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Alan 12:12 Wed May 20
Wednesday newspapers (includes West Ham)
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Manchester City forward Leroy Sane is not interested in a move to Premier League rivals Liverpool. The 24-year-old Germany international remains set on a move to Bayern Munich.(Bild, via Sports Illustrated)

Borussia Dortmund striker Erling Braut Haaland, 19, turned down a move to Juventus in January because the Italian champions planned to put the Norway international into their under-23 squad. (La Repubblica, via Star)

Manchester United are among the favourites to sign Wolverhampton Wanderers winger Adama Traore, joining Liverpool and Manchester City in considering a move for the 22-year-old Spaniard. (Birmingham Mail)

Arsenal are hoping to sign Bayer Leverkusen's France Under-21 winger Moussa Diaby. The 20-year-old former Paris St-Germain player provided two assists in Leverkusen's win over Bundesliga rivals Werder Bremen on Monday. (Le10Sport - in French)

Chelsea are leading the race to sign Dutch centre-back Xavier Mbuyamba from Spanish giants Barcelona, according to the 18-year-old's agent. (Voetbal International, via Mail)

Newcastle United's on-loan England defender Danny Rose, 29, believes Mauricio Pochettino - his former manager at Tottenham Hotspur - will "eventually" end up managing Manchester United. (The Lockdown Tactics, via TeamTalk)

Several European clubs are interested in Spurs defender Jan Vertonghen, who is out of contract this summer. The 33-year-old Belgian has been offered a deal by Spanish side Real Betis, with fellow La Liga outfit Valencia, plus Italian clubs Inter Milan and Roma also considering a move. (Star)

Manchester United midfielder James Garner, 19, will be allowed to leave on loan next season, with Championship sides Cardiff City, Swansea City and Sheffield Wednesday interested in the Englishman. (Mail)






The Athletic (care of Scouse Kid)

An Agatha Christie detective story with a Sunday League edge. A tale of sickness, stool samples and a supposedly dodgy lasagne.

The story of Tottenham’s supposed food poisoning that turned out to be norovirus has gone down in Premier League folklore. But to revisit it is to unearth some of the nuggets that 14 years on make it still sound ludicrously far-fetched. “I remember things happening that you think can only happen in movies, not in real life,” as Spurs’ then director of football Damien Comolli puts it.

The conspiracy theorists who visited White Hart Lane in the days afterwards to convince Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy they could explain what had happened, the Apprentice-style confrontation between the Spurs vice-chairman and the Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore, the “green-looking” players being sick before and after the warm-up.

A decade and a half on, some bitterness remains and there are those who still struggle to shake off the sense of injustice. Others feel the extent to which Tottenham were weakened may have been “exaggerated”.

This is the story of the so-called “lasagne-gate” scandal that saw Tottenham’s Champions League dream ruined in the cruellest imaginable circumstances on the final day of the 2005-06 season.

Going into the final day, Tottenham led their north London rivals Arsenal by one point and held the fourth and final qualification spot for the promised land of the Champions League. If they could beat West Ham at Upton Park, then whatever Arsenal did at home against Wigan in the last ever game at Highbury would be irrelevant.

Spurs had most recently played in Europe’s top competition as long ago as 1962, whereas Arsenal had been regulars in the competition since 1998 and had won the Premier League title while going unbeaten only two years earlier. So their supremacy going into the last day was a remarkable shift from that 2003-04 season when Arsenal secured the title at White Hart Lane against a Spurs side that limped to a 14th-placed finish.

By May 2006, Arsenal still had a side good enough to reach that season’s Champions League final, but Spurs under Martin Jol had enjoyed a fine campaign and had been in the top four since December. Local pride was at stake but so too was the glory and riches of the Champions League, especially pertinent for Arsenal, who needed the competition’s revenue to help bankroll the £390 million Emirates Stadium they were moving into that summer.

This was the background to Tottenham’s arrival at the London Marriott West India Quay Hotel in Canary Wharf, east London on the evening of Saturday May 6 (it was customary at the time for Spurs to stay at a hotel together the night before an away game, even if the match was in London). Only a few miles away, and this would later be used to fuel conspiracy theories, Arsenal were staying at the Four Seasons.

