Juande and Gus present their managerial guide for dummies
How to stop your team from scoring goals
Rival fans may have laughed at the fact that Tottenham finished eleventh last season after talking up their top-four credentials but one area where you couldn’t fault them was their knack of scoring goals. Their 66-goal haul was the fifth best in the league last season and even better than Chelsea’s. But Juande Ramos and Gus Poyet clearly weren’t happy with this free-scoring nature and set about enforcing a five-point plan to change things:
1. Get rid of Jermain Defoe
Juande logic: He might have scored 64 goals for the club from starting 110 games, but who needs Jermain Defoe when you’ve got Robbie Keane and Dimitar Berbatov? By selling him to another club with European aspirations, Portsmouth, there’s no way it’ll come back and bite us. If anything, he’ll help drag them down to our level.
The reality: Defoe has scored thirteen goals in eighteen league starts for his new club and scored against Tottenham this weekend.
2. You don’t win anything with left-wingers
Juande logic: We may already have Jamie O’Hara, Didier Zokora, Tom Huddlestone, Jermaine Jenas and Aaron Lennon here already but what we really need is more midfielders who prefer playing in the centre or on the right. Bring in Luka Modric, David Bentley and Giovani dos Santos, it’ll be fun trying to figure out where to play them all. Who cares if Bentley got into the England squad for his performances on the right, let’s sling him on the left or behind the strikers. Luka Modric is known as the exciting, attacking impetus of the Croatia team but there’s no harm playing him as a holding player. Maybe I could throw him on the left too!
The reality: Spurs ended up starting Gilberto, who hasn’t looked too convincing in his preferred position of left-back, as an attacking left-winger against Portsmouth.
3. Sell one of the best strike forces in the Premier League
Juande logic: Robbie and Dimitar scored 46 goals between them last season for our bottom-half side, and the fans voted Robbie as player of the season but that doesn’t mean we wouldn’t be able to cope without them. They both say they want to leave but I’m no Martin O’Neill. I’m not interested in fighting to keep my players, they weren’t that important. Anyway, Damien Comolli reckons we’ll be able to bring in David Villa and Andrei Arshavin to replace them.
The reality: By holding on to Berbatov until the final day of the transfer window, Spurs gave themselves no time to find an adequate replacement. Pavlyuchenko arrived but that still left them with only two strikers until Manchester United offered Frazier Campbell on loan, a player Ramos and Poyet had probably rarely, if ever, seen play, but had to take as there was no other option.
4. If you can score against Leyton Orient, you can score against anyone
Juande logic: Darren Bent scored twelve goals in pre-season this year and as everyone knows, if you can score against Leyton Orient and Norwich then what’s to stop you from becoming a 20-goal-a-season striker? I remember seeing Milan Baros banging them in for Liverpool in pre-season a few years ago. I’m not sure what happened to him, he must have joined a bigger club.
The reality: To be fair to Bent he has scored two league goals – one from a Frank Lampard assist against Chelsea and a fluke against Aston Villa – but it’s very rare for someone who flops in their first season to suddenly becomes a superstar. Even more so when you throw him up front on his own with a midfield who don’t know where they are supposed to be playing.
5. Write off your new strike partnership after just over two hours
Juande logic: Bent and Pavlyuchenko have only been on the pitch at the same time for one-and-a-half games but Gus has already told me that they can’t play together. He said: “Unfortunately this season, when Pavlyuchenko and Bent played together it didn’t work for us.” Sure, maybe I should have tried to sign two forwards who can form a partnership but I’m sure the supporters won’t mind me admitting that we don’t have a strikeforce.
The reality: Berbatov hasn’t scored for Manchester United yet but Sir Alex Ferguson wouldn’t write off his new strikeforce when they are still finding out how to complement one another. Even if he did, there’s no way you should do it in public when the club’s supporters are already in hysterics and starting to turn on the manager.