart Lane, although Clive Allen was in charge, and then took Spurs to the Emirates for his first game.  Spurs gained a point in a thrilling 4 - 4 draw, coming back to score twice in added time.  His next match was at home to undefeated League leaders Liverpool, and again two late goals saw Tottenham record a 2 - 1 success.

By the end of the season Spurs had climbed the table to eighth and had a Carling Cup Final appearance on their record, losing on penalties to Manchester United. 

The following season Spurs had the perfect start, winning their first four matches.  They stayed in and around the top four throughout the campaign and were assured of Champions League qualification when defeating Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium in the penultimate match of the season.  They also reached the FA Cup semi-final but lost out to relegated Portsmouth at Wembley.

Season 2010 - 11 was memorable for the Champions League campaign which saw Spurs reach the quarter finals with some exhilarating football, including a memorable evening at White Hart Lane when Spurs totally outplayed, the European Champions, Inter Milan, as Gareth Bale confirmed his place on the world stage in a famous victory.  Spurs finished fifth but missed out on Champions League qualification after a poor run from February to May.

Last season was one of great highs but which ultimately ended in disappointment.  Spurs recovered from a poor start to record an undefeated run of eleven matches from September to December and were in a position to challenge for the title in mid-January, three points behind Manchester City.  Harry Redknapp overcame heart surgery and was cleared of tax evasion in court and became the media's favourite for the England manager's position following the departure of Fabio Capello in mid-February. 

It was at this point that Spurs went on an unexplainable run of disappointing results which saw them lose a ten point lead on their rivals for third place in the Premier League.  They did progress to the FA Cup semi-final at Wembley against Chelsea but lost heavily after Chelsea were awarded a second goal which hadn't crossed the line.  Following the Football Association's delayed announcement that Roy Hodgson wa sth enew England manager,  Spurs made a mini-recovery to finish fourth but as a result of Chelsea's Champions league triumph the club missed out on next season's competition and were relegated to the Europa League.

With the club looking to move forward with the development of a new stadium, missing out on the Champions League, even in such unfortunate circumstances, was a massive blow to their financial position and the retention and recruitment of players became more difficult.  

Rumours had been circulating that indicated that everything was not well at White Hart Lane and over the past two days it came to a head as Redknapp strongly denied suggestions on Twitter that he had resigned but then within twenty four hours his meeting with Chairman, Daniel Levy, ended with the club's announcement on his departure.

Harry Redknapp has brought good times to White Hart Lane during his three and a half years - something that many younger supporters have never experienced.  There have been many exciting performances which will live long in the memory of supporters but his time at Tottenham has come to a sudden and dramatic end with the slump coinciding with all the hype surrounding the England's manager's position taking its toll.

Now that the decision has been made, the difficult part remains - to find a successor who can improve on Redknapp's record and make the club a fixture in the Champions League year after year while contending for trophies - no easy task.

Thanks Harry - it was good while it lasted and sad that it ended so soon after Spurs were being considered as title challengers for the first time in decades.


Wednesday, June 13, 2012

If Harry were to Go, Why Moyes?

So much for a quiet summer without spending time blogging about Spurs.  There are obvious tensions at White Hart Lane between Chairman, Daniel Levy, and manager, Harry Redknapp.  If Harry were to go, why is David Moyes favourite to take over?

That Harry Redknapp had to come out so strongly last night and deny Twitter rumours that he had resigned as manager of Spurs, clearly indicates that all is not well at White Hart Lane.  There have been rumblings for some months on messageboards that Redknapp would be going this summer, whether or not he was appointed as England manager.

From February and the departure of Fabio Capello, it looked as if Redknapp would be moving on to take over as the next England boss.  It had been obvious for some time that Harry Redknapp wanted the position, he was the overwhelming favourite with the media, he had the backing from England players, he seemed to have considerable support among the fans and he appeared to be the choice of the Football Association.

