The first person to manage in Spain and then at Tottenham has expressed his support and sympathy for the second man to do so. Terry Venables, who moved back to London from Barcelona in 1987, knows the problems Juande Ramos faces, for he has been there; yes, been at the bottom of the League too, where Spurs sit going into today's game at home to Wigan Athletic.
After three years at the Nou Camp, which includedlosing a European Cup final on penalties, Venables returned to his former club and 11 months later – just like Ramos – found them propping up the rest. But Spurs finished that season sixth, a placing that everyone at White Hart Lane would surely settle for now.
Despite being aware of all the difficulties in implementing a manager's philo-sophy, especially in a foreign country, Venables has been shocked to find the team struggling this season. Speaking before being inducted into the National Football Museum's Hall of Fame last Thursday, he said: "I couldn't see that coming, Tottenham being bottom of the League. I really thought they were going to break into that top group. I saw them [draw] at Chelsea and thought they played exceptionally well that day, so I think it'll get better."
Where he particularly empathises with Ramos, who seemed to have steadied the ship after arriving from Seville a year ago and winning the Carling Cup in February, is over losing both last season's main goalscorers, Dimitar Berbatov and Robbie Keane, against the club's wishes this summer.
As a good union manin his playing days with Chelsea, Spurs, Queens Park Rangers and Crystal Palace, Venables fully supported measures introduced in the 1970s allowing players to leave at the end of their contract. He does not, however, believe in a Berbatov or a Cristiano Ronaldo agitating for a move in the middle of a contract, unless there is a specific clause allowing them to do so for a set fee.
"If there's no such clause," he says, "then you've got a player you've paid a lot of money for, a big asset to the club, and he can just leave? I don't see that. We fought hard years ago for that not to happen in reverse, but now it's gone full circle.
"So I do sympathise with people like Tottenham who are trying to get into that top four, working really hard and spending money. You buy a big player, especiallyfrom abroad, and it's not easy to make a success of it, but you do and it works fantastically well and then what happens? He wants to go somewhere else." In Berbatov's case, Venables agrees with Ramos that Tottenham suffered a double whammy, because the deal with Manchester United was done after the season had begun, at the last minute of a transfer window that he has always regarded as an artificial and self-defeating innovation.
"The reason they gave for it was that the 'haves' had too much in their favour. But it doesn't change that. If you haven't got the money, you can't buy in the January window either, but the ones with the money can. I think it's a restraint of trade in that you can have a situation where if you do have the money, you want a playerand the other club want to sell him, you can't do it."
While Venables was talking, Spurs were slogging their way to a laboured 2-1 victory over Wisla Krakow in the Uefa Cup with a new formation, David Bentley supporting Darren Bent in attack. After three defeats and one draw any win was welcome, although the defence looked shaky again on Ledley King's return and will need to be much sharper this afternoon against an interesting new striking combination of Emile Heskey and the clever little Egyptian Zaki.
Venables, who event-ually led Spurs to an FA Cup success over Nottingham Forest in 1991 before becoming managing director and then falling out with the former chairman Alan Sugar, believes Ramos will win through in the end: "He has a terrific background, and started well here. Now he's lost two terrific front players and had to replace them.
"They run a good ship at Tottenham and they're also expected to entertain the fans, they've got that in their history. But as a manager you don't have to do it that way [at first]. You know winning breeds confidence, and once you've got that confidence you can then play like that. What the fans don't want is Arsenal fans giving them the stick they're getting at the moment!"Reuse content