Now I’ve been thinking about an article on the new Jefe at Tottenham Hotspur for some time now but I thought I’d give the guy a chance first and he’s largely been good, but after the dismal 3-2 against Birmingham City I thought now would be a good time to criticise/praise Señor Ramos.
But there’s just one problem before I decide whether or not to unleash on the guy; who is he? How did he arrive where he is now? And most importantly, is he good enough to manage Spurs?
Juande de la Cruz Ramos Cano has had a colourful career in football. As a player, he played top flight football for Elche in the 70s and played for a further 5 clubs until the age of 28, when he was forced to retire after a knee injury. It then took a further 10 years until he cracked into the management with Segunda División B outfit — and former club — Deportivo Alcoyano, with which he achieved mid-table mediocrity. For the 93/94 season he left for pastures new and to Levante, also in Segunda B in which he achieved promotion to the second tier of Spanish football. He left for the next season to be with Deportivo Legroñes in the Segunda División, where he achieved promotion to La Primera. He left again and had largely unsuccessful spells with Barcelona B and Lleida, before he went to Rayo Vallecano de Madrid.
With Vallecano he made a big step as manager, for example he stayed for 3 seasons, his longest stay with a club; and he also started his love affair with the UEFA Cup when he qualified in his second season with the club. After his third season with a 14th and UEFA Cup Quarter Final under his belt, he went on his first stay in Seville with Real Betis, where he finished 6th before moving to Cataluña and Deportiu Espanyol de Barcelona. He lasted 5 games in Barcelona before leaving. The next season he was appointed by Málaga CF, and finished 10th in La Primera. It was in the 05/06 season when he took charge at the other Seville club, Sevilla FC, a club with which he achieved 2 UEFA Cup triumphs, a Copa del Rey and a Supercopa. Then after the sacking of Martin Jol, we find him in London leading Spurs, his 11th club in just over a decade.
What is a Ramos Team?
Let’s look at what Juande did with Sevilla. Their rise to become a team of Champions League calibre was based upon free-flowing attacking football. A remarkable achievement, considering the loss of top scorer Julio Baptista, and also defensive powerhouse Sergio Ramos, both to Real Madrid. He replaced these with a number of shrewd buys in his first season, one being (ironically) Mali international Frédéric Kanouté from Spurs, another Julien Escudé from Ajax and finally Luis Fabiano from Porto. With two strong target men in Kanouté and Fabiano, the style of football was a mix between direct long ball and free passing play. The midfield was strong, anchored by Enzo Maresca and Renato and flanked by Jesús Navas and Daniel Alves. The defence was equally strong, Ivica DragutinoviÄ‡, Javi Navarro, Adriano and of course Escudé. Also he rules the team with an iron fist, which Rayo Vallecano will testify to. One game when Rayo were 2-0 up and cruising, he decided to take a player off and have the team play the rest of the match with 10 men, as they weren’t working hard enough.
Whether a similar system can be implemented (or has been implemented) at Tottenham is debatable. Due to injuries, he has a skeleton back 4 to work with, however the midfield is good and the forward line top class. The defence when fully fit you would expect to be Bale, King, Dawson and Chimbonda. The midfield is somewhat more enigmatic; there are a number of players who can play a number of positions well, so its who do you play where. For example Teemu Tainio is capable of anchoring the midfield, supporting the strikers and also playing out wide — all of which he has done under Jol. Then there is Lennon; do you play him left or right? Jenas; attacking midfield or defensive midfield (or indeed cleaning boots, which is where I would have him). The main problem though is a severe lack in real left-sided midfielders, which would probably result in Bale moving up to left-wing and bringing in BenoÃ®t Assou-Ekoto. Up front is pretty straightforward though with plenty of pace men and target men. I think given time — and a free injury table — Ramos has enough there to build a squad similar to that what he had at Sevilla; strong defensively, balanced midfield and goal-scoring strikers.
How’s he settling in then?
Pretty well in fact. I was looking forward to seeing another manager go this season but Ramos has started well, not losing in 6 out of his first 7 games. His first Premiership game set a bold statement, dropping both Robbie Keane and Dimitar Berbatov (a decision which was a right one, considering Darren Bent promptly scored in the opening 15). The team went on to draw 1-1 with Middlesbrough, after a thunderbolt from Luke Young.
The times when I have watched Tottenham under Ramos I have been fairly impressed, most notably the 4-0 over Wigan. However a competent performance in Israel against Hapoel resulting in a 2-0 win was also good, and the superb come-from-behind victory against AaB last Thursday ending 3-2.
Against Birmingham, the performance was largely okay, and they weren’t help by Phil Dowd in all truthfulness (then again neither were Brum). The midfield was good, they kept the ball down the right end of the pitch and scored twice in succession. However the team lost its way after the Keane departure, and this left the defence exposed and they were cut open for the Jerome goal. No player should be allowed to run so far in your own half, no excuses. The third however was just a thunderbolt and as such, unstoppable. But the Jerome goal could have been prevented had Dawson and Zokora made successful tackles.
So, is he good then?
Yes, you definitely haven’t seen the best out of Ramos and Spurs yet. This is a Spurs side with a lot of potential, and the manager himself is talented. He has good support from Gustavo Poyet, a man who knows a lot about English football, and I think that after a few more players come back from injury and a shrewd buy or two in January, we could very well see Spurs back in the top 6.