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Spurs v Getafe, 25.10.07


Spurs scorer:-
Defoe, 19

Getafe scorers:-
De La Red, 21
Braulio, 70

Attendance: - 26,240

Referee: - Mr. Knut Kircher (Germany)
Assistants: - Mr. T. Schiffner, Mr. C. Dingert
Fourth Official: - Mr. Seemann

Spurs (4-4-2):- Cerny; Chimbonda, Kaboul, Gardner (sub Dawson, 43), Lee; Lennon, Zokora (Capt.) (sub Tainio, 72), Huddlestone, Malbranque (sub Keane, 71); Berbatov, Defoe
(Armband to Keane)

Subs not used: - Forecast; Stalteri; Boateng; Bent

Booked: - Defoe, Kaboul

Getafe (4-2-3-1):- Ustari (sub Abbondanzieri, 46); Cortes, Belenguer (Capt.), Diaz, Signorino; Casquero, De La Red; Granero (sub Mario, 72), Albin, Nacho; Braulio

Subs not used: - Sousa, Licht; Juanfran; Manu Del Moral, Kepa

Booked: - Albin, Abbondanzieri

Surreal Backdrop to a sacking

I received information before 4.30 yesterday afternoon to the effect that Martin Jol would definitely be sacked “tonight or tomorrow morning”, whatever the result; that Juande Ramos had been appointed his successor, with former Spurs player Gus Poyet as his number two; and that Clive Allen and Alex Inglethorpe (Youth team coach) would take charge of Sunday’s game against Blackburn. I decided to treat the rumour as exactly that, but would be interested in Martin Jol’s demeanour (if present) at the game against Getafe.

Jol was present, but very subdued, and did not venture to the technical area. I had enlightened those around me with the essence of what I had heard and before the end of the first half, text messages were being received to the effect that Jol’s departure had been confirmed – firstly on the radio, secondly on the TV – with the word being that Jol had in fact resigned before the game. The rumours gathered strength during half time, and despite no such information or suggestion from the club, the Park Lane contingent of the loyal Spurs support started the Martin Jol chants with renewed and extra vigour. In particular the stadium responded to the urge to “Stand Up for Martin Jol”, correctly reflecting the respect and affection held by the fans for the best manager the club has had since Keith Burkinshaw.

Chairman Daniel Levy presumably had not intended to make any announcement last night, as the club usually makes such releases at the opening of the Stock Exchange, being (at this time) a PLC. Within about 90 minutes of the final whistle the club did announce that it had asked Martin Jol and Chris Hughton to stand down with immediate effect.

Martin Jol – a man of integrity and honour, who genuinely loved Tottenham Hotspur – leaves a legacy of two successive fifth place finishes in the Premiership – the best achieved by Tottenham, and the best win ratio by any recent manager. The recent history of the pressure put upon Jol by a board which had so dramatically undermined his authority in week one of the season is well known. I do find myself mystified that such important business decisions were being made around a crucial European game. The fact that the information had leaked during the afternoon is something the board needs to address. Someone at a high level seems to have been leading a whispering campaign for some time now, which has all too often led to mixed messages and negativity amongst the fans, who are surely the most important people in the equation.

Last night’s game then turned out to be a surreal backdrop to another nightmare in the political history of Tottenham Hotspur Football Club. For the record, it was also only the second time Spurs have lost a home game in European competition. The other occasion was in 1985 to a bigger club from Madrid – Real.

Jol had reacted to Monday night’s result at Newcastle, by dropping Michael Dawson to the bench, and leaving Jenas out completely. His selection of Didier Zokora as team captain seemed perverse, although the top five in the pecking order were missing at the start of the game. That said, I am sure that Jermain Defoe has worn the armband before, so it would appear that despite being picked to start the game, he was still being snubbed in a sense. There was a moment of apparent farce when Zokora was replaced by Tainio, and Robbie Keane appeared to initially refuse the armband from Zokora, pointing at Dawson. This surely was the evidence of Spurs’ lack of clear leadership within the team.