The delay in making the appointment, while appearing to be a sensible decision at the time, became problematic for Tottenham as their form slumped and their position of a guaranteed Champions League spot slipped until it became a battle for fourth which with Chelsea's progress to the Champions League Final didn't guarantee qualification next season.  However, even in the week before the FA's announcement that Roy Hodgson was the new England manager, Redknapp's name was being touted in the press as the 'appointed one'.

After the decision had been made, Spurs' form improved and they did take fourth which in every other season has ensured Champions League qualification, but this time because of Chelsea's success Spurs were relegated to the Europa League.  Spurs had not achieved their objective for the season in unexpected and unfortunate circumstances.

Since then there has been speculation over players for next season and even over the manager's position.  Yesterday's outburst from Redknapp clearly shows he is under pressure ahead of his meeting with Daniel Levy.  It is suggested that Redknapp is not to be offered an extension of his contract but of course, he won't resign - he has a year left on his contract - and if he were to go, it would only be if Levy gives him the push with payment of the appropriate compensation. 

Today's meeting will be critical to the future of Tottenham and the team and the situation that has arisen may explain the delay in the completion of the signing of the Belgian international defender, Jan Vertonghen, from Ajax.

With the speculation of Redknapp's imminent departure growing, there has been much musing about a possible replacement.  One of the favourites appears to be David Moyes from Everton.  He has done a very credible work at Goodison Park during his ten years as manager but could he do better at Tottenham than Harry Redknapp?

Moyes has the experience of the Premier League and appears to have developed a good team spirit in his squad of players from limited resources at Everton.  His ability to use transfer resources wisely may be a plus in the eyes of the Spurs chairman but how does his record and style of play compare with Harry Redknapp's.  

Premier League 
In three complete seasons at White Hart Lane, Spurs have finished fourth, fifth and fourth.  In ten seasons at Goodison Park, Everton have finished fourth once in 2005.  Other top half finishes include 5th twice, sixth, seventh (x 3) and eighth.  Last year, Everton's season was the reverse of Tottenham's - they started poorly but finished strongly to rise to seventh.  In January after the clubs played their 'opening day' fixture who would have considered Moyes as manager ahead of Redknapp, Spurs were third and had 45 points while Everton were eleventh with 24 points. 

'The Tottenham Way'
Spurs' managers are expected to send out their teams to play in a certain way with stylish attacking football and Harry Redknapp achieved that more often than many recent managers.  David Moyes' teams come with a reputation for being well organised and hard working, able at times to grind out a result.  Will that be enough for Spurs' supporters?

FA Cup 
Spurs have failed in two FA Cup semi-finals under Harry Redknapp but Everton haven't been much more successful under Moyes.  They lost in the Final in 2009 and were losing semi-finalists this season.  Having said that Everton finished the season strongly, they were still unable to overcome an unconvincing Liverpool at Wembley in April.

Champions League
Both clubs have qualified for the competition once although Everton were more fortunate than Spurs, as they were able to compete having finished fourth even though Liverpool won the competition having finished outside the top four in the Premier League.  It was the change to the rules after this that denied Spurs their second opportunity to play against Europe's elite next season.  Everton's sojourn in the competition was short lived as they failed to reach the group stages while Harry Redknapp took Spurs to the quarter finals in an exciting European journey.

There is always the perception that a new manager can take the club to the next level but can David Moyes do any better that Harry Redknapp?  The current manager, like all managers, has his faults - he is an old-style manager with a reputation for man-management and the ability to motivate players.  This, however, has not been sufficient to lift Spurs in the past two seasons when they slipped from a position of strength at the end of February.  Spurs have continued to fail when faced with the top clubs in the Premier League and to make that crucial step to be a consistent top side, Spurs need to overcome that problem, whatever the cause.  A freshening up of training methods and a greater attention to detail and tactics could benefit Hartry Redknapp's team but whether it will happen with Spurs is in the balance at present.


Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Spurs v Co. Armagh (Milk Cup 2012)

An article from the local Portadown Times (1st June) about Spurs playing County Armagh at Shamrock Park in the NI Milk Cup 2012 on Saturday, 21st July.

