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July 2021

Could AVB make it 14 at Tottenham?

By Tony Attwood

We’ve often noted here that whether one supports Tottenham or Arsenal is often just a matter of chance.  For me, my parents and both sets of grandparents were Arsenal fans, my dad went regularly and my grandfather was at Highbury in the earliest days. making the journey from the family home in Stoke Newington.

But despite the chance element that brings many of us to the club it is nevertheless the case that there are profound differences between the two clubs – as well as some similarities.

Perhaps one of the biggest differences is the treatment of managers.  I was tempted to lead with the list of all the managers that Tottenham have had since A. Wenger became our boss – but that’s old hat, so I have left it at the end.  But the fact is that while Arsenal don’t readily get rid of men they don’t like, Tottenham do.

Indeed during our darkest times in the 20th century – the Swindin/Wright era, we kept managers in place for three or four years before moving them on.   (Incidentally if you would like to see what is probably the only complete list of Arsenal managers on the internet take a look at the Arsenal History Society page on the subject – and scroll on down – the list is presented in various forms of analysis and gives quite an insight into success – or otherwise.)

Anyway, the contrast is made more sharp by the notion that André Villas-Boas could become the 14th manager to depart Tottenham’s ground since Mr Wenger came along.  And it raises the question of whether the Anti-Arsenal Arsenal (those supporters who were Arsenal season ticket holders but threw their season tickets away after the Villa defeat and said they would never return until Mr Wenger is ousted) and the Tottenham board and owners, are right – that one should change managers a lot, or whether Arsenal is right in holding onto what they perceived to be a good man.

The crunch is being seen as this week – a stunning victory at home to Manchester United next Sunday might be seen as a way forwards under AVB, although others consider he is doomed as it is.  (Indeed I am trying to type quickly in case he goes before I finish this piece).

One interesting difference between Mr Wenger and Mr AVB is that Mr Wenger has completed all his contracts – famously not leaving Japan until the end of the season there – even though that delayed his arrival at Highbury.  For AVB I think I am right in saying that this is the first time he has gone into a second season at a top club.

Another difference is that AVB does seem to like to blame people – there appear to be public comments about the team not trying hard enough, the crowd not supporting enough, the medical staff not getting players fit enough.   Mr Wenger seems to do this rarely to the point of never – although he does occasionally have a word to say about refs and fourth officials.  But mostly he takes the blame, he gives the players the applause.

Of course this wasn’t all down to Tottenham’s 6-0 defeat – because that came on top of the 0-3 defeat by West Ham.  But there is a deeper problem – and this is what I was trying to get at in the previous article about Tottenham where I compared the 6-0 defeat to Arsenal’s 8-2 defeat at Man U.   In Tottenham’s case, the money has been spent and the team assembled.

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Bringing a new man in is not going to be able to change that – unless Joe Lewis puts a load of money in, ready for January.   The generally given figure for the summer spending spree was £110,000,000 which is quite a lot really.  True it takes time for players to bed in and get used to each other (just look at Sunderland) but then that is always known.  No one could have thought that the new Tottenham would start off by winning everything, after such a level of change.

There is another worry too.  Nine league goals from 12 games, doesn’t make people want to attend matches.  Now that doesn’t matter too much because White Hart Lane is a small ground when compared to Newcastle, Arsenal, and Man U, and is easily filled.  But if the new ground of 56,000 or so is to be built, it too has to be filled.   And it needs Champions League football.    This is what Arsenal achieved and we can see how long it has taken for the shackles of the finances of the ground to be thrown off.   Joe Lewis might be thinking of paying for the ground himself, but performances such as those this season also suggest he needs to spend even more money on new players too.

Elsewhere there is a feeling that AVB does not have the power and control that Mr Wenger has.   From Day One I have always had the view that Wenger controls everything.   So when the journalists gathered on the steps of Highbury on his first day in office shouting “What about the rumours Mr Wenger?” (referring to the stories which soon became part of the standard Man U chanting every time Arsenal play Man U) the powers at Highbury told Wenger not to go out and face them.   But he did – and he silenced them totally.

That single moment on 1 October 1996 established who ran Arsenal.   With Tottenham managers I think it is unlikely there has  ever been such a defining statement, and no defining moment.  We hire, we fire, is the loudest message from the Tottenham boardroom and owner.

Thus when AVB called for his medical team to make a full statement to the press about the incident with the goalkeeper recently, it didn’t happen.  It didn’t look clever and didn’t help AVB’s position.

