A nice literary start to your weekend sees a second bit of natter with another lad from the THFC fanzine scene. Wyart Lane of the well established My Eyes Have Seen The Glory has shared his thoughts ahead of the Sunday lunchtime kick off which we can all agree is a rank bad time for a match away in London. Top man! Have a nose into their website www.mehstg.com. I have us down for a 2-2 each. Nah, serious like.
TF: THFC seem to have moved on from the sale of Gareth Bale and have adapted accordingly. A fair comment or will THFC genuinely miss Bale as the season progresses?
MEHSTG : Any team would miss the sheer ability and athleticism of a Gareth Bale, but the money he brought in has been well spent and despite the media loving to slam Spurs, there has been a solidity long missing in the team. That might be at the sacrifice of playing open attacking football, but the team are still gelling and some players have adapted quicker than others, so the best might yet be to come.
TF: The signings of Paulinho and Soldado look to have added extra quality to the side. Are they 2 big threats for NUFC to watch out for?
MEHSTG : Paulinho isn’t like any other player I have seen in the Premier League. They say he is like a Brazilian Frank Lampard, but that doesn’t do him justice. He has a great engine, but a lovely touch and pops up to score almost from nowhere. For £17 million, he is a bargain, with Soldado costing a bit more, but he will still prove to be a very good player. The papers are just going on about him scoring penalties, but that is an important skill in itself. We are not quite giving him the service that he thrived on at Valencia, but that might come when the side find the right experience of the PL and the right blend. His runs are very good and if he can keep his calm, the goals will come for him. One threat that might not be from a position you thought it might stem from is Jan Vertonghen, who has now taken a more advanced role from left back and has been causing problems with his runs from deep, which can catch teams out.
TF: After hugely impressing in the last 2 England qualifiers, how much potential does Andros Townsend have?
MEHSTG : As much as he wants to apply himself to achieving. As the whole world knows now, he has been out on loan a lot and while he has been given the odd game before this season, he has come back stronger and more confident for having been good in a poor QPR side. To step up to the Spurs team and then England shows he is playing with no fear at the moment (apart from getting hit on his bad hand in the warm-up at Everton) and he has applied himself well, producing some very good performances, using the ball well to be a threat to Aaron Lennon’s place in the side. I am sure Real Madrid are watching him !!
TF: I always felt AVB would prosper outside the cliquey world of Stamford Bridge. What’s he done well since coming to WHL?
MEHSTG : Well, the squad have been much more receptive to his ways than the Chelsea players appeared to be. I think he did learn some lessons there and at Spurs has shown that he has the ability to change, with Michael Dawson being retained and offered a new deal when he looked on his way out last season. AVB’s tactical nous is yet to be really tested this season. Arsenal beat us, but were shaky when we threw everything at them at the end, but our cautious starts are sometimes our downfall, because if we do not go one goal ahead, chasing the game might be more difficult than in the last couple of seasons, when we were very good at that.
TF: THFC have bought land around the current WHL as part of a new ground and redeveloped area. What’s your take on how this will develop a poor part of London but also the effect on the current businesses in N17 potentially losing their livelihoods?
MEHSTG : Yes, there have been a lot of stories about businesses being ousted as Spurs make room for their new ground, but some of them did very well out of holding out until the end for big pay-offs. I remember when there used to be houses on the corner of the ground and some will be very close when (if ?) the new ground is built. I cannot understand how some businesses survive on what the fans bring into the area every other week (or midweek), but lots of businesses have gone to the wall over the last few years .. .especially pubs, how are suffering more than some other businesses. I think a new ground will bring more people into the area and the Sainsbury’s at the back of the ground is supposed to be opening this month and is one of the biggest around. There is a University Technical College (??) above it and a hotel and conference centre on the site too, but I am not sure how attractive that might be to other grounds near the centre of London.
If Tottenham left the area, then I think there would be a massive impact on the local traders.
TF: Are Spurs less a London club, more one of Hertfordshire these days?
MEHSTG : Interesting you say that, as the support has moved out form the original homeland of North-East London, but not just into Herts, but also Essex. There was a large site just on the M25 at junction 25, which was taken as the printing works for the Sun and the Times. It would have had great transport access, although the tube goes nowhere near it, but the same goes for White Hart Lane. Not sure what the club were looking for, as they did consider the Picketts Lock site, which had planning permission of or a sports stadium in the failed World Athletics Championships bid, but although nearer the Lane, the transport links are worse. Obviously, they did make a big play for the Olympic Stadium and their plan was the best, as it is not a football ground, but West Ham are welcome to play in a soul-less bowl of a stadium.
