It must be Martin

Hard job

As jobs go, there are none more tiresome and predictable than being a Spurs fan. And yes, it is a job. I have no choice you see. It’s an emotional necessity for me to follow this team in and out of the abyss, year after year. A never-ending juggernaut of disappointment and mediocrity. It’s like a marriage but without the alimony.

Abandon ship

Earlier this season, as the ship sailed helplessly out to sea under Captain Hoddle, First Mate Pleat sat gleefully in the galley awaiting his opportunity to take control. Once the word was given, he shoved the Captain overboard and spun the steering wheel wildly (a bit like Johnny Depp might have done in ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’) until a safer passage was negotiated.

Oh and he forgot to shout ‘man overboard!’ in the confusion. How careless.

But David Pleat is just another shining example of what is wrong at Spurs. He’s mediocre (and mad). Just like Hoddle, just like Graham, just like Gross and Francis. The ever-increasing list of underachieving, mid-table loving managers that have desecrated the name of our club has got to come to an end.

And it will…if we keep chasing Martin O’Neill.

Martin’s the man

Why should we target the Celtic manager, the man who signed Ramon Vega, who plays a three-man defense and masterminds victories over Partick Thistle and Livingston?

Because the man is a winner.

Martin O’Neill guided Wycombe Wanderers from non-league football to the second division in successive seasons. After a brief stint in charge of Norwich (where he resigned after disagreements with Robert Chase, leaving Norwich in the top six of Division One), he joined Leicester City.

It was here that he really shot to prominence. They gained promotion to the Premiership and he led them to three league cup finals in four years, taking the silverware on two occasions (only Spurs stopped him making it a triple). In four Premiership seasons with the Foxes, they never finished in the bottom half of the table – a phenomenal achievement for a club of their size.

Moving to a disheveled Celtic side in 2000, O’Neill must have really being riding an emotional wave. John Barnes had left the club in a shambles, finishing 21 pts behind Rangers. In 12 months O’Neill turned it around, winning the league by 15 pts and then by 18 pts the season after.

While Rangers pipped them to the title on goal difference in 2002/03, the current season sees Celtic 19 pts clear.

In Europe

If the Scottish Premier League doesn’t yank your crank, how about Celtic’s success in Europe? A terrific run to last season’s UEFA Cup final, where along the way they accounted for two supposedly superior Premiership teams as well as Celta Vigo and Stuttgart, ended in a late 2-3 defeat to Porto.

Their run in the Champions League this season was ended in a late defeat to Lyon but they have progressed rather easily to the UEFA Cup quarter-finals where they are half-way through a battle with mighty Barcelona.

You can’t argue with the trajectory of O’Neill’s career. He has moved upwards from the lower leagues, to the Premiership and then onwards to one of Britain’s biggest clubs, albeit in an inferior league (although that’s a debatable point right now). If it weren’t for the success in Europe you might be willing to disregard his achievements north of the border.

But let’s face it, no matter what league you are in you can only beat what is put in front of you. O’Neill has simply annihilated the opposition, this year relegating last season’s domestic treble winners Rangers to an embarrassing supporting role.

Limited ability

If tactics and style are not on O’Neill’s agenda, then motivation and spirit certainly is. These traits have always formed a part of the Irishman’s great plan for football domination. Anyone who can make successful European footballers out of Alan Thompson, Bodo Balde, Stanislav Varga and John Hartson should be looked upon with awe, not disdain.

Why should Spurs want a manager who signs players like these? O’Neill cannot go out and buy Robert Pires or Ruud Van Nistelrooy. He has to work with Grade B and Grade C players. And it is to his credit that he has managed to make the best of their limited abilities and challenge some of Europe’s better teams.

It’s a Tottenham fans prerogative to expect glorious football, but look where that got them under the apparent purveyor of style and substance, Glenn Hoddle? If Martin O’Neill comes in and makes the best of a decent but limited squad, then Spurs should be top six by the end of the next season. Gone will be the frequent capitulation, half-hearted tackling and lack of self-belief.

Yes there are other options to the excitable, over-emotional, sometimes-bitter Irishman. But to disregard one of Britain’s better managers would be sheer folly. Whatever that is.

And finally…

Poor old Rio…his heart is broken. As is ours. Seriously, if I have to listen to one more whine from the dread-locked bonehead, I’ll start taking drugs myself (not that I’m suggesting he did, of course).

He’s a decent player is our Rio (ignoring the fact that he looks like an extra from The Bill – the thickest member of a gang of teenage burglars). It’s not his fault that Alex thought he was worth £30m. I’m not going to rip on him for any lack of talent. But what the hell was that interview about on TV last night? Talk about a rabbit caught in headlights. Mumbling, repeating himself ad nauseam, putting up a tired argument about how he ‘forgot’ and how he should go virtually unpunished because a Manchester City player did.

Tell me something, Rio. You don’t like being made an example of, but who do you think should be? At what point do you think the FA should take a stand on people who miss drug tests? Should the next person be punished? Is that fair? What about allowing the whole league to miss drugs tests and only administering a £2000 fine to each person?

Or how about we judge each case on its merits? You knew you had a test, you went shopping. You’ll never make that mistake again. And I’m sure Fergie won’t be shelling out ridiculous money for average talent again. Oh, Veron. Oh, Kleberson. Oh, Ronaldo. Oh, Djemba Djemba.


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