It's time to kick off our series on Tottenham Hotspur's Best XI of the Decade, but before we get to the team itself we need to make sure that we pick the right manager for the squad. Remember, the voting is based on the seasons from 2001-2010 (with the end of this season included). At the end of the article you'll have a chance to vote for your choice to manage this squad.
Since 2001, Tottenham Hotspur have had only 5 managers, not including the caretaker managers. Given Tottenham's relative mediocrity for the early part of the decade there really are only three good candidates for this position and even that might be stretching it a bit.
For the first five years of the decade under Glenn Hoddle and Jacques Santini (and the first year of Martin Jol's tenure) Spurs avaerage league finish was 11th. Since 2005, however, the club's average league finish has been sixth and Spurs won a Carling cup as well. One thing it is almost impossible to evaluate these managers on is their transfer policy as most of them, with the exception of Harry Redknapp, had Damien Comolli buying players for them.
Let's have a look at the finalists for our manager of the decade:
Martin Jol: Jol managed Tottenham from 2004-2007. During that time the Dutchman brought Spurs to back-to-back fifth place finishes, one of which could have been a fourth place finish were it not for some dodgy lasagna. Those fifth-place finishes represented the club's highest league finish since 1990. Jol's tenure at the club was marked by a much improved defense. In the 2006-2007 season Spurs conceded only 38 goals in league play, their lowest total since 1971. Jol was also the first Spurs manager to qualify the club for Europe in back-to-back seasons since Keith Burkinshaw in 1985 and 1986. Jol was unceremoniously sacked in October of 2007 and replaced with the next man out list. It later was revealed that, perhaps, a poor relationship with Director of Football Damien Comolli was to blame.
Juande Ramos: Many of you may be questioning Ramos' inclusion on this list. He managed the club for 363 days so he can't have been that successful, right? He did, however, win the 2007-2008 Carling Cup, albeit with largely the same squad Martin Jol had at his disposal. The team finished in 11th place in his one season and as we all know had only two points from eight games to start the 2008-2009 season before he was sacked. Ramos didn't have much of a chance to display his skills at Tottenham and was ruined, much like Martin Jol, by high expectations. Tactically speaking, Ramos was perhaps the best manager Spurs had during the decade, but the results weren't there.
Harry Redknapp: What can be said about Harry that hasn't already been said? Did you know we only had two points from eight games when he became manager? Despite that we still finished 8th in the league and were runners-up in the Carling Cup. The following year, Harry took Spurs to dizzying new heights with a fourth place finish. Then followed that up with a run to the Quarterfinals of the Champions League and a fifth place finish. Harry's approach of all-out-attack resonates with the Tottenham faithful and while he aggravates many of us here at Cartilage Free Captain, the results speak for themselves.
So there you have it. One manager with a trophy during a 363-day reign, another that pushed the club to the Champions League, and a third who started this whole magnificent run. Two of the three were done in by the expectations heaped upon them and the third is still going.