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Author: mabbs

Is the Premier League Title There for the Taking?

Is the Premier League Title There for the Taking?

It certainly was last season, and Claudio Ranieri’s Leicester City took full advantage. For me, teams in the English top flight have forgotten the art of defending over the past few years, and the standard has definitely slipped. Although Manchester City made it to the semi final stages of the 2015/16 Champions League, the performances of English sides as a whole was very disappointing, and the previous year was even worse. This certainly supports the argument that top level English sides aren’t quite the force of years gone by, but it is a situation that makes for a much more interesting Premier League.

Last term, the dominance of the ‘big four’ finally came to an end, with both Leicester City and Tottenham Hotspur securing places in the Champions League thanks to their performances over the course of the Premier League season. Chelsea and Manchester United have gone backwards over the course of the last twelve months and although both clubs have made moves to change that during the summer, including new high profile managers and a number of big name signings, there is no guarantee of instant results. The bookies believe that Utd are most likely to challenge for the title, with the odds compilers at bet365 putting Jose Mourinho’s men in as the 7/2 second favourites behind Manchester City who are the 9/4 market leaders. Mourinho didn’t have the best of times during his final months at Chelsea last season, and it will be interesting to see whether the Portuguese can hit the ground running at Old Trafford.

Tottenham are currently available at odds of 8/1, and I believe I’m right in saying that this is the shortest price Spurs have been prior to a Premier League season getting underway. Mauricio Pochettino’s side did capitulate once Leicester secured the 2015/16 crown, but Pochettino’s players will have definitely learnt from that experience and with two excellent additions to the Spurs squad with both Victor Wanyama and Vincent Janssen incoming, there is no reason why Tottenham can’t be competitive at the business end of the division once again. The Champions League schedule will likely take some getting used to, but is arguably easier on the players than the Europa League, with the matches taking place earlier in the week, meaning more recovery time prior to Premier League games.

Pep Guardiola Fancies Harry Kane

Pep Guardiola Fancies Harry Kane

Manchester City are bound to see some changes in personnel over the next few weeks, following the arrival of new manager Pep Guardiola, and there have been rumours over the past few days that the Spaniard is interested in the services of Tottenham’s own Harry Kane. The former Bayern Munich boss will be spending time with all his current crop of players now the European Championships have reached a conclusion, and it would be no surprise to see Guardiola add some men already proven at the highest level in the Premier League. Since Gareth Bale departed from White Hart Lane, Spurs seem to have stopped selling their biggest name each season, but there has arguably not been a player with the star quality of Harry since Bale was at the football club.

The Tottenham Hotspur board are currently thrashing out a deal with Kane’s agent which is set to push the striker’s wages into the region of £100,000 per week. While this is a huge sum of money, it does not reflect the going rate for a player who has achieved what Harry Kane has over the past couple of seasons. The 22 year old won the Premier League’s Golden Boot at the conclusion of the last campaign with 25 Premier League goals in 38 appearances, this coming off the back of 21 goals in his 2014/15 season. While the recent European Championship wasn’t a success for Harry, his performances for England in the build up to the tournament itself had been outstanding, and only go to enhance his reputation and value further still. I realise that Spurs have a relatively strict wage structure in place, but paying Harry Kane less than the going rate makes absolutely no sense whatsoever, and will do little to frighten off big spending clubs like Manchester City.

I don’t personally believe Harry Kane has an interesting in leaving Tottenham Hotspur, especially at this relatively early stage of his career. He will be able to compete against the very best Europe has to offer in the Champions League this season, and Spurs are definitely a club on the up under manager Mauricio Pochettino. The Spurs boss have given Kane a bit of time off before joining the rest of the squad for his gruelling pre-season training regime, and the front man will no doubt benefit from this having had a very strenuous couple of years. Euro 2016 won’t have done Kane any favours both physically and mentally, but a holiday will likely do him the world of good and I fully expect Kane to have another cracking season come 2016/17. I just hope it isn’t in a Manchester City shirt…

My Cousin Vinny

My Cousin Vinny

Although Tottenham’s pursuit of Vincent Janssen has been somewhat delayed thank to so-called ‘fan’ Billy Beane, it now appears that the club are close to securing the signature of the 22 year old striker. Spurs originally offered AZ Alkmaar £15m for the player’s services, but AZ were told by by Moneyball creator Billy Beane that they should hold out for at least £16.5m based on his statistical analysis of Janssen. Beane used his Moneyball technique in baseball to great effect, but he is yet to achieve a similar level of success within the football arena. Despite the fact that Billy Beane’s method’s don’t appear to work where football clubs are concerned, AZ Alkmaar appointed the 54 year old as an advisor in March 2015. Beane is very close with with former Tottenham Director of Football and Arsenal scout Damien Comolli, which doesn’t bode particularly well as far as improving his knowledge of the transfer market is concerned.

