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Wednesday, 22 February 2017

The magic of the FA Cup


FA CUP

Millwall keeper Leslie punches clear from Alan Gilzean

The FA Cup draw has handed us with an excellent chance of making the semi-finals if we take the competition seriously.

The semi-final may well see four of the top five or six teams in the country going through to the next round which will be a sponsors dream for the interest it will generate. The cup has seen some of the magic return this year with the exploits of lower league teams and especially the non-league boys of Lincoln City.

Being the first team since 1914 to get to the quarter-finals, it reminds me of the only team to have won the FA Cup as a non-league side, Tottenham Hotspur. I think that record is safe though.

The Tottenham victory happened in 1900/01 when we were a Southern League club beating Sheffield United in the final 3-1 after a replay. The first game finished 2-2.

On the way we beat Preston North End (1-1, 2-4), Bury (2-1), Reading (1-1, 3-0), WBA (4-0) and Sheffield United.

The Millwall tie at White Hart Lane is on Sunday 12 March at 2pm and will be shown live on BBC1.


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Spurs looking at midfield options


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Our midfield has undergone somewhat of a change in personnel since Mauricio Pochettino took over at White Hart Lane. We lacked the steel in midfield that we now have.

Alex Pritchard, Ryan Mason, Tom Carroll, Paulinho, Lewis Holtby, Nabil Bentaleb, Etienne Capoue, Benjamin Stanbouli, Jake Livermore, Gylfi Sigurdsson and Sandro have all left or are leaving. That's a whole team.

The most notable introductions have been Victor Wanyama and the development of Harry Winks, who continues to look like just the sort of midfield player we need and he has cost us nothing.

It is general to have three players for each position. We can provide that with versatile players, but if say Eric Dier is wanted in defence and there is an injury to a crucial midfield player, Wanyama say, then our resources could become stretched.

Mousa Dembele plays a slightly different role to that of Wanyama and we seem to have been looking for players for both roles. Of the players we were linked with listed below, two stand out, 19-year-old (20 in May) Youri Tielemans at Anderlecht and 18-year-old (19 in November) Leo Da Silva Lopes at Peterborough.

The latest reports are that we are in pole position to sign Tielemans, but these things can change every few days and are only a reporters guesswork usually. The list will no doubt grow before the summer.

Players Linked in January
Defensive Midfield
Leandro Paredes - 22 
Steven N'Zonzi - 28
Franck Kessie - 20

Central Midfield
Youri Tielemans - 19 
Leo Da Silva Lopes - 18
Riechedly Bazoer - 20
Marcelo Brozovic - 24



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Rose, Lamela, Edwards miss training


UEFA CHAMPIONS LEAGUE

Tottenham Hotspur players resumed training today ahead of the UEFA Europa League tie against Gent at Wembley stadium tomorrow.

Absent from first-team training were Danny Rose, Erik Lamela and Marcus Edwards putting their selection in doubt for the game where we must overturn a 1-0 deficit from the first-leg.

There should be a capacity crowd to cheer the side on with Wembley being sold out again for the game.


Unfortunately Tottenham have not convinced at our temporary home and ahead of next season we really need to start showing that the place is more like home than we have shown so far. We lost against Monaco, we lost against Bayer Leverkusen before beating a pathetic CSKA Moscow side going into their winter break 3-1.

Having dropped into the UEFA Europa League the players did what we have seen before from Spurs, they weren't motivated enough for the game, they simply didn't see it as a big game. Mouse Dembele admitted as much when he said Spurs underestimated them. That is the wrong mental attitude and it's frustrating that we still see it.

Now we have to score two goals without reply and put our a strong enough side to achieve that ahead of an important game against Stoke City in the Premier League on Sunday.


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Is Bruma another Depay?


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Is-Bruma-another-Depay?

Tottenham Hotspur have been linked with and made an offer for 22-year-old (23 in October) Portuguese winger Bruma, currently at Turkish club Galatasaray.

Turkish Football report from Galatasaray sporting director Levent Nazifoglu that Bruma wants to join one of the wealthiest clubs, although the Spanish clubs haven't shown any interest in him from what I gather.

“He has said he wants to play for Barcelona and Real Madrid. Bruma aims to play for Manchester United but if he wants to, he must change certain things."

