"It is better to fail aiming high than to succeed aiming low. And we of Spurs have set our sights very high, so high in fact that even failure will have in it an echo of glory." Bill Nicholson. SPURS


Friday, September 30, 2005

Charlton Vs. Spurs.

Spurs travel to the valley for another London derby. We have an 100% record in London derbies this season but if you look back a couple of years the record is awful. Couple that with Charlton lying in second place you may think that this could be a bad day for Spurs. However we are unbeaten away and have only lost one game all season so there is no reason why we can’t get a result.

To get the point or three we would like then the performances of some players need to improve, especially Jermaine Jenes. We can afford no more sloppy passing from him as any lose balls will be pounced on by Murphy or Thomas.

Spurs will start in goal with Robinson. Lee will be left with Stalteri right. I would prefer Kelly as usual but I don’t think that will happen. Dawson is back in the squad but I would prefer Naybet to partner King. His experience and organisational skills will be invaluable and, in my opinion, puts him ahead of Dawson for this game.

The midfield is a mystery. Lennon may play wide right or he may not. Mendes was class on Monday so I hope he remains in the middle with Davids alongside him – He is wasted on the left. If so then Reid will play wide left and it may have to be Lennon on the right but more probably Jenes there who is useless in that position. However it could be the same midfield as started against Fulham. But then again Michael Brown may play somewhere. Maybe Jol pulls names out of a hat?

Defoe will remain up front alongside Mido with Keane on the bench.

Recent records at The Valley indicate that we are on a good run there although we lost the last match to two very good goals. A win tomorrow by two clear goals will see us go second. Another game we need to get something from.


Visit All Quiet in the East Stand (appropriate name for Charlton's lame support) for their opinion of the game.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Happy Birthday Us!

Happy Birthday to you,
Happy Birthday to you,
Happy Birthday dear The Shelf,
Happy birthday to you!

Yes, we are one year old today and have recieved over 300,000 individual hits in that time. Thanks everyone for visiting and posting your comments week in, week out.

When The Shelf started we were about to play Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. That day we gained a credible 0-0 draw under Santini and his defensive master plan. Little did we know that within weeks the bog eyed French man would be crying into his crossiant on the way back to France, Martin Jol would be the the boss and Frank Arnesen would have stabbed us all in the back and joined Chelsea!

As usual, it's never dull at Spurs even if the football is crap!

So a lot has changed and probably for the better. Jol is better than Santini and we got to him in a round about way. Nevertheless he is our man now and the squad has contineud to grow in size. Quality players have been purchased with quality young players ready to improve and challenge. There is no doubt that we are looking at a better, smarter Tottenham Hotspur Football Club than this time last year. I hope, when The Shelf is two, I can say we have continued our improvement and are playing European football.


Spurs go fourth.

Spurs shifted up the table to fourth spot after a fairly drab 1-0 victory over Fulham. Jermaine Defoe scored the only goal of the game after seven minutes. A long punt up field by Ledley King saw the ball sail over the Fulham back four for Defoe to run on to and slot it past Warner. He looked delighted and relieved and maybe does care after all. In fact maybe he had read The Shelf and thought he better pull his socks up. Well, you never know.

However the performance was drab and neither side looked like they would score again bar a Mido effort which was well saved. Fulham had pleanty of possession but the final ball was poor while we sat back and allowed them to come at us. A better team would have beaten us yesterday.

Pedro Mendes was recalled and showed what a good player he is but knows he will be dropped for Jol favourite Carrick when he returns. Jenes was next to him and makes me look like a good player. In other words he was more useless than a chocolate oven. Mis-controlled balls and poor passing was the name of the game last night. How long before he starts to justify his price tag? It was also obvious to see why midfiled players don't score at Tottenham Hotspur. An attack by Andy Reid saw him reach a good crossing position. It wasn't a lightening, breakway counter attack - the build up was quite slow. Who was in the box for the cross? Mido and, er, thats it. How many midfiled players (i.e. Jenes, attacking midfielder) were running into the box? Er, none. How many midfiled players were watching thinking I can't be arsed to run into the box - Er, Jermaine Jenes. SORT IT OUT!

