Colin Randall writes: No strategy, no continuity. That’s the damning verdict of our Spurs ‘Who are You?’ interviewee Chris Miller*, blogger, podcaster and tweeter on all things THFC. He thinks we’re doomed but also believes David Moyes could achieve something at Sunderland. And he recalls Teemu Tainio as a ‘cult hero’ at Spurs. Best of all are his comments on Danny Rose and how he both he profited from his time on Wearside and also loved it. I apologise for posting so early for a Tuesday kickoff but my hand has been forced by the need to get things done before I go off on holiday …
Salut! Sunderland: Spurs have been wowing people all season; a Boro friend says you’re by far the best he’s seen at the Riverside. What has gone right?
Chris Miller: Well it took a while for us to click for various reasons, but now that most of our injured players are back, we have a settled team, and we’ve tweaked the formation, we’ve pushed on and are now playing consistently. We’ve got a fantastic defence (though Jan Vertonghen’s injury is a concern) and now our attack is starting to pull up more than a few trees too.
Can you make the final stride from being admired to winning the title or are Chelsea too far in front?
I think it will be very difficult for us to maintain consistency for the rest of the season, and so I’m not getting overly excited at this point. I just enjoy each game because our luck (and form) could change any time. And we’re so much fun to watch.
Harry Kane has been on fire but that Dele Alli chip to him was as delightful as anything, scorpions included, I’ve seen all season. Assess their value to Spurs – and who else in a well-rounded squad you see as indispensable
Wasn’t it glorious? He’s tried those scoop passes a few times recently, so to see one come off was lovely. Dele (he’s dropped “Alli” due to a difficult family situation) is in terrific form and has all the qualities to become huge. But Kane is utterly irreplaceable for us, as well as being a talisman. I’ve rarely felt about a Spurs player the way I feel about our Harry.
Lloris makes the odd howler, perhaps more for France than for you, but is a terrific keeper so why – if it is true – would you be sniffing around Pickford?
That’s the first I’ve heard for it. Lloris is absolutely exceptional, and the only reason we’ll need to replace him is if we fail to win something and he leaves in search of silverware. Please never leave, Hugo!
Is Mauricio Pochettino the best manager in the Premier League just now? Whatever the answer, what are his qualities as you see them?
He’s certainly one of them. He’s a brilliant man manager, he’s a coach – he has improved so many of our players – he’s a really authentic, sincere guy, and he’s wonderful with us, the fans. He makes us feel part of it all.
Where does he still need to strengthen, if not already covered?
Squad depth is the key, and for me the biggest drop-off is Harry Kane to Vincent Janssen as well as the full-backs on either side. If Christian Eriksen was out for any length of time we’d also miss him hugely, as we don’t really have another like him.
I like your ground, small as it it is. What impact will the coming upheaval have on Spurs as a club and in its fans?
We can’t underestimate the impact it’ll have. None of us really want to leave WHL, but most of us realise that we need to in order to keep in touch with the richer teams. The season away is going to be tough – especially going by our games at Wembley so far – and I suspect that we will take time to adapt.
You will be relying on handed-down knowledge and film but how does the present squad compare with great Spurs teams of the past going all the way back to the double in 1960-61?
I don’t feel qualified to answer that!
Who are the greatest players you’ve seen in Spurs colours or wish you’d be been alive to see?
My top three would probably be Ledley King, Luka Modric and Gareth Bale. Alderweireld’s pushing King close, but for longevity, Ledley takes it. I wish I’d been alive to see Jimmy Greaves and I wish I’d been old enough to see Glenn Hoddle.
And who ought to have been allowed nowhere near White Hart Lane?
The worst all come from the 90s. Stuart Nethercott, Kevin Scott, Ramon Vega, Roger Nilsen, I could go on – we had some bad defenders.
Any pressing thoughts on Defoe, Bent, Malbranque and Yedlin and do yout hink Rose profited from his time with us?
You didn’t mention Teemu Tainio, who was a bit of a cult hero at Spurs! Jermain Defoe was well-loved by Spurs fans – a regular source of goals for years, if a little frustrating at times. Bent had some spells where he did okay, but failed to live up to his transfer value. Malbranque tried hard but often achieved little, and Yedlin was little more than a marketing ploy in my opinion. Rose *absolutely* benefited from a year of playing left-back full-time, and he absolutely loved that year – he speaks so highly of his time there!
I imagine you reckon our time is up. Has the failure of successive managers surprised you or is our annual survival the only astonishing feature?
No, not given the spending/signings. There just seems to have been no strategy or continuity at your club for years, and I really feel for you. You end up making desperation signings who then linger at the club for years until the cycle begins again.
Any other thoughts on Sunderland – the club, the fans, the city and region, Moyes?
I actually think Moyes has the potential to turn things around. He’ll need time because much of his style revolves around being well-organised, and “together”, which means that the more time on the training pitch the better. Whether Sunderland currently have the players to implement his style, I don’t know… but I do think he can achieve something.
Top four this season?
Diving: everyone’s at it so should we stop caring and maybe just try to do it better? Or is that unbearably cynical and/or defeatist?
No, I think we need to do more to punish divers, and I’m all for retrospective bans. Dele would need to change his game!
Your best and worst moments as a supporter?
Being with my dad as we saw Ledley King lift the League Cup at Wembley (having beaten Chelsea) was pretty special. There have been many low points but the end of the AVB era felt pretty rough – we were getting battered, having been so hopeful! But there were regular low points during the years between Jol and Pochettino, and throughout most of the nineties.
The match: will you be there and what will be the score?
I won’t be there unfortunately – a weekday evening in Sunderland is a tricky one work-wise – but I think we’ll win by a couple.
* Chris Miller on himself:
Interview: Colin Randall