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#PochIn #PochOut #ShakeItAllAbout

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Do I want Pochettino sacked?

No. I do not.

My Twitter account has said “Pochettino Out” since the day he was appointed. It was a bit of a joke.

But that joke is not funny anymore. Some real accounts are popping up suggesting that the guy be sacked, and they are proving divisive.

True to say that I was underwhelmed by his appointment and not quite sure why he had been given the job.

But his reputation was glowing and growing (and he wasn’t Tim Sherwood). So I conceded to those far better positioned than I to judge, and set my own goals for what I expected to see from his first season.

While I don’t want the manager sacked,  I get irritated when I get sent stuff like this:

“We have a strong future” can be categorised with “we’re heading in the right direction” as a meaningless statement without convincing supporting evidence.

Is it because he’s blooding young players? His transfer record? His tactical acumen? His man management? His choice of captains?

What have we seen from Pochettino this season that suggests he will make Spurs a top four team (with the handicap of having only the sixth highest wage bill) in the next couple of seasons?

In my opinion, he’s done OK, but no more than that.

He has, however, done enough to earn a second season on the basis of a handful of quality performances and just on the basis of reasonableness – a young manager who has shown some promise, should get proper time to succeed.

More than anything, I’m interested in what he does with Paul Mitchell over the summer while, at the same time, Daniel Levy will have to work hard to move on the players Pochettino does not want anymore.

This could include players that Pochettino asked for/agreed to last summer but does not play – or plays with little success.

So, once again, a big summer for Spurs and Mitchell might be the wild card in it all.

Is there some method, somewhere, to Levy’s madness?

Unless Daniel Levy is cackling away like a madman in his 100% leather-bound office, while putting the finishing touches to Frank de Boer’s managerial contract, it seems obvious that Southampton’s Mauricio Pochettino is about to leave the family-friendly south coast for a turbulent sixteen months in charge of Tottenham.

Pochettino v Owen, 2002

He’s the guy who brushed against Michael Owen in 2002.

I think it’s fair to say the news has been broadly received with a mixture of bewilderment and concern by Spurs fans.  At least the promotion of Tim Sherwood brought with it a sizable scoop of amusement to temper the negativity.

True, Levy never promised us a world-class manager like the Football Association of Ireland did shortly before Steve Staunton was appointed. But when names like Louis Van Gaal and Frank de Boer were said to be in contention, we at least expected to see someone you could label “a winner” take the hot seat.

Pochettino (who I guess should be added to my browser dictionary now) has done a decent job at Southampton albeit by inheriting and motivating someone else’s players.  He improved Adam Lallana and Luke Shaw so much that they are going to the World Cup and probably going to be playing for Champions League teams next season. He continued to get good service – and thirteen league goals – out of Rickie Lambert (another English World Cup squad member) and got a fifteen goal return from Jay Rodriguez.

If Levy is looking at this as evidence of that Pochettino is the man who can take a sixth place team and turn them in to a fourth place team, then maybe I can see that. Perhaps, for Levy, the key for 2014 is saving two high-profile transfer flops (and Spanish speakers) Soldado and Lamela, inspiring genuinely talented players like Paulinho, Christian Eriksen and Jan Vertonghen that their future can be bright at White Hart Lane and getting the best out of wild cards like Sandro, Dembele and Andros Townsend.

Spurs squad is very strong and the failure of last season’s class should be shared among Director of Something, Franco Baldini, Levy and the two equally-guilty managers Sherwood and Andre Villas-Boas.

There must be something in the Levy strategy that has put Pochettino over the top and left four-time title-winning manager Frank de Boer scratching his head.

The Tim Sherwood Story

“Are we there yet? Are we there yet?” crowed Tim Sherwood – for Timdays on end – in to the ear of chairman Daniel Levy, swapping the phrase “are we there yet” for “can I have the job”. Like any overworked parent, Daniel finally acquiesced, giving Tim the keys to the kingdom, keys he previously entrusted to a well-dressed Portuguese man with fluffy hair.

Daniel Levy“Now, Timothy,” he said sternly, peering over his fashion-friendly
glasses, “don’t fuck it up.”

As an ambitious tyke with full confidence in his own abilities, the 44-year old Tim immediately began stamping his own mark on the team, abandoning tactics and finding as many players as possible who the previous manager did not like.

“Hello, Ade? I’m going to put you in the team on Sunday. I Adebayorexpect a performance.”
“No problem, boss. You’ll get 100% from me. But no more than that, it should be noted.”
“That’s fine. Now you’re not going to score a couple in your first game and then disappear for the next three games, are you?”
“Noooo. No. Probably not.”

