A new manager, a new dawn. We asked three Spurs fans – Jack Howes, Paul Johnson and James Willis – of their hopes and expectations for the season ahead at the Lane.
What would represent a successful season?
Jack Howes – A top four finish. This may seem hypocritical given how Redknapp was sacked for finishing 4th but considering that Modric will be gone and Chelsea and Liverpool will be stronger 4th place would be a superb finish.
Paul Johnson – A genuine attempt to win every contest & competition we are in would make a nice change. Top 4 and a cup would be outstanding but given the fact we have a new manager, our creator will probably be in Madrid, Chelsea’s spending and the Duopoly in Manchester, it may take a season of seemingly going backwards to take several steps forward. However, I think we may be the team to challenge the Mancs this year – we might be the surprise package.
James Willis – Finishing 4th. Redknapp managed it twice, and although all us fans want Spurs to progress further (obviously) you’ve got to be realistic after a summer of massive change. Of course, this all depends on how AVB adapts to coaching at Spurs.
Are you happy with the appointment of AVB?
JW – I’m a little bit nervous given Tottenham’s past record with international managers, but AVB is tactically a class above those like Juande Ramos, Martin Jol and Jacques Santini. I’m nervous but partly because this could potentially be a huge era in Tottenham’s history, not to overstate it.
PJ – Extremely happy. Bold, brave, ambitious and smart. A winner with a point to prove, medals to show and micro tactical mind. He needs to lose the belted rainmac & the squat though
JH – The laissez-faire approach to tactics and organisation from Redknapp was successful but resulted in some hammerings and humiliating defeats. AVB will hopefully make us a tougher, more resilient outfit.
What AVB has is youth, a clear footballing philosophy that hopefully the players will buy into and which respects Spurs’ traditions, a chip the size of Big Ben on his shoulder after his sacking from Chelsea and a great beard. He’s the sort of forward-thinking, progressive coach who could achieve great things. Conversely his man-management which were lacking at Chelsea may be lacking at Spurs. Whatever, it will be a thrilling ride.
What changes from the Redknapp era would you like to see?
PJ – We not Them. Us not Me. Never thinking this is “as good as it gets”. Respect for the club, its history, heritage & DNA and pride in being our Manager
I’d like to see full use of the squad and decisive substitutions; bold selections and tactical outwitting of opposition. A Plan B would be a revelation. Working in harmony with the Chairman and club and not against it. No more press briefings and TalkSport chitchat from the window of a Range Rover. A genuine tilt at the Europa and League Cup wouldn’t go amiss either.
JH – More of a focus on tactics and organisation. Under Redknapp we were prone to defensive collapses, we never practiced set-pieces (boy did this show at times) and tactically in big games he was often out-gunned.
Hopefully AVB will retain the attractive football and great movement we had under Redknapp but add defensive solidity and tactical nous. Last season against sides who pressed us high up the pitch we were often overrun and sides who defended deep in numbers we struggled to break down. More imagination tactically I would like to see.
JW – It’s quite simple really: more player rotation and more tactical ability. If only Redknapp had added that to his coaching repetoire he may not have been sacked in the first place.
What’s your views on the signings made so far?
PJ – Very exciting. Vertonghen looks a classy leader and a goal threat. Gylfi is another goal threat and a clever player. The Bale contract extension is another positive sign but we need more incoming – 2 strikers (Ade and Sturridge?), a Mod replacement (Moutinho for me) and a challenge to Lennon.
JW – I’m still uncertain over Sigurdsson. He’s very talented but I’m just keeping my fingers crossed that he wasn’t signed over last season’s hype. Vertonghen is a very solid addition though and I’m delighted that his signing didn’t end up dragging on all summer.
JH – I’m happy though I want to see more. Vertonghen has a left foot which can open a jar of pickled onions, is so technically accomplished he could play in any position in defence or midfield and from what I’ve read, heard and seen on Twitter he’s a top bloke who’ll provide leadership at the back.
Sigurdsson is a useful signing who’ll add creativity, goalscoring and great set-pieces. That said I’m not sure how he and Van der Vaart will fit into the same side. Both play in the same attacking midfielder role and there’s room for only one in the side.
Who else would you like to see brought in?
JW – Anyone? Lionel Messi. In all seriousness though, I’d like to see either Lloris or Butland sign, Moutinho to replace Modric (when he inevitably leaves) and a first choice striker to sign alongside M’Baye Niang.
JH – Strikers are essential. Jermain Defoe is the only established striker currently at the club and though he’s a good finisher he lacks the all-round game to be a full time starter. Adebayor would be a good signing, another striker would also be handy. Harry Kane is promising and should get experience in the cup competitions but for him to be starting regularly in the Premier League would be worrying.
A replacement for Modric is needed – Sahin or Moutinho would be good replacements. They would need to knit our play together and also press the opposition hard, something AVB requests from his sides and which Spurs have struggled with in pre-season. Aside from that depth at full back and in the wide spots in midfield would be handy.
Is there a young player who could break through and make a name for himself this term?
PJ – Tom Carroll looks a very promising, highly talented creative linkman. He needs to bulk up but could be a discovery. Townsend also needs a chance.
JH – Steven Caulker is the main candidate here. In the last three seasons he’s been player of the season at Yeovil, player of the season at Bristol City, close to player of the season at Swansea and performed solidly for ‘Team GB’ at the Olympics. He’s a cultured, ball-playing centre back who will hopefully be close to a replacement for the legend that is Ledley King.
Aside from him Harry Kane has been highly touted for a while now and did well at Millwall last season and for Spurs this pre-season, Jake Livermore is a solid midfield presence, Andros Townsend may get some game time backing up Bale and Lennon on the wings while Adam Smith may get a chance to prove himself at full back.
JW – I think Harry Kane could shine this season too. He’s looked strong in preseason and with a lack of strikers in the squad at the moment combined with AVB’s love for promoting youth, he could be given his chance.
Any player you’d like to be shown the exit door?
PJ – Not particularly – but I would have kept Charlie & Pav!! (& not bought Saha & Nelsen). Bentley should probably be put out of his misery though.
JW – The riff raff. It might sound harsh but players like Jermaine Jenas, David Bentley and Sebastien Bassong have had enough chances to prove themselves. I really like Giovani Dos Santos, so I’d like to see him leave purely to further his own career because that looks unlikely to happen at Spurs.
JH – Quite a few. David Bentley (goal against Arsenal apart) has been a disaster, Jermaine Jenas does little more than ponderously circumnavigate the centre circle, Giovani is talented but never shown it when it matters, Sebastien Bassong has struggled as a bit part player the last two seasons. Heurelho Gomes is a tragic figure, a likeable guy who made dreadful errors and is now no nearer to the Spurs first team than my 86 year old Nan is. I’d be happy to see all of these depart White Hart Lane.
Which game do you want to win the most?
JW – The North London derbies. Obviously any cup finals that we may reach too. It should go without saying though that beating Arsenal home or away is one of the high points of the season.
JH – Arsenal are always hated, Chelsea slightly less hated (but still hated), West Ham are irritating. Wins in these games are always a delight for Spurs fans.
PJ – The next one.