What happened next was what was thought to have caused the team’s sickness the following morning — a buffet dinner in a private room. Many of the players were said to have helped themselves to the lasagne, which was one of the food options along with steak, chicken and pasta.

After dinner the players went to bed early, as was customary on the eve of a match. Early the next morning, around 10 of the squad informed the club doctor that they had endured an extremely rough night, with a number of them being violently sick. Edgar Davids, Teemu Tainio, Robbie Keane, Michael Dawson, Michael Carrick, Aaron Lennon, Radek Cerny, Calum Davenport, Lee Barnard, Tom Huddlestone and Lee Young-pyo were all said to have been affected.

tottenham-lasagne-west-ham-2006-jol-hughton-carrick
Sheringham, formerly of Spurs, takes a penalty which Robinson saved
“I was in a bad way,” recalls Davenport, who later that day came on as a substitute for Spurs. “I remember waking up at about 5am and thinking, ‘I never wake up for the toilet or anything, what is wrong here?’ I got on the toilet and had my head in the sink and my backside on the toilet and… well, it wasn’t pretty.

“I couldn’t get off the toilet so I rang the team doctor and explained how I felt. I was told, ‘Calum, you’re not the only one, I’ve had some other people on the phone as well’. I was given something to make me feel a bit better and then went down to breakfast.”

Talismanic midfielder Carrick was one of the worst affected. “I’d never endured agony like this,” he wrote in his 2018 autobiography Between the Lines. “It felt like a fire was lit in my guts with petrol poured on it again and again. The pain kept flaring up and I curled up in bed, praying for it to pass.”

At around 7am, Jol and assistant manager Chris Hughton were made aware of the situation. “Once we knew the amount of players then we started to realise this was a big problem,” Hughton remembers. “It was a really hot day and very quickly things became extremely chaotic.”

Hughton feared that with so many players unwell, Spurs might have to call in reinforcements. And so in a scene all Sunday League footballers will be familiar with, he started calling around to see if anyone not in the original matchday squad was available.

Midfielder Johnnie Jackson was one such player, but continuing the Sunday League theme, there was a problem: he was nursing a nasty hangover.

“It was a mad one for me because I wasn’t in the squad so I went out on the Saturday night with my girlfriend at the time, now wife,” Jackson explains. “We stayed in central London hotel having had a few drinks.

“I get the call from Chris at about 8am, feeling a bit worse for wear. So I tried to play sober as I answered the phone. I remember seeing he was ringing and thinking, ‘Oh Jesus, this can’t be happening!’

“He said a load of the lads have gone down ill so you need to get yourself to the training ground, and we’ll bus a bunch of you over to Upton Park because you might have to be involved.

“I’m thinking ‘Oh my god’. I’ve jumped in the shower and left my wife in the hotel. It was a bit of a mad dash. Thankfully it wasn’t a big boys’ night out because if it was I’m not sure I would have been able to make it over.

“On one hand you’re thinking, ‘This is good, I might be involved’ but on the other you’re thinking, ‘I don’t want to embarrass myself’. I wasn’t paralytic drunk when I got there or anything, but thankfully I wasn’t involved as there were enough fit players. I don’t think I would have been much use to anyone.”

As Jackson hot-footed it from central London to the Spurs training ground in Chigwell, Essex, back at the Marriott the Spurs players started to assemble for breakfast. “I felt fine, but I remember coming down on the morning of the game and seeing Michael Dawson,” says Andy Reid, who came on a substitute for the final half-hour against West Ham. “He looked green. He really did. He looked so ill, and I thought, ‘Jesus what’s happened?’ Then a couple more lads came down and they weren’t feeling well, and it became apparent that there was a big issue.”

Davenport was struggling badly. “I remember coming down for breakfast and everyone looked pale,” he says. “On match days there’s normally a spring in people’s step and people are quite chirpy. You can sense a feel of excitement and anticipation. But it was nothing like that.”

