WindyCOYS Spurs Blog, often focussing on goal analysis & under 18/loan players Thu, 12 Jun 2014 14:00:52 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Fighting Cock Fanzine Thu, 12 Jun 2014 14:00:52 +0000 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.


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

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Spurs at Terborg Tournament Tue, 27 May 2014 21:26:28 +0000 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:

Harry Voss, 17
Tom Glover, 16

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

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

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

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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Released and retained players announced Fri, 23 May 2014 18:09:18 +0000 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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Development Squad round-up Thu, 22 May 2014 20:01:52 +0000 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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Spurs Academy round-up Sat, 10 May 2014 13:04:37 +0000 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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Ode to Tottenham Hotspur’s 2013/14 Season Tue, 22 Apr 2014 16:25:57 +0000 The summer didn’t go quite to plan,
Or certainly not to the boss’,
We took the wonga – lost a key man,
Daniel Levy protected his losses.

Goodbye and thankyouverymuch, Elvis Presley,
“Ahoy there!” to The Beatles,
Alas David Villa – wanted by AVB -
Couldn’t agree on the finer details.

Another Spaniard arrived instead,
And a prospect from Argentina,
Plus crop of players who, it was said,
Would make our midfield meaner.

The football began in earnest,
On the pre-season trip to the East,
Sunderland were a stern test,
Cabral (who?!) looked like a beast.

Palace first up in the Prem,
A solid 1-0 kept us sweet,
Bobby off the mark with a pen,
And Paulinho seemed to find his feet.

Onwards we marched – Swansea, Norwich,
And in Europe we were winning as well,
We ignored the little Arsenal glitch,
‘Cos the new boys needed to gel.

When West Ham caught us asleep,
We worried there was something awry,
But Townsend was earning his keep,
And we beat Hull in a cup tie.

Then Newcastle came to the Lane,
Escaped with a cheeky one-nil,
Their goalkeeper – Krul – was to blame,
But AVB took the flack still.

It seemed to go downhill from there,
Manchester City made sure of that,
Poor Andre and his lovely facial hair,
Seemed to be struggling to adapt.

He won some, he drew some, he lost some,
Until the Liverpool game,
Where we were outfought, out-thought, “outdesired”,
And the dreaded axe prematurely came.

The new man – Tim Sherwood – was promoted,
From the Academy set-up, from within,
And before too long fans were cawing:
“InterTim”, “Dim Tim”, “4-4-Tim”, anyone but him…

“Back to basics”, he shouted – and it was,
4-4-2, two wingers, goals,
But defensive midfielders were doubted,
And our midfield clearly had holes.

Adebayor came back in from the cold,
And Eriksen came to the fore,
But when we came up against Norwich,
We seemed even worse than before!

More thrashings against big clubs did follow,
First Chelsea and then Liverpool,
Whilst the European campaign ended in sorrow,
With a draw over in Portugal.

So here we are out of the top four,
With just a few matches to go,
Some players seem disenfranchised,
Vertonghen, Capoue and Sandro.

The big summer signing, Lamela,
Is still injured and nowhere to be seen,
Maybe it’s the English weather,
Or maybe he wants a new team.

As for Soldado – he from sunny Spain,
He’s been goal-shy and short on mojo,
Now he finds himself behind Harry Kane,
As Tim tries to give youth a go.

It’s not been the greatest of seasons,
For the players, managers, and fans alike,
But there are a couple of reasons,
Why the star men shouldn’t get on their bikes.

The squad is strong, and will be stronger,
We’ve good players, good facilities, great fans,
So listen up Lloris and Vertonghen,
And Eriksen with your ‘secret plan’.

This is Tottenham Hotspur FC,
A club that 16… 15… 14 (?) Premier League clubs fear,
And just ‘cos you’ve not won a trophy,
As us fans say, there’s always next year.

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U19 Champions Trophy starts today – new boys Azzaoui and Glover involved Sat, 19 Apr 2014 07:59:22 +0000 Australian goalkeeper, Tom Glover, and Belgian attacking midfielder, Ismail Azzaoui, are in the travelling party as Spurs take part in the U19 Champions Trophy in Düsseldorf this weekend.

Glover recently signed from New South Wales club Sutherland Sharks, and is a 16-year old goalkeeper. Azzaoui is a 16-year old attacking midfielder who was previously with Anderlecht – it is, as yet, unclear whether he has signed permanently or is on trial.

We are in Group 2 and will play BV04 Düsseldorf, Vfl Wolfsburg, Bayer 04 Leverkusen and Dinamo Zagreb on Saturday and Sunday before the finals on Monday.

