This article originally featured on the MEHSTG website in 2001
Glenn Hoddle – Player. Manager.
So, George Graham has gone. But, for everyone’s own personal reasons, he will not be forgotten. His time at Spurs was, as MEHSTG predicted before his appointment, one which would be fraught with his Arsenal history in the background. Maybe, for a Spurs mad director, this was part of the backdrop to his dismissal.
So, that’s all in the past now and Spurs must look to the future. The new incumbent is being sought and many names from the good and the great are being linked with the post. These include : –
The Dutch – Johan Cruyff; Ruud Gullit; Frank Rijkaard; Dick Advocaat … all no doubt to talk to Willem Korsten and tell him what he should do with that white round thing.
The Ex-Spurs – Terry Venables; Peter Taylor, Gary Mabbutt, Jurgen Klinsmann; Steve Perryman; Joe Kinnear … all for the obvious reasons
The rest – Gianluca Vialli; Alan Curbishley; John Gregory (heaven forbid); Kevin Keegan; Steve McClaren … for no other reason than the tabloids think it is a good idea to wind Spurs fans up.
However, the name that has constantly linked with any vacancy at White Hart Lane for about 10 years now, has been that of Glenn Hoddle. The number 10 who graced the lilywhite shirt of Tottenham Hotspur seems the main choice of newspapers, TV pundits and fans to return to the place where he weaved his magic. Fans hope he will bring with him the style and flair that he showed as a player, but are Glenn Hoddle the player and Glenn Hoddle the manager the same thing ??
Don’t let the way he performed on the pitch lead you to think that his teams will show the same sweeping moves that he used to perpetrate in the name of Tottenham Hotspur. There are a number of reasons for this.
Firstly, Glenn would need a Glenn Hoddle in his side to play like this. And beyond David Beckham (who has a range of passing ability similar to Hod), where would you find one of those ? To play with the expansive game that involved, you would need to assemble a group of players on the same wavelength who were fit enough to make space and find players with unerring accuracy. Spurs do have some players who might fit the mould – Anderton’s passing is above average for most Premiership players and Ledley King has a presence about him that gives him time to pick out team-mates with killer passes. But Glenn last played for Spurs in 1987. The game has moved on since then. At a pace. The speed of the game now would not allow many players to dwell on the ball like Glenn used to and the emphasis is on speed and athleticism. It would be difficult to play the style that he was involved in at Spurs in the 80’s without allying it to hard work, like Manchester United do. They work their socks off. Look at Southampton. They are a team who work for each other, as ably demonstrated in their win over us at the Dell. Nothing fancy, just a group of players who shut Tottenham down and made it difficult for them to play their own game. While the French game allowed players time to play at their own pace, in this country the speed of the play means that thee has to be technical ability, but not the sort that Hoddle showed here. It is being able to do things at top speed and then move on to the next stage of play. I’m not saying that it won’t be better than four 0-0’s on the trot, but at the time of writing Southampton have just established a club record of seven successive clean sheets, which indicates that Glenn has worked out the defensive side of the game that is needed to succeed in football today.
Secondly, would his name be the one to attract world class players to White Hart Lane ?? You must remember that in this country, outside of London especially, he is regarded as a fancy dan who never produced it at the top level – an assumption borne out from watching his England performances and a few viewings on TV. Those who saw him week in, week out know the real value of Glenn Hoddle to a side, but they are in the minority. You have to travel to the Continent to find like minded souls who knew his importance. In France, his time at Monaco won him many admirers and a generation of players now coming through were probably brought up on his skills. This could be useful in capitalising on his name. In Holland too, many players cite Glenn as a major influence on their careers and said if he had been born a Dutchman, he would have had a national side built around him. Something never afforded to him by a succession of England managers, who wouldn’t dare take that risk. His brief time with England will also have won some admirers abroad and he could be the few Englishmen to attract some big names to Spurs. Come on, if a player like Bryan Robson can do it with his reputation, then Glenn must surely be able to bring some top players in.
Next, there is the “Ossie” factor. Having swept into White Hart Lane as the “sweetener” appointment to salve the anger of the Spurs fans after Terry Venables was removed by Alan Sugar, he brought in top players in the Famous Five, which all ended in tears. Steve Perryman recently said that the Spurs fans didn’t think too much of the entertainment Ardiles provided when they had been knocked out of the League Cup 0-3 at Notts County. The wave of attacking fervour that gripped White Hart Lane at the start of that season soon faded into the background when the goals started going in at the other end. Ossie couldn’t grasp the need to defend as well as the team went forward and he paid the price with his job in the end. Hoddle has mastered the defensive tactics needed and despite his side’s 7-2 defeat at Spurs last season, his teams rarely get tonked. There will be a realistic assessment of what is needed and he will implement his plan for taking the club forward.
Finally, there is the pressure. Swindon, Chelsea and Southampton are small clubs in comparison to Spurs. Hoddle started off what Chelsea have become today by introducing top players and that has been taken on by those who have followed (to varying degrees). Southampton have survived for many years on limited resources and done well to stay up, but Glenn has taken them on to a secure mid-table place and the outside chance of forcing themselves into a European place (which is more than you can say for Spurs). At Tottenham the expectation will be much greater and he will be seen as the man to take Spurs to the next stage after the foundations that Graham has laid. That will be challenging at the top of the league and a regular place in European competition. This will be a new experience for the former Spurs midfielder, although he should feel at home at White Hart Lane, not only because of his past there, but there are many faces on the coaching side of the club who will be familiar to him from his playing days. Having taken on the England job and been a penalty kick and a disallowed goal away from taking his ten men into the World Cup semi-final, he obviously has the potential to do it at the top level and his England career was ended not because of things that happened on the pitch.
Whatever happens, Glenn Hoddle would be the obvious choice as the new Spurs manager. Whether he chooses to take on the job is his decision. When offered it at the time of Gerry Francis’ appointment, he said he wasn’t ready at the time. The time could be now.