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Norman Giller's Spurs Odyssey Blog (No. 15)

NORMAN GILLER’S SPURS ODYSSEY BLOG No 15
Submitted by Norman Giller

Norman Giller writes for Spurs Odyssey When the usually balanced Paul Smith – lord and master of this Spurs Osdyssey website – announces that he is joining the “Sherwood out” brigade I truly despair about the sagacity of Spurs supporters.

I appear to be in a tiny minority who cannot understand why so much dung has been tipped on Sherwood over the issue of his after-match Sandro quote.

What would you prefer, the honest answer to a question as given by Sherwood or the sarcastic nonsense of Mourinho’s response to Chelsea’s defeat by Sunderland?

Sherwood is one of the most direct people I have ever interviewed. He looks you straight in the eye and calls it as he sees it. He would never win prizes for diplomacy but at least you know exactly what he thinks.

I wrote this in my first Spurs Odyssey blog:

I interviewed Tim back in the early 90s when he was skipper of title-winning Blackburn Rovers, and he frightened me with his intensity. He is a football man through and through and if the results go his way could develop into a Cloughie-type character. He has the fastest tongue in the west when riled, and it may be fun to watch him as he grows with the job.

Of course, he is not going to be allowed to grow with the job and will be packing his bags next month. The lynch mob will have claimed another victim.

I am not in the least surprised he is making headlines with what he says, but I prefer to listen to him than those anti-Sherwood supporters who are being vile and abusive about him (not you, Paul!).

Here, verbatim, is what he said about Sandro’s ‘I’m not injured’ tweet (remember, he did not bring up the subject but was answering a question:

"I don't care about the tweet. I don't go on Twitter. He can tweet what he wants. I like Sandro's qualities, but in my eyes it wasn't right to put him in the squad – other people are ahead of him. I think Nacer Chadli's done well in there and I think Paulinho's done well in there. At the end of the day you always get an honest opinion from me and he's right what he's tweeting - he's not telling any lies. He's not injured, and he's fit to play, but he's not selected because he's not up to it at the moment ahead of other people. I really don't have a problem with him. He's a good lad. I don't have any problem with anything he's got to say. He's not being disrespectful to me, I don't think."

Now what is there in that quote that has made so many people start kicking Sherwood as if he is some sort of ogre? If he had refused to answer, his growing army of critics would have accused him of ducking a difficult question. He is in the sinking sands of can’t-win territory. Sherwood works with Sandro every day and knows him better than any of us. He would not leave him out of his team if he thought his presence would improve it.

I saw somebody describing Sandro as the ‘new Mackay.’ What an insult to the greatest of all Spurs players. The Brazilian could not tie his bootlaces.

Why is it so many supporters delude themselves into thinking they know better than the manager? As Bill Nicholson said to me long ago: “The worst thing about my job is being told how to do it by people who cannot trap a bag of cement.”

It’s not only at Tottenham. Last season Brendan Rodgers was taking terrible stick on line from Liverpool supporters. Moyes has been hammered non-stop, the vultures are back out for Big Sam at West Ham.

Those people describing Sherwood as “Dim Tim” are the same lot who called Harry Redknapp ‘Twitchy’ and AVB ‘Dumbo’. They resort to insults to make their point.

Let me assure you that Sherwood is far from Dim, has a sharp football brain and would buy and sell most of us for being streetwise. Those who call him Dim should look in the mirror.

Paul Smith will probably ask me politely to leave his page (Ed: No, I always accept structured and balanced articles), but I think it important to get behind the manager, whoever is in charge.

I detest this new sport of bash-the-manager. If the social media had been around in the days of Bill Nicholson (18th) and Keith Burkinshaw (relegated) they would have been chased out of their job in their first season by the know-it-alls who have never selected a football team in their life.

I just hope all those people demanding perfection set the same standards for themselves in their place of work.

Tim has got just three matches left before he is shown the exit door. Then the lynch mob will doubtless turn on his successor before next season is very old.

