NORMAN GILLER’S SPURS ODYSSEY BLOG No 135
Submitted by Norman Giller
The Managing Game (11) - Jimmy Anderson
August comes in with its football boots on and at last the phoney war is nearly over. There’s one major warm-up match to come in Oslo against old foes Inter-Milan on Friday, and then we can buckle our seat belts for the REAL thing.
This old git approached apoplexy when usually sane Spurs supporters allowed themselves to be sucked into making judgements based on the training-matches trip to Melbourne.
The defeats by Juventus and Atletico Madrid meant nothing apart from a slight bruise to the ego. The matches were meaningless in that at no stage did Mauricio Pochettino field anything close to the team that will carry Tottenham’s challenge into the upcoming Champions League season.
One thing we did learn is that a two-thirds empty MCG stadium is not conducive to producing a motivational atmosphere, so it is vital to attract 50,000-plus crowds to the temporary home of Wembley for the European encounters. We need to export the White Hart Lane spirit and soul to the daunting national stadium. Otherwise, dare I say it, we will not need a Referendum for an embarrassed Brexit.
We will get a good idea of what Pochettino considers his best team on Friday when all those players rested after the rigours of the Euro finals will be stripped for action.
It will be fascinating to see if Our Harry Kane can strike up an instant understanding with Flying Dutchman Vincent Janssen, and will Eric Dier and powerful Kenyan captain Victor Wanyama hit it off as twin barriers in midfield?
Inter are busy rebuilding under the experienced eye of former Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini, and with our recent history against them in the Bale-force era there is pride and prestige at stake.
We wait to see if winger Georges-Kevin N’Koudou is ready to wear the Lilywhite shirt, and whether Daniel Levy has concluded negotiations with Christian Eriksen’s agent.
The know-nowts on line spout as if the Eriksen talks could develop into a crisis, not really understanding that these sort of brinkmanship contract deals go on all the time. The fact that Pochettino handed Eriksen the captain’s armband against Atletico suggests he is not going anywhere else just yet.
What we did pick up on in Melbourne is that 17-year-old Mighty Atom Marcus Edwards is nearly ready to launch on the main stage. He is a tiny bundle of combustible energy and could cause some excitement with appearances from the bench this coming season.
Yes, fasten your seat belts.
It was 50 years to the day on Saturday that England won the 1966 World Cup, and I have put together an hour by hour reconstruction of the day thanks to having been in the privileged position of spending from breakfast time to suppertime and beyond with the England team.
Here’s a chance as a Spurs Odyssey reader to get an autographed copy of my 101st book – July 30 1966 Football’s Longest Day – at the post-free price of just £10. It’s a great holiday read (I would say that).
Kindly order it by clicking on the Spurs Odyssey link at the bottom of the page on my website: http://www.normangillerbooks.com/july-30-1966/4591562026.
You can see an edited version of a recent BBCtv interview I gave about the book here: https://normangillerbooksdotcom.wordpress.com. Even if I say it myself, I don’t look bad for an old hack in need of a preservation order.
End of sales pitch from a hungry writer.
We reach manager number eleven as I continue my history odyssey on the men who have carried the baton as boss at White Hart Lane. It makes uncomfortable reading as the club falls between Arthur Rowe’s triumphant Push and Run years and the coming of Bill Nicholson’s Double team …
JIMMY ANDERSON (1955-1958)
Appointed 18 April 1955
Resigned 11 October 1958
P153 W72 D32 L49 F311 A245 Win%46.58
JIMMY ANDERSON had been a member of the Tottenham backroom staff since way back in his teens in 1908, and he found his promotion to manager a burden rather than a blessing. He filled in as emergency manager when Arthur Rowe became unwell, and was then given the job permanently in July 1955. After years of playing second fiddle he suddenly found himself conducting the orchestra, and he just could not get the rhythm right.
A man of few words, Anderson would not have lasted five minutes in today's world in which Premier League managers are expected to give regular one-on-one interviews and press conferences. They have to know how to please and satisfy not only newspaper reporters but television, radio and internet interrogators. Jimmy was from the Victorian school philosophy: speak only when spoken to and treat the press like you would treat the police. He considered the media a pain in the arse (a good judge, perhaps!).
Anderson said following his promotion from the back room to the top job:
"Spurs have been my life virtually since I left school and I will do my best to meet the standards that Arthur Rowe set in his championship-winning season. All I ask from the players and supporters is patience while I settle into the job. I have inherited a talented team that is a little lacking in confidence. We must all pull together to get back into a winning groove. I ask the press to leave me to get on with the job without unnecessary interference. Matters of club business will be dealt with by our Secretary. My one priority will be dealing with the players and getting things right on the pitch.”
There were encouraging signs that Anderson was starting to get it right when Tottenham reached the FA Cup semi-final in 1956, going down 1-0 to Don Revie-inspired Manchester City, again –as in 1948 and 1953 – at Villa Park. But it was another false dawn, and suddenly all the media attention centred on an earthquaking bust-up between Anderson and his outspoken skipper Danny Blanchflower.
It reached the point where Danny was telling the newspapers how Spurs should be playing the game and how the club should be managed. Anderson blamed Danny for the Cup semi-final defeat, because he made tactical changes during the game without even a glance in the direction of the manager.
