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Spurs Armchair Diary

Year 2003/2004   (Phespirit supports Tottenham Hotspur F.C. from the comfort of his armchair)

Spurs Armchair Diary, season 2003/2004. The previous season ended as badly as could be imagined so to save his job manager Glenn Hoddle goes on a spending spree. New strikers Postiga, Zamora and (to a lesser extent) Kanouté give hope where previously there was none. Will it work?
2003/2004 Final position:   F.A. Premiership - 14th

Thursday 3 June 2004   [19:55 BST]

An at-times unspeakably bad season has come to end - the last game was won 2-0 at Wolves - and only now is it a bearable time to reflect. The reason: a couple of hours ago Spurs named their new manager, to begin at the Lane after the European Championships in Portugal. The new man is to be Jacques Santini, currently in charge of the French national team and previously boss at Lyon, with whom he won the French Championship. This comes on the back of the arrival of Frank Arnesen from PSV Eindhovon, named as the new Sporting Director. David Pleat has gone.

The appointment of Santini is entirely satisfactory, and all the more so given some of the abyssmal characters who had been lingering for an alarmingly lengthy amount of time in the press speculation. Phespirit's top choice would have been Martin O'Neill (every fan's choice for their own club), closely followed by Giovanni Trapattoni. Santini would have probably been third on the list, but since the other two were long ago ruled out he defaults to being the ideal man for the job. The nightmare scenarios: Graeme Souness as the outright worst case, followed by Peter Taylor. There's nothing to be said against Alan Curbishley or Claudio Ranieri, but then why not go for Harry Redknapp? He'd do as well as any of them. No, Santini is a ambitious appointment whose circumstances justify the long drawn-out wait.

So that's the future taken care of. What about last season?

POSITIVES: The winter signing of Jermaine Defoe; the early form of Freddie Kanouté (before he went to Mali); Ledley King breaking into the England Squad; Jermain Defoe breaking into the England squad; the emergence or acquisition of several young English players who, whilst not up to scratch this year, can only get better and will not lose value; winning home and away to Leeds, thereby hastening their demise. Other 'positives' were merely the cessation of negatives: the departure of Glenn Hoddle; the departure of Darren Anderton; calling time on the other makeweight veterans, Gus Poyet and Christian Zeige.

NEGATIVES: Performances; results; still flirting dangerously with relegation at the end of April; having to rely on the crapness of other teams to stay up; David Pleat losing his way and inevitably his job; Jamie Redknapp and other injuries; the stupid fucking cup result against Manchester City; teams getting their goals of the season against Spurs (Newcastle, Bolton, et al); yet another wasted twelve months.

TARGETS FOR NEXT YEAR: finish in the top nine having been comfortable in the Premiership throughout; some good league wins; a firmly re-established tradition of confident, attractive, passing football; a nice long run in each of the cups; and basically ..... contentedness, please.

Saturday 8 May 2004   [18:10 BST]

Spurs 1 - 0 Blackburn Rovers : Of course, now it doesn't matter any more Spurs remember how to win a football match. Nice to have Ledley back.

Sunday 2 May 2004   [17:00 BST]

Aston Villa 1 - 0 Spurs : The latest in a long sequence of winless, defeat-heavy matches for Spurs, but one hour earlier Bolton won 4-1 at home to Leeds so Spurs are mathematically safe and Leeds are down.

GOOD NEWS!   SPURS ARE SAFE AND LEEDS ARE DOWN!!

There hasn't been too much good news around this season, but there's two pieces for the price of one. Best take a few moments to savour them before looking at the details .....

Spurs' Premiership status has been preserved only by virtue of the fact that not one, not two, but a nigh unprecendented three teams have been sufficiently mediocre to make 39 points a safe total. Spurs were garbage under Hoddle, garbage again at the end of December, and garbage again at the end of the year. Another garbage season. And what will there be to look forward to in 2004/2005? A new manager? Maybe, but not if it's true that the front runner is Peter Taylor. Just more of the same; depressingly more of the same.

Things used to be so much better ..... about twenty years ago.

Tuesday 27 April 2004   [19:20 BST]

Spurs 2 - 2 Arsenal : Safe now, pretty much, mostly due to Leeds crashing at home to Portsmouth, Leicester and Manchester City drawing with each other and Wolves being held at Birmingham. Of the bottom three, only Leeds can get enough points to overhaul Spurs, and then only if they win all three of their last games, including away to Bolton and away to Chelsea. There's no sign of that happening in a hurry.