Carrick managed to force down a banana, but even that was a struggle. “I couldn’t stay there any longer, so I shuffled back to my room and collapsed on the bed,” he said, as dark thoughts started to circulate in his head. “Why this? Why now? Of all times. I lay there for an hour, telling myself, ‘It’ll be all right. I’ll get through it’.”

By now, the situation had escalated beyond a scramble for players. Levy was informed of the situation and made a request to the Premier League that the game be postponed. Scudamore explained that Spurs could pull out of the game if they wished, but there would be an inquiry which could even lead to a points deduction. The only precedent in the Premier League era was Middlesbrough pulling out of a fixture against Blackburn in December 1996 when they claimed a flu bug had left them without enough fit players to put out a squad. A month later they were hit with a three-point deduction that was the difference between relegation and staying up come the end of the season.

Clearly, though, what Tottenham were dealing with was not an open-and-shut case, and Levy forcefully made that point. Scudamore, who was heading to north London for the final game at Highbury, sent the Premier League company secretary and qualified lawyer Jane Purdon along with an FA doctor to the Marriott to investigate.

Police were also called, and at this time it was assumed the players were suffering with food poisoning. With so many officials arriving at the hotel, there was a feeling of complete chaos.

Before long, the rumour mill went into overdrive. Some thought West Ham were responsible, others suggested Arsenal’s proximity at the Four Seasons must be somehow to blame. There was even wild speculation that the Marriott chef was an Arsenal fan and had put something in the lasagne. Scudamore’s presence at Highbury only added to the potent mix of conspiracy theories.

“It was completely crazy,” remembers Comolli, who, along with Levy, headed to the hotel as soon as he was informed of what had happened. “Daniel was in crisis management mode, talking a lot to the FA and Premier League. He was trying to convince them that the game should be postponed, which was the obvious thing to do. The Premier League were having none of it. Levy asked Scudamore to come to the team hotel, but he said he couldn’t come because he was going to Highbury for the last game there.

“We were trying to think about the long term — how can we find out what’s happened, how can we protect our interests going forward — but at the same time trying in the short term to get a competitive team out for the game that afternoon.

“That was my focus, while Daniel was dealing with the Premier League, the FA, the police and solicitors etc, and keeping me informed. He was furious.”

His mood worsened when Tottenham’s request to have kick-off delayed from 3pm to 7pm was rejected. It was close to midday by this point and the police feared what the effects would be of the two sets of fans, who were starting to congregate for the game, drinking for another seven hours. The police suggested a 5pm kick-off would be possible, but Spurs didn’t think the extra couple of hours would make much of a difference and so it was decided that the game would start at the original time.

There was a further complication in that all matches on the final day were scheduled to start at the same time, and so any delay would have had ramifications on the other nine fixtures taking place that afternoon. The fact it was the final day of the season also made a postponement more complicated, especially as West Ham were playing the FA Cup final the following weekend and, although happy to delay the Tottenham game, would only countenance playing it after the cup final.

From the Premier League’s point of view though, West Ham’s generosity was largely irrelevant. This was an integrity issue and one of English football’s founding principles was that there should be a very high bar for matches to be rearranged. Following conversations with the doctor they had sent to the hotel, the Premier League were satisfied that Tottenham were in a position to put out a strong enough team and fulfil the fixture.

It was left to Jol to inform the players that despite the carnage all around them, the game was going ahead. At the team meeting, which Carrick described as taking place in “a meeting room that looked more like a hospital waiting room”, the players roused themselves and agreed they had no choice but to give everything and hope it was enough.

“In the end there was a rallying cry from the players,” says Hughton. “Robbie Keane and Michael Dawson were strong personalities and leaders in that team, and the message was: ‘Look this is the situation, we have to get on with it’. We all felt that you’re either going to the game having already lost, or you try to win it. Edgar Davids and Paul Robinson were vocal as well.”

For those feeling unwell, it was a case of attempting to block out the pain and the sense of injustice. “Preparation is everything at that level and on the eve of a big game you had to stop yourself thinking, ‘This has all gone against us right on the finish line’,” Davenport says.

