What would a look back on 2006 be without Mr. C‘s take on Martin Jol’s year with Tottenham? A lot less feisty, that’s for sure.
It is widely regarded that the Christmas period is a make or break time with games thick and fast and a moment where oneâ€™s club fortunes either prosper or fall by the waste side.
This time last year we found ourselves sitting comfortably in 4th place but had just been knocked out of the cup by Leicester; little did we know that the result in hindsight would spark the dramatic downturn in our previous solid away form and performances in general. Twelve months on we find ourselves sitting 7pts adrift of 4th place however still alive in all cup competitions.
Most Spurs fans will look back at 2006 with delight. We had a top 5 finish, coasted through the UEFA Cup stages and find ourselves in the Carling Cup semis; it is nice to compete but surely that is the least we should expect given our squad? Donâ€™t we deserve better?
I know Martin Jol likes his stats and whatever happens at the end of the season he can look back and say “I got the team to the Carling cup semi or final (okay we had to beat both Southend and Port Vale after extra time) Iâ€™m proud of my achievements.” But letâ€™s not forget that George Graham won it in his first year at the club and Hoddle took us to the final in his first full season but that didnâ€™t mean they were up to the job.
Support for Jol will be immense because to his credit his PR is fantastic. He says the right things that appeal to supporters but in reality the Spurs fan who sees the bigger picture will pick up the god awful performances, lack of passion and the tactical naivety in games that has seen us lose just as many Premiership games as we have won in the whole of 2006. I may be crazy in judging him before the season is even over but in the last 12 months I have failed to see anything from the side or the management that suggests we are on the verge of something big; we have an excellent squad and I look on and think why arenâ€™t we fighting for a Champions League spot?
I have been highly critical of Jol not because of what he has achieved necessarily, but rather what he hasn’t. He has had the best squad of players any managers previous have had and, with the presence of Damien Commoli, he is free to simply worry about results on the pitch. Here are just a few of the issues that I struggle to look past:
o Only one victory, as sweet as it was, against the Big 4 suggests a lack of tactical nous and doesnâ€™t bode well if we are to be regular challengers to the CL spots.
o Too arrogant to realise he has picked a side or tactics and tries to persevere with it instead of having the bravery of accepting his mistake and rectifying it (see: incredibly late tactical changes or substitutions) and we have let too many games slip by.
o Constant bollocks last season saying that Defoe and Keane cant play together even though they managed around 40 goals between them in his first season in charge â€“ a decision that probably cost us a CL place as we struggled to put the ball in the back of the net.
o Persevering with Gregorz Rasiak rather than Keane and Defoe.
o Realising we were struggling to kill off teams and drawing too many games in the first half of last season he went out and bought Ghaly and Danny Murphy to give us that extra push for the CL spot â€“ we may as well have kept Sean Davis and Pedro Mendes.
o Constantly putting square pegs in round holes â€“ How can you expect to get the best out of players if they are being played out of position? Jenas, Ghaly on the right wing? Lee, right footed left back? Malbranque, Davids and Lennon on the left wing? Total Football at its worst.
o Allowing Routledge to go out on loan for the season when we are so short of width at the club; the fact Lennon has been injured for quite a few games highlights what a mistake it was â€“ should a manager take such gambles?
o His shocking treatment of Jermain Defoe who in the last two months has stuck two fingers up at Jol with his goal spree â€“ shame it took over a quarter of season to work out that Defoe and Berbatov is the best strike partnership at the club.
o 3-0 down in a North London Derby with 8mins to go he decides to bring on Defoe to try and change the game â€“ fantastic management and showed what a brave manager he is. This is just one of the several baffling substitutions he has made.
o 3 Premiership away wins in the whole of 2006.
o A series of gutless displays that show a complete lack of motivation notably the recent games against Cardiff, Newcastle, Aston Villa, Portsmouth alongside Reading, Blackburn, Everton, Bolton and Arsenal to which for me is the worst display I have ever seen by a Spurs side in a North London derby â€“ Where is the hunger and urgency?
There are so many more reasons but that is just a taste of why I have failed to see how Martin Jol is capable of taking us to the next level, and a cup run isn’t going to change that this year. We have made hard work of terrible opposition in the Carling cup, having to go to extra time against Southend and Port Vale and as for the UEFA cup; anyone who was at WHL and witnessed that sham that was Dynamo Bucharest will realise what the standard of competition is like â€“ the fact that they finished 2nd in our group says it all.
This time last season I was optimistic that we could really build on our positive position in the league â€“ 12 months on we have failed to improve and seen teams like Bolton and last years relegation strugglers Portsmouth leap frog us in terms of results and, more importantly, actual performances on the pitch. In the Premiership, we are still amongst the also ranâ€™s like Everton, Reading and Manchester City fighting for a place in the UEFA cupâ€¦great!
Who knows what 2007 will bring; if itâ€™s anything like 2006 I canâ€™t see Jol being in charge this time next year â€“ if you as a Spurs fan are satisfied with a top half finish every year and the occasional cup run then fine, but as a fan of 20+ years I am fed up of seeing us underachieve, especially in the league.
No Spurs manager has ever had it so good with the structure we have in place and the quality of squad at their disposal, and time is running out. Talents like Aaron Lennon, Ledley King and Dimitar Berbatov are not going to stick around forever just because Martin Jol might need more time to get things right.