A Dutch international, Vincent Janssen scored in what was only his second appearance for the Netherlands when they defeated England at Wembley earlier this year. Top scorer in Eredivisie last season with a very impressive return of 27 goals, Janssen is clearly a very talented young forward, and seems to have an excellent temperament which is encouraging with a move to the Premier League in mind. The player has stated on more than one occasion that he wants to make the switch to North London, and was was a little frustrated with the fact that Alkmaar were not willing to budge where Billy Beane’s valuation was concerned. With Tottenham seemingly now having met the asking price, personal terms are likely to be agreed quickly and Vincent Janssen could would be a Tottenham Hotspur player within the next few days.

Mauricio Pochettino has been particularly busy in this summer transfer window thus far, and it may well be a blessing in disguise that the move for Tony Sanabria fell through as I feel that Vincent Janssen is the by far the more accomplished player of the two. I fancy Janssen to hit the ground running come the new Premier League season and be a valuable addition to the Spurs squad.

Spurs go to Iceland?

Spurs go to Iceland?

Rumours have been circulating this week regarding Iceland defender Ragnar Sigurdsson’s services being wanted by both Tottenham Hotspur and Leicester City. Sigurdsson was superb during Iceland’s 2-1 victory over England in the last sixteen of the 2016 European Championship this past Monday night, and the player’s performances throughout the tournament have caught the attention of a number of high profile clubs. Sigurdsson is currently plying his trade in Russia with Premier League side Krasnodar whom he joined in 2014 on a two and a half year deal. The 30 year old spent the best part of four years at IFK Goteborg, before signing for Copenhagen in 2011. A big money move to the EPL is obviously going to make plenty of appeal to Ragnar Sigurdsson at this stage of his footballing life, but I would be surprised if he joined Spurs instead of Leicester.

Tottenham have a number of options at centre half, and even with the number of competitions the club are involved in taken into consideration, I doubt Ragnar Sigurdsson would get much of a chance in the first team. The partnership of Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld is arguably one of the very best in Europe, and unless one of these two get injured, I can’t really see Mauricio Pochettino leaving either man out of the side too often. For the League and FA Cup, we are likely to see a squad rotation policy utilised, but I’d be surprised if Sigurdsson is going to want to be bit part player at this stage of his career. The Icelandic defender has well and truly put himself in the shop windows this summer, and a move to Leicester would make more sense to me.

Kevin Wimmer was excellent when covering for the absent Jan Vertonghen for a large part of the 2015/16 campaign, and I’d imagine that the Austrian will once again be Pochettino’s go to guy. Eric Dier is also capable of dropping back into defence when required, and I struggle to see where Ragnar Sigurdsson would fit into this already strong Tottenham squad. While Sigurdsson has looked exceptional during the Euros, it is open to question as to whether or not he would be able to produce the same level of performance week in week out in the Premier League, and it is also surprising that the player has not been signed by a big club before now. While the more options Tottenham have within their playing ranks the better, I just feel that a move to another Premier League team would be the preferred option for Ragnar Sigurdsson. It will be interesting to see how this one unfolds in the coming days.

Martin Jol is Kind of a Big Deal in Egypt

Martin Jol is Kind of a Big Deal in Egypt

He was a popular figure during the majority of his time in charge of Tottenham Hotspur, and Martin Jol has finally won a domestic title, almost nine years after his acrimonious departure from White Hart Lane. Jol joined the Cairo-based side Al Ahly in February of this year, and the Dutchman has done a fantastic job during his four month tenure. Al Ahly captured the Egyptian Premier League title this weekend following a 2-1 victory over rivals Al Ismaily in the Egyptian classico. While my knowledge of Egyptian football is somewhat limited, I do know that the football is of a high standard, and that Al Ahly are the most successful club in the competition’s history. Although Martin Jol was walking into one of the top sides in the division, there was significant pressure on the former Ajax man, and with Al Ahly having to play their games behind closed doors due to security issues, Jol’s task was never going to be an easy one. Al Ahly are still involved in the African Champions League, with the club attempting to win that tournament for a ninth time.