TF: Spurs have been the best backed London club at SJP in recent times. How would you rank the main London clubs in popularity within the capital and South East?
MEHSTG : Well, there has been a move for newbies to support Chelsea and Arsenal for their success, but the problem with that is that they can disappear just as quickly. A lot of Spurs fans have been going for years without wining stuff consistently and are devout rather than there for the glory … much like your own fans I guess ? I have more time for these fans and while Man City have the glory fans tagging on now, I knew a lot of them when they were very bad. So, I would guess in terms of numbers at the moment, we would be third and in terms of loyalty, maybe first, which is why there is always a good turn out in the top tier at SJP.TF: What’s your take on the issue of Spurs fans using the “Y*d” moniker. Inappropriate when society is trying to overcome bigotry or a bona-fide expression of a core part of a Spurs identity?
MEHSTG : The Y word debate rumbles on with people having a spin on it for their own personal reasons … some to get their faces in the papers.
Personally, I wish that people would look at their own clubs before slating Spurs. If there was such an interest in the subject when Spurs fans (Jews and non-Jews alike) were subjected to chants, hissing noises and Nazi salutes (even from Mark Bosnich during a game at White Hart Lane) since the 1970s as far as I am aware, then there might not be the debate today.
TF: If Daniel Levy and Mike Ashley swapped clubs, what would both clubs now look like? Would you recommend DL to NUFC?
MEHSTG : I wouldn’t recommend Levy to Newcastle, as he has done a great job for Spurs and you have one Spurs fan there already !! I think he wouldn’t leave Tottenham, but he would do a good job anywhere he went, as he is a good negotiator and has brought a lot of money into the club, as well as not being afraid to spend it. Not all has been spent well, but look at some of his major sales of players picked up relatively cheaply. Berbatov, Carrick, Modric, Bale. There is about £190 million to name but a few. I think that he works well with a budget and while the fans (and Harry Redknapp when he was in charge) would always like him to spend more, he has done well for his managers.
I must admit that the return of Joe Kinnear as Director of Football has been baffling. When he said he can pick up the phone to any manager on the Premier League, including Wenger and Ferguson, did he clarify that by saying whether they would answer or not ?
TF: Where do Spurs fans normally drink either side of the match? Do people stay in N17 or leave right after the game and head home or to other areas? Is this common for London clubs as opposed to NUFC where supporters remain in the city centre after matches.
MEHSTG : Lots of Spurs fans leave before the end … it is a running joke that it is a condition of the West Stand season tickets that you have to be out of the ground before the board goes up for added time !! Most of the few remaining pubs around the ground are Spurs fans only and so they will normally drink close to the Lane before hand. Afterwards, most people do drift away, as it is not the easiest of places to get away from and it is not like a City Centre location like yours, so the area does empty reasonably quickly.
TF: Wheres your usual shabeen in NE1 when you head up?
MEHSTG : I am not a big drinker, so we usually break the journey a way outside Newcastle for lunch … if the kick off time allows lunch.
Why do Newcastle keep getting increasingly absurd kick off times/days at White Hart Lane ?
TF: What’s your opinion of Newcastle United’s following when you’ve hosted United and when travelling up to NE1?
MEHSTG : Always a good noise from your section, even though I could perhaps do without the sight of so much flesh !!
I remember the FA Cup tie in 1987, when there were huge numbers of Toon fans and the atmosphere was electric. It’s not quite the same these days with all seater stadiums, but you are always well supported for our games.
TF: Prediction for the match and outlook for both clubs this season?
MEHSTG : I think that we might grind out a win, but it won’t be like last season, you will be relieved to know. Only playing one up front at home is causing some concern and with Remy showing he can be a very good goalscorer, there are threats that Spurs will have to work hard to counter.
Spurs have picked up more points against the same teams (replacing relegated clubs with promoted clubs) over the same fixtures of last season. I think they need to continue doing that and hopefully, the nature of their play will improve and become a little more fluent.
Newcastle can’t afford to lose games to the likes of Sunderland and Hull. You are well positioned for a higher finish if you can put a run of results together after Christmas. But something needs to be done to sort out the unrest among the players that happened in the summer and might resurface in the next transfer window, with Cabaye sure to be a target for teams across Europe. Although I understand Birmingham City have a good midfielder !!
Thanks to Guy Hannay-Wilson for sorting this and Wyart for his time.