Davids is wasted on the left as well but Lennon looked very good again.

Good result, but if we keep pumping out these types of performances then we won't be anywhere near Europe at the end of the season.

It's about time we turned up.


Sunday, September 25, 2005

Spurs Vs. Fulham

The weekend’s results are in and Martin Jol’s team talk should be straight forward tomorrow night. Make up for the performance against Grimsby with a win and Spurs go fourth. Lose and they sit in 9th and begin to loose touch with the teams ahead, where Spurs should be.

There can be no more excuses from the Spurs players. Grimsby has to be a wake up call. Daniel Levy has put the money forward and Jol has bough who he wants. The squad is the strongest for years in terms of personnel and quality with cover in every position, something we lacked in previous campaigns. We have a manger that is backed by the crowd and the board so everything should be in place. The only ingredient missing was the players who failed to turn up against Grimsby, bar maybe Aaron Lennon. That is now totally unacceptable. They all talk of making Europe and how the club has to do this and that and if not then the greedy mercenaries will fuck off Judas style. Well the fans have done their bit, the club has and now the players have to. If we don’t make it this year then they only have themselves to blame.

In fact I’m really annoyed when I read messages on From the Lane and Glory Glory with comments like Defoe has demanded we win something or else he’s off. This of course could be complete crap but if it is true then you have to wonder. Maybe if Defoe scored penalties and hit the back of the net instead of the bar he wouldn’t have to mouth off with stupid comments.

Rant over.

We have a few injuries to contend with for the meeting of Foolham. Robinson will start in goal with King and Naybet in the middle. Kelly should be on the right but don’t be surprised if the hopeless Stalteri starts. Lee will be on the left. Carrick is injured so Jenas will be in the middle alongside Davids if fit or Michael Brown if not. Tainio is a doubt so Lennon could start wide right (he deserves to) with Reid Left. Mido will be recalled alongside Defoe I suppose but I would prefer Keane. He wants it more in my opinion.

Victory means fourth spot, three points behind Charlton of all people. If that does not spur the lads on after Tuesday night then I don’t know what will.


Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Carrick sidelined

Michael Carrick will be out for around 2 weeks with an ankle injury meaning he will definetly miss the Fulham game on Monday night and maybe the Charlton game the following Saturday.

Michael Jol says it is a blow and I agree because Carrick has been in good form this season. However, with Davids lilkely to return it should mean that Jenas is able to play in his prefered position with Lennon on the right providing some decent width and pace for Mido and partner, whoever he maybe, to feed on.


Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Spurs Crash


The overall performance was lousy - Stalteri looked worse than he did on Saturday against Villa, something I didn't think was possible. Jenas was played out of position and it showed. As soon as Lennon came on he moved central and looked much better. In other words play him in position or don't play him at all, £7 million or not.

Defoe and Keane recieved NO service at all and it is no wonder the Grimsby keeper had to save virtually nothing all game. Out of the two Keane shaved it only because he was more involved dropping deep. Brown didn't do much, nor did Carrick who is now injured, hopefully not for too long. Reid, time to go back to 1st division mate as your not up to the job.

No offence to Grimsby but Spurs should have turned them over on paper but the performance didn't show it. Lennon, King and Naybet are the only players to come out of the game with any credit.

Good luck grimsby, you more than deserved it.

COYS! I suppose.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Will Spurs Batter the Mariners?

Spurs have a difficult Live Sky game tomorrow night against highflying Grimsby Town. If ever there was a banana skin for Spurs to slip up on then this is it.

