Lucrative Friendlies or the Training Ground? I’m with Harry not Daniel on This One

On Friday the draw takes place for the final Champions League qualifying round. Even now I’m simultaneously incredulous and breathlessly excited that the name of Tottenham Hotspur Football Club will be included. Yet even before the balls emerge from UEFA’s tacky plastic cannister, our preparation for the most significant match in recent times has been severely hampered in the pursuit of the true goal of Premier League clubs, money.

The days of a relaxed pre-season to ease the players back into fitness are long-gone. A couple of weeks hard running in the home counties followed by a jaunt round Scandinavia was the traditional precursor to a few friendlies against well-known sides, usually Scottish, a tapered build-up to a long, strenuous season. Now we’re off to the States for three games, back to play at the Lane only four days later, then Portugal, then back to the Lane for Saturday. You can’t hit the ground running if your legs can’t stand the strain.

Harry Redknapp agrees: “Our schedule is crazy. We pile games in but I need to get the players on the training pitch.” The players who went to America have struggled to adjust to the time difference, waking at 3am. Jenas has a thigh strain, Modric and Pavlyuchenko both picked up hamstring injuries in the States, Palacios has a groin strain. Says Harry, “He’s had an injection and I hope that does the trick.”

Two weeks before the opening match and we are using injections to enable a player to work through an injury. All these problems are the natural consequence of athletes pushing too hard too soon. If a podgy panting decrepit jogger like me knows this then I’m fairly certain it’s apparent to the Spurs legion of medical staff. Medics and manager want one thing, the chairman has sorted out something else, a nice little earner.

Pre-season is always a delicate art. If teams start well, you’ll hear it attributed to a good pre-season. If teams fall away in the second half of the season, I guarantee someone, usually the same someone, will solemnly ajudge this to be down to a heavy early schedule. If teams lose their pre-season games, someone will say friendlies are meaningless, it’s competition that counts.

So it can be everything and nothing. Pre-season gives coaches the chance to settle their men into familiar formations and patterns, as well as getting them reasonably fit. The training ground is the place where this happens, not a jolly with half the first team in the states.

This has never been more true than this pre-season. Not only do we have the Champions League, we have players returning late from their travails in the World Cup. Time is therefore precious in order to establish the blend, yet Harry and his coaching staff have been deprived of this most valuable pre-season resource.

Daniel Levy has ensured the financial security of the club at a time when many of our rivals’ self-inflicted wounds have left them vulnerable. For this reason only I’ll lay off the criticism. This schedule was presumably arranged some time ago, indicting that Levy wasn’t so certain of finishing 4th. Of course I realise we need the cash to compete at the highest level but however lucrative the tours, it’s nothing compared with the riches of the Champions League. Oh yes, and the glory but never mind that.

In a way,pre-season proper starts here. Harry has two full weeks and two friendlies with the whole squad, hopefully the injuries will have healed. It’s not just the Champions League: we open against Manchester City, one of our main rivals, who may be bulging with quality but who will be away from home and potentially disjointed with all the new arrivals. One consequence of our lack of transfer activity is at least that the players all know each other. It’s a good time to play them, provided that we ourselves are fully prepared. We’ve not given ourselves the best of chances.

17 thoughts on “Lucrative Friendlies or the Training Ground? I’m with Harry not Daniel on This One

  1. Sooo, the same amount of games in the same period as the previous year involving roughly the same amount of travel with slightly more time off before PL kick-off and Harry isn’t happy. I assume thats because he was in a tizzy about losing because he was ecstatic the previous year, indeed it was roughly the same schedule (same comp) he had entered with Portsmouth 3 (iirc) years prior. Add to that that HR has control of who he plays and if they travel or are given injections to play or not.

    But then… I’m sure if a podgy panting decrepit would be jouro like you knows this then I’m fairly certain… it must be true and in our best interests THFC should not be run as a global brand, rather a ramshackle sunday league side that pays in pie & chips and a few beers after a match, assuming we won of course.

    The only gripe HR can possibly have is the international friendly which will affect quite a few clubs, that being said, he can refuse to release the players and indeed if the players dont think it is in their best interests they can rule themselves out.

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  2. The only thing that instills confidence in me, ahead of this crucial season, is that we have a team that hasn’t changed. I still think it is just important to add some quality players to the squad. The question is though, who’s available out there?

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  3. Recently blogged in similar vein Alan.
    And the poster above is right in the sense that Harry is getting his retaliation (excuses)in early.
    When football and business clash then guess who wins. Flying off to Portugal is ridiculous.Arsenal have got it right, the Emirates cup. Decent opposition, no travelling, concentrate on the football.
    The World Cup and the International friendlies just complicate things even more.
    Between now and the 24 August we have a run of games that might just define our season.

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  4. football is a business as well now.
    in the past few seasons we have been to south africa as well as china.
    the brand tottenham hotspur has to be promoted it will make us known through out the world.
    i my self on many occasions in other countries get talking to people about football and all they know is manchester utd -chelsea -liverpool-and the scum
    its part of spurs becoming a bigger club it has to be done.
    most working people are lucky if they get a week in spain once a year.
    on this occasion harry you are wrong just get on with it.
    dont forget the players would have been staying in luxury hotels and their all their needs catered for its a hard life.

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  5. Surely the best form of training has to be playing, and Harry cant have it both ways, either we get the funds in to these marquee signings he so wants by getting money in the club whatever way we can, or Harry’s writes a cheque out and buys another donkey for us, after he bought Keane back for 12 million?

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  6. Sorry have to add the point “When football and business clash” What is it you fail to understand about the term PROFESSIONAL as in professional football, it is a business first and foremost, if it wasn’t no one would get paid and it wouldn’t therefore be Professional would it?

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  7. Brands, Corporate junkets, Naming Rights, Sponsorship, yes we all heard.
    Football is a business; we’ve got it.
    But when the business side interferes with the football then the balance is wrong. The football and the needs of the team comes first. The rest is just frills..
    We are a proberly run club in the business sense, one of the few. Lets keep it that way. Do you want to be in the same financial positions as Utd.and Liverpool?
    Chasing round the World, China, South Africa and USA or wherever is fine but not if it means a jet-lagged, heat exhausted squad with injuries two weeks before the Kick Off.
    Keep it in proportion.There still is afootball club over there somewhere.

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  8. Thanks for the comments, good debate. In reply;

    – regular readers (the very idea!) will know that this blog does not automatically agree with harry. Most of the time it takes little notice of what he says.
    – football is a business but no business worth its salt would risk jeopardising key assets for a short-term gain.
    – if it’s money you want, and we do, and we should do, we can get it from CL qualification. This is no ordinary pre-season – what’s the difference in income between CL and the Europa Cup?

    Cheers, Al

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  9. Nope sorry mate you’ve got around the wrong way, without the corporate side to fund things, we dont have the footballing side to be proud of. Tottenham are only in the position we are because of the business acumen shown by Levy and ENIC, not in spite of it. We have had no real success, and therefore no money from European football. We have no oil sheiks or Russian billionaires propping our team up, where onearth do you think the money comes from, the fairy footballing godmother, sorry to be so derisory about your comment but some of you guys really do live in LalaLand, with your bleary eyed romantic idealism, that quite frankly has never existed in any shape or form, its why it was a PROFESSINAL sport and not amateur.

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  10. Unless you have a strong manager than is in place for a few seasons then the marketing side of a club will often have more influence over things like pre season tournaments. Things like these are set up in advance and if you change managers as often as we do the chances of having a coaching/football agenda dominating the thinking of pre season is much reduced.

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  11. Romantic idealism is usually my thing but I’ve steered clear with this one!

    Where does the money come from? TV. Liverpool had a poor season last year. They still earned £47.3m in Prem TV rights, £15.6m from europe.

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  12. Any financial whizz-kids out there could estimate what proportion of our income comes from the Corporate side of things less what it costs us of course
    Seems that some posters here are happy to let the tail wag the dog.
    The football comes first.
    The clue is in the title. Tottenham Hotspur Football Club.

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  13. All due respect to the people doing their jobs in the corporate side but don’t put the cart before the horse. It is football that comes first at Tottenham.

    Clubs like City and Chelsea owe their success to their owners. But Spurs do not. We have a history and success that spans generations and it was achieved by good footballers and loyal fans.

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  14. JimyG2 do the maths mate, even if you have a capacity crowd of 36,000 paying ave 60 pounds over a 40 game period that yields 86.4 million turnover, compare that to players demands and transfer fees, ground and admin, and then you’ll see why your idealism is so misguided. I’m afraid you want the glory without the reality, and the reality is simply that ENIC are businessmen first and foremost, with a vision to create a team for the future, and that means world wide marketing and all that entails, and by the way, ENIC will sell it if a massive bid were ever to appear. And of course football comes first, that’s the product and the more successful the product the easier and more profitable it is to sell, ask Utd and Liverpool, harsh but true I’m afraid to say

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  15. Redknapp’s got the hump because the piggy bank is well and truly under lock and key. The dummy will be put back in once Levy has bought him a treat.

    Taking transatlantic flights obviously isn’t the greatest preparation for the oncoming season, but as stated above, they wouldn’t have been slumming it. Redknapp knows the deal. He’s just letting Levy know that more players are required, and at the same time letting anyone who’ll listen know that it won’t be his fault if Tottenham start badly.

    I’m tired of hearing him to be honest. I wish he would just get on with it.

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    • TMWNN, I see you’re also becoming more familiar with ‘Harryspeil’ mate, he spouts and blurts, blusters and bullshits his way using any medium he can, but in levy I trust more than I ever will him

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