Sunday, March 13, 2005


Just before 6pm this evening, Tottenham Hotspur's season more or less ended in defeat at Newcastle. Knocked out of the FA Cup, Spurs have little left to play for except pride. Talk of challenging for a top 6 spot and a place in Europe is wishful thinking. The club's form throughout the season has been indifferent. A run of wins would help, but so often this year a run of wins has been followed by an equal number of defeats.

Still, not all is lost. Tottenham have made a start (again) at clawing back their spot in the elite (well, if not Big 3, then maybe Top 8). Frank Arnesen appears to be in it for the long term. Let's hope the board are too.

Arnesen cut his teeth as Technical Director at PSV Eindhoven, owned by the giant electronics group Philips. There was an informative interview in the Guardian yesterday where Arnesen admitted that he is a football man through and through. Yet, his time dealing with hard nosed businessmen at Philips has taught him a lot about running the sporting side of a soccer club.

I could nearly forgive the false dawn of appointing Jacques Santini under Arnesen. Possibly the worst coach since Christian Gross.

Martin Jol, on the other hand, has shown quickly that he understands the club's traditions and what the fickle Spurs faithful demand from the team. Not only that, Jol is popular and respected by the players. I wish I had the optimism that Jol will stay. Ajax Amsterdam are knocking on the door. Ajax, unlike Spurs, offer European football almost guaranteed every season.

The next few weeks will be crucial. Will Jol be tempted to leave if Spurs don't climb into the top 6? If he stays, he is a brave man and, like Arnesen, will prove that he's with Spurs for the long run.

Beyond that, the next two or three seasons could be crucial. Arsenal face a cash crisis. Man United probably need to re-tool. Chelsea, meanwhile, could dominate for four, five, who knows how many years. All this means, that there could be a shift of balance in power. Who is going to step up? Newcastle, Everton, Middlesbrough, Tottenham?

If that doesn't happen, fans are going to faced with an endless stream of one-sided matches like last night's Southampton-Man U cup tie. Domestic football in that position will become boring.

:: Posted by pete @ 18:57