Martin Jol knows a thing or two about football, and about Tottenham Hotspur in particular. The Dutchman, who managed Spurs from 2004-2007, is widely considered to be the manager who began Spurs’ rise from mid-table mediocrity to league contention, and he was one of only a handful of former Spurs managers invited to return to the club for the farewell to White Hart Lane last weekend.
Jol said after the ceremony in comments to football.london that he’s very impressed with the way Spurs play, and that with the squad Mauricio Pochettino has assembled at Tottenham, the club is perhaps only one very good incoming away from being Premier League champions.
"I was talking to one of Spurs' double winners Cliff Jones. I said the only player they lack now is someone like him, a winger. If they put in one player like Hazard or Mahrez then wow, and Cliff said he agreed.
"If Spurs could get a player like one of them then they would be unbeatable for the next couple of years. They would be champions."
"Tottenham have always played with wingers but this is the first time I've seen a Spurs side playing without them but still playing in the Spurs way. Push and run. Lots of crosses and shots at goal. They play to the strength of the players and that comes from the coach.”
Obviously Eden Hazard is a bit of a non-starter for Tottenham, but Jol referencing Riyad Mahrez is interesting, especially with the winger likely to leave Leicester City this summer. Spurs have been linked to him recently, as have a number of clubs in Ligue 1.
There’s no doubting Mahrez’s importance to the Leicester side that won the title last season, but there are some questions as to whether Mahrez would be able to recreate those heroics at another club after somewhat of a decline in form this season.
Spurs are likely going to kick the tires on a number of attacking midfield players this summer, with Moussa Sissoko a bust and questions remaining about Erik Lamela’s long-term fitness. Mauricio Pochettino has refused to tip his hand as to which players he’s looking. There have been long-term connections to Wilfried Zaha, of course, though that is now looking less likely than perhaps it once had.
As for Jol, despite the way he left Tottenham Hotspur, he remains a big fan of the club, with football.london even suggesting that he’s considering buying a pair of season tickets at Spurs’ new stadium. The “family aspect” of the club is something that remains with him to this day.
"Even when I arrived in the car park all the people were nice. That is one of the things I love about Spurs, all the people are still there. If you look at my hometown club [ADO Den Haag], everything is changing but at Spurs all the doormen, security men, people like that are still there after ten or 15 years. It's unbelievable. It's like a family.
"Spurs is a place where you feel a part of it. That's nice to be able to say. You feel very proud. To be part of that club, part of its history."