Those of us of a certain age know Danny Kelly as editor of NME in its heyday and also Q Magazine but more recently, of course, he’s headed off into the world of sports broadcasting and, even more recently, podcasting.
But it’s with his Spurs hat on that I chatted with him this week ahead of our first-ever visit to the new Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
This is one of the fixtures that City fans have been looking forward to since the list was announced back in June – new ground, not too far to travel, opposition who don’t wear red etc – but we didn’t expect it to be a dare-not-lose. Yet, we’re being told, ‘there are worse times to be playing Spurs’. Are these people right?
Danny: Yes, they are. I know people are measuring Spurs’ decline from the Champions League final, but in truth the team (which was fantastic a few years ago) has unravelled over the past 18 months, resulting in the sacking of our best and most popular manager of modern times. The appointment of Jose Mourinho has changed nothing; we are a stodgy, slow team who struggle in most matches. I wish it was different.
For you , where did it go wrong for Poch? And is Jose the man to take the club forward?
Teams (in sport, business, life) are fragile things, hard to build, easy to watch fall apart. Pochettino was overwhelmed by a storm of separate issues. Players in obvious decline, players wanting a last payday, a hierarchy distracted by the building of the world’s best sports arena, staleness, the breakdown of critical relationships between manager and some players… Oh my God, I could go on. A complete litany of problems that in the end consumed Mauricio.
I have no idea if Jose Mourinho will work. He’s been a great manager but, more recently, he’s been a destructive influence at clubs. For myself, the most important thing is that he doesn’t revert to the panto villain persona that blighted his time at Real, Chelsea (second time around) and United. After five years of Poch at the controls, I’ve become used to a decent person being in charge. And I liked that feeling.
A very good point, that. Daniel Farke, apart from being a fine head coach and creator of footballing miracles, is a thoroughly decent person. We like that feeling too. We’ve had a few who don’t qualify as such.
We’re of course thankful that Harry Kane is unavailable but if I recall correctly, you’ve coped particularly well in the past when he’s had his ankle problems. How are they doing without him this time? Mourinho seems to be going with a false 9 rather than like-for-like?
We are not coping well. No goals in the PL for about a month! Spurs fans have huge hopes of a lad called Troy Parrott, a teenage striker who’s already played for the Republic of Ireland. But Mourinho doesn’t traditionally trust very young players, so Spurs will start with a selection of non-out and out strikers up front. Son and Moura are fine footballers but the service to them had been poor. We’ve been overly reliant on individual moments of creativity.
Hhmm… there’s this phrase, ‘along come Norwich…’
I spoke to Paul Hawksbee a few weeks ago, before the game at Carrow Road, and he couldn’t speak highly enough of the new stadium. Am assuming you’re on the same page? I’m struggling to find anyone who has anything negative to say, which is not a given with new grounds.
The thing is the wonder of the age. To be honest, I hated it when they tore down the old ground; too much of my years, emotion and money in the place. But it would be stupid to not admit that the new stadium is a thing of beauty. I think the Canaries fans will love it too.
It’s obviously been an up-and-mainly-down type of season for you guys, but throughout it all, who has shone? Anyone? I’m more than fearful of Son’s pace, which we were spared at Carrow Road because he’d picked up another of his red cards!
It has been an awful campaign so far. The only highlights have been Son’s amazing goal against Burnley and the continued presence in a Tottenham shirt of the superhero that is Harry Kane. The latter, of course, has now departed the stage for the foreseeable. Hopefully, something fantastic will happen against City!
I refer My Right Honourable Friend to my earlier ‘along come Norwich’ comment…
Away from the Premier League, briefly, you guys hopeful of another Champions League run this season? With Jose in charge…
I’m not looking up hotels in Istanbul!
Am always a bit loathed asking, but … what have you made of us and our season? (Please be gentle)
Norwich are odd. They’ve played some decent, occasionally exuberant, football, and, if they go down, loads of their players will be in demand by PL clubs. Pukki, Cantwell, Aarons, Godfrey… who have I missed out?… but as a team, they have just been too easy to beat. I admire Daniel Farke for sticking to his principles, but there is a price to be paid for those ideals in a league as brutal and ruthless as the one they’re in.
I think you’ve just about nailed it to be honest. For too much of the season, we’ve indeed been too easy to beat, hence why we are where we are. But, as you alluded to, we’re still a joy to watch at times (you missed Buendia btw).
Finally… standard I’m afraid, a score prediction for Wednesday night? And have an earthly of staying up?
Spurs are so inconsistent that all results are genuinely possible. Home advantage might, though, just give Tottenham a win.
In the long term, I’m not optimistic for Norwich. They’re far from being the worst team to have been in the PL, but I’m struggling to find the three teams they’ll finish above. A shame, because you are a proper football club, not just an outcrop of a global business empire or image-laundering nation-state.
We’ll take that as a compliment. Cheers for your time, Danny.