MATCH PREVIEW: Tottenham Hotspur v Newcastle United, White Hart Lane, 13/Dec/15, KO: 4pm, Premier League.

by • December 10, 2015 • Match previewsComments (11)3156

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Tottenham Hotspur are considered a big club.  They sack managers for being 7th in the league.  They sacked a manger who finished 4th in the league.  There’s an expectation.  A need for quality and a desire to be entertained.  The manager believes his club are a bigger club than Chelsea.  It’s never really commented upon.  People I know accept Spurs are a big club.  Not the biggest, but a big club with grand ambitions.

They are currently building a 61,000 seat stadium.  It won’t be cheap.  They are making plans to welcome the NFL, maybe even play host to a London based team in years to come.  Planning for the future and daring to dream, or ‘to dare is to do’, as their moto proudly exclaims.  They’ve had players like Dimitar Berbatov, Luka Modric and Gareth Bale light up The Lane in recent years.  All three of them sold on to ‘bigger clubs’.  Some of the money wasted, some of it shrewdly invested.  Wasting money seems to be a crime.  What would you have done with the Cabaye money from Jan 2013.  ‘Wasted’ it on an inferior player or kept it hidden, signing Jack Colback on a free.  I like Jack Colback and he’s a victim of playing these horrific 4 2 3 1 formation essentially rendering his creative talents useless, but he’s no Yohan Cabaye.  Back to Tottenham Hotspur and Tottenham Hotspur being a ‘big club’.  Are they bigger than Newcastle United?  Well they aren’t perrenial relegation strugglers.  They’ve played in each year of the Premier League.  They’ve won more trophies and reached more finals in my life time.  They’re in Europe more regularly. They’ve played in the Champions League more recently.  They’re a bigger club.

Why though?  London base?  North/South divide?  Does it matter?  Should Newcastle United be able to compete with Daniel-Levy_3101997bSpurs?  Is it possible at all? Well it was.  In fact, it wasn’t even close.  For Newcastle United’s first 12 seasons in the Premier League, Tottenham Hotspur finished above Newcastle United just once, in the 1998/1999 season when United were managed by Ruud Guillit.  It wasn’t until Graeme Souness came along that Spurs finished above United for two consecutive seasons.  Bobby Robson’s sides never finished below Tottenham Hotspur, nor did Kevin Keegan’s during his full seasons in charge.  It’s not like we can blame Champions League success for Spurs.  The club have tasted the Champions League football just once, in the 2010-11 season.  So the extra income from that one season cannot be enough to provide a reason for Tottenham’s 10 successive superior league finishes between the two clubs.

Spurs have spent a net total of £153 million in the last 10 seasons, a modest net spend and only so low due to huge cash generating player sales.  The type which drive fans crazy.  But even so they’ve comfortably outspent NUFC.  With no Champions League cash to propel them ahead of us, what is it that makes them outperform us?  Is it a huge fan base paying through the nose for every game?  Tickets for Catgeory C games at Tottenham range from £32 – £44.  At NUFC it’s £25 -£41. Category A games range from £46 – £71.  NUFC range from £38 – £62.

Hardly catastrophic price differences for Newcastle United.  The extra 17,000 average gate for the smaller club in the Northern Threads knitwear ad and link to their websiteNorth East would surely negate such small difference in cost per match ticket.  Across 4 Europa League home games last season Spurs had an average home attendance of 27,000.  Our average in 12/13 was 35,000.  Simply 8,000 more people wanted to watch United play in Europe.  Maybe it was the novelty factor for us, and Spurs fans are bored of it all.  But then again Spurs are decent, and have always been a top ten side since the turn of the decade.  Bar one season in 11/12 – United have been shit.  Maybe it was the prices, but Spurs Monaco on Thursday night was £25 adults and £5 kids – similar to United’s price model for the 12/13 Europa League campaign.

So how an earth of Tottenham Hotspur a big club, and Newcastle United aren’t?  Why did Deli Ali choose them over us?  Imagine the two arguments put forward by Daniel Levy and Lee Charnley.  Actually scrap that, imagine just meeting Daniel Levy and our bloke.  Who outside of Newcastle has heard of Lee Charnley?  Why sign for Newcastle United?  Fancy a relegation scrap?  You’ll be sold in two years if you’re any good.  Why sign for Spurs?  Chasing Europe, glory, cup finals and a new stadium with double the fans coming in.  And if you’re any good we’ll still sell you.  Not really a choice is it.  The simple fact is Spurs want it more. ‘It’ being football success.  Can you imagine Charnley sacking a bloke for finishing fifth and being seventh in the league in October, 6 points off fourth.  The last bloke that managed that for us was given an 8 year deal, not sacked.  It’s ambition. True they replaced him with the hapless Sherwood (who finished 6th), but there are parallels with our decision to appoint Carver.  Spurs were waiting for one of the Premier League’s most exciting and sought after managers, not a bloke sacked by Derby for finishing 7th.  They’re miles ahead of NUFC in terms of the demands of their staff, their players and their directors.  Daniel Levy is unpopular for the ‘lack of investment’ in the squad beyond what has been recouped in player sales – while building a new stadium.  I’m not saying Spurs fans are wrong, at all, they have every right to expect every penny from player sales be poured back into the playing staff, and then some.  I’d swap him for Charnley though.