Tim was nothing if not wily. You don’t get to the position he was in without having full confidence in your abilities as well as saying and doing the right things at the right time. So with that in mind he immediately set about trying to win the fans over by doing opposite things to the previous bloke that they did not like.

“Right, lads,” he said to some lads who were nearby. “We’re going to shake things up a bit.”
“Great! The club needs some innovative ideas to get us out of this slump. What have you got in mind?”
“We’re going 4-4-2 with the emphasis on attack.” Eriksen
“That could work, Tim. This is great. How will Eriksen play in this 4-4-2? Will you play him wide like how Man City play their creative players sometimes?”
“No, in the center.”
“Ok…he’s not really got defensive qualities so you’ll probably play him with a solid defensive midfielder, yeah?”
“Well I thought Dembele given how he’s quite athletic and can run a lot.”
“Hmmm, well we’ll give you a pass on that one, barely. So, say he’s not available. Would you then put Capoue in?”
“Not at all. He’s not great at attacking. I only know one way to play. Attack. That’s the way to play the game. So I’d put Holtby in alongside Eriksen.”

With the players on board and the lack of tactics decided, Tim knew he had one more area to focus on – public relations. Although he had full confidence in his abilities, he knew he needed advice from a very smart manager. He flipped through his rolodex/contacts app and called up a very popular manager, a(n FA Cup) winner, a former Spurs hero, a man who had recently suffered relegation and won four out of his last twelve games.

“‘Ello ‘Arry.”
“Alright, mate! How’s it going? Heard about the gig. First smart decision Daniel has made since that time he allowed me to sign Ryan Nelsen and Louis Saha. Better off with those terrific, honest, top, top lads than your fancy dan Powlinos and Ceaușescus.”
“As you know ‘Arry I’m new to this. Can you give me a few tips on how to cope with the media?”
“Sure, sure. First of all, after a negative result, talk about how the lads gave you 100% – even Ade – and you couldn’t ask for anything more.  Then talk about the injuries. Throw in a “bare bones” reference and always have a list of unavailable players that you can rattle off. You can throw in a few extra names at the end like youth players or ‘Robbie’. No one’s going to try and figure out who you’re talking about.”
“Anything else?”
Arry in Car
“Make sure the electrics on your car are working good. You need to be able to roll the window down on 31st of January and talk about how there’s nothing doing out there and that you worked ever so hard to bring in players but ultimately clubs don’t want to let ’em go.”
“What about communicating the improvement I bring to the club?”
“Absolutely. Take whatever statistics you can and manipulate them in a bid to show how important you are to the club. For example, if you’re 8 points clear of the bottom three now but 12 points clear in three months, talk about how you’ve lifted the club away from the relegation zone. If you’re in eighth position now and no lower than that in May, you can tell everyone how Spurs were mid-table when you come in and you brought them in to contention. I’m not as stupid as I looks, Tim. Even though I can’t read very well and I writes like a child.”

Tim’s final stop was to see Franco Baldini, the man who became the new Damien Comolli, who was the new Frank Arnesen, who was the new David Pleat.

“Hello, Tim,” Baldini said, probably in an Italian accent.Baldini
“Don’t ‘hello, Tim’ me,” responded the indignant manager. “What we gonna do about all that tripe you bought in the summer?”
“Like who?”
“Chadli.”
“He’s good.”
“No he’s not. He’s good in Holland. And what about this Soldado chap? Bloody hell. He couldn’t hit a barndoor with a…ball”
“He’ll come good. He scored many times in the Spanish league,” insisted Franco.
“And Chiriches. It’s like a Ramon Vega tribute act,” Sherwood complained
“Anything else?”
“Lamela? He’s worth about a third of what Bale was.”
“Which is actually factually correct, Tim.”
“Look, all I’m saying is that these lads are no better than what we had.”
“And what do you propose?”
“We bring in Jamie Redknapp. As a coach.”

Jamie

And with that, Tim sauntered down to the training pitch to work on no tactics.

Aside

A lot of faith has been put in Andre Villas-Boas.  Perhaps a little unfortunate to miss out on the Champions League gravy train in May, this season he was given a squad that is probably title-challenging quality but has the … Continue reading

Adebayor channels Mercury and croons “I Want It All”

What scurrilous Tottenham rumours are doing the rounds today?

Adebayor channels Mercury and croons “I Want It All”
Well the Daily Mail reports that the Emmanuel Adebayor deal is potentially off as the brawny striker is demanding five million quid from Manchester City – basically all of the fee Spurs are willing to pay the Champions* – to compensate for having to accept a lower salary (that would probably still make him Spurs joint-highest paid player) at White Hart Lane.