I expect a changed line up against Grimsby, as Jol will look to use the large squad at his disposal. Cerny could well start in goal resting Robinson for more important league games. I expect Kelly to slot into right back because Stalteri was so bad against Villa. King should continue his comeback and either Naybet or Huddlestone will be alongside. Lee will continue down the left as he is our only left back. I don’t see Davids being rushed back for this one either so expect a recall for Mendes or Brown or maybe even Sean Davis, putting him in the shop window. I would think Jeans would play in the middle again as he needs games with his team mates. Aaron Lennon will probably go wide right with Reid wide left. Defoe and Keane will be up front battling it out for the starting position with Mido against Fulham on Monday.

As long as Spurs go out with a good attitude then we should batter the Grimsby team tomorrow but any complacency could see Jol under “pressure” for the first time.


Sunday, September 18, 2005

Spurs snatch a point

Away form. Good or bad? What do you think? After three games away from home I was feeling a little fed up. But then we are unbeaten and the more I look at it the better it is. Against Portsmouth, Blackburn and Villa last season we took three points. This season we have taken five, a good improvement but there is still a nagging feeling. The Blackburn game was a balls up with selection that probably cost us three points instead of one and Jol would have hopefully learnt his lesson. Yesterday I was hoping for a win but judging by our performance I think one point was fair.

Spurs started poorly and gave an early goal away. Jermaine Jenas (Not Stalteri take note poor journalists of the News of The Screws and The Mail) played a lazy ball that was never going to reach King. Baros took full advantage putting the pressure on before laying the ball right across the pitch to Milner who drilled home. Villa then piled on more pressure and was unlucky not to score two or three more with Robinson making some good saves. We had a couple of chances as well with Tainio blasting over the bar when he should have scored and then Defoe missed a penalty. On another day Defoe would have scored the penalty and I think that Spurs would then have gone on to win comfortably, Robbie Keane goal or not. However it wasn’t to be and at half time we trailed 1-0.

In the second half Spurs improved. Jenas became more involved and made some good runs into the box but his first touch was still rubbish with my school team of under 11s being able to control a ball better than him. Rasiak still looks honest i.e. shit and the return of Mido cannot come too soon. To be fair to the Polish International he did win more balls when Robbie Keane came on as he played slightly deeper for the knock-ons. However more often than not he did not win the ball and then chased his opponent with even less haste than Freddie Kanoute. Oh dear. Defoe then hit the bar after Ridgewell had done the same 60 seconds earlier before Keane was able to hit a great volley to force an excellent save and then a superb piece of skill saw him fire in the equaliser.

Looking at the overall performance we can hopefully see Stalteri gain a seat on the bench as his was rubbish and if Gardner is out for a while I would like to Naybet recalled. Although he lacks pace he is still the best central defender we have bar King. Rasiak is cup tied on Tuesday (shame) so Defoe and Keane will probably start together. Whoever puts in the best performance should start against Fulham assuming we still have to put up with Rasiak – Mido may receive an extra game ban on Tuesday for failing to leave the pitch quickly and rule him out. Otherwise it may be time to play Defoe and Keane together again against Fulham and see how it goes.


Friday, September 16, 2005

Villa Vs. Spurs

Spurs take on Villa on Saturday evening in what is a must win game. Sounds ridiculous I know but if we are to make top six or even push for fourth spot then our away form must improve. Jol screwed up against Blackburn by playing a weakened side hoping to take something of Chelsea but the plan backfired leaving us with 1 point from 2 games instead of three. Our poor away for cost us in the end last season and cannot be allowed to do the same again so I expect a full strength side to line up at 5:15pm tomorrow.

Robinson will start in gaol. In front of him will be Stalteri and Lee at the full back positions with King and Gardner in the centre. Dawson is injured with a hamstring. Routledge may return on the right but if not then Lennon could continue. Michael Carrick will be in the centre alongside Jenas. Davids has a groin strain so may not be over on the left meaning Andy Reid will slot back in. To be honest I would like Davids to play alongside Carrick with Jenas on the bench as it gives us more width.

