protecting your assets

For the past few decades, Tottenham Hotspur Football Club jave seemed caught in a cyclical pattern.

Bring along a promising player, developing them into a highly prized commodity. Fail to convince them the club can match their needs/ambition/desires/etc. Receive repeated and increasing bids for their services from those in greener pastures, eventually culminating in Spurs folding to the player’s demands to sell them on. Rinse and repeat.

Tottenham's Jan Vertonghen

is super jan super sad?

All of this in spite of repetitive public declarations of the club’s desires to challenge for Champions League places and domestic glory. And it doesn’t take a genius to know that regularly selling on your best players and hoping to replace adequately them with cheaper options is a risky approach.

Notable recent examples include Gareth Bale and Luka Modrić’s protracted transfers to Real Madrid for an estimated £140 million. Before that were Dimitar Berbatov and Michael Carrick’s sales to Manchester United. The sale of Paul Gascoigne to Lazio in 1992 and the traitorous move of Sol Campbell to Arsenal — though not a sale but a free transfer — are further examples.

Simply put, Spurs just have a hard time retaining their finest talents.

Exceptions exist, of course: think of someone like club legend Ledley King who spent his entire career with the club. But then again, you could be forgiven for wondering if he would have moved on too had his knees been more reliable.

But this is all old news, right? Why harp on about it now?

Because one of our most valuable assets is once again publicly complaining about his experience at Spurs. And as we’ve seen before, that’s usually a bad omen for their long term prospects in North London. And this time, it just so happens to be our superhero-esque Belgian defender Jan Vertonghen.

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WSOTP pod: episode 8

WSOTP Pod: Season 1 Episode 8

WSOTP Pod Season 1 Episode 8

In case you didn’t already know, WSOTP Pod‘s Jeremy Lance (@JeremyLance) is a Chelsea fan while D.J. Switzer (a.k.a. me and @wrongsideofpond) is a Spurs fan. So this past weekend’s matchup between the two London rivals was also means that this was the first ever WSOTP Pod Derby. And as such, you can expect that Episode 8 of the podcast will spend considerable time on the topic of that match. But we’ll still delve into all of the other weekend happenings in the Premier League, not to mention take a look at many of the interesting story lines as the MLS regular season approaches its end, preview this week’s Champions League fixtures, and highlight a new pub in the WSOTP Soccer Pub Atlas. And pardon our A.D.D. several times throughout the pod, as we were also watching the Crew’s match against FC Dallas while recording.

Click here to subscribe to the WSOTPpod on iTunes.

ten words or less #81

torres fans can take comfort in knowing fernando’s cat-like scratch of vertonghen’s face wasn’t viewed as ridiculous as luis suarez’s bite.

I don’t know if anyone else is feeling this way, but my cup runneth over with football at the moment. I already felt like my cup was full with the increased availability of Premier League coverage this season, but that’s feeling even more full given that the Capital One Cup and European midweek fixtures regularly on the calendar again. The MLS season has reached crunch time, providing a myriad of playoff races to and storylines satisfy one’s needs. And don’t forget: another round of World Cup qualifiers is just a fortnight away, too.

So with my attention span being pulled in a thousand directions at the moment, it’s been a bit difficult to crack out full-length pieces. But worry not, I’ve got you covered with the eighty-first edition of Ten Words or Less. And if I do say so, this one has some delectable links. Also, be on the look out for Episode 8 of the WSOTP Pod to drop later this afternoon, too. Though with both posts hitting you in short order, you might feel like your cup is running over too.

United fan marrying into City family trolls with his toast. –

Dunny provides insight into how Generation Adidas got it’s start.

Spurs-Chelsea last weekend was a tactician’s dreamworld. –

Hey Geoff Cameron: less about you, more about the team. –

Would you eat — or pay $40.58 for — a Zlatan Burger? –

I back academies, but there are decent arguments against them. –

For no other reason than tweaked nostalgia, I need these. –

I’m no El Tri fan, but I dig me some Jorge Campos. –

Great insight on year one of the MLS-USL partnership. –

This seems way more like something Sterling would do. –

the ups and downs of a transition

When Daniel Levy decided back in June that Harry Redknapp era needed to come to an early end and that he should replace him with André Villas-Boas, he was making a calculated decision. Unseating a manager with a proven track record only to replace him with one who’s relatively unproven was always going to have its pitfalls. He knew what he was getting himself into.

Andre Villas Boas

appointing villas-boas meant that spurs knew there would be bumps along the road.

Villas-Boas’ arrival meant wide scale changes were in store. The playing style would change, personnel would change, and — to an extent — the club’s philosophy would change. New players with a different style would arrive, while some familiar faces would depart. New ways of thinking would be required, and it would understandably take time to implement changes of such magnitude. Experience would also be sacrificed. Redknapp’s 29 years in management is only six less than Villas-Boas has even been alive. Harry’s Portuguese successor would still be learning his craft, and he should be expected to make some mistakes from time to time. Setbacks would undoubtedly occur as the new manager, the players and the club feel one another out. Transitions, after all, are rarely completely smooth.