Adebayor is basically in a no-lose situation here. He can stay at City and earn a lot of money for occasionally turning up on the bench (and putting paid to any Robin van Persie move). Or he can pocket a large wad and still pull in a respectable 100k a week or so at Spurs.

I will shed no tears if the deal falls through. Good and all that Adebayor was last year, the guy typically suffers from “second season syndrome” – an affliction that sees his form falter and his mood deteriorate wherever he plays. He’s a domestic disturbance waiting to happen and AVB should walk away.

* Well, technically.

Bit part midfielder moves to bigger club

Lies!

The Luka Modric thing rumbles on with “sources close to the situation” contradicting each other with regularity. It does seem that Luka did not apologize for anything but is training with Steven Pienaar and the reserves in London. Anyway, enough has been said about that to fill a season full of back pages.

The new development today was talented but very slow former playmaker Niko Kranjcar – now at Dynamo Kiev – weighing in with all sorts of accusations about how Daniel Levy is a liar and lied to Luka and all that sort of thing.

Brave Niko (now in Ukraine) said a lot of inflammatory and unnecessary things which is a bit unfair when he was presumably well paid and always treated well by fans.

Firstly, the old chestnut, “Dynamo Kiev is a bigger club than Spurs”, wasn’t long coming out. Yes, this pointless my-dad-is-bigger-than-your-dad nonsense that has absolutely no bearing on anything whatsoever.

Next up: “Levy did everything to protect the interest of the club and make a profit. He has also used lies to deceive the public, which is allowed in business, but if you were in Luka’s shoes, you would probably do the same as him.”

So, first of all Daniel Levy did his job. Fair enough.

Then we balance these so-called “lies” (presumably he wasn’t present to witness these promises that Levy reportedly made to Modric so we’re talking about the same source here) against the lack of integrity that Modric has shown as a professional footballer.  Don’t wish to labour a point that has been made frequently, but 12 months after signing a six year deal, Luka decided to agitate. There’s something wrong with the game when this is considered valid by the likes of Kranjcar.

Here’s more. “It was the same with me. They held me back for two years until, finally, my new club paid what they were asking, and not a pound less.”

I’m not really sure what the complaint is. Firstly, he was given a contract that promised him a salary regardless of whether or not he played. One can only surmise that the contract was not Klinsmann-like – i.e. it didn’t say he had to play if he was fit and could even lend tactical insight if he thought ‘Arry’s “get up and at ’em lads” rhetoric wasn’t having the desired effect.

So if by “held me back for two years” he means that he wanted to leave because he wasn’t getting a game but no one thought he was worth Spurs asking price then perhaps he should have negotiated a release fee in his deal at the time.

If players wanted they could try to negotiate 12 month contracts all the time. I mean that would put an end to transfer fees and being tied to any club for longer than a year. But players (and their agents) seem to want the best deal possible at the time. And three years of guaranteed income (unless you’re at Portsmouth – hey, count yourself lucky there Niko) probably seemed inviting at the time to Mr Kranjcar.

Transitional season ahead as Levy padlocks the purse

Maybe the HP Touchpad fire sale taught Daniel Levy something in the last week: if you have stuff that no one wants then you have to practically give it away.  If Alan Hutton is the 16 gigabyte version (only available in white) –

This is a Luka Modric-free blog.

demanding a mere 3 million pounds for his poor application ecosystem – then the 6 million-rated Wilson Palacios is the overclocked, larger capacity hardware (as an aside, is David Bentley’s slow boot sequence the reason that he remains on the shelf?).

With just a day left to save Tottenham’s season, hard-negotiating chairman Levy is finally accepting that to save money you sometimes have to lose money, sanctioning transfers that represent a more than 50% mark down on the various purchase prices.  It’s perhaps harsh on Palacios, an inconsistent performer who signified a good performance with an obligatory yellow card.  His Tottenham career deteriorated in the aftermath of his brother’s tragic kidnap and murder in 2009.  But the 6 million pounds his transfer to Stoke looks likely to net is somewhere around the figure Spurs should have paid for him in the first place.  Levy paid too much.

He paid too much for Alan Hutton, a limited defender who spent his entire career in the Scottish league, and has amassed just 51 league games in three and a half seasons.  Nine million pounds…seriously.

David Bentley cost Levy about 17 million pounds and is now worth probably a third of that.  In fact Bentley may end up going on a free transfer at the end of his deal as nobody wants him.  His insipid loan spell at Birmingham last season hardly lit a fire under potential suitors and now he’s been mentioned as a make-weight in an attempt to bring Gary Cahill from Bolton.

