14 August, 2005

Football: Premier League, the first week

Blimey. Most of the Guardian pundits picked Tottenham to finish fifth. Ok, that's not quite Champions' League territory. If correct, it would Spurs best ever finish since the Premier League opened up shop in the early nineties.

Fifth. Cripes. Undoubtedly, opinions have been swayed by the calming influence of coach Martin Jol. This time last year, if you remember, Spurs were under the new leadership of former French national coach, Jacques Santini. There was also a technical director, Frank Arnesen, in Spurs new "continental style" setup.

That combination didn't last until Christmas, as Santini left the club claiming personal difficulties. Irrespective of the real reason, the team faltered after a promising start. It became a fitful season, despite further great strides under Jol - Santini's assistant and immediate replacement.

Arnesen, of course, bolted to Chelsea's millions over the summer. Yet, there's still optimism at the Lane. Edgar Davids is only part of that positive outlook. The young squad shows promise. In Jermaine Defoe, Spurs have natural goal poacher though how long they can retain him will be a constant question. There's other talent in Ledley King (though injured); England's no.1 goalie, Paul Robinson; Egyptian star, Mido; midfield dynamo, Michael Carrick; and new signing, Wayne Routledge.

At Portsmouth yesterday, in the driving rain, Tottenham were outplayed, but triumphed 2-0. That's cause for optimism. Good teams overcome indifferent performances against inferior opposition and win.

Fifth? Probably a little beyond hope. My pessimistic prognosis is 10th. Another few wins like this and I might change by mind.

(Isn't this supposed to be a baseball blog?)


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