Friday, September 29, 2006

Mido Rings Pompey Chimes! (a.k.a. The Portsmouth Preview)

So you’re not keeping the fans happy as you fail to score in your 5th game running, and you’re not playing particularly well either, what could you do to keep them onside? How about taunting their most hated player? Well, that could work. At least that must be what Mido thought when he was quoted as saying :
“Portsmouth is a really important game for us. They have Sol Campbell at the back and he is the easiest defender I have ever played against. I'm not scared
of him.”
A rather cocky comment, especially from someone who isn’t exactly doing the business on the pitch at the moment. Still, he’s confident, which we like, and he did give Campbell a rough ride in the North London Derby at the Lane last season. Poor old Sol was so bad that day, every pass went to a Spurs player or ball boy, and he looked visibly shaken by the whole experience. There will much of the same in store again on Sunday, except this time it will all be directed at him, rather than him and his team mates which was the schedule for the games against the Goons.

Spurs will need to step up a gear from the one they were in against Slavia Prague in order to beat Harry Redknapp’s boys, who are flying at the moment, and contain 4 ex Spurs players all rather hungry to prove a point. If Spurs weren’t in a bit of a slump then this sort of game should be a home banker, but things aren’t going well in terms of finding the net and it is going to be a dicey affair. Our friends at MANSION have Pompey at 7/2 in old money to win on Sunday, which is mighty generous given the two teams respective form cards. Harry’s teams are always fired up, and play decent effective football.

Despite Mido’s verbal jousting, he might not actually play as Martin Jol talked during the week about Dimtiar Berbatov possibly being back to face Portsmouth. That would be a big boost, as you can’t quite imagine our Suave Slav missing all of those chances last night. Having Ledley back would also convince The Waddler not to take up those generous odds on Pompey, and would get Spurs ever closer to fielding a full strength side. It’s a sorry state of affairs, but if Spurs can come out unscathed on Sunday, then they can go into the international break and re-group, patch up those weary limbs, and maybe even get Aaron Lennon back in the fold. There is a two week break then before the next match against the Premier League’s other resurgent team, Aston Villa, run by the man that should be in the Spurs hot seat, Martin O’Neill.

Let’s keep all fingers and toes crossed that King and Berbatov pull through and that Spurs step it up on Sunday. A midfield of Jenas, Ghaly, Zokora and BAE or Ziegler would be an interesting one to see, as Ghaly certainly looked effective last night, and Murphy certainly did not, yet again. Jenas did a pretty good Lennon impression, and BAE or Ziegler would still offer us balance on the left. As to who makes it though, who knows, as the Big Man’s team sheets are becoming harder to predict than where a Mido header is going to land.

Come On You Spurs!

The Waddler.

A night of Purgatory at the Lane

It was a tough evening to be a Spurs fan last night, as the team made heavy work of light opposition; missing chance after chance along with some defending that would have been comical if it wasn’t so serious. That probably isn’t a new occurrence but it was a wasted opportunity to kick start the season and instil some much needed confidence into the side. As Martin Jol said in his program notes, Spurs needed to score and do it early. That they didn’t was down to some woeful finishing, and the result was that as the game wore on, the team got more nervous, so did the crowd, and more passes were miss-placed, tackles lost and chances spurned. The downward spiral was evident for all to see, and one wag sitting near The Waddler likened it to Purgatory, which is the sort of intellectual comment often found in the West Stand, in between mouthfuls of prawn sandwich. Although what transgressions Spurs fans have not paid for wasn’t clarified, maybe the simile will be completed for those in earshot on Sunday.

The night had started reasonably well, despite UEFA’s draconian rules of no beer sold in the ground, and even worse no Jumbotron, which denied the crowd the opportunities to see just how bad some of the finishing really was. The atmosphere was good though; the team were gleaming in the all white strip, and with the floodlights on coupled with the rain driving down it was a proper evening match at the Lane, and it felt good to be back in Europe. There were some good performances around too if you looked hard enough. Jermaine Jenas, whom The Waddler could fill countless pages on such are the emotions that the man creates in a Spurs fan, certainly worked very hard. The dichotomy of Jenas is that he has all the ability in the world and can do something superb, but which is then often followed by something truly awful. One run last night summed him up perfectly; picking the ball up in his own half, he ran two thirds of the length of the pitch, leaving Slavia defenders in his wake, only to pass the ball to one of them on the edge of the box, rather than having a go himself. That said he never stopped going, always looking for the ball and all the while playing out of position on the right wing. Honourable mentions should also go to Hossam Ghaly who looked useful when he came on, and the mighty Pascal Chimbonda, who looks a steal for the £3.5m allegedly paid for him.

The left side continues to cause problems, with Reto Ziegler looking rusty with his positional sense and link up play. Some of his set piece deliveries were decent though, and maybe he should be given a run to see if he improves. Teemu Tainio seems to be eating whatever Edger Davids has, as he has lost it since last season. The ball doesn’t stick to his feet, his tackling lets him down, and he gets nowhere near the opposition box. Spurs could do worse than leave Lee at left back and try BAE on the left side of midfield, or even vice versa. Either way, Comolli needs to be generating some serious air miles looking for someone with a left foot, as the status quo is not good.

At least the name of Tottenham Hotspur is in the draw for the group stage, West Ham’s is not, and Robbie Keane finally scored his first goal since April. The Waddler dreams of a team of Robbie Keane’s as much as the next Spurs fan, but a Robbie lacking in confidence is not a pretty sight, so hopefully this will be the first of a hot streak. Adding King, Berbatov, Lennon and Malbranque to this team would certainly improve matters, and could even be enough to win the UEFA Cup so long as the luck holds.

The Waddler.

Now at !

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

UEFA Cup Preview - Bring yer boots tomorrow!

It’s a long awaited European home game tomorrow at the Lane, where the team, all dressed in white, will take to the field under floodlights and evoke memories of Mullery and Roberts lifting that enormous UEFA Cup trophy, and putting Tottenham Hotspur on the international map. The team need some inspiration from somewhere, and it should be provided by the White Hart Lane faithful, who have been looking forward to this for a long time. The club and fans demand to be playing in European competition every year, and now that we have arrived, the opportunity to make an impact, as well as re-ignite the season should be taken.

It has been a poor start to the season by anyone’s standards, and whilst the term “crisis” is a little far fetched at the moment, getting knocked out of Europe now would certainly warrant its use. Spurs take a 1-0 advantage into the second leg after a decent workmanlike performance in Prague a fortnight ago. With the crucial away goal in the bag, it should mean that Slavia Prague need to attack Spurs pretty much from the off, and this should allow for some free flowing and fairly entertaining football. An early Spurs goal would settle everyone’s nerves, and allow the team to build up some much needed confidence.

