Tuesday afternoon round-up of the past weeks highlights.
Spiffing weekend with the win against Chelsea. Feet firmly back on the ground, right? I say that because even I got a little giddy with our victory. It amuses me that the tables have turned a little in our advantage. The little club from West London, with history you can trace back a couple of years, don't much fancy playing us. Suddenly we are flirting with the possibility of Europe, which appears to be winking in our direction and playfully lifting her skirt up, teasing us with her continental cheek. This has got some Spurs fans trembling at the knees with excitement. And this is the exact reason why other fans hate us. Far too emotional for our own good. A month or so back, relegation was still a word people shared in worried conversations, scared to ask where the next three points might come from. A week in football is a long time blah blah blah.
It's great that the players have finally settled and we are playing with confidence. And it's equally great that such is the non-event in the way of difference between a team just above the bottom three and one just below 7th spot in the table, that we can go from relegation fodder to potential Europa glory in the space of two games. No point on dwelling on what could have been had we picked up more points in the opening eight games (refer to Harry Redknapp for further analysis on this). I'm happy with anything above 10th. And if we did qualify for the soon to be revised version of the UEFA Cup, I don't believe it would be a distraction to getting it right in the Prem (which should be the overwhelming priority next season). Sure, we can kiss goodbye again to Saturday 3pm kick-offs, but considering how weak the opposition teams appear to be in the early rounds of the competition, we could use it to blood some youth players and reserves. Never say no to Europe. Time they gave the competition an extra twist. Winners qualify for the Champions League. Considering there are more runners-up and 3rd, 4th placed teams than actual champions, I don't see what harm it would. Apart from making the rich richer.
Still unbeaten against the Sky Sports Top 4 this season in the Prem. Only defeats (overall) coming in both Cups against Man Utd. Villa (who spent some time in 4th place) also beat us at the Lane. Strange old season. All that's left is for Robbie Keane to score a last minute winner in front of the Kop on the final day of the season, handing Man Utd the title. Can he play in that game? Someone mentioned how the FA will not allow it due to 'conflicting interest' (being the fact that he can pick up a winners medal due to appearance made for Liverpool, if the Reds win the league). Cant believe he would be interested in doing so considering his experience up there.
Aaron Lennon has signed an extension. I touched on this briefly in the match review for the Chelsea game. The fact he has signed on for a further two years and has stated he is happy at the club means exactly that, and there is no conceivable way for him to leave the club this summer, regardless of any possible £20M bids from Rafa or anyone else. From a business sense, it's obvious that the extension means if the player is sold then we can get more money for him. From a football perspective, he has extended his contract which means he does not want to leave the club. Which means that the club must laugh in the direction of anyone who comes knocking. There is no Robbie Keane or Michael Carrick reasoning on Aaron being sold this summer or the next. Memo to Levy. The door isn't just closed. It's double locked.
Same applies with Modric.
Congrats also to Aaron on his England call-up. Well deserved. Sparkling form, the type that makes him undroppable for Spurs. The more he develops the more unplayable he'll be for the opposition. Good news for us. Good news for the 3 Lions.
Talking of business sense, we've announced record figures for the six months ending on the 31st December 2008 (so that doesn't include the outgoings in the Jan transfer window). Levy via the official site:
"In a period of global economic recession this is a considerable achievement and we acknowledge that both the strength of our business and the fantastic loyalty shown by our supporters have helped ensure that these results have not been materially affected. We have benefited from having a robust business that is well financed and has continued to be able to support investment in the first team."
Yes, all very good. Well done. But this doesn't exactly turn me on. It's grand that in these days of debt-ridden football clubs we are in very healthy nick. We'd be even richer if we didn't spunk our money on players with inflated transfer values. So arguably, as strong as we are off it, we haven't been equally strong on it. But that has more to do with the people employed by Levy than it has to do with him directly, although he is still responsible. I'm not attempting to dig for the sake of it, but considering how much the club charges for tickets, it's no bleeding surprise we're so strong financially. We have a loyal fan base and regardless of the recession the country is going through, we don't appear to be turning our backs on the club as fans. So as long as the new stadium plans push ahead and we double our capacity, we'll be even richer. Which means even more money to spend (waste) on players we don't need. I guess my point is, when you are running a club like Spurs there is no excuse for running it into the ground.
What Scholar did was criminal, and what happened at Leeds, laughable. My criticism of Levy has always been the way he appears to confuse business decisions with ones of a footballing nature. Decent figures for sure, that won't look as bright when you subtract the transfer deals and the money spent on other ventures that will benefit the club in the long run (i.e the training ground facility). Merchandising is also down (I guess the irony in buying a Spurs mug is too much for some in the current climate) leaving Sky TV revenue and season ticket sales the only constant any club can rely on.
Consistenty ON the pitch is now required, so all the smart accountancy can support the only real progression fans care about.
Nice to see Adel and Gio doing well at their respective clubs (on loan) in the Championship. Adel, notching a winning goal for QPR over the weekend, is getting rave reviews for his quick feet and clever play. Has to be part of our squad for next season. Gio is also a player that the club should hold onto. If anything because getting rid of him before he has had the chance to prove himself at Spurs in the Prem is harsh. But when you compare Adel's comments about wanting to return to Spurs to prove himself to Gio's who is far more ambiguous in where his future lies - you wonder if a decision has already been made on the latters future.
Hutton is on the way back. Looked good in his warm-up, which took place outside a pub with his dad.
King for England? Harry is furious. I can understand why. On paper you'd have to be concerned as a Spurs fan if King plays a part for England on the pitch. It would probably mean he can't play for Spurs the following week. Not sure what Capello wants out of this. If he took King to a major tournament, would he be there to cover? And if he did, it would still be a case of waiting for his knee to lose the swelling. Maybe I'm biased, but why Woodgate isn't in the squad as an alternative to Terry and Ferdinand is a complete mystery to me. As for King, if it wasn't for his dodgy knee he'd be number one choice. Brilliant player who deserves an international career, but will never have one of any real substance. Personally, I think having him part of the England squad is nice recognition to what he has achieved as a player who has 'retired' from full training. But if there is a chance he will play, Ledders will have to consider the risks. Spurs has to be his priority. Being his bread and butter. Which is probably the reason Harry is a little pissed off.
But alas, it's over before it's began and King is back at Spurs to continue his 'individual training programme'. So he won't be taking part in the friendly on Saturday. And will probably never be called up again. What England's medical staff and Fabio thought they could do with the lad is anyones guess considering how well known his problems with fitness are.
England can live without him. We can't.