In the striker positions will be Defoe and probably Rasiak alongside him with Keane on the bench. Hopefully a week training together will give Rasiak and Defoe a better understanding of what needs to be done and an improved first touch by the Polish international would help as well.

Villa were thumped on Monday by an average West Ham side. In fact Villa were so appalling that they made West Ham look like they may even stay up so they will be looking to bounce back. We have to make sure we don’t let them.


Sunday, September 11, 2005

Spurs draw.

Spurs gained another point and another clean sheet against an improving Liverpool side and it probably was the right result. We shaded the first half and Liverpool the second.

Our three new signings made their debut meaning Andy Reid sat out on the bench alongside Irish international Robbie Keane. Paul Robinson lined up in goal once again with Gardner and King paired together for the first time this season. Stalteri had another good performance on the right while Lee made his debut on the left. He looks like a very good buy on first impressions.

In the middle of the park was Carrick, as always, alongside new boy Jermaine Jenas. Aaron Lennon made his full debut on the right with Davids on the left. This left us quite narrow and was a strange one as Jol has been talking for a long while about having two wide men to stretch teams and then he goes for a narrow system. Of course Andy Reid may have been tired or with a slight injury and could be the reason for this. Jenas looked good, especially with his strong runs into the box. A couple of times he nicked the ball off Defoe but the understanding will improve over time. What was a little disappointing was Jenas’s first touch. Davids looked ok on the left and combined well with Lee. If this midfield four is to be a permanent fixture then we will have to see Lee get forward a lot and Davids to tuck in and cover when he does.

Rasiak started alongside Defoe, a slightly surprising decision as he had just played for Poland but he did ok. As Jol said, he is an “honest” player. Make of that statement what you will. He is no Freddie Kanoute talent wise, but he will work hard for the team I suspect. He looked a little off the pace yesterday and does need to become more involved in the future. Nevertheless he “scored” with a fantastic header and is there for the crosses and knockdowns and has the ability to do that well. The jury is still out overall and I will give him a little longer before passing final judgement.

The match was an exciting one. Spurs shaded the first half with Defoe, King, Jenas and Davids all going close. Rasiak hit the bar with a looping header as well. Liverpool then improved after the break and hit the bar with a fantastic effort. Peter Crouch also had a goal disallowed for the same reason as Rasiak but even if the ball had stayed in Crouch, the tallest man in the world, decided he needed to clamber all over Gardner and foul him anyway.

So a good point gained overall but the real test comes next week at Villa. Our away form fell to pieces last season and if we do want a top six finish we need to beat crap like them on the road.


Thursday, September 08, 2005

Spurs vs. Liverpool

The Premiership is back after the farce of internationals stuck in just as we all get back into Spurs and their steady improvement.

Back at the Lane this Saturday Spurs take on the Champions of Europe, Liverpool. This statement is farcical really as though they did well in the final the question has to be asked why were they in the “Champions” League in the first place when they finished fourth? Nevertheless they will provide a tough test as they are a good unit with Gerrard pulling all the strings. With any luck he will play as well as he did for England on Wednesday.

What the Spurs line up is anyone’s guess yet again as we continue to buy anyone and everyone who is English, especially if they can play in midfield. What is obvious is that Paul Robinson will start in goal. Ledley King is likely to return as Captain alongside Dawson. Stalteri will be on the right and Lee will make his debut on the left. Mido is suspended for at least three games so Defoe will start up front with one other. It could be Keane as Rasiak has only just arrived and won’t know his teammates. Keane is also a much better player but we then have the dilemma of pumping balls forward to short strikers.

The midfield will be a complete mystery except that Carrick will be in there somewhere. Davids will probably be next to him with Reid on the left and either Lennon or Tainio on the right leaving £8 million signing Jermaine Jenas on the bench. Based on recent performances by the Spurs midfield I am really struggling to see where JJ will currently fit it but Jol’s the boss not me so we shall wait and see.


Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Spurs appoint Comolli

Spurs have appointed Damien Comolli as the new Sporting Director to replace Frank Arnesen. Comolli is only 33 but has had a succssful season with St Etienne. He was Arsen*l's top European Scout for severn years signing Kolo Toure, Gael Clichy, Jeremie Aliadiere, Sebastien Svaard, Moritz Volz, Arturo Lupoli and Guy Demel. The most succssful of these has to be Toure and Clichy seems ok. He also apparently helped sign Robert Pires, Thierry Henry, Pascal Cygan, Robin Van Persie, Emmanuel Eboue.

The most important thing is that Jol seems pleased. Hopefully he was consulted before this guy was brought in but we won't really know for a while. Lets hope so.

Damien, who starts his jon on the 12th September said:

Speaking as the new Sporting Director, Damien Comolli said, “I am delighted to be joining Tottenham Hotspur. The Club has an ambitious board and a first class coaching team headed by Martin, with whom I shall be collaborating closely. The challenge for me is to assist the Club to play football at the highest level and to continuously seek to improve everything we do. I feel there is much that can be achieved and I am excited to be here.”

Jol said:

“Damien has excellent scouting networks, not only in Europe, but around the world. There are so many aspects at a football club which support the playing side and it is important to have someone to focus on these at the Club. He is highly rated in his field and I am delighted that he has chosen to come to us. I am looking forward to working with him and have told him that it is a great time to be joining this Club.”

Lets hope Damien does not storm out in three months time after realising that Tottenham High Road does not have a view of the beach.


Thursday, September 01, 2005

Transfer Window - An analysis

Those of you who wanted an exciting close to the transfer window were not disappointed yesterday even though the late striker arrival was not quite what we expected.

The window has been a busy one for Spurs once again. People forget when over one summer with Christian Gross in charge all we had to show was a left back called Tramazzani so the comings and goings during this window and the last two have shown the intent by the board and the manager that they really do mean business.

The transfer dealings actually started in January when we announced that Tainio was to arrive on a free transfer. I hadn’t heard of him myself but his displays in pre-season and in the opening matches show we have a player who is quick, can pass well and, most importantly, is better than what we already have. Our second Bosman transfer was Stalteri, a Canadian international with Champions League experience. He has already shown that he is not afraid of a tackle and can get forward. Whether he will be better in the long run that Stephen Kelly is not yet clear although he has added strength and depth. Tom Huddlestone arrived from Derby and is one very much for the future as is Aaron Lennon, a very quick, talented youngster who adds a lot of pace to the wings. Routledge joined as well who adds pace to the wing. He is better than Simon Davies but needs to improve his final ball.

The final day then became interesting. Kanoute had left a week before so we were all hoping for a striker. First to be signed was Jermaine Jenas from Newcastle. A full England international who is an attacking midfielder he does provide something that maybe our midfield lacked and that is hopefully goals. Lee followed him and is a highly rated left back. Clearly better than Edman he will slot into the team nicely. Speaking of Erik, he left for Rennes in a surprising move as it does leave us a little short in the left back position. Finally Grzegorz Rasiakn was signed in the very final minutes of the window. It was quite a surprise and I have to admit that I know very little about him. Looking at the stats he has shown he can score goals in the Championship and has international experience but he wasn’t the massive name we were all hoping for. However I think the move makes sense. Kanoute was let go for a number of reasons. His attitude about Mali and pre-season tours was the thing that ultimately finished him at Spurs but his ability to not show up in more matches than he did was another contributing factor. The chance to make a profit on a player who offered so much but in reality delivered much less was a chance we could not refuse. Jol and Co then looked at options. Kuyt would have been amazing but with Feyanoord asking silly money and Kuyt deciding to show some loyalty to his club it meant that that signing was not going to happen in this window. This left Spurs with a few options. Blow a lot of money on someone they didn’t really want or go for a back up option. They clearly assessed what we had. Two world-class strikers in Defoe and Keane and Mido, a big guy that either of the other two could play off. First choice is going to Mido and Defoe so we had to get a tall man in to provide cover. Spurs made their move for Grzegorz Rasiak to provide that cover for Mido. Rasiak will be happy to warm the bench while providing something different to Defoe and Keane. He will be fourth choice striker and will be happy to fill that role. This buy allows us to keep a large wedge set aside for further strengthening in January when we can hopefully get who we actually want without being held to ransom.