Sunday's draw against Arsenal was a bonus for putting a bit of a tarnish on their Championship party. That goalkeeper of theirs is finished.

Saturday 17 April 2004   [19:15 BST]

Bolton Wanderers 2 - 0 Spurs : It's no longer pessimism. It's really happening now. Relegation. Spurs' next four games are (i) home to Arsenal (guaranteed defeat); (ii) away to Aston Villa (another guaranteed defeat); (iii) home to Blackburn Rovers (the last chance for victory and survival - the match that everything now hangs on); (iv) away to Wolverhampton Wanderers (Wolves will either win for their own survival or go out with a last hurrah - either way if it all comes down to this game then goodbye Spurs).

Things are very bad indeed and there are precious few straws left to clutch.

Monday 12 April 2004   [18:40 BST]

Spurs 1 - 1 Manchester City : Around Christmas they had slumped into being relegation certainties, third from bottom of the table. Then by February they were within sniffing distance of the fourth Champions League spot. Now, after four straight defeats, culminating with the woeful 3-1 capitulation at Everton on Friday night and then this arse-clenching draw at home to City, suddenly Spurs are right back down among the candidates for the drop. Why? How? Why has it happened again? How has it been allowed to happen? And where have all the goal scorers gone? This is no fun at all.

Sunday 4 April 2004   [17:00 BST]

Spurs 0 - 1 Chelsea : The annual defeat at Chelsea comes on the back of the annual defeat at Southampton and the annual defeat at Manchester United. No goals scored; still stuck on 37 points. An upturn would be helpful now.

Saturday 20 March 2004   [18:10 GMT]

Manchester United 3 - 0 Spurs : United were always likely to bounce back against Spurs after their recent ropey run, but getting two goals in the last minute was a trifle unnecessary. A predictable result with a flattering scoreline for the home side. Bastards.

Sunday 14 March 2004   [18:20 GMT]

Spurs 1 - 0 Newcastle United : So the run of farcical scorelines is over, ending with a tediously unspectacular 1-0 defeat at Middlesbrough on Tuesday night (Nemeth always seems to wake up for Spurs) and now this altogether more pleasing 1-0 win against the Geordies. Particularly pleasing because: (i) the only goal came in the 86th for Spurs, unlike last year's only goal in the 90th minute for Newcastle; (ii) it was an own goal by O'Brien; the same O'Brien who said beforehand that Robbie Keane would not get past him to score (as it turned out Keane didn't have to bother).

So the Spurs 2004 revival continues. Where it will lead, nobody knows.

Sunday 22 February 2004   [18:45 GMT]

Spurs 4 - 4 Leicester City : This is getting stupid now. Just what is going on? 3-1 up at half-time, City go down to ten men but still manage to take a 4-3 lead (sound familiar?) only - mercifully - for Defoe to somehow blam in an 89th minute equaliser, thereby preventing defeat and terrible psychological damage. But how can this keep happening? Another comic result despite having a fortnight-long break. With no match next weekend that should afford another chance to regroup and work out a magic formula for avoiding seven-goal thrillers (28 goals in the last four matches) but still winning games.

Here's a suggestion: drop Doherty, switch King from midfield to the centre of defence (where he wants to be), give Davies and Brown the centre of midfield with Anderton and Jackson (or Dalmat and Ricketts, as per fitness/form) on the right and left, and drop Doherty. Oh, and drop Doherty. (It's not going to happen, though, as Pleat seems fixated with him - an ex-Luton man.)

Was the term "rollercoaster season" invented for any other club?

Sunday 15 February 2004   [15:55 GMT]

A weekend off for Spurs, so here is a chance to catch up on what has been happending since the last Armchair Diary entry; all those highs and lows that make supporting Spurs the ordeal it is.

So, a million years ago, the important win at Leeds was followed up by a good 2-1 win at home to Liverpool. That made it four wins on the trot for Spurs (doesn't happen too often). Next, an F.A. Cup Fourth Round match away to off-form Manchester City shown live by the B.B.C. on a Sunday afternoon. The goalless first half was absolutely dire, a shocking performance, highly embarrassing, but things picked up in the second half with Spurs going a goal up and the match eventually finishing one-all. January then closes out with a 2-1 defeat at Fulham, the first defeat for Spurs in 2004. All in all, though, not a bad month considering the atrocious way that 2003 had ended.

