Stating the bloody obvious
I blame Robbie Keane who relegated Coventry and Leeds with each of his departures from both clubs. I blame the Director of Football system that has seen manager after manager undermined. I blame the tabloids, broadsheets, Gillette Soccer Saturday, radio presenters, Sky pundits who all predicted Spurs would finish 5th. I blame Ramos for not elevating the team after the Carling Cup. I blame, fuck it, everyone and everything. The way the wind blows. The raindrops that fall from the sky. My alarm going off on a Monday morning. ITV comedy. Hagar the Horrible. It's all fallen into place perfectly, conspiring to anchor us to the bottom of the Premiership. After years of laughing at West Ham's yo-yoing between the top flight and the league just below it, how the ironic jeers and laughter will hurt when they aim their giddy abuse at us.
What makes it even sweeter for them and even more horrific for us is that there is no Tevez in the Spurs side. And thus far, lady luck has also been non-existent. We can only hope for a goal that never was and a resulting three points, much like the Hammers got up at Blackburn to give us a glint of hope. But at the moment, such a joyful moment seems a million miles away in a far far away land where Spurs fans are dressed like arch angels singing Glory Glory from a hymn sheet, whilst the team swagger around the WHL pitch scoring goals for fun.
Wigan was the 'must win match'. We drew it. Then it was Hull. We lost. And then it was Stoke. And we lost again. In that other alternative reality where Bentley is decent, Berbatov was sold at the beginning of the summer and a replacement bought a couple of weeks later along with a defensive midfielder and a tricky creative forward - we are sitting in the top 5 smiling, upbeat and confident. At least somewhere in the multi-verse, there are Spurs fans proud and loud.
In our shaky moments in the past, we've had poor starts but nothing this spectacularly bad. We haven't just started poorly, we've started catastrophically poorly. But anyone who looked beyond the thrashing of Roma in pre-season and Darren Bents prolific friendly form and reminded themselves of the utter lack of cohesion since the Carling Cup final would have seen a team in steady melt-down. Our form has been good enough to take us down all year long. In fact, since our two 5th place finishes, our form has all but gone - other than in patches and some 'big'. The Carling Cup run appears to be nothing more than a blip that blinded us from what was actually going on with Premiership form.
This season sees us at 8 games. Out of a possible 24 points, we've notched up 2. Chelsea are the only 'decent' team we've played. Our fixture list was meant to be quite easy until we played Arsenal (A), Liverpool (H) and Man City (A). All these games coming up after next Sundays mega-game at the Lane against Bolton.
Nothing at the moment suggests we have what it takes to drag ourselves out of the bottom three. From one game to the next, whether it be Poyet saying our performance is unacceptable or Ramos via Poyet saying our performance is unacceptable or Darren Bent (club spokesman) saying our performance is unacceptable - nothing changes come the next game. Apart from the soundbites.
Hull, Wigan, WBA, Stoke etc, all have a bit of fight and spirit. Hull are excelling at the moment. Stoke are awful and will probably go down with us, but they still beat us and grabbed all three points. So it's not a given that all the promoted teams will go down, like most other seasons. Not only have we decided this is the season we will struggle epically, but this is also the season that every other team around is strong, determined and 'together'. Shit hitting fan - is an understatement. We are in the deepest possible trouble we've ever been in, since the 70's at least.
I've been critical of the players, and still am. I don't quite see the required urgency and guts and full-blooded 'die for the shirt' siege mentality that's required. Do the players and management think its ok because 'we are Spurs' and 'teams like us never go down' so 'things will change soon'? What happened with being the kings of your own destiny? Then again, maybe the players are not at fault. Playing at 200% might be out of their reach due to the fact that the team is so painfully mish-mashed and out of sorts.
