Martin Jol last night delivered his verdict on his team's results so far this season and he was damning. "I would give them five marks out of 10, maybe less," he said.
The Tottenham manager is wise not to try to pull the wool over anyone's eyes and kid them things are looking any better than mediocre. After all, they lost at Sunderland on the opening day of the campaign and then were soundly beaten at home by Everton.
It was then, in late August, that things really began to unravel at Spurs, as the club's directors tried to tempt Seville's manager, Juande Ramos, to north London. Unsuccessful in their pursuit of the Spaniard, they backtracked and pledged their support to Jol, but it was with the rider that the Dutchman had to get Spurs in to the top four of the Premier League this season, and thus take them to a higher level than they have been to before, namely the Champions League.
Tottenham's last two results have not helped in that aim, although the loss at Manchester United was understandable. Less forgivable was their slip-up at Fulham just before the international break, when a 3-1 lead became a 3-3 draw. The only win so far was their 4-0 thrashing of the Premier League's early-season whipping-boys, Derby County.
Yet with Spurs' results having barely picked up since the flirting with Ramos, and the prospect of hosting their local rivals Arsenal in 24 hours' time, Jol is adamant he is not feeling the pressure of lifting his team up from 14th place.
Responding to a comment that his job was now at permanent risk, he replied: "I would say that for me there are no worries. I'm looking forward to the game and it's not up to me, I think it's up to the players. We want to make the supporters happy and for them it's a big game as well. For us it is an important game to get the points." He then added, somewhat gnomically: "I'm always relaxed. If you were in my position, in a couple of years' time I will tell you why I'm always relaxed."
Part of the reason for Spurs' failure to break into the top four has been Jol's inability to fashion a side that can regularly beat Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool or Manchester United. In a little under three years in charge, Jol has only overseen one victory against those sides, a home win against Chelsea last season.
But Jol defended his record last night, saying: "My record is OK – I've had a lot of draws against Man United, twice away. Chelsea, a draw and a win last year – but it would be nice to beat them.
"You have to beat big teams to do well otherwise we will always be in the top five or six like we were last year and the year before. But that is not enough. We want to do better."
Jol could call up Aaron Lennon for the first time this season as well as his £16m striker Darren Bent, and thinking of their potential in big games, he added: "We can improve with our best players on board. I feel that although the international games didn't help, if everybody is fine – and we will soon see about that – then there are no worries."
Jol refused to comment on Pascal Chimbonda, meanwhile. The right-back, 28, was arrested on Monday for conspiracy to defraud but has trained with the club this week.Reuse content