Where are the goals going to come from though? With only two players finding the scoresheet so far this season, and one of them, Dimitar Berbatov, not available for a few more weeks it’s not immediately obvious. Add in the rumour that Jermain Defoe is injured as well, leaving Mido and Keane up front, it could be a nervy night. It will be interesting to see who makes the bench tomorrow as back up striker, as Lee Bernard hasn’t featured for the reserves lately, presumably due to injury, so it could be Tomáš Pekhart, a 17 year old signed from Slavia in the summer, who has been banging them in for the under 18s. What a bizarre first team debut it would be for the boy if Mido or Keane got injured and he had to play, against his old club. That is presuming he is eligible for European competition of course, as Spurs would needed to have registered him, and who knows if they did.

With the forward line picking itself by default, the midfield will be a key area as usual. Also out according to the rumour hounds is Edgar Davids, which lets be fair is no great loss. This only clarifies the situation slightly however, as Jol could use Huddlestone along side Zokora as he did in the first leg, or play Murphy there as he has for the last two games. There were signs of a player emerging in Murphy during the Liverpool game, and perhaps he just needs a run to find his form. He could do with a goal, as could everyone of course, but that might be enough to spark a recovery. The lesser spotted Ghaly is an option as well. Presumably, Tainio and Jenas will fill the “wide” roles given the lack of alternative options, although as mentioned on here already, its time to give Ziegler a try on the left.

At the back we have some disastrous news, with Ledley apparently picking up a knee injury which will keep him out of the game tomorrow, but maybe not Sunday. Gardener and Davenport, the likely replacements are also struggling apparently, but one or both should pull through to play along side the great Michael Dawson. Which one it is doesn’t really matter, no one can replace Ledders, and if neither make it then it will have to be Huddlestone or maybe Chimbonda playing out of position, which would be bad.

So, with Spurs Lodge looking like a scene from the Battle of the Somme, with players strewn all over the field, The Waddler is going to take his boots with him to the Lane tomorrow night just in case. You never know. Despite the injury situation though it is a perfect opportunity to stick a few past Slavia, and get the team fired up and full of confidence for Sunday, when Harry brings his boys up the A3, and a certain former Spurs captain returns for his favourite match of the season.

Come on you Spurs!

The Waddler.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Jol down on his luck

Oh dear. As soon as the team sheets came out it was clear there would only be one result. Liverpool were taking this game seriously with their best strike force, Kuyt and Bellamy, and their main man, Steven Gerrard all lining up against a Spurs team with Keane & Defoe up front. Surely, the point of buying Berbatov and Mido was to avoid the little and little partnership? Yes Mido hasn’t yet scored but nor had Keane or Defoe, and the two paired together never works. The ball gets lumped up to them, or we put in head high crosses and nothing happens, it blunts the play completely. To have two little ‘uns up front you need to adjust your style of play, building attacks through the middle, keeping the ball on the floor or knocking it behind the defence for them to run onto. Spurs don’t play like that though. Seeing Keane and Defoe paired together is getting to be like the bad old days of finding out Poyet and Anderton were that game’s central midfield pairing; it meant one thing – get to the bookies and lump on the opposition. On Match of the Day Alan Shearer got it right, Spurs played well up until they got to the box, where they lacked presence and power. Exactly! Why can’t BMJ see that though?

Just like Old Trafford, it’s another strange tactical decision by Jol and another loss. It’s harsh to say that it is the sole reason for the loss but it’s a contributory factor. The main difference between this season and last though is the absence of luck. We are playing the same quality of football, i.e. not that great, but last year it yielded points, but this year it is not. Why? Jol’s luck has run dry. There were many occasions last year when The Waddler strolled out of White Hart Lane wondering how Spurs managed to win having played so poorly, but because we won, there’s no point grumbling. This season though its just not happening.

JJ’s miss after 65 minutes was clearly the turning point of the game, as if it had gone in the celebrations would still have been going on when Liverpool scored 30 seconds later. Based on last year, Spurs would then have held on for a point after conceding an equaliser from a Liverpool wonder strike (a la Riise’s effort on Saturday). But no, not this season and as it was Spurs had to push forward looking for a goal and got hit a couple of times. 3-0 was a harsh scoreline, but one that should ruffle a few feathers back at Spurs lodge and feathers sure need to be ruffled down there.

At some stage things will turn, the luck will come back and the goals will flow. Its not as if the team is full of bad players, it is not, the squad is one of the best we’ve had. It’s not as if the stadium is half full and the crowd have turned against the team or the management, it is not, the Lane is full to bursting every week, as are the away ends wherever Spurs go. Martin Jol’s name is sung everywhere. But how long will this situation continue? Six games is still the “start” of the season, but what happens if we’re in the same boat after ten? That is over a quarter of the season gone.

Clearly, this week is a big one. Slavia Prague and Pompey at home, both games that should and need to be won to kick start the season. If that happens then a sigh of relief can be breathed, and normal service can be resumed. What is normal service though? Will we ever see the type of football that the fans want under Jol? The jury is very much out, and now in his 3rd season, the verdict should be delivered soon. Will he be our next Burkinshaw or Nicholson? Both didn’t start well, and then went on to be creators of great periods in our history. So Jol could be too, but the signs are not very clear at the moment. He has certainly stabilised the team after tough periods under Hoddle, Pleat and briefly Santini, there is no doubt about that. Qualifying for Europe via the league, no matter with luck or not, is a great achievement for a modern Tottenham manager, but does he get the best out of his players? Should that side have wrapped up the Champions League spot before the last game of the season? Should Spurs be losing at home to Everton and failing to beat Fulham?

It is all very much up in the air at the moment, but there is the nasty feeling that the Big Man has taken this team as far as he can, and that he will be the Rioch, Houllier or Ranieri to Spurs’ equivalent of Wenger, Benitez or Mourinho. All of whom took a team that was very well stocked by their predecessor, added a few choice players and their own tactical nous and took their respective teams up a level and onto to trophy wins and success. If Jol is the Ranieri then who will be our Mourinho? It is not a question with an easy answer. Jol fell into Spurs’ lap having made a poor choice with Santini, so who would they go for this time? At least Comolli is there to advise this time, but you can’t help think that with Sven Goran Eriksson currently out of a job, and his alleged close relationship with Levy, that he would be the one they go for. For that reason alone it’s enough to continue to back Jol to arrest this decline and maybe in the back of his mind, for a point in the future, Levy can take time to line up the next manager, the man who will bring the glory back to White Hart Lane.