Group 1 consists of: Japan Highschool Selection, Borussia Dortmund, PSV Eindhoven, Red Bull Salzburg, Fortuna Dusseldorf.

Our schedule is as follows:

Sat 11:30 B.V. 04 Düsseldorf vs Tottenham Hotspur
Sat 16:00 Tottenham Hotspur vs VfL Wolfsburg
Sun 11:00 Tottenham Hotspur vs Bayer 04 Leverkusen
Sun 17:30 Dinamo Zagreb vs Tottenham Hotspur

According to Ray Lo, who has travelled out to watch the tournament, the squad list is:

A McQueen

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U19 Champions Trophy, Düsseldorf Thu, 17 Apr 2014 08:38:18 +0000 Spurs are taking a squad to take part in the U19 Champions Trophy in Düsseldorf this weekend.

We are in Group 2 and will play BV04 Düsseldorf, Vfl Wolfsburg, Bayer 04 Leverkusen and Dinamo Zagreb on Saturday and Sunday before the finals on Monday.

Group 1 consists of: Japan High School Selection, Borussia Dortmund, PSV Eindhoven, Red Bull Salzburg, Fortuna Dusseldorf.

Our schedule is as follows (NB: kick off times are local times).

Sat 12:30 B.V. 04 Düsseldorf vs Tottenham Hotspur
Sat 17:00 Tottenham Hotspur vs VfL Wolfsburg
Sun 12:00 Tottenham Hotspur vs Bayer 04 Leverkusen
Sun 18:30 Dinamo Zagreb vs Tottenham Hotspur

I asked for a full squad list but this was unfortunately not made available – hopefully the club will publish the travelling party.

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Spurs, Make Me Your Opposition Scout Sun, 13 Apr 2014 10:25:57 +0000 Tottenham Hotspur’s slow starts are less of a ‘common theme’ under Tim Sherwood than a ‘worrying pattern’. The phenomenon is illustrated perfectly by a stat that was doing the rounds yesterday: that Spurs have now conceded the first goal in each of their last six games. Being 2-0 down to West Bromwich Albion with just four minutes gone on Saturday was an extreme example of what we have almost come to expect.

It is certainly an encouraging sign that our players have shown the spirit and desire to come back from losing positions so often, but giving the opposition such a head start is asking for trouble. It means that games like yesterday become draws when they are games that we should win – and deserve to win, on balance.

Whether the team are unmotivated, unprepared, unfocused, or all of the aforementioned, it certainly feels like there is something missing. And, frustratingly, there are many actions that can be taken to mitigate against such starts.

André Villas-Boas employed Daniel Sousa as Head of Opposition Scouting – a role that he undertook himself at Chelsea. There are many ‘modern football’ jobs that could be seen as ‘nice to haves’, but this seems ancillary. Even if there is a not a dedicated role to carry out such activities, surely someone on the coaching staff must do the bare minimum research.

Even just showing the players the thought process – that we are preparing for the opposition team in detail – would surely better focus their minds. The laid back behaviour visible in the tunnel against Liverpool might have been replaced by some much-needed intensity.

Tim Sherwood’s comments prior to the match against Liverpool - “To be honest, I’ve not watched them that closely.” – seemed to suggest that this isn’t something he believes in; that he is more concerned with what his team can do, and how they can make the opposition react to them. But given that he also seems to feel that games are decided by who has the best technical players (and his later reality check that we are punching our weight), this is like admitting defeat before a ball is kicked against the top teams.

Likewise, it would imply that we should be rolling over teams like West Brom, because we are technically superior in most areas of the field. There has to be a balance, though. In the Premier League the cliché that ‘anyone can beat anyone’ is oft-repeated for good reason; respect must be given to every opposition team, and research must be carried out.

Had I been asked to provide a dossier on ‘West Brom under Pepe Mel’ it would have contained a cover sheet with key points, such as:

- High tempo; quick start.
- Wingers pressing high.
- Sessegnon in the hole.
- Rejuvenated Dorrans.

It is fair to say that all of these had some impact; although there were individual errors (again), the goals were preventable had there been some planning.

Both full backs had a disaster. Within twenty seconds, Danny Rose – who had his worst game in a Spurs shirt – committed himself in the corner, and missed the ball and the man. Morgan Amalfitano wriggled clear and sent in a cross which Spurs half-cleared, and Matěj Vydra finished well.

Just a few minutes later, Brunt pressed high and decisively on Kyle Naughton, won the ball and was instantly joined by a swarm of teammates. As the ball was switched to the right, Christian Eriksen missed an opportunity to clear. Then, he and Rose could not prevent a cross coming in, and the defence was utterly disorganised in the centre.