You have to wonder about his mentality. Look at Memphis Depay whose ego believed he would be one of the best footballers in the world and yet when he came to the Premier League with Manchester United he couldn't hack it under more than one manager.

Many, many players move for money. Is his desire to join one of those three clubs for the wages or is he a player where that is immaterial to him? Turkish football is second division, a place you go when nobody else will have you, a place you go because of the tax advantages. So did he go there for money?

You need to establish his motivation before taking the plunge. From the outside we don't know and if it is money he isn't going to tell you that so his actions need to be analysed, not just his football. Finding out the real reason he went to Turkey may help unlock that.


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Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Player linked has the Premier League experience Pochettino liks


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The next piece of transfer talk is the Daily Star report about our apparent interest in 23-year-old (24 in March) Hull City youngster Harry Maguire.

The Hull Daily Mail report that centre-back Maguire has been linked with Everton, West Ham United and Southampton, unsurprising given his contract situation. In the summer he will only have a year left on his contract and Hull can't afford to let him leave a year later for nothing. They have to get him to sign a new contract or they will be forced to sell at a reduced fee.

The power is all with the player at this point and he and his agent can decide to wait a season and get a bigger signing on fee, stay or force the club to sell him this summer. Apart from offering a contract there is little Hull can do.

Neill Collins was Maguire's centre-back partner for Sheffield United from 2011 to 2014 and he thought his partner was the strongest player he had seen. That would explain why he is now one of the first names on the teamsheet at Hull. He has taken to Premier League football with aplomb.

You have to wonder though, playing regularly, would he be happy as a back-up to our first choice pairing of Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen. he certainly has the Premier League experience that Pochettino prefers.


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Spurs Scouting £3.4m player


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Scouting never ceases and we have been watching 20-year-old (21 next January) French Under-21 centre-back Issa Diop. Presumably Hugo Lloris will have been sounded out about the player and will have spoken to the French coaching staff about him.

He is right-footed and plays at Ligue 1 side Toulouse and extended his contract there last June until 2020. Transfermarkt currently value him at £3.4 million (€4.01m - AUS$5.52m - US$4.22m). He has played for France at Under-16 level (4 caps), Under-17 level (5 caps), Under-18 level (2 caps), Under-19 level (20 caps, 3 goals) and has currently 4 caps at Under-21 level. He has dual nationality so could still choose to pay for Senegal.

France Football reported that both Spurs and Arsenal sent scouts to watch him play against PSG recently. He has already played 1.920 minutes this season including 20 Ligue 1 games.

Looking at Whoscored, it says a weakness of his is that he gives away a lot of free-kicks which reminds me of Kevin Wimmer. We have demonstrated a weakness at set-pieces at times so that is a side of his game that we would need to develop.


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Monday, 20 February 2017

Frenchman doesn't fit Spurs transfer profile


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In much the same way that the agent of 29-year-old Italian central defender Andrea Ranocchia offered his client to Spurs and other Premier League clubs so Atletico Madrid are offering a player they don't want as well.

The player in question is 29-year-old (30 in May) Kevin Gameiro who clearly does not fit our transfer strategy. That doesn't stop some then misinterpreting the story to say he is a Tottenham target. Nowhere in the Daily Mirror article does it say he is a Tottenham target, merely that a professional writer thinks it might be a good idea.

One one hand they say the French striker is top class and yet he can't get in the Atletico side, another says he is ideal for Spurs.

He is a 15 goal a season striker. Since 2011/12 he has scored 11 goals, 8 goals, 15 goals, 8 goals and 16 goals in the league (French and Spanish) each season.

He is too expensive at figures around £30 million for a player who will be 30 next season.


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Saturday, 18 February 2017

Another Danny Rose replacement

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London duo Tottenham Hotspur and West Ham United, plus Merseyside duo Everton and Liverpool are tracking 20-year-old (21 next January) PSG and former French Under-16 left-back Fodé Ballo-Touré suggest MadeinFoot.

Also said to be interested in the youngster are Championship sides Brighton, Bristol City and Aston Villa, plus French Ligue 1 sides Lille, Nice and Rennes.

He isn't the first PSG youngster we have tracked or offered a contract to but none have as yet moved across the water to us.