“So it was a more a mental thing, trying to speak positive words even though deep down in your gut you know this is elite level where you’re looking for a little edge where you can. That might be one ill player or a moment of genius and so to have so many players with energy levels down so much, you’re using positive words but internally you’re thinking, ‘I just want to go to bed, I’ve got nothing in me’.”

The players forced down what they could before leaving the hotel and heading to Upton Park.

For all those on their way to the ground, the normal pre-match speculation about who would start or how the game would play out was replaced with one question: what on earth is going on?

For Daniel, one of the Spurs fans travelling to Upton Park, he remembers seeing the reports coming through on Sky Sports News and thinking that surely the match would be called off. “We were in the pub and even the landlord, who was an Arsenal fan, was saying this can’t go ahead,” he says.

The game’s referee Chris Foy was en route to the stadium with his assistants when he received a call informing him that there was a problem and the fixture might not go ahead. “The PGMOL (Professional Game Match Officials Limited) administrator I spoke to told me there was a doubt but that he couldn’t tell me any more at that point. So I was thinking, ‘Who has the facts?’ Because you can’t be going on rumour, gossip and scaremongering.”

Comolli meanwhile was put in the uncomfortable position of driving to the game with the FA doctor who had just deemed Tottenham able to fulfil the fixture.

As for the players, they were starting to speculate about how such a misfortune had befallen them. “I just remember being on the bus to the game and the conversations were consumed with conspiracy,” Davenport says.

“You were hearing things like there was an Arsenal fan working in the kitchen. There were so many rumours going around, and it just shifts your focus.”

Jermain Defoe admitted in 2017 that: “I thought, ‘Something has definitely gone on here, one of the West Ham lads has done something to the food.’”

The picture before the game was bleak, according to Comolli: “Players were vomiting in the training room before they went to warm up and then coming back from the warm-up vomiting and not being able to stand.”

Carrick, who somehow managed to play for 63 minutes and set up Defoe’s equaliser, wrote in his autobiography: “I tried to listen to Martin’s team talk but ran off to throw up again. I tried to focus on the game but all I could do was try to stem the flow of diarrhoea and vomit. I remember trying to shout encouragement to the lads in the changing room before kick-off, I guess I was trying to motivate myself more than anything.

“It must have seemed so feeble because I can still picture JJ (Jermaine Jenas), who was out injured, sitting in the corner, giggling at me. I must have seemed so weak.”

For those involved in the game but not representing Spurs, the challenge was maintaining focus on the job in hand. “When we got to the ground you could sense that there was something different to a normal football match,” Foy says. “There were lots of people in the tunnel area milling about.”

Tottenham’s opponents West Ham meanwhile were focused mainly on the following week’s FA Cup final against Liverpool, but they knew they had a job to do first. What was it like for them playing very much a supporting role in Tottenham’s unfolding drama?

“We started to hear the news about their players being ill, but we took it with a pinch of salt,” says their goalkeeper Shaka Hislop. “People were saying, ‘Would they show up? Would the game be abandoned?’

“We were waiting to see if they would show up, but you take these things a little bit cautiously. You’re hearing they were going to be playing their kids, and then in the end they showed up with pretty much their strongest team. We tried not to let the speculation affect our build-up.”

Marlon Harewood, West Ham’s top scorer that season, adds: “There wasn’t much talk about it (Tottenham’s misfortune) pre-game. We heard that they were poorly, but we’re all ill sometimes and we just get on with it.”

There were even some in the Spurs ranks who were sceptical about how badly the team had been affected. Jackson arrived with the other fringe players who had been bused over from the training ground and, from his vantage point, thought the squad looked as if they weren’t in such bad condition. “We got to the changing room, and were told about half the squad had fallen ill, but I don’t think it was that many.

“The one that sticks in my mind that looked horrendous and played the game was Carrick. He looked really ill, really pale. I remember thinking, ‘Cor he can’t be involved surely’. He actually played, which was amazing considering how he looked and felt.

