In September, La Gazzetta dello Sport broke the news that Italy manager Cesare Prandelli will be stepping down from his position after the World Cup, and the ever dubious Italian media have this week touted Spurs as a possible destination for their current manager. Whilst links to anybody within Italian football shouldn’t be totally disregarded thanks to Mr. Baldini and his hefty book of contacts, I don’t really think that this deal has any legs. Frank de Boer, Louis Van Gaal and Tim Sherwood all seem desperate to manage Spurs next season, and I just cannot see Prandelli being given the opportunity to skip the queue and manage us. I sent out a tweet recently saying that I think if Tim Sherwood isn’t our manager next season, then it will be one man: Louis Van Gaal, and I stand by that opinion. As good as De Boer and Prandelli are, I think Levy knows who he wants, and ‘LVG’ could be on his way to The Lane in the summer if Tim isn’t trusted going forward.
That being said, if Levy does choose to take a chance on Prandelli, we could have found the boss we need to take us to the very top. His achievements with Fiorentina and Italy have been extremely impressive, and if he can find the same rhythm that he has found in his last two jobs, I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if he lead us into the top four next season. Prandelli guided Fiorentina into the Champions League three times, and also managed to finish in sixth place one season, despite starting the campaign with a mammoth 15-point handicap. If Fiorentina had had those 15 points, they would have finished third. Prandelli had something really special going with La Viola and is regarded very highly amongst fans of Serie A. Prandelli has also done just as well with his national side. Having unexpectedly reached the final of Euro 2012, he returned to his home country a national hero despite losing 4-0 to Spain in the final match of the tournament. After qualification to the 2014 World Cup in Rio, many are excited to see what Italy can do at the tournament. If Cesare wants a change of scenery and to manage in England, and if Levy wants a new coach in the summer, I don’t think anybody could really complain about this appointment. Both massive ‘ifs’ of course, but with Baldini at the club, you can never rule anything out.
Spurs ‘beating Barcelona’ to the ‘new Iniesta’.
It has been widely reported that Spurs are close to signing wonder kid Musa Yahaya, who was a key man in the Nigeria under-17 team that recently won the under-17 World Cup. In all honesty, I really do not care about this transfer. I’m not interested. Every so often, we sign an exciting young player who doesn’t make the grade. Coulibaly (‘the new Drogba’), Ceballos (‘the new Ronaldinho’), John Bostock (‘the new Gerrard’), Dean Parrett etc have all flopped in Spurs shirts, and whilst Ceballos and Coulibaly could still come good and make their way into the first team, I’m not convinced. If Mahaya signs and becomes the best play-maker of his generation like Iniesta, then great, but I’m not sure he will be as good. Call me cynical if you want.
The fact that we’ve beaten Barcelona to this signature isn’t necessarily anything special either. Barcelona stock-pile young stars in La Masia and only a very small fraction of these players get to play for Barcelona B, let alone the first team. Mahaya obviously has bags of potential, but if Barcelona were that desperate to sign him, they would have done. It’s that simple.
The AIA sponsorship deal.
Spurs recently announced a five-year deal with insurance service AIA, whose logo will appear on our shirts until 2019. The actual numbers involved in the deal are debated, but all media sources agree a huge sum of money will be paid to Spurs, and there is talk that this massive partnership could provide the necessary money for the new stadium to be funded and finally completed. I also read somewhere that Spurs hope the agreement with the Hong Kong-based company can act as a platform to grow the club’s name in the Asia-Pacific region. That screams of a ‘Levy motive’ more than anything I have ever read, and I wouldn’t be surprised if we sign an Asian player in the summer to get some Spurs shirts off the shelves in Japan, Korea and China to really capitalise on this new market. The recent links to Japanese superstar Yuto Nagatomo suddenly make a lot of sense, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he signs for us. Shinji Okazaki (a striker who plays in the Bundesliga for Mainz) is a rising Japanese star and has been in great goalscoring form this season. With Soldado out of sorts and Defoe off to Toronto, we will be in the market for a striker and Okazaki could be that man. I’m just thinking aloud really, but you get the point.
As we know, there are a certain section of Spurs fans who will scrutinise EVERYTHING our chairman does, and this deal is no exception. The AIA logo is red, which obviously is Arsenal’s primary colour and many, including myself admittedly, resent the fact we could have a red sponsorship logo on our shirts for five seasons. Could we have a blue version of the logo? I hope so. Not just because red doesn’t belong on a Spurs shirt, but also so it can shut the ‘Levy Out’ brigade up. I have genuinely seen people call for Levy’s head because of the colour of this logo, which is utterly laughable. I don’t want it to be red, but if it funds our new stadium, who really cares? It isn’t as if we are ‘doing a Cardiff’ and changing the colour of our home shirt. Also, Arsenal still have to, to this day, have some white on their crest because of an old agreement with Spurs. It could be worse guys, have some perspective on a menial issue.
The Newcastle game and Dnipro on Thursday.
Last Wednesday we ran out 4-0 winners against a run-down Newcastle team, and improved our impressive away record. The electric Adebayor scored twice, Paulinho scored a tap-in and Nacer Chadli gave the travelling Spurs fans a chance to sing a Lady Gaga song as he scored a screamer late on. There isn’t much to say about this game other than it was an excellent performance. Bentaleb played well, Adebayor continued his fine form and Lloris made some excellent saves. A great day for Tottenham.
That brings us to Thursday. We face Juande Ramos’ Dnipro in the Europa League, and I’m predicting a very tough game away in Croatia. Like all poor teams from the continent, you just know that Dnipro will be well organised, difficult to break down and a general pain in the backside (like Basel were). It will be fascinating to see how Tim Sherwood prepares for this game, and I expect Soldado, Sigurdsson and Chadli etc will all start the game. It is vital that we score an away goal, and I’m confident we can come away with a good result. Come on you Spurs!
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