Are pre-season tours really a problem? Liverpool went to Australia last summer and it didn't prevent them from having a good season. Plus, thoughts on LvG and keepers...
We have a long mail about the travails of supporting Spurs, plus Friday thoughts on Marko Marin, marketing, victory v beauty, travelling and vanishing sprays...
If you have anything to say on any subject, mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Yeah, That'll Fix It
Man United currently need a central defender and Lescott is out of contract at the end of the season. It could potentially be a very shrewd move by Moyes to bulk up his squad. Lescott could certainly do a job for united in the league next season and help their way back into the champions.
Something to chew over.
Question For Spurs Fans
Quick question to all fellow Spurs fans, is there a manager in the Premier League you wouldn't swap for Tim Sherwood?
Welcome Back, Adebayor
Can I just be the first to welcome back the real Emmanuel Adebayor!
A bit of time has passed since he had a point to prove to AvB but now, knowing he's first choice, he's exhibiting the classic Adebayor effect - going straight from looking like one of the most lethal unpredictable finishers to resembling a newly born foal trying to find its feet.
It was a treat to see him show the kind of lack of composure, leaden first touch and awkward wastefulness we've all come to know and love over the years.
Welcome back Manu. Perfect timing too because that other fella was starting to look half-decent.
...Brian's letter on Sherwood struck a chord. Tim has indeed done well on the face of it, introducing a quality youth team product, stopping those lifeless capitulations to the top sides and most importantly jump starting Adebayor into one of his famous bursts of potency. Then you look closer. Bentaleb does look a talent but has he deserved to play every game ahead of seasoned internationals like Sandro, Paulinho and Capoue? Spurs' PPG has improved but with a far more favourable fixture list, and thrashings from City and Chelsea were as uninspiring as those suffered under AVB.
But it's the Adebayor point that is most salient. Sherwood's biggest and best move so far has been to reinstall him as the team's figurehead and he has repaid in earnest, scoring or assisting thirteen times in thirteen games. However it is obvious how much his team depends on him; under Sherwood Spurs have won every game in which Adebayor has scored or assisted but none in which he hasn't. Without his contribution 26 points from 13 games (CL chasing form) becomes 15 (bottom half form) - and while they wouldn't have played these games with 10 men had Adebayor not been available, they would have played them with Soldado instead. No comment.
Admittedly inspiring one player to be superhuman isn't any different from inspiring eleven to be OK if it gets the same number of points on the board. But Adebayor is the very definition of a 'point to prove' player and you could argue that, after his ostracism and subsequent heralding in absentia by a media desperate to scapegoat AVB, the fuel and spark for his revival were already in place and all that was needed was to put him in the team - hardly a revolutionary step given the misfiring of his replacement. It is possible that the only qualification required was to not be AVB, not exactly one unique to Sherwood.
Playing devil's advocate, if you take the credit for Adebayor away from Sherwood what exactly has he done for Spurs?
Jon Gibson LFC
Hazard The Best
So yet again Hazard misses out getting the player of the month...has he upset someone at the Premier League?
His performances at City, Fulham and at home to Newcastle were 3 of the best I have seen, not just this season but in the history of the Premier League.
On current form he is the league's best player and one of the top 3 or 4 in Europe. Anyone got any clues?
Serious question; has any team ever won the Premiership without having their manager winning a single manager of the month award and without having any player win the player of the month award?
P.S. Big Sam fully deserved his MOTM award this month. Can't argue with 4 out of 4.
Spurs fan here, fresh from the misery of going to last night's game. My general feeling is one of complete bafflement. Sherwood seems to have got to a point where he is deliberately putting stupid teams out for attention. When Soldado was on his dry spell, Sherwood stuck with him, saying that once he scores he'll probably hit some form. Then as soon as he does score, Sherwood drops him. It's pretty hard to hit form when you're watching Harry Kane from the bench. Kane is not and will never be good enough - he'll become a mid-table player at best. That much is clear. Why was he started in the home leg, when knocking a few goals in would have been handy?
Another source of bafflement is, once again, the left back position. Why was Benni not recalled in January? Rose is average at best, and Naughton doesn't have a clue what he's doing there. He doesn't even seem to have a working left foot, let alone any positional sense. Whatever budget we have in the summer has to be spent on defence - a top drawer left back, and a good right back to provide Walker with some competition. (I still have some perhaps misplaced optimism that Walker will become a great right back some day...)
Lastly - what on earth has happened to Aaron Lennon?? I remember a time when he would be one of the hardest working players on the pitch, getting up the wing, testing full backs, tracking back to help out his own full back. Now, whenever the attack breaks down, he waddles back to his own half at snail's pace, meaning he's offside for the next 5 minutes. I'm sure he never used to do that?? It's like his attitude has entirely changed. Has he started saving his legs for old age or can he just not be arsed anymore? I really think it's time for him to go. He's been one of the few apparently exempt from being dropped by Sherwood, but he's offered precisely zero input for a number of weeks now. Townsend maybe inconsistent but at least he looks like he wants to work and produce something. Kind of like Aaron Lennon did at his age.
