Slow news day, as ever during the International break. Going through the archives, I found this particular letter to the chairman quite relevant, I guess as a comparison between the balance of the side back then (towards the end of Jol's tenure) to what it is now, under Harry Redknapp who has rejuvenated the mis-jointed side that Ramos failed to ignite.
The letter was written on the 15th August 2007, after the Everton loss at WHL. Martin Jol was the gaffer. And we sat bottom of the Prem, struggling for form. What a shocker...
What use is an unloaded gun?
Dear Mr Levy,
Are you sitting comfortably? Maybe you need to push aside the metaphorical £7000 per night hooker (The West Stand) kneeling down in front of you and spit out the caviar (our hard earned money) because I don’t want you to be distracted by what I have to say. And if Chirpy happens to be down there too, ask him to get his friction burns another time.
I’ve just returned from White Hart Lane – The Theatre of Sleep Paralysis. I witnessed an inept display of dis-organised football, dosed with dollops of shambolic blips and embarrassing puddles of despair. Is it suddenly the turn of the century again? Is Pleat back at the helm? Moving a little forward on the timeline, I almost long for Santini and his bus.
What happened to the progression from the past two seasons? The ambition to iron out all the little quirks and problems? In two games we find ourselves rock bottom within touching distance of the wrong Championship. Six points behind everyone and in disarray. A relegation dogfight is already on the cards. Time to cash in on the lazy Berbatov to bring in some steel. Nigel Quashie should be available. He knows one or two things about dogfights. The cultured Berbatov doesn’t have the right tools in the box for what’s on the horizon.
For the love of God, Anthony Colossus Gardner is our top goal scorer. Why bother spunking all that money on Bent when we have a player who can defend and attack? He’s like a black Beckenbauer, except his English, shit and can’t defend or attack. Uncanny. Gardner is so bad he should be white and ginger.
All that pre-season hype and all those cute sound-bites from Jose and Fergie have got your little band of brothers all punch drunk with the idea that they don’t actually have to do anything. Just turn up in their £5,000 suits and £100k sports cars and that will be enough. 4th spot will come running to them in a short little mini skirt and black high heels, biting its lip with anticipation. Open your eyes, you fools! Its not 4th spot. Its 14th spot, and it’s fat and ugly and will give you STD's.
Yes, the defence is depleted, and seeing Kaboul walk off was evil irony at its best. Leaving us with Chimbonda (left-back or right-back, you decide) and Stalteri - the one man wrecking machine who hasn't quite figured out what the football is used for. But the issue that no matter how good our forwards are (not very good at the moment) we will continue to struggle even with a fully fit defence on account of having the most unbalanced and backwards moving midfield in the Premiership.
Everton may not have been great in performance. Let’s face it they didn’t have to do much at all. They just waited for us to gift them a goal or three. But they still grafted their socks off. They all had individual responsibilities out on the pitch. We were a pathetic mess in comparison. At this rate, we’ll be relegated by Christmas. See, instead of paying money for young players and recommended foreign talent, we should have just brought in bland non-sexy workman-like footballers. We got beat by a team who have Phil Neville as the cornerstone of their defence. Why didn’t we bid for Phil Neville? No, instead, we go for Kevin Prince Boateng, cause he’s got a flash name and tattoos and should sell a ton of shirts and merchandise and might be the new Gazza. Another player who might prove to be decent in 3 years time. Always looking to the future, never the present.
After the Sunderland defeat, I asked to see the following for the home game against Everton:
Creativity from midfield.
Alert and slick forward play.
Strength of character in all areas.
Belief and self confidence.
The Magnificent Seven. And how did we do?
Organisation – The defence played like a post-apocalyptic group of starved imprisoned zombies who have been forced feed milk by a sadistic military special ops unit. They are confused and don’t understand what’s going on.
Balance – No balance or cohesiveness of any kind. The defence was put together by Blue Peter. All cello-tape and cardboard. The midfield was non-existent, like comedy on ITV. The forwards lost. Stuck in a hatch.
Width – Laughable. No Lennon, no width. Routledge made a cameo. That’s how desperate we are. All summer long - in fact three summers long, and still no answer to the left-hand side. Gareth Bale, our hopes and dreams are with you because Levy wouldn’t pay Petrov £70K per week. Criminal.