“But the reports that half the squad had gone down… it may have been exaggerated because it didn’t look as though it was that many. Not that many stick in my mind as being that bad.”

The match itself was… strange.

Tottenham didn’t lose any of their starters to the illness, though Huddlestone was forced to drop out of the squad and they were already without the injured Jenas, Ledley King, Mido and Paul Stalteri.

Spurs started sluggishly but grew into the game and after falling behind early to Carl Fletcher’s long-range strike and equalised against the run of play through Defoe. With Arsenal conceding twice to trail 2-1 at home to Wigan, suddenly it looked as though Spurs might miraculously find a way into the Champions League after all. They should even have been in front moments after equalising but Anthony Gardner headed Carrick’s corner wide.

Yet even with Spurs level, there were telltale signs that not everything was right. An off-colour Dawson lost an aerial challenge you’d expect him to win easily in the lead-up to a chance for Yossi Benayoun, Carrick uncharacteristically misplaced a few passes, Robinson picked up a deflected backpass from Tainio that resulted in an indirect free kick for West Ham practically on the goal line. Davids, outstanding throughout the season, was off the pace all the game, though Jenas later claimed that he was one of the players not affected by the sickness.

There were other oddities as well. “I’ll always remember for the rest of my life, there was a through-ball on our right and Aaron Lennon was in the race with Paul Konchesky and Konchesky got to the ball first,” Comolli says. “I remember turning around to Paul Barber, who was commercial director at Spurs at the time, and saying ‘This isn’t going to be fun because if Konchesky is quicker than Aaron then we’ve got a problem today. This is going to be a long afternoon.’

“You could see that it was totally abnormal.”

Arsenal made it 2-2 against Wigan quickly after falling behind, but with the north London rivals both drawing at half-time, it was Tottenham who remained in fourth place at the break. On the surface, Spurs were playing well enough for Jackson to observe: “I was in the dugout, sat behind the lads who were on the bench. Carrick was one who looked most like he was struggling. To me it didn’t seem that obvious apart from him.”

In the dressing room, Jol and Hughton tried to keep the players’ spirits up. “We were saying we have to keep it going and take opportunities in the game,” Hughton remembers. “Let’s stay solid as a team and we will have opportunities to win the game.”

Tottenham’s cause wasn’t helped by it being a sweltering hot day and the fact they were playing a team desperate to spoil the party. “It’s a London derby and we knew that if we denied Spurs a place in the Champions League, our fans would love that,” says Hislop.

Foy recalls an “electric” atmosphere and as he defused the melee that followed him awarding that free-kick for Tainio’s back-pass he thought: “You could tell the players were emotional. It was a proper London derby.”

This kind of intensity was the last thing Spurs needed. With players wilting physically, they could really have done with playing against a team that were lacking motivation on the final day of the season. Instead, West Ham came out strongly in the second half and quickly won a penalty when Bobby Zamora was barged over in the box. Robinson saved Sheringham’s effort, but it turned out to be a temporary reprieve.

With just over an hour gone, Carrick admitted defeat and asked to be substituted. “Carrick went off and was basically sick by the sidelines near to us,” says Daniel, the Tottenham supporter. “I remember thinking, ‘How is this allowed? This is a shambles’.”

Reid, the man who came on for Carrick, adds: “In the first half I was thinking ‘We’re nowhere near at it.’ I’ve tried to play when ill and when you’re dehydrated, you feel weak, you don’t feel you have the energy to play, it’s very difficult to do. And as the game went on, it was a really warm day and that didn’t help hydration levels.”

Hislop had anticipated before the game that if they weren’t feeling great, Tottenham “would run out of steam in the second half and fade towards the end of the game”.

So it proved. With energy levels fading fast, and Keane having a shot saved in the 69th minute, Benayoun scored West Ham’s winner with 10 minutes left. The defeat, coupled with Arsenal beating Wigan 4-2, meant Tottenham dropped out of the top four at the last possible moment.

By the time centre-back Davenport came on in the 87th minute as an emergency attacker, he and Spurs knew the game was up: “I felt knackered just watching and was a bit dazed. I remember watching the guys and thinking, ‘I feel awful just sitting here, how are they doing this?’ It was terrible.”

