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Tuesday, 12 August 2008

Tottenham have big four on the run

“Tottenham will break into the top four this season” – that’s been the prediction from fans and pundits up and down the country for the past four years. However, apart from the 05/06 season when their Champions League dreams were ended in the last game of the season against West Ham United, Spurs have failed to mount a serious challenge to the likes of Manchester United, Chelsea, Liverpool and their old foes Arsenal.

Fortunately most Spurs fans – down to a mixture of losing Robbie Keane to Liverpool, their poor start to the season last year and the ongoing saga surrounding Dimitar Berbatov – have learned to lower their expectations, in public anyway, and say that they would be happy with a place in the top six.

But let’s be honest, Juande Ramos has assembled a squad that is more than capable of breaking down the door of the top four and if they can take their awesome pre-season form into the start of the new Premier League season then Tottenham’s persistence will be rewarded with Champions League football. However, you’ll be hard pressed to find a Spurs fan willing to put their house on it.

“Personally, I don’t think Spurs will break into the top four this season, we can but I doubt we will,” said 24-year-old Michael Chibuzor. “I have faith in Juande Ramos, but we are talking about Spurs here, the team that was expected to break into the top four last season and found themselves battling in the lower half of the table all through the season. Put simply, I wouldn’t put my money on Spurs breaking into the top four or winning more silverware this season.”

It’s definitely refreshing to hear a Tottenham fan being so critical of their chances, but fellow Tottenham fan Jo Ford, whose favourite player of all time is David Ginola, is a bit more optimistic.

“My hopes are that we are going to have a great season. I know we say this every year but with Ramos and Poyet in charge, I feel this could actually happen with the team they are building.

“I'm afraid of saying we could break into the top four but I’m always hopeful. Liverpool have Torres and Keane so I don't think we can replace them but maybe, just maybe we can replace Arsenal, that would be great.”

Ramos has spent more than £40 million on new signings this summer and has brought in a number of top class players. Croatian playmaker Luka Modric could walk into most Premiership sides and has enough craft and guile to break down the most resolute of defences. Former Blackburn Rovers and England international David Bentley, a self-confessed Tottenham fan, is one of the best crosses of a ball in the league, has an eye for the goal and can transform a game in an instant. Giovani Dos Santos looks like a right handful. He has amazing skill on the ball, isn’t afraid to test a keeper early and has bags of energy. Meanwhile, the new goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes should instil some confidence into the back four.

“I love all our new signings,” said Jo, who is over 21. “They are showing what they can do and seem to be gelling into the team. I feel much more relaxed with Gomes in goal. He has kept a few clean sheets in pre-season games and I hope it continues.”

Michael, who is tipping O’Hara to build on the success of last season, has also been impressed by Ramos’s recent additions.

“They are all positive and exciting signings. I expect Bentley and Modric to make the biggest impression this season because they are both technically gifted midfielders and they’ll give us the much needed flair.”

Modern day football doesn’t produce the kind of shocks that it used to as the Press is at the forefront of every story, but Robbie Keane’s decision to leave for Spurs came as a total bolt out of the blue. The Republic of Ireland striker was taken into the fans’ hearts and it looked as though he would end his career at the Lane. However, he wanted to play for his boyhood club and Spurs weren’t going to stand in his way. But Michael, whose greatest moment as a Spurs fan was watching them thrash Arsenal 5-1 in the Carling Cup, believes that Keane’s absence will leave a huge void at the club.

“The loss of Robbie Keane might be one of the worst things to have happened to Spurs in recent times. We didn’t just lose a player; we lost a leader, a great goalscorer and an all round decent human being and we both know we can’t have too many of those with the way football stars conduct themselves nowadays. Robbie was a loyal servant to Spurs, he always gave the team his best and I feel he’ll be welcomed at the Lane.”

But Jo, who described watching Spurs beat Chelsea in the Carling Cup last year while sitting next to a Chelsea fan as her best moment, believes Dos Santos and Modric will help the fans get over the loss of Keane.

“Of course I felt upset to lose Keane, he always motivated the rest of the lads and chased every ball, but we now have Dos Santos and Modric and will hopefully sign a new striker. I think Keane will be welcomed by most of the fans when we have to play Liverpool but of course some will be bitter but things have to move on.”

