Wednesday, 31 October 2007

Spurs Starting from Scratch

JJ here,
Ah Spurs. In the last decade or so we’ve had managers who claimed the title would soon be in their grasp (Francis and Hoddle), some who said they were a club that were world famous for good football (Gross and Santini) and some who just got on with the job of managing a mediocre side while waiting for the next man to come in (Pleat and Graham). In Martin Jol it seemed they had a bloke with both the intelligence and imposing presence to shift them from also-rans to Champions League regulars.

The story of his bizarre and frankly sad departure has been told plenty of times and now the fact of the matter is that Juande Ramos rules the roost and is now charged with unleashing the inner potential of such ‘stars’ as Steed Malbranque and Jermaine Jenas. Which is hardly an easy task now is it. Okay, okay they have some quality in the side as well – King when he’s fit, Keane, Berbatov – but they’re not overflowing with world class talent.

But, the argument goes anyway, Ramos’ world class coaching skills will turn them into contenders soon enough, with some Spurs fans eyeing up the Uefa Cup (the trophy the Spaniard has captured two years on the trot) as a decent option already. But does success in one job really guarantee similar achievements elsewhere?

A manager coming into a new club needs either some heavy doses of luck or huge wads of cash these days to be successful. For instance, Frank Rijkaard knew nothing but failure with Holland and Sparta Rotterdam, yet when handed big stars and big expectations he took to the challenge of Barcelona beautifully after a difficult start. Were he to swap this situation – where he has been blessed with such riches of talent – with say the AC Milan job where he would need to rebuild a side, would he be capable of such success? You’d have your doubts.

What about Claudio Ranieri? There is a man who specialises in charming fans in Italy, Spain and England, playing decent football and getting teams into the Champions League places but his record varies from glory to disaster – just look at the varying fortunes of his two spells in charge at Valencia for proof.

Ronald Koeman is about to take over at that certain La Liga outfit yet his managerial prowess centres around a Portuguese Super Cup, two Dutch leagues with traditional champions Ajax and one lucky one with PSV last year as well as knocking out a mediocre Liverpool and a despondent Arsenal from the Champions League in ’06 and ’07 respectively. This will be a huge step up – personally I’d rank his managerial record alone alongside Walter Smith’s before he went to Everton from Rangers – and considering the awful brand of football his teams play you can see little else but failure for the rotund Dutchman.

Elsewhere, Fabio Capello may have a great record in Italy and Spain, but at Real Madrid he was never given the chance to stick around long enough for it to go wrong. Speaking of the Spanish giants, their finest coach in modern times – Vicente del Bosque – went to Turkey after his glorious achievements at home and in Europe and flopped spectacularly.

Rafa Benitez’s record to someone who hasn’t watched his teams actually play is amazing, yet he is considered in great danger of losing his job at the end of the season. Then there’s Jose Mourinho, whose talents will be sorely tested in his next job. Add to all this Sven and his excellent record, blemished only by five years of trying to get the best out of the International Baby Bentley Brigade tm. No one would touch him for ages yet now he’s working miracles (well except for last Saturday).

It’s all luck, cash and public perception of your success really. Whether Ramos will be successful or not will depend on how much funds Spurs have left to spend after a hefty summer in the transfer market and whether the players already there actually want to stay. He could be a miracle worker but then again that rarely, if ever, exists in modern football. The thing is though, the Spurs board have laid their cards on the table by firing a damn good coach for one with little English and varying degrees of success pre-Sevilla.

Indeed, one glance at the top of the Premiership table – where the Spurs board crave to be – suggests that longevity is the key to success. As Wenger and Ferguson prepare to face off on Saturday, they are universally seen as two of the best managers in the business, if not the best. Spurs have started all over again, and somehow I doubt should it start to go wrong a season or two from now they will continue to have courage in their convictions. Which is why they may never attain the status they desire so badly.


Anonymous said...

Sad that Jol got shafted like he did. Looking through the list seems like Benitez may be morphing in to Koeman(little fat men play horrible negative football).also while not recommending lee sharpe for hate section read extract from his book on guardian unlimited site in article sporting lives and the phrase up his own arse springs to mind. Ashley Cole as ever comes out smelling of roses

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