The Waddler.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Alright Lah! – Its De Bezzie Pool Preview

This is going to sound a lot like the Man U preview; haven’t won up there in years, injuries, best Spurs can hope for is a draw, etc, etc. Obviously though The Waddler will write this afresh, not simply cut and paste and replace the words Man Utd with Liverpool – that would be wrong.

So, what of our opponents? Well, who knows really as Rafa Benitiez changes his team so much; you never know who is going to play. Apparently, this is the 963 game on the trot (or something) that he hasn’t fielded the same team twice in a row. It was Kuyt and Bellemy up front against Newcastle, both former Spurs targets, so that leads the average fan to suspect that it may be Crouch and Fowler up front, or Crouch and Luis Garcia even. Perhaps he has a National Lottery style machine with all the players’ squad numbers on little balls, and draws out 11 before each game; then a bit like Thunderball, 5 more for the subs, not as good as the main draw but better than nothing. The good news though is that Spurs are the third game of four that they have to play in 10 days, as they have a Champions League game on Wednesday. Hopefully then this will involve more shuffling than usual from Benitez and mean that Gerrard is left on the bench or in the stands. He is the one world class player they have, and the main difference between the two sides, apart from form of course. The unfortunate loss to Everton aside, Liverpool have started the season reasonably well, getting the results without necessarily wowing the plaudits with dazzling football.

One of the main improvements under Jol is that Spurs rarely go to places like Anfield and get spanked, we still lose but its more gallant these days, perhaps losing to a deflected goal or wonder strike. The end result is the same of course, but on occasion it means that we come away with a point, which is better than none. At Highbury and Old Trafford we did so last season, and at Anfield, OT and Stamford Bridge the season before. So can we nick a point again tomorrow in the day’s early kick off? It is possible of course, especially with our new solid looking back 5, that has just kept two clean sheets on the trot. The tough decision for Jol is whether to go all out defensive, and play one up front with five in midfield, or keep the two up front and play a couple of defensive players together in the middle. So long as he doesn’t put Keane up front on his own and Mido left midfield again, we should have a chance either way. Hopefully, someone at the club told him that wasn’t a good idea, as Jol can’t be like Nero and make crazy decisions that go unchallenged. We all know what happened to him.

There is very little chance of Spurs scoring a goal up there tomorrow, especially with the news that Berbatov is still not going to be back for a couple of weeks and without Lennon either. Spurs should look to defend and hit Liverpool on the break, so a midfield of Tainio – Huddlestone – Zokora – Jenas would do the trick in terms of people tackling, winning the ball and in the cases of Zokora and Jenas, breaking forward to join the attack. Mido and Defoe up front would be a decent combination of strength and pace, both qualities needed for a good counter attack. As to what the Big Man does though, it’s a bit like Benitez – no one knows! There is an article bigging up Murphy on his Anfield return on the official site, so maybe he’ll get another go. As mentioned on here yesterday there should be a time when Ghaly and Ziegler get a chance as there are not many midfielders playing so well their name is inked on the teamsheet. Here’s hoping, but if you’re a betting man you would be best to keep your money safe this weekend, or maybe chuck it on the Ryder Cup instead.

The Waddler.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Good Ghaly Mister Jol-ly

It’s been a fairly slow news week for Spurs, as for once the club don’t have to take part in the Carling Cup second round, and thankfully were not implicated in the BBC bungs investigation. So the average fan has to look for little snippets from the official website, or the odd quote from a player that finds itself on the newswires. Today then it’s the turn of Hossam Ghaly, who has in lazy hack speak “pleaded with Martin Jol to be given a chance in the Tottenham side”.

In truth he has actually been quoted as saying, “At the start of pre-season I was really hoping that I was going to break into the team and play for Tottenham, but the chance didn't come for me in the first few games. Now I hope the manager has the confidence to pick me again because he has seen I can do a job for the team.” Fair enough Hossam, can’t argue with that.

He featured out of position at Old Trafford on the right hand side of midfield, where in truth he didn’t look particularly comfortable. When he was bought in January he was heralded by Damien Comolli, who was quoted on the official website at the time as saying "I have watched Hossam since he was 17 years old. He is a versatile, very physical and technically gifted midfielder who will offer us a number of playing options. He is a terrific addition to the squad." Sounds great, so why haven’t we seen more of him? Perhaps he should be given a go along side Zokora in the middle for a few games; he can’t do any worse than Murphy did against Fulham. If indeed he is technically gifted, which presumably means he can control the ball and pass, then the central midfield area could do with that. Zokora’s first touch hasn’t looked great, Davids couldn’t trap a bag of cement, and Huddles seems to like to dwell on the ball a little. So someone who can quickly receive a ball and pass it to feet, to keep a move flowing would be a welcome addition. Presumably, he was bought for more than shoring up our reserve team, so isn’t it about time he was given a go?

Also worth an honourable mention is Reto Ziegler. Looking at the reserve report from last night’s 3-1 spanking of West Ham, it looks like he had a stormer. He set up all three goals, and the report was Ziegler this and Ziegler that. He hasn’t exactly impressed in the first team, but then again who has lately? Maybe he is worth another try; it looks like his corners were causing some bother, and he set up a few chances with his crossing from the left, both problem areas for Spurs. That would then free Teemu Tainio from the left to play in his favoured central position. It’s certainly a thought, and maybe one that could be tried out against Slavia Prague next week.

The Waddler.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

He's got no hair and we don't care, Martin, Martin Jol!

There have been murmurings of unrest in the camp over the last week or so, with the big man himself rumoured to be unsettled and not entirely happy with his lot. The Observer mentioned as much last week, and the wires have been buzzing over the last few days amid rumours of fallouts with Damien Comolli and talk of Daniel Levy expressing his dissatisfaction with the team’s start to the season. Let’s get one thing clear, it has been a poor start, and something is clearly wrong at the club – at the moment. The results speak for themselves. Levy was right to express his concerns (if indeed he actually did), he owns most of the club (more than The Waddler anyway) and as Chairman needs to be the ultimate authority. There is nothing wrong with that. What needs to happen though is for the manager to be given time, for the team to gel, for injured players to return, and for the gaps in the squad to be filled up in January. Then, and only then, if results are still poor, should the club management be looked at.