The mood in the Tottenham dressing room afterwards was funereal.

“Everyone was devastated,” Comolli remembers. “Daniel came into the dressing room with some other directors saying to the players, ‘You did your best, we’ll come back stronger from this. Thank you for trying. You can’t be blamed for what has happened’.”

Carrick and Defoe have both said since that they feel, without the illness, Spurs would have won the game and finished fourth. The injured Jenas added in 2016 that: “The West Ham players across the hallway screaming and shouting like they had won the FA Cup is something that will stick in my mind forever.”

“West Ham made it a big thing,” adds Jackson. “All of that coupled in with the food poisoning rumours, it was a pretty deflating end to the season.”

West Ham’s manager Alan Pardew expressed his sympathy but felt his side had played so well that “if Tottenham hadn’t been under the weather they would still have been in difficulty.”

A distraught Jol had to come to terms with the defeat, and said: “We had 10 players feeling sick overnight. We asked to postpone the game for 24 hours but we didn’t want to risk sanctions. We took a gamble but I think you saw we weren’t strong enough. We’re in Europe and that’s the main target but to be fourth for most of the season and lose it on the last day is a big disappointment. We’re gutted.”

The final whistle on the 2005-06 season may have sounded, but for Tottenham it was time to start exploring their options. Their most pressing concern was whether they had legal grounds for the game to be replayed.

An investigation was launched into what had taken place at the Marriott, which required players to provide urine and stool samples. Davenport remembers this with crystal-clear clarity. “We had to give a stool sample — I was like ‘What’s a stool sample?’” he says. “I didn’t even know what it was. I had to drop one in a tub and they sent this geezer in a big black Mercedes a day or so after the West Ham game because Levy wanted to get us all tested to make sure the food wasn’t tampered with.

“I remember getting calls from the club saying you need to do this, we’re sending a car. You only had to give a small sample but I’ve done this whopper in a Chinese takeaway container. I said to the guy, ‘You’re not picking me up, you’re picking this up. And you’ll want to put this in the boot, it’s going to stink’.

“He had to drive all the way to London with this pot of Tupperware full of my mess, then he drove off. I was cracking up laughing.”

This forensic approach extended to all areas of Tottenham’s investigation. Comolli remembers spending his afternoons in the days following the game in Levy’s office trying to formulate Spurs’ response: “What are our rights? Do we sue? Do we go to court? Do we go to the police? And you have all sorts of people giving you advice — with good or bad intentions.

“I remember things happening that you think can only happen in movies, not in real life. We had people coming to the stadium with conspiracy theories, saying ‘I know who did it, I know what happened, you have to listen to me’. It was like people saying they had spotted UFOs or something.

“Daniel and I were talking about how we work with the police, how we instruct solicitors. Do we have grounds for the game to be replayed? These are big, big decisions and the debates went on and on and on.”

One of the battlegrounds was with the Premier League, who Spurs felt had treated them unfairly in their appeals to have the game delayed or postponed. The situation came to a head when Tottenham’s then vice-chairman Paul Kemsley met with Scudamore to air the club’s grievances. Kemsley, who had appeared on The Apprentice as one of Lord Sugar’s associates tasked with interrogating the candidates, is said to have adopted a similarly pugnacious approach to the meeting. Scudamore though didn’t budge and said the Premier League had followed protocol by sending senior and medical staff to the hotel as soon as they were alerted to the issue.

On May 16, nine days after the game, Tottenham then received the news they had been fearing when the Health Protection Agency completed its investigation with “completely negative” findings of any food poisoning at the hotel.

Dr Alex Mellanby, consultant in communicable disease control at the North East and Central London Health Protection Unit, added: “The only positive finding from the investigation has been a positive sample from one of the persons affected which showed norovirus, a form of viral gastroenteritis.”

The hotel was cleared of any wrongdoing, with the accepted wisdom being that a highly contagious virus that had spread quickly through the squad because of their close proximity to one another was most likely to blame.

