Jol aims to be 'second' Nicholson as Spurs' head coach - Premier League - Football - The Independent

Jol aims to be 'second' Nicholson as Spurs' head coach

Martin Jol became the latest man to attempt to introduce some colour footage into Tottenham's black-and-white glory years video yesterday and immediately gave an impassioned speech in which he pledged to do his best to be "a second Bill Nicholson".

Martin Jol became the latest man to attempt to introduce some colour footage into Tottenham's black-and-white glory years video yesterday and immediately gave an impassioned speech in which he pledged to do his best to be "a second Bill Nicholson". However, his job specification is not one the late manager would recognise. No sooner had Jol finished a tub-thumping speech to 500 club shareholders at the Annual General Meeting than Frank Arnesen, the club's sporting director, made it clear that he was in charge.

The Dane, who was also appointed this summer, confirmed he was in sole command of transfer policy, both the buying and the selling. It is a revolutionary concept for English football and, despite denials yesterday from the chairman, Daniel Levy, is thought to be the reason for Jacques Santini's sudden departure.

Pressed by one shareholder what would happen if he identified a new recruit and Jol, whose title is head coach, disagreed, Arnesen said: "Then I will convince him. The decision is with me. The coach picks the team. I make sure he has the weapons. It is my obligation to make sure the coach is a success. I am responsible."

That may be true, but if Spurs lose, Jol is likely to bear the brunt of supporter ire. Arnesen would seem to have power without responsibility, Jol the responsibility but not the power. Arnesen admitted that he had had to explain to the players yesterday just how the system worked, adding that they should go to Jol if they were unhappy about not being picked, then to himself if they wanted a transfer.

Jol said he was happy with this situation and had worked in the same way in the Netherlands. Since he and Arnesen know each other from the Dutch League they do have more chance of co-existing harmoniously than Arnesen and Santini, even if the latter had himself been Lyon's director of football.

While Arnesen and Levy both denied that Santini had been forced out, both also said they had no idea what was the "personal reason" that had demanded his return to France. Arnesen, in a telling phrase, said: "He told us he was wanted more in France than here." Arnesen added: "I knew he had problems. Twice he went to France, for eight or nine days during the international fixtures."

David Buchler, the vice-chairman, also hinted at the strain Santini was under when he added of the Frenchman's last days at White Hart Lane: "He was not the same man he had been a month before."

Levy insisted Santini's departure underlined the new system's strength, which "provides for continuity." He said: "When player purchases are decided by the manager and he leaves you get wholesale change. On a net basis we have spent more than Arsenal and it has got us nowhere. Look what happened with Sergei Rebrov. George Graham signed him but then Glenn Hoddle came and he didn't think so much of him. Suddenly we'd lost £16m - that was the total cost - clearly that cannot go on.

There was criticism of both Santini's exit and the management structure at the AGM, but Levy and his fellow board members were generally given a fair hearing. This owed much to Jol's dramatic appearance mid-way through the meeting - just before shareholders were due to question the board.

Jol spoke about watching Spurs conquer Europe as a boy in the Netherlands and of getting emotional at Sunday's memorial service for Nicholson. "It would be marvellous to be a second Bill Nicholson but I know that is not possible," he said. "But it would be nice, when I am back in Holland, to have some of that feeling."

Jol's contract remains until summer 2007. Chris Hughton is likely to step up to his assistant.

The lowdown on... Martin Jol

How do you pronounce his name? Yol.

Does he speak English? Fluently, having played for Coventry and West Brom. He also speaks German.

Big enough for Spurs? Well, he won Dutch coach of the year awards in 2001 and 2002, but has only worked for the less well-known clubs, such as RKC Waalwijk, Den Haag and Roda JC. "This will be by far his biggest club," says Johnny Metgod, the former Spurs midfielder, now a coach in the Netherlands.

How is he regarded? "He is seen as a very technical coach," Metgod says. "A master of tactics is perhaps exaggerating a little, but he is someone who can turn a game around. He lets his teams play and cause problems for the opposition."

Play the Spurs way? At RKC, his most recent club, he played an attacking 4-3-3, with two wingers.

Which player is most likely to benefit? Midfielder Michael Carrick - bought by Frank Arneson and neglected by the departed Jacques Santini.

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