Category Archives: Tottenham Hotspur

FA Cup Replays – Who can cause an upset?

An enthralling game is in store for those in North London tonight where Tottenham host Championship competition of Middlesbrough. The inform tier two side may be concentrating on reaching a vital 40 points in the league, but there is no doubt the northern side will put on a valiant effort to progress into the next round. With this weeks news of Harry Kane’s absence till April, Mourinho has interesting squad decisions to make, and the strength of tonight’s team will surely have in mind their distance from a European spot for next season. The FA Cup may the silverware they strive for in Mourinho’s inaugural season as Tottenham manager.

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Kane out until April: Jose admits that without him, they cannot play the ‘Tottenham way’.

Another Premier League team with potential to fall with an upset are Newcastle United, who take on League one Rochdale at St James’s Park. The original fixture saw Rochdale bite back in the latter stages of the game with a goal made by two players aged two decades apart. Youngster Luke Matheson, who made his name when he equalised against Manchester United in the Carabao Cup earlier last year, grabbed the assist which booked Dale’s replay on Tyneside. An already classic FA Cup story, it seems written for Rochdale to go all the way, but will Premier League quality become too much and halt their FA Cup story?

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40 year-old Aaron Wilbraham scored the equaliser at The Spotland Stadium

Nigel Pearson has seemed to flip Watford’s Premier League fate on it’s head as after this weekend they sit above the relegation places for the first time season. However, his team were not as focussed as they conceded three second half goals to draw with Tranmere Rovers on the 4th January. A heroic display from the struggling League One display confirmed a replay which neither side would have desired at kick off, but one that could bring joy to the one set of fans, who have perhaps endured a poor season so far.

With current form, it would be suggested Watford would progress to the next round, but Pearson may rest his usual players for a tricky London derby against Tottenham on Saturday, as they continue to try secure Premier League status for next season. On the other hand, the Merseyside club will be hopeful for more FA Cup magic in the replay and may see a strong team out to finish a job they so excellently accounted for in the original fixture. Similarly to Watford in managerial terms, it will be argued the priority should be on Tranmere too escaping their relegation zone position.

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Watford must be delighted with Pearson’s impact so far, but what will his attentions be for The FA Cup

Racism Must Be Kicked Out.

Chelsea defeated Tottenham 2-0 in the late Sunday kick off, however the game arose a different sort of matter which needs to be defeated.

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Antonio Rudiger; the latest Premier League player subject to alleged racism

Tottenham striker Son-Heung Min was seen to kick out at Rudiger in the aftermath of a tackle, a tackle which subsequntly led to Son’s dismissal. But what happened following the sending off is a much higher priority issue.

The Chelsea man reported receiving racially stimulated abuse from a Tottenham supporter, Rudiger followed procedure of informing his captain who then reported the issue to the Referee. Television pictures show Rudiger displaying the monkey-like actions which was the abuse he received. During the game, the Tottenham public announcement system gave plea to immediately stop racially inclined abuse as it was interfering with play. Unfortunately, these strategies do not seem efficient. Yes, an announcemnent is an immediate reaction but it is not a strong enough deterrent and does not justify the upset directly caused to Rudiger.

With multiple examples of racism towards players already this season, it is imperative that stronger action is taken. A possible deterrent may be that players decide to leave the pitch if made to feel uncomfortable due to verbal or physical racially fuelled abuse. Empowering the players to leave the pitch and stop the entertainment will make an example of the extremity of the spectators action to receive the punishement they deserve. It will also hopefully deter others from acting irresponsibly. Players have previously been reluctant to do this, as exampled in England’s recent international match in Bulgaria where the players continued the game despite a copious volume of racism in the stands, as those players who had been subject to racism and their team mates refuse to let the racists win by causing their exit from the pitch.

Another deterrent has to come from the sanction given by those in high power, which have been critiqued as very minimal. On Sunday night The Proffessional Footballers’ Association called for Government enquiry into the alleged abuse. A Downing Street spokesperson said they were working very closely with the footballing authorities to tackle the issue. It is clear something needs to be implemented urgently and although publication of statements follows protocol, it is simply not enough to just say what action they will take. As a country, this issue needs to be actively eradicated as soon as possible.

During the mean time of national debate to implicate an effective strategy to end racism in football, the clubs themselves can respond to any form of racism within their club and ultimately anyone found guilty racist behaviour should be punished heavily. It would be most effective to sanction a life ban from football, we do not want these people in the game.

Racism of any kind is out of order, and the people in charge of running the league need to do something about it – before the name of English football is tarnished for the worse.

Amazon prime: a new era for football broadcasting?

As Amazon Prime Video broadcast their first Premier League games this week, is this a preview of things to come?

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Not your usual delivery! Amazon take on new Premier League broadcasting deal.