The Waddler hopes that Levy told BMJ that he had time to sort things out, but that he needed to get on with it. With the club selling one of their most influential players, Michael Carrick, and bringing in lots of new faces over the summer, all for the first team, the side needs time to gel. BMJ always talks about his young team, and growing up, getting a strong mentality etc. This can’t be helped by not having a settled side, with players coming and going like no-ones business. Hopefully now there should be an end to the horse trading, with just one or two players being upgraded each transfer window. The nucleus of the team is there now, with a strong back 5 in place, 4 decent forwards battling it out for 2 spots, and some decent midfielders. A couple of left sided midfielders are needed, and in an ideal world a backup for Lennon and a central midfielder that could thread a pass through the eye of a needle would be quite handy too (maybe that is Malbranque). If they came, Spurs would have a squad comparable to only Chelsea or Liverpool.

Spurs have almost started again this season, having bought so many players. BMJ wants to get the team to be solid, grind out results, and be capable of winning without playing well, before eventually letting it fly. It’s an alien concept to Spurs fans, who want to see fast, flowing football with flair. At the moment the football being served up is reminiscent of that brought to us by George Graham, and it’s not pretty to watch. The difference is though that we are watching a team with far better players, who are currently underperforming whilst trying to get used to each other. Once that comes, the football and results should improve. If it doesn’t then there is a problem, but in the meantime patience is needed.

The Waddler.

Monday, September 18, 2006

The Natives are Restless

It is too early to throw in the towel, but after the worse start in 14 years, and the sort of form that got Hoddle sacked, the White Hart Lane faithful are getting jittery. With Spurs failing to beat a poor Fulham side, our neighbours somehow winning at Old Trafford, and then waiting an hour on the platform at Northumberland Park for a train to actually stop, it wasn’t the greatest of days. Those trains flying past, leaving Spurs fans stranded, were a metaphor for how the season has started – Spurs are stuck on the platform and everyone else is speeding off into the distance.

You can make excuses for all of the games. At Bolton we were shocked by their unruly tactics, Everton scored a lucky deflected goal and then hung on for their lives before hitting us on the break, and Man U, well who wins at Old Trafford anyway? Oh, yeah, well never mind. But not being able to beat Fulham at home, a Fulham shorn of their better players as well – it’s a struggle to justify. The papers are full of headlines such as “Spurs draw blank”, “Fulham hold Spurs” and so forth. Those hacks don’t watch Spurs every week like the fans do though, this is how the team has played all season, and arguably last season as well. There is no creativity, the opposition are always first to a loose ball, players don’t make runs for each other, and our set pieces are truly awful. This was no European hangover, unless we’ve had one all season.

In modern football, teams come to your ground, set themselves up in a defensive manner, and hope to contain you and then maybe hit you on the break at some stage. This is what Everton did very successfully, and this is what Fulham did well yesterday too. The way to break these teams down is by individual brilliance, which is non existent without Aaron Lennon, or through a set piece. So why don’t we have a set piece taker in the team? Don’t say Jenas, because his efforts yesterday were woeful. Why wasn’t Danny Murphy taking them? He scored free kicks at Liverpool and Charlton fairly regularly, so there was quite rightly dismay in the crowd yesterday when at one point towards the end, Spurs had a free kick on the edge of the area, slightly left side, and despite Murphy standing over it, he doesn’t shoot but taps it to Defoe who managed to trouble the corner flag. Something just isn’t quite right in the camp – there should be leadership from somewhere telling the players who takes what and when. Yesterday, there were Jenas, Zokora, Keane, BAE and Murphy all taking free kicks or corners – do they practice these? Is there not a plan for who should take them? At one point Robbo was in their half taking a free kick! It looks like Spurs have underestimated this side of the game, and don’t actually have a plan. With players like King, Dawson, Mido, Jenas and Chimbonda – all excellent headers of the ball, we should be dominant here, but something isn’t right.

If you can grab a goal with a free kick or corner then the game opens up. The away team have to attack you, and then you can break them down easier and score more. Spurs needed a goal for confidence, and the longer the game went without one, the worse the team got. In fairness, Spurs created a few chances, Tainio shot wide, Chimbonda had one off the line, Mido hit the crossbar, Zokora flashed wide, Defoe had a shot saved, but nothing went in. The returns of Berbatov and Lennon can’t come soon enough, and hopefully Malbranque can add some midfield creativity when he’s finally ready. In the meantime though, there are few positives to cling on to. The back four look good, and yesterday Chimbonda and BAE again played well. We have some good players at the club who will get better the more they play, like Zokora, Huddlestone, Mido and Berbatov. But that’s it.

The best we can hope for is to go to Liverpool and grind out a draw, before taking on Prague. That Prague home game is key to the team’s confidence, and therefore season. If they can stick three or four past them, then things will be looking up, and they can then take that into the game against Portsmouth to go on some sort of roll. Spurs will need to be on their game to beat Pompey who are flying at the moment. With Liverpool away, Pompey at home, and then a trip to a resurgent Aston Villa, The Waddler’s pessimist side thinks we could well be in the relegation zone shortly. The team needs to click, and do it quickly.

The Waddler.

Friday, September 15, 2006

The Fulham Preview

Games on a Sunday because we were involved in mid-week European action? Oh, go on then – what a chore! Let’s hope we have lots more Sunday games this season, as it will mean we are making waves in Europe. Having said that, it’s now about careful squad management and rotation policies, as the games come thick and fast – something Spurs aren’t used to after only playing the minimum number of available matches last season.

The news coming out of Tottenham this week was like that you would expect from the Ministry of Misinformation, with Lennon injured for a month, then oh wait look he’s training again, only for the final worse news of all, that he needs a knee operation and will be out for 6 weeks. So with no Lennon, no Malbranque obviously and doubts over Ghaly and Murphy who didn’t travel to Prague, the midfield almost picks itself. BMJ’s 4-2-2-2 formation in the Prague game will probably come out again, if Teemu Tainio can play two games in four days. The man always picks up knocks so who knows, but if he is OK, then it’ll be TT on the left, with Jenas on the right again. Not ideal, but this is what happens when you don’t buy wingers and loan out your spare ones. In the middle Zokora must be a shoe-in after his all action display and it will be either Hudd or Davids alongside him. The Waddler suspects it will be our be-spectacled friend who gets the nod after missing out on a starting place against Prague.

The back four should be set in place for the rest of the season, as it looks like the best we have had for a long, long time. The more they play together, the better they will get as well. Chopping and changing is fine for midfield and up front, but the back four should be untouchable unless one of them is completely out of form or injured. Without Lennon and an equivalent winger on the left you need fit full backs who will get forward and put in decent crosses, which both BAE and Chimbonda look more capable of than YP Lee or the Canadian with the permanently confused expression on his face. With Ledley back it takes the pressure off Dawson, and he looks the better for it. Watching Ledley gives you such confidence, he rarely puts a foot wrong, and when he does he has the pace to make up for it before anyone has noticed. Spurs are a 50% better side with him in the team.

