Tottenham Hotspur were the first team to break in to the top four since Everton back in 2005. When looking at their fixtures towards the end of the season, having to take on Arsenal, Chelsea, United and City, it really didn’t look good for them. But with three wins out of four they secured that CL qualifying spot.
Spooky, from the excellent Spurs blog Dear Mr Levy, has taken some time to have a chat with me about footie. Top lad with a great football mind. Enjoy!
Scott the Red: I suppose the answer is obvious, but I’ll ask the question anyway. Were you happy with your team’s performance last season?
Spooky: Happy? Erm…let me think about that. I’d say my emotions were akin to waking up and finding 100 naked super-fit twenty-five year old supermodels in my bedroom (of the female variety obviously) all begging me to do stuff to them. Positively erect with joy. It’s the way we did it, backs to wall, ridiculous tricky fixture list into the final weeks and we just dug deep and did it. For me, it wasn’t even the win at City. The wins against Arse and Chelsea – they defined our season. The win at City was a massive shut the fuck up to Alan Hansen, so I was chuffed beyond belief with it all.
STR: Well, United fans were certainly cheering you on and despite beating you home and away last season, we did our bit to even it out by beating City home and away too! So, great season out of the way, what are your aspirations for this season?
S: More of the same. I don’t deny it will be difficult, but Harry has proven he has the stomach for it. Down to whether the players can repeat their performance, and I guess how the likes of City do with their challenge. We have to play, in my opinion, for 3rd place. End up with 4th again and I’ll be all smiles once more. Also – it’s pretty vital for us to get into the CL group stages. Hate to think what failure there would do for our players mental strength.
STR: Yeh, we’ve witnessed first hand, to our benefit, the crumbling effect of Spurs. A bit delicate some of them aren’t they? But obviously they’ve got enough about them to get that qualifying spot, so which one player do you see being your most important in keeping you there?
S: Modric. He makes us tick. He has to continue to do so – and score more from midfield too. A season with him without an extended lay-of will be a good one for us.
STR: Harry Redknapp reckons he is the only world class player you have. How do you rate your manager’s ability to take your club forward?
S: Harry looks after number one. He does what he does for himself. Obviously not to the extent of a Jose Mourinho. Many thought he would not achieve what he had done last season, but he did. I don’t think he should be underestimated. He can do more for us. I guess we’ll find out. I’m excited though. Who’d have thought a back to basics manager would finally get us 4th spot.
STR: What’s your favourite chant you’ve heard sung at your ground?
STR: Where do you think United will finish this season?
S: Possibly 2nd. I say possibly because it depends on Chelsea’s form. A few people I’ve spoken to seem to think United are on the downward spiral. I don’t see it, although you’re not half as strong as you’ve been in the past. But I’d say it’s foolish to believe your time has gone. Even without a cheeky Spurs raid this summer, I can’t see Arsenal and the rest shifting ahead of you in the EPL.
STR: Nice one. If you could have any two players from United’s current squad playing for you, who would they be?
S: Vidic. We need a CB. What with Woody on the verge of retirement and King and his one knee. And Rooney. Do I need to explain that one?
STR: Nah, I think that’s taken as a given, although not every blogger has had Rooney down. What are your thoughts on United’s debt?
S: Honestly, don’t understand how/why/what it’s all about when new owners loan out money against a club/business. It’s a mess but you’re big and bad enough to get through it. But then I don’t proclaim to know all the finer details. Seems staggering that a billion pound club lacks funds for transfers. Then again, hardly anyone is really splashing it about. Other than the biggest club in the world, Man City.
STR: Massive. What is your favourite game your club have played against United?
S: Blimey. What, in my life time? I’m struggling here. I can’t even choose the 4-1 from a few years back considering you had randoms playing for you that day. Beating you I think 1-0 (Lineker) up at yours in the Cup. Unless I’m remembering something that didn’t happen. I was at the game. At least I can remember being drunk. The game where the Mendes goal was disallowed was pretty crazy too, another good away trip, singing 1-0 to the Tottingham. Or ‘that game where Carr scored that blinder’ – that was special and rare. I do like that old footage of Greaves running through your side and scoring majestically. Damn it, now why wasn’t I blessed with growing up in the 60’s?
STR: Maybe this one will be easier. What is your worst game your club have played against United?