Martin Jol did leave Spurs in the best of circumstances, and was harshly treated by Daniel Levy, with the Tottenham supremo having already lined up Juande Ramos to take over quite some time before Jol was given his marching orders. Martin Jol arrived in 2004 as assistant to Jacques Santini, but following the Frenchman’s resignation after just 13 games, Jol took over manager and had an immediate impact. Santni’s defensive brand of football was replaced with a free-flowing, attacking style, and Jol was handed the FA Manager of the Month award in December 2004 after guiding his Tottenham side to five victories in a row. The next two campaigns saw Spurs finishing fifth in the Premier League on both occasions, and Martin Jol establish himself as one of the very best managers in England. things turned sour in 2007 however, the Dutchman becoming the victim of his own success to some extent. Some big money signings were made, but they were brought in by the virus that was Director of Football Damien Comolli, something which completely undermined Jol’s position as manager.

Tottenham didn’t have the best of starts to the 2007–08 season, and Martin Jol was sacked following a 2-1 defeat in the UEFA Cup at the hands of Getafe CF. The rumour spread during the match, and the home fans knew the manager was on his way before he himself was informed by the powers that be. Jol had plenty of opportunity to leave Tottenham prior to this, with Ajax among the side’s courting his services. Martin Jol is arguably the most likeable Spurs boss of the 2000’s, and I’m glad he’s enjoying some long overdue success in Egypt.

Who is Antonio Sanabria?

Who is Antonio Sanabria?

Spurs have been strongly linked with Paraguayan striker Antonio Sanabria today, but the former Barcelona man is hardly what you would call a household name. Having been a part of Barca’s youth set up since 2009, Sanabria was unable to make the breakthrough into the first team, and ultimately signed for Italian side Sassuolo in January 2014. It would later come to light that the player would be moving to Roma come July, as Roma had already reached their quota of foreign players at that time. Roma appeared desperate to get Antonio’s signature, but the striker made just two first team appearances before going out on loan, returning to Spain with Sporting de Gijón. It is at Sporting where Sanabria has made a significant impact, scoring a brace as well as two hat-tricks in his year long loan spell.

Also known as Tonny Sanabria, the Paraguay international’s performances in Spain have caught the attention of Tottenham gaffer Mauricio Pochettino, and Spurs have made an offer believed to be in the region of £11.5m for the young striker’s services. Obviously a player who still has a serious amount of potential, Sanabria is going to be somewhat of a gamble, but he has been sought after by a number of clubs throughout his career thus far and is clearly a talent. Whether he is able to produce the goods in the Premier League on a consistent basis is open to question, but this is the sort of transfer fee where you are going to be taking a bit of a gamble. On the positive side, Sanabria is still very young but will have had a very sound grounding in the game during his time at Barcelona. His spell at Sporting de Gijón was the player’s only real opportunity to show exactly what he is capable of, having got a significant run of games at a club for the first time in his career.

My one concern is the fact Tottenham brought in both Clinton N’Jie and Son Heung-min from other countries last season, with neither able to make much of an impact at the football club. Admittedly, N’Jie was injured for the bulk of the season, but maybe we need a proven Premier League goalscorer to support Harry Kane at the top of the park rather than players who need to adjust to the rigours of the English top flight. The price for a striker of this ilk would obviously be significantly higher, but if Tottenham are to continue to challenge at the top of the Premier League table while also being competitive in the Champions League, it’s one worth paying.

Pochettino Finally Gets His Man

Pochettino Finally Gets His Man

Although Southampton are usually happy to sell their best players for the right price, it has taken Mauricio Pochettino quite some time to capture the signature of midfielder Victor Wanyama, with a deal finally set to be completed in the next couple of days. The Saints have recently lost manager Ronald Koeman after the Dutchman made the move to Everton, and it’s likely that Wanyama felt he needed to leave St Marys to further his career. The lure of Champions League football and joining a team likely to be involved in the Premier League title race, was probably too good of an offer for the Kenyan international to turn down. Tottenham are rumoured to be paying a fee of £11m for the talented midfielder’s services, with Wanyama expected to put pen to paper on a four year deal.

