VIEW FROM THE NORTH STAND – TOTTENHAM

By Dan Davies
Mar 19th, 2008

Someone told me that we’d played Tottenham twice before this season, but strangely enough I can only remember a 2-0 victory at the Bridge in January. I do have a vague recollection of a bunch of players in Blue, who didn’t in any way resemble a professional football team, let alone one as successful and mighty as CFC losing a recent cup-final in shambolic fashion, but that can’t have been us can it?

I’ve braved the wilds of the Seven Sisters Road though and met up with Tottenham fan Jim Dungan – he of www.topspurs.com (oxymoron?) and asked him what he expected from our third league game in eight days & chance for revenge.

Cutting straight to the chase, what do you think of your performances so far this season?

A curate’s egg of a season. Obviously the great highs of the Wembley win and indeed the 5-1 pasting of Arsenal in the round before mean in terms of highlights it been the best for years. That said for the most part this its been a bit of a nothing season where the league was ruined by first the slackness in getting caught tapping up Ramos and then the delay over landing him. A couple of great highs but a lot of nothingness in between.

What areas of your squad need strengthening?

The best thing Spurs could do is lose the director of football nonsense. The position is either a glorified chief scout or a manager in waiting, and either way it just adds another layer of paranoia in between the manager/chairman relationship. For every “it works well on the continent”, there are more examples over here where it doesn’t work and after spending 35m on players like Bent, Kaboul, Boeteng, Taraabt who neither Jol or Ramos wants, its a dogma that Levy can’t go back on without looking daft.

As for players, “ramon” Rocha, Taraabt and Boeteng are all players only their mothers and the Spurs director of football can see the good in. More controversially (and I’m in a small minority) but I’d move Berbatov on in the summer and replace him with two Champions League/International quality players who most importantly are not prima donnas and going to spend each transfer window looking for a move and/or more money.

Anyone who has played football at any level knows a player like him is going to be not popular with the rest of his team but is tolerated for his moments of magic (which are undeniable) and I think Spurs would do better as a unit without him – just as the Goons have bounced after Henry and Everton did after losing Rooney.

Spurs also need defenders and probably a keeper but good tactics and hard work will mean more than Spurs traditional remedy just throwing money at something imvho.

What’s happened since your last win (the one we don’t want to talk about!) – why do the wheels seem to have fallen off?

Very old Spurs. Ramos innocently told the players to let their hair down not realising what that means over here and Spurs with a weakened team up at Brum and an under prepared game against PSV paid the price. To some extent it does not matter, well the League stuff anyway, but equally Spurs have lost all the momentum and positive vibe taken from winning at Wembley. The pre-season 2008/09 has already started.

What do you think of Chelsea, as if we needed to ask? Are we now seeing the down side of having a multi-billionaire fan as owner?

I view Chelsea in two distinct parts. The old Chelsea died under Bates crippling debts in the early part of the decade and was replaced by something which bears very little resemblance to what we used to know as Chelsea. Plenty of Spurs Chelsea connections in the old days both in style, substance and players and it was always a good rivalry but this has been lost in the money skewed footballing landscape.

Two Spurs legends have played a major part in getting Chelsea where they are now-Graham Roberts to get you back to the top level and the great Glenn Hoddle laying the foundation which Gullet,Vialli and Ranieri took on to a new level. Chelsea like Leeds had already broken into the elite of English football with money they did not have but unlike the Yorkshire puddin’s Chelsea got bailed out

There are two types of dislike for Chelsea. The one of envy is a bit sad. Good luck to you for your titles and I don’t think anyone should belittle them just because the owner has a few quid and as you lot probably know its more than that. Money alone would not have sorted Chelsea it was the product of decent managers and excellent players, who were taken on to the next level by the very special Mourinho

The other dislike of Chelsea is the one I sometimes subscribe to and can be summed up by the treatment of referee Frisk, the way John Terry collected his runners up medal and the unease and lack of class typical of “new money”. The dull football of recent managers add to the lack of appeal. Chelsea were always capable on their day but vulnerable and inconsistent. As yet another ‘hiding to nothing’ win against inferior opposition is put away, I wonder if you secretly long for those days again

btw – I am concerned at your use of the word “fan” around the description of your owner. Trust me, he is not doing it for the same reasons we turn up week in week out and while his net spend shows he has put lots of money in, I’m sure he is benefiting in his own way.

Is Ramos the right man to take you forward and how far realistically can you grow? What’s his most pressing challenge currently?

Spurs fans are quite desperate for the messiah, and get more desperate for each new manager, contorting reality to provide reasons why they are different and special.

Who knows about Ramos? Time frames to judge people in football are now down to hours rather than months or years with the modern press interest/internet and fans ‘have’ to have an opinion rather just seeing how it goes. I don’t know to be honest. Ramos comes highly regarded and seems to know what he is doing, and importantly seems to improve his result against a team the second or more times he plays them. And of course he already has some silverware! His points per game record is already pretty good but equally there have been some strange decisions mitigated by some good fortune but the good outweighs the negative at this stage. The time to judge will be the first game of next season

Which of your current squad do you most admire?

In their different ways, Keane and King stand out. Keane has been at the club for 5.5 years now and having just notched his 100th goal fully deserves the legend status not least for trying just as hard in Jol’s last game as he did in Ramos first – and there are not too many in that squad who can say the same. Ledley is one of this country’s best players but he’ll never get a chance to prove it outside Spurs circles. It was particularly nice that he got his Wembley cup lift the other day

Most of the rest of them are just premiership footballers. For all their wonderful skill, they come, they are often quite gifted, they go and by and large are forgotten.

What was the key reason you won the Cup Final, was it down to tactics or simply desire?

I think it was just one of those things. Spurs got everything right from desire, tactics and individual performances. Chelsea put out a decent side but it appears that stronger personalities than the manager cause problems behind the scenes and they thought they were good enough just to turn up and take the cup. That said, we needed a penalty and a fortuitous winner to make the difference and for all Spurs dominance it could have been very different. It was a proper cup game where the one chance in ten came off

Where will you finish this season?

Somewhere between 9th-11th. Spurs are currently behind West Ham in the league which says it all about the league season

What about Chelsea?

Its going to be difficult to make up the ground on Arsenal and Man U and given the upheaval at the start of your season perhaps 3rd is a par score this time round given Arsenal’s unexpected improvement. A lot will depend upon how the Champions League goes and perhaps its Chelsea’s turn in the final this year.

Give us a score prediction.

I think the best Spurs can hope for at this stage of this season is a draw. Just as the desire to win the final was with Spurs, the desire for revenge and the league points will be Chelsea’s. Perhaps Spurs 1-2 Chelsea. That said, I think its a big test for how Spurs will get on next season. After the famous ‘arfa arfa’ 5-1 win against you lot in the 2002 league cup semi, you’ll need no reminding to know that you came back to beat Spurs twice in a 10 days 0-4.

The final win gave Spurs some forward momentum (which they quickly threw away at Brum/PSV) and if Spurs are going to be anything other than an also ran under Ramos avoiding defeat preferably with a win would be an excellent statement of intent for next season

Thanks very much Jim – some interesting views there. Now to resume “Normal Service”.

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