The disciplinarian who could make Spurs stylish again

After months of turmoil, Tottenham have landed one of the most coveted managers in Europe. Glenn Moore explores the Spaniard's career
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The Independent Online

The career of Juande Ramos should not just offer Spurs fans hope, it should inspire any jobbing manager. This is a man who rattled through nine clubs in 12 years, winning a decent but unspectacular reputation, when he was offered the chance to revive Seville in 2005. Now he is one of the most wanted managers in Europe.

Seville are a Spanish Tottenham, only more so. Their aspirations had outstripped their achievements for generations. Under Juan de la Ramos Cano those ambitions had begun to be realised. He has steered them to successive Uefa Cup triumphs, a first Spanish trophy – the Copa del Rey – since the 1940s, and a Champions League debut.

Just as pertinently, to the Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy, a man who perhaps naively wants Spurs to play with their traditional style and win silverware, Ramos has done all this with stylish, adventurous football. Seville attack with width and pace. Ramos has brought on players such as Daniel Alves, the full-back Chelsea desired before they baulked at the £24m price, and rekindled the career of Fred Kanouté, who never exhibited the energy he displays at the Estadio Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan during his sojourn at White Hart Lane.

Ramos may like flowing football but he is a strict disciplinarian on the training ground. This initially made the players antipathetic to him but they grew to recognise he was stern but fair, and have responded. The closeness of the group was evident when the left-back, Antonio Puerta, tragically died on the pitch in August. The club was briefly destabilised, hardly surprisingly given that around the same time Ramos was photographed in discussions with Spurs officials.

Seville's pre- season form had been imperious: they thrashed champions Real Madrid in the Spanish Super Cup, but they are mid-table in La Liga this season. They also began their Champions League campaign badly, being beaten 3-0 by Arsenal (not the most auspicious of omens for a future Tottenham manager). They have, though, since recovered.

Ramos' relationship with the club president, Jose Maria del Nido, had already soured though. In Spain the belief is Del Nido was jealous of the acclaim Ramos received. Thus, although his contract runs until June, he was open to suitors.

Like so many talented managers Ramos had a moderate playing career. A midfielder, he played for Elche in the top flight but then slipped into a meandering career with a series of lower division clubs.

He returned to Elche to begin his coaching career, starting at the club's lower levels. He was given his first chance with a senior team at Alcoyano, in the lower reaches of Spanish football. His first success was at Levante, whom he took into the second division. He also did well at Logrones and Malaga, less so at Lleida and Barcelona B, but finally made his mark when he took Rayo Vallencano from the Second Division to the Uefa Cup in successive seasons (1998-2000). He stayed for three seasons, the longest period he has remained at any club.

Real Betis, the other club in Seville, was his next destination, followed by Espanyol where he lasted only five weeks following a dispute with the board. After a season at Malaga Ramos was lured to Seville and finally extended his reputation across Europe.

Married with three children – the family are presumably used to an itinerant lifestyle – the 53-year-old recently had the unusual honour, for a serving manager, of having a stadium named after him, in his hometown of Pedro Munez in central Spain.

He speaks English and has previously expressed a desire to coach in the Premier League. "England is the perfect place to work in football," he said. "It's a country I like a lot. I love the intensity and emotion of the game and the fact that grounds are always full."

Ramos also said: "I want to be challenging for the Champions League with one of the big clubs," which suggest he has already fallen for the belief, so prevalent at White Hart Lane, that Spurs, despite only winning two league titles, the last 46 years ago, are a "big club". That may please the fans, but Jol said the same thing and the board expected him to prove it.

The new man: Ramos' record

* The 53-year-old has managed 10 clubs in 15 years, making his name in Spain during his time in charge of Rayo Vallecano, whom he took into the last eight of the Uefa Cup.

* Arrived at Seville in 2005 and won the Uefa Cup in his first season with a 4-0 drubbing of Middlesbrough in the final. Steered the club to 5th in La Liga.

* Retained the Uefa Cup last season, beating Espanyol on penalties in the final in Glasgow. Finished third in the league and won the Copa del Rey – beating Getafe in the final.

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