Getafe are in the bottom three of the Spanish League, and coach Michael Laudrup has been given orders to concentrate on improvement in that competition, which must be why he decided to actually rest players such as number one keeper Abbondanzieri, and strikers Uche and Kepa Blanco. Laudrup still set his team up in a challenging way, with De La Red and Casquero operating in front of the back four, and Granero, Albin and Nacho behind front runner Braulio. As a result, Getafe flooded the midfield, but also set Spurs plenty of testing questions through the middle and down the flanks. Albin fed a good ball through the middle after just two minutes, giving Braulio a shot that Cerny did hold. Three minutes later, Kaboul was struggling on the right side of central defence, failing to clear the ball from the feet of Nacho, giving Granero a chance that was pushed wide.

Spurs did have Lennon on the right and looked brighter for that. They had already strung one or two good moves together, before Tom Huddlestone clipped a good ball into the area and Defoe went down at the feet of Ustari, who managed to clear and not to foul. Ustari took a knock in this incident that led to his half-time replacement. Four minutes later, Spurs took the lead after Pascal Chimbonda managed to cross deep at the second attempt, Berbatov headed the ball back across the keeper and Jermaine Defoe was the first to react and head home in front of the jubilant South Stand.

The joy lasted no more than two minutes, and it was a soft goal as Granero took a free kick from near the left touchline, 40 yards out. De La Red claimed a touch, but the ball did not appear to touch him, as Cerny was put off by his approach and watched the ball pass him by on the left hand side. Kaboul and Gardner had also failed to support their keeper by tracking two Getafe attackers. Berbatov headed the ball into the net straight away from another right side cross, but Defoe was given offside for the build-up, and Spurs were denied the lead.

After 39 minutes, Cortes sent over a cross from the right wing, and Albin tried a first time shot which was slightly mis-hit and passed outside the post. Anthony Gardner had to be stretchered off after a crunching challenge, allowing Dawson to take the field, and Kaboul to revert to the left side of central defence. Zokora and Huddlestone were involved in the move before the whistle, when Defoe scooped a left-footed shot over the bar.

Soon after the break, Albin got a much-deserved yellow card for tugging Zokora’s shirt as Zokora led a break deep into Getafe territory. Then after 53 minutes, Lennon’s cross was fed back by Berbatov to Malbranque who hit a piledriver of a shot saved well by Abbondanzieri. Another Lennon cross was headed wide by Berbatov. Spurs had upped the tempo, and Defoe hit a typical right foot drive wide, before Signorino got a chance at the other end with a left footed sweeping shot from fully 25 yards. This passed just over Cerny’s bar.

With 20 minutes left, Spurs were caught out by Cortes’ cross to the 6 yard box, where Braulio scored with a cheeky back-heel in front of the travelling contingent of Spanish fans.

Spurs threw everything at the visitors, and the action became more and more frenetic. Defoe reached a good ball by Huddlestone, with the goalkeeper over-committing. Robbie Keane tried to reach the free ball, but Diaz made a good clearance. Chimbonda and Kaboul joined the fray, and one fed the other, but Kaboul’s shot was blocked. Chimbonda next raced into the area and fell dramatically just inside, but was denied a penalty. Tainio had a decent shot saved low, and with 5 minutes left the ball was headed against the post from a Spurs free kick, either by Dawson, or possibly a defender.

Getafe held on, and will claim great kudos for this victory. In the scheme of Round Two’s mini-league it is not the end of Spurs in Europe, but of course the main story of the night was the fact that it was the end for Martin Jol, and Chris Hughton who has been such a faithful servant of the club for so many years. Let me record that I do agree with the decision to part with Jol and Hughton, but nobody in football, apart from the Spurs Board, agrees with the manner in which their business has been conducted.

We await with bated breath the next episode in the Spurs soap opera.

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