Consent Preferences Spurs Odyssey - Feature Article - Glenn Hoddle's Talent and Misjudgements (Written 2003)
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Feature Article - Glenn Hoddle's Talents and Misjudgements

Many thanks to Ian Campbell, who sent this article following the Bolton game and Joff Wild's article this week:-

I read your very good report on the Bolton game and the comments by Joff Wild. It is good to find this forum for honest and sincere views on the club. Thank you for creating it. I have some opinions to express.

Firstly, it seems to me quite wrong to blame ENIC for Spurs' difficulties. No, Glenn Hoddle has not had tens of millions to spend, but he has spent substantial sums and has brought in a long list of players: Sheringham, Richards, Keane, Redknapp, Ziege, Bunjevcevic, to mention only some. Richards and Keane were expensive buys. They are all very good players but only Keane is good and young.

Secondly, Hoddle's Spurs have at times played exceptional football. Spurs did utterly outplay Arsenal for one half of one game this season. That is an achievement and it did not come about by accident. Spurs have also outplayed Chelsea. Both games would have been victories if Spurs had more fire-power up front. But focus on the positive for a moment: Spurs have shown signs of promise and the reason is that Hoddle has gathered a lot of very good players together and does have exceptional coaching skills and ideas that might well be capable of creating not just a good team but a great one.

But there are also Hoddle's misjudgements to be reckoned with. First, formation. He persisted through much of the season with his wing-back formation that the defenders themselves appeared not to like and which had Spurs leaking goals.

Then, team selection. Hoddle knows what type of player he likes. They are players like him, who pass with precision and have footballing intelligence and polish. Gus Poyet and Teddy Sheringham are two such players. They have been great players and they are utterly committed to Spurs' cause (and I have enormous respect for them) but the truth is that they are not what they were. How can Spurs hope to attain a top six place in the Premiership with players whom top six sides were willing to release some years ago because they were no longer in their prime?

It can, of course, be argued that Hoddle has no suitable replacements. But that, too, is where the question of judgement comes in. Against Bolton, Spurs played some great football again in the first half. Yet, as you pointed out in your report on the game, Poyet simply was not in it. He was in central midfield and not involved. On the bench sat Etherington, young and fast and direct. He might have been brought on for Poyet, and, as you pointed out, Anderton (who in my view played brilliantly on the left flank) might have been moved infield. But, though Spurs were utterly outplayed in the second half, Etherington only got his chance in the 86th minute, when he replaced Anderton, not Poyet.

To my mind, the failure to replace Poyet much earlier in the game, preferably at or shortly after half time, was quite amazing, a huge error of judgement, and one that gave Spurs little hope of winning the game.

Teddy Sheringham, meanwhile, was also marginal in the Bolton game, as he is now in most games. He is simply not getting to the ball quickly enough.

What this meant was that 2 of Spurs outfield players were not really in the game against Bolton, and that is simply too much of a burden to place on the other players. Small wonder that in the second half Spurs were simply overrun. Carr, King, Davies, Anderton and Bunje had played very well in the first half but it is hard to win a match playing, in effect, with 9 fully fit men against 11.

Glenn Hoddle does seem to have a problem--perhaps it is one of excessive loyalty--recognising when his favourite players are not performing. He also seems to distrust young players who lack the polish and experience of older players. But polish takes time and experience to acquire and youth and pace and vigour also count for a lot. Etherington is very promising and does give defences problems. It was distressing to see him brought on with only minutes left. Slabber did well against Liverpool and should have been given the chance to replace Sheringham in the second half, but was simply left on the bench, even though Sheringham and Spurs were showing little sign of scoring.

What am I arguing? Hoddle, in my view, is capable of great things but is being let down by his own errors of judgement. He needs some constructive criticism (which this is intended to be) but, of course, it needs to come from someone Hoddle trusts and will listen to. Gorman? Hughton? Surely one of them could see against Bolton that Gus Poyet, especially, but also Teddy were not performing.

Managers often blame basic errors by players for defeat in matches. At present, it is Hoddle himself who, for all his talent, is making the basic errors. You need 11 fit men, not 9, to win in the Premiership. If he can become more self-critical or more open to advice from one of his assistants or from someone else, I continue to feel he can build a truly great Spurs team. But he does need to change. None of us find that easy.

best regards,
Ian Campbell

1 Joff Wild writes:- "Why Hoddle should stay"
3 The state of "The Spurs Franchise"

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