In an agreed 3 year deal, Amazon are set to start out their football broadcasting career with December’s fixtures. This strategic deal comes with aim of the company to see an influx of new customers during the busiest time of the year. For the already members of Amazon Prime, they will benefit from watching for free whereas new customers can enjoy a free trial, with follow up prices at the beginning of permament membership set to increase. A free trial period is a risk taken by operators at Amazon in hope that people will follow up their subscriptions.

If this is the way football media is heading, the effects could be very damaging in terms of reducing live match day attendances. As the variety of subscription services are increasing, it is likely football fans will already subscribe to at least one of the major sports broadcasters in Sky Sports, BT Sport or now Amazon. Alongside the current expense of travelling to away games especially, could this be another factor to prevent football fans from travelling away?

If this is to be the case, in the next ten years there could be rapid change in how the game operates. Football’s commercialisation is continually on the up rise – meaning football clubs always have to look to protect themselves financially. This could mean in future they take broadcasting opportunities into their own hands. Could it be that the clubs themselves start up subscription services such as those of MUFC TV and LFC TV? These already offer some game footage and insider viewing for their subscribers. For supporters this could become a choice between your traditional season ticket or a digital season ticket for home viewing.

Despite this, it is unlikely clubs will endeavour to claim tv rights from the broadcasters just yet, so for now it seems it shall be them battling it out for top spot of football television.

In Modern football is too much blame being placed on the manager?

The past seven days in the premier league has witnessed two managers relieved of their duties.

Both Unai Emery at Arsenal and Quique Sanchez Flores, at Watford that was his second spell at the club and marked the hornet’s second managerial change of the season. 

Arsenal director Josh Kroenke revealed that the decision to remove Emery from his position had been ‘weeks’ in the making as they felt that the head coach had lost the backing of the fans. The former Sevilla and PSG boss was on a run of seven games without a win.

Former Arsenal player, Freddie Ljungburg, replaced the 48 year old and the Swede opened his managerial account with a 2-2 draw away to Norwich this past weekend.

Ljungburg is the latest appointment by a club chairman and the board of a former player at one of the big six clubs following the trend of Frank Lampard at Chelsea at the start of the season and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer at Manchester United and has prompted Kroenke to say that, “ Ljungburg has Arsenal DNA and understands the club.”

These latest managerial sackings however prompt the question… Is too much blame being placed on the manager?

Head Coach versus Manager role

For a start some teams nowadays have Head Coaches while others have Managers.

The former Tottenham Manager Mauricio Pochettino speaking in 2015, highlights the subtle differences between the roles:

“If you are the manager, you decide many things about the club.  But if you are a head coach, your responsibility is to play better, try to improve the players and to get positive results.”

Pochettino continued:

“At Southampton, I was manager my responsibility was not only to coach the team. With Tottenham, I am a head coach.  A head coach is head of your department. My department is to train the team.”

The attributes needed to be successful are reportedly the same for both roles, being adaptable in terms of training and good judgement on team selection for instance.

The head coach however can protest regarding lack of signings, but there is a lack of authority on the role compared with being a Manager.

It seems that the days are long gone when an Arsene Wenger and Sir Alex Ferguson figure end up having complete control in terms of how things are run at football clubs.

Ultimately however is enough time given to managers or head coaches these days to implement the changes they require?

Former Manchester United Manager Sir Alex Ferguson, speaking to Harvard Business Review said:

“I believe that the cycle of a successful team lasts maybe four years and then some change is needed.  So we tried to visualise the team maybe three or four years ahead and make decisions accordingly.”

Ferguson continued: “Because I was at United for such a long time, I could afford to plan ahead – no one expected me to go anywhere. I was very fortunate in that respect.”

Is football after all a team game?

Football is supposed to be a team game, so shouldn’t the players, coaching staff and those who run the club be held equally accountable?

There is a squad of 25 players and even though the manager is there to inspire, implement tactics and produce impactful substitutions, he is not out there on the field playing the matches.

Sir Alex Ferguson was often praised for bringing on substitutes that would lead to last minute Manchester United winners. More recent examples include Jurgen Klopp and Brendan Rodgers, who have been praised for the way they set up their teams at Liverpool and Leicester City respectively.

Managers therefore are quickly praised but equally critics are ready to pounce if things are not quite going to plan. This leads to increased scrutiny on the man in charge and he is more often than not, provided with enough time to turn things around.

Flores for instance was only given 87 days so the window provided is getting shorter for managers to make the desired impact that the clubs fans and owners are looking for.

When asked about the recent pressure that Everton manger, Marco Silva was under, England and Everton’s number one goalkeeper, Jordan Pickford said:

“ A few bad performances should not put the manager under pressure”

Pickford continued:

“ We have to look at ourselves as individuals and as a squad.  You are a team and you win together and you loose together.”