As Gerry Francis once told me: “Managing Spurs is the Impossible Job.”

***


It’s funny how history repeats itself. The Sandro/Sherwood incident has in it an echo of what once happened to Spurs legend Danny Blanchflower in the days when Jimmy Anderson was in charge at the Lane.

Anderson, promoted from trainer after Arthur Rowe had suffered a nervous breakdown, always cut something of a comic figure, because he used to wear his trousers with the bottoms tucked into socks, like golfing plus-fours. But there was nothing amusing about his public spat with Blanchflower, and he stripped him of the captaincy after a row during which he accused Danny of trying to knife him in the back.

According to Danny, he was innocent of any wrongdoing. It kicked off when he telephoned the London Evening News to discuss an article he was due to write for football editor JG (Jack) Orange. He had been left out of the team to play in a crucial relegation match at Cardiff, and Anderson had told Orange earlier in the day that it was because of an injury, which led the early editions.

I was working at the News as a sports room assistant and took the call. Danny asked for Jack Orange, and I told him he was out of the office. I passed the telephone to his deputy Vic Railton, who was establishing himself as one of the hungriest news gatherers in Fleet Street sports history.

Vic asked Danny about his injury, being polite rather than seeking a story. Danny was puzzled and answered truthfully: “Injury? What injury? I’m in fine shape. I’ve just been left out.”

The Evening News ran a ‘Blanchflower dropped’ exclusive under Vic’s byline in the last edition, and Anderson went ballistic, accusing Danny of trying to undermine him and stir up trouble.

The Tottenham directors had to choose between the manager they had just put in charge or the articulate but prickly Blanchflower. The directors sided with their manager and told Danny to button his lip, which was like instructing a chaffinch not to chirp.

I tell the full story in the limited edition book I am publishing called Danny Blanchflower, This WAS His Life.

Danny walked away from Eamonn Andrews and his This Is Your Life book. I was a member of the Life scriptwriting team for 14 years, and will be telling the true tale about Danny's life and career and quoting for the first time from the actual script for the show-that-never-was. The perfect Father’s Day gift.

Danny tragically died of Alzheimer's without knowledge of what he achieved as a footballer and writer. I will again be making a donation to the Tottenham Tribute Trust, who do so much to help our old heroes who have become lost in a fog of dementia.

For everybody who orders the book, I will be sending a personally signed message (which I hope does not devalue the book).

You can order the book here: www.normangillerbooks.com … or you could email me at author@normangillerbooks.com and ask me to put a copy on one side. I promise to respond.

I hope you will support this great cause and enjoy the book I have written about the most interesting, intelligent, talkative and artistic footballer I ever knew: Danny Boy, arguably the most influential player ever to wear the Lilywhite shirt. Thank you

*****


THE GILLER TEASER

Each week here in my Spurs Odyssey home I test your knowledge of Spurs. Several of you struggled with the question: Which member of the 1967 FA Cup winning squad moved to Craven Cottage the following year?

The key word was squad. The answer was Cliff Jones, who along with Joe Kirkup (Chelsea) was the first substitute for an FA Cup final. Neither got off the bench. Cliffie moved to Fulham after a ten year career at Spurs when he became a Lane Legend with his darting runs, skill and unbelievable bravery. Some of you answered Alan Mullery, who returned to Fulham in 1972.

The first name chosen at random from the correct entries is George Murray, of Southend-on-Sea, who wins a signed hard-back copy of Bill Nicholson Revisited.

This week’s teaser, with Saturday’s League game at Stoke in mind: Which FA Cup Final goal-scoring Spurs hero later played for the Woolwich Nomads and Stoke City?

A signed Bill Nicholson Revisited book (one of the few remaining hardback versions) to the sender of the correct answer whose name is randomly drawn first. Email your answer please to gillerteaser@normangillerbooks.com

The book is now available in paperback, with profits going to the Tottenham Tribute Trust: www.normangillerbooks.com

Thank you for joining me.

COYS!

The "Giller Index" - listing all Norman's articles for Spurs Odyssey

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