Celebrate. Come on.
My fiftieth column should be a happy occasion. A ticker tape procession, a deluge of well-wishers filling up column inches in your regular tabloid. ‘He’s always been a light in the sea of dark,’ said one fictitious well-known actor. ‘He scares the bejaysus out of your average commentator,’ uttered one non-existent journalist.
But it is not a happy moment.
A dire 1-1 draw with Fulham last night left Spurs, somehow, still on the edge of European qualification, but left those of us with doubts about Spurs future momentum with more ammunition at our disposal.
I endured a dull first 18 minutes in which Spurs went 1-0 down to surprising man of the match Luis Boa Morte’s strike, before switching over to the Coronation Street special. The on-screen update informed me that Fulham’s keeper got his marching orders and Teddy Sheringham netted a penalty to equalise and so with Tricky Dicky exposed as a killer on Corrie, I turned back to hopefully see Spurs capitalise and get three much-needed points.
But need I have bothered? Despite the facts (seventeen attempts from Spurs to Fulham’s half-dozen or so), this was turgid football from Spurs. All the fluid attacking came from Fulham. Many people would question that Louis Saha, a Nationwide league goalscoring sensation, is good enough for the Premiership. But the French striker was pacy and adept at causing Spurs faltering defence numerous problems. Combining well with the impressive and brilliantly named Steed Malbranque, it was Fulham who looked like taking the points. Especially when Darren Anderton got sent off for two innocuous challenges.
It might seen cheeky for someone who saw 70% of a match to comment wholly on it, but this is not just about Fulham – it’s about the consistent mediocrity that Spurs have been putting out for the last twelve months. This is how Sunderland’s demise started. How could a team with the likes of Kevin Phillips, Emerson Thome, Niall Quinn, Michael Gray, Thomas Sorenson and Claudio Reyna find themselves at the bottom of the league? Well, it happens.
Ok so Spurs are not going to get relegated, but look at it relatively, and you will see a team who is stuck in mid-table purgatory for yet another season.
What’s the problem?
The well-trodden path of investment, or lack of it, is one. Spurs might have spent a fair amount of money on Dean Richards, Robbie Keane and Christian Ziege – roughly £20m to be exact – and that’s fine. But then look at the other players. Our esteemed manager expects a team to progress with non-entities like Milo Acimovic, Goran Bunjevcevic and even the perennially-injured and unspectacular Jamie Redknapp.
King for a day
Another problem is the obvious downturn in the fortunes of once-promising players, none more so than England hopeful Ledley King. Once a viable alternative to Sol Campbell, and handy subject matter for the song “I’d rather have a King than a Queen”, he now jumps from showing the qualities of a decent defender to resembling a comedy act – a Keystone central defender. His reading of the game is still rookie-ish, his composure has declined dramatically and his gaffes are coming thick and fast now – at least once a game.
But he’s not the only one. Staleness appears to have inhabited Simon Davies. Gary Doherty is floundering up front after looking solid as a central defender, and the likes of Matthew Etherington and Jonathan Blondel can’t get a game while pensioners Poyet and Sheringham would have to be up for autopsy to be considered for the bench.
I’ve been cautious not to be too out-spoken about Glenn Hoddle. Others are not so mindful. Watching Sky Sports phone-in show last night, a Tottenham fan insisted that Spurs supporters needed to be patient as we have ‘the manager we wanted’. Well maybe you wanted him, and maybe you go to every home game, but as a fan of 21 years, I think I should be permitted my say.
He played for Spurs? He’s a Spurs lad? Who gives a rat’s ass?
I didn’t want him as a manager. I saw him for exactly what he was – an embarrassing flop. How he got the England job has got to be the biggest mystery since Roswell. I’ve already documented his ‘achievements’ in management in another column, and since we’re nearly two years into his reign with little to be cheery about, isn’t it about time we considered our options.
Time is money and as Spurs fall further behind in an increasingly poor league, how long are we to allow the malaise to continue? Thirty-six thousand hardy souls fill White Hart Lane every fortnight, and their loyalty is to be applauded. But how long will this loyalty continue before apathy takes over? Since they are unlikely to vent their frustration at Glenn (“difficult job in difficult circumstances”), it’ll be the board that gets the brunt of it.
As in my last column, I believe Hoddle should not be disposed of until we have a suitable replacement, but it is important that we are not blind to his limitations.
So Roy Keane has thrown in the towel. Seriously – good riddance. Who in the hell does he think he is? There is no doubt that we’ve lost all semblance of perspective in this country of mine.
The people who defend this arrogant “confused” man are the type of people who think they are bigger than the sum of their own parts. Roy Keane answers to me. I’m sorry, but he does. He answers to me and the rest of the Irish people who contributed towards his match fee by paying through the turnstiles, by tuning in to cheer on our country on TV.
Basically Roy Keane has put himself first – but then again he did that during the World Cup preparations when he forgot that it is national duty to represent your country – not a choice that you have. Maybe you should look at what Paul McGrath put himself through to play for his country.
But what does it matter when you earn about 150-thousand Euro a week (no matter how many children’s hospitals you visit).