Mido in search of that lost rhythm

Charismatic Egyptian striker retains belief in his own ability despite Tottenham's travails
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The Independent Online

A token appearance for a tots' coaching session at Chigwell School on Friday was indication enough that Mido is again moving well these days. Though hardly kitted out for the occasion in a cricket sweater and jeans, Tottenham's 6ft 2in Egyptian striker is all too solid evidence of what his club have been lacking of late, an intimidatory presence.

Whether that, and a proven goalscoring consistency, will be enough to gain him a squad place for this afternoon's FA Cup visit to Fulham is debatable, given the rotation policy of his manager, Martin Jol. But Mido, or Ahmed Hossam Hussein Abdel Hamid as he is known back in his homeland, is in no doubt that he could lift a season which has seen Spurs succeed only once away and, since the turn of the year, win just two matches, both in the Cup.

In their past two Premiership outings Tottenham have been overwhelmed by Manchester United, mentally, and Sheffield United, physically. As Jol concedes, "We have to prove to people we can be solid, physical and professional in what we do", though a former great, Steve Perryman, laments, "I do not see a leader on the pitch".

Leadership by example is what Mido feels he can offer, now that he says he is fully recovered from a groin injury. "Every time I play, I make a difference with the quality I can give to the team," he pronounced. So, then, would Spurs be doing better if Mido had played more? "You are asking me a killing question," he smiled as we talked in the Chigwell School library after the coaching class. "If I had played more games, more minutes, I would have scored many more goals. The manager knows that, the other players know that, and I know that."

Mido's most recent goal, which took Arsenal to extra time in the Carling Cup semi-final after he had come off the bench, was dangerously close to his final one for Spurs. The match at the Emirates Stadium was being played in the final hours of the January transfer window, and Mido's sale to Manchester City had already been agreed by both clubs, to the extent that City had a doctor at the game waiting to perform a post-match fitness check.

Then Jol stepped in to torpedo the deal. "After the game I spoke with Martin and we agreed, me and him, that I should stay to the end of the season, to see what would happen," said Mido. "I felt he really wanted me to stay, so that convinced me. I just had the feeling I still have a lot of things to do here."

With his 24th birthday coming up later this week, Mido has a wealth of big club experience at places such as Ajax, Celta Vigo, Marseille and Roma. He came to White Hart Lane on loan from Italy in January 2005, scored twice on his debut and collected another 12 last season. When talks with Roma about a permanent move broke down last summer, Dimitar Berbatov was brought in for £10 million, only for Mido to rejoin at the end of August for £4.5m.

With appearances restricted by that groin problem and the excellence of Berbatov, Mido has played 10 times and scored five in a four-man strike-force which also includes Jermain Defoe and Robbie Keane. "I am very positive, training hard every day to come back," he said. "Martin Jol knows that if I can get back into the rhythm I will score in every game."

But is he happy with Jol's rotation system? "Ask any striker and he will tell you he wants to play every game. But at all the clubs now, no striker plays every time. With two games almost every week, to play one of them would be fine. Personally, if I am in good shape I would love to play every game, because striker is a very special position. If you play and score, you need to play more, because otherwise it can stop the rhythm. This is the problem of the rotation system, but if you have four strikers of the quality we have, it would be impossible not to do the rotation," he admitted.

"There is a big difference between being unhappy and being professional and accepting the situation. You can't do anything about it. This is the system, and not only at Spurs. Look at [Louis] Saha, one of the best strikers in England. When he came back from injury, he didn't play straight away for Man-chester United, he had to wait.

"In football, people only care about what is happening now, not what happened last month or what is going to happen next month," Mido continued. "Last season, in the first half [of the campaign] I scored 11 goals, and then in the second half Keano did very well.

"When it came time for the supporters to choose Spurs' best player, they chose Keano. And if you had asked any manager in England who he would like to sign, they would have said Keano. But if you had asked them before Christmas they would say, no, me." Which is why Mido is looking forward to finishing this season in a better fashion than he started it.

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