Spurs Set to Tackle Cream of the County  

EUROPEAN football will take centre-stage at Shamrock Park next month with Portadown playing host to Tottenham Hotspur and CSKA Moscow.

Shamrock Park, Portadown
The Ports – alongside Craigavon and Armagh and City District council officials – have secured the Brownstown Road ground as a venue for Milk Cup group games on Saturday, July 21.
County Armagh under 14s will face CSKA Moscow, with the area’s Premier side then set to take on Tottenham Hotspur.

This summer marks the 30th anniversary of the Milk Cup tournament, with organisers opting to allow county sides to kick off the youth competition at home venues as part of the celebrations.
Ronnie Stinson, Portadown’s director of football, considers the appearance of the Orchard County’s two leading teenage squads as another link between the town club and youth development.

“Over the past year we have really worked hard at pushing on our development strategy by implementing the Academy coaching programme, establishing connections with Falkirk and strengthening existing links with the Portadown Youth club,” said Stinson. “In keeping with that commitment to aiding youth development in the area, we are delighted to welcome the two County Armagh squads.

“Tottenham Hotspur and CSKA Moscow should attract plenty of football fans given the rich history both clubs enjoy.

“However, it is also a great opportunity for supporters to get a look at some of the most promising players in the borough.

“Our extensive ground redevelopments were implemented to help Shamrock Park become a greater focal point for the community and certainly we are delighted to have a connection to this year’s anniversary Milk Cup.”

Both visiting squads will stay in The Armagh City Hotel on Friday, July 20 before heading over to Shamrock Park for the opening group fixtures.

“What a draw,” said the Mayor of Craigavon, Councillor Alan Carson. “It’s really good news for the borough that we have these teams playing here.

“I hope that as many people as possible will support these young players and give them the credit they deserve on July 21.”

The Milk Cup link also presents the perfect platform from which to promote the area.
“This is another opportunity to showcase Portadown’s first-class facilities at Shamrock Park,” said Craigavon Borough Council’s chair of leisure services, Alderman Meta Crozier. “It’s a great opportunity that Armagh’s junior and premier sides can play their first matches in front of large home crowds.”

The Armagh teenagers will also face County Tyrone and Desportivo Brazil in the Premier group stages.  In the Junior group, the boys meet Watford and County Tyrone.


Tottenham Legends

The term 'Legend' is sometimes used very loosely and generously where former players are concerned but these three are true Tottenham Hotspur 'Legends' who served the club loyally over many years and enjoyed great success during their time at White Hart Lane.

Dave Mackay
Yesterday, the official Tottenham Hotspur site reported that Dave Mackay had been taken into hospital in Nottingham on Saturday with a chest infection.  Every Spurs fan will wish him a speedy recovery and hope that he will soon be home again.

Signed from Hearts in 1958, Mackay became a vital member of the 1960s Double winning team.  He also played in the 1962 FA Cup Final but missed out in the ECWC Final through injury.  After twice recovering from breaking his leg, he captained the 1967 FA Cup winning team.  He made 268 League appearances for Spurs.

Up-date (16th June):
(from the Official Site) 
The Club is pleased to report that our legendary former midfielder Dave Mackay has now left hospital.

The double-winner who made over 300 appearances for us between 1958-68 and lifted the FA Cup as captain in 1967 was admitted to hospital in Nottingham last weekend with a chest infection.

We send our best wishes to Dave and his family.

Steve Perryman
There is good news that Steve Perryman has been released from hospital and is making a steady recovery following his heart surgery at the beginning of May.  It's good to know that he is making progress and  everyone would once again want to wish Steve a continued speedy recovery.

Steve holds the record for appearances for the club from his debut in 1969 to his departure in 1986.  He won the League Cup twice and the UEFA Cup in the 1970s and then captained the FA Cup winning team in 1981 and 1982.  He was part of the UEFA Cup winning team in 1984 but missed out in the final due to suspension.  He later returned to White Hart Lane as assistant manager to Ossie Ardiles.

