The second part of this week’s Inside the Opposition sees Jack Howes return to Typical City. Jack is a Spurs fan, a dear friend of mine and a wonderful writer on matters ranging from football to Asperger’s and depression.
I got the lowdown on Lloris and asked him whether he misses Harry Redknapp.
What’s your assessment of Spurs’ season so far?
Not great to be honest, though there at least signs that things will improve. After winning the first two games I was more enthusiastic than a nymphomaniac at an orgy. Beating QPR 4-0 was our most enjoyable game in years, seeing as we won convincingly, played well, looked like we’d adapted to Poch’s style of play and put one over Redknapp. Looking back, we only looked to have adapted so quickly because QPR were so sluggish.
We subsequently got hammered by Liverpool and since then, we’ve not played at the same tempo as previously and at times the football has been worryingly slow and static, a dark reminder of the Villas-Boas and Sherwood years. Still, our young players have done well and there have been enough signs of progress to remain relatively hopeful.
How’s Adebayor playing? We didn’t particularly like him.
So far in his Spurs career, Adebayor’s had a good year, a bad year, a good year and this season I’d say it’s been more than bad than good. He’s been fit and played every league game but he’s been a bit…lacklustre. Not been in the box much, rarely looked like scoring and not always looked 100% interested, though he has worked hard and come up with the occasionally delicious flick that reminds you just how talented he is. I like the guy personally, but I’m arriving at the point where I’d prefer Harry Kane to be starting ahead of Adebayor.
Lloris is a superb goalkeeper. Where do you think he ranks in terms of Europe’s best?
Lloris is the 3rd best keeper in Europe and the world. Only Neuer and Courtois are better than him. Hugo has been our best player by a distance this season, having to make three or four top saves a game because our defence is shaky and opponents are getting in behind us several times a match. His shot stopping is superb, as is his command of the box and his catching of crosses and long balls. It’s got to the point where I’m not particularly scared when opponents have free kicks any more, because I’m so confident Hugo will save it.
Sad to see Dawson leave?
A bit, but his time had come to be honest and probably should have come a season or two ago, only injuries kept him in the side for so long. He’s a great guy and possibly top of the list of Premiership players I’d like to have a drink with. He was also incredibly Northern, in word and deed and I find Southerners do love being able to apply vaguely patronising platitudes to Northerners they actually like. But as a footballer, he’s found his level at Hull. Lovely man, I wish him the best, but it was the right time to get rid.
Now that some time has passed, how do Spurs fans feel about Harry Redknapp’s time in charge?
Increasingly wistful and nostalgic. Mostly, because since Bale and Modric left, we’ve seen just how good they’ve become and it’s made me think how we probably underachieved under Harry. Two fourth places and a good Champions League run is all we got with two of the best players in Europe in the same side for effecively two and a half seasons. No trophies and only one Champions League berth.
Of course, the memories are fabulous. Beating Arsenal, Inter, Milan, you lot to make the Champions League was amazing. One thing I have promised myself is if Spurs get that good again, I will enjoy it a helluva lot more. I was too young I guess to realise how good we had it at the time.
Is Silva the best player in the Premier League? (Yes, I know that’s an incredibly leading question).
No. I’d take Aguero over him personally, I think he’s a bit more direct and gets more goals and assists. But it’s a bloody close call because Silva is a fabulous player. He may be the player I enjoy watching the most outside of current and ex-Spurs players. He’s probably the hardest player to tackle in the Premier League since Modric was around, and his skill, touch, passing, wonderful. It shows how good City are that you’ve got Aguero and Toure who are just as good as he is.
What are your thoughts on Pellegrini and the way he’s conducted himself since arriving in England?
He’s alright, though I’m not sure he’s a particularly nice fella. The stuff last season after the Barcelona game about Swedish referees was utter nonsense and to me at least indicated beneath the surface, he’s no more erudite or cultured than any other manager.
Still, I think he’s the right manager for Man City. He stays in the background and seems to be fairly hands off, which is fine when you have players of such high quality. On a wider note though, City are still yet to find their media narrative. For example, Chelsea since the first Mourinho have been villains, Man United had the on and off pitch power, Arsenal were the classier alternative. City? Still I think yet to carve their own niche and Pellegrini being in the press at least a fairly colourless, anodyne character probably contributes to that.
Combined City-Spurs XI?
Zabaleta, Kompany, Vertonghen, Clichy
Silva Aguero Nasri
3-1 City, City to score the first two, Spurs to nick one back then City to seal it on the counter
Interview by Rob Pollard