The other problem is that although we can all agree that the sale of Gareth Bale ripped the power out of the Tottenham team, we have seen Arsenal cope – after some stuttering – with the forced sale of Cesc, Nasri and Van Persie.  It is never easy, but it is possible.   And Arsenal have done it with only one very large transfer – Ozil.

Here we see an interesting contrast between the clubs.  Compare Ozil to Erik Lamela.  Yes Ozil flits in and out a bit, and missed a penalty last night, and yes he cost £10m more than Lemela, but even so, the difference in what we have got is amazing.

Indeed if you want to balance that up – consider Soldado plus Lemala – who between them cost over £10m more than Ozil.  For me Ozil looks by far the better deal and Soldado and Lemala together.

Perhaps the biggest problem is that Tottenham have no time.  They are desperate for regular Champs League football.   True they are only 8 points behind us but for them to make up the ground, they need other clubs above them to slip back.  OK maybe Southampton will.  Liverpool might if their centre forward reverts to his vampire tendencies.   But the rest?   Will four of them slip back to allow Tottenham up to the top four?   I wonder.

Here’s the list (just in case you have forgotten it)

  1. Chris Houghton 1997-1997
  2. Christian Gross 1997-1998
  3. David Pleat 1998-1998
  4. George Graham 1998-2001
  5. David Pleat 2001-2001
  6. Glenn Hoddle 2001-2003
  7. David Pleat 2003–2004
  8. Jacques Santini 2004–2004
  9. Martin Jol 2004–2007
  10. Clive Allen and Alex Inglethorpe 2007-2007
  11. Juande Ramos 2007-2007
  12. Clive Allen and Alex Inglethorpe 2008-2008
  13. Harry Redknapp 2008-2012
  14. André Villas-Boas 2012 – ?

The books…

The sites from the same team…

30 comments to Could AVB make it 14 at Tottenham?

  • tryme

    whats your obsession with spurs? your top of the table and have a good chance of progressing in the champs league. focus on that for now because that could all come to an end soon. we wont be knocked down forever. We have 7 new players all trying to implement a different style of play and a few unfortunate injuries. it wont be long until we are firing on all cylinders again.


  • Wayne Ker

    cool story bro lolz

    no one asked you

  • Pete (the 1st)

    Tony, I love your “more in sorrow than in anger” tone when trying to tweak the tails of our friends up the road!

    The fact is that we were just very lucky to find Wenger (or Dein was inspired). He also achieved early success which helped.

    Sp*rs were lucky to have one of the best players in the world come through who they could then sell for a shed load of cash. Their problem is that they are not in the CL so find it hard to attract Ozil-type quality (and also pay the required wages). They have tried to compensate by going for quantity instead (but, by the by, I thought at the time that some of the prices they paid were very inflated… even more so now). But then, as Wenger said, it is very hard to successfully incorporate a large number of new faces.

    Objectively, I think this has (and always had once Bale went) to be a rebuilding year for them. Top 4 is becoming increasingly more difficult to get into and I don’t think they can do it unless one of the “Big 3” really blow up (Man U might?) and Liverpool fade. So 6th is likely I would say.

    Next season they should be much stronger as all the players will have assimilated – but suspect the manager will have gone by then and instability will therefore continue to play havoc.

    You only have to look at Arsenal to see what stability over the summer (no significant departures) plus players coming good in their second season (Giroud) does for form.

    So Spurs should stick with AVB – even if he is not as good as Wenger – if they finish outside the Top 4.

    The fact that the pundits have (so far!) got it so wrong tells you all you need to know…

  • double canister

    here’s one before Brickfields gets in:
    A Tottenham supporter walks past a shop window and notices a video for sale entitled “Tottenham the golden years” The supporter asks the shopkeeper “how much for the cassette mate” the shopkeeper replies “£200” “£200 for a cassette?” says the fan?. “You’re having a laugh” “Oh no” the shopkeeper replies “The cassette’s only a fiver, but the Betamax player will cost you £195”.

  • HenryB

    Excellent Post, Tony.

    I suspect this might not be a popular comment, but it has often been the way in football that a team can be rubbish but with a change of manager can take off and blow everyone away.

    So I hope Spurs copy us and hang on to their manager — God forbid they should change him and set the Premiership alight unlikely though that may be. 🙂

  • double canister

    Did you all know that Wenger was going to sign for spurs first, until Dein intervened?

  • John

    How long before we see Harry talking through his car window (as well as his a****) about this?

    ” Yeah, for sure, it would be a great job for anyone.. I love that club, love the Chairman, great set of lads, super fans ….. Of course, I’ve got a great job here at QPR ……………..”

