Spooky from the excellent Tottenham Hotspur blog, Dear Mr Levy, has given us some of his time to talk football.
Scott the Red: Who has been your best player this season?
Spooky: The fact that I have to stop and think about this would suggest it’s been a jolly good year for us. Dawson perhaps. He’s been immense. Daft smile, deft tackle (allegedly he’s the longest in the shower). Ledley King is associated with ‘good defending’ and when he plays it galvanises the players around him. Dawson hit some poor form a season or two back, injuries didn’t help and the usual knee-jerking suggested he was simply not good enough. Fact is, confidence is the single most imperative ingredient and if you believe in yourself, then the likelihood is you’ll do well – as long as you have the football talent to go alongside if.
Dawson does. And he no longer needs King by his side because Dawson now galvanises the side. Obviously the likes of Modric and Bale are deserving of headlines too. Modric because he makes such a difference to the craft and guile of the side offensively and Bale because he’s a sexy Welsh beast of star. But Daws is testament to the backbone Spurs have grown during Harry’s tenure. He has matured and as captain leads the team. And he’s a bloody nice guy too and (yes, I’m biased) he should go to the World Cup.
STR: Which player has improved the most?
S: Another long pause on this one because again, there have been several massive improvements. Benoit Assou-Ekotto has been excellent all season long, until his injury, but is finally rediscovering his early season form. Again, confidence the key. And I guess credit to Mr Man Management Redknapp once more. He’s improved so much that Spurs don’t need to be looking for another left-back. And because he likes getting forward, the BAE and Bale marauding partnership on the left (if Moddle is played in the middle) is fairly devastating at best.
I’d also say Bale, but then Bale was superb before he got injured. Came back too soon, confidence destroyed. He’s now finding the type of form he’s always had himself. Funny season really. Everytime we lose a player – a key player – we find another player in the squad come through. You almost forget Lennon is out.
STR: Ah Bale, glad you mentioned him. What do you make these rumours linking him to United?
S: Jog on Fergie. Did United almost sign him? Did Bale reject Spurs initially and then sign for us because Utd didn’t go in for him? I’d say pinch of salt because what you read in the papers tends to be media agenda/agent BS. This story resurfaces in the week leading up to the Utd v Spurs game. I don’t believe in coincidences. Last week Bale was joining Juventus. Bale will be at Spurs next season. And the next. He won’t need to leave if we get CL football, will he? (crosses fingers).
STR: Of course, Champions League football. Do you fancy Spurs for the top four this season then, finally? What will it mean for your club if you miss out again?
A good friend of mine only knows of a successful Man Utd side. He’s a few years younger than me, so he’s blessed by the fact that he grew up with silverware thanks to Fergie. When you support a club who is always successful and success is therefore always expected, your pressures and dissatisfactions are different to let’s say a Spurs fan who wants their side to progress up to the next level and be able to consistently compete with the best domestically, and then in Europe. Not an easy task. You know that when there is a chance you need to take it. But then 2006 was a chance and people said we’d never get close to it again.
The big sides have dropped a level, and the sides below them have improved. We’re not there yet because we don’t have ‘world class’ players in our side. But to gain players of world class ilk we need to finish 4th and then make sure we do so again and again. I think football in the EPL has changed. And each season will be open to 6 clubs or so competing for 3rd and 4th. So the whole ‘Top 4’ monopoly might change one year to the next.
It will mean everything to get into the CL. Because the only way to attain a winners mentality is to become a winner and the only way to hold onto players is to build a squad that progress and achieves what it sets out to do.
City will spend billions, no doubt bid for our players in the summer, so failure this year might make it tricky next season – but I don’t believe that deep down.
Yes, we’ll finish 4th. I’ve said it for months and months. But this season will twist and turn a couple more times before it’s decided for sure.
STR: Well, I certainly hope you finish in the top four ahead of City. But if you do, are you ready for Champions League football?