First match in February: the midweek cup replay against Manchester City. A better first half performance from Spurs which, whilst not being outstanding, saw Spurs go in 3-0 up, with City down to ten men and their best striker off injured (note that Spurs' best striker - Kanouté - is in Africa now, playing for Mali in the Cup of Nations). Second half ..... well, its history, isn't it? City ran out 4-3 winners. City, of all teams, wretched City, who can't buy a win in the league (they went out in the Fifth Round anyway, 4-2 away to Manchester United yesterday). So that was bad. Very bad indeed.

Off the pitch, Spurs snatch Jermaine Defoe from West Ham for about seven million plus Bobby Zamora. Another striker. How will the front line shape up once Kanouté gets back from Tunisia?

To bounce back from the City fiasco, the next league match is at home to Portsmouth. In theory, just the thing. Spurs are never behind but the match goes 1-0, 1-1, 2-1, 2-2, 3-2, 3-3, 4-3, with Poyet getting the winner near the death. A crucial win psychologically, and another much needed three points. And then another league win last Wednesday, away to Charlton Athletic, and again Spurs are never behind. The match goes 0-1, 0-2, 0-3, 1-3, 2-3, 2-4. At least Defoe is getting among the goals straight away.

The net result of all this is that Spurs are hideously dumped out of the F.A. Cup (though they probably wouldn't have got past Manchester United anyway), but they are rushing up the league three points at a time. The question is: how long can this last while their striking / defending balance is coming straight out of the Ossie Ardilles school?

Life is not dull at White Hart Life. Nerve-wracking, yes, but not dull.

Saturday 10 January 2004   [20:15 GMT]

Leeds United 0 - 1 Spurs : Fantastic. Without a doubt the best result of the season by a country mile. Three more invaluable points to put with those earned from a 4-1 at home to Birmingham midweek. Another pointless week for Leeds, casting them further adrift in the relegation places. Excellent.

It's still too early to be declaring the post-Christmas pessimism premature as at least six more wins will probably have to be found from somewhere, but it's days like this that will do it ..... if it can be done.

Sunday 4 January 2004   [19:35 GMT]

F.A. Cup Third Round: Spurs 3 - 0 Crystal Palace : To celebrate the new year, here is a rare instance of Spurs not being beaten, featuring a hat trick by Mali's very own Frederic Kanouté. But this has to be translated into league form.

Sunday 28 December 2003   [18:15 GMT]

Spurs 0 - 1 Charlton Athletic : Well, there it is. Four Premiership defeats on the spin, seven Premiership defeats in the last nine matches, eleven Premiership defeats in total, more Premiership defeats than any other Premiership team, Spurs now in the bottom three ..... this is relegation.

There is a malaise at the club that has been present for many many years now. Scapegoats for it have come and gone, and now scapegoats, along with time, appear to have run out. The problem runs very deep and can be seen through numerous cracks that extend all the way up from the treatment room to the board room. It is not in the least bit premature to call this a relegation season. A Spurs relegation season, like a caldera eruption under Yellowstone Park, has been an 'overdue-when' rather than a 'possible-if' for ages. The club may at last now be delivering its long promised self-destruction.

This is the Fall Of The House Of Tottenham ..... and it is tragic and grotesque and very depressing. They used to be so beautiful.

Saturday 13 December 2003   [18:30 GMT]

Newcastle United 4 - 0 Spurs : Never a happy hunting ground.

Saturday 6 December 2003   [17:10 GMT]

Spurs 5 - 2 Wolverhampton Wanderers : A good effort. The Keane/Kanouté partnership up front is proving to be very effective indeed. Add this result to the midweek 3-1 win at home to Manchester City in the League Cup, plus a 2-1 win at home to Aston Villa last weekend, and Spurs are looking like a side on a roll (albeit with White Hart Lane victories against ropey sides).

Saturday 8 November 2003   [17:20 GMT]

Arsenal 2 - 1 Spurs : Robbed by a wicked deflection ten minutes from the end. It's enough to hurl vomit from the most neutral of stomachs.