So this leave Spurs with cover once again in the forward positions with a much stronger squad overall. Kuyt would have been a great signing and would have meant that Levy and Co deserved an A+ for their dealings. It wasn’t to be but the window has still been a success and I think the sensible option of providing cover at a low cost while we wait for who we really want means that Levy and Jol still deserve a B+ score for their dealings.


Striker joins and other news.

Ten minutes ago the headline for this article was: "Window slams shut with no new striker" The official site has just upstaged me and have announced that we have signed Grzegorz Rasiak from Derby County. Clearly he isthe new fourth choice striker. He will add height to our attacking options and cover for Mido when suspended / injured.

From the official site:

A powerful 6ft 3" frontman, Rasiak has already scored five goals this season with three coming at international level where he has been capped 20 times.

"Rasiak is a tall target man, a hard working, honest player with a good goal scoring record,” commented Head Coach, Martin Jol. “He scored 45 goals in 103 games. He is a regular in the Polish international side which leads qualifying Group 6 just above England and he scored two against Israel in their recent 3-2 victory."

"A lot is said about making the step up from the Championship to the Premiership, but Ashton and Bent have shown that for good players it is not such a big step. I believe he will do well for us and that he will be an asset to the squad."

The Poland international joins Teemu Tainio, Paul Stalteri, Tom Huddlestone, Wayne Routledge, Aaron Lennon, Edgar Davids, Jermaine Jenas and Lee Young-Pyo in joining the Club since the end of last season, considerably strengthening Martin’s squad options.


Below is the original article before Spurs sneaked in this last signing:

The transfer window is closed. Spurs have been one of the busiest clubs in Europe today and overall across the whole window. The likes of Routledge, Davids, Tainio, Stalteri, Lennon and Huddlestone have joined with Lee and Jenas signing on the dotted line today. Edman has left us along with Davies and of course Kanoute.

There is no doubt in my mind that the squad today is better than back in May 2005. We have serious strength and depth throughout the team especially in the midfield positions. Money has been spent and I honsestly believe that this is the best Tottenham team since we won the FA CUP in 1991. In fact, in many respects it is better than that team.

People are going to point to the fact that we missed out on replacing Kanoute. True, when kanoute left it was hoped that we would replace him. We probably did go for various people but couldn't get them this time around. Kuyt would have joined but he decided he owed Feyenoord one more season and that is why it didn't happen. If you watched the messgae boards today people were getting more and more desparate linking us with all sorts of different names. However, thanfully, the club did not get desparate. How many times have we seen millions of pounds wasted because the club panicked - Rebrov £11 million for example. We did not rush out and just buy anyone - we don't operate like that anymore.

We will miss Mido's height for his suspended games but we have Defoe and Keane to come in. People will say they can't play together and last season I would have agreed. But how many chanches did they get in a proper game for them to actually get a chance to work together - not many. What we will have to do is play to their strengths and that is along the floor. While they play there has to be no more hoof from the centre backs as it will get us nowhere. We now have the players with the ability to play they way Keane and Defoe need it playing for them to be succssful together. I mean there would be pleanty of clubs ready to bite our hands off to be able to announce their front two strikers on a Saturday as Jermaine Defoe and Robbie Keane, two World Class internationals.

The other option tonight would have been to panic- blow a wedge load of cash on an average player that would not improve us. We now have the money in the bank ready for January to get what we really want. (update: at least the Pole will be cheap!)

Keep the faith lads, Jol knows what he is doing.