Olly Cole, THFC (can't believe Lennon is only 26, he looks like he's done with all of it)
A Novel Ideal
Over the decades (for I am a haggard soul of 28 years) I have seen a number of emails into this esteemed mailbox bemoaning the overly-cautious approach of some teams; unwilling to commit in attack for fear of losing something at the other end. Time after time, a bore-draw containing a handful of pitiful attempts on goal is the result of games involving such sides. A blight on our once beautiful game, I think we can all agree.
Behold! I have a solution in the form of a simple but effective new rule: "HIT IT!"
We've all seen it: a header cleared from a corner that drops directly to a waiting midfielder on the edge of the box; a scuffed clearance bobbling invitingly to an onrushing defender 30 yards out. There is nobody (opposition fans excepted) who wants to see anything other than laces through the ball in that situation; such are the moments for which 'goal of the month' competitions were invented. Lee Dixon vs. Chelsea, John Harley vs. Aston Villa...surely these moments of sheer beauty should be more commonplace, if only in the interest of seeing more defenders celebrating such audacious efforts (usually a cracking mix of excitement and complete disbelief in what they have just achieved) .
The solution: during the course of the game and within a defined distance from the goal being attacked (say 35 yards), the referee is able to call - during a situation such as that described above - "HIT IT!". Such a command having been given, the player in question would have to spank it towards goal (or, perhaps more likely, Row Z) or risk having a free kick and possible booking awarded against them. Result: increased unpredictability, numerous wonder goals and more horrendous shin shanks limping out for throw-ins. All of which are undeniably outstanding forms of entertainment.
I genuinely cannot see any downsides to this idea. In reality, my suggestion is almost certainly full of holes but I just don't care. It's Friday and I want to see a full back getting completely over-the-top praise on Match of the Day tomorrow having scored an absolute belter.
Tristan ("I can't believe he's hit it from there!"), Saints, London
Ozil Not Like Bergkamp
I saw every home game in Bergkamp's first season and while it took him a while to start scoring goals, it was bloody obvious to anyone watching that this was a very talented player who was doing all manner of utterly outrageous things with the ball and who was trying very hard indeed. You could also see how much he wanted to score, when that first one went in and he was celebrating he kind of puffed out his cheeks in relief and he was on his way.
Ozil doesn't look right, has dissed other players on the pitch, and just doesn't seem that bothered and has been completely anonymous in a number of high profile games.
I hope he does indeed end up with the same kind of reputation as DK10 but it is not I think reasonable to infer from Bergkamp's first season that Ozil will also be a great player for Arsenal. I think Ozil is very lucky indeed Tony Adams isn't still playing as he would quite possibly have seriously injured him by now given his attitude on the pitch.
Sadly I have reached the age where I say things like "foreign players reputed to be absolutely brilliant but took a while to get going were better in my day, young fella!" but honestly, theres only one Dennis Bergkamp.
Matt Stanger wrote of a negative spiral at Tottenham. It's all doom and gloom. Let me pose a question...
Had Sherwood responded to Saturday's embarrassing capitulation at Chelsea with a 'ho hum... It was a bad day... We need to stick together' response, would there have been the ludicrous pressure on Spurs tonight to get a result against a side far superior in quality, organisation and, above all, unity?
The last two weeks have shown why Tim, for all his blood and thunder (which is admirable but misguided) won't be the man at the Spurs helm come August. The 'crisis' that now grips the lane is of Sherwood's own making. I want to like him. I want to get behind him. I want to be that spurs fan who says 'Yes, Tim! I will follow you into battle!' But he looks more and more like Custer every day.
V-necks, open shirts and gilet aside, he looks the part, a modern day man, ambivalent to the views of 'them upstairs', but he is trying to traverse the gap between inspirational skipper and manager that few have ever done successfully. Who can name a great English club skipper who went on to manage brilliantly... Keane? Robson? Ince? At a push I'll give you Steve Bruce.
I was sceptical from the outset... 'I bleed white and navy' was the claim from 'spurs man' Tim, despite playing twice as many games for Blackburn and winning the league with them. But still... He 'knows the place.' Vomit.
Meanwhile, while Tim is admiring his angry face in a pitchside monitor, Benfica outclassed us in every way. Sorry but I've had enough of 'nearly Tottenham'. I've watched 'nearly Tottenham' for 25 years and it's starting to grate. Sherwood is not the answer. Harry Kane is not the answer. (Let's file that under 'WTF?')
We have good players. A super tactician (AVB) didn't work (although for the record, he was sacked WAY too early). A gutsy inspirational type didn't work (Redknapp/Sherwood). We need a proven track record, with a willingness to stay for the long haul if we're to have any long term success.
Tonight I retire to my bed annoyed. But it's a deep set, long term annoyance fuelled by our inability to get it right. Sherwood's outburst after the Chelsea defeat was understandable, but ill advised, and it brought unnecessary pressure to the Benfica and, lest us not forget, Arsenal games. Whatever the outcome against the gunners, whatever out final position this season, Tim nailed his own coffin shut by drawing far too much attention to our inadequacies last weekend.
You got it wrong Tim. And you did again tonight. (Seriously... Harry Kane WTF?)
Mr Van Gaal... We welcome you with open arms if you're here for the long haul. Mr Sherwood... It was fun while it lasted.
Jim Bags (I love my club but they don't half wind me up) Bedfordshire