Lasagne-gate was seemingly a misnomer, and it was time to move on.

But the public nature of the fallout made doing so difficult. “What we could’ve done without is the fact that it was such big news, and it dragged on for a while,” says Hughton. “It wasn’t like we lost the game and then that was it. It was such big news, and weeks after it was still going on.

“When something like that happens you really just want to clear it out of your mind. It wasn’t just the players but it was everyone at the club, and so for weeks everyone was associating Tottenham with this last game of the season and what had gone on. That certainly doesn’t help.”

Reid adds: “We were so disappointed not to qualify for the Champions League. That lingered on for the days and weeks after. Football’s an emotional game, and despite what some people think at times footballers and coaches care a hell of a lot about it. It’s not something you think, ‘Ah OK, we haven’t qualified, see you next season’. It doesn’t work like that. I was really disappointed, just like everyone.

“The strange thing though is I know people go on about that last day and us not getting into the Champions League, but I always remember the game we played at Highbury, the last north London derby there. It was a couple of games before, and we were 1-0 up playing really well. Carrick was brilliant in that game. We were really on top, feeling quite comfortable. And then Thierry Henry came off the bench and scored the equaliser.

“If we’d just won that game we would have wrapped up the Champions League place. Instead we drew and it went down to the last game of the season. And that’s what everyone remembers.”

Certainly the final day is what sticks in the mind of most of Reid’s former team-mates. Six years on, Tainio said of the whole affair: “It is still the biggest disappointment of my career,” while Jenas admitted in 2016: “I struggled to let it go for a while, to be honest.”

It took Tottenham another four years to qualify for the Champions League and Jol was sacked less than 18 months after the defeat at West Ham. For those involved, it’s hard not to think of what might have been. “A sliding doors moment?” wonders Hughton, who was also let go in October 2007 when Jol was sacked.

“You do think about the manager and you think ‘if only.’ I had been at the club for a long time and when I left I left on very good terms but I felt more for Martin. And if we had won that game there would’ve been the benefit of a Champions League campaign, and who knows.”

Jol himself has generally been phlegmatic about the whole affair, and said in an interview with the Telegraph last year: “It’s too long ago to worry about. We were the best of the rest at the time and that was good.”

Some like Defoe still struggle to shake off the idea that there was foul play involved. “When you look back now, you don’t want to say it was a conspiracy, but it was strange what happened for so many players to get ill the night before a massive game,” he said on Sky Sports News’ Transfer Talk podcast last month. “I don’t know, maybe it just wasn’t meant to be.”

Two years ago meanwhile, Huddlestone said: “They were trying to say it was a bug going around the squad but I’m not 100 per cent sure.”

Reid is more philosophical, and, along with Hughton, believes the 2005-06 season was the springboard for Spurs to become the Champions League regulars they are today. Prior to then, Spurs had never even qualified for the UEFA Cup through their Premier League position.

“That was the start of Tottenham’s journey to where it’s been for the last few years, competing at the top level,” Reid says. “You had the feeling the club was really going in a good direction. So although it was a disappointing end, there were a lot of positives to take.”

Comolli, who as director of football had a first-hand view of how missing out on the Champions League affected the club, does not believe the consequences were especially severe. “Was it a setback that set us back five years? I don’t think so,” he says. “Obviously we were devastated that we couldn’t compete as we should have done that day. But at the same time we were still focused on team building and signing players that summer.

“And you need to put things back into context — we wanted to get into the top four but we weren’t desperate. It wasn’t like if we didn’t then the club would collapse because we were paying high wages. The first thing was that we wanted to come back into Europe for the first time in a while (since the 1999-00 season). And then break into the top four, so it was not a matter of life and death as it is for some clubs now.

“You still have regrets, massive regrets, but you put it into the back of your mind. You use it like fuel.”

That summer Spurs still managed to sign Dimitar Berbatov, though they did lose Carrick to Manchester United. Would qualifying for the Champions League have made it easier to hold on to him? “It would have made no difference,” Comolli responds. “We were in a situation where he didn’t want to extend his contract, Champions League or no Champions League.

