Monday, November 20, 2006

He Who Dares Rodders...

Spurs managed a point yesterday in darkest Lancashire, but it could have been so much more as yet again Jol’s negative tactics stopped the team from grabbing a game by the throat. It has been mentioned on here before that the main difference between the “success” of last season and the poor returns this year are not the performance of the players but the lack of luck. It seemed to be following a similar pattern yesterday when Tugay’s thunderbolt went in, the third long range goal conceded in three weeks. Thankfully, it didn’t pan out that way as Ghaly was tripped in the box and Tuguy went from hero to villain and was sent off rather harshly. Defoe then tucked away the penalty and the game was in theory flipped on its head.

However, Spurs or rather Jol didn’t take advantage of the numerical advantage and looked to settle for the draw that they went there hoping for. Most fans would have been crying out for the introduction of Keane and Berbatov to take the game to Blackburn, and use the extra space that was created. Putting Keane on the left and even Defoe on the right to stretch them would have made sense, with Malbranque sitting behind Berbatov or Mido. Sadly this wasn’t the case and Spurs created a few chances but it was Blackburn that looked like they wanted to win the most.

After the Liverpool game where Spurs capitulated, The Waddler questioned whether Jol was really the guy to take Spurs to the top table, and whether he would be the Ranieri or Houllier to our Mourinho or Benitez. There is no question that he has stabilised the team after a barren run under Hoddle, Pleat and Santini; and that taking us into the UEFA Group stages is something that no previous Spurs manager has achieved for a long time, probably since Shreeves in 1984/85 after Burkinshaw had done the hard work by winning the trophy the year before. For that he deserves credit and recognition, but there is something lacking there and it’s difficult to see how it can change. Whenever Spurs go one nil up its sit back and defend time and hope to hit the opposition on the break. Likewise when away from home its keep it tight, put as many defensive players on as possible, and look to hit teams on the break, even when you’re losing. These are small club mentalities and reflect the fact that Jol has only managed small teams before getting the job at THFC.

He has a good squad assembled, thanks mainly to Arnesen and Comolli, and with one or two additions and a couple of replacements to the reserves it would be a great squad. However you get the feeling that all is not well either with the team morale or with Jol’s tactics as this side rarely kill off the opposition, and of course rarely win away from home. Its not pleasant to have to quote Tony Adams on a Tottenham Blog, but he was once asked to compare the difference between George Graham and Arsene Wenger on what was when Wenger first took over still very much Graham’s team. He said something along the lines of Graham had the players but that he never let the team fly in the way that Wenger did. Of course Wenger had added Vieira and Petit, and Bergkamp had also joined since Graham left, but the fact is he came along and took Graham’s boring but functional team and made them rather good by playing attacking and attractive football. The parallels between Jol’s boring but functional team and Graham’s get stronger week by week, particularly after watching games like yesterday.

Now there is no point getting rid of Jol mid season, and he has to be left to finish what is only his second full season in charge, but someone has to remind him of the club’s motto, which is even written in English these days so there’s no excuse for not understanding it: TO DARE IS TO DO. If he doesn’t get it, or agree with it, then Messrs Levy and Comolli need to have a think about who would be the right man to take over and take this team on. The man who would be Tottenham’s Mourinho, Benitiez or Wenger.

Perhaps this all sounds a bit draconian after what is on paper a respectable point at Blackburn with an injury ravaged squad, but this a culmination of 3 years of Jol’s negativity and settling for what you’ve got attitude. Maybe he has a grand plan to unleash this team on an unsuspecting world at some stage in the future, but that day could be now if only there was some ambition shown and positive decisions taken occasionally. The game was played with one eye on Leverkusen on Thursday, hence the resting of Keane and Berbatov, so lets hope for some PMA (positive mental attitude) in Germany, as this becomes a typical “cup season” for Spurs.

The Waddler.