And without a doubt, certain segments of the support would take great offense to the move. Dismissing a man who hoisted Tottenham from the ashes of the short-lived Juande Ramos era to the lofty heights of the Champions League quarterfinals and two top four finishes would ruffle a few supporters’ feathers. The same discontent would arise when his the man named to replace him had “failed” with a Chelsea side that won the Champions League.

Knowing all of that before hand, why in the name of Bill Nicholson would Levy pull the trigger on sacking Redknapp and hiring AVB in the first place?

His reasoning was actually pretty straightforward: for Tottenham Hotspur to reach its long-term goals of competing for trophies on a regular basis, some short-term risks would have to be taken. Levy thought long and hard about his options and decided that, despite all of the risks, this was the best way to move the club forward.

Vertonghen and Caulker

those who say AVB has done nothing so far at spurs must have missed out on caulker’s rise and vertonghen’s influence.

The funny part? I would have written the above passages even if Spurs had wiped the floor with Chelsea Saturday instead of the exact opposite happening. Had they won their fifth straight Premier League match, I would have wanted this post to temper expectations and remind everyone that there would be setbacks yet to come. The bipolar nature of the support means that the same lot of Spurs fans who would be talking all sorts of nonsense about challenging for the title/being favorites for the Europa League/yadda yadda yadda are most likely the same group that are calling for AVB’s head despite having only suffered his second loss all season. Both lines of logic are premature, and only time and the results will tell how that will turn out.

Yet despite the loss, the signs progress are quite clear.

Prior to Saturday’s setback against Chelsea — who were undoubtedly the best side we’ve faced so far this season — Villas-Boas had guided Spurs to four wins in a row and was unbeaten in six, results that Redknapp wasn’t anywhere near able to produce in the first half of 2012. He’s wisely promoted Steven Caulker into the starting XI (a move ‘Arry also would have been quite adverse to) and has gotten the most out of new signing “Super Jan” Vertonghen. Oh yeah, and André also managed the small task of coming away from Old Trafford with all three points for the first time in my lifetime.

Let’s be clear, though still finding their feet themselves, Chelsea are a great side and have quickly morphed into a potentially devastating side. So there’s no shame in conceding points to them, especially this early into the transitional period under AVB. And even though the score line wasn’t exactly flattering, there were bright spots within the match that show what he’s doing for the club.

Moussa Dembele

even without spurs’ new creative engine dembélé, the lillywhites at times still looked to trouble the european champions.

Even though the lead was eventually squandered, the young manager was able to rally the troops at half time and inspire them to come from behind and tilt the game on its head. They were able to do one better at QPR, where they reversed an early deficit and held on to win. Rallies of that type were another rare occurrence under Redknapp. They attacked remarkably well despite Gareth Bale missing the match to become a father and the increasingly vital Moussa Dembélé through injury. And after 8 matches, Spurs are still sitting fifth in the table… ahead of Arsenal too, if that makes you feel any better.

So things could be worse. Which means we all need to calm down, quit spazzing and realize the position in which Tottenham currently find themselves: a transition period.

Instead, let’s just hope that Villas-Boas is learning his lessons… primarily that we can NOT sit back and park the bus once we take the lead against top sides. In both matches, Chelsea and United both pulverized Spurs once they relented in attack and decided to try to defend their leads.

AVB’s clearly a smart guy, so I’m confident he is taking lessons from those results. Give him time. Give Spurs time. Just like Levy calculated, we’re already on our way to bigger and better things.

worst case scenario

This piece is a short excerpt from my second featured post on the Tottenham Hotspur podcast/blog website To read it in it’s entirety, please click here or click the link at the end of the post.

Tottenham's Daniel Levy

levy has a lot of work to do to right tottenham's ship, regardless of whether we finish third, fourth or fifth.

Labeling Spurs’ close to the season as a disaster — which has involved pissing away a sizable third-place gap and free-falling as low as fifth — would be a massive understatement.

What a difference a few months of bad form can make. Back in January, I was filling this space with ideas on how Spurs should bolster their ranks in the summer to strengthen the squad ahead of our next Champions League campaign. Now, we’re staring headlong into another season in the perpetual wasteland that is the Europa League and facing the prospects of having to sell off our best players. At least that’s what everyone suspects will happen if the boys continue on as they have in the second half of the season. And describing it as a “worst case scenario” seems apt, though I admittedly understand there are those facing an even more horrible fate.

How it’s gone down isn’t worth rehashing in detail since Tottenham’s demise has been well documented, and because I’m trying to spare myself from reliving the nightmares. That said, I will continue to give Harry Redknapp a dirty look from across the room, just in case you need a hint at who I’d like to blame.

So assuming the cookie completely crumbles, where do we go from here? If we take on some optimism — something that’s become increasingly rare at White Hart Lane and in Spurs forums over the last few months — it would leave you to believe that things can only go up from here. But considering this was the season formerly hailed as the “best for Spurs in a generation”, common sense tells me things could potentially get much, much worse. Therefore, if we do end up on the outside looking in of the Champions League, the question becomes, “How do we stop the slide and get things back on track?”

Continue reading “Worst case scenario” on The Fighting Cock →