Any club in the Prem would struggle if:
- They have no leader on the pitch
- They lost both of their main forwards who created and scored most of the goals in previous seasons
- Have no defensive midfielder
- Have no midfield that chase down the opposition players/ball
- Play a right-winger on the left-wing
- Have no true left-winger
- Have one main striker who thus far has failed to settle due to playing a bit part since being signed a season ago
- Sold their other striker who is on top form for his new club because he was not required (argue until you're blue in the face, but Defoe rightly would not sign a new contract because we couldn't promise him first team football)
- Spurs believed foolishly that Berbatov would not leave and didn't stop to think that Keane might be subject to a move away, even though we have a 'we don't sell our important players' policy
- Bought a player who has already played 5 months of a season, looks unfit and needs time to settle
- Bought a midfielder who needs time to settle and stick him in a midfield who are not on the same wave length than him
- Sell 3 'decent' squad players who would give competition and options for first team selection
Spurs systematically went about unweaving the tapestry of progression by trying to replace missing jigsaw pieces with termites. It's such a perfect dismantlement of the squad with superfluous replacements drafted in left, right and centre that someone would think it was done on purpose because surely you can't get it this wrong? Agent Comolli and Levy have masterminded one of the greatest clusterfucks of all time. This summer, make no mistake about it, was a unmitigated disaster. Far too much emphasis on the business side of the club, chasing down every last million from Utd for Berbatov.
Levy getting caught up in transfer dealing politics and hypocrisy. Comolli panic buying. And the club generally carrying on like the whole of last season (Jol undermined/sacked, Ramos in, no change in league form) had not happened. On the subject of Martin Jol, he was never destined to succeed because of the exaggerated impatient ambitions of the chairman, Kemsley and Comolli. The Trinity decided that replacing Jol with Ramos would take us to the next level. Error of judgement? Did Jol deserve another season and therefore the FULL backing of Comolli and co? They obviously felt he had to be replaced, and why not with a manager of Ramos quality? And yet look how things have turned out. Hindsight; can't put a price on it.
So why did everyone think we would do well this season? Did they think because Ramos could start fresh, from the opening game of the season that suddenly all things would fall into place? The very fact that the chairman and DoF failed to see the massive cracks in the foundations proves they're just as disillusioned as the most excitable Barcelona shirt wearing Spurs fans.
Look at the team, the squad we have at the moment. It's basic maths. Last year we conceded a hell of a lot of goals, mainly due to having a poor midfield that supported no-one defensively. Thanks to Berbatov and Keane we scored a shed-load too. Take those two away, improve the defence a little, and we have a team that doesn't concede as many but can't score goals. A team that can't score, by virtue of not being offensive enough will pile on the pressure for the defence - who are still not supported by the slow, sideways playing midfield. It's a formula for failure. Epic epic failure.
To compound matters ever more, we hoof the ball up to Bent. Hoof it. No style, no system. For 20/30 minutes or so against Stoke we played the ball around quite well and created chances. But it was still lacklustre. Inept. It's like an 9 inch dick, limp and flaccid, in the Playboy mansion. Viagra left at home. Utterly fucking useless.
Ramos, 10 wins in 36 (stats might be off, but just browse the BBC if you want to cry into your keyboard) has tragically shown us very little. He maybe strict. He might have sorted out the diet, got us fit. But like many clubs who get themselves into a low-confidence situation, sometimes no amount of tinkering can get you out. So you need to let go of the manager. As drastic as it may seem, as much as you might wish for some consistency for once - a completely new man at the helm might wake the players up. Yes, the same players who can't quite perform one week might do brilliantly the next for a new manager. Then again, it might take a bit of time (much like it took Jol when he took over from Santini). So if we do get rid of Ramos, will the next man in be able to afford 5 more games without a win? Well? So do we get rid of Ramos? Teams stay up or go down based on decisions like this.
The bigger question is whether the current crop of misfits have it in them at all. King, 'our leader', is nothing more than a part-time player. He will never be 100% fit. And the club knew this last year, and probably the year before. We should have looked to bring in a genuine replacement. We haven't. Woodgate is beginning to suffer because of the dross playing around him. Bale, with zero Prem wins under his belt, looks average since returning from his injury. Did he recently sign an extension to his contract? No Man Utd move for you on this form Gareth. I hope the injury he has recovered from hasn't taken away his mojo. As for Zokora. He's an athlete, but not a footballer.
And Jenas? Since he was a teenager he's been told he's a class player. He'll be something special. But he has never shown belief in the hype surrounding him. He has the qualities, physically, but mentality shows very little to suggest he will ever be anywhere near world-class. He struggles to be anything near top 8 class most weeks. Having him as vice-captain tells you everything you need to know about our predicament and status.
Bentley has been non-existent. Played out of position, he should still roll his sleeves up and give it a go regardless. But then is David a 'roll the sleeves up' type of player? Lennon has been the one bright spark (even if that spark consists of running really really fast). Gio is a luxury who is a little out of his depth and considering the form of his team mates, it's asking a lot of the youngster to carry the weight of expectation in his shoulders. Frazier Campbell on loan is the icing on the cake. And you know it is. A Utd kid as one of our main three strikers. Classic.
