The Tottenham board, in going after Juande Ramos behind Martin Jol’s back, and then doing the very public about-face by ‘warning’ Jol about their expectations and getting him to talk about the Champions League (when earlier in the summer there were sounds coming out of Tottenham of more ‘realistic expectations), have embarrassed themselves and let down their fans and the players.
For starters, it was purely bad timing, and it’s hard to understand what Daniel Levy and the rest of the Tottenham board found ‘wrong’ with Martin Jol in the first 2 games of the season that they hadn’t found last season. Are these guys capable of doing their jobs?
Targeting Ramos was admirable, but how are you going to tempt a manager, under contract, to take a step down from the Champions League and from a team with a genuine chance of winning the league (and this is La Liga we’re talking about, not the Championship or not even Ligue 1) to a club that’s playing in the Uefa Cup and are not likely to end up in the top 4?
Throw insane amounts of money at him and have an informal meeting with him that’s undoubtedly going to be picked up by the media and come across as desperate.
End result – Ramos turns down the crazy offer
And to cover their asses, the Tottenham board then got Jol onboard and got him to declare, in public, ‘ambitions for the Champions League‘. Never mind that the average Tottenham fan realises that the side needs more work and that qualifying for the CL is a couple of years off. Never mind that the board know that Martin Jol cannot deliver the Champions League (I told them this at the start of last season but they just wouldn’t listen!), and have effectively prepared for Jol to exit the club, sooner or later.
It reflects badly on the club to go behind the back of your manager like this. It also reflects badly on the board’s judgement that they backed Jol to the hilt and then changed their minds two games into the new season.
My best guess at this point is that the board was split over the summer about Jol but were ‘marginally’ in the favor of consistency, but now there’s a shift of opinion (short-sighted, IMO) and they are getting a bit edgy. And I don’t think that the real danger facing Tottenham is a failure to qualify for the CL. I think the board are genuinely worried that teams like Newcastle United, Manchester City and Everton could overtake them this season if they do not improve on the field.
Jol, with the ‘sword of Damocles’ hanging over his head, will try harder to succeed but now the damage to his position is done and the media will jump on his back every chance they get. He’s a smart man and knows how to cope with the pressure but this will be unlike anything he’s ever experienced before.
Let’s put it this way – Before this Ramos drama, Tottenham were still the media darlings and their picks for the team best equipped to break into the top four. After it, the press packs will be smelling blood and instead of predicting a rosy future, they’ll be looking for flaws.
It’s downhill for Jol from here, unless he pulls a blinder and gets his team to end at least at 5th spot. Then he could exit with grace, although I have a feeling that even if he gets Spurs to 4th, he’ll be replaced next summer.