Ahead of United’s quarter-final clash against Tottenham Hotspur, the team we beat in last season’s final, Spooky from Dear Mr Levy has given up a few minutes to have a chat.
Scott the Red: With Liverpool struggling in the league this season, currently fifth and possibly sixth if City win their next game (however unlikely that may be!) who do you think will displace Liverpool in the top four?
Spooky: I wouldn’t write the scousers off just yet. Sadly. I think we are best equipped. Says a lot that Villa are meant to be our rivals for that fourth spot and the only way they managed to contain us in the second half was to defend like an away side. Obviously, false dawns and the like, I’m not the gloating type. We all know – all Spurs fans – that there’s no point in dancing around wearing Barcelona shirts until its one hundred percent nailed on done and dusted. City are in a coma at the moment, but they’ve only lost the single game and if they hit some kind of form then it’s going to be explosive up there at the top. Villa will be there or there about because the tier just behind us still have work to do across this season and into the next one to pose any real threat. If Liverpool continue to slump, then Spurs have to sign two players in January to cement that fourth spot and go for it. No more last game ‘must win’ scenario situations. Qualify with games left. The irony is we don’t appear to have be as good as the teams above us, just be better than the teams below us. We’ve lost to United, Arsenal and Chelsea so far this season. We don’t have the class to win the title but we appear to have enough in the war chest to challenge for fourth spot.
STR: I probably fancy Spurs’ chances better than Villa or City this season. But what do you reckon would constitute a successful season for your team?
Spooky: Honestly? Silverware. We live in an age where finishing Top four, fourth or third, is considered bigger and more important than a cup. Everything else has been devalued. But when you look back, history will wink at who has won what. But then again, the way it’s going the Champions League will turn into a super league and blah blah. I want us to win a cup. The FA Cup, because it was our cup once upon a time. Day out at Wembley is always a special day trip. However (I’m just swallowing a big cup of hypocrisy, hold on for a sec) I still want us to gatecrash the top four. Mix it up. Champions League would equate to better class players, dare I say ‘world class’. It’s a different type of adventure. Once you get there, you have to stay there. I think the monopoly is the weakness it’s been and anything that will make Sky Sports cry a little can only be a good thing.
STR: Think of Chelsea. Once they had the money, it was their Champions League spot which enabled them to bring in top class players from the continent. You can’t buy the best players, or at least, keep the best players, if you’re not in the Champions League. Speaking of which, what do you make of Dimitar Berbatov’s departure?
Spooky: Ah, how long you got? In a nutshell, it had to happen. He wanted out after just one season – probably because he only ever joined Spurs to prove himself worthy of a transfer to Old Trafford. He did that in a single season and when he wasn’t allowed to go he threw a massive strop. At the time I was swaying from one side of the argument to the other (keep him/sell him) but in the end the only thing that grated me was the fact that Levy waited until the final day to get rid of him (even though he didn’t directly allow Utd to speak to the player). He simply allowed Fergie to get the player to Manchester to offer him a contract and rest was inevitable. Funny thing is, he’s less of a player at Old Trafford. Perhaps when you’re a big fish in a small pond who then finds himself in an ocean full of bigger fish you don’t get the comfort of swaggering it. Responsibilities change and he’s struggled to make the type of impact he probably thought he would. He’s no Robbie Keane, mind.
STR: I’d argue Berbatov’s strop at the end of the first season wasn’t so “massive”, given that he went on to score another twenty three goals for you! But I am glad you mentioned Robbie Keane, the supposed lifelong Liverpool supporter who went around kissing their badge after a couple of weeks, only to return to his less preferable club, Spurs, a few months later. Then you make him captain! What’s that all about?! Have your feelings towards him changed?
Spooky: Yes and no. I’ll explain. Firstly, players tend to proclaim themselves as life-long fans after they join a club they consider to be bigger than the club they’ve just left behind. It’s an inbuilt safety mechanism lodged deep in the modern players brain that’s triggered when they get all giddy signing for a new club. The thing is, Robbie, bless him, was deluding himself. Not that I blame him. He thought, ‘I’ll have some of this, Champions League footie, not sure I’m good enough, but fuck it, we’ll see, I’ll blag it’. Didn’t help that Rafa wanted Barry. Keane had no chance from the start, being played out of position and then being overwhelmed by pressure. He had a good thing at Spurs. A very good thing. And he sort of ruined it. I’m more embarrassed for him because he came back with his tail between his legs and hasn’t hit the heights from before his departure. The whole deal worked out in our favour. Still, worst loan deal ever.