  • mutiu jimoh

    @ Pete the 1st I support ur assertion ,they should stick with AVB no matter what happen to their season and ofcourse as we all know thier ( spurs) ambition is to finish above Arsenal every season and not winning trophy.

    Mr Attwood Tony Iam a regular reader of your article, well done ,good job and God bless you. Looking forward to meeting you one day but for the distance uuuuuuuuu as I live in Nigeria. I am your big fan you and untold.

  • Mike

    “The generally given figure for the summer spending spree was £110,000,000 which is quite a lot really”

    Except Spurs were net spend positive after all the Summer transfers. They spent nothing, they just traded.

  • Andrew

    It’s got nothing to do with treatment of managers, it’s down to chance and Arsenal finding someone of the calibre of Arsene Wenger. Count yourself lucky you did, otherwise you may too have had an endless list of Bruce Riochs/David Pleats.

  • WalterBroeckx

    Last year Bale bailed them out on many occasions. Now he would have been the one that I would have taken in a minute (despite his diving). I silently hope his career at Madrid goes down and he wants to return to the PL. And as he was a Gooner as a kid he then should come to where he would be at home. 😉

  • TJ


    Spurs may or may not have a net spend positive after all the summer transfers, but they still spent £110 million. This money should have been used to make spuds into title challengers. Happily it does not look like it was invested very wisely.

  • To each his own, what worked for us might not work for another team, consider Chelsea and real Madrid , they both have a new manager almost every 6 months and they have both won things, so it worked in the sense they got what their owners wanted. So totenham board or whoever runs that place can decide what to make of their teams situation. May be they will sack AVB and get dimateo so that he can do a Chelsea like job and get totenham the CL spot they crave for and get fired 10 games in to next season for not winning everything before him.. who knows. Considering they are going the director of football route, having an all encompassing manager might not be what they look for , a first team focused manager will do – if the responsibility is less then you have to be absolutely amazing at what minimal things you do, which isn’t what AVB is doing.. so he may get the boot.

  • Gianni Dioro

    Problem with the 100 million Tottenham spent on various signings is that their wage bill must have increased substantially.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    Will they ever learn / listen ?

  • GoingGoingGooner

    I find Spurs plays entertaining football and I can’t say that I find any of their players particularly distasteful and despite the opaque reporting of their finances due to their owner being abroad, they seem to operate within their means. (OK, maybe Adebayor because of the manner in which he left us) But, in general, I dislike the club because of the way the supporters attack us. The Gooners. Who started the attacking, us or them…who knows? Doesn’t really matter now. It’s become a tribal thing.

    As for how they treat managers…I have to agree with many of our posters that there seems to be a WIN NOW mentality at Spurs. Winning is good but for middling to big sized clubs like Arsenal and Tottenham that has to be a bit of a fantasy. Can’t say that might not have occurred at Highbury had Wenger not won the double so quickly but it would seem to have hampered the various managers down Seven Sisters way. Letting a manager get on with it for more than a year despite the inevitable travails that will pop up would seem to be a more sensible way forward not to mention the savings from not paying off all those monies due past sacked managers.

  • nicky

    Agree with much of what you say. I would hope for a Spurs win next Sunday, for a start.
    But having said that, Spurs’ Board’s historical attitude of “We hire,we fire” can hardly encourage confidence by incoming managers.
    Luckily,our Board has more sense.

  • blacksheep63

    the reality is probably that managers being allowed the luxury of failing (or indeed not succeeding immediately) is very very rare. Wenger and Ferguson (Moyes too at Everton perhaps) are the exceptions. European clubs tend to change their managers like Katie Price changes her husbands and that is the norm.

    If Sp*rs stick with AVB he will do well, so I hope they sack him. But he won’t stay there long anyway because if he does do well then a big club will come in for him. Then he leave and our noisy neighbors will condemn him for his lack of loyalty.

    As for the £110m spent it was spent. If I buy a car for £10k and sell another for £10k I’ve still spent £10k. So let’s stop that stupid debate right now

  • TJ

    Gianni Dioro

    They got rid of a lot of their high earners like Bale, Parker, Dempsey, Ekotto and Huddlestone.


    I have watched a good few of their games this year and entertaining they are not. Slow and pridictable in fact, which I think is the reason they cannot score.

    I think a scoreless draw between them and the mancs would be best for us. A win would give them great confidence. Best to see them not score again, watch their confidence drop further, get the crowd and media on their back, and watch them both fall further behind if we can get 3 points at Cardiff, which I think we will.

