I used to hate Spurs until I joined Twitter. The reason that all changed was because of the amount of brilliant Spurs fans that are on there. The choice available means I’ve had to do this week’s Inside the Opposition in three parts. Part 2 is with Jack McInroy, the man behind You’ll Win Nothing With Yids, a Tottenham blog that’s not updated too often these days but is still brilliant when it is. He provides wit and insight like few others. He also runs a weekly podcast (SLHC) which looks at South London’s art, history and culture; it’s well worth checking out. Here we talk AVB and Mancini, and also look at the demise of Kyle Walker, the man once touted as the reason Micah Richards wasn’t getting a look in for England.
The appointment of AVB was met with skepticism by some, including many Tottenham fans, yet he seems to be doing an excellent job. What are your feelings towards the manager?
Very positive. He did so well at Porto and then so badly at Chelsea (with some caveats), so there was an element of risk in the appointment.
Initially he made some questionable decisions – selling Rafael van der Vaart, trying to sell Michael Dawson, making William Gallas captain, picking Jake Livermore, staggering Hugo Lloris’s introduction to the team – but he’s got the results and has generally realised and rectified those errors.
Challenging for third place as late as April is as good as we could have expected from this squad. I’m excited about what he’ll be able to do when he’s made a couple of signings and has a full season at White Hart Lane under his belt.
Where do Spurs need to strengthen if they are to really start challenging the Manchester clubs?
That’s not going to happen in the near future. We currently have about 7 players of top 4 standard and you need at least 13 or 14 if you want to challenge for the title.
How concerned are you that Gareth Bale will leave this summer?
Very, but I don’t begrudge him. Tottenham can’t offer him a shot at the big trophies or huge wages, so there’s little to keep him at Spurs.
How important is it to secure Champions League football this season? And do you think you’ll achieve that?
It would be great for the club’s progress, but it’s not vital to our future or anything like that. I think Bale will leave whether we achieve it or not, because merely playing in the competition is not enough, he ought to be competing for it. We don’t really have any players on the verge of leaving if we don’t qualify. Our best players – Dembele, Vertonghen, Lloris, Sandro – have not been at the club long enough to warrant a transfer if we don’t make it. The finances are fine.
The concern for me is that the iron has been hot for two years and Tottenham haven’t struck. Chelsea are a shambles of a football club, but once they get the right manager back in they’ll be up there with the other two super-rich clubs. Arsenal are currently at the lowest point for almost two decades, but who knows how long that’ll last?
What do you miss about Harry Redknapp?
His warmth, dignity and tactical prowess.
Not really of course.
I think he was a bit harshly sacked, but there’s no doubt in any right-thinking person’s mind that Andre Villas-Boas is an improvement.
Kyle Walker was a name thrown at me many times by people trying justify Micah Richards’ strange omission from the England set up last season. He seems to have faded badly. What’s your take on that?
He’s been our worst regular this season, without doubt. Defensively naive and careless, a shadow of the player he was last year.
Adebayor was terrible for us, and we’re very grateful you took him off our hands and offered us a small fee for the privilege. Have you worked out he’s not very good yet?
Last season, particularly the first two thirds, he was excellent. He scored and created goals, held the ball up well and wore defences down. At times in his career he has played like Didier Drogba, but unfortunately he has fulfilled the Adebayor myth and since signing permanently hasn’t been any better than Peter Crouch was. I’m cautious about attacking him though, because swathes of our fanbase give him grief every time he touches the ball and didn’t recognise his positive contributions even when he was playing well.
Sandro is a player I would love to see at City; he’s outstanding. I’d say that his injury represents the single biggest blow any PL side has had to deal with this season. How good is he and how much have Spurs missed him?
Sandro is arguably the best player at the club, but initially I thought his injury wouldn’t be a huge problem. Scott Parker came back from injury at the same time, but he has been a collection of all his worst elements rather than the engine that powered us to our best ever Premier League start last season.
You’ve been very vocal in your criticisms of Mancini. Do you still think City should get rid in order to progress? And if so, who should replace him?
I do. The richest club in the world can do better than an FA Cup and second place. His record in the Champions League, at City and previously, is unacceptable.
Manchester City win. People will call it a collapse, but we’ve been playing at the same standard all season, but our squad might not be quite good enough to take us over the line. Still, it’s not over. Arsenal and Chelsea are catchable and AVB has ensured that this is a Spurs team that do their damnedest to grind out results.
Interview by Rob Pollard