With Mousa Dembele having received a six game ban following his violent conduct against Chelsea’s Diego Costa at the end of last season, Victor Wanyama’s arrival will help to soften that blow. The benefit of signing a tried and trusted Premier League star is the fact they will generally hit the ground running, and the settling in period should be minimal. With Wanyama also having previously worked with the current Spurs boss, he should definitely be able to slot straight into the Tottenham starting line up with the minimum of fuss. Wanyama alongside Eric Dier will certainly be a Spurs midfield with plenty of bite, and could well make Mauricio Pochettino’s side even more difficult to beat than they were last term.

At just 24 years of age, Victor Wanyama fits the Tottenham Hotspur mould of signing young players likely to rise in value, and Daniel Levy definitely had to pay a lot more for the player had he not been in the final year of his deal at Southampton. Having began his career at Beerschot AC, Wanyama has made rapid progress, and has established himself as a serious force in the Premier League since his arrival at St Marys in 2013. The first Kenyan to play in the English top flight, Wanyama is a tough tackler but does generally have a level head and has come across as a hard worker during his time at both Celtic and Southampton. This signing definitely appears to be one that improves the Tottenham squad, and it’s a great way for Mauricio Pochettino to get his summer transfer market dealings underway.

Top 5 Unusual Spurs Legends

Top 5 Unusual Spurs Legends

Over the years, there have been a number of Tottenham players who haven’t really delivered on the field of play, but have still captured the imagination of the supporters. Some have cost a little, some have cost a lot, but all of these famous five are well known among the Spurs faithful, often for the wrong reasons! Here are our top five unusual Spurs legends.

Number 5 – Gary Doherty
Is he a striker, a defender, a bird or a plane?! One thing is for sure, wherever Gary Doherty played, he was average at best. Doherty was signed from Luton Town by David Pleat for £1million in March 2000. While he did find the back of the net a few times during his debut season, a broken leg saw Gary out of action for quite some time. The Irishman somehow returned as a defender, but was also used as a makeshift striker as and when required. Doherty went onto bigger and better things at Norwich City, even winning player of the year at Carrow Road. He will always be fondly remembered by Spurs fans thanks to his amusing ability to be able to play at both ends of the football pitch.

Number 4 – Roman Pavlyuchenko
Roman Anatolyevich Pavlyuchenko signed for big money back in 2008, and although the tall Russian scored goals when given an opportunity, he often looked like a complete and utter liability! Pav was a particularly strange case, as the more you saw the former Spartak Moscow man play, the more surprised you were he was a professional footballer, let alone one plying his trade in the Premier League! That being said, Roman Pavlyuchenko had a real knack of being in the right place at the right time, and had a great goal to game ratio during his time with Tottenham Hotspur. While Pav was widely loved by the fans, he never endeared himself to Harry Redknapp, and barely featured once Rosie 47’s master took over.

Number 3 – Serhiy Rebrov
Sergei Rebrov’s legendary status comes from the shock Tottenham fans felt at his downfall after signing for the club. There are no two ways about it, Rebrov was a world class striker during his time at Dynamo Kyiv, but his return of just 9 goals in 29 games during his first season at White Hart Lane was bitterly disappointing. Rebrov never managed to show his best form in the Premier League, and following the arrival of Glenn Hoddle as manager, Serhiy struggled to get a game. As long as the £11m man remained at the club, I always lived in hope that he’d suddenly spring into life and be the shining light we all wanted. Unfortunately, that just never materialised.

Number 2 – Ronny Rosenthal
The Rocket, as he was affectionately known, wasn’t really going anywhere at Spurs until one fateful night during the 1994–95 season. Tottenham were away at Southampton in a FA Cup 5th round replay, 2-0 down at half time and staring defeat squarely in the face. It was at this point that Gerry Francis took the decision to bring on Rosenthal, and this proved to be an inspired substitution. Ronnie scored twice in two minutes to take the game into extra time, before completing a sensational hat-trick. Tottenham went on to win the game by six goals to two, with the Rocket’s performance still discussed to this very day.

Number 1 – Nicola Berti
“My name is Nicola Berti, I’m aged around 30, I come from a club in Milan…Inter! When I walk down the street, All the people I meet, They say, Hey! Gorgeous! Whats your name?” A song that is still sung at the Lane more than 18 years after the player left, it is quite remarkable that Nicola Berti played just 21 games for the club. The Italian was a very good footballer in his prime, and although Berti was arguably just past this by the time he joined Spurs, he still had a solid season for the Lillywhites and the Nicola Berti song is a favourite of mine, and many other Tottenham Hotspur fans.

Will Euro 2016 Help or Hinder Tottenham Hotspur?

Will Euro 2016 Help or Hinder Tottenham Hotspur?