There are also fears that Spurs could lose Keane’s former strike partner Dimitar Berbatov. The Bulgarian international has been linked with Premier League champions Manchester United and AC Milan in recent weeks but Ramos wants the silky forward to stay, despite some of his lacklustre performances last season. But whereas the fans were gutted to see Keane go, they just wish Berbatov’s future was sorted out one way or another.

“This might be harsh but I wish he’d leave now so that his replacement can start getting used to the way we play,” said Michael, whose favourite player is Ledley King. “He’s an excellent player but his temperament does not only affect him but the team as a whole. At times, his lethargic plays on the field frustrate the team’s effort. Berbatov would be missed because his partnership with Keane was one of if not the most exciting strike partnerships of the past two seasons.”

Jo, who thinks Liverpool could make a real challenge for the Premiership, agrees with Michael, but prays that Berbatov doesn’t end up at Old Trafford.

“If Berbatov leaves we will miss his skills, but if he wants to go then we will have to let him leave – we don't want an unhappy player. I would really want him to go abroad and not to Manchester United because of the way they unsettled him last summer and this.”

One player who really looks set to make his mark at White Hart Lane this season is Darren Bent. The former Charlton striker, who cost the club £16.5 million 12 months ago, has been scoring for fun in pre-season and looks to be revelling in the confidence of Juande Ramos. And he has the backing of both Jo and Michael.

“Darren Bent has been brilliant in pre-season and I think it will carry on as he seems happy and motivated,” said Jo. “He will be an important part of the team and shows he needs to regularly play.”

“I’ve always had faith in Bent,” added Michael. “The problem was that he was overpriced and he works best as a lone striker. Trust me you wouldn’t be too confident either if you came as a £16.5 million pound third choice striker. Juande Ramos is tactically superior to Martin Jol and I want to believe that he will find the best way to use Darren Bent because we know he can score goals in the Premiership.”

Spurs had an awful start last season and they have a tough opening month this time round with trips to Middlesbrough and Stamford Bridge and home games against Roy Keane’s Sunderland and Martin O’Neill’s Aston Villa. Everybody knows that a winning start is imperative to build confidence and boost morale. Jo said she would expect Spurs to take nine points from those four games while Michael, who thinks it will be a total disaster if Spurs fail to win a trophy or clinch a place in Europe, is a little more cautious.

“Iʼd expect to beat Boro away and Sunderland at home, but beating Chelsea away is not impossible but highly unlikely. Villa at home will be extremely tricky but we might just nick it. I’d give us a maximum of 10 points and a minimum of seven points.”

There is no doubt that Spurs have the squad and the ability to challenge for a top four finish but they will have to earn it as the likes of Liverpool and Arsenal are not going to relinquish their grasp on Champions League football without a fight.

Calling all Spurs fans. What do you make of your chances for the season ahead? Do you think this could be the year to break into the top four? Will Ramos rue the day he let Robbie Keane go? I’d love to hear from you.



heard it all before....

ben azoa

Spurs are like empty tin ,It is not vabaly let the warld see whether they can make it to top 4 by action. If u start race in 1 position and end at mid ever where is the mistake? work on that, rather than wasting time threatening o Arsenal wao we will finsh top 4 cause we got Bentner who is an off layer of Goners.

Tony Bellew

Let berbatov go, and stop talking about him.
he obviously has no dedication to tottanham so get rid of him and think about what matters to the club, and fans - playing football.

johnny m

"let's be honest, ramos has assembled a squad more than capable of breaking into the the top four".

Errrr.... Am I missing something here ? How is this possibly true. Spurs bought done unproven premiership talent. You think you can beat Chelsea Liverpool arsenal and man u with that squad??????????

laughing gooner

IT hurts, im laughing so much it hurts so bad, im on thr floor now rolled up in pain with the laughter, everytime i hear this lol lol lol

Peter London

Ramos need not "rue the day he let Robbie Keane go," because he didn't let him go. After Liverpool made an approach, Keane put in a transfer request, and then he went. With the £19m compensation that Spurs got (plus another £1.3m to Spurs main charity) after this episode, Spurs will have acquired new players. Club chairman Daniel Levy and Juande Ramos, fans generally agree, made the best they could of the situation.

Abdu Hussen

man utd is one of the best club in the world.with in this the addition of Berbatov is more important to the club

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