Up front it will the usual big one, small one combo, and you would expect that with Mido and Defoe starting against Prague it will be Keane and Berbatov lining up against Fulham, all being well of course. Having only scored 3 goals in 5 matches this season, and only one of those coming from our much heralded strike force, these boys need to start scoring some goals, so lets hope they start on Sunday.

So what of Fulham? A great result for them up at St. James’s Park last week would under normal circumstances mean that they travel across London full of confidence, but the horrific injury to Bullard and not being able to play our very own Wayne Routledge, who set up both goals last week, means that they will be shorn of some creativity. If they pick Michael Brown then it shows they are a poor side that should be put to the sword by a Spurs team desperate to correct a poor start to the season. McBride and Boa Morte, allegedly the subject of an eleventh hour bid by Damien Comolli on deadline day, are the best players on view for the visitors, and if we can deal with them then we should be able to deal with Fulham.

Come on you Spurs!

The Waddler.

Job done in Prague

“It was the perfect result for us” so says Big Martin Jol, and you can’t help but agree with him. Whilst the performance wasn’t exactly the high octane, tub thumping return to European football that the fans may have wanted to see, it was as good a European away day as we could have hoped for.

Spurs started the game quite slowly, and took at least 10 minutes to get into their stride but were never really threatened by an average Slavia team. Once they did get going, the ball started to be moved around and Spurs took control. Didier Zokora looked immense all night, that boy has some energy levels, and loves a tackle too. It was he that set up Jenas for the only goal of the game, and really dragged Spurs up a gear. It was a nice strike by JJ but he did little else worthy of mention, and his set piece delivery certainly needs some fine tuning.

With Lennon not making the game after all, Spurs fielded a sort of 4-2-2-2 formation with Huddlestone and Zokora the holding midfielders, and Tainio and JJ playing ahead of them in what you could describe as narrow wide roles. Both TT and JJ were quiet though, and didn’t really get forward to join Mido and Defoe. Chimbonda & BAE certainly did their bit adding the width, and with a little more practice, Spurs may have found a way of playing to use until Lennon and Malbranque emerge from the treatment room. Big Tom Huddlestone deserves a mention for what was his first competitive start in a Spurs shirt. He certainly has presence, his range of passing is very nice indeed, and he’s not afraid to get stuck in either. The only concern is his lack of mobility, he needs time to dwell on the ball and to get to where he needs to be, and you don’t tend to get that time in the Premiership. Perhaps that’s why BMJ is trying him out in Europe. You can’t help but feel he may make a good centre back. Maybe it’s just because he was playing next to Zokora who seemed to be everywhere at once, zipping around the field like there were three of him on the pitch – most players would look pedestrian next to the “Maestro”.

Aside from a spell towards the end of the game, Spurs didn’t look under pressure and if Robbie Keane could score in a 1 on 1 situation, it could have been 2-0 and goodnight Prague. It must be a mental thing with Robbie, because you would expect a player of his skill to put those away, even relish the duel with the keeper, but he always contrives to mess it up somehow. It keeps the second leg interesting though, and should ensure Spurs don’t go into the game in a blasé manner.

With West Ham losing at home and Blackburn only managing a draw against Red Bull someone, it shows that it could have been worse for Spurs, and this result should do them the world of good in terms of confidence too. Roll on the second leg.

The Waddler.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Waddle Magic!

For those of you who never saw, or can't remember the great man in action, here is a video of his Marseille days that was sent in today. Its a great watch, and if anyone has a version of his Spurs days, please send details to - thanks!

Spurs are on their way to Wembley - every week?

The English newspaper, The Guardian is this morning running a piece that suggests Tottenham are looking to buy Wembley from the Football Association. It reasons that because the cost of the project is so high, the FA can not afford to run it, and that as Spurs are looking for ways to increase capacity the club will buy it off them, and loan it back for England Internationals, FA Cup Semi Finals and Finals. Now, whilst this looks like The Guardian putting two and two together, it would not surprise The Waddler if there is a little more cloak and dagger to this than meets the eye.

At last year’s THFC Plc AGM, it emerged that Paul Kemsley, an Executive Director of the club, is in charge of all property projects; which comprises the new training ground and the WHL expansion/new ground project. Anyone that saw his cameo roles as Sir Alan Sugar’s chief terrier on BBC2’s Apprentice programme will recognise that this man has no fear or care about what people think of him. It would not be a surprise then that this story originated from somewhere near Mr Kemsley as a way of putting pressure on either Haringey Council or the Olympic 2012 people depending on where the club’s ambitions actually lie.

As things stand, Spurs have four options, which ranked in order of the clubs likely preference are:

1. Expand White Hart Lane. This is dependant on some backing by Haringey and the Mayor of London to improve transport links to the area. The current situation is full to bursting with 36,000 people as things stand, to match that new stadium in Islington, WHL would need to be nearly doubled, which would put an awful strain on the local area in terms of parking, trains, buses, etc.

2. Take on the Olympic Stadium after 2012. The blueprint for this idea is Man City taking on the Commonwealth Games stadium, which was converted into a football arena once the games were over. The difference is that was always the plan, whereas the London Olympic bid was chosen on the basis that the stadium would be downscaled to a smaller athletics venue after the event. Ken Livingstone opposes a tenant taking it over, but the club are apparently interested in the idea.

3. Building a new stadium from scratch. This would involve buying land and building a new stadium, just like Cashburden Grove. Various venues have been mooted over the years, from Pickett’s Lock, Tottenham Hale and even somewhere in Hertfordshire. The transport problem again rears its head, along with London property prices being a factor. Spurs couldn’t exactly convert WHL into posh flats to recoup the outlay!

4. Take over Wembley. A last resort option for both the club and the FA. It would involve Spurs moving to the other side of the capital, away from their original fan base, and it would be a struggle to fill it every week. Likewise, the FA would not want to relinquish control unless it was their only option. It would also involve taking on enormous debt.

So what is really going on? The Waddler’s opinion is that options 1 and 2 are being seriously considered, but that there is a lot of lobbying and brinkmanship involved in order to get the right backing. That involves using the media to apply pressure at the right times, which is why we will see reports about 3 and 4 appearing form time to time. The Olympic Stadium option has a finite window, as building will have to start soon, and it will either have to be built to enable a conversion to football, or built to be able to scale it down to athletics. It can’t be long before that decision is taken, and the path becomes a little clearer. If Spurs don’t get it, then they might get compensated with a tube extension to WHL, which would solve the whole problem.

