Gerry Francis on managing Spurs “you know you are somewhere special.”

Tottenham Hotspur Stadium
Dom Le Roy

Mauricio Pochettino is not the first Tottenham manager to keep a sort of diary according to an article in The Times.

Gerry Francis had one during one of the most turbulent, uplifting years in the club’s history. He used to file weekly entries away, gave them to others to scan through and then forgot about them. “When I got them back, I couldn’t put them down,” he says. “And I wrote it.”

The article adds that Twenty-two years later, a book has appeared and The Team That Dared To Do, written with the journalist Chris Slegg, is a counterweight to the story of last season, when Tottenham finished second.

It tells how we have always been ambitious, always had style, however when he joined in 1994-95 Francis lured us away from chaos following the chaos of Ossie Ardiles reign and took us to seventh place in the Premier League, the highest London club that season.

The article adds that neither Pochettino nor any of Francis’s successors has achieved that and it was only this year that Spurs again managed to finish above Arsenal.

The piece continues with a quote from Slegg’s book saying both teams shared a “gift for the spectacular”, however Francis had been appointed mid-season and confronted crisis. It tells a story of how within 27 minutes of his opening match, Tottenham were 3-0 down.

Ardiles had constructed a side around the “famous five” of Jürgen Klinsmann, Teddy Sheringham, Ilie Dumitrescu, Darren Anderton and Nick Barmby, with goals flowing at both ends. We had lost eight of their opening 16 matches, scoring 29, conceding 35. In Ossie’s penultimate game, we slumped 3-0 away to Notts County in the League Cup.

Off the pitch it wasn’t much better, we were punished for financial irregularities. Francis added “They’d had 12 points deducted, reduced to six on appeal, and been banned from the FA Cup,” it all pointed to relegation being the likely outcome .

Francis continued “They were doing so poorly. I had no money — didn’t spend a penny that year — and so I had exactly the same players.” Improvement would come from within”

The article adds that Francis had been a stalwart for Queens Park Rangers and captained England but he grew up supporting Spurs, during the glory, glory days, 1961-62.

When then chairman Alan Sugar, approached him about the top job at Spurs, Francis was at a crossroads. “I was really pissed off with football,” he says. “When I met Alan he talked about me being a coach and working with a director of football. I just said, ‘No, I’m not interested,’ and went home. I could have called it a day.

Francis added “It was what they had done to me at QPR, trying to get rid of me because they wanted to sell Les Ferdinand and I wouldn’t. I had already sold players and got them into the top five. It’s impossible to do, really. Alan said there wasn’t any money — it’s not like Tottenham now — but I had spent all my career at clubs with no money.

The article continues quoting Francis’ first diary entry in which he speaks of the stature of Spurs. He said :“Until you work here, you don’t realise just how big it is and how much tradition is attached to the place,” he wrote. “It is massive. You see people like Bill Nicholson around and you know you are somewhere special.”

We lost 4-3 to Aston Villa in his first game, but his first 16 fixtures brought drastic change — 32 points, only two defeats, seven clean sheets.

The article adds that eventually the points deduction and cup suspension were overturned, we reached the semi-final, and Jürgen Klinsmann scored 30 goals in all competitions.

It’s added that at QPR, Francis had been interviewed about the England job and another interview would follow however it quotes Francis saying:, “I was so happy at Spurs. No other Premier League manager has turned two teams into the top club in London. I’m proud of my record.”

Francis would return to QPR, and to Bristol Rovers, however the article says a series of family deaths made him “completely stop football”. In the last 10 years , he has been working alongside Tony Pulis at Stoke City, Crystal Palace and West Bromwich Albion.

The article concludes saying Spurs are now a rival, however Francis still admires “a magical club” and the work Mauricio Pochettino is doing. “He has put together a very good team, but what he needs now is trophies.”You can have two or three fantastic years, then have a sticky spell and the pressure is on, because people panic in the Premier League now. They are capable of challenging for things.”

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