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The Camden Cad
Aug 24, 2004
North London
For Tottenham Hotspur, the last four months have been like one of those celebrity makeover programmes on the television. Tottenham trudged into Dr Ramos’ Football Surgery back in October looking overweight, haggard and drawn. Now, after weeks of detailed appraisal and then a flurry of cutting, ******* and discarding, the bandages are off and the old girl is weeping with joy at the sight of her reflection.

So, what on earth has the dashing Dr Ramos done to turn this decrepit scrubber into the perky, flighty filly that we see before us today? How has he transformed a down-trodden, misbegotten collection of charlatans that could ship three goals to Sam Allardyce’s Newcastle into the ruthless perpetrators of The White Hart Lane Massacre?

Unsurprisingly, he’s focused his scalpel on the defence. Poor Martin Jol was somewhat hamstrung by injuries to Ledley King and Michael Dawson and replacing them with Useless Kaboul and Anthony ‘Really Should Have Been A’ Gardner, was like using Swiss cheese to plug a hole in your boat. He has, for the moment, allowed Kaboul to stay, but somehow he has managed to convince David Moyes to take Gardner in at Goodison Park. I can only presume that Moyes needs him as a draft excluder.

In comes Jonathan Woodgate, who would probably be one of the finest defenders in Europe, if it wasn’t for the fact that he only has to sneeze and he’ll be out for eight weeks with broken ribs. With the equally fragile Ledley King by his side, they could have the best injured defence in the country. Nevertheless, if by some incredible coincidence, they manage to get on the pitch at the same time, it’s difficult to think of a back pairing more impregnable.

Ramos has also managed to bring in Alan Hutton from Rangers. Hutton is a glorious throwback to the days when every English title-winning side was built on a Scottish backbone. He’s one of the few players from north of the border who can justifiably be called ‘world class’ and he impressed coaches across the continent with his displays against France and Italy in the qualifying campaign for Euro 2008. Pascal Chimbonda, who was quoted as saying, “I don’t care about the Cup Final, it’s all about the money,” and his equally odious agent Willie McKay can scarper just as quickly as they like, because Hutton is superior both as a player and as a man.

With full-backs Gilberto and Chris Gunter also arriving in the transfer window, there’s certainly a spring in Tottenham’s step these days. Anyone who watches Spanish football will tell you how much they look like Ramos’ old club, Seville. An unashamed Wingerphile, Ramos has given Aaron Lennon the freedom to surge forward on the right and he looks dangerous every time he gets the ball now. If he could learn to cross, he’d be an outstanding player. As it is, his trademark move of running past everyone, panicking and smashing the ball back across the penalty area, seems to be doing enough damage to keep everyone happy.

The biggest change though, has been in Jermaine Jenas. For years I’ve wondered what it was that he actually did. He was so invisible that Tottenham fans used to have to play ‘Spot the Jenas’ just to make sure he was on the pitch. All of a sudden he’s become an action hero, making surging runs in injury time, scoring goals, not losing possession all the time. For the first time ever, he fully deserves his England call-up and I hope he gets a start.

The team isn’t finished yet, by a long way. Ramos will almost certainly want to bring in a lightning quick left winger to mirror Lennon and he may still be in the market for a goalkeeper as well, depending on how well Radek Cerny does in the next few months. I like the sectional restructuring though. Rebuilding from the back is very old school.

Can they beat Manchester United today? I wish I could say that they could, but I don’t think they’re at that standard yet. Mind you, I don’t think that anyone in the Premier League is right now. Sir Alex Ferguson’s side are in awesome form and they’ll fancy their chances of a seventh back-to-back victory. Jamie O’Hara did a sterling job of marking Cristiano Ronaldo in their FA Cup clash, but United have so many threats, so many superstars, that it’s going to be like King **** holding back the waves.

Tottenham fans are unlikely to give it too much concern though. The team is playing the flamboyant, exciting football that they crave, there’s hope on the horizon and still an outside chance of European qualification. All in all, it’s yet another satisfied customer for Dr Ramos.