The Waddler.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

100 Up! The UEFA Cup Preview - Slavia Prague Away

Ah, how nice it is to write those words – UEFA Cup preview. It’s been a while since Spurs were in this competition, the 1999-2000 season to be exact, after our Worthington Cup win at Wembley under the chap in the overcoat enabled us to qualify for the first time since English clubs were allowed back into Europe. Two late goals in the away leg of the second round against Kaiserslauten ensured that it was only a brief adventure however. Europe may not have seen the best of Tottenham Hotspur in recent years, but there is a rich history there which is not forgotten. The UEFA Cup and Cup Winner’s Cup competitions were merged in the 1999-2000 season, so taking the history of both tournaments, the UEFA Cup from its glorious beginnings in 1971/72 when the mighty Tottenham Hotspur were the inaugural winners, and the CWC from its first season in 1960-61, the list of most wins is:

Team No. of Trophy Wins
Barcelona 4
Juventus 4
Anderlecht 3
Inter Milan 3
Liverpool 3
Parma 3
Tottenham Hotspur 3

So victory this year would mean that Spurs take their rightful place as the joint most successful team in the competition’s history. What a nice achievement that would be. Edgar Davids thinks that Spurs sits well with Barcelona and Juventus on his CV and The Waddler thinks it would look pretty nice on the UEFA Cup roll of honour too.

OK we are getting ahead of ourselves a little bit, got a bit misty eyed there for a moment, picturing Graham Roberts lifting that enormous trophy in front of the pretty new West Stand at White Hart Lane. Could it be Ledders doing the same in Glasgow next May? Anyway, enough of dwelling in the past let us look towards Thursday’s game against Slavia Prague. Martin Jol and Chris Hughton have both quite rightly emphasised how good Czech football is, and how the national team is as good as England. However, that hides the fact that all the best players play abroad, leaving their domestic competition rather weak. Whilst Slavia have far more recent European experience than Spurs, regularly appearing in either the Champions League or UEFA Cup for each of the last 13 years, they should be put away over 2 legs by a star studded Tottenham team. A Czech club can only dream of taking one of the German League’s top strikers away for €15m for example. There is a world of difference between the two teams. In fact Slavia coach Karel Jarolim threw in the towel as soon as the draw was made, commenting “We could not have been drawn against a stronger opponent“ .

So, what should be the plan? With the very welcome news that Aaron Lennon looks like he may be fit for this one after all, Spurs can stick with the tried and tested 4-4-2 containing the same back four that looked good against Man Utd last weekend; a midfield of Tainio, Zokora, Jenas and Lennon, with Mido up front if Berbatov isn’t fit, and it would be nice to see a start given to Jermaine Defoe. That side should be too good for most teams to handle. With one eye on Fulham on Sunday, you could then pick Berbatov and Keane for that one all being well. There will be some squad tinkering over the next two games, and it will be interesting to see who features. We have yet to see any of Tom Huddlestone for example, and Hossam Ghaly’s surprising introduction to English football at Old Trafford suggests we may see more of him.

It would be nice to go over there and come back with a 2-0 lead, but in all honesty a score draw would still represent a good nights work, and leave us in pole position for the home leg in a couple of weeks time. For Spurs’ 100th competitive European game though a win, wearing the all white kit would be a fitting way of announcing to Europe that Tottenham Hotspur are reclaiming their place at the table. Let’s hope for a return of those Glory, Glory nights.

Come on you Spurs!

The Waddler.

Monday, September 11, 2006

How Do You Solve A Problem Like Lennon?

The hills are alive with the sound of… anguish. Spurs fans around the world were rocked this weekend by the news that Aaron Lennon could be out for a couple of months with a knee injury. Having allowed his natural replacement in the squad, Wayne Routledge, to go on loan to Fulham and with the only other player capable of playing on the right side, Steed Malbranque injured for just as long, Spurs have got themselves a dilly of a pickle. Not buying that left winger over the summer now means that Spurs have just one fit player capable of playing in a wide midfield position, Reto Ziegler. However, he has done nothing to suggest that he justifies a place in the starting eleven, so it is going to have to be one of our many, many central midfielders to fill the void.

Playing four central midfielders in a flat four man midfield is a recipe for disaster, too many round pegs in square holes, so a tactical change is going to be needed. Chimbonda and BAE will now need to provide the width, so either a diamond in midfield or a Chelsea style 4-3-3 is in The Waddler’s opinion, the answer. Lets explain:

The Diamond

The key to this formation is who plays at the base and the point of the diamond. Zokora suggested on Saturday that he is capable of playing the holding role, the anchor if you will. He picks the ball off the back four, spreads it around, and brings it forward. Huddlestone would also make an able deputy, particularly if we need to be more defensive. The two sides of the diamond require the players to start centrally and perhaps drift slightly wider when needed, playing a one-two with the full back, or perhaps knocking in the odd cross. It’s a case of picking any two from Davids, Jenas, Tainio and Ghaly for these two positions. The tough choice is that of the peak of the diamond, and its going to sound strange but the ideal player here is Danny Murphy. Whilst his Spurs career has been appalling so far, this is actually where he played for Charlton, and looked good in the process. At his best he can pick a pass that unlocks the defence, whether that be to Defoe or Berbatov running on, or Jenas breaking through from deep, or one of the full backs bombing forward. He is also an excellent dead ball specialist, which is an added bonus. For a more attacking option, Robbie Keane could slot in here instead, playing a free role which he would relish, not stranded up front on his own like he was on Saturday. Perhaps Keane would be suited to home games, and Murphy away.

The 4-3-3

This one is slightly tougher given Spurs’ personnel, but it could work. The midfield would still require Zokora in the anchor role, with say Tainio and Jenas the two more attacking midfielders in front of him. Up front would be Berbatov in the main forward role, the Drogba position to continue the uncomfortable Chelsea analogy. Then on the left you could have Mido, and on the right you could have Defoe or Keane. When attacking we would have three forwards up there – you could picture Robbie or Defoe beating his man, crossing the ball and having both Mido and Berbi in there waiting to pounce. It should scare most defences. The trouble with this system lies in when the team is defending. It would require the two wide players to track back and defend, and it is debatable whether this would occur with Mido, Defoe or Keane in those roles.

So what should Big Martin Jol do? In The Waddler’s opinion it should be the Diamond, particularly for the next game in Prague. In this system all 11 players are playing in roles familiar to them, no one is being asked to do something they are uncomfortable with. It gets as many of our central midfielders in the team as possible, and plays to BAE and Chimbonda’s attacking strengths. If at some stage we need to go for the jugular, or Murphy is having a stinker, then we could switch to 4-3-3.