Saturday 8 November 2003   [15:05 GMT]

Champion!! Five minutes in and Spurs are one up at Arsenal.
Shurely nothing can go wrong!

Saturday 1st November 2003   [18:15 GMT]

Spurs 0 - 1 Bolton Wanderers : Amidst all the rejoicing at Spurs apparent change in fortunes, there was always a sense of disquiet that a result like this was just waiting to happen; a result that dare not speak its name. And that despite knocking West Ham out of the League Cup on Wednesday. A timely wake up call, perhaps. Or rather a "don't go back to sleep" call. More goals are needed, and soon.

Sunday 26 October 2003   [18:40 GMT]

Spurs 0 - 0 Middlesbrough : After the late late 2-1 win at Leicester last week, here is another less than entirely convincing result, but nonetheless one that consolidates all the improvements that have been in evidence since Hoddle's sacking. Indeed, conceding just one goal throughout those five matches and remaining undefeated is a stunningly unlikely but more than welcome state of affairs. And this result looks much more respectable when compared with the 0-3 humping that was the outcome of this fixture last year.

Saturday 4 October 2003   [18:40 BST]

Spurs 3 - 0 Everton : Last three results with Hoddle: 0-3, 2-4, 1-3. Last three results without Hoddle: 3-0, 0-0, 3-0. Spot the difference.

It has to be said, though, that good old Everton are usually reliable for this kind of result, even in the bitterest of times. Let the good times roll.

Sunday 28 September 2003   [18:20 BST]

Manchester City 0 - 0 Spurs : By all accounts City had enough chances to have slaughtered Spurs and run up a cricket score in the first half alone. But, the important thing is that Hoddle is gone and they didn't slaughter Spurs and they didn't even score against Spurs and, taken together with the 3-0 midweek League Cup win at Coventry, maybe - just maybe - it's a sign that the rot has finally stopped. There's no harm in hoping.

Monday 22 September 2003   [19:10 BST]

#Ding! Dong! The witch is dead! Which old witch? The wicked witch!
#Ding! Dong! The witch is dead! Which old witch? The wicked witch!
#Ding! Dong! The witch is dead! Which old witch? The wicked witch!
#Ding! Dong! The witch is dead! Which old witch? The wicked witch!
#Ding! Dong! The witch is dead! Which old witch? The wicked witch!

At long, long, long, long last Glenn Hoddle has been sacked as Spurs manager and his arch hanger-on mate, John Gorman, has gone with him. Hoo-ray!!

Now, how about finding a manager who (i) does not upset all the players every time he opens his big gob; (ii) does not believe that disabled people are re-incarnated sinners; (iii) does not send professional footballers to consult some old pub landlady turned faithhealer; (iv) has no connection whatsoever with Arsenal; (v) has experience with big clubs and big name players; (vi) can handle the press and occasionally fickle fans; (vii) can organise a defence and a defensive midfield; (viii) stands for all the great traditional Spurs values of flair, excitement, elegance and culture; (ix) is a proven winner; (x) is respected.

Is that really too much to ask?
David Pleat will do a good job while the search is on .....

Saturday 30 August 2003   [18:15 BST]

Spurs 0 - 3 Fulham : After three reasonable opening results - including a rare point at Anfield in midweek - it's back to the end of last season with another abject capitulation against a team who are far worse on paper. Given that half the Spurs side has changed over the summer this must the clearest proof yet that the problem rests with the manager. Get him out of Spurs and bring in a motivating tactician who can get the best out of talented players.

Saturday 23 August 2003   [17:20 BST]

Spurs 2 - 1 Leeds United : And quite right too. It would have been too awful to contemplate not winning at home to this lot of scum. Especially having lost against another lot of scum the week before. Early reports have it that Spurs stuck to their task and played some good football and were good value for the points. But to get it in context, it must be remembered that Leeds are stony broke dependent a meagre handful of indisciplined rubbish players.

Saturday 16 August 2003   [14:45 BST]

Birmingham City 1 - 0 Spurs : An early kick-off, so Spurs start the new season at the bottom of the table. Possibly not for the last time unless a midfield ball winner is found, Dean Richards comes back into defence, and basically a bit of toughness and solidity can be added to the side.

Needless to say Birmingham swindled this result with a penalty that never was. Ideally they will go down this year. Them and Leeds ..... and Arsenal.