Many of you will be aware of Robbie Keane's movements, with his LA Galaxy switch a large talking point and he'll come into our match in prolific form for the Galaxy having scored 6 goals n the last 3 weeks. What some of you may not be aware of is that our former utility man Teemu Tainio will also be facing us as the heartbeat of the Red Bulls side. Tainio has settled in well out in America and is said to be more key to their chances of success than the bigger names of Rafael Marquez and former Gunner Thierry Henry.
Looking back at when these two played for our club it got me thinking about the 2005/06 side that came so close to breaking our Champions League appearance duck. For those of you who don't remember this was our first team lineup when all were fit:
You look at some of the names there and can't help but wonder how we possibly could have gotten so close to achieving a Champions League place. You would think that the side side of last year must have picked up a lot more points than this lot, yet the season 11/12 squad picked up just four more points than their 05/06 counterparts. But for a chronic bout of food poisoning it could have been just one point difference. Yet how many of that Jol team would you take into today's first team?
Robinson of 2005 was a different animal to the Robinson of today. Whilst Brad has been solid this year it could be argued that Robbo has been our best goalkeeper of the last 20 years based on that season. So ok that's Robinson in.
If you compare the Ledley of 2005/06 to 2011/12 it's abundantly clear that Jol's Ledley was a more complete player. That Ledley King still had full mobility in his legs and pace to burn so King of 2005 also gets the call up.
As with Ledley you have to compare the old Lennon to the current Lennon to see which one stands up as the better player. Although the 05/06 Lennon had less maturity and inferior crossing ability, that Lennon was fearless and had all the left backs in the Premier League worrying about how to deal with his pace. Sadly Lennon now seems to be short of a trick to beat his man and such exciting performances occur less and less. Therefore 05/06 Lennon narrowly wins this contest.
There are other debatable decisions such as comparing Carrick with Modric and Keane with Van Der Vaart that do indeed show the quality of the 05/06 side. However whilst the decisions of the above positions are tight the other positions on the pitch are of no contest, with the 11/12 team winning hands down. So what were the ingredients of that side that led to such an overachievement?
Hunger was one of the strongest traits of that side along with Passion. The 05/06 side was packed with warriors, players who wanted to win and would put their bodies on the line to do just that. Davids, Tainio, Dawson and Stalteri even, all players with fairly limited capabilities but a never say die attitude.
That hunger stemmed from the man-management of one man. Big Martin Jol. He was tactically naive at times and would make the wrong substitutions but his ability to bring out the best in players and inspire them to do their best for the badge was something I've not seen at the Lane in my 20 years of following the club. Without Jol there would have been less of the hunger and passion we saw that season and we would have seen ourselves back in the familiar mid-table position. Competition might have been less tough back then but we have improved as a team at a quicker rate than the competition has in personnel.
When you look at what Jol did with a limited squad like that, it's fairly understandable to start dreaming of the possibilities for next year with our squad brimming with talent. If AVB can get his tactics right and improve the mentality of the players, the sky really is the limit for Spurs.
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