With Naughton coming into the centre to pick up danger men, Aaron Lennon simply has to come back to cover…


…but instead he is not even in shot when the unmarked Chris Brunt slams home a lovely volley at the back post.

How do you play against teams that start games like this? Stay compact. Get bodies behind the ball. Use your wide men to protect your full backs. Do not dive into challenges. Feel your way into the game. Did we do any of these? No. In fact, we went one step further for the third goal as we left Stéphane Sessègnon one-on-one with Vlad Chiricheș – a suicidal move even when chasing a game.

We played well for long periods, dominated and probably created enough chances to win two games, but we ended up taking just a point. So I say to you, Tim: make me your Opposition Scout – make anyone your opposition scout – and make sure the team are prepared for the remaining games.

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Breaking down Spurs’ attacks Tue, 01 Apr 2014 14:20:09 +0000 Rather than focus on some of the shambolic defending that we witnessed from our team on Sunday, I wanted to look at another area in which I found myself very disappointed.

Despite being one goal and then two goals down relatively quickly due to individual errors, we managed to find our creative players in some good areas. However, a lack of movement around them allied with some poor decision-making meant that a number of good opportunities were passed up.

At 1-0 down, after 5 minutes or so, Christian Eriksen receives the ball and plays it square to Aaron Lennon. He continues his run in behind Daniel Agger and receives a clever pass from Nacer Chadli. Note Roberto Soldado, though: he is totally caught on his heels, and fails to make himself a viable option for Eriksen to pick out. Lennon is the only other player that gets into the box, but the angle he creates for the pass is narrowed by Flanagan, meaning that Eriksen’s cross has to be perfect – it isn’t, and is instead cleared.


On 20 minutes, Chadli bursts past a couple of Liverpool players into a useful pocket of space. Lennon initially runs away from him, and only cottons on when it’s too late that Skrtel is going to have to close the ball. A natural goal scorer would dart into the gap that Skrtel’s going to inevitably leave far sooner and at maximum pace; Lennon does not score many goals, and this is a good example of why. Chadli is forced to check and has just the one option. His decision to try to force the pass is a poor one – instead he should probably hold the ball up and wait for support, but he was not helped by Lennon’s poor movement.


Just prior to the second goal, Chadli gets down the right and initially does well to hold the ball up and protect it from Gerrard. Lennon gets forward in support and makes a run inside Flanagan. Chadli’s pass, though, is terribly loose and he wastes another opportunity to create. What’s more frustrating is that Liverpool score just seconds later, after Dawson’s error.


Eriksen has a great chance to pull a goal back just after Liverpool have taken the lead. Naughton forces his way into the box, and cuts the ball back. It’s hit hard at Eriksen, but his first touch is immaculate. His second, though, is a poor one – his strike is straight at Skrtel when he would probably have been better off curling the ball towards the near post. However, he’s once again not helped by the movement around him – he needs support on the outside, either from Chadli or from Rose, but there’s nothing forthcoming on that side.

Eriksen Chance

Naughton’s desperately wasteful shot just minutes later is just one example of how bad his use of the ball is in the final third. Lennon’s free to his right via a simple pass and they can create an overload in this area relatively simply, but instead he decides to take on a stupidly ambitious shot, and hits the first man.


Chadli, Naughton and Sigurdsson create a nice triangle and give Chadli the opposition to set Lennon free one-on-one against Flanagan. Instead, Chadli attempts an elaborate pass for Soldado, who has really made the run to create space for Lennon, rather than receive a pass.


Seconds later, Eriksen receives the ball between the line but a lack of intelligent movement around him means his options are limited, and his attempted pass is easily cleared.


A neat move in the 40th minute sees Rose set free down the left after an intelligent reverse pass from Sigurdsson. Sigurdsson and Lennon are the only players who really bust a gut to get into the box though, with Eriksen dallying on the edge of the box and Soldado barely keeping up with play. The ball eventually comes to Soldado who, with team-mates up in support, tries an overly ambitious curler.


Spurs had plenty of possession in useful territories in the first half without benefitting, and it just felt that there was a lack of belief or attacking cohesion. Having gone 1-0 down against one of the most in-form teams in Europe, this was probably understandable. Could this be due to a lack of attacking game-plan, with a reliance on players to just go out, express themselves, and make their own decisions?

Walker missing didn’t help, either – his constant runs forward on the right generally mean that the opposition full-back has another threat to consider, and can open up space for others. Naughton, on the other hand, does not venture forward as regularly.

More brave running, more intelligent passing, and better decisions could easily have brought us back into this game, despite our suicidal defending.

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