Three Or More Questions: North London Derby

Paul Gilham

We chat with Uncle Menno of Cartilage Free Captain prior to Sunday's little kickabout.

We're not normally in the business of promoting or even dealing with that other North London team 'round these parts.  But, given that it's derby weekend and given that I'm on a roll with the whole Three Questions thing, I reached out to Cartilage Free Captain to see if they'd want to do a 3Q before Sunday.  They did, I answered some questions for them, and Uncle Menno of CFC answered my questions for us. My answers to their questions? They're here!

Incidentally, I think I need a new name for this feature, as I am starting to ask more than three questions.  I'm automatically discarding "Better Know A" anything, because Stephen Colbert is funnier than we are, but if you have any suggestions for what this little feature could be called, let me know.

On to the more-than-three questions!

TSF: Of the many things Arsenal fans mock Tottenham fans for, probably the most voluminous this season has been the perception that Tottenham were the Transfer Window Champions - Spurs signed a boatload of good players, and after that everyone thought Spurs were poised to force their way in to the Top Club Club. Can you pinpoint why that hasn't happened?

CFC: The funny thing about signing players, especially when you sign a lot of them at one time -- not ALL of them are going to work out. Tottenham's new players got a whole lot of attention in the summer, not only because they were funded by the sale of Gareth Bale, but also because we brought in SEVEN PLAYERS. Now you can joke (and I certainly have) that our offseason was astounding -- like trading in a dollar for seven dimes, man -- but the prevailing notion that all of our new players are shit doesn't really hold up to scrutiny, especially because not ALL of them were supposed to be as good as Bale.

Take Christian Eriksen -- he's been pretty darned phenomenal for us, and though he's struggled with injury this season he sure looks like he's the creative player we hoped we'd get when we signed him from Ajax. If nothing else positive comes out of the Bale sale, we can say that we got Christian Eriksen for a stupidly low amount of money.

But certainly there have been a few like Roberto Soldado, Paulinho, and Nacer Chadli who really just haven't impressed, and that's worrisome. Paulinho, especially, has been terribad, and NOBODY expected Roberto Soldado to be as poor as he has been. Now, I think it's a little disingenuous to tar us with the "wasted the Bale money" brush, but certainly not everything has gone according to plan, and the pieces aren't clicking together. I still have hopes that, if all of the players stay around next year, that a few of them could rebound and turn into solid players. Or maybe we bought a bag of lemons for £100m. Too early to say, especially with all the coaching turnover.

But hey, I wouldn't expect anything less than a good ribbing about this from Arsenal fans, because tribalism. I totally get it. All in the game, yo. How's that title chase going?

TSF: Tim Sherwood seems to be a throwbacky sort of manager, all English blood and thunder. Is he seen as an improvement over AVB? Will he be given the time to get things right?

CFC: An improvement? My opinion, and that of the whole of the Cartilage Free Captain masthead, is a resounding "absolutely not." Sherwood, for all his Englishness and braggadocio (which is Italian, sorry) and 4-4-2 tactics, is completely out of his depth here, and I think by now he knows it. The way he threw his team under the bus after the Chelsea loss was absolutely shocking in its naïveté and amateurism. While his rant to the media about "more characters" and "gut" and the players being "too nice to each other" made the kind of Spurs fan who calls into 606 stand up and cheer, it doesn't change the fact that he hasn't done a good enough job getting the pieces of this team to actually, y'know, WORK together. After today's loss to Benfica I'm not convinced we'll ever win another game with him in charge.

I had my doubts about AVB this season -- God knows he should've been on the hot seat this year -- but I was really surprised he was let go when he was when there were really no good options to take over for him. Putting Tim Sherwood in charge was a high risk high reward maneuver, and at present it appears to have backfired spectacularly. It's pretty clear that he won't be retained after this season.

Look, do I think that Tim Sherwood could eventually turn into a Premier League manager? Sure, but he needs time to learn these lessons in an environment that isn't the pressure cooker of a team trying to get to the Champions League. He might have a ceiling at about, oh, Chris Hughton's level. There's still a sizable section of Spurs fans who like Sherwood and want to give him a chance, but really there are so many better coaches out there that are or will be available that it seems foolish to stick behind a guy still learning on the job.

TSF: Of all the signings Tottenham made over the summer, which one has you most excited, not just for this year but for the future?

CFC: Erik Lamela, hands down. You don't spend £30m on a player and then dump him after one measly season. His few appearances haven't been that impressive, but he's young, insanely talented, and is adjusting to a new team in a new country with a new language and a new style of play. Also, he's fighting injury most of the year which is why you haven't seen him. A lot of the media doesn't realize this, which is why he's been labeled a "flop" and has been linked to various clubs in Spain and Italy. The kid is for real and is only 20, and I have every reason to expect he will settle and be a phenomenal player for Tottenham Hotspur.

Now watch us sell him this summer for £5m and a Pukka Pie.

(TSF editor note: These questions were written prior to Thursday's Europa League match)

TSF: Which is a higher priority for Spurs - advancing in/winning the Europa League or locking up that fourth place spot? Will that affect the lineup we see on Sunday?

CFC: As I write this I'm still recovering from the 3-1 shellacking we received at home from Benfica. So, uh, let's try and go for fourth, yeah?

It's the North London Derby so I expect you'll see our strongest possible team. The rivalry demands that we put out our best healthy players and take it straight at Arsenal. The only question is what our back four will look like since we're still pretty banged up back there. Although just now I'm reading that Sandro and Kyle Walker are "doubts for Sunday" and now if you'll just excuse me while nip off and drink heavily.

TSF: What's the one thing Arsenal must do well in order to beat Tottenham?

CFC: Right now? Show up. We are terrible at the moment, haven't beaten the top four yet this season, and oh God I'm crying now.

Bonus Question: I don't know if you're a score-prediction sort of dude, but if so, how about a score prediction?

CFC: Arsenal are missing Özil and are coming off a league loss and two tough games vs. Bayern. Also, they're playing at White Hart Lane in a derby match. That said, I'm seriously depressed and am not sure we could beat Fulham right now, so I'm saying 3-0 to the Arsenal and I'll be crying in my beer until next August.

Thanks to Uncle Menno for taking the time to do this!

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