June 12, 2014

The Fighting Cock Fanzine

I’m proud to say that I was asked to write again for Tottenham’s only printed fanzine, The Fighting Cock, and that it is now available for pre-order.

Free 1882 & The Fighting Cock stickers with the first few orders – Limited stock​

My article – Football Is Family – is a sentimental effort, something quite new for me, but hopefully it’ll strike a chord with some. A sample of some of the terrific artwork is below.

FiF

I hope you’ll buy it and, if you do, I hope you enjoy my article.

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May 27, 2014

Spurs at Terborg Tournament

Starting on Friday, Tottenham Hotspur participate in the Terborg Toernooi in the Dutch province of Gelderland.

The squad travelling to the tournament is a mixture of ages – from 16-year old Australian goalkeeper Tom Glover to 19-year old winger, Kenny McEvoy. The travelling party in full is:

Goalkeepers
Harry Voss, 17
Tom Glover, 16

Defenders
Kyle Walker-Peters, 17
Connor Ogilvie, 18
Anton Walkes, 17
Dominic Ball, 18
Alex McQueen, 19

Midfielders
Tomislav Gomelt, 19
Filip Lesniak, 18
Harry Winks, 18
Ruben Lameiras, 19
William Miller, 17

Forwards
Kenny McEvoy, 19
Emmanuel Sonupe, 18
Nathan Oduwa, 18
Anthony Georgiou, 17
Daniel Akindayini, 18
Shayon Harrison, 16

Staff:
John McDermott, Academy Manager
Kieran Mckenna, Under-18 Coach
Rob Burch, Goalkeeper Coach
Aaron Harris, Head of Academy Sports Medicine and Sports Science
Matt Allen, Head of Academy Physical Development
Andy Ratnage, Academy Performance Analyst

Spurs’ first four matches across Friday and Saturday are as follows:

Friday 15:00 Fluminense
Friday 18:20 Cruzeiro
Saturday 12:30 Vitesse
Saturday 15:50 Dalian Aerbin FC

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May 23, 2014

Released and retained players announced

Well, I timed my Development Squad round-up well didn’t I? I published the article yesterday, and the released/retained player lists have come out today. I didn’t do too badly with my predictions, either.

The big news for current first team players revolves around goalkeepers: Brad Friedel has been offered (and apparently signed) a one year contract, whilst Heurelho Gomes has been released.

Jon Obika has also been offered a new contract, probably because he has a sell-on value. We got £400k from a League One club (Swindon) for Massimo Luongo so Obika – who has been playing Championship football – should command a similar fee, despite being 24 in September.

Dominic Ball has extended his professional contract, whilst Cristian Ceballos, Grant Ward and Grant Hall have been retained (meaning their contracts didn’t end this summer). Soli Coulibaly has also been offered a new contract; this, for me, was probably one of the biggest surprises – I expected the Ivorian to be released.

As announced in my Spurs Academy round-up, Daniel Akindayini’s scholarship has been extended for a third year, whilst professional contracts have been offered to Ruben Lameiras and Alex McQueen (previously on the third year of their scholarships), as well as second year scholars Filip Lesniak, Aaron McEneff, Luke McGee, Will Miller, Connor Ogilvie, Emmanuel Sonupe, and Harry Winks. Second year scholars Liam Priestley and Kane Vincent-Young have not been retained.

Nathan Oduwa has ‘extended’ his contract, meaning that presumably he was already on a professional contract – an interesting development. Whether that means he was particularly rated, or that we had to fight to keep him (he played some games for West Brom’s Academy team two years ago), I’m unsure. What I do know is that he’s an exciting talent, and one to watch.

Joshua Onomah also signed a professional contract recently, despite being of ‘first year’ age – he has been playing ahead of his age group for some time, and is very highly thought of.

As well as Gomes, youngsters Giancarlo Gallifuoco, Cameron Lancaster, Roman Michael-Percil, Jon Miles, Kevin Stewart and Lawrence Vigouroux have been released on free transfers.

Darren McQueen has also left, signing for Ipswich, and I gather Laste Dombaxe has left the club too.

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May 22, 2014

Development Squad round-up

Last week I wrote an update on the Academy squad, and I thought I would follow that up with this – an update on the slightly older players; the inbetweeners as I like to call them, or the Development Squad as the club refer to them.

The Under-21s finished 12th out of 22 teams in the Barclays U21 Premier League Group Stage this season – not too impressive, but to be expected. This year’s ‘crop’ did not have the same quality as last year, when we had the likes of Carroll, Mason, Bentaleb, Fredericks, Fryers, Ceballos, Falque, Obika, Townsend and Hall in the team regularly. Most of those players were either out on loan or involved with the first team for most of this season, and the players stepping up were simply not as good (I think many of them will be released in the summer).

On the positive side, the players who came up from the Under-18s towards the end of the season most certainly *are* as good as the previous crop, and the signs are good for next season – in both the 18s and 21s. The likes of Ogilvie, Winks, Onomah, Oduwa, Lesniak, etc, were absolutely ready to make the step up, but it was inevitable that there would be an element of ‘settling in’ to that level. Now that they have a few games in the Under-21s under their respective belts, next season should be far more straightforward.

