Spurs may be enjoying a purple patch at the moment, but it hasn’t always been like this. There have been far more unpredictable times, and with it some hugely entertaining players… But not in a good way. After picking the dream team for the 21st century last week, it seems appropriate when supporting a team who’ve have their ups and downs to remember some of the flops too. Some were funny bad, some were just plain bad. So here is my nightmare Tottenham Hotspur flop team of the 21st century, where careers and reputations were abruptly and often comically ended here. Abandon hope all ye who enter here…
Goalkeeper: (Crazy) Heurelho Gomes
Perhaps it’s because we’ve been quite lucky with goalkeepers, because Gomes feels like a harsh choice to begin with. He was always a good shot-stopper, and has been looking good for Watford lately, but the fact is that you just never knew whether he was about to do something crazy. It was like he had a split personality, so a calamitous and frankly comical mistake was always possible when a slow lofted cross floated into the box, and it meant you were on tenterhooks whenever he played. For this alone, the crazy side of Gomes gets the pick. Probably the best player in the squad here, which is emphatically not a good sign.
Defender: Gary Doherty
This guy was a weird one on account of the fact that he played as a defender and a striker during his time at Spurs. Not especially good at either, he can keep the crowd entertained by spending the game being unsure of which one he’s meant to be (and I’m not sure his team-mates or hapless manager I’ve chosen here are likely to help him out). Known jokingly as the ‘Ginger Pele’, with any luck this headless chicken could score by having a shot smack his face and ricochet into the net… Oh wait, this actually happened. If it was deliberate then I might just be re-thinking my formation for this team… Jokes aside check it out on YouTube, what makes it even funnier was the fact that it happened in a game against Arsenal. Also is it just me or does the picture of him here look like a young version of the giant comedian Greg Davies? Imagine lining up next to Mr Gilbert for a corner…
Defender: Ricardo Rocha
Not even going to bother with positions as none of these guys really knew how to defend or where they were supposed to be on the pitch, so I’m just going to put ‘Defender’ for them all. Right, Ricardo Rocha… Who? Exactly. 18 games for Tottenham in 3 years makes him seem more like a ghost, and when he did play he was not very good at all. Right, so far we have a centre back who thinks he’s a striker and another who you won’t notice is on the pitch… This is going very well so far.
No, not the one you’re thinking of… Perhaps we had heard that Arsenal had bought a Brazilian called ‘Gilberto’ and thought this was a fad that we needed to be a part of – but this Gilberto was a complete disaster. The ‘Left Back’ (inverted commas seem appropriate for a lot of things to do with this player), was so bad that he was subbed off at half-time in 3 of his first 6 starts… I’m genuinely not sure that he made it past 7 appearances. The lowest low point came when The Daily Mail began an article about Gilberto with this painfully Daily Mailish opening: “They said it wouldn’t happen, but Brazil have finally produced a rubbish footballer. Step forward Gilberto da Silva Melo – otherwise known as that useless bloke who plays at left-back for Tottenham (when they’re desperate). The guy’s so bad you wonder how on earth he’s been capped 24 times by Brazil. In fact, he’s so bad, you wonder how he ever made it as a professional footballer in the first place”.
Ouch… And on that note, that’s it for starting defenders. Onto the midfield already, you may ask? Well I’m going for an unnerving 3-5-2 formation, because most of our gems (and in this case by gems, I mean turds) over the years have come from the attacking end of the pitch…
Central Midfielder: Paulinho
The fact that this didn’t work out still baffles me. He was our most expensive ever signing… In the 10 minutes before we then broke that record for Soldado (I’ll get to him) and Lamela. That Gareth Bale sale money had the odd success, and it seemed like Paulihno would be one of them. Regular starter for Brazil, I remember watching the Confederations Cup in 2013 and thinking he could be our Frank Lampard. But he just wasn’t, he completely flopped after a decent start and ended up being a benchwarmer while he was embarrassingly outplayed by academy players. I still don’t know how we managed to sell him for as much as we did…
Central Midfielder: Hossam Ghaly
This bloke wasn’t especially good as a player, but there are two reasons that ensure he gets into this team. There was the one hilarious time where he came on as a sub for the injured Steed Malbranque. Ghaly proceeded to play so badly that Martin Jol subbed him off! The subbed-off sub then threw his shirt at Jol, and with this act of petulance basically ended his unimpressive Spurs career. Following on from this, the other reason for his selection here was his supremely bad attitude that endeared himself almost as much as Adel Taarabt. Oh hey, speaking of…
Attacking Midfielder: Adel Taarabt
This guy is just the worst, I had genuinely forgotten that he had even played for us. But played he did, ocassionaly, with 16 games, 0 goals and a lot of ego. He became QPR’s problem, first on loan and then for some reason they signed him (perhaps Harry Redknapp felt responsible for him in some way). At the start of one season at Spurs, Taarabt was part of a group of players who weren’t even given squad numbers, and was banned from the first-team training ground. Granted, this happened under Jaunde Ramos whose methods were a bit insane, but Taarabt has continued to prove at QPR that he was an absolute nightmare to work with. Much like Ghaly, I wish the best of luck getting the full 90 minutes from this one.
Attacking Midfielder: David Bentley
It wasn’t supposed to be like this. He was supposed to be the new David Beckham. But instead the young and upcoming David Bentley came to Spurs in 2008, and his career died. I remember that one great goal he scored against Arsenal, but that’s about it. 42 Premier League appearances in 5 years, Bentley was loaned out to 4 separate clubs before eventually retiring at the age of 29, going on to co-own a restaurant in Spain. As if to add insult to his many injuries, half of the £15 million transfer cost (I’m guessing we didn’t have to pay the £2 million add-on fees as he hardly played), went to his former employers Arsenal. I wonder if they’re still laughing about that one…
Attacking Midfielder: Giovani Dos Santos
We signed Dos Santos from Barcelona, and he was supposed to be a real talent. This one is a bit of a mystery for me I must admit, because we never seemed to play him and thus I never found out if he was any good. Apparently he was quite immature to put it kindly, so I’m guessing he was another prima donna. He made 15 Premier League appearances in 4 years, and we loaned him out to 3 separate clubs in that time… He now plays at LA Galaxy with Robbie Keane funnily enough. I looked Dos Santos up to learn more about him, it makes for very strange reading… He was playing in the UEFA Champions League for the Barcelona first team after coming through their academy, and has 90 caps and counting for his country which is not to be sniffed at either… And he’s still only 26!? Surely he had to have some talent that was worth testing out a little more than not at all? But apparently not, because we never played him, baffling… So given all that build up something must have gone very, very wrong here.
Striker: Helder Postiga
I remember at Secondary School when we signed Helder Postiga from Porto, and it being a genuinely exciting prospect. He was another who was supposed to be a young player with a big future. But his only season with us was a disaster, scoring 2 goals in all competitions (I only remember one of them), and we sold him right back to Porto. Perhaps he, like so many others before and after him, just wasn’t ready for the brutal intensity of the Premier League (see unrelated picture of Robbie Savage bullying him). But the reason Postiga is remembered most by England fans is because he followed this awful season with Spurs by scoring an equalising goal against England in the Euro 2004 quarter-final, to help knock us out of the tournament! Talk about twisting the knife, Helder!
Striker: Roberto Soldado (captain)
The final piece in the worst jigsaw puzzle imaginable, Soldado came to Tottenham Hotspur off the back of some goal-scoring form in La Liga and for Spain in the 2013 Confederations Cup. But it became apparent very early on that something wasn’t right. He wasn’t powerful or fast, at best he could be described as a poacher… So playing him alone up front didn’t seem to be doing anyone any favours. But at least he could score penalties right? For a while that was his one saving grace, even when he was doing very little on the pitch, or missing an open goal against Burnley, he did at least still have the penalty thing. But then there was a game away at Manchester City that I remember where we were 1-1 and we had a penalty. He missed it, and we were hammered 4-1. It was a tame penalty as well, and it meant that his one saving grace was no longer a thing. I did feel bad for him as perhaps we didn’t play to his strengths, such as they were, so Spurs can perhaps take some of the blame for Soldado’s failed tenure at White Hart Lane by playing him in an isolating 4-2-3-1 formation. But for £26 million the return of 16 goals in 76 games in all competitions wasn’t good enough and he just never properly looked up to it in the Premier League. So why is he my captain? Well, because Soldado has been completely reprieved in my mind due to the FIFA 2015 game. He became a bogey player for my flatmate whenever we played Tottenham vs Arsenal, and so it is always hilarious to score with ‘Goaldado’. Even with FIFA 2016, it’s still fun to play with him at Villarreal. All is forgiven, Roberto!
Subs: It must be noted that for some of these players it was genuinely difficult to find a photo in Tottenham kit, such was their anonymity. I have Ben Alnwick as my reserve keeper. Again, who? Exactly. He was loaned out to 7 teams in his 5 years at Spurs, making just 1 Premier League appearance for us – a 4-2 defeat, to Burnley. In keeping with our lack of defence over a number of seasons, I’ve got only one defender on the bench (you got lucky this time, Paul Stalteri), and that is going to be the Left Back Ben Thatcher. This bloke seems to be genuinely insane, one example being when he was playing for Manchester City and dealt a horrible elbow thwack to another former Spurs player, Pedro Mendes. Asides from genuinely psychotic behaviour like this, he also wasn’t very good. For the first midfield sub, I’m going with Andy Reid. This guy was a hilariously jarring sight on the wing, as he was rather short and stubby. Only Tottenham could somehow sign a fat winger…
For the final midfield berth I was tempted to go with Wayne Routledge, but he was pretty unlucky with injuries to be honest so I’ve instead gone for Steven Pienaar. He was good for Everton no doubt, so I guess he’s more a representation of so many pointless signings that Spurs made seemingly for the hell of it. He just never played, at all. We basically stole a year of this players career and life, he went back to Everton and was immediately forgotten. We’ve done this before with players like Clint Dempsey, and it’s a really bad habit. These are good players who should be getting game time at the clubs they were at that liked them, and we somehow hijack them to keep a bench warm. So Pienaar is in to highlight at bad habit of Tottenham, but something that also reflects quite badly on the player: why waste away a career being a benchwarmer? I bet a lot of people didn’t even know he had played for us which says a lot. As for strikers… Well, trying to spell the first name of Grzegorz Rasiak may have been the most entertaining thing about his time at Tottenham. After a relatively promising time at Derby County in the Championship, he came to the Premier League to… Well, very little. 8 games, 0 goals, and he was quickly loaned back to another Championship side. This team has prima donnas, headless chickens and split personalities, but perhaps Rasiak’s biggest detriment was that he was clearly out of his depth.
Another ‘impact’ substitute that I’m putting in is Bobby Zamora. Not even going to justify this one, it’s Bobby Zamora. The final spot may be a bit controversial, but I’m going for Emanuel Adebayor. I know he was good for us when he was on loan, and had that good spell under Tim Sherwood too, but to be honest I’ve never known such a liability. There seems to be a pattern at every club he’s played for where he has flashes of talent but then becomes a source of trouble for the club. This occurred at Arsenal, Manchester City and then with us, and the fact that it happened multiple times is surely evidence that clubs became wary of him. I remember when he started playing well again and people had a go at AVB for dropping him, but he’d been awful for the entire previous season! That’s what was frustrating, you never knew what you’d get, and the more he played badly the worse it was because you knew he had the talent, but more often than not couldn’t be bothered. The picture at the top of this article sums it up rather well – Tim Sherwood and Chris Ramsey are saluting in reply to Adebayor, he’s probably just scored for us. They also look a bit bemused, almost nervous. And that sums up his entire time at Tottenham, he just seemed a bit mad at times and as a result he was not good for the team as a whole. Scores against Arsenal, then gets a red card and we lose 5-2. Misses in a Europa League penalty shoot-out because he’s taking a run-up like he’s going for the triple jump. It was all just too nerve-wracking, with no discernible pattern to his actions or his fluctuations in form, which meant it couldn’t really be resolved until he decided he wanted to play well again. So for being just such a difficult and hugely expensive liability in general I’m putting Adebayor in here. He can come off the bench as a super sub, but in his case I genuinely have no idea what would happen.
Manager: You would have to be mad to take this job, and it wouldn’t help… I’m going with Jacques Santini for this one though, who became our manager immediately after managing the French national team at Euro 2004. Just a disaster all round really, he didn’t even last half a season in charge, leaving after 13 games and only 5 wins. We can have David Pleat as his assistant, as Pleat seems to always take charge as Caretaker Manager when Spurs are at their lowest ebb. Plus his ITV commentary used to drive me mad. They both have their work cut out as I’m not sure how many of the starting line-up would be able to last a full game, and there are at least 2 potential red cards off the bench. Bonne chance, Jacques!
Team: Gomes, Doherty, Rocha, Gilberto, Paulinho, Ghaly, Taarabt, Bentley, Dos Santos, Postiga, Soldado (captain)
Subs: Alnwick, Thatcher, Reid, Pienaar, Rasiak, Zamora, Adebayor
Managers: Jacques Santini and David Pleat
So there it is, in my opinion the worst team Tottenham have had since I’ve started supporting them, which is basically the Spurs teams of the 21st century. We have two ghosts, a split personality, defenders who don’t think they are defenders, prima donnas, psychos, fat speed-merchant wingers, subbed subs, dweebs, strikers who can’t score, and a manager who might leave less than halfway through. Comparing the dream team of Modric, Kane, Bale and co against this lot makes me laugh because I can only imagine how bad a massacre it would be. White Hart Lane has seen a 9-1 result this century, but with the above squad in action I can honestly say the sky is the limit, and anything is possible… Again though, not in a good way. Remembering that Tottenham vs Inter Milan game and what Gareth Bale did to Maicon, considered at the time to be the best Right Back in the world, can you imagine what he’d do to the Brazilian I picked at Left Back here… Taxi for Gilberto, anyone?