Whilst losing Lennon is a clear blow, it may do the team some good to learn to play without him. In recent games it has become all too obvious that our tactic is give it to Lennon and let him run at the defence – we need to come up with a pattern of play that will break a team down with or without him. It is also worth mentioning the rumours that he has come back from the World Cup as, to coin an Alex Ferguson phrase, “a big time Charlie”. He certainly walks with a bit of a swagger these days, and with the club tying Routledge down to a new contract before he went out on loan, it might suggest that they are preparing themselves for another Carrick situation. Naturally The Waddler hopes the rumours are just malicious gossip, as there is no doubt the boy is a joy to watch. Lets hope he recovers quickly, and is able to slot back into a winning team playing some great football. In the meantime, it is good to know there are alternative strategies, and all is not lost.

The Waddler.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

So near, yet so far…

Very few Spurs fans would have expected to go Old Trafford yesterday and actually get something out of the game, but if it wasn’t for a simple error that allowed Giggs to head the only goal of the game, some strange tactical decisions by Big Martin Jol, and a complete lack of luck in front of goal, things could have been much better.

Lets get the goal out of the way. It was a swerving free kick by Ronaldo, but Robbo should have done better. If the sun was in his eyes then he shouldn’t have taken the cap he was wearing at the start off. He should have been able to hold onto the shot – it was hit right at him. Taking the goal out of the game it was a good away performance by Spurs. We had lots of possession, created a few chances and didn’t allow Man Utd to play their usual game. Unfortunately that goal, scored so early, completely ruined the tactical plan, yet we didn’t deviate from it until deep into the second half.

Quite why Big Martin Jol thought Robbie Keane could play up front on his own is something that only he knows. Lets get this straight, The Waddler is a big Robbie fan, but the guy can’t head the ball to save his life, yet Robinson was still booting the ball up to him and he lost out every time. If only we had someone with aerial presence up front – oh wait we did, but Mido was forced to play on the left touchline! Who thought that was a good idea? This is where BMJ needs a good number two next to him, questioning his tactics, playing devils advocate occasionally. Does Chris Houghton do this? Who knows, but it was a poor decision, and one that cost us the match. Playing Davids on the left of midfield is something that fails every time and yet we keep seeing it happening. The news of Lennon’s injury obviously threw the plans into disarray, but playing four central midfielders across the midfield does not make for a pretty sight. Its tough to give Ghaly stick on his debut, but Davids’ distribution is woeful, and really lets him down playing left midfield. He can do a job playing centrally, breaking up the play, and playing short, simple passes, but not wide, where you need to have some creativity.

So what were the positives? Zokora looked excellent – very neat and tidy, with nice passing skills and he can bring the ball forward, which is something we have missed. Chimbonda was superb, getting forward with ease, very strong defensively, and with BAE on the left, Ledley and Daws in the middle, we have a great back four, that will only get better as they get to know each other. A storming performance from Ledders showed what we have missed recently, and Dawson looks a better player along side the Skipper, than he does with Davenport or Gardener. If Defoe’s header had fallen to Mido, or if Van der Saar hadn’t played so well, making great stops from Dawson, King, Mido and Chimbonda efforts we might have got the point we deserved.

So lets all keep our fingers crossed that Lennon’s injury isn’t too bad, that Berbatov is ready to return, and look forward to the start of the UEFA Cup adventure which starts on Thursday.

The Waddler.

Friday, September 08, 2006

New and Improved - Mido Lite!

Having mentioned in the Summer Transfer Window Review that there was a preference for a Mido resembling himself from the earlier part of last season (i.e. thin) rather than the chap that came back from Egypt in January (i.e. injured and rather larger); it looks like The Waddler’s wish has been granted – and then some! Apparently he has lost 22lbs over the summer in a bid to be as competitive as possible for Spurs, and for this he should be applauded. It is refreshing in the modern game for someone not only to talk about his desire to play for a club, but also to show this by clearly working his proverbials off to get into the best possible shape.

He also sounds very positive and realistic about his prospects as one of four strikers at the club: “This season we play European football and hopefully there will be many, many more matches, maybe 50 or more. If I can play 35 to 40 matches and score 20 goals; that will be a successful season for me.” The fact that Berbatov is injured, and looks doubtful for tomorrow’s game, shows just why the club has bought him. Going to Old Trafford with Keane & Defoe up front limits the team’s options; with Mido there, we have an aerial threat to add to either Keane’s movement and creativity or Defoe’s speed and lethal shooting. That he was only on loan last season and half of the previous one meant that The Waddler couldn’t fully allow Mido a place in the Circle of Trust, but if he can score goals like those from this time last year, and stay in shape, then a Mido 11 shirt could be on the Xmas list!

The Waddler.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Our Kid’s Man Yoo Preview

Ahhh Manchester in the 90s - Oasis, Stone Roses, Charlatans – bands that defined The Waddler’s youth! It seemed the world revolved around Manchester at the time, especially as Utd were dominating English and European football, with stars like Cantona, Giggs, Sharpe, Kanchelskis, Beckham, Scholes and Keane. In recent years though both the music scene and the lot from Old Trafford have been on a gradual decline. Liam and Noel have got old, and Sir Alex has tinkered with his tactics and formations, and crucially failed to adequately replace the stars he fell out with. Think of his midfield issues – he lets Keane get old and leave without replacing him, and resorts to playing striker Alan Smith and defender John O’Shea in midfield! Well, he eventually saw sense, too late you might say looking at Chelsea’s dominance, and splashed the Glazer dollars on our beloved Michael Carrick. Is that enough though? Especially after selling your main goal scorer to Real Madrid and not replacing him? That decision doesn’t look too clever this weekend, with Rooney suspended, Rossi on loan at Newcastle and Saha an injury doubt. That leaves Solskjaer, who is still regaining fitness after years out through injury and who else up front? Giggs maybe? Ronaldo?

So it’s a great time to play Man U then? Well, yes for any team bar Spurs who have a truly awful recent record against Utd, home and away. You have to go back to 1989 and a goal from Gary Lineker for our last league win at Old Trafford! Once you factor in the start they have had to the season (3 games, 3 wins and 10 goals scored), versus ours (3 games, 1 win and 2 goals scored) you begin think a draw is the best we can hope for. We’ve gone up there and come away with a point in each of the last two seasons, so it’s not impossible.