Sacking managers is not always the answer

Pickford has currently had 11 managers throughout his Premier League career to date, since his introduction seven in three seasons at Sunderland, who are now currently in League One and four in the past three seasons at Everton.

Although Silva and his team enjoyed an impressive conclusion to the previous campaign, there is little suggest that Everton will challenge currently for the top six positions that they are looking to break into.

Owners expecting quick results

The influx of money, particularly in the Premier League and the spending power of clubs has changed, particularly in the past few years.

It has become harder for the top clubs to get the players that they want as other teams are under less pressure to sell and want to get the maximum amount for the player in question.

When the high transfer fees are spent, Emery for instance had over 100 million to spend on transfers over the summer, including 70 million on Nicholas Pepe from Lille, both the fans and the owners expect the side to hit the ground running.

If the desired results are not being delivered the boardroom will look for someone to blame. The easiest answer will ultimately always be the person in charge, the manager.

Challenging football schedules

Liverpool Manager, Jurgen Klopp eluded to this matter at the start of November as the German said,

“ Crazy football schedule for international players, there is no time for the manager to work with the players on the training field.”

Sadio Mane, one of Liverpool’s key attackers for instance has only had two weeks break all year round. The league leaders are currently at a start of a run that will see them play 13 matches over a six-week period.

It is therefore a struggle for a new manager or one that is under pressure to implement a new style of play or change tactics for an upcoming game if he does not have enough time to coach the players.

There is also the addition of international tournaments such as this year’s Nations League competition that increases the amount of time that players are away from their club sides.

The demanding schedules lead to the increased chances of injuries to significant players for key games as well as player fatigue that leads to a greater chance of players making mistakes out on the field of play.

Pressures of qualifying for Europe’s elite competitions

All the elite clubs strive to be apart of the Champions League with the prize money seemingly increasing year on year, for this season clubs would have secured roughly 15 million just for reaching the group stage.

This would drive club owners to make knee jerk decisions, especially if their team was not performing on the field.

Media scrutiny on Managers

Finally the media scrutiny on managers in this day and age is enormous.  Particularly for sides such as Manchester United and Liverpool, who have former players as pundits such as Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher.

They are quick to point out what the manager should and should not do using video technology in their Sky Sports Studio.

The influence of the Video Assistant Referee is also proving to be a game changer this season.

The manager also has to watch what he says in the pre and post match interview. He is ultimately put under the microscope more than any one individual player as he is exposed to the media every week.

If a player has a bad game he can choose to avoid the media and public eye following the match and can always redeem himself the following week.

When it is going well, the manager is quick to be praised by everyone and can supposedly do no wrong.  When things however start to go wrong, fortunes can change very quickly, owners want to see a return on their increased investment and it is on the whole easier for them sack one person rather than wait till the transfer market to sell and sign numerous players. 

 Feel free to give 24/7 your opinion, is too much blame and pressure being put on the manager or head coach?

 

 

POCH OUT, JOSE IN AT SPURS

Tottenham’s poor start to the season has resulted in Mauricio Pochettino losing his job. It was not long ago that Pochettino was one of the most admired and sought after managers in the business, yet now he has been sacked by Spurs despite being heavily linked with the Real Madrid managers’ position in the summer – following his success in guiding The Lilywhites to the Champions League Final. His achievements speak for themselves; when he took over Spurs were a Top 4 outsider, he turned them into the closest challengers to Liverpool, Man City and Leicester for the premiership title. All whilst developing young players and playing attractive attacking football. It comes as no surprise to me that he is already being linked with another top job as Bayern Munich are reportedly interested as are Real Madrid once more.

What went wrong?

Tottenham’s success was considered more remarkable due to the fact Lucas was their only signing over 2 transfer windows. But this created a togetherness and team spirit which were key elements in reaching the illusive Champions League final. This summer this changed with money being spent on new players, existing players linked with moves away and Pochettino himself linked with other clubs. Bringing players in with the aim of building on what he had already done was what it seemed Spurs needed. But with players like Christian Eriksen and Toby Alderweireld seemingly seeking moves away it all added up to less cohesion and team spirit than beforehand.

Tottenham became one of my favourite sides to watch under his management and I fear this could change under the new man in control. José Mourinho is renowned for defensive football or “parking the bus” as it has been referred to as and this is the complete opposite of Pochettino. He likes 2 defensive midfielders whose prime focus is to protect the back 4; this could result in Eric Dier being brought back into the team in place of Harry Winks – despite his recent success in the International break for England. His wide players in a 4-2-3-1/4-3-3 formation need to track back which for me casts further doubts on Eriksen’s future at the club. However one thing that Mourinho always seems to do is win trophies and that is the one thing Spurs under Poch didn’t do, so the question is whilst they might not be as entertaining or attacking if they win a trophy will this be forgiven?

Do you think Mourinho is a good replacement for Pochettino?