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Why Spurs and Newcastle have gone their separate ways

5 years ago

Spurs come here on the final day of the season, perhaps looking to clinch the title.

We will hope that Rafa has worked a sufficient miracle to have secured Premier League survival before that day dawns.

How did we get to this position, where the best we can hope for is another photograph of two chuckling chumps giving a relieved thumbs up from the directors’ box?

Ten years ago I regarded Spurs as a home banker. If one team had the edge, it was probably us.

The difference since, I suppose, has been the vision thing.

Spurs see themselves as a club trying to establish themselves back among the elite of European football. They have planned for it. Worked for it.

We, meanwhile, have been drip-fed a diet of lowly ambitions.

Managers, captains, and the men at the top have been keen to portray us in the way they see us. A little team in the sticks, on a par with Sunderland and West Brom.

This hasn’t even been all about the quality of the players we have signed.

It’s been fashionable, in the search of a scapegoat who isn’t Ashley, to blame the newly demonised Graeme Carr…he we once trusted on our tee-shirts.

Carr works to pretty unworkable bargain bin parameters. If he goes to look for a defender, but there are three midfielders in the bargain bucket, it’s the midfielders we sign.

It all reminds me of my mother, who, in her search for a bargain, ensured I always had no shoes, but hundreds of socks. She bought what was going cheap, regardless of shortage or surfeit.

But Carr has identified decent players, given they have to be a certain age, and have potential resale value.

There are noticeable successes among them, including Cabaye, Ben Arfa and Demba Ba. Not very top class perhaps, but we have not fared well since they left.

So I was pleased by the signings of the summer 2015.

Wijnaldum, Mitrovic and Mbemba were all useful acquisitions. I didn’t dream of top ten because they were being sent in to reinforce an understrength squad rotting with defeatist cliques.

But even the modest hope the season might yield half a dozen more points died when they appointed McClaren.

Pardew-lite, it seemed to me he had been targeted precisely because he looked a nice fit for the hole recently vacated by Alan. An implausible bluffer who wouldn’t rock the boat.

It seemed clear that while the faces were different, the policies that have defined this regime were being persisted with.

And it failed. Miserably and predictably it failed, surely for the last time?

Rafa Benitez may still fail. He had a mountain to climb.

But the evidence of one’s eyes seems to be that on the pitch, new reserves of competence and resolve have been found in players long written off as gutless and talentless.

It’s a breath of fresh air to be pleasantly surprised on match days. A shadow of cynicism seems to have been partly dispelled, weights lifted from shoulders on the pitch and on the terraces.

There’s a sense that someone, somewhere might actually know what they are doing. It has been coming, slowly.

There is a lesson for Mike Ashley in this.

Employ a top manager Mike…not one you imagine might do a job at Sunderland or West Brom.

And let him manage.

The team will find a level that is above the one you have enforced through your presumptions about our status.

It has to be better than spending millions and millions of pounds to put a brave face on failure.

Spurs should not necessarily be a home banker for Newcastle. But neither should we be rank underdogs

Howay the Lads.



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