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Martin Jol: A Dutch Gerry Francis?

With Arsenal vs Tottenham this weekend looking like a potential turning point for both clubs’ Premiership season, Mr. C looks back at Martin Jol’s reign thus far and gives the Dutchman a firm “Must Do Better”.

It was October 2004 when the great Sir Bill Nicholson passed away in his sleep and having been fortunate to have spent some time with the great man in the years prior to his demise; I just wonder what he will be making of the current Martin Jol era.

Sir Bill was a man who had lilywhite blood running through his veins and devoted his whole life to the club firstly as a grounds man, a player and as a manager created a dynasty which put Tottenham Hotspur well and truly on the footballing map.

The man demanded perfection, winning whilst playing flowing intricate football was the order of the day and anything less was simply unacceptable. Alan Mullery talks about the time that having beaten Fulham 6-0, Sir Bill gave the players a complete dressing down about the style of their play and their quality of passing. It is this philosophy that makes our club different from many others and the reason that even during our barren spells; we still command respect and recognition from other fans and managers around the country.

Sir Bill could have won many more trophies but he refused to sacrifice his principles in finding the combination of winning matches, playing the style of football he played in under Arthur Rowe’s push and run purists and the great double side he created in 1961.

I was one of many thousand who attended Sir Bill’s memorial service at White Hart Lane and as I was hearing the many different tributes being read out, I couldn’t help but keep looking over at the current squad who were on a 6 game losing run and had just lost embarrassingly at home to Charlton the day before. I was thinking about what Sir Bill would have done; given that he can slate his side after a 6-0 victory, how would of he reacted to this sorry lot who had played with so little pride and passion and who in my mind are continually cheating us supporters. Martin Jol sat alongside Frank Arnesen very stern faced, caught up in the emotion of the occasion and I sat there wondering with his impending appointment whether he was the man capable of taking us to the top? Did he take any inspiration from what was being said? Did he fully appreciate the traditions Sir Bill had set the club?

It is fair to say that his arrival at the helm changed our fortunes pretty much straight away and we started to climb up the table after a great run which lasted some four months and suddenly an outside chance of Europe looked on the cards. We were to miss out by the odd point and finished 9th but everything looked well and a solid first season under the Frank Arnesen revolution. There seemed a real spirit on the pitch and our strike force of Defoe and Keane managed to get 45 odd goals between them that season; not bad considering our manager thinks they can’t play together. I often wonder if we would have made the Champions League the following season had Jol stuck with this pairing.

We started last season positively and started to scrape results without playing particularly well and by December we found ourselves in 4th place. In the New Year we struggled to kill games off and drew far too many. We only chalked up another 5 wins after Christmas you could say we didn’t deserve the Champions League place on that kind of form. In truth last season I found it very depressing to watch with the exception of a few games and I’m puzzled why Jol saw the need to bring a more route one approach to his tactics.

In the second part of the season we were found out and became easy to play against. It is also fair to point out that it failed to bring out the best in any of our strikers and given that goals win games then surely you don’t need to be an expert to work out that you have to play to their strengths. How can Defoe and Keane only muster 20 goals between them when the previous year they got 45?

When I talk to fellow spurs fans about my disapproval about the level of performance and our manager’s preference to the long ball game, given the abundance of quality of ball players at our disposal; the general feedback I receive is that it’s just nice to be back up challenging again.

Are Spurs fans selling themselves out and sticking two fingers at the legacy of the great man? Didn’t we put up with enough of this shit under Gerry Francis and George Graham? What is the difference between Francis and Jol?

This season has been much the same with mediocre performances and the constant chop and changing upfront has prevented the side from finding any rhythm and consistency and some of his tactical decisions in games have baffled me. How long will it be before fans lose their patience about our style of play and Jol’s constant tinkering with the side? Martin Jol is tactically inept and does not have what it takes to make us a serious title contender year in year out.

As a Spurs fan I am tired of being second best all the time an accepting a top half finish. We have such a good squad at the moment and I fear it is not being utilised in the best way as Jol has made us very predictable with his route one tactics. We must qualify for Europe this year otherwise the likes of Lennon, Dawson, King and Huddleston may get there head turned by the lure of Champions League football like Carrick was last year.

I may well be proven wrong this season by Jol, but I bet I’m not. I’m just glad that Sir Bill does not have to sit and watch this shit week in, week out.

Reckon Mr. C is spot on? Think he’s a fool? Let us know in the comments or write a rebuttal to editor@caughtoffside.com