While it may be difficult to keep in mind following the final day debacle at St James Park, Tottenham Hotspur did have an excellent 2015/16 Premier League campaign. Mauricio Pochettino was able to get the very best out of his players, and they arguably overachieved when you consider the resources available at clubs such as Manchester City, Manchester United, Liverpool and Chelsea, sides who all finished below Spurs in the table. While new signings were made by the Argentinian manager, it was his ability to nurture and get improvement from the existing playing staff which really helped Tottenham’s consistency and ultimately achieve a top three Premier League finish. This success has had the knock on effect of a number of Spurs players being picked for their national squads for the European Championship, and it will be interesting to see whether this has a positive or negative effect on Tottenham Hotspur come next season.

A total of eleven Tottenham players will be taking part in the 2016 UEFA European Championship, second only to Liverpool who have twelve players heading to France. While some of these men will have been regulars when it comes to international football, there are a few who have never before experienced the rigours of a major championship. Five of the eleven are in Roy Hodgson’s England squad, none of whom have taken part in a tournament of such magnitude as yet. While this experience may be of huge benefit for Kyle Walker, Danny Rose, Eric Dier, Dele Alli and Harry Kane prior to their Champions League debuts next term, it could also have a detrimental effect. We have seen a number of players who don’t get some kind of break during the summer months struggling for form during the following campaign, and if England do progress to the latter stages of the competition, Pochettino may need to be selective with both training methods and team selection in the early part of the new season.

Admittedly, the famous five in the England squad are all young men, and that is clearly a positive in terms of the number of games they are able to manage during the course of a season. As a Spurs fan, I think my biggest concern would be over the condition of Harry Kane. The star striker always gives 110% on the field, and has looked exhausted in the latter stages at times as a result – the 1-1 draw with Russia a case in point. Having played 101 games for Spurs of the past two seasons, Kane surely needs a few weeks respite before being thrown back into the tough training methods now employed at Tottenham. The Belgian trio of Jan Vertonghen, Toby Alderweireld and Mousa Dembele are more experienced at this level, but injuries are again a worry, particularly where Vertonghen and Dembele are concerned. Ben Davies and Kevin Wimmer are more squad players used in rotation by Pochettino, and goalkeepers are definitely at less risk of burn out, so as long as Hugo Lloris arrives back at the Lane in one piece, I’ll be happy!

The overall picture as far as the number of Tottenham Hotspur players involved at Euro 2016 is a positive one, I just hope that they are eased back into domestic football next term. It will certainly be interesting to see how these Spurs players fair for the remainder of the tournament, and it is fantastic that the club have this level of representation at such a prestigious international tournament.

A Disappointing Draw

A Disappointing Draw

Although dominating the ninety minutes of play, Tottenham were unable to come away from the Stadium of Light with all three points. I felt it was important for us not to lose this game on the back of the Liverpool result but after being in front twice, it’s a real shame we were unable to hang on for the win. These are definitely the type of match that Spurs need to be winning if a slightly ambitious push for the top four is to be realised, and we can only hope that all this talk of a takeover was not a contributory factor to the slight lack of concentration that cost us here. Jonathan Goldstein and the Cain Hoy Group’s interest could come to nothing but they would at least appear to possess the necessary financial clout.

Sunderland are the draw specialists thus far this season but there was certainly nothing boring about the match in Wearside. Two goals inside the first five minutes illustrated both sides desire and it was only a Harry Kane own goal which prevented us from coming back to North London with another victory. These things happen in football, but it’s an unfortunate twist of fate for a player who needs his confidence building rather than being knocked. I’m hoping that Harry will feature against Partizan Belgrade in midweek and get on the scores heet to quickly put this behind him.

Tottenham now have three very winnable games in succession, but only one of those are in the Premier League which is a home game against West Bromwich Albion. West Brom are yet to win and were soundly beaten at home by Everton today which indicates that we should have too much for them at White Hart Lane. The most interesting game of the three might well be the League Cup clash with the Stuart Pearce managed Nottingham Forest who are sure to arrive at the Lane in confident mood following some excellent performances in the Championship. You can see the odds at allpro for that particular clash.

I can’t say I’m not slightly disappointed by the draw with Sunderland but we have a point more than Arsenal and will be facing them at the end of the month. If we can go into that game off the back of a win over West Brom then I’d be hopefully that Poch and his men can go to the Emirates with a positive attitude and at least give a committed and passionate account.