Pat Jennings
On this day, 12th June, 1945 the greatest ever Tottenham Hotspur goalkeeper was born in Newry, Northern Ireland.  Signed from Watford in 1964, Jennings made 472 League appearances for the club and won the FA Cup in 1967, the League Cup in 1971 and 1973 and the 1972 UEFA Cup.

Happy 67th Birthday, Pat and we wish you many more.

Jennings Signed from Watford: here
Pat Jennings to be Honoured by UEFA: here


Friday, May 25, 2012

Spurs' Opponents in NI Milk Cup 2012

The draw fro the NI Milk Cup was made today at the BBC Blackstaff studio in Belfast.  Spurs are playing in the Premier Section which has twenty teams and is a competition which they have won twice and in which they finished fifth last year.

The NI Milk Cup commences on Saturday, 21st July and today the draw was made for the first three matches.  The tournament is in its thirtieth year and was described as 'the premier youth tournament in Europe" by local commentator, Jackie Fullerton.   Among the special guests at today's draw was Michael O'Neill, the Northern Ireland manager, and two internationals who have played in the competition in their earlier days, Corry Evans of Hull City and Andy Little of Rangers.  A South American delegate from FIFA was also present, Harold Mayne-Nicholls from Chile.  He spoke of the quality of the tournament making it easy to attract South American teams to the competition.  The Chairman of the Dairy Council Northern Ireland, the main sponsor of the tournament for many years, referred to the NI Milk Cup as "one of the best youth tournaments in the world".

Premier Section:
Spurs are playing in the Premier Section for players born on or after 1st January, 1995.
The twenty teams taking part are:

The six local County teams: Armagh, Down, Fermanagh, Antrim, Tyrone and Londonderry.

Otago (New Zealand), South Coast Strikers (USA), Revo Express (Norway), Pachuca (Mexico), Desportivo Brazil, Ichfuna (Japan), CSKA Moscow, Bolton Wanderers, Benfica (Portugal), Etoile Lusitana (Senegal), Cherry Orchard (Republic of Ireland), Manchester United, Newcastle United and Tottenham Hotspur.

Spurs' Premier Section Fixtures:

Saturday, 21st July, 2012:  v County Armagh (venue: Shamrock Park, Portadown) 
KO: 2pm (probably)

This year the six local County teams are playing their first game at a venue in their own county before the tournament returns on the Monday to its traditional North coast venues.  This was first done to mark the twenty first anniversary of the competition and is being repeated this year to mark its thirtieth anniversary.

Monday, 23rd July, 2012:  v South Coast Strikers (USA)  (Evening KO)

Tuesday, 24th July, 2012:  v Otago (NZ)  (Evening KO)
(The venues for these two games will be announced later)

Spurs' Opponents:
County Armagh
Spurs have played a local County team in their last two Milk Cup tournamentsThe local sides usually give a good account of themselves.  In 2010, they defeated Londonderry by four goals to nil in their opening match and had a more difficult game than the score suggests.  Last year it was Fermanagh who gave them a difficult match.  Spurs were a goal down at half-time and only two goals from Kenneth McEvoy in the last ten minutes earned Spurs the points.

South Coast Strikers (USA)
Spurs played South Coast Strikers from California twice last year.  They met in the third match of the tournament and the 1-2 defeat suffered by Spurs denied them the opportunity to play in the play-offs for 1st - 4th.  They were a strong, well organised team and took an early lead last year.  Spurs fought back to draw level but after much pressure from Spurs, SCS scored late on the win the match.

The teams then met in the play-off for 5th and 6th place with Spurs winning a penalty shoot-out after a 1 - 1 draw.

Otago (NZ)
Spurs played Otaga in the opening match of last year's competition and won 4 - 0.  Dominic Ball who has Northern Ireland family connections, scored twice for Spurs who made an impressive start to the competition.

Following the opening three matches the places determine the play-off spots (1st - 4th/5th - 8th etc)

Spurs to Play in Milk Cup 2012:  Report

Spurs at the Milk Cup in 2011:  Report

Spurs at the Milk Cup 2010:  Report