Jermain Jenas came in for 7 million pounds with a growing reputation but has rarely convinced.  The 21st century Jason Dozzell may still manage to secure a fee around 4 or 5 million pounds because he’s under 30 and English.  But the fact that he’s linked with the Premier League lesser lights says it all.

Sebastian Bassong is another ordinary talent that Harry thought was worth a lot of money two years ago but is now also make-weight material.

And the punches keep coming.  Robbie Keane, Jermain Defoe, Peter Crouch: all returning to the club for big money, all signed by Harry Redknapp, all flops.  People keep making excuses for Defoe but enough is enough.  The guy had a few purple patches in seven seasons but he’s just not got the composure or intelligence to be a top class striker.  Levy lost big on Keane but he may be fortunate that Steve Bruce thinks Peter Crouch is worth about what Spurs paid for him.  For a 30-year-old who has managed just 12 league goals in 67 games, I’d buy him a train ticket to Sunderland (as opposed to driving him there myself – it’s a fairly long way).

Levy’s reluctance to give Redknapp money to spend is understandable.  Yes, he’s made some coin on the likes of Berbatov and Carrick but he’s been stung way too much in the past by trying to do the right thing and trust the judgement of the managers and their coaching teams.  With Redknapp probably in his last season (or even last months if his upcoming court case has fallout) this season may be transitional.  But it gives Levy a chance to push reset, trim the squad, get rid of the dead wood and prepare for a new incumbent…who I hope is Italian with silver hair.

Hey Luka, let’s take a walk

Hey Luka, let’s take a walk

Bit embarrassing for Spurs to see the phrase ‘Levy threatened me’ in the headlines today.  Luka Modric insists that not only has Spurs chairman Daniel Levy reneged on an agreement to consider any bid from a “bigger club”, but he also “threatened” to leave Modric in the stands or on the bench if he causes any trouble.  It brings to mind an image of a maniacal, trench coat-wearing Levy pointing a baseball bat at poor little Luka as he cowers in the corner in the new Spurs away kit.

I covered the topic before about how everyone shared a little bit of blame for this situation.  Modric and his agent may have asked for a minimum fee release clause when negotiating their new contract 12 months ago and were met with this reported verbal counter-offer from Levy.  Naive on their part to accept this – but then again they were happy at the time with the improved terms, signing-on fee and agent cut, no doubt.

Nevertheless, it looks like the damage is done and Spurs have little choice now but to move Modric on.  The bid, of course, is a joke.  When you consider that Manchester United paid £18m for a far inferior player five years ago, Spurs need to hold out for close to double that – or for a smaller amount and perhaps Drogba or Sturridge in exchange.  Personally I’d take both strikers with some cash.

What a Jonny

Probably made up, but some sites are reporting that Spurs want to take Northern Ireland international Jonny Evans from Old Trafford. Evans is an average player who was accidentally overrated as a result of looking competent while playing alongside top class players.  Anyone can have a good half-season (see Bentley, David) but the last 12 months has not been kind to Evans.  If he stays then he’ll probably become the new Wes Brown, filling in for unimportant games and the occasional appearance at right back.

While I’m at it can I nail my colours to the mast and say that I’m not buying in to this Danny Welbeck thing.  He’s someone who could end up having a decent Premier League career but it won’t be at Old Trafford (see Higginbotham, Danny or Campbell, Frazier).  I feel sorry for young players who have a couple of good games for United because they are instantly elevated way above their station.  For the record I see more potential in Federico Macheda although, like Giuseppi Rossi, he may make his name abroad.

Defending Liverpool

£16m or £20m, it's still a lot of money for Henderson.

I tend to delve in to the Football365 mailbox to find out what the fans are thinking and those of Liverpool have been vigorously defending their clubs transfer policy in recent days.

There is some scoffing from other team’s fans at the money paid for Jordan Henderson, Andy Carroll, the signing of Charlie Adam and the targeting of Stewart Downing.  One of the defences from Merseyside is that the £7-8m paid for Charlie Adam compares very favourably to the figure that Manchester United paid for Michael Carrick five years ago or that Fergie’s bit-part midfielder Anderson cost more than Jordan Henderson or that the purported £19m fee for Downing is not far off what Antonio Valencia cost United a few years ago.

But the comparisons don’t make much sense.  In the last Deloitte football finance report, United were shown to generate an annual revenue exceeding Liverpool’s by £100m.   Another year away from the Champions League means that the gap will only get wider.  Just because the Old Trafford club overpay for a player like Valencia or Anderson bears no relation to what Liverpool are doing.  After all, United could bring Garry Birtles out of retirement, pay him five million a year and still win the title.