Thursday, December 25, 2008

by Mark Mizzi
This article will be published in the next edition of "The Cockerel"
In my first article of this series Spurs were in deep crisis, had collected just two points and the future did not look good at all. In that piece I wrote that the Club should give Ramos more time to turn it round.

I am writing this article on Christmas day. Ramos was given some more time but results did not improve. He was sacked and Harry Redknapp was installed in his place. I got the news from our Secretary Alex Cilia who texted me at 6.30am!

Though I always advocate consistency, I don’t think the Club had an alternative. Ramos is a top coach but the simple fact is that it was not working for him in the Premiership. Yes he won us the League Cup, but league results were nothing to write home about.

It was crystal clear that Ramos had lost the dressing room and the players wanted a change. His message was not coming across and the players were baffled by some of the tactical decisions. The language barrier did not help and it was not that easy for Ramos to change things during games. His lack of fluent English prevented one to one communication with the players and man management was inexistent.

Redknapp is known to be a very good man manager and a great motivator. In a few weeks he has instilled confidence and belief in our players and results have changed. The transformation of error prone Heurelho Gomes and Michael Dawson from accidents waiting to happen to strong and reliable players exemplifies Redknapp’s man management skills.

The players are happier, they know their roles and want to play for the new gaffer. As one journalist once said, it’s doesn’t matter whether you are a great coach or not. What matters is that you make your players want to play for you. Harry has certainly achieved this and more.

At the time of writing we are still in the middle of a relegation battle and the team is still prone to mistakes that cost vital points. Gomes’ error against Fulham, the soft goal conceded against Everton at the Lane and the last minute undeserved defeat against Newcastle show that we are still work in progress. But progress there has been. Just ask Liverpool, Arsenal and Manchester United fans.

I was at the Park Lane for the Blackburn and Everton games. We won one and lost the other but the experience was still great. Harry is turning it around in the League, we are in the semi-final of the League Cup and in the knock-out stages of the UEFA Cup while the Club has announced plans for a new stadium. The Academy is also doing very well and some of the boys have had the chance to be in the first squad.

A disastrous season may still turn out to be a positive one. Much depends on the January transfer window. Our attack is still very weak and with a proven striker we will be challenging in the top half of the table.

Redknapp has also got to strengthen the defence. Ledley King is a fantastic player but he is chronically injured, does not train between games and every match is touch and go for him. I am not saying we should discard Ledley. He will always be the King of the Lane but top drawer cover is needed very urgently.

I have been saying that we need a top class holding midfielder for about three years. Redknapp has come in and the first thing he said was that the squad is not balanced and the team lacks strength in midfield.. Let’s hope that the Club listens to Harry and this post- Michael Carrick problem is solved once and for all.

In closing I want to say a couple of words about the new stadium. A round of applause to Daniel Levy for deciding to stay in the same area. I always believed that the area is the heart and soul of any club and moving away is just not right. Tottenham Hotspur FC would not be the same out of Tottenham. If anything, the new stadium will be closer to Northumberland Park and Tottenham Marshes where our beloved Spurs started gracing English football.

The new stadium will be adjacent to White Hart Lane. The location and designs will ensure that the Club is able to remain in the area even during construction. The change from the old to the new stadium will take place over the course of one season and at no stage will capacity be less than that of the current stadium.

Architecturally the stadium design looks fantastic. Being a traditionalist I have to say I am a bit sceptic about its general bowl shape. Square stadiums are the hallmark of English football but sadly they are disappearing. What encourages me is that, according to the Chairman and the design company, the stands will be distinct from each other. We have not seen any interior projections yet but what I am hoping for is a modern trendy stadium on the outside and an English traditional “squarish” stadium on the inside.

Till next time…Come On You Spurs

Mark Mizzi- 25 December 2008