So this weekend United travel to Spurs hoping not to get a hiding.  Last weekend was good. So good. So unexpected. For Classic1so many reasons.  The Corner and the Gallowgate in full voice. By the end the Leazes and parts of the Milburn too.  We get it twice a season if we’re lucky.  Sissoko was excellent.  You all hate him but he was the difference.  Paul Dummet was heroic in the second half and Colocini showed glimpses of why we fell in love with him all those years ago.  So much could have gone wrong, but almost everything went right and for that I’m grateful.  Grateful to the players for proving there is a team in there somewhere.  Grateful to McClaren for proving that we can defend and he can motivate this team.  Being grateful doesn’t alleviate the overall feeling that this bunch of loser players and the has been (if he ever ‘was’) manager aren’t fit to call themselves the employees and servants of Newcastle United.  So there’s a long way to go.

The big one is Vile at home, next Saturday night.  I hate them so much.  It’s a must win.  Vile have Arsenal at home this weekend so beating them will put 10 points between us (assuming we both lose this weekend).  So this weekend is a “bonus”.  Anything we get from the game is massive plus and a respectable defeat doesn’t really change McClaren’s job prospects much – as a win over Vile is all important.  I don’t think a club like Newcastle United should be viewing a game at Tottenham Hotspur as a “bonus” for the reasons I’ve outlined above, but you know.

So what McClaren needs to do is get another performance out of the side.  Another pasting will not go down well and will Link to Toon Photography websiteprove that all the stars aligned for the Liverpool victory (how were they so bad???).  Spurs have lost just one game this season.  They didn’t deserve to lose that against Manchester United and since then they’re unbeaten, which is impressive.  They’ve drawn more games than anyone else in the league conceding just 12 goals.  United have conceded 30 in our 14 games…and kept 3 clean sheets.  Ominous.  Their team, at times, has been a delight to watch.  They were the better side at Arsenal.  They battered Man City 4 1 and murdered Bournemouth 5 1 away from home.  Spurs have a settled side.  The back 5 and Harry Kane up front picks itself with around 8 first team players occupying the other 5 positions.  In Loris, Alderweireld,  Dier, Erikson and Kane – it’s as solid a spine as there is in the Premier League.  Compare it to Elliot, Colo, Anita, De Jong and Cisse.  I know who I’d back.

So McClaren has the impossible job of beating Klopp’s rampant Liverpool, and he succeeded.  Setting us up like the away team, getting to 60 and going from there.  Not that difficult.  This will be much harder.  Sit back and we invite pressure from a team used to scoring goals against far better team than ourselves.  The last time a team ‘dug in’ at White Hart Lane, West Ham, Spurs pummelled them 4 1.  Not nice.  I think McClaren will obviously have to concede possession and aim to keep it tight, sit deep at times, but there needs to be an attacking threat.  Cisse put himself a bout v Liverpool and played well.

More of the same is needed and we’ll have to keep the ball better than we did against Liverpool.  Make Spurs get anxious, phoenix_taxis_adchase the game and panic.  We might have the slightest chance of nicking it 2 1.  There’s only so long Dummet can go on pretending to be a left back (despite being imperious second half v Liverpool) and Rob Elliot can go untested.  He conceded 8 in two games v Palace and Leicester and was untested v Liverpool.  They have better players everywhere, it has to count.

Realistically all I want is to see commitment effort and endeavour.  If we run as much as Spurs and replicate it the following week, we’ll beat Villa, and that’s what matters.

Prediction: Spurs 3-0.

ALEX HURST – Follow Alex on @tfalex1892 

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11 Responses to MATCH PREVIEW: Tottenham Hotspur v Newcastle United, White Hart Lane, 13/Dec/15, KO: 4pm, Premier League.

  1. Rob says:

    Alex, I don’t think you can overstate the importance of location in Newcastle’s lack of success relative to Spurs, it is something a lot of people can’t get their heads around, loving their city as they do. The club has always had to pay a premium on players to attract them to the North East and for some no amount of money will do it, ditto for Sunderland. We had one of the biggest wage bills in the league during the 1980’s for a team containing the likes of Pat Heard, Gary Megson and George Reilly and the successful years you talk about were achieved by running the club into a huge debt. If you forget everything you know about Newcastle for a moment and imagine you are an extremely talented footballer from Europe or Africa and your agent comes in with two offers, one means living and playing in London, a place you know about, which has a community of your fellow countrymen, the other means living somewhere you may not have heard of which is in the middle of nowhere up near Scotland and looks freezing cold, can you honestly say you wouldn’t be ripping Spurs’ arm off. If you then add in Spurs having a decent youth set up and us having possibly the worst in the PL then it isn’t hard to see why the clubs are going in different directions. For most of period you mention when we were finishing above Spurs we were outspending them, for 8 or 9 of those years they had Alan Sugar in charge who was to a large degree the Spurs version of Mike Ashley, he spent very little and eventually sold out for a profit.