“Also you have to remember that we wouldn’t have qualified directly for the Champions League (finishing fourth at that time meant a place in the final qualifying round). We had a good chance to make it but were not guaranteed so knowing Daniel and myself we would not have massively increased the wage bill and spent huge money in the transfer market. We would have kept going in the same way and not changed the culture and the way we were approaching the transfer market. Because it was the right thing for Tottenham at the time.

“So it wasn’t the case that we would have been able to offer a new contract for Carrick that was out of this world for Spurs. We would not have been in a position to compete with Manchester United. He was coming to the last two years of his contract, which we didn’t want to happen. He wanted to go up north, he wanted to play for Manchester United.

“When he was at the World Cup, I remember calling him and saying, ‘We are ready to go a step above what we would normally do to get you a new contract’. And then I remember very well because I knew the answer asking him, ‘If we were to match Manchester United’s wages, would you stay? And he said ‘no’, so it wouldn’t have changed anything.”

Perhaps not for Carrick, but certainly for some of the others involved things would have been very different had that final day not taken such an extraordinary turn. Some players never got to experience the Champions League, while for others it literally left a nasty taste in the mouth.

“Even now because of how ill I felt, I can still taste that lasagne,” says Davenport. “And I’ve never been keen on it since, to be honest.”







Liverpool Echo

'Someone dreamed that up' - Rio Ferdinand quashes Phil Jagielka rumour after David Moyes Everton exit

Rio Ferdinand has denied David Moyes used former Everton captain Phil Jagielka as a defensive example during his tenure at Manchester United

By Sam Carroll

Rio Ferdinand has dismissed claims that David Moyes used Phil Jagielka as a defensive example during his tenure at Manchester United.

Moyes was sacked less than 12 months into his six-year contract at Old Trafford after a difficult switch from Everton and rumours circled that he used Jagielka in video sessions with Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic.

Despite admitting he engaged in 'heated conversations' with the current West Ham United manager, Ferdinand was bemused by the suggestion.

"I don't know where that came from to be honest, that's something that never happened," he told 606 Savage Social.

"Listen, Phil Jagielka was a very good player. I'm sure he wouldn't have shown us videos of Phil of how we should be doing this and that.

"But I don't know where that came from. That's just some mad tale that's come out of nowhere. Someone has dreamed that up and it's become a great meme.

"Although, to be fair, we did have some heated discussions if I'm being honest. There were a few heated meetings between myself, Vida and David Moyes.

"We didn't agree with certain things and the certain ways things were being done. Set-ups from a defensive perspective et cetera.

"He wanted certain things, we didn't really agree with certain things he was saying. But that's football and I think David Moyes will probably have had that before with many different players so we weren't the first and I'm sure we won't be the last."






Sport Witness

“Chances of signing him are not so great” – Club chairman admits West Ham player may be beyond reach

Loaned to IFK Norrköping in Sweden from January 2019 until June 2020, Sead Hakšabanović has managed to get himself back on track in his career.

After a less than fruitful spell at Málaga in Spain, the Sweden born Montenegro international decided to return home to get some game time, and it’s worked out rather well.

Scoring nine goals and assisting another eight in 36 appearances for the Allsvenskan side, the winger has now given West Ham something to think about regarding whether or not they keep him forward.

The player has reportedly already made it known he doesn’t want to be loaned out again, meaning the Hammers have two choices: bring him back to London Stadium and use him or simply sell him.

Norrköping would ideally like to keep him around since he’s been a success for them, but the club’s chairman, Peter Hunt, feels there’s a big hill to overcome before that can happen.

Speaking to NT in Sweden and relayed by Fotbolldirekt, he explained the situation: “If I have to make an assessment, our chances of signing him are not so great. It feels like there is a risk that it’s too much money”.

FotbollDirekt have information of their own, explaining Norrköping, as things stand, have had ‘no contact’ with West Ham, who are supposedly asking for ‘at least €1m’ to sell him.

Peter Hunt continued: “I think everyone understand that it’s a Premier League club you’re