Joe Strange - Glory glory Tottenham Hotspur
Published: 30 Nov 2010 - 14:08:54
As an avid Evertonian I'm constantly comparing my team - and club as a whole - to the rest of the Premier League.
Unlike some fans, I'm a realist. Not overly optimistic or pessimistic, I'm well aware that we won't be challenging for the title and we won't be dropping down to the Championship. I do know that we're capable of beating the big teams but at the same time we're almost certain to drop points against those destined for the drop.
All in all I think I know my team pretty damn well - their good points and their bad, their talents and their faults.
Up until about a year ago, there was one top-flight club which always struck me as being the most similar to my own - Tottenham Hotspur.With average home attendances of around 36,000, an impressive history of achievements and the shadow of their more successful local rivals hanging over them, Spurs, were to me at least, the Everton of the South.
Both sets of supporters strongly believe in playing football the right way, while at the same time yearning for a return to the glory days of years gone by. And to some extent those days have returned.
Despite flirting with the bottom three during inconsistent campaigns over the past five seasons, both sides have regularly qualified for Europe and also made their presence felt in the latter stages of the domestic cups - the Blues losing out to Chelsea in the FA Cup final in 2009 and Tottenham lifting the League Cup the season before.
But while results between the two sides have been fairly even, one club has made leaps and bounds both on and off the pitch during the last 12 months.
Tottenham had been in search of stability for more than a decade when Harry Redknapp was lured from Portsmouth back in 2008. A fantastic man-motivator and a master of the transfer market, the former West Ham boss steered Spurs safely away from from the drop zone after a terrible start to the 2008-09 season under Juande Ramos.
After helping retain the club's Premier League status - and reportedly netting himself a sizeable bonus in the process - Redknapp's genius has been on show for all to see over the past 50-odd top-flight games.
Like Everton boss David Moyes, Redknapp somehow transformed a team heading for the second tier into the fourth best team in the country in the space of just a season. An impressive feat to say the least.
But unlike Moyes, whose Everton side crashed out in the Champions League qualifying round (albeit against much tougher opposition than Spurs had to face) and then finished in a disappointing 11th place the following season, Redknapp continues to oversee a dramatic resurgence in North London.
His side have already secured safe passage through to the last 16 of European football's elite competition and currently sit fifth in the league, just six points off top of the table Chelsea.
They've beaten bitter rivals Arsenal away from home for the first time in 17 years and also saw off current Champions League holders Inter Milan at White Hart Lane. In Rafael van der Vaart they have arguably the signing of the season and in Gareth Bale arguably the player of the season.
Their squad is full of strength-in-depth, with a quality and balance that has most sides in the league looking on with envy. Harry has admitted that his side can now be regarded as genuine title challengers in 2011, a bold claim considering the reluctance of most managers to talk up their team's chances.
But while the perennial wheeler-dealer's claims might be a little premature, few could argue that Tottenham aren't heading in the right direction - up.
FOLLOW JOE ON TWITTER @joe_strange
- FOOTBALL.CO.UK BLOGGER:joe strange
- A product of Brighton University's prolific youth system, Joe Strange has boundless energy and the enviable ability to cover every blade of grass in his Monday blog. Joe has written for a variety of football websites and fanzines and is also a regular contributor to golf.co.uk. Despite being born and raised in Kent, 'Stranger' is a diehard Everton fan and counts his team's penalty shoot-out victory against Manchester United last season as his most memorable football moment. Follow Joe on Twitter @joe_strange.
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