Jol plays heritage card as Spurs look for the light after another false dawn

The new head coach at Tottenham is stressing the club's history to win over fans
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The Independent Football

The first time Martin Jol walked into White Hart Lane he scored the winning goal in a 2-1 victory for West Bromwich Albion. Back then Jol was an enforcer in the midfield battleground.

The first time Martin Jol walked into White Hart Lane he scored the winning goal in a 2-1 victory for West Bromwich Albion. Back then Jol was an enforcer in the midfield battleground. Yesterday, 13 years and one day down the line, he again quelled the mob. This time his dramatic entrance eased rather than increased the pressure on Tottenham's perennially beleaguered board.

The Annual General Meeting, unfortunately scheduled three days after Jacques Santini's walkout, was gearing up for the blood-letting Q&A session when Jol made his appearance.

Freshly arrived from the training ground the imposing Dutchman, who had just been announced as the new head coach, grabbed a microphone and strode across the floor before standing in front of one of two big screens. Addressing the 500-odd shareholders he said: "I want to introduce myself. I've been here for four months and I like it. No, I love it."

So did the supporters and there was more to come. The AGM was held in Whites, a lounge in the White Hart Lane complex. On the wall were various pictures of Tottenham heroes and triumphs: Blanchflower, Ardiles, Greaves, etc. There were not many recent photographs. Jol shrewdly tapped into this heritage.

"I went to the memorial for Bill Nicholson yesterday," he said. "It would be marvellous to be a second Bill Nicholson. I know that is not possible but it would be nice to be back in Holland knowing there was some of that feeling here. That I was not just a part of this club, but a part of its history. Yesterday I got a feeling in my stomach when I saw Jimmy Greaves and Cliff Jones together. I knew then I had identified with this club."

It was like watching one of George Bush's folksy campaign rallies right down to the slips of the tongue, Jol at one stage referring to "Jim Nicholson". That prompted murmurs but he was forgiven as he paced the room, tugging at the heartstrings, pledging his loyalty to the cause. There was even a reference to God ­ the real one, not Glenn Hoddle ­ when Jol talked of Him being by his side in matches saying of Saturday's home defeat to Charlton: "I believe in Him but I thought He had left me."

He went on: "I want to tell you I am just a little cog in this big club." Turning to chairman Daniel Levy he added, to huge applause: "Maybe it is a company Daniel, but to me it is the biggest club in Europe. I say that because when I was 11 years old Spurs was the biggest club in Europe. When I saw Jimmy Greaves yesterday I wanted to go up to him and say 'you should have played in the 1966 World Cup final'. That sounds childish but I was a child then. I know the history [of Spurs]. When I was offered the job I thought I must take it. You can't walk out on a job like this."

Santini, of course, did just that, and his exit contributed to the shareholders' disgruntlement. The chaos in the dug-out was not the only complaint ­ the team were another beef. Jamie Redknapp came in for the heaviest criticism. One shareholder said: "He cannot tackle, he cannot score, he has no pace and no inspiration." This went down well with the mob, one saying of the speaker: "Give him the job."

With Jol gone it was left to Frank Arnesen, the sporting director, to defend the captain, pointing to Redknapp's experience and the respect he commanded in the dressing room. The summer signings, including Sean Davis and Michael Carrick ­ who has barely played ­ were also criticised but Arnesen argued they should be given time. There were also complaints about the dull football being played, but with Santini gone they lacked bite.

That is now down to Jol and his assistant ­ likely to be Chris Hughton who is already on the staff. In an extraordinary coincidence Albion's other goal in that 1981 win was a Hughton own goal. With his belief in a higher authority Jol will take that as a good omen.

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