So is it likely? Well, if Ledley makes it, which is looking hopeful, and Berbatov makes it, which is less so, then we will have a chance. The midfield as always is the key area. Should we play a physical line up to combat the artistry of Carrick, Giggs, Ronaldo and Scholes? If so, then we will line up something like Tainio, Davids, Zokora, Jenas. Should we fight fire with fire? Then Lennon needs to play, so maybe Big Martin Jol will rest Tainio after his international commitments and go Davids, Zokora, Jenas, Lennon. Either way Spurs can’t play worse than they did against Everton, and you have to assume Zokora did his selection potential no harm by being on the bench for most of that farce. Jol doesn’t drop Davids or Jenas, so you have to assume they will feature somewhere. The Waddler’s own preference at the moment would be to see how a midfield of Tainio, Zokora, Jenas, Lennon works out. There you have nice blend of tenacity, pace, power and goal scoring threat.

Up front it’s the pick one big ‘un and one little ‘un combination, so expect to see Keane and Berbatov up front if both are fit. If Berbi doesn’t pull through then it is Mido and Keane, as Defoe would have over exerted himself playing twice in a week. A debut for Chimbonda also looks likely, so fingers crossed he’s the real deal, and not simply another full back to add to our ever growing list under Jol. Spurs go through full backs quicker than John Reid gets through cabinet positions. Our friends MANSION have Spurs at 5.35 to win and 3.50 the draw, so if you are convinced, lump on. The Waddler will be saving those used fivers for another game.

Come On You Spurs!

The Waddler.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Summer Transfer Window Review

Since the summer of 2004, and the arrival of a Dane with questionable loyalty, Spurs Lodge has been fitted with a revolving door, allowing for the enormous turnover seen over the last two years. Whilst this scatter gun approach to recruitment can’t have been helped by changing Sporting Directors after a year, it is remarkable how many players the club have got through. So given Spurs’ previous transfer market form, this summer The Waddler was glued to the message boards, hitting F5 for dear life, hoping for THFC related gossip and rumour to brighten an otherwise painfully slow moving close season (World Cup? Yes, well England’s never started did it?).

The window began very promisingly, with the arrival of Dimitar Berbatov from Bayer Leverkusen for £10.9m. At that price, he was always going to be the main purchase of the summer and it looks like Spurs have got themselves a genuine star. With his Andy Garcia looks, an excellent goal scoring record in Germany, and the confident air of man that means business, The Waddler is looking forward to watching the man in action from the posh seats in the West Stand this season. At this stage, The Waddler thinks he looks like Mido and Kanoute rolled into one, thankfully without the temper tantrums.

Another early buy was Benoir Assou-Ekotto. Clearly a Damien Comolli purchase as Big Martin Jol admitted that he had never seen him play; he looks like a real find. Quick, direct, nice passing, some have whispered that he looks like Ashley Cole. Shhhhh! Lets wait and see shall we.

Next up was Didier Zokora, the Ivory Coast midfield player. Unfortunately, The Waddler’s summer holiday clashed with Ivory Coast’s World Cup matches, and Big Martin Jol has so far only allowed the White Hart Lane faithful a cameo of the man known as “Maestro”, so it is too early to judge him. He looks very neat and tidy, and hopefully he is just being eased into English football.

The departure of Michael Carrick during the summer was a blow, albeit softened by £18.6m. His passing and close control reminded The Waddler of watching that other 80s legend, Glenn Hoddle. He will be missed, but then again he lacked that extra something to make him a great player, or even an England regular. He couldn’t tackle hard; he didn’t score many goals, his killer balls rarely resulted in a direct assist, and his dribbling, whilst excellent, was seen all too rarely. Perhaps he’ll find that extra something once he’s been on the receiving end of a Sir Alex Hairdryer.

So with all that money burning a hole in Little Danny Levy’s pocket, The Waddler was on full rumour and gossip overdrive, with Spurs being linked to every player in the world. It was clear that a backup for Berbatov was needed, unless Big Martin Jol wanted to go for the little and little partnership that failed to hang on to a Champions League place last season. Also on the shopping list was a new right back, as the Canadian chap last season joined a list frequented by such luminaries as Gary Doherty, Stuart Nethercott and Justin Edinburgh as The Waddler’s most hated current player. Of course the left wing problem was still prevalent but hopes of a solution were high, with the rumour hounds bringing back names such as Martin Petrov of Athletico Madrid. However, little Daniel loves the brinkmanship of the closing of a transfer window, so the faithful had to wait almost to the end to see who the club brought in.

As it was, The Waddler was pleasantly surprised to see the return of Mido, who was not given enough credit for his pre-ANC displays last season. At his best he is tough, good in the air, and knows where the goal is – an ideal partner for Defoe, Keane and Berbatov. So long as he doesn’t fill up on his Mum’s cooking as he did on his trip home to Egypt last season, he should be an excellent re-addition. Pascal Chimbonda flew in late on deadline day to be our new right back. The Waddler watched little of Wigan last year, as there were pins to be placed in eyes, so there is little to say other than anyone who is named in the PFA team of the year, and who is not Paul Stalteri, will be given the thumbs up. The most intriguing signing is that of Steed Malbranque, who seems to be a proper Spurs player. Skill, flair, an eye for goal, The Waddler is looking forward to watching him. Sadly it won’t be until Christmas.

So to the trail of the left winger. The excitement and desperation of the transfer window got to The Waddler a little bit, so much so in fact that the news of bid for Stewart Downing was met with some form of giddy happiness. Luckily, that has now passed, and all faculties are restored. Thankfully Middlesbrough turned down THFC’s offer, believed to be the bulk of the Carrick money, and hopefully that will be the end of the matter. The mighty Tottenham Hotspur can do better than that.

Welcome to The Waddler!

The Waddler’s first post should explain that this blog will be a look at Tottenham Hotspur, past and future, but mainly present. We can not forget what has gone before however, and watching the current team it is clear to The Waddler that Big Martin Jol’s side is crying out for some wing wizardry on the left hand side to complement little Aaron’s speed and lightening feet on the right. What price would Chrissie Waddle fetch now? Stewart Downing? Not fit to comb the great man’s mullet.

To watch the mighty Chris Waddle in his prime, plying his trade for Tottenham Hotspur was an honour. Very few players in history could match his dribbling skills (remember the way he would drop his shoulder and sail past the defender as if they were not there?), shooting ability (how about the chip out of the mud at the Dell?) and of course that languid walk of his, feigning indifference before splicing the opposition defence open with a mazy run, or killer pass.

If you don’t remember, perhaps you should go out and buy some videos of Spurs in the 80s. If you do, The Waddler suspects that you too would pay anything to slot the great man on the left hand side of the current midfield.

The Waddler.