  • double canister

    0-0 with the red mancs will be fine.
    Both will be on post-European midweek hangovers.

    A few dirty straight red cards would be a bonus, but I can’t see anyone in the spud first XI I don’t want continuing to play for them. It’s only wishing for someone getting banned so they have to play Ade.

  • GoingGoingGooner

    agreed THIS year Spurs aren’t particularly interesting (though I have only watched 3 of their games) to watch but they have been over the last decade…win or lose.

  • Stuart

    If you consider 14 managers to win 3 league titles, you have a completely different idea of success than me. I see it more as the ‘shotgun approach’, known to work occasionally in every line of work.

  • OMGArsenal

    Did anyone notice that Spuds like to rehire their failed managers and this may be a sign of things to come:

    1)David Pleat 1998-1998,David Pleat 2001-2001,David Pleat 2003–2004
    2)Clive Allen and Alex Inglethorpe 2007-2007,Clive Allen and Alex Inglethorpe 2008-2008
    3)Harry Redknapp 2008-2012 or George Graham 1998-2001 or Martin Jol 2004–2007 to rescue the WHL chicken on a basketball?

    tryme……don’t feel so desperate to display your obsession with the Arsenal and to support your plucked chickens on an Arsenal website.We all know that your Club’s situation can improve …we don’t know that it will, with or without AVB but, when comparing the two clubs, it is clear we have the advantage of success, the best EPL manager, a solid and stable team and a teamspirit that makes your sad sack collection of 11 non-stars look^pitiful in comparison, none of which you Spuds enjoy at the moment.

  • Mandy Dodd

    Pretty sure that if they screw up in upcoming games against Utd and Liverpool, AVB may well be history, and that will be expensive for them to put right. Some bookies suspended bets on him being sacked yesterday, he is still odds on with many to be the next PL manager sacked. The bookies are not always right but not good news for AVBs prospects. And it won’t just be down to the city result

  • OMGArsenal

    Did anyone notice that Spuds like to rehire their failed managers and this may be a sign of things to come:

    1)David Pleat 1998-1998,David Pleat 2001-2001,David Pleat 2003–2004
    2)Clive Allen and Alex Inglethorpe 2007-2007,Clive Allen and Alex Inglethorpe 2008-2008
    3)Harry Redknapp 2008-2012 or George Graham 1998-2001 or Martin Jol 2004–2007 to rescue the WHL chicken on a basketball?

    tryme……don’t feel so desperate to display your obsession with the Arsenal and to support your plucked chickens on an Arsenal website.We all know that your Club’s situation can improve …we don’t know that it will, with or without AVB but, when comparing the two clubs, it is clear we have the advantage of success, the best EPL manager, a solid and stable team and a teamspirit that makes your sad sack collection of 11 non-stars lookpitiful in comparison, none of which you Spuds enjoy at the moment.

  • Pat

    Tony, thanks for the link to your article on the History web site about when Arsene arrived in 1996.

    I can well believe that this is one reason the press hate him, because he scored one over them. They hate that.

  • elkieno

    WALTER @ 1:17 – Oh you tease you really want to get under their skin hahahaha and good on you too. They did not stop claiming how good they are and how bad we are the whole season until we beat them past post.
    Then after all that, they go and sell Bale and spend all the money on new players, trying to show us up in the process by saying, ‘we sold Bale and spent the money on players’ ‘unlike Arsenal who sell their best players and dont spend money on more players’.
    So rub it in and pour salt on their wounds all you can fellas!

  • dy

    AVB lost it when Hugo Lloris refused to go out after the incident ( or did it happen already before that.) That’s the end of all credibility of a manager.

  • Micheal Ram

    A word of wisdom for out of sorts totenham fans who posted here. We dont make u a fool. I think u can do tht urself. We dnt even hate u. But its just tht ur mentality is jus the opposite of ours. Combination of man utd fans n liverpool fans. Ur attitude of kicking ppl when they r down, comparing urself wif arsenal unreasonably al the time, disrespecting loyal n dedicated players n managers n basking on past glories to argue u r better than every team at present. I fell in love wif arsenal solely cause of wenger n his philosophy (sory, gunner faithfuls). Responsible, loyal, humble n always put arsenal above himself, the board, players n even club legends. Was given a huge tasks, stick to it, chin up, man up n begin to ripe the rewards when al around him crumble. N stil respect n appreciate frens n foes. Inspired me personally n professionally. Should do the same wif other clubs. Nuff said…