Juande Ramos officially takes charge of Spurs for the first time today following a tempestuous 72 hours, even by the standards of a club for whom the word stability is as foreign as the English language is to the man charged with driving them forward following the unsavoury departure of Martin Jol.
Despite getting their man Spurs face an uncomfortable few days as they counter tapping-up allegations from Seville who claim the club illegally approached Ramos directly without first asking permission. "They have acted incorrectly and I shall report them to Fifa and Uefa to defend my rights," said Seville president Maria del Nido, who is apparently also seeking £3.3m in compensation.
Del Nido said Ramos had done "great damage" to the club by leaving in the middle of the season, and appeared to give his departing coach little more than a cold handshake as the two said their goodbyes at Seville's Sanchez Pizjuan stadium on Saturday.
The Spurs chairman Daniel Levy broke his silence on the controversial capture of Ramos yesterday by taking the unusual step of apologising to the fans for the manner in which the appointment was made. In an open letter to supporters on the club website, Levy wrote: "Several events clearly did not happen as we all would have wished and I am the first to admit that things could have been handled better. [But] we have made the changes, popular or unpopular as they may be, that we felt were necessary."
Ramos, who flew into London on Friday night, watched yesterday's Premier League fixture against Blackburn as a guest of the directors and will make his first appearance at the club's training ground this morning when he will get to know the players and make his first assessment of the squad Jol left behind.
Ramos, who is reportedly already targeting a goalkeeper, central defender and creative midfielder, has signed a four-year deal worth an estimated £25m as Tottenham's new head coach having resigned from Seville, whom he took to back-to-back Uefa Cup titles in each of the last two seasons. The 53-year-old Spaniard is expected to be joined at White Hart Lane today or tomorrow by former Tottenham midfielder Gus Poyet, who is being brought south from Leeds partly to help Ramos get over the language barrier. Seville striker Fredi Kanoute, who played for Spurs between 2003 and 2005, has been linked with a return to North London.
Ramos said leaving Seville, whom he guided into the Champions League for the first time this season after they finished a close third behind Real Madrid and Barcelona, was the hardest decision of his life. He has long expressed a desire to follow the likes of Rafael Benitez into English football and was genuinely impressed by the level of support Tottenham generated during the clubs' quarter-final Uefa Cup meeting last season, when Seville knocked Spurs out.
Winning over the Spurs fans may not be so easy, however. By steering the club to successive fifth-place finishes, the hugely likeable Jol arguably achieved more than any other Tottenham manager for a generation. Unless Ramos can turn round Tottenham's fortunes quickly he is unlikely to win many awards in the popularity stakes. Supporters may have short memories but after the events of last week when the crowd seemed to know that Jol was being dismissed before even he did, the diehards will take some convincing that it was the right decision.
Tottenham insiders admit the club made a mistake in getting caught talking to Ramos in August but remain convinced that Jol had taken the club as far as he could. It is understood that he returned after the summer break with insufficient confidence and ambition, but the question still remains as to why the club nevertheless gave him £40m to spend if he was likely to be shown the door.
Spurs are categoric that no player was bought without Jol's say-so but the general consensus is that sporting director Damien Comolli wielded far more influence when it came to transfer targets. Significantly, it was Comolli who told the players of Jol's departure, Comolli who asked them to turn up for training the next day and Comolli who made the announcement on the Spurs website about the arrival of Ramos, whose first game in charge will be Wednesday's Carling Cup game against Blackpool.
It has emerged, meanwhile, that Jol was told of his sacking, along with that of his assistant Chris Hughton, by his nephew Rob seconds after Thursday's Uefa Cup defeat to Getafe. Jol admitted to being "embarrassed" that supporters knew of his fate before he did.
Jol said his nephew had pulled him to one side in the tunnel "and told me what everyone else seemed to know" after the information had somehow leaked. Jol said the players "all stood up and applauded" when informed he was leaving but denied reports that he had had an angry confrontation with Levy.
Jol, who has a house near the Spurs training ground, has said he wants to stay in English football. He and Hughton – dismissed after 27 years as a player and coach with Spurs – spent Saturday watching Southend's League One fixture against Carlisle. Hughton, who had been part of the coaching team for 15 of those years, took a philosophical view. "It was obviously a sad day but I got past the point of worrying," he said. "I knew at some stage a manager would go and I would go with him."
Ramos's first five for Tottenham
31 Oct Blackpool (h) Carling Cup Round 4 20:00
3 Nov Middlesbrough (a) Premier League 15:00
8 Nov Hapoel Tel-Aviv (a) Uefa Cup 17:30
11 Nov Wigan (h) Premier League 15:00
25 Nov West Ham (a) Premier League 13:30Reuse content