Updated: May 10
Most Spurs fans are pretty certain that a significant section of the press is waiting to stick the boot in if things don’t start off perfectly. The removal of Harry Redknapp still rankles with the Redknapp Popular Front’s national media section and AVB is just the sort of serious foreign coach they like to poke fun at.
For some Spurs fans too, there’s a worry. Appointing a well-regarded Iberian technical coach after abruptly removing a successful manager has uncomfortable echoes of the Juande Ramos debacle, and the current board’s record of success when given time to plan the selection of a new manager does not inspire.
I had my say on Harry just after his departure. Suffice to say the end of the road had been reached, so there’s little point in arguing about whether he should or shouldn’t still be there. My initial reaction to AVB’s appointment was one of optimism, and I retain that optimism now. I’m expecting Spurs to play good football, and what I hear of how AVB is approaching things also makes me optimistic that the current squad will have a harder competitive edge when it comes to the crunch – something that for all the good Harry did was still a worry. Spurs have the players to suit the way AVB likes to play, and do not have similar problems with egos and old guards in the dressing room.
The squad itself is still one of the best in the Premiership. Modric looks finally to be on the way out, which will be a loss. I can’t understand how anyone doesn’t recognise that he’s been our single most influential player over the past two seasons – the criticism seems to boil down to ‘he should do more’. But, if we get the right price, he’ll go. Replacing him is key, but complicated by the fact that we’ll need to lay out significant amounts for two other key positions – a goalkeeper and a striker.
The inability to sign the kind of striker we need for successive seasons is a major worry. For all the understandable difficulties over money and the lure of clubs with bigger wages to offer and a stronger European pedigree, Spurs seem to have more difficulty than other clubs in identifying and signing goalscorers. For a good example of a club that does discover and secure the kind of goalscoring talent we need, look no further than opening day opponents Newcastle. I understand the need to manage the finances properly, and the fact that deals become more doable towards the end of the transfer window. But I’ve also seen Spurs drop points that could have secured higher finishes because we’ve made signings after the first three games have been played. There are economies. And there are false economies.
The signings we have made are very encouraging – in Vertonghen and Sigurdsson we have two technically accomplished players who want to play for the club and should make a real difference. Although I’m stumped as to how we’re supposed to sing about them.
I’m pretty certain I will enjoy the football I see. I’ll be disappointed if we don’t finish top 4, but if we don’t it’s not the end of the world. I’ve got more confidence in AVB to build something sustainable than I had in Harry. I don’t think a serious challenge for a trophy – even the league title, is beyond us.
I think it’s going to be a tough season for football. I mentioned the Olympics at the start, and what we saw during that amazing fortnight certainly raised some questions over the way football and footballers behave. But, while it’s not an excuse for the worst excesses, football is what it is at least in part because of what we make it. Perhaps if we don’t pump it up so much, attach so much importance to every tiny comment and movement and generally remember that it is a sport, us fans can make our contribution to making the football world a more pleasant one.
There may be lashings of naivety through much of what I’ve written, but expectation and excitement are key to why we enjoy sport. I’m always told off when I say winning the league just takes us to win more games than the other teams. But it’s true. We’ve got a team capable of beating any of the others, and that’s cause for optimism.
Now, it’s time for the commercial. Along with Adam Powley and Doug Cheeseman, I’ve been working on an updated version of The Glory Glory Nights, which will be a complete history of Spurs in Europe. It’s being produced to the same standard as the award-winning 61: The Spurs Double and due to be published, with official club backing, in November. In 2013 it will be 50 years since Spurs became the first British side to win a European trophy, and we hope this book is as well-received as the one on The Double was.
Both those books come from the stable of Vision Sports Publishing, who will also be issuing the new, fully-updated edition of The Spurs Miscellany in October. This will be the fourth edition of the popular book, and this time it’s an official club publication. There’s a bundle of new trivia, all the basic information on the club and its history, plenty of background history, anecdote and humour, plus a new introduction by club legend Ossie Ardiles. At £9.99, it’s ideal gift material.
The Spurs Shots series of ebooks from Adam Powley and I are still available from the links on the right hand side of this blog. There are currently titles on Danny Blanchflower, Glenn Hoddle and Arthur Rowe. And copies of our acclaimed book featuring interviews with 11 of the key names from the legendary early 80s Spurs side, The Boys from White Hart Lane, are still available in paperback or ebook format from VSP. We’ve also got plans to reissue a back catalogue classic later this year, so watch this space.