A match preview with a difference this weekend. Instead of the one-sided nonsense you usually find here of a Friday, I think it’s about time we took a fresh perspective on the weekend in prospect, don’t you?
Ahead of the Tottenham-Wigan clash at White Hart Lane, JWAW caught up with seasoned Spurs fan Dan Fitch for his thoughts on pies, Harry and of course Sunday’s match. It just so happens that Dan also has a weblog at TottenhamBlog.com, which is really rather good – better, in fact, than the typical small-time ‘pinch news from other sources’ you might be familiar with (especially if you read JWAW).
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JWAW: Dan Fitch, Tottenham season ticket holder and editor of tottenhamblog.com, pleased to meet your acquaintance. Or, at least, converse over the interwebs.
If you don’t mind me asking, how long have you been a Tottenham supporter and where do you think the current Spurs squad ranks among the best (or maybe even worst) you’ve seen?
Dan: I first started taking a real interest in Spurs in the 1986/87 season. David Pleat had taken charge and introduced a then revolutionary 4-5-1 formation, which saw Hoddle, Waddle and Ardiles pulling the strings in midfield and Clive Allen scoring a record 49 goals in all competitions.
That side came third in Division 1, got to the semi-final of the League Cup and lost in the final of the FA Cup. Looking back, we probably haven’t had as good a side since, though this current vintage come close.
Though we’ve had some star performers through the years like Gazza and David Ginola, they’ve always shared a field with some weak players.
Our first choice eleven at the moment (which we haven’t actually managed to field yet) are pretty solid throughout. It’s probably as good as side as we’ve had for 20+ years, with the possible exception of the team that finished fifth in the infamous ‘lasagnegate’ season, which featured Carrick in midfield.
It’s been a busy summer at Tottenham with lots of comings and goings, perhaps most notably the departure of Darren Bent and the return of Peter Crouch to White Hart Lane. How much, would you say, has this activity impacted on your season?
I knew Bent would do well at Sunderland and he went straight into my fantasy football team. He’ll always score goals, but he just didn’t fit in with the way we played.
Crouch has been quite good, but has not had that much football, due to us rotating him with Defoe and Keane. The problem when he plays is that the team starts hitting unnecessary long balls to him. This happens for England also and it’s not really Crouch’s fault, as he’s perfectly capable of controlling the ball on the ground.
Our best signing of the summer was Sebastien Bassong from Newcastle. I questioned whether it was wise to sign someone for a lot of money from a team that had just got relegated, but he’s been very valuable this season, due to the constant injuries to our other central defenders.
I think he’s had something like five different partners so far and yet he’s still managed to be remarkably consistent. Of course, he could only play for Spurs for so long without getting injured and he’s out for Sunday.
What are your thoughts on Spurs’ start to the season?
I’m pretty satisfied. The consecutive defeats to Stoke and Arsenal were a blow, but we’d been lucky to win a few other games, so it seemed like karma.
We’ve really missed Modric since he’s been injured. He makes us tick and the sooner he is back in action, the more confident I’ll be regarding our ambitions.
You currently lie fourth in the table. Are you hopeful or expectant of finishing 2009/10 in a Champions League spot?
At the start of the season I predicted we’d finish sixth and I think that this is still likely. We’ve got a really good team when they’re all fit, but in certain positions we have very little strength in depth.
I’m sure we’ll be looking to spend again in January to boost our chances, but then so will Manchester City and if Liverpool have Gerrard and Torres back, it will be tough for us.
Harry’s been a bit of a revelation since he took over, hasn’t he? Still, I suppose after Juande Ramos’s start to last season things could only have got better. Are you pleased to have a man as experienced and respected as Redknapp at the helm?
What I was most pleased about was that we got rid of the Director of Football position and allowed the manager to pick the players he wanted to sign. That setup had really held us back for a number of years.
When we scrapped this system, we couldn’t have done better than to bring in Harry, who knows the Premier League inside out. It just goes to show that when British managers are given a chance at clubs where they will have a chance to spend money, they can be successful.
Martin O’Neill has also proved this at Villa and dare I say it, Steve Bruce looks like he’ll be a success at Sunderland.
I almost hesitate to bring this up because it’s almost old hat now, but wherever Harry goes he is dogged by allegations of past corruption and dodgy dealings. Do you think this controversy is the only thing stopping him from becoming England manager?
There did seem to be a real campaign building just before Capello’s appointment, to give the job to Redknapp. His Portsmouth team of the time were flying high and I think he might have been given it.
Then the police came sniffing around him and after that the FA were never going to appoint him, given the potential for controversy. They’d been down that road with Venables.
I’ve been hearing good things about Wilson Palacios since he moved from Wigan. Has he been the signing you expected, or do you think he isn’t quite up to the task?
He’s the player we’ve needed for years. We’ve always been a bit weak in midfield, without anyone who could really get stuck in, so Palacios has been a revelation. He’s big and strong, tackles hard and can play a bit as well.
His form has been patchy of late, but I’d put that down to having to fly back and forth from Honduras when on international duty. I’m not sure that we’ve found his perfect partner in midfield yet. It sounds like we’re going after the Brazilian Sandro, who might allow Palacios to play as more of a box-to-box midfielder.
It’s the big issue in football this week: Thierry Henry’s Hand of Frog. Do you think video technology should be brought into football in some manner, or are you of the opinion that it would remove an element of excitement and unpredictability from the game?
I’m in favour of using video technology. These days it would only take a split second for someone to view a replay, so it wouldn’t hold the game up.
I guess it would detract from the grand drama of the sport, but it’s sickening when your side is punished because of a mistake by a referee and nowadays it’s unnecessary.
Who are, in your opinion, Tottenham’s men to watch for this weekend’s big match at White Hart Lane?
It will be interesting to see how Robbie Keane reacts to the events of midweek. He’s looked a bit subdued and off the pace since returning from Liverpool and this should either fire him up or depress him further.
Other than him, I’d say that Palacios will want to play well and Gomes has been in brilliant form in goal.
Finally, what is the price of a pie at White Hart Lane and have you ever ended up throwing one at any of the players?
I’m not sure of the price of a pie at White Hart Lane. I’ve had one before of course, but I’m more partial to one of those new-fangled ‘hotdogs’ these days. You’ll be in London though, so I wouldn’t expect to see much change from £4.
Despite the cost of said pie, there are several players that I would have liked to have thrown one at over the years. However, my seat is at the back of the Park Lane stand, so I’d struggle to be accurate from that distance.
If I had to pick a player who I would have liked to hit square in the face with some steak and kidney, then it would be Didier Zokora. He cost loads of money, but couldn’t pass, tackle or score. I hated him.
Dan Fitch, thank you very much and best of luck with your season – as long as you don’t beat us this weekend
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Remember to give Dan’s blog a look, even if you’re a Latics fan. He does these kinds of interviews before each match to get the view from the opposite stand, and this weekend JWAW will be offering its thoughts at Tottenham Blog.
Image of White Hart Lane is by Dudesleeper.