Jol is relieved


The former Spurs manager has attracted interest from PSV Eindhoven, but would prefer to remain in the Premier League, with Fulham one potential new employer. Duncan Castles reports.

Martin Jol knew for two months that he was a ‘dead man walking’, due to be replaced by Juande Ramos as Tottenham manager whatever results his team achieved this season. The Dutchman — who said publicly in recent weeks that he believed his job was secure — had in fact discovered Spurs had reached an agreement with Ramos for the 2008-09 campaign, and that even winning the FA Cup would not have kept him in employment at White Hart Lane.

Ramos’s appointment was brought forward when Tottenham’s board persuaded him to accelerate his exit from Sevilla, allowing them to confirm the sacking of Jol and assistant Chris Hughton in the immediate aftermath of Uefa Cup loss to Getafe. The Spaniard, 53, has signed a deal worth as much as £4.2m a year until 2011.

Though angered by his own treatment, Jol is relieved that the most difficult period of his career has finally come to an end. He was heartened by the crowd’s highly vocal support for him when they learned — before he had — that his three-year reign as manager was over. Jol was also pleased with the warm response from players when he said his farewell. Defoe is said to have embraced the coach.

The 51-year-old has attracted interest from PSV Eindhoven, but would prefer to remain in the Premier League, with Fulham one potential new employer. Lawrie Sanchez is under pressure at Craven Cottage, having won two of 16 League games since replacing Chris Coleman. The surprise choice of managing director David McNally last April, Sanchez was recently called into Harrods to explain Fulham’s under-performance to owner Mohamed Fayed.

Wherever Jol next works, he will struggle to find a club as bizarrely directed as Tottenham, where he delivered consecutive fifth-place finishes — a high-water mark in the Premier League — yet found himself on the brink of dismissal at least twice last season and three times this year. Jol also suffered strained relationships with influential directors Paul Kemsley, the vice-chairman, and Donna Cullen.

Kemsley, in particular, took a disliking to the coach’s direct personality, complaining about his behaviour after matches and requests for pay rises after successful campaigns.

According to sources, the vice-chairman argued for Jol’s dismissal at the turn of the year, and again at the end of last season, when he sounded out Portsmouth manager Harry Redknapp about replacing him. Kemsley also led a party comprising Levy, sporting director Damien Comolli and club secretary John Alexander to Seville first to invite Ramos to become manager in August.

Throughout this period, Kemsley raised the pressure on Jol to finish in the Premier League’s top four this season, thereby qualifying for Champions League football.

The target fitted well with Levy’s efforts to sell Tottenham at a substantial profit to majority shareholder ENIC International, an investment vehicle jointly owned by the plc’s chairman and Joe Lewis, his billionaire uncle.

Levy and Lewis believe they could realise more than £450m in a sale and have discussed terms with at least one consortium of foreign investors.

© Guardian Newspapers Limited 2007 * * * NORWAY ALL THE WAY

The 38th World bridge championship was played at the International Convention Centre of the Oriental Riverside Hotel in Shanghai from September 30 to October 13. Twenty two countries who qualified from the eight geographical zones of the World Bridge Federation participated in each of the three main events, the 38th Bermuda Bowl (Open teams), the 16th Venice Cup (Women's teams) and the 4th Seniors Bowl. In addition, during the second week, the sixth edition of the transnational teams event was also played and this attracted a record of 147 teams.

Norway trounced Sweden in the quarterfinals and easily beat the Netherlands in the semifinals. Then it won convincingly against USA in the final. (Norway won seven out of the eight segment final).

The transnational event was won by the Swiss-Italian- French team, Zimmerman, which narrowly beat a strong Russo-Polish team by 4 IMPs in the 48-board final.

Teams from India failed to live up to pre-tournament expectations. At one stage, the women's team had an excellent chance to be in the last eight, but the team fizzled out thereafter. The seniors who finished ninth could easily have qualified for the quarterfinals.

R. Jayaram