Creativity from midfield – One word. Arteta. That’s what we don’t have in our team. Someone to pull the strings. How dominant was he against Jenas and Zokora and our other midfielder, Keane? When will Jol realise that the midfield is imperative. It’s the heart of the team. Everton had the likes of Carsley doing all the donkey work. What do we have? Jenas, endlessly running into people or losing the ball. Zokora, endlessly running into people or losing the ball. Keane, endlessly running into people or losing the ball. Top 4? It’s not even mid-table, quality wise. Look at the other teams up there and look at their midfield's, then compare them to what we have. That money you got for Carrick, after the usual tax-deductible yacht purchase is taken out off the profit margin, you could have spent it on someone decent enough to replace him. Phil Neville. Scott Parker. I wouldn't bid for Arteta. He'd probably turn to shit the moment he puts on the Lilywhite shirt.
Alert and slick forward play – None to be seen. A couple of moves, crosses and half-shots and the header from Berbatov, but all a bit average. None of that relentless attacking movement of the past two years that we have managed to muster up time and time again at home. There has been no style or plan in either of our two opening games. Are they training hard enough? Because a source close to the club suggests that Jol doesn’t have them do much running.
Strength of character in all areas – Completely void. No real heart. Nothing to suggest they felt hurt after the Sunderland defeat. No belief in themselves. In fact, it was all rather sympathetic. Losing a goal after 3 minutes summed it up. Spurs are the Kurt Cobain of football, gifted and tortured, preferring the easy way out.
Belief and self confidence – I think Martin Jol loves Jenas so much, he’s started to mould the team in the shape and style of the player. Jenas, who probably still reads a scrapbook full of newspaper cut-outs of his rave reviews of when he was a Forest player, seems to be undroppable. He’s ineffective and without purpose. Seems the rest of the team are exactly like that too. No belief in their ability and no confidence to take on the likes of Sunderland and Everton. Its the dawn of the Jol Jenesis. And all the players have an invisible touch.
In a word, its a shambles.
So what if we have seven defenders out injured. What kind of excuse is that? And the lack of ideas going forward is worrying. Which begs the questions, why no Huddlestone? He was superb when he came on against Sunderland the other week. So mobile and sharp.
Where was the chance-creating machine, Taarabt? Ever present in pre-season, a reserve player since the start of it. This young Zidane cloned youngster is the saviour of this ruined club, and yet you and Jol have him wrapped up in cotton wool in a basement at the Lodge. Too wooden, is he?
You upped the prices of our season tickets. You allowed £16M and a bit to be spent on a forward that we arguably didn’t need. And all this talk of top 4 has resulted with egg over your chiselled manicured bald face.
After Derby at home, we have Manchester United, Arsenal, Bolton, Newcastle and Liverpool with Fulham squashed somewhere in there for fun. I can hardly see any points gained in any of those matches. Jol must have 2, max 3, games left to save his job. He's gone from a rousing Churchillesque speech at the final home game of last season and rapturous applauds and hero worship to the sounds of disgruntled fans, baying for his blood, full of intolerable excuses and boo'ing the team off the pitch.
See how quick your empire can crumble? That's the power we yield. We can place aside everything that's happened since Jol took over replacing them with 180 minutes played this season, such is are foresight and judgement.
Two games, two sets of 90 minutes and our season is over. Best we can hope for is 8th or 7th at a push, and a late one at that. Three years down the drain in a blink of an eye. With no understandable explanation. It's the Tower of Babel all over again, struck down before reaching the heavens.
Time for evasive action. Time to sell the dead wood and bring in some new blood. Time to start the search for a new manager. Time to scrap these stupid tours of Africa, which appears to be one of the reasons for our depleted squad and injury crisis. Even though we did win some silverware out there. Add that to the honours list, Levy.
All those wonderful cup runs of last year and superb free-flowing attacking football that saw us claim the right to be called the great entertainers, all flushed down the toilet with just the one attempt. The harsh truth is that the log wasn’t big enough to cause a blockage and survive. Wasn't strong enough. Just too soft and breakable. Too much fibre, that’s the problem. Not enough starch.
That was August 2007. How times have (finally) changed. We actually look like a football team now. Oh the joy of passing time...