Opposing View - Tottenham Hotspur
What were your hopes, fears and expectations for the forthcoming season?
Before the season started I expected a top three finish, and hoped we would challenge for the title, which I said openly. I maintain that we should have achieved a top three finish in the last two seasons, and we have progressed in that time as well, with the addition of Van Der Vaart last season, and the further development of a fluid attacking game, coupled with a winning mentality this season.
In January I thought we had a chance of winning the title last season as I believed we were capable of going on a good run, and no team was running away with it; but we never went on that run, and had a two-month slump in the league instead. We strengthened again in the summer, and although we did our transfer business late (after losing two six-pointers against Man Utd and Man City), I expect us to now continue our challenge for the title. It will be tougher this season than last, because Man City now have the confidence of winning a trophy (last season's FA Cup), they have a stronger squad then we have, and have dramatically developed their own style of play; but if they were to lose their domestic cup games in January (against Liverpool and Man Utd respectively), the pressure may get to them at the end. We need to keep winning to be in touching distance though, and start winning our six-pointers.
How will Sunday's defeat to Stoke affect the side?
Hopefully, not too much. Stoke minimized their pitch, and started the game off with a good tempo, and we didn't adapt quickly enough. It took half-an-hour before we settled into the game, and we went onto dominate the second-half, and would have won with a couple of decent refereeing decisions from any number of bad ones. Had we got the equalizer with twenty minutes to go, I think we would have gone on and won. We just need to start another good run this coming Sunday.
How much of an impact have Scott Parker and Emmanuel Adebayor had?
Scott Parker was rightly named the Football Writers Player of the year last season, and I have rated him since he was Charlton (when he always played well against us incidentally). He scored more goals then, but his best attributes are reading the game well, being clean in tackle and comfortable on the ball, and most importantly, the energy and drive he brings to any team he plays for, through his wonderful leadership qualities.
Ranieri always played him in the big games at Chelsea, and he suffered there because of a new manager. Had we bought Parker and a prolific goal-scorer last season (which we tried to do), when we lacked a cutting edge, we may well have had that good run in the final third of the season, which may have been good enough to win the title, when it was there for the taking.
In short, a massive and positive impact.
Will you be able to keep Adebayor beyond this season?
Much too early to start worrying about that. We may be getting David Villa or Giuseppe Rossi in the summer yet, who knows. Maybe we'll even go for a striker in January....
Is Harry Redknapp going to be at White Hart Lane after the Euros?
All through last season, I would thought there was very little chance of Redknapp being at White Hart Lane for the start of the 2012-13 season, and it was important we had a smooth transition. However, I have always said that one of Redknapp's greatest qualities is his pragmatism. If the choice is his, he may come to the conclusion that he has more chance of winning the Champions League with Tottenham at Wembley in May 2013, than with winning the World Cup in Brazil in 2014.
Who is the key man to watch out for on Sunday?
For us? Our strength is that we don't have one key player. Ledley King and Scott Parker are vital to us, Luke Modric often dictates our tempo, and in Aaron Lennon, Gareth Bale and Rafa Van Der Vaart we have match winners. And this season Defoe and Adebayor are giving us a cutting edge in the final third.
Where will you finish this season?
I think Sunderland could make it difficult if we don't start off at a good tempo, or don't take our chances. If they go in front, it will be a very tough game. But, if we get the first goal, I think we'll get back on track with a win. Our scores at home recently haven't been reflective of the chances we are creating, and we our not putting teams away as we should. Assuming that continues, 2-0. (I think we will beat someone heavily at home soon though. PS Chelsea are visiting on Thursday night).
Thanks Mel, it would certainly make a welcome change to see another name in the title hunt, unless it's the Mags of course!
Mel is on Twitter and he is also a superb blogger, you can check his writing out here, here and here.