View From the Opposition - Spurs
1) As a neutral, I found the departure of Harry Redknapp strange, and can't see how AVB can take you further in the short term. What's your view, are most Spurs happy that Harry has gone?
I am on record as being a Harry fan and did and still do find it amazing that such a high percentage of fans wanted him sacked. Sure Harry made mistakes and perhaps took his eye of the ball towards the end of the season, but show me a manager who hasn't? However, I would suggest that several issues conspired against him and the club, making it difficult to carry on. Harry and his court case with HMRC and the potential England vacancy, cast a very large shadow over the club and it looked likely that one or the other would take Harry from WHL. Based on that probability, the club didn't give him money to spend, which left us with an ageing squad, albeit on short term contracts and an inevitable re-build this summer who ever was in charge.
It seems that the relationship between Harry and our Chairman was very tense, due to several issues and an understandable frustration due to the uncertainty as much as anything and I suppose it was eventually down to a case of backing or sacking the manager, at a time the squad was in need of pretty hefty rebuilding. Do you trust a 65 year old man with £50m or take a different route. Obviously it was felt the different route was the right one. Only time will tell whether they were right.
2) There were rumours of Lambert being interested in the Spurs job before he went to Villa. Would you have been happy with his appointment over that of AVB?
I have been massively impressed with Lambert during his managerial career and thought he was doing a great job for you guys. I enjoyed the way he built his teams and how they played with a healthy mix of silk, steel and good old fashioned hard work. Like a few other managers such as Brendan Rodgers and Roberto Martinez, I felt they were all good and viable options, if we were looking at a promising young manager. The fact we opted for Vilas-Boas, doesn't really worry me, as though he was perceived as a failure at Chelsea, I do agree that he worked under unreasonable internal pressure and also I hope he has learned from his mistakes.
In short, I would have been very happy with Lambert, Martinez, Rodgers or AVB, in a younger manager, as I think all four have the qualities to be hugely successful at the right club with the time and backing.
3) What did you make of Lambert going to Villa? A step up?
At the risk of upsetting all of Norwich, I definitely feel Villa are the bigger club, though I'm not convinced he has joined them at a good time. The Villa job needs plenty of time and patience from the board and of course the fans, but however good their youth players are supposed to be, I am not sure they have the depth or quality to be anything other than a team in the bottom third and perhaps even one to be fighting relegation. I wonder how much money he has to spend or how long he will be given. Ideally he needs both. Problem is that the club are struggling financially with very few players that can be sold on for enough money to rebuild that way. Success for Lambert will initially be stabilising a team that is in free fall and then looking to build solid foundations over a couple of seasons. If he does that he will have done very well, but I wonder when he looks at the players at his disposal, instead of the stadium he plays in, he questions the wisdom of making the move he did.
4) What's your view of Chris Hughton, was he liked by Spurs fans?
Though Chris will always be very well liked by Spurs fans, I think he has perhaps only received recognition of his ability since leaving the club. Taking on the Newcastle job and doing well, followed by another nightmare appointment at Birmingham, would have tested the very best, but Chris not only stabilised the clubs, but made them better, even though he was forced to sell his best players and had no money to replace them. I think the perception has always been was that Chris was too soft or nice to be anything other than an assistant and even then, perhaps too much of a 'Yes Man'. Since becoming a No1, he has proved to be an astute and strong character and to be honest I think for once we are all delighted to be proved wrong in our judgment.
5) You've signed some good players in the summer, but no strikers. Are you not a little too reliant on Adebayor?
At the time of writing this, I believe we are one striker down from what is ideal. Perhaps however by the time this is published or some are reading it, we will have someone else in, however we do have a couple of very promising strikers coming through from the academy such as Harry Kane, who you may have already heard of, that might excel if given the chance. I note with interest that Raheem Stirling is getting games at Liverpool at a similar age and getting positive reviews, so should we discount Kane, who is a year or so older?
6) If you could sign one more player this transfer window, who would it be and why?
I will ignore the easy options of Messi, Ronaldo etc, and with reference to your last question probably opt for a striker, such as Hulk, Llorente, Falcao or similar. However, what I do feel is important is that we get in players that our manager feels he needs to help instil the playing ethos he wants us to aspire. Therefore I will go with Joao Moutinho, who is suggested as a player AVB admires greatly and would like to sign. he may not be everyones idea of the best player in the game, but can we get a player that our manager wants and not one he has inherited and also one he trusts and will also fill the space left by the loss of Modric.
7) If you could offload any player from your team, who would it be and why?
They may be rubbish, but they're our rubbish!!! If I had to name one, I would probably go for David Bentley, who simply hasn't cut it with us and though he may look at a lack of opportunity, especially in his preferred role or even injury, I firmly believe his problem has been down to lack of application and a questionable attitude. You could also add Giovani dos Santos to that list. World-Class for Mexico, but like Bentley has made little effort to put in the work for Spurs.
8) Who are you most worried about in the City side?
Holt is a natural striker and imposing physical threat and I also like Anthony Pilkington, who greatly impressed me last season. Though now a former Spur, I look forward to seeing Sebastien Bassong do well for you. With games fitness and renewed confidence, I believe you have got an absolute bargain there.
9) If you could have your pick of players from both squads, what would be your best combined Spurs/Norwich XI?
Friedel, Walker, Kaboul, Vertonghen, BAE, Parker, Sandro, Lennon, Van der Vaart, Bale and Adebayor. Arrogant that may be, but individually that would be my team, though with Dembele, Sigurdsson, Gallas, Dawson, Livermore, Defoe etc, we have plenty of quality in depth. Do I have a point? Of course picking the best players doesn't guarantee the best team, as you guys showed us at WHL last season...
10) What are your expectations for the season?
I would take 5th or 6th now, but have hopes for higher. That isn't to say I am negative, but with half a new team, new manager and playing style, can we expect to better last season in the short term? Lets be honest, You can see the Manchester's and Chelsea filling the top three places, and Arsenal, Spurs, Liverpool, Newcastle and Everton all having similar expectations. Perhaps on the 1st of September my view will change. It wasn't so many weeks ago that Spurs were expected to blood several kids and work with youth, but will that change if we spend a quite possible £50m between now and the closing of the window. Then perhaps I will be looking at top four bring the expected finish.
11) What's your prediction for the game?
Despite only getting one point from two games, I think that Spurs have played quite well, but a mix of bad luck, lack of creativity and poor finishing, we could have won both games with some comfort. That luck will, I believe change, but at this time, I would take any result, as long as it ends up with a Spurs win. If I were to place a bet, I would go with a slightly more optimistic 2-0 to Tottenham.