S: Any recent game at OT. The Howard Webb game of a couple of seasons ago. Yes, we mentally collapsed and shame on us, but the whole penalty thingie still grates me.
STR: The worst decision Webb made that day was failing to send Palacios off for that two footed off the floor lunge, studs showing, on Ronaldo. I remember on derby day a few years back Ronaldo made a similar challenge on Andy Cole, one footed mind, where he made minimal contact with the player too, and was handed a straight red card. I wonder how Spurs would have got on that day had they been playing with 10 men for 83 minutes.
S: Ha ha, you git! You know, I completely forgot about that. I guess one Howard Webb fuck up cancels out another. I’ll shut up now.
STR: I suppose it would make me a twat to have a smug look on my face now, right? Anyway, I digress. What impact do you think you CL stint may have on your aspirations to finish top four this season?
S: It’s the bit that makes me nervous. Get distracted by say, getting out of the group stages – and we end up finishing 5th or lower and we are back where we are. But look, nobody knows how things are going to be over the next 2-3 years. The Prem is changing. It’s no longer 4 clubs miles ahead of everyone. The ‘Sky Top 4’ are closer to the rest than ever before, and the chasing pack are in some ways on a similar playing field – so there could be plenty of swapping around up there rather than the same 4, whomever they may be, always finishing in the top 4 places. City will have a say in it because of their ‘project’. We just need to remember – its the bread and butter of the league that remains the most important aspect of our challenge to progress. Finishing 4th, aiming for 4th – that’s great. But if you want to guarantee 4th every season – you need to challenge for the title every season. And currently, only three clubs can probably do that, and one of the three is stretching it in my opinion.
STR: Why do you think Daniel Levy thinks it’s alright for his manager to talk about any player he likes to the national press but reacted so badly to a Scandinavian website quoting Ferguson saying Berbatov was a player he wanted to sign?
S: Football is drowning in hypocrisy and contradictions. Harry has a massive gob on him, he loves the sounds of his own voice bless him and he loves a soundbite. Yeah sure, I can be selective and hypocritical when perhaps siding with gaffer or chairman and have a dig at say Fergie. It’s just the way it is, but if you step back – you’ll see everyone is guilty of it. It’s because everyone has a priority and that priority needs protecting. I do wish Harry would sshh it now and again, but that’s asking for a miracle.
STR: You’re not alone with that wish. Now on to our noisy neighbours. I imagine City weren’t on your radar at all three years ago. Now how do you feel about them?
S: Hmm. I’ve got a video on the way that will answer this. For now, I’d say that they are fast-tracking themselves. Bit like Chelsea, although Chelsea did have aspirations thanks to their decent league form and CL entry – they built on it because they had the money to bring in Jose. City are going to attempt to buy their way in. It’s not traditional, but it works. I just hope we continue to dick them in the league.
STR: Ditto. Out of interest, what do you make of this business involving Crouch, Sir Dave Richards and Fulham?
S: I’m going to put my hands up and say – I haven’t bothered with it. Goes back to what I was saying before. About priorities and protecting them. Every level of football is the same. I’m hoping this all blows over and there’s nothing to see.
STR: And finally, the whole Liverpool-badge-kissing-dream-club episode was fairly embarrassing for Robbie Keane. Has that effectively ended his Spurs career?
S: Yes. I think Robbie had found his home, was comfortable and content. In some ways, I don’t blame him for wanting to go to Liverpool. They are a big club, for someone like Robbie, he probably thought he couldn’t say no. Probably had Jamie Redknapp tell him he couldn’t say no. It’s Liverpool, its the Kop, it’s all those scarf’s held up and ear-bleeding renditions of ‘YNWA’. What Keane failed to grasp was that Rafa did not want him, he wanted Barry. Liverpool would not spend the money on Barry so they spent more on Keane. If that doesn’t tell you everything you need to know about Rafa and his issues with Parry then I don’t know what would. Fact is, he couldn’t handle it there. Yes, he was played out of position and he probably knew he made a mistake and played on his mind. And he returned broken, no mojo. Did okay initially. And then that was it. Hindsight. It must really irk him. To then end up at Celtic on loan more or less sums it all up for me.
STR: Indeed. Best of luck for finishing top four mate.