And back to Levy and Comolli. Judge me, he said (Daniel), on the players that are sold. That was his response a while back relating to a statement about Spurs being a selling club. Which we quite blatantly are. But if you do have to sell, then bloody well replace the outgoing players with incoming quality.
Levy, Kemsley and DC went after Ramos, for the big step up in class (citing a 'world class' manager was required now rather than later). Whatever was happening behind the scenes (Jol/Berbatov/Comolli etc) the club - the people in charge - have mismanaged us to the brink of the Championship. Did we really have the right to move on from Jol so quickly?
Now Levy is pondering on the severance fee he will have to dish out to Ramos if he is forced to sack him. And if he does that, he'll have to sack Comolli (as Levy has told us all Ramos is Comolli's choice). Not that ridding the club of DC will do anything drastic to our on the pitch performances. With no more patsys left, Levy - accountable for all decisions - will then logically need to scrap the DoF position and draft in a chief scout to help the newly appointed 'manager'. And who would be the saviour? Would anyone want the job considering the chairman is such a destructive force?
Now I know what some would say. Levy and his financial skills and astute business sense was the reason we challenged for 4th place in 'that season' and that it's down to him we have been looking to make a move to a bigger stadium (or expand WHL). Remember even Jol gave him some credit at the end of one season, with the crowd (not me) responding with a chorus of support. But considering the support this club has and money made from tickets/merchandising etc, it's what you would expect from the chairman. It's the other decisions and the way we do our business, football wise, which he must be judged on. Unless you are willing to blame completely (and its a blame game we are all involved in) Ramos for the position we are in.
Levy dragged the Berbatov saga to the very death for an extra £6M or so. Was it worth it Daniel? How many millions will be lost for finishing in the depths of the Prem table? How much more would be lost with relegation? Shareholders happy? Don't be avoiding that phone call from Joe Lewis.
I joked a while back that us going down was the only way to rid the club of Levy and all the delusions of grandeur that this club is guilty of. I suggested the club needed the most cruel of baptisms so we could be reborn, and take nothing for granted as a consequence. But who, hand on heart, would want to see their club relegated? Aside from the fact that most of the players who got you relegated would be sold, you'd have to deal with every day life outside the top flight (at least we won't have to listening to Andy Gray commentating on our games).
And if preparations are spot on you could do a Leeds or a Man City, rather than bounce back first time. Last time ('77) we did bounce back first time. And signed two Argentinians and went on to plenty of Cup glory and beautiful football. But times have changed. This is the modern game, that is made up of the Sky 4 and the rest of the Premiership battling out for 5th and 6th. The top 4 are so far ahead of everyone, and with billionaires grabbing up other clubs faster than you can say 'credit crunch', we will be so far away from what we aspire to, it will hurt more than castration to think one summer of discontent has buried us 6 feet under.
Going down is simply not acceptable. Other fans would say the same about their club. Stoke, Hull and WBA fans would hope that other clubs struggle and they somehow survive. Or perform like a dream and pick up Prem-place saving points nice and early (Hull). We've spent millions. We've had the backing of pundits and fans. But we deserve nothing if we don't play like we care and believe we belong. Too big to go down? You have to play big to stay up, and we are nothing more than small time at the minute.
Woodgate has come out in support of Ramos. Citing 'togetherness' and making bold statements such as 'I think we will stay up' and 'There's no doubt about it, everyone thinks we should and I think we will'. Ramos on the other hand prefers to be far more honest (pessimistic) telling us 'I am worried about the situation. At the moment it is terrible'. 'No shit Sherlock moment' right there for you. With the Bolton game taking on the 'Biggest Game in our History' tag, a Levy mass/demo protest is planned for Sunday. A demo? How come I didn't think of this? Now call it extreme if you like, but I propose we hit Levy hard, and we hit him fast, with a major, and I mean major, leaflet campaign.
In the ground, support the team. Outside, protest to your hearts content.
Someone should have a quiet yet stern word in the ears of the management and players because they don't quite grasp the reality of the situation. At the time of writing Newcastle are beating City 2-1, which means we are 5 points adrift of 19th spot.
Rock'n'roll. City just equalised. 4 points off 19th spot.