So what of those who have contracts ending this summer? According to the very useful Spurs Player Contracts blog, run by ‘zin’ from the Fighting Cock forum the following have contracts that are due to expire:

Jonathan Miles
Alex McQueen
Cristian Ceballos
Jonathan Obika
Cameron Lancaster
Giancarlo Gallifuoco
Grant Ward

It would not particularly surprise me if all of these players left in the summer, but I would expect Ward (who is on loan at Chicago Fire until the end of the 2014 season) and Ceballos, who has played 19 times for Arouca in the Portuguese Premier League this season, to sign on for a further year and, therefore, command fees if they were to move.

If pushed, I’d guess that Alex McQueen and Giancarlo Gallifuoco will get another year each too, but I’d certainly expect Lancaster and Obika to leave, and would not be surprised if  they were joined by Tomislav Gomelt and Souleymane Coulibaly.

I am less sure on the future of Laste Dombaxe – at one point he was highly regarded, but he was in and out of the Under-21 side at the end of the season, and it would be no great surprise if he were released too, especially as he failed to land a full loan move to Bolton after a short ‘work experience’ loan in January.

We also know that goalkeeper Lawrence Vigouroux has re-joined Alex Inglethorpe at Liverpool. We can only assume that the club felt that Lawrence was no better than Archer, Miles and McGee; I can’t say I’m especially disappointed that he’s left, but he seemed a very nice lad and I wish him well.

Forward Darren McQueen – cousin of Alex – has signed for Ipswich Town, whilst Roman Michael-Percil has had trials with various clubs including Brentford. Kevin Stewart has had trials with Sheffild United but Nigel Clough (their manager) has suggested that he’s set to sign for a Premier League club.

I would expect the likes of Archer, Ball, McEvoy and Lameiras to be regulars for the Under-21s or out on loan if they can get suitable moves next season.

Digressing away from the Under-21s and back into the realms of Academy, we are sending a squad to participate in the Terborg Tournament in Holland at the end of May. It will be interesting to see whether Australian goalkeeper, Tom Glover, and Belgian attacking midfielder, Ismail Azzaoui, are in the travelling party. I also wonder whether 16-year old Nigerian, Musa Yahaya – who supposedly signed for us and then went immediately on loan to Celta Vigo – will be involved; it could be a good way to introduce him to life at Tottenham.

One player who will be going to the tournament is Josh Onomah. Onomah was part of the England Under-17 team that beat The Netherlands to win the UEFA European Championship this week, and Academy Manager, John McDermott has spoken about Josh’s progression:

“He’s had a magnificent games programme this season and hopefully he’ll benefit from that.

He’s also trained with the first team and been on the bench a couple of times. Another thing I’m pleased about is that he’s matured as a young man, not just on the football pitch, but off it. I’m really pleased with his overall development, not just his football development.”

Keep an eye on this site for updates from the Terborg Tournament when I have them.

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May 10, 2014

Spurs Academy round-up

Planning has already started for next season’s Under-18 campaign, with Under-16 players drafted into the line-ups for the final few Under-18 games of the season. The following have all seen recent involvement:

Chris Paul (right back)
Joe Muscatt (left back)
Zenon Stylianides (central midfielder)
Charlie Owens (central midfielder)
Armani Daly (winger/forward)
Charlie Hayford (attacking midfielder)
Ryan Loft (forward)

Although there have been no official announcements as yet, I would expect all of these to be starting the first year of their scholarship next season.

Centre-backs Cameron Carter-Vickers and Christian Maghoma – both of whom have played many times for the Under-18s this season – will presumably have two-year scholarship deals too, with next year being their first official year.

My understanding is that goalkeeper Liam Priestley and full-back Kane Vincent-Young are to be released, with second year forward Daniel Akindayini offered a third year of his scholarship (presumably as the club are undecided on him).

I also understand that one year professional contracts have been offered to Luke McGee (goalkeeper), Filip Lesniak (holding midfielder), Aaron McEneff (right back), Nathan Oduwa (winger/forward), William Miller (attacking midfielder), and Emmanuel Sonupe (winger).

Connor Ogilvie (centre back/left back) and Harry Winks (versatile midfielder) have been given two year professional contracts.

We have some exciting talent in our Academy at the moment – many of the above, as well as Josh Onomah and Kyle Walker-Peters have been consistent across the season, with Anton Walkes, Lloyd Ross, Anthony Georgiou and Cy Goddard also coming to the fore towards the end of the season.

On Sunday we play Everton at Goodison Park in the Barclays Under-18 Premier League play-offs – the winner will face either Manchester City or West Ham United in the overall final. We drew 2-2 with Everton last month, and they are an excellent side at this level.

Whilst it would be nice to win the competition, the focus for the management is always on individual player development. Playing in finals/play-offs is an excellent test of a player’s temperament and a terrific experience, but winning isn’t everything as far as the management are concerned – although I’m sure the players will be desperate to get a result! COYSU18s!

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