NORMAN GILLER’S SPURS ODYSSEY BLOG No 226
Submitted by Norman Giller
So the shooting and the shouting is over for the season and now the sweating starts. Can Spurs hold on to the players and – vitally – the manager who have steered them into third place and an instant return to the Champions League?
The vultures are circling as Tottenham prepare to move to the new state-of-the-art headquarters after yesterday’s extraordinary, pulsating farewell to their temporary Wembley home.
It looks odds-on Toby Alderweireld and Danny Rose moving to greener pastures as they chase the pound notes, and you can bet your boots we are going to face weeks of conjecture and wild rumour linking Mauricio Pochettino, Christian Eriksen, Dele Alli, Mousa Dembele and poster boy Harry Kane to gold-plated moves.
Fingers crossed they will all be kicking off at the new ground under Generalissimo Pochettino’s baton next season, but prepare yourself for a summer of speculation, particularly with the World Cup giving the players an international platform.
Most worrying is that Pochettino is making the sort of noises that suggest he is not getting everything his own way at the club, and there are half a dozen major teams in Europe that would happily poach him. His body language was all wrong after yesterday’s crazy finale, and his muddled message was not that of somebody on the brink of a new Tottenham dawn.
"If we want to be real contenders for big, big trophies, we need to review a little," he told the media. "First of all, I need to speak with Daniel, then we will know what we are going to do. I think it's a moment the club needs to take risks and if possible work harder than the previous season to be competitive again.”
After leading the club to fifth, third, second and third-placed finishes in his four seasons in charge, he has earned the right to make a stand and speaks from a position of power, knowing that major clubs would welcome him as their manager.
The situation is not helped by the small but vociferous crowd of myopic Tottenham supporters who have been campaigning on line to get “Poch out”. They should be very careful what they wish for.
An end-of-season word of praise for the much-maligned Daniel Levy. He has given the club a stadium for all our tomorrows, and it makes me laugh to see people who could not organise a loft conversion knocking him for being tight with wages and money in the transfer market.
You have to take on board that the new ground has sent Spurs spiralling £515m into debt, and so money has to be spent wisely. Main club owner Joe Lewis is now an octogenarian who is better than almost anybody at working out a deal, and it’s certain he will be making plans right now for the long-term financing of the club. We will be wiser when they have the ground-naming ceremony.
It’s a matter of record that Spurs have spent £184.59m on players in the past two seasons, much less than Manchester City, Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool over the same period. The new ground is a wonderful sight to behold as it soars up into the North London sky, but it has come at an enormous cost.
First priority for Lewis and Levy should be securing Pochettino as the boss. That means finding the transfer money and competitive wages to bring in the players that he wants to complete the Spurs jigsaw.
Tottenham need Mauricio in the driving seat as they prepare to move into their new space age home, otherwise it will be like Mercedes going into next season without Lewis Hamilton at the wheel.
Slap on a high-factor sun screen as we prepare for a summer of whine.
I got involved in a heated debate yesterday when it was claimed on line that Our Harry is the greatest Tottenham player of all time. I responded that I would “fight to the death” to make the case for Jimmy Greaves until Kane overtakes his club record 266 goals, and I stressed that Dave Mackay remains the best all-round footballer I have ever seen in a Lilywhite shirt. Skill, strength in spades, a battling spirit and the ability to motivate his team-mates above and beyond the call of duty – the real Mackay had it all.
But nothing would please me more than for Harry to force me to change my mind with a continuation of his goal-gorged performances (in a Spurs shirt, of course). He might have had four goals yesterday but for desperate defending by his England team-mate Harry Maguire, and only world-class finishing by Mo Salah prevented him capturing a third successive golden boot. You can read our guru Paul H. Smith’s report of the goal feast HERE. I think he needs the summer to get over it.
I hope you will be staying with us at Spurs Odyssey during the close season, when we will be keeping an eye on all our players on World Cup duty, and I will be presenting a book serialisation that I know will please any Tottenham supporter who cares about what went on at the Lane before the Premier League was born.
As the Eurovision song contest proved, it’s not over until the fat lady sings. And it’s NOT all over yet for Tottenham. It’s going to be a long, hot summer. Watch this space.
This week’s totally trivial teaser, just for fun:
Which Spurs player has been selected by Louis van Gaal, Martin Jol, Andre Villas Boas, Tim Sherwood, Mauricio Pochettino and Roberto Martinez, and what number Lilywhite shirt does he wear?
Please email your answer to me at Teaser2@normangillerbooks.com. Deadline: midnight this Friday. No prize, just pride and the satisfaction of being right!
Last week I asked: Who has been the only player to have won a League championship medal with Tottenham NOT born in the United Kingdom?
This, as many of you answered, was Len ‘The Duke’ Duquemin, who was born on Guernsey in the Channel Islands. He was a biff-bang old school centre-forward who was the leading marksman for the Push and Run champions of 1950-51.
Thanks for your company. See you same time, same place next week. COYS.
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