One of the better introductions to the match day experience at White Hart Lane during the last decade has been the clips compilation played over the Jumbotron before the teams come out. The quick pick ‘n’ mix delight of goals, tackles and saves accompanied by a faux operatic soundtrack ends these days with the French Fawlty lookey-likey in full water bottle destroying mode. For a few years though the image that was left to linger was that of a strong jaw beneath pursed lips and a steely eyed stare. Yes we loved Martin Jol, and Martin Jol loved us.
BMJ, a bit like Redknapp, fell into the role of manager almost by chance after the board’s Chosen One, appointed after long deliberation and consultation, proved to have a leaden rather than Ledley like touch. Jacques Santini disappeared around Bonfire Night 2004 (apparently without trace) and Jol was promoted from within. His three seasons in charge were generally successful as he took us back into Europe whilst we took some key steps forward. It wasn’t enough though apparently as Levy and chums actively pursued Juande Ramos whilst the big man was still in charge and Jol’s managerial reign was brought to an undignified end at some time during the evening of the home defeat to Getafe.
Since then despite some near misses in European competition we’ve not crossed paths since, until now. It’s Fulham and Craven Cottage on Sunday and I bet the home manager cannot wait to take the walk across the pitch in front of the away end when he’ll surely receive a greeting befitting the size of the affection we had for the man. If nothing else his face off with Wenger on the Highbury touchline as we chased fourth in 2006 should be high in everyone’s list of favoured images.
The man was only a stomach virus away from leading us into the Champions League years. He’s got no hair but we don’t care, Martin Martin Jol.
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