STR: Worse than Frazier Campbell…? Ok, so he wasn’t first choice for Spurs’ fans, but if you could pick a United player to have in your team, who would it be?
Spooky: Rooney. Obviously. The bloke is a beast of a player. Carrick would do a job for us, again, as a deep lying playmaking-sweeper-upper like he did for us back in 2006. You’ve got plenty of hard working top drawer talent to choose from. In three years time I’d love to see Modric back in the white shirt of Spurs, if you ask me the same question again in the future.
STR: Yeh I really rate Modric. Played a blinder at Old Trafford last season. Well, in the first half anyway. Our victory over your lot last season was a real defining moment in our season and really pushed us on to winning the league. Which team would you like to see win the league this season?
Spooky: Honestly? Out of the current ‘Elite Four’, I’d have to say Man United. Even though you lot can be painfully annoying (always beating us, with or without the aid of a ref) I’ve always like United. Sort of. I guess it goes back to the 80’s and that time before your re-birth under Ferguson. Both of us – Spurs and United – were known for our entertaining football and the fact that neither of us had won the title for decades. And when we clashed, it was always a great occasion. History, tradition, I can’t really dismiss all of that stuff. Also, Cantona is probably may favourite non-Spurs Prem player ever. Also, there’s no chance I’d ever ‘hope’ a travesty of football like Chelsea or that abortion of a south London club Arsenal to win anything.
STR: Wow. It’s not often you hear fans of other clubs claiming to have always liked United. Like Ferguson was our saviour, do you think Harry Redknapp is Spurs’ saviour?
Spooky: You know what, in a way he is. He’s testament to the fact that football is a simple game. Get the basics right, i.e. play players in their strongest positions and instruct them to make the most of their talent. Ramos was lost over here. He didn’t have the players for the system he wanted and didn’t have anything in the way of language to get his deluded message across. Levy scrapped the director of football structure – which I applaud him for. He admitted it had failed. In comes Harry, hugs a few players and then suddenly there’s progression. And we are still seeing progression. When we have blips we bounce back. No doubt it will all be ruined because the footballing Gods like a good laugh, but my guess (based on what’s been said) is that Harry will guide us forwards for then next two or three years and then move aside for another manager to come in and take over. I can’t see him being sacked. Not for matters of football management reasons. He’s a saviour in the sense that he’s come in and turned a bunch of soft-hearted clowns into proper players. He’s surprised a few people. He’s still a media whore, but he’s done little wrong since arriving at the Lane.
STR: The Spurs job seems to be his dream job, although I wonder if he would be able to resist if England came calling. Are you an England fan?
Spooky: When it comes to the WC or Euro Champs, I’m immersed, totally. Even though we have some rather repugnant players representing us at the moment (Terry, Lampard, Gerrard) I’m still wanting to see us do well. Perhaps win a pen shout-out. Ok, fantasy aside, I’ve always loved the World Cup and although I doubt we’ll get further than the semi-finals, I’ll be wearing heart on sleeve through-out the summer of 2010.
STR: I think you’ve done well just mentioning three repugnant England players! United players aside, Peter Crouch is one of the very few pretty likeable English players, but it really is slim pickings. But enough of that before I get carried away. It’s time for the all important question. What are your predictions for tonight?
Spooky: Utd to win courtesy of a dodgy penalty. No, seriously, not sure. I hope Harry plays a strong side. And instructs them to go for the jugular. It’s a cup game, no silly tactics required. All depends on who you plan to play. I want us to win this and it will add more confidence if we do (even if you play an under strength side). We’ll see, but I’m going to go with a Spurs win because I think we won’t throw caution to the wind. Should be a cracking game though.
STR: Here, here. Cheers mate, and may the best team win!