Saturday, 20 September 2008

What is it with Tottenham Hotspur?

Even Google's robot knows it.

For all the millions lavished upon them and the grand gesture in appointing a double UEFA Cup winning coach, it seems there's one inalienable truth which applies to football as much as to wider life:

You Can't Polish A Turd.

It seems the Carling Cup victory in Juande Ramos' first months as Spurs boss now looks like a false dawn.

You see, Tottenham aren't built to win Championships, neither are they equipped to compete in the Champions League. At best, they win domestic cups - and that at a rate of one every three managerial changes.

A couple of season's back, their transfer policy was to sign Englishmen. But Jermaine Jenas' quote on his arrival at White Hart Lane gives an insight into why Spurs constantly fail to make the breakthrough.

Jenas described his relief at escaping Newcastle's goldfish bowl, but what he really meant by that was he wanted a piece of party-time London without detection.

Spurs seldom attract the professional - the person who's there to play football first. The honourable exceptions to that rule end up at Liverpool and Manchester United.

Arsenal might be in London too, but no-one can accuse Arsene Wenger of scoffing from Swinging London's chocolate box; and his players are made of the same fabric. I mean, can you conjure up an image of Pascal Cygan stumbling out of Tramp arm-in-arm with a WAG? He saved all his best stumblings for gametime.

Tottenham, and for that matter Manchester City and Newcastle attract a certain kind of Charlie that Arsenal and indeed clubs like Everton and Aston Villa don't.

However much you lavish on some clubs, they always seem to fail. There seems to be a default position of relative success and failure at which teams find their level, whatever resource is thrown at them.

When predicting future success, the strongest marker lies in pointing to a glorious past. If a club's done it before, there's every chance they'll do it again.

For all of Liverpool's struggles in reclaiming the title during the imperious reign of Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United, the Reds have still won the FA Cup and League Cups (more than once) and BOTH European trophies. They're a winning machine even if a triumvirate of big guns perenially stall their Premier League dream.

I mentioned Aston Villa and Everton. Football League Originals both of them and a quiet dignity which means they stay out of the headlines and more than occasionally go on and achieve "unexpectedly".

For all of Newcastle's noise and north-easternness? nothing.

The Shearers, the Keegans and the Sir Bobbys, all orbiting stars of the St James' solar system, but their twinkle is always eclipsed by the bad moon risings of the Bartons, Bellamys and Dyers.

Manchester City's new owners be warned - your trillions are at risk so enjoy the buffet in hospitality while you're there!

And that's Tottenham's lot too, unless they can ignite a winning catalyst. A good coach will eventually craft a good team.

Spurs need only look a couple of miles down the road to see how Arsenal have built a dynasty in a decade: a commitment to their manager, superb transfer dealings and a stunning new stadium which'll keep the Gunners at football's top table long-after Wenger's moved on.

However low on confidence Spurs might be playing, their board must stick with Ramos, a man who took a provincial Spanish club to a summit of the European game.

And while they're doing that, why don't they ask him what else the board at Sevilla were doing while he brought home the jamon?