It is on record that he said to Danny in the dressing-room after the semi-final: ‘You have made me look a fool in front of the directors. I’m manager of this club, not you. In future don’t make any tactical changes without my say-so.’
Danny, never one to take a verbal volley without retaliating, replied: ‘I’m as disappointed as you and the directors. I tried to win the game by taking a gamble. You think I made a mistake. I think it’s better to make a mistake trying something than to accept things and do nothing.’
Blanchflower had still not taken his boots off, and was fuming that Anderson had gone for him so soon after the final whistle and the disappointment of defeat. From then on they were daggers drawn.
Anderson 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 conflict 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, it was all perfectly innocent. He telephoned the London Evening News – where at the time I was on copyboy duty – to discuss an article he was due to write with football editor JG (Jack) Orange. He had been left out of the team to play at Cardiff, and Anderson had told Orange that it was because of an injury. When asked how his injury was, Danny answered truthfully: ‘I’m not injured. I’ve just been left out.’
The Evening News ran a ‘Blanchflower dropped’ exclusive, and Anderson went ballistic, accusing Danny of trying to undermine him and stir up trouble.
The Board of directors had to choose between the manager they had just put in charge or the articulate but prickly Blanchflower, who had arrived from Aston Villa in 1954 in the Arthur Rowe era for a then club record £30,000, with promises of putting himself and Spurs on top of the tree. The directors told Danny to button his lip, which was like asking a chaffinch not to chirp.
The garrulous Irishman had a perfect understanding with Arthur Rowe, but when Jimmy Anderson took over he just could not get on the same wavelength. This was old school meeting new school, and a collision of ideals, ideas and personalities.
Danny and I later became good pals when we were both writing for Express Newspapers and during our many one-sided conversations (when I listened and Danny talked) he told me:
“My dispute was not so much with Jimmy as with the directors, who were guilty of massive interference. They got it wrong in the first place by promoting a man beyond his capabilities. He was a fine backroom worker, but was just not cut out for managing, and he had never played at top level. It made no sense that he was managing a major club. You don’t put an able seaman in charge of the ship. That way you will eventually hit the rocks. The Hungarians and Brazilians had recently shown we were light years behind with our methods, and it was so obvious that Jimmy Anderson was still living in the Ark. He never forgave me for sending Maurice Norman up from defence to lead the attack when we were battling to pull back the Manchester City lead in the FA Cup semi-final. I could not be one of those captains who just spun the coin. I saw it as my duty to make changes in the heat of battle rather than save it for the after-match inquest. Sadly, my argument with Jimmy dragged our then coach Bill Nicholson in, and for a while I was at loggerheads with a man for whom I had utmost respect. I went on the transfer list and when Bill finally took over from Jimmy he played me in the reserves. That hurt like hell. It all came right in the end, but I was never on Jimmy Anderson’s Christmas card list.”
There were signs of better things to come at Tottenham when big Maurice ‘The Ox’ Norman signed from Norwich as reinforcement for a creaking defence, and another beefy player – Bobby Smith – arrived from Chelsea to help power Tottenham to runners-up place in the 1956-57 title race. By then super coach Bill Nicholson was virtually running the show as Anderson – in his mid-sixties – battled with what had all the signs of the sort of nervous illness that had ended Arthur Rowe’s reign.
Jimmy was finally beaten by his health issues, and his long-anticipated resignation was announced in October 1958. He had just celebrated 50 years with the club, loyalty beyond the call of duty. But – like his old friend Billy Minter from back in the 1930s – he was not cut out to be a manager. And, just like Minter, it all became too much for him and he became the third Spurs manager to have a breakdown because of the enormous pressures and stress of the job.
The man who took his place was to become, without argument, the greatest and most successful manager in Tottenham’s history. Enter ‘Sir’ Bill Nicholson … and what an entrance! You can read all about it here next week.
SPURS ODYSSEY QUIZ TEASER
Just two weeks to the third Spurs Odyssey Quiz League kicking off! Meantime, I am challenging you each week to a teaser test of your knowledge of Tottenham players, ancient and modern. Last week’s teaser:
“I have been capped 11 times and am back in the Premier League after winning promotion last year. I played more than 100 first-team games for Spurs. Who am I and from which Dutch club did I join Tottenham?”
Yes, as you all managed to work out it is brilliant but sometimes unpredictable Brazilian goalkeeper Heurello Gomes who joined us from PSV Eindhoven. He has returned to the Premier League with Watford and is guaranteed a warm welcome back whenever he plays at the Lane.
First name drawn: John Phillips, from Chelmsford, a Spurs disciple since the mid-70s. I will be sending John a screen version of one of my Tottenham-themed books.
This week’s teaser: “I am a Geordie and have won 34 England caps, and scored two goals in 64 League games for Spurs. Who am I and from which London club did I join Tottenham in 2004?”
Please email your answer by midnight on Friday to SOQLTeaser@normangillerbooks.com. You will receive an automated acknowledgement.
Don’t forget to add your name, the district where you live and how long you’ve supported Spurs.
Thanks for your company. See you same time, same place next week. COYS!
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