Every Spurs fan knows better than to get carried away by out best start to a season for 40 years, but that doesn’t reduce the enjoyment of the three very positive performances which put us top of the tree. A tactical triumph against Liverpool, a display of positive attacking football away from home against Hull, and the welcome emergence of character to win after going behind in a tough derby against West Ham. And, in more simple terms, all very good to watch.
Is this fine start related in any way to the fact that we have a relatively settled playing staff, and a solid Tottenham core on the coaching side? The answer seems to be a no-brainer. In contrast with so many of the campaigns the club has started under ENIC, we began this season having retained our star players, avoided carefully “leaked” rumours about the shortcomings of the coaching staff, and without a collection of debutants struggling to remember just who their teammates are. We’ve avoided the “marquee signings” so beloved of the football marketeers, and recruited or discarded mainly on the basis of what the first team squad requires to achieve results. We seem, in short, to be a team again, rather than the player trading exchange that we have been for a number of seasons.
While it would perhaps be foolish to assume that they are here solely because of an emotional attachment, the presence of Tim Sherwood, Les Ferdinand, Tony Parks and Clive Allen on the coaching side does bring with it some depth and understanding of Tottenham â€“ the positives and the negatives. Having spent a very enjoyable afternoon interviewing Tony Parks for my book The Boys from White Hart Lane, I can vouch for the fact that he is a very passionate, knowledgeable and dedicated football man who knows exactly what Spurs mean. His impact on Heurelho Gomes’s game is plain to see.
On the playing side, we have a team which has played together for some time – despite the farcical shifting around that accompanied the death throes of the so-called “continental” transfer policy adopted by the board after Hoddle was sacked. Of this year’s opening-day starting line-up, only Sebastian Bassong was a debutant, the rest having been at Tottenham at least a season with the exception of Palacios, surely the buy of last January’s transfer window.
It’s seemed obvious to everyone except the club’s board that the missing ingredients have been character and stability for some time. How ironic, then, then it should be a manager famed for his wheeler-dealering who finally manages to convince them. Credit must go to Harry Redknapp for showing the value of getting the simple things right. There’s a long way to go, but it’s hard to escape the feeling that there’s a bit more substance to Spurs these days.
Martin Cloake’s new book, The Pocket Book of Spurs (VSP, Â£9.99) is out on 5th October, and can be pre-ordered for the publisher’s website.
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