NORMAN GILLER’S SPURS ODYSSEY BLOG No 117
Submitted by Norman Giller
Our resident Spurs Odyssey ‘old hack’ blogger Norman Giller sends an open letter to Mauricio Pochettino on behalf of ALL Tottenham and England football fans
Buenos dias, Mauricio. Espero que esta carta te encuentre bien.
Good day, Mauricio. I hope this letter finds you well.
I am writing on behalf of all England football fans to thank you for what you are doing for Spurs in particular, and for the English game in general.
You have been like a hurricane of fresh air blowing in from the Pampas since taking over at White Hart Lane in May 2014 (I could say Harrikane, but you are far too intelligent to want to waste your time interpreting my juvenile play on words).
We are indebted to you for pumping the pride back into Tottenham (including we supporters), and setting new standards in the two vital areas of fitness and skill, in that order.
You can have all the technical ability in the world, but if you do not have the physical and mental strength to go with it then it will be seen only in fleeting glimpses.
How lucky the likes of Harry Kane, Dele Alli, Eric Dier, Danny Rose and Kyle Walker are to have you sharing your fitness-first philosophy with them. You are teaching them that attitude is every bit as important as ability, plus the importance of team achievement ahead of individual satisfaction.
They have taken this outlook and this spirit into the England camp, and it is obvious to all that it is contagious. The Spurs contribution to the exciting 3-2 victory over world champions Germany had Pochettino Philosophy written all over it, like a Morris dance set to an Argentinian tango.
Roy Hodgson is the beneficiary, and appreciates the special Tottenham code of conduct that now permeates his squad.
We all greatly respect your faith in young English footballers, and wish other clubs would follow your lead. England has the talent, but it takes somebody with your vision to tap into it.
I will not bore you for long about myself, but I just want to earn your ear by pointing to my past. I have followed Tottenham from their Push and Run championship days of the 1950s, and from the privileged position throughout the 60s and 70s of a press box seat in an era when I was able to call legendary manager Bill Nicholson a friend as well as a contact.
You and Bill would have got on like a casa on fire. He was a great believer in fitness first, and famously on a visit to the Bolshoi Ballet in Moscow on a Spurs close-season tour in 1959 got the interpreter to go back stage and find out the secrets of their stamina. From then on he introduced revolutionary light weight-training to the Tottenham curriculum as practised by the ballet dancers. Two years later the historic League and Cup Double.
Regardless of how Spurs finish come May, I want you to know we are indebted to you for the season you have given us, in which the football has been a joy to behold and played in the best Spurs traditions. We have a history of the Beautiful Game being flourished with style, panache and in a spirit of good sportsmanship. You have lifted those standards to new heights.
I have been to the Sante Fe Province where you grew up, Mauricio, and greatly admire what you have achieved from a less than privileged launching pad. You were brought up with good knowledge of English football heritage as a member of Newell’s Old Boys, founded in memory of Kent-born Isaac Newell, the schoolteacher who was the father of football in Argentina.
I saw you playing for Argentina, and noticed that you did not take prisoners. But you balanced your physical force with control and composure (except when you upended Michael Owen to give England a David Beckham penalty kick that settled the 2002 World Cup finals match!).
You are still fondly remembered at Espanyol for both your performances as a player and as a coach, who fed off the lessons you learned from fabled Argentine guru Marcelo Bielsa. He is known as El Loco – the Mad Man – because of his eccentricities, but you took the best of his coaching ideas and incorporated them into your own personal package.
Southampton’s fans are understandably still upset that Tottenham poached you away from St Mary’s, and we Spurs supporters do not give chairman Daniel Levy enough credit for seeing your potential as a team builder.
Daniel has an honours degree from Cambridge University, and you are proving yourself a professor of the football coaching arts. Together, with a state-of-the-art stadium on the horizon, you can build Tottenham into one of the world’s great clubs.
A quiet plea, Mauricio. When the major-major clubs come calling, as they will, please do what Luis Firpo once did to Jack Dempsey … knock them out of the ring.
‘Angel’ Firpo was known as the Wild Bull of the Pampas. You are the Quiet Assassin from Sante Fe.
Take Spurs to the Moon, Mauricio. And please take us with you.
Just a reminder of the state of play after the week’s international break, and I repeat my summary from my last blog … With a 5-point lead it is Leicester’s title to lose, but the pressure on them coming into the home straight is going to be enormous. If everything goes to the Pochettino plan, Spurs could time their run to get a nose in front on the line.
From here on in every match is a cup final, and ideally no points can be dropped.
These are the mountains left to climb, and I give points out of ten for their degree of difficulty:
April 2: Liverpool away (8)
April 10: Man United home (7)
April 18: Stoke City away (7)
April 25: West Bromwich Albion home (6)
May 2: Chelsea away (8)
May 7: Southampton home (6)
May 15: Newcastle away (6)
Compare this run-in to the challenges facing Leicester:
April 3: Southampton home (6)
April 10: Sunderland away (6)
April 17: West Ham home (7)
April 24: Swansea City home (6)
May 1: Man United away (8)
May 7: Everton home (6)
May 15: Chelsea away (8)
The Fox hunt continues.
SPURS ODYSSEY QUIZ LEAGUE, Week 34
Week THIRTY-FOUR of our Spurs Odyssey Quiz League, and you seemed to find last week’s question a doddle: “I scored 68 goals in 174 League games for Spurs and later moved to Watford and then QPR. Who am I and against which team did I collect a Uefa Cup winners’ medal with Tottenham?”
Yes, Mark Falco, who scored against Anderlecht in the Graham Roberts/Tony Parks' Uefa Cup final. Has there been a celebration to match it? Let’s see what happens if Spurs win the Premier League title!
This week’s teaser: “I have scored 16 goals in 46 international matches, and dropped out of school to come to Europe to start my career. I scored my first League goal for Tottenham against Crystal Palace. Who am I, and for which German club did I score 20 goals in 73 Bundesliga matches?”
You get two points for identifying the player, and a bonus point for naming the German club for which he scored 20 goals in 73 League matches.
Keep a check on your points tally, because the contestant topping the SOQL table at the end of the season will receive a huge, personally autographed photograph of Spurs legend Jimmy Greaves, plus a signed, framed certificate announcing the winner as the 2015-16 Spurs Odyssey Quiz League champion.
PLEASE NOTE that because my server gave me problems for a couple of weeks I failed to receive some SOQL responses, and so I would like you to tell me if you think you have maximum points. I have discovered three contestants not listed in the recent League table who should have been listed among the leaders.
Email your answers, please, to SOQL34@normangillerbooks.com Give your name, the district where you live and how long you’ve supported Spurs. I will respond, and will email a screen version of one of my Tottenham-themed books to the sender of the first all-correct answer drawn at random. Closing date for entries: midnight this Friday.
First name drawn at random from the correct answers last week is Mark Taylor, of Redruth, Cornwall. I will email a screen version of one of my Tottenham-themed books to Mark who has supported Spurs since 1978.
Thanks for your company. See you same time, same place next week. COYS!
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