The second installment of our three part series – Inside the Opposition: Spurs – sees us talk to Tottenham fan Jack Howes; a prolific writer who contributes to various football publications, including Soccer Lens, By Far The Greatest Team and The Daisy Cutter. Jack’s writing caught my eye a while ago, and he is fast becoming one of my favourite football tweeters. Here, we talk AVB, Vertonghen and Gareth Bale.
I really like the look of Jan Vertonghen but who’s been your best summer acquisition?
Has to be Mousa Dembele. While Vertonghen has been excellent, as good a defender on the ball as I’ve seen anywhere outside of Barcelona while being very good when actually defending, Dembele has been terrific. He and Sandro were forming a great partnership before he busted his hip playing for Belgium. We’ve missed him badly, he really is the De Niro to the team’s Scorsese. And he’s only started four games for us.
But like Spooky said, our best signing never arrived. Joao Moutinho was the pretty girl we’d fancied for years then plucked up the courage to ask out, only for the drawback of a devoted, money driven boyfriend to get in the way.
Is Gareth Bale one of the best players in Europe?
No. I’d say he’s as naturally talented as the best players in Europe but frankly I don’t think he’s fully delivered on that promise. As good as he is, I still think he relies on his pace too much to go past defenders, doesn’t score as many goals as he should and this season hasn’t adjusted to Villas-Boas’s new system as quickly as Aaron Lennon has on the other flank. Bale’s very good, but to say he’s one of the best in Europe is overstating it.
The other night I had a dream where I sidled up to Gareth, said to him ‘Gareth, you’re a good lad, quit with the celebration bollocks’ and he stopped doing it. The best dream I’ve ever had.
Redknapp or Villas-Boas?
Villas-Boas. You’re talking about looks right? Because while Harry looked faintly like a toad Villas-Boas looks like the sort of chap who gets off with a fetching lingerie model in those glossy, costly, shallow, vanity project perfume adverts that occasionally pop up when I’m trying to watch the “Royale with Cheese” clip from Pulp Fiction on YouTube for the eleven hundredth time.
On the football, Villas-Boas has got the players on side and has appeared to be much more personable and cheerful than last season with Chelsea, as if he’s read about Primal Scream taking a load of E’s, making Screamadelica and deciding to take the druggy, happy vibe into his coaching style.
Performances haven’t been great but Spurs have 17 points from 10 games, leaving fans unsure of whether we’ve ridden our luck and are soon to be found out or whether we’re a potentially great side and are grinding out victories when not playing well ‘like good teams do’.
Personally I’m a fan of Ay-Vee-Bee. With our best players leaving and the current spate of injuries, the start Spurs have made has been excellent.
Redknapp, he’ll always be remembered fondly for delivering Champions League to Spurs. Two of the best nights of my life were the wins over Inter and AC Milan. And we played terrific football at times. We even dreamed of a league title last season for about five minutes.
But by the end the players had seemingly fallen out of love with him, the England job and the court case seemed to knock the stuffing out of him and we were terrible at times at the end of the season. The FA Cup semi-final was so bad I almost cried.
Villas-Boas for me. He’s sexier.
Do you think you are any closer to catching Arsenal?
Yes, but frankly only because Arsenal look like they’ve regressed since last season and currently have all the resilience of the television which had its screen smashed after my nephew threw a toy helicopter at it.
I don’t think Spurs are as good as last season. Luka Modric has been out best player by a mile the last two seasons and is sorely missed. Rafael Van der Vaart has also been missed, he was the brainiest footballer I’ve seen at the Lane since Sheringham. Even with Vertonghen and Dembele being good signings we’re probably inferior to last year.
But Arsenal also look worse. They have a builder from Chingford who’s given himself a fancy Brazilian name, haircut and accent to become “Andre Santos” playing at left back, French Bobby Zamora Giroud up front and against Man United at the weekend showed pathetic resistance to a not very good United side.
We couldn’t have got much closer to catching Arsenal than we did last season. This season we could well do it, especially if we spend in January and build the team Villas-Boas truly wants. The Gooners are there for the taking.
What do you think your chances of getting into the Champions League places this season are?
Fairly good. Behind the front three Spurs, Arsenal and Newcastle look like they’re not as good as last year, Everton look like they’ll struggle to last the pace while Liverpool still look like a Chris Morris satire that went too far.
On that basis I think we could well finish 4th this season. We’ve shown plenty of potential under Villas-Boas, particularly the first half away to United at Old Trafford. With players returning from injury and hopefully a new arrival or two in the summer we’ll hopefully be able to realise that potential and become the mini-2011 Porto that Villas-Boas wants us to be. If we do that we’ll make the top four.
I asked Spooky which City player he’d sign and he was gutted he couldn’t have three. So I’m going to be nice and give you that opportunity. Who would they be?
Yaya Toure first. Outside of Messi and Ronaldo he’s the player I’d most want to build a team around. He can play in any central position on the pitch and be excellent at it. He’s so versatile and consistent I’d love to have him at my club.
After Yaya, I’d like Aguero to both score the goals and bring his father-in-law Maradona back to his true home at White Hart Lane (on the back of his one appearances for Spurs in Ossie Ardiles’ testimonial) and Balotelli as well so Super Scottie Parker can get all Victorian England on his ass and rebuke him sternly for stamping on his head in this fixture last season.
It seems that City’s wealth has caused a lot of jealousy and hatred towards us. Where do you stand on that?
There is jealously and hatred, but not a whole lot of it. Chelsea still bear the brunt of that, firstly because they were the first side to have an oligarch come in and just blow everyone else away in terms of spending in a way not even Jack Walker before him came anywhere near to doing. Secondly Chelsea had a number of personalities at the club about as likeable as a Republican US Presidential candidate; Jose Mourinho; John Terry; Frank Lampard; Didier Drogba before he became a sentimental favourite.
Not to mention how they were ruthlessly good. Unlike City who play attacking football and usually give teams a chance of beating them, Chelsea would score a goal and the opposition would know the game was over.
City are a figure of jealously because they did win the lottery and without Sheikh Mansour and Shinawatra would be no nearer to winning the league than Audley Harrison is to becoming the best boxer of all time. But perhaps because we’re used now to people coming into football and burning vast amounts of money, they’re not as hated as they would have been a few years ago.
Plus they denied United the title in the last-minute of the season in May. No one likes United. Not even many United fans themselves with the Glazers running the club into the ground.
3-2 City. Spurs to take the lead, play with purpose but City to overwhelm us with attacking talent. We’ll save our best form for our trip to the South London team who play in red and white next week who aren’t called Charlton.