    • Simon Sharp says:

      How many times have you seen Spurs come up to Newcastle (admittedly not recently) on a winter’s night/afternoon and just not fancy it? The 7-1 cuffing in 96, that lovely cup replay in 99 when Dyer and Speed – God rest him – ran the game and Ginola looked lost? Robert’s 2 worldies in 2003? There’s something about a freezing cold St James Park that the City boys don’t like and yet, as you point out, it goes against us in trying to attract the very best players (allied with the club’s total lack of ambition). And yeah, our youth set up isn’t worthy of the name.

    • Alex says:

      Hi Rob – i agree with that to an extent – but to finish above them 13 years out of 14 – proves that if we are run correctly as a club, we should be at the very least competing with them, if not outperforming then.

      Regarding location, if you pay the money people will come. Maybe we have to pay a premium, but we have had an extra 323,000 people per season coming through the gate for the last 13 seasons – even if each ticket averaged £25 -(it will be higher) – the extra money is worth an extra £80 million. That’s before you get into hospitality, tv money, shirt deals etc. So if we have to pay Deli Ali, £15k a week more than he would take at Spurs, our fan base dictates we should have the money.

      • Anton says:

        I tend to agree with Alex.
        We are not a poor club and a lot of the debt we used to run was down to simple good old-fashioned mismanagement: people siphoning cash out of the club to build their empires; paying exorbitant management/agent fees for the likes of Boumsong (£8m? really?!); and not being able to draft decent contracts so that hacks like Allardyce were able to take us to the cleaners.
        Those were the big ticket items that nearly sunk us, not the extra £1k per week “NE-tax” (if it even exists).

      • Rob says:

        You may be right but I think you can whistle for us being run correctly as a club Alex. Going by the last set of of accounts from both clubs our revenue is £50m less than Spurs at £130m to their £180m, out of that figure match day income was similar for both teams at around £25m, theirs was £3m lower but didn’t have corporate hospitality included unlike ours, of course they had some extra cup games in there. They currently have a 45,000 waiting list for a season ticket which means they can charge what they like, I think the cheapest season ticket at WHL is £765 and the dearest is £1895. Not saying this to be a smart arse btw, was genuinely interested in how the clubs matched up in terms of money. If we were going for a better comparison of where we would be if well run, Everton bring in slightly less than us, have a lower wage bill and finish higher than us every year.

    • Phil says:

      Absolutely spot on,Rob. We can never compete on lure of London for any young aspiring foreign player ,despite large swathes of it being a dirty shithole, with screaching urban foxes waking you up most nights and being accosted for money by drugged up pissed “taxi drivers” who’ve been “mugged” to help them get home. Just a few of the advantages.

    • mammyslittlesoldier says:

      I don’t entirely buy this reprise of “nobody wants to live in the north east” (As an aside, did we really have one of the biggest wage bills in the league in the 80’s…how long for?). I thought we’d got rid of that years ago. It’s about finding the right players…some blokes will prefer to live in London but other will be more open minded… Newcastle isn’t some awful back end of beyond shit hole. It’s a global game so we’re not just competing with London clube – for example, Schalke do ok in European terms and Gelsenkirchen isn’t much like London.

  2. Davey says:

    It’s an unfortunate consequence that not trying, more often than not, leads to inferior results compared to people/companies/football clubs that indeed DO try.

    (Unfortunate for us, that is).

  3. John says:

    The difference is ambition, which the Mike Ashley version of NUFC completely lacks. If Newcastle had the ambition to match their fan base they would have moved heaven and earth to get someone like Klopp. With a manager like Klopp you WILL get the best players wanting to play for you. How would we pay for them? Vastly increased income from sponsorship, shirt sales, advertising, TV money (we would be higher up the table and get more games on TV), Champions League money, additional games played in cup competitions where we weren’t knocked out in the first round……….

    I agree, Spurs 3 NUFC 0


  4. tom Bates says:

    Spurs also look to develop young players look at the number of young english players in their side something we have completely neglected the last few years. If we go back as far as the 50s you would say Newcastle and Sunderland were bigger clubs than Spurs Chelsea and on a par with Liverpool in terms of trophies fan base and potential. Sadly we’ve been poorly run for the majority of the time since and have been mostly an irrelevance aside from the Keegan and Robson days. We have a chance there tomorrow though we’ve won there a few times recently and they’ve played midweek. If we beat Villa we will almost certainly be out of the bottom 3. I can’t see Sunderland getting any more points till xmas either.

  5. Pat Hughes says:

    My prediction last week was, surprisingly, spot on except football didn’t go into meltdown and the media weren’t moaning on about injustice etc. This lot are the media darlings and I’ve never understood why but they used to give us regular points both home and away so I’ll have 3 points tomorrow please.