Date: 15th October 2009 at 11:13pm
Written by:

OxfordSpur – from Vital Spurs answers some questions ahead of the Pompey v Spurs game this weekend.

Early days I know, but are you happy with how your season is going so far?
How could I not be happy, with the team sitting 3rd? Although I don’t expect us to be there at the end of the season. After the last couple of seasons when we have been more third bottom than top, it is ‘triffic and hopefully my doubts that we can maintain it are proved to be unfounded..

People knock Citeh, probably rightly so, but Spurs have not been shy in ‘splashing the cash’ so people could also argue that you are attempting to ‘buy success’ as well! (That said most do/have) Would you say this is true and does this worry you anyway?
Before anyone criticises Spurs for spending big they really should look at the clubs balance sheet over the last few years. Sure we spend big, but we also recoup the vast majority of what we spend on outgoing players, plus we have a turnover which is the highest outside of the Champions league. It is a case of if you have the money, why not spend it. If you look at our clubs total debt, I think it is around 13m, the price of a decent midfielder.

My worry would be if we were spending money we didn’t have and getting ourselves hopelessly in debt, putting our future at risk, chasing the now, instead of maintaining the clubs solid foundations, as some less well run clubs have done. No names mentioned of course…

Also, as a bit of a follow up question that also ties in, does it not worry you that with the amount of money being spent and the wages being offered that failure to make the champions league, or at least the uefa cup, this season would see the purse strings reigned in? If this happens your manager will most probably walk out on you, as that is what he does when the money dries up…
Again, it all boils down to being able to afford the wages etc. I actually think (and wrote as much) that our missing out on The Europa cup was a good thing and potentially saves us money, rather than cost us. In truth, as a competition it generates little, but actually costs a lot, with bonus payments for the existing players, as well as the need to pack out a squad with players who perhaps aren’t quite good enough.

I am sure I read that we would earn around £8m to win the trophy, but that is the wages of four players you need to sign to allow you to compete in the competition without leaving yourself short in other competitions. Add to that bonus and other expenditure and it is a competition based on vanity and nothing else.

The CL is of course something else, but Spurs have one of the lowest wages to turnover ratio in the Prem, so again is suggests we are very well and realistically run. If you look at the figures, you will see that we run at a percentage of around 45% wages to turnover, which in recent seasons is just over half of the Portsmouth figure. Perhaps it isn’t Spurs who are running themselves towards bankruptcy.

As for Harry I will answer that in the next question.

In all ‘seriousness’, how long do you think he will stay as your manager?
It really is a case on a football fan scorned, with Harry isn`t it? From the outside it always looked like he was justified in his reasoning to leave, but perhaps you know differently or see it another way. As for Spurs, unless there is credence to the investigation by HMRC and he is charged, I don’t see why he would leave. In reality where would he go. England Maybe? But we all know he probably carries too much baggage for the FA. I doubt he would get an offer from a top four side and unless he struggles at Spurs, are there many better jobs in the game for him at 62?

Perhaps instead of feeling Harry is a mercenary, it should be considered that if he feels people around him are being straight with him and backing his own management (not just with money), he will give the same in return. Personally I don’t think either Portsmouth or Southampton did this, whilst his record at both Bournemouth and West Ham may show the man in a better and more loyal light.

Are the club treating the fans well, or are they fleecing you?
Any football fan has to accept he is getting ripped off. It is a fact of life. I often go to watch Oxford in the Blue Sq and that costs me 30 quid for me and my 8 year old and we have to witness 5th division football, which in the main is pretty dire compared to the Prem. Sadly we have to accept that if we demand success and the ruling bodies allow freedom for clubs to pay massive wages we have to pay for the privilege.

Who do you think has been your best summer signing and why?
That is a surprisingly tough question as there are a lot of ifs and buts with a number of them. Realistically none of the signings would be automatic picks for the 1st eleven, but add quality to the squad as a whole and give Harry quality options. Kranjcar was great value, whilst the likes of Bassong and Naughton could be with us for the ten years or at least give us great value for money. I don’t see any as players to truly get the fans excited individually, but collectively they make us a very decent squad.

Clearly you could you have done with more arrivals though as you are ‘down to the bare bones’ – so in which areas, and maybe even who, would you have liked? Although the boss will have plenty of time to ‘tap up’ people in January, and before, though…
You really are a bitter man. I have to say I disagree with you regarding our squad and arrivals. With a season where we have no European football, we have a compact squad, but one full of quality and versatility, with several players more than capable of playing more than one position. We have been unlucky with picking up injuries in particular positions, rather than spread over the team, but that is impossible to legislate for. Is there a team in the world, who could happily cope with losing their four best centre halves as we did at one stage?

We also have to consider the new rulings restricting squad size from next season and also the quality we have coming through. I would like to think that Harry is looking at our youngsters with a view of making room for them if and when the time is right. Bring in a whole host of big money players and an excellent generation of kids are lost.

What are you expectations, or hopes for this season? I imagine they must be pretty high as they usually are with Spurs!
Surely as a fan you need dreams? I went for Spurs to finish 6th in the Prem and for what it’s worth, tipped you to be relegated. I think the top eight are already taking shape, swap Everton for Sunderland and it is complete. We are in the group with Villa and Everton, with Citeh as the obvious team to break the big four monopoly. A Cup would be nice and in truth I would take tenth or twelfth in the Prem for an FA Cup win.

What about Pompey, what do you think we should expect or hope for?
Looking at your club saddens me, because I think you are a fantastically loyal group of supporters and some of the best I have seen, but the club has been run, like a pub team in the last 18 months or so. Paul Hart has been fantastic, but surely he will be dumped at the first opportunity and once the money arrives (if ever), he will be deemed as not big enough to attract top players or made the to carry the can for the poor start.

If you are relegated, I don’t think the club could complain and without spending money in January you will have a massive task to stay in the division, even then you are in serious trouble and perhaps the fact that there are a number of poor teams in the division may just allow you to stay up.

Who is the real danger man that Pompey need to watch?
If I have to name one player I would go with Aaron Lennon, but it will be interesting to see how the Pompey old boys get on. I assume either Crouch or Defoe will start with Robbie Keane and Niko on the left. I have been predicting for a few weeks that I thought that Kranjcar would try to prove a point and put on a show. Fingers crossed.

If you could take any Pompey player and put him in your squad who would it be and why? Oh wait, too late for this all the players that many claimed ‘were not good enough for Spurs’ that have been wanted have been signed/missed out on already!
Personally I always try to be objective and respectful of other teams and players, so I doubt you have read me abuse or be unfairly critical of any of your players, but maybe I am going soft.. The player I would have at WHL would be that German midfielder Kevin Prince Boateng, a player I have touted as being a star since he came to the Prem. I only hope Harry knows something about him that we don’t.

In the interests of fairness, and so I do not seem too bitter or resentful I will admit that we do have a few ex Spurs players now and have over the years anyway, but is there anyone else that you would like to send Pompey’s way, and why?
No. Because all of our players are far too good for you 😉

Go on, who’s going to win the battle of the ‘clubs he loves’ this weekend?
One of your main problems from what I have seen is that, you have played like strangers at times, which is of course understandable as there was so little preparation with the current group in pre season, but I do believe you have more quality than several others near the bottom and if you keep in touch early on, will potentially get better as the season goes on. With money to spend in January, things could look totally different. As for the weekend, I will go with a 1-1 draw, with Defoe scoring for us and KBP being your best player.

Questions answered by OxfordSpur from Vital Spurs.

My answers to questions to me will appear over there in due course…


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