30 Years a Lilywhite – Dan Raywood guest blog

So another season is over, and it is one that is magnificent for Spurs for a number of reasons. Firstly, we finished second for the first time since the 1960s, and of course we ended the curse of St Totteringham’s Day that has long lingered over N17. That postcode is also significant, as Spurs will not call White Hart Lane home for a year, as the new stadium takes shape and Spurs relocate to Wembley Stadium for next season.

The last game and following pitch invasion and ceremony were all lavishly done. A final victory at the stadium over a half hearted Manchester United – who probably have most eyes on the Europa League final – was followed by a parade of legends in the rain, and choir and opera singers of some terrace chants. Amusing of course was the pitch invasion, with one claim from The Spurs Show podcast that to clear it, all they needed to do was give the microphone to Pat Jennings!

I’m writing this an hour ahead of the final games of the season, where Spurs finish off against a relegated Hull City. The season has been a good one from my point of view – Spurs were generally excellent despite struggles in the Champions League and FA Cup when we hit Wembley. The winners Chelsea are led by a terrific coach in Conte, while the on-off form of West Brom, Southampton and Bournemouth has showed that this remains the best league in the world.
On the downside, Arsenal and Manchester United look to be in disarray. United will buy their way out of trouble, but Arsenal face a divided fan base over the future of manager Arsene Wenger. See my previous post for my view on that situation.
The main down point of the Premier League season has been it’s end. A strong title race between Spurs, Chelsea and Manchester City was over after one defeat by West Ham over Spurs, while the relegation places were confirmed over a disastrous Sunderland, too defensive Middlesbrough and resurgent Hull City. All three will struggle to hold on to the few big names they have and I don’t know how fast they will return with Newcastle United and Brighton and Hove Albion claiming the promotion places.

The last things to confirm are the final fourth place in the league to play in the Champions League next season – that is in Liverpool’s hands. Also I’ll be hoping Everton don’t score so Harry Kane can claim the golden boot, one trophy for Spurs to boast about this season!

Love the One You’re With – Dan Raywood blog


Champions League – Last 16

The Champions League draw took place this morning and England’s three remaining representatives were hoping for a easier start to a possible run to the final. For Arsenal and Man City it was familiar ground but for Premier League champions Leicester, this was still new ground. In fact for the Foxes, they were the only debutants in the knock out stages in this rounds competition.

Having snatched the group on the final round of group games, Arsenal found them meeting their Champions League nemesis, Bayern Munich. Having lost to them at the same stage in 2013 and 2014, Arsene Wenger will hope it’s third time lucky for the Gunners. Bayern, who finished second in their group will look to progress to the final having lost to runners up Atletico Madrid.

Leicester City find themselves in at the deep end as they face Spanish club Sevilla, who won last seasons Europa League final against Liverpool. The Spaniards came second to Juventus in their group and in their domestic league are flying in third place. The fortunate thing for Leicester is that they will be at home in the second leg and if they are yet again flying in Champions League form and still within a shout, it could make all the difference.

Man City will hope to make it to the Semi finals again and will see their chance of progression the easiest out of the three home clubs Whilst they face French club Monaco beat Tottenham twice, they wont be easy. City will hope that their form has turned round by the time the two clubs meet.

In the other last sixteen fixtures Real Madrid look favourites against Napoli, despite the defending champions finishing second in their group albeit behind Borussia Dortmund. Benfica face a tricky tie when they face Borussia Dortmund. The Portuguese club will need to be tight at the back against the strong German club. PSG’s failure to top the group with a final round draw sees them face Barcelona. The French club will host Barcelona in the first leg and travel to Spain for the second. It should prove to be a mouthwatering tie with both teams looking to reach the final.

The changing face of the boss – Dan Raywood’s thoughts

The continuing fiasco at Nottingham Forest has convinced me of one thing – don’t employ a club legend as your manager.
As a Spurs fan, I can speak from experience with memories of Ardiles and Hoddle having been manager. The former struggled with the initial power sharing between Alan Sugar and Terry Venables, as well as a fantastic attacking line combined with a poor defence, while Hoddle lost Sol Campbell within months of starting and struggled with a poor crop of players, failure to match Arsenal’s achievements and Levy’s expectations.
Of course the fans would never turn on a club legend and there are instances where this scenario has worked out – Keegan’s first spell at Newcastle, George Graham at Arsenal and Howard Kendall at Everton. In the case of the tricky trees (yes, that is a nickname), Stuart Pearce seemed to start well, but things have taken a turn for the worse and psycho has left the City Ground.
Did the fans still sing his name despite the downturn? I expect so. However the situation changed so fast at Forest that Pearce was out and replaced by Dougie Freedman within a matter of hours, something that stung of a planned removal and the departure of the Chief Executive within the following 24 hours suggests that while the fans of Forest support Pearce, the board made moves ahead of time.
This may be an example of how the modern manager is expected to perform – with immediate impact and effort. The argument could be that the modern manager is replicated of the European and American model, where the club gets the players and the manager/coach is expected to work with what they are given.
Take Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger’s recent comments in his column in the Arsenal programme ahead of the game against Aston Villa. He talked of signings of how if a player is bought by the manager they are bought by someone who selected them, and “that gives you a certain level of confidence that you’re really wanted and that you have a chance to play.” Wise words from the Professor, but he is speaking the truth about one method of management, while a more modern one is the “top down approach” where a coach is just that, a coach.
Was this the case at Nottingham Forest, where another manager has fallen on his sword because of the actions of the owners? Take last night’s deadline day activity where West Ham United chairman David Gold advised people not to go to bed in a kind of reverse Freddie Kreuger action. Why was the chairman advising instead of the manager? Is the chairman picking the team over “Big” Sam Allardyce?
The role of the football manager is changing and the situation is dividing the new and old schools of ways of doing things. Sadly some eggs are being broken as a result.