Saturday, 7 November 2009
Have Tottenham Hit Their Glass Ceiling Under 'Arry?
Glance at the table and it looks both exciting and worrying for Tottenham. There they are in fifth place, level on points with fourth place Man City, with their heads touching the Champions League cut off line and their feet planted firmly on the Europa League floor. The position looks even stronger when you take into account that in their first 11 games, Tottenham have played all four of the traditional Big 4. It hasn't been an easy start to the season in terms of fixtures but Tottenham have kept up with the pace so far.
If this was West Ham, we would, of course, be absolutely delighted; no, we would be in seventh Heaven. But this isn't West Ham, this is the mighty Tottenham Hotspur, double winners as recently as 1961 and winners of that top piece of silverware, the League Cup in 2007-08 and 1998-99. The question is, can Tottenham now push on under 'Arry?
Redknapp has, indisputably, done a brilliant job so far, turning round Tottenham's fortunes last season and carrying the winning momentum into this; and Levy has played him superbly, backing his manager by allowing him to sign both key and squad players: Crouch, Palacios, Kranjcar, Cudicini, Keane and Defoe. I'm not sure how much that lot cost but it can't be far off £50m.
But at the same tme, I have a sense that Levy has put 'Arry on a choke chain and is not adverse to giving it a tug when 'Arry, in the transfer window, starts acting like a dog with two dicks near a bitch in season. The failure to sign Upson, Spector and James in the last window points to this. I am sure that 'Arry was keen to splash the cash but Levy held him back, pointing, no doubt, to the cover that already existed for the positions in question. Yes, Levy saw the need for a left sided midfielder, but did Tottenham really need a fifth centre back, a third/fourth keeper and yet another mediocre defender? 'Arry thought so, and as the injuries started to mount, so the rumour went around the he was about to part from Tottenham. That has never been fully explained (betting syndicates usually pile in on a whiff of a rumour, not on thin air) but my take on it was that words were possibly exchanged between manager and chairman, something along the lines of, "Can you see now why we needed those players?" with 'Arry overstepping the mark in his choice of language.
So Tottenham are in fifth place but can they maintain it, or push even higher? The game against Arsenal last week probably put things into perspective. This remains a team with a weak underbelly, a side that collapses when it takes a punch in the solar plexus. That Fabregas goal was both brilliant and absurd and illustrated all Tottenham's old frailties. Just like in 2005-06, when it comes to the crunch, Tottenham can still be found hiding in the toilets complaining of a pain their guts. They just haven't got the stomach for a fight it seems, as the limping wimp Lennon showed against Stoke City.
If the Arsenal game was a reality check, the defeat at home to Stoke was a warning shot not across the bows, but square into the prow. Shorn of Modric, Defoe and then Lennon, Tottenham looked decidedly ordinary and, as Liverpool are showing, if you are too dependent on a couple of key players, then you are going to struggle to maintain a challenge.
The biggest limiter, as far as I am concerned, however, is our old friend 'Arry. The bitter truth is that in all his years of management, 'Arry has only ever won one pot, and that was an FA Cup when fate conspired for the Big 4 to implode in the competition, leaving Portsmouth to play Cardiff City in the final. The Pompey win at Man Utd has to be one of the luckiest victories of all time and 'Arry must surely have sold his soul to the Devil to have had Chance so much on his side in that one! Take away that and what have you got? Zilch, nothing, a big fat zero. And how much has 'Arry invested over the years to win that one trophy? Well every club he has ever managed is currently in a state of financial melt down! Apart from Benitez, has any other manager had so many players pass through his hands as 'Arry for so little actual return on the money spent?
Tottenham's head is touching that glass ceiling at the moment and the pressure is already telling. Liverpool and Villa are beneath them and are expected to finish higher than their present positions and Unreal City are level on points above but have a game in hand and will strengthen still further in January. Arsenal, Man Utd and Chelsea, it seems are still in a different league. I wonder, if Tottenham settle back into seventh or eighth place, will that be enough to keep 'Arry in employment? I doubt it. If Bent comes back to haunt him today, 'Arry might start looking around for his insurance policy! I'm not sure when 'Arry will jump ship or be chucked overboard but you can bet your life that if mid table obscurity beckons next March, 'Arry will be looking for a lifeboat and Levy will be plotting yet another change of direction. I wonder, would Pompey have 'Arry back a third time? And of course, Ramos, Hoddle and George Graham are all out of work at the moment!
Posted by Hammersfan at 10:05