NORMAN GILLER’S SPURS ODYSSEY BLOG No 27
Submitted by Norman Giller
With the Deutschland-dominated World Cup now consigned to the memory bank, we can give full concentration to all things Tottenham, and I have good tidings from the inner sanctum at White Hart Lane.
According to my sources (and it’s not HP or Ketchup) everybody from the cat to the chairman is delighted with the way Mauricio Pochettino has settled into his new role as head honcho.
There is a buzz about the place that has not been sensed since the peak times of Harry Redknapp, and the entire staff can’t wait for the season to start. They are gagging for it almost as much as we who watch and wait.
As Spurs prepare for their three-match warm-up across the Pond, the signs from the training ground are that Generalissimo Pochettino has got everybody singing from the same songsheet.
“It’s a very happy camp,” reports that goliath of goalkeepers Brad Friedel, who could set a record this coming season as the oldest footballer ever to play in the Premier League.
It’s reassuring that Hugo Lloris has signed a five-year contract. He is the Napoleon of goalkeepers, totally in command of his territory and on his way into Lane legend alongside masters Pat Jennings and Ted Ditchburn.
But equally important is the back-up, and Tottenham could not have more experienced hands than those of 43-year-old Friedel, who has signed for another year with Spurs. I’ve told him he should have gone into US politics, because he is so measured and authoritative in everything he says and does.
Tottenham have recognized his gift for communication, and have made him an official club ambassador with special responsibility for opening doors in his USA homeland.
Brad will be working hard off the pitch during the upcoming trip to the States. The official club website confirms:
“Brad’s ambassadorial role will have a wide-ranging remit that will include greater involvement in our global coaching programme, engaging with our 30 supporters clubs from across North America as we continue to increase our global presence and bring our international fan base closer to the club.
“Brad has enjoyed an impressive 17-year career in the Premier League to date, representing Liverpool, Blackburn Rovers and Aston Villa before joining us in the summer of 2011. Capped 82 times by his country, including appearing in two World Cup final tournaments, he has made a total of 67 appearances in goal for us.”
When I put it to Brad that he should consider aiming for the Senate, he responded: “I am not cut out for politics, but I would like to put something back into football.”
He is a wonderful advertisement for his sport, his country and for Tottenham Hotspur, and is the first to recognise that he is understudying one of the world’s great goalkeepers.
“Hugo is an outstanding goalkeeper,” says true sportsman Brad. “He is very quick in his decision making off the line, brave and has excellent reflexes.”
If you want to know why I like baldie golden oldie Brad so much just have a look at this, and I defy you not to smile and admit he is one of the most likeable footballers in the game: http://www.footballtube.com/videos/brad-friedel-twitter-interview
Spurs are lucky to have an outstanding goalkeeper like Lloris on the line, and just as lucky to have Brad Friedel waiting in the wings. Those of us brought up on icons like Pat Jennings and Ted Ditchburn are happy Lilywhites.
I drew a lot of comment (and some criticism) last week with my Top 10 list of ‘heart and soul’ Tottenham players. Those knocking me for leaving out the likes of Glenn Hoddle misunderstood the criteria. Glenda would come very high in my list of most SKILFUL Tottenham players.
This should get you thinking (and purring) here in our Spurs Odyssey land … see if you can match my top 10 list of post-war Tottenham Midfield Masters, players, selected for their skill at passing, ball control and positioning:
1. DANNY BLANCHFLOWER
2. JOHN WHITE
3. GLENN HODDLE
4. EDDIE BAILY
5. OSSIE ARDILES
6. PAUL GASCOIGNE
7. TERRY VENABLES
8. MARTIN PETERS
9. LUKA MODRIC
10. VAN DER VAART
Over to you. Who would feature in YOUR top ten list of Tottenham players who could dictate the pace and pattern of a game from their midfield command post.
Yes, Danny Blanchflower comes top in my list of most skillful of all the midfield players. Anybody who saw him chipping the ball through to Greavsie, Smithy or Jonesie will, I know, nod in agreement. If you were too young to have seen him at his peak, you will just have to take my word for it. He was the great commander who could split a defence open with one intelligently delivered pass.
Dear Danny passed on not knowing his name, a victim of the old footballers’ curse of Alzheimer’s. I have told his remarkable story in Danny Blanchflower, This WAS His Life. All profits from my book go to the Tottenham Tribute Trust, and is available here at www.normangillerbooks.com
Please support this great cause. I get only good feedback from those who have read the book. Buy it and see if YOU agree with my assessment that Danny was the most influential player ever to pull on the Lilywhite shirt. Thank you. (Ed:- I am fortunate enough to have a copy of this book, and can vouch for its high quality content and production. The book is presented in a compact style and consists of over 200 pages)
A reminder that Davie ‘The Spurs Poet’ Elder will have a Danny Blanchflower bookstall at his Legends Night on Friday at Ross Park Hotel Kells in Ballymena. The main guests are Ossie Ardiles and Micky Hazard. Entertainment guaranteed. You can contact Davie here: https://www.facebook.com/TheSpursPoet
My regular reader will know I am keeping count of the players the KnowItAlls on Twitter and Facebook say Mauricio Pochettino is planning to buy. Last week the count had reached 32.
It is now up to – wait for it – THIRTY-NINE! Why oh why do so many people on the Internet turn gossip into fact?
I repeat: don’t believe a word of what the ITKs are saying. They know nowt. Only accept the deal is genuine when the player has signed a contract and is wearing a Lilywhite shirt.
It’s Pochettino Time. Enjoy!
THE GILLER TEASER
Each week here in my Spurs Odyssey home I test your knowledge of Tottenham. Last week I asked: Who was the only Tottenham player selected for the 2002 England World Cup squad?
As many of you replied, it was that beautifully balanced, balletic striker Teddy Sheringham, who had two memorable spells at Tottenham. He was a mere stripling of 36 when selected by Sven-Goran Eriksson.
The first name chosen at random from the correct entries: Michael Bell, of Luton, who wins a signed hard-back copy of Bill Nicholson Revisited.
This week’s teaser has a goalkeeper theme: Who was between the posts for Tottenham in all 42 League games in the 1977-78 season, and when Ossie Ardiles and Ricky Villa made their League debuts?
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
The book is now available in paperback, with profits going to the Tottenham Tribute Trust: www.normangillerbooks.com
Thank you for joining me. COYS!
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