Our interest though does show, as my last article points out, we are building for the future after Danny Rose. Rose is 26 now and will be 27 in July, so in three season we are looking at a 30-year-old by which time these youngsters we keep looking at will be that much older and have developed their game to take over from him.

At the moment he is only playing in the French youth league and the news outlet suggest he will not be signing a professional contract with PSG but moving elsewhere with Lille favourites for his signature.

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Transfer speculation - Defence


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Transfer-speculatio  Defence
Danny Rose is happy at Spurs

Being linked to well over 30 players during the winter transfer window I have broken that down into their positions to see if that can reveal anything to us. Having looked at goalkeepers we'll move on to the defence.

Players linked in January
Left-back
Ryan Sessegnon - 16
Luke Shaw - 21 
Marc Cucurella - 18

Centre-back
Andrea Ranocchia - 28 

The left-back speculation really surrounds Ben Davies. There is a lot of complete nonsense written about a swap deal between Danny Rose and Luke Shaw. Manchester City have also targeted our left-back. The fact is Danny Rose has turned down more money than those two can offer to go to China, a reported  £278,000-a-week from old boss André Villas-Boas, the manager of Chinese Super League club Shanghai SIPG.

Manchester United now consistently finish below us so there is no reason for Rose to want to go to Old Trafford and having expressed his desire to stay at Spurs, he clearly doesn't want to go there.

With Rose remaining at White Hart Lane, or Wembley next season, that leaves us keeping an eye on targets to possibly replace Ben Davies or for the future. We have to plan the next generation of full-backs so when Rose is approaching 30 we can sell him and replace him with a younger player.

To that end we are watching 16-year-old (17 in May) Ryan Sessegnon at Fulham and 18-year-old (19 in July) Marc Cucurella at Barcelona, currently in their B team. Neither signing would affect Ben Davies at the moment perhaps, but one that would is 21-year-old (22 in July) Luke Shaw at Manchester United.

Clearly he would be vying with Danny Rose or a starting berth and knowing Pochettino you think he would get back into the rhythm of training and getting his fitness to the levels Pochettino requires. There have been concern over this at Old Trafford where his fitness has been called into question at times.

It looks to me that we are watching players if there are developments surrounding Davies, but that we are not really expecting any.

The Italian press invented a story suggesting we were interested in 29-year-old (30 nxt February) centre-back Andrea Ranocchia at Inter Milan, but that was never the case. Missed by most websites and the national media was the fact that it was his agent touting for clubs for him that was contacting clubs to see if they would be interested in his client, not the other way around.

Come the summer though we may well need a replacement for Kevin Wimmer who simply isn't getting the game time he wants even with Jan Vertonghen injured. That signals that Pochettino doesn't trust him so with the right offer I'm sure we will be seeing him leave, probably back to Germany.

Cameron Carter-Vickers will be a year older and Eric Dier, who we originally saw as a centre-back, will have a year under his belt in the position. Will we rely on Dier there next season or will we buy?

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Transfer speculation - Goalkeepers


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Transfer-speculation-Goalkeepers
Hugo Lloris wants to stay at Spurs

Being linked to well over 30 players during the winter transfer window I have broken that down into their positions to see if that can reveal anything to us. We'll start with the goalkeepers.

Players linked in January window
Goalkeeper
Jordan Pickford (Sunderland) - 22 (23 in March)

Stories from Spain suggest Pochettino wants to sign Lopez permanently and make him the number two next season. Michel Vorm has just signed a new contract and is an able understudy to Hugo Lloris at the moment. Rather than as the Spanish press suggest he will be sold, perhaps he will be retained as third choice.

That would mean there is little choice in signing another keeper so although we are watching Jordan Pickford I don't see us making a move for him.

There is interest in our captain from Real Madrid but they seem to want 24-year-old (25 in May) Thibaut Courtois, who apparently has suggested to Chelsea that he wants to leave, if our general press are to be believed.

The good news for Spurs fans is that 30-year-old (31 in December) Hugo Lloris and 44-year-old (45 in March) Mauricio Pochettino have the same footballing philosophy. Lloris is very happy at the club and very happy to be working with Pochettino. As long as we continue to progress reports indicate Lloris does not want to leave.


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