S: Yes. Simply because of this: Define ready? Are we meant to win the competition the first year we are in it? Of course not. It will be a debut and should therefore be approached with us making a stamp on the competition by playing the Tottenham way (that’s winning with style and glory and not taking a 3 – 0 lead and losing 5 – 3). If we get out classed, then so be it. But tbh, if we qualified, we’d probably buy one or two player who wouldn’t join us otherwise, so we’d be strong. Strong enough for the knock-out rounds. Not experienced enough to further, but this is all hypothetical wishful thinking. Spurs have a rich tradition and plenty of European history. We’d be up for it. But I’ll worry about it ‘after’ we get there.
STR: I suppose I mean ready mentally. Your team have been known to bottle it a bit, with the best example for me probably being last season at Old Trafford when you went 2-0 up and ending the game 5-2 down. Are Spurs different now?
S: You will know the same time as me. Last season we stormed it. Then almost apolitically folded as if that was our role to follow. No Howard Webb this time round, but I keep on saying this, it’s time to take responsibility. If we lose a goal because of bad luck or a poor decision, the players should go out there and fix it up. There will be no shame losing to United if our players give it everything they’ve got. The difference will tell in how we react. During the game and after and then in our next match. Win or lose. Considering this was meant to be the month from hell, 6 points from the first two thus far is pretty fucking great.
STR: Oh yeh, the decision that Redknapp shat himself over. Nothing much was made of the fact Spurs should have gone down to ten men after six minutes played and that we happened to score four goals as well as the penalty… Anyway, talking of your wins against Arsenal and Chelsea, which one meant more to you?
S: Beating Arsenal in the league. Chelsea? That’s what now? 3 times out of 4 at home? It’s so easy at the Lane. Arsenal grate on me. See, mostly, we do well at home against them. Couple of poor results in recent years, but we go toe-to-toe with them and usually almost nearly win. Which is pathetic. The problem has been that we play as if we are their equals and then in the end buckle. Lack of mental strength and all that. This time round, we played like underdogs and tactically (along with some genius from Gomes) got ourselves through it. Again, confidence and self-belief rather than delusions. Leading up the game, every gooner – online and in real life, gloated and blagged and then they vanished into thin air post-game. Yep. Beating Arsenal in the league is the one I prefer.
STR: You certainly did us a favour by beating Chelsea, as we did you by beating City, but who would you prefer to win the league?
S: Manchester United. I know how to appease the locals, I do. Lesser of two evils I guess. Although you’ll have to do it the hard way after we beat you at Old Trafford.
STR: Lesser of two evils? I’ll take that. It’s hard to argue any team has really deserved the league any more or any less, with both United and Chelsea being pretty poor this season. But of course we still have plenty of top quality players about. Which player, aside from Rooney, would you most like from our squad?
S: Berbatov. Or Carrick. Sorry, couldn’t resist. I’d say Spurs need a talismanic player like Berba, but not the United version (who I agree does score and assist) but the earlier Spurs version who swaggers. He had the Cantonas about him in Lilywhite, without the kung-fu. But then he was allowed to just play and free-roam and work up front with Keane which allowed plenty of creativity. At United, he’s bottled in to do a particular type of job and it’s suffocated him a little so you’re not seeing all the fancy stuff. He looks a £15M rather than a £30M player. Carrick was great at Spurs. Not sure he would fit into the current Spurs line-up. Not with Palacios playing. So I guess, to actually answer your question, I’d say Vidic. With Woodgate and King mostly on the sidelines, we could do with one more centre-back. I like the cut of his jib.
Just for the record, I wouldn’t go near Berbatov for how he sulked his way out of Spurs. Although tbh, I believe his intention was always to remain one year at Spurs, prove himself, then sign for Utd. Get the following he was always on a promise. After one season at Spurs he demanded a move, hence the fallout with Jol. Allegedly.
STR: Finally, what are your predictions for tomorrow?
S: Score-draw is the most likely. I can’t call it. I thought Chelsea would play well and we played them off the park. Depends really, what Utd team turns up and what Spurs team turns up. Will be a cracking game of football. Ah, fuck it. 2-1 Spurs. But don’t fret. You’ll still win the title.
STR: Not Berbatov to score a late winner for United then…? Cheers for your time mate.