It will come as no surprise to readers that there are more bad and ugly memories from the 2003-4 season, than the good.
However, it is only fair to remind ourselves (why don’t you come back to this page now and again throughout the close season, to cheer yourselves up?) of a few good things that did happen to Spurs.
First and foremost in most minds was the excellent signing of Jermain Defoe right at the end of the January transfer window, with Bobby Zamora going the other way to Upton Park to join another ex-Spur, Matthew Etherington. The Hammers’ failure at Cardiff in the Division One Play-Off Final means that the ironic (get the pun?!!) meeting of Kanoute and Defoe playing against their old team will not take place, unless, of course we draw them in a Cup game.
Defoe’s signing was good for the player and great for the club, as many are convinced that his 7 goals in 14 starts were the main factor in Spurs’ survival. Jermain scored a classy goal on his debut, having no doubt wondered what he had walked into, as he had to sit out the 3-4 debacle against Manchester City. Indeed, most of the goals he scored had that touch of class, and having made a good impression for Sven Goran Eriksson against Sweden, it has been no wonder to see Defoe on the peripherary of the England 23 for Portugal. Jermain will take part in this week’s friendly tournament against Iceland and Japan, but unless there is a late injury, that is as far as he will go.
Robbie Keane gets a mention in this category, as he once again topped the goal-scoring charts, with 16 in all competitions and 14 in the League. Robbie’s penalty to equalise at the very end of the Arsenal game in April has to be one of the highlights of the season.
Keane’s form was not always that great, but then he had to be flexible about his position, as David Pleat sometimes tried to keep all three main strikers happy, and would put Robbie either on the left wing or behind the front men. Whilst Fredi Kanoute was away on his African Nations Cup venture, Keane and Defoe struck up quite an understanding, that sadly fizzled out in the fallow scoring months of March and April.
The permitted and encouraged emergence of Youth has to be mentioned, and much as most people are not sorry to see David Pleat being cast aside, he does have to be credited with creating situations where Rohan Ricketts, John Jackson and Stephen Kelly had good runs in the side. In fairness, Glenn Hoddle had given Ricketts and Dean Marney debuts at the start of the season, but when Pleat played both Blondel, then Ricketts at Coventry in a 3-0 win, we all felt optimistic about the post-Hoddle era.
There came a time when Ricketts and Pleat fell out though (allegedly due to some verbal abuse from the player), but the fans really took to him. He scored a quality goal in that Coventry game, and I remember things like Rohan being the first player to acknowledge the loyal away support after another miserable show at Goodison Park.
John Jackson scored a cracking goal in a marvellous 4-2 win at Charlton, but probably suffered through being set some difficult tasks as a left back, or left winger where he lacked a little pace. Jackson has strength, though, and a good left foot, so we must hope for more from him next term.
Stephen Kelly filled in quite well at both left and right back. These three players had 28 full appearances between them, which I doubt would have happened under Hoddle.
I have had mixed views regarding the form of Anthony Gardner, but surely the defence has been best served on those rare occasions when we did see Gardner and Ledley King in tandem, although both have been prone to errors. Both have been tried by Sven, who does take Ledley to Euro 2004. Thus Spurs are assured of at least two squad members, as new goalkeeper Paul Robinson also features in that 23.
Mauricio Taricco is hated by most opposition fans (and not a few managers and players!). Even some Spurs fans have little time for “Tano”. However, this has been a good season for the Argentinian, who demonstrated his fervour for Spurs, with his shirt-waving when we won at The Valley, and got the draw against Arsenal. Taricco was the scorer of one of many real quality goals this season, when he opened Spurs account for the season with a great shot in the home game against Leeds. Fredi Kanoute then scored another superb winner, but his best was surely that 35-yard dipping shot against Everton!
Stephane Dalmat occasionally lifted our spirits with some dazzling pace and skills, and a terrific goal against Wolves. He also made the run and shot that set up the late winner at Leicester in October, which was one of the few good months for Spurs. Dalmat’s part in a great 4-1 win over Birmingham in January should also be remembered.
I think most of us knew he was not going to be a Spurs man next year, and it came as no surprise to see him leave near the end of the season after one too many training ground bust-ups. This time his victim was Jamie O’Hara, who I do hope to see in the first team before another season passes us by. O’Hara is still not 18, but is a strong attacking midfielder, acquired from down the road, like Ricketts!
Some readers view the off-loading of one or two creaking high-wage earners such as Anderton and Ziege as a good thing, and whilst I agree they had to go, it was frustrating to see some magical Ziege deliveries in the closing games.
Ultimately, it was a good thing to preserve our Premiership status that looked fragile for too much of the season. Whilst Frank Arnesen is only part of the solution to the club’s problems, his appointment can only be a step in the right direction.
· .....The Bad
· .....and The Ugly
· Spursometer for 2003-4 season
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