Juande Ramos is not a man given to making wisecracks but he did say yesterday that he will only be opening a bottle of red wine with Sir Alex Ferguson tomorrow afternoon if his Spurs team win at Old Trafford. An FA Cup fourth round draw against Manchester United in your first season managing in England is rotten luck, although no-one could doubt Spurs' confidence now.
Having dispatched Arsenal 5-1 in the Carling Cup semi-final second leg, Ramos has another great English football baptism tomorrow. "I'll only open a bottle of win if we win," Ramos said when told about Ferguson's post-match tradition. As a native of the town of Pedro Munoz in Spain's Castilla-La Mancha wine-producing region, Ramos is in a better position than most Premier League managers to advise Ferguson on the vintages.
Ramos has already pulled off one miracle this week – can he manage another tomorrow? He said yesterday that he had already encountered Ferguson at Uefa's select coaching seminars in Geneva where the glitterati of European football managers mingle. "He seems a really nice person," Ramos said. "I met him before I signed for Tottenham and he welcomed me into his world." Ferguson's world is not likely to be quite so welcoming tomorrow: Spurs have not won at Old Trafford since Gary Lineker scored the winner for them there in December 1989.
Nevertheless, Ramos explained that his record at Seville against the big guns Real Madrid and Barcelona was something of which he was proud. "We always got good results against them," he said. "Normally when you play away against the big teams like Manchester United, Arsenal and Chelsea they are the favourites. But don't forget that in the Super Cup in Spain this season we [Seville] beat Real Madrid 5-3 at the Bernabeu. No-one expected that to happen."
Ramos has been to Old Trafford once before, when Seville were the opposition in a friendly to mark the opening of the stadium's new quadrant sections in August 2006. "It was a training game, the result didn't matter," Ramos said. In other words, Seville lost – 3-0 – with two of the goals scored by Cristiano Ronaldo in his return after the controversies of the World Cup finals that summer.
With the prospect of coming face-to-face with Ferguson, Ramos was invited to contrast his own club's hierarchy – where director of football Damien Comolli oversees transfers – to that of United, where the manager controls everything. Curiously, it was Ferguson who, in the summer of 2004, predicted great success for the Spurs model when Frank Arnesen and Jacques Santini were first given the jobs that now belong to Comolli and Ramos.
It would be interesting to know whether the Scot still believes that. Comolli has seen off Martin Jol and now Ramos, with the official title of head coach, works under the Frenchman. "Every team has its own way of doing things," Ramos said. "Manchester United are structured in a way where the management team decides how to spend the money. Tottenham has a different system, one is not better than the other. It's just a different way of doing things."
Indeed, Ramos demonstrated his own independence by saying that there were as many as six players whose acquisition he had vetoed this month because he did not believe that they were "right for the club". With Comolli in pursuit of Jonathan Woodgate – whom Ramos knew from the Englishman's time at Real Madrid – and Alan Hutton of Rangers, it is still the director of football who is driving the transfer policy.
"We had the same system in Seville and it produced excellent results," Ramos said. "These decisions over buying players are shared. It is a decision made together about the price and the quality. It is not up to just one person."
Pascal Chimbonda is another whose mercenary approach to his football career suggests he may soon join Newcastle and the French right-back will not figure tomorrow. He is suspended which means that Ramos will have to change his line-up from Tuesday night, either bringing in Paul Stalteri or switching Teemu Tainio to full-back and bringing Tom Huddlestone back into the midfield. There were words of encouragement for Paul Robinson but no indication that he is close to a first-team recall.
"Now the players have seen that we can beat one of the top four clubs," Ramos said. "So this match against Manchester United is a perfect opportunity to test just how much our confidence has grown after beating Arsenal."
'Disappointed' Robinson denies transfer request
Tottenham goalkeeper Paul Robinson insists he has not asked to leave White Hart Lane although he admits to being unhappy with his omission from the team.
The 28-year-old was dropped for the Carling Cup semi-final first leg against Arsenal earlier this month and has not played since Spurs' 2-2 FA Cup draw with Reading at the start of January when he was at fault for both goals.
Robinson told Sky Sports News: "Every professional player gets phases like that in their career. If the manager decides I'm not performing I can't argue with that. I was disappointed with the way the situation was handled, let's say.
"I saw reports yesterday saying I've put in a transfer request, I've never done that." When asked about departing during the transfer window he said: "Definitely not. But if I don't play between now and the summer I've got a decision to make."Reuse content