David Showell

Since Arsenal appointed Arsene Wenger in 1996, their neighbours and bitter rivals at White Hart Lane, Tottenham Hotspur, have tried a whole host of managers, each one of which promised to take the club out of the doldrums.

As well as three caretakers, they’ve welcomed three Englishman, a Scotsman, a Spaniard, a Frenchman, a Dutchman and a big cheese from Switzerland, none of whom have managed to put much on the shelves of the trophy cabinet. The current incumbent, Henry James Redknapp, may prove the doubters wrong, however.

In 2007, Spurs took the plunge with Juande Ramos, a disastrous appointment that could have led to another plunge, this time into the Championship. Although the Spaniard arrived amid the usual fanfare, his appointment proved to be one on the worst in the history of the Premier League.

13 clubs in the last 17 years would suggest that Juande Ramos has as much staying power as the average FA chief executive, and his time at White Hart Lane was barely long enough to allow the maintenance man to paint his name on the office door.

Ramos joined in October 2007 from La Liga giants Sevilla on what was reportedly an extremely lucrative contract, which made him one of the highest-paid managers in the Premier League. And although his first few games were enough to give the club's success-hungry supporters some hope, Spurs soon lapsed back into the traditional Tottenham two-step, i.e. taking three steps forward then one step back.

As is usually the case with any boss that takes over mid-season, most fans and pundits were willing to judge Ramos on his performances in the following campaign. Therefore, an 11th place finish in the league, with 14 defeats, wasn’t enough to sound any alarm bells.

So it was that the faithful waited expectantly as the 2008/09 season came around, in the hope that a summer of anticipation would give way to an autumn of success. It wasn’t to last, however and an opening day defeat at Middlesbrough was to be the portent of a shockingly poor run of performances.

A home defeat to Sunderland in the next match was quickly followed by draws with Chelsea and Wigan, and losses to Portsmouth, Hull and Stoke, hardly teams, with the exception of The Blues, to instil fear into the hearts of Spurs fans normally.

A 2-0 setback in the UEFA Cup against Udinese was enough to convince the powers-that-be to look elsewhere. It was Tottenham’s worst ever start to a league season. After eight matches, the club had fewer points than a three-pin plug, thanks to two draws and six crushing defeats.

When the board finally lost patience with the manager, there were few newspaper headlines about panic-sackings and knee-jerk reactions. A dismissal came as no surprise, possibly not even to Ramos himself.
The club brought in Harry Redknapp and began the long, slow process to mid-table mediocrity. To the fans, just this once, it seemed like a success. Back in October, relegation looked like a real possibility.

Bizarrely, Ramos’ poor performance at White Hart Lane earned him a job at Real Madrid, thanks to the sterling reputation he’d previously earned in Spain with clubs like Sevilla and Malaga.

However, the Bernabeu born-again didn’t last long. Last September he moved to Russia, taking over at CSKA Moscow. 47 days later, he was shown the door again; a poor run of performances led to the sack-ski.

Under Redknapp, Spurs went from strength to strength, and are now genuine contenders for a Champions League place. But who knows? If the board hadn’t acted when they did, the club may have been playing the likes of Doncaster and Scunthorpe this season, instead of Chelsea and Arsenal.


  Other Parts of this Series: