Chapter Seventeen – Comes The Revolution (cont.)
Spurs have been criticised for buying success – there are always people around to criticise greatness – but I am not against the transfer system as such provided the clubs and the player agree and the player gets a sensible share of the money involved. No club that wants a successful team these days can afford to wait and groom its own young players. It has to buy good players wisely when they are available. With the change in the wage structure of the game it may well be that we shall see ten or a dozen of the really wealthy clubs emerge, clear of the others because they have the financial power to maintain a very powerful team. At the same time, that would not unnerve me particularly. Provided my own club rewarded me sensibly according to my ability, I would see no reason to uproot myself and move on.
If I could earn a lot more money at another club, I would have to think seriously about moving, but the bait of playing with a so-called ‘fashionable’ club offering chances of playing in the European Cup and the Cup Final would not influence me. After all ‘unfashionable’ clubs like Luton and Leicester get to the Cup Final – sometimes, like Nottingham Forest, they even win it. Ipswich won the League Championship. Burnley have played in the European Cup too. Twice Fulham have had one foot on Wembley, losing narrowly in the semi-final, and I like to think I am not finished with this Cup yet. A player could go around picking a different club each season and never get near a Cup Final or a championship win. If the entire business of wage levels takes a few seasons to settle down I do not see that it will make many changes at the top of football.
There may be a smaller First Division in time but the competition can hardly be more intense than it is now. Changes at the bottom are apparent, and Accrington Stanley have already dropped out but the game in England is big enough to stand this. It can be even bigger, and richer, if it only has faith in itself.
Perhaps this is the greatest contribution Spurs made to the English game in their ‘double’ season – they gave us all back some faith in ourselves. At a time when Barcelona and Real Madrid seemed to be the lords of football creation, Spurs brought back some of our self respect. While the players were battling for a new deal in contracts, Spurs offered the public an exciting new vision of what football can really be like. And in this vital season, Spurs were joined in this by one other team – the England team.
When the season started we could have had little idea of what was in store for the England team. Behind us lay two matches abroad in the summer, two matches and two defeats scarcely deserved in Madrid and Budapest, but defeats none the less. More or less intact, the same team was preserved for the first international of the season against Northern Ireland in Belfast. Back I went to Windsor Park to face Danny Boy and his boys. We trained at Manchester before crossing and the northern critics had their pencils nicely sharpened. One of them announced boldly and with complete confidence that this was the worst England team that had ever been selected. Come to think of it, this was a fairly substantial statement. Another informed us that Danny Blanchflower and Peter Doherty the Irish team manager were going to bewilder us, bewitch us with some magic tactical brew. Result? England 5, Northern Ireland 2. But of course we had been lucky, they said. Ireland had two big spearhead forwards in Dougan and McAdams and Danny kept lobbing high balls up to them. In our 4-2-4 formation we had two big boys too, in the middle of the defensive line. Ron Flowers and Peter Swan simply gobbled up these balls. I never could understand why Danny the tactical genius didn’t change and try something else. What was overlooked was the effective football we played out of defence into attack – quick, incisive and positive. Sepp Herberger, the German team manager much admired in the wider international football world, thought that this aspect of our play had been ‘brilliant’.
It's All In The Game was published by Arthur Baker Limited.
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