Hardly the words Sunderland fans want to hear. Not the dreary north London bragging rights – life’s so much more exciting at the bottom – but we want Danny, Danny Rose to see his future with Sunderland and Spurs to let him move. Our final “Who are You?” candidate of the season, the Tottenham-supporting writer Dan Fitch*, founder and owner of TottenhamBlog (“the Spurs news site that expects the worst and is rarely disappointed”) wants him back and hints that Andre Villas-Boas does, too …
Salut! Sunderland: What an end to the season, you vying for top four, us fighting successfully in the end to avoid the drop. But has it been a great Spurs season or a nearly-great one?
Depends on how you look at it. We started the season very short on strikers which was a huge gamble that didn’t pay off. Both Defoe and Adebayor have had poor seasons. You can’t help think that if we’d bought Berbatov in the summer, or Damiao in January, that we’d have qualified comfortably.
So from that perspective it’s a missed opportunity, but I can’t really criticise the job that Andre Villas-Boas has done. With one game to go Spurs have the same amount of points that saw us finish fourth last season, despite having a much weaker squad at his disposal than Harry Redknapp.
What further changes are needed if Spurs are to be able to challenge the Manchesters for top two?
The striker situation has to be addressed. We’ve spent a lot of time trying to buy a so-called ‘world class’ striker without success, when we’d have been better off taking a gamble on someone. Steven Fletcher for example, would have done a much better job for us than Defoe or Adebayor.
Left-back is also an issue, with AVB clearly not rating Benoit Assou-Ekotto, although perhaps Danny Rose can come back to do that job.
Finally, we’re still lacking guile in midfield since Modric and Van der Vaart left. Hopefully they’ll go back in for Joao Moutinho.
And is it even more important than finishing in the top four to finish above Arsenal?
From a rational point of view, finishing in the top four is more important. However, I can guarantee that there would be a good percentage of Spurs fans who would take a fifth placed finish next season if Arsenal were to finish sixth.
Have you been surprised by the appalling form of Sunderland or, in so much as you care, did you see it coming?
I have to be honest. I rate Adam Johnson, Fletcher has been a success and Mignolet is a good keeper, but from an outsider it seems that your defence is just not up to it and that you lack creativity in midfield.
Martin O’Neill is a manager that I’ve always respected, but perhaps that time has passed him by. It suddenly seems like Steve Bruce did an all right job with you, especially considering what he’s done at Hull.
I take it there’s no one from our squad who’d be able to aspire to a place in your team.
Well, as I said, I rate Fletcher and I’m looking forward to Danny Rose coming back. I always thought that he should get more opportunities when Redknapp was manager.
Aside from those two though, I’m struggling to think of anyone. Maybe Johnson if the price was right.
Starting today at SALUT! SUNDERLAND: our writers offer their own assessments of the season just ending. Persons of a delicate disposition should avert their gaze …
What have been your highs and lows of supporting THFC?
The lowest point for me was the Sugar years. I’ve seen Spurs lose in cup finals, but that’s better than finishing tenth every season.
I suppose the high points have been the few cup wins I’ve seen and having the opportunity to watch brilliant players like Hoddle, Waddle, Gascoigne and many more. Even when Tottenham have had a bad team, we generally seem to have at least one players that’s worth the entrance fee.
Who have been the greatest players you’ve seen – or wish you’d seen – in Spurs colours and who should have been allowed nowhere near them?
The best have been the aforementioned Hoddle, Waddle and Gascoigne, and to that list you’d also add Ardiles, Mabbutt, Sheringham, Klinsmann, Ginola, King, Modric and Bale.
The list of bad players is even longer. Ramon Vega was possibly the worst.
How do Bales & Co compare, in your view, with the players of great Spurs teams of post-war years?
The first Spurs team I can remember vividly is the David Pleat side from 1986/87 that played a then revolutionary 4-5-1. It wasn’t until the last couple of seasons that I’ve considering the Tottenham side as good as that first one I saw.
What did you make of the row over the Yid nickname?
The fans adopted the Yid chant to rob the power from anti-semitic fans of rival clubs. You can say that most Spurs fans aren’t Jewish and therefore have no right to adopt it, but they will counter that it is showing solidarity with the Tottenham supporters who are Jewish.
It’s a complicated issue. What I do know is that the campaign has had zero effect on the amount of Yid chants.
And any thoughts on Sunderland the club, its fans, the region?
You should be doing better than you are. In terms of gates, there’s not much difference between Spurs and Sunderland, but I suppose it’s a lot easier to attract players to London than the North East, especially those that are coming in from abroad.
It might sound silly given that Aston Villa have only just avoided relegation, but investing in young players might be the way to go for Sunderland. When Daniel Levy took over at Tottenham, that became the club philosophy and it’s seen us improve immeasurably.
Quote of the season from these pages: John Penman’s eight-year-old daughter watches Southampton effortlessly dominate Sunderland and asks: “Do they have more players than us?” – it’s repeated in Monsieur Salut’s post-survival piece at ESPN: Undeserved salvation, thanks to Arsenal — and Paolo Di Canio
Is cheating now so commonplace that we should just accept it as party of the modern game and stop whining? If not, which form must annoys you and how would you tackle it?
No, I don’t just accept it. I was really annoyed by Bale’s antics earlier on in the season. Thankfully he’s seemed to have taken all the criticism on board and packed it in to a certain extent.
I don’t know why they don’t just ban players retrospectively based on video evidence. That would soon sort it out.
Which step should THFC or the authorities take to make the matchday experience better for ordinary fans?
The only thing that is really out of order is the pricing. Being based in London it’s especially expensive at Tottenham. I can manage to afford a season ticket at Spurs for myself, but it must be a struggle for people who want to take their kids.
When you look around the stands there’s an awful lot of middle-aged blokes. You wonder where the next generation of fans is going to come from if youngsters get more used to watching football on TV than at the ground.
Will you be at our game and what will be the score?
I will be there and predict that Spurs will win 3-1. Unfortunately I also expect Arsenal to beat Newcastle, so it will all be an anti-climax.
Dan Fitch on himself:
See all Salut! Sunderland’s articles recalling May 5 1973 and the run that took SAFC to FA Cup glory: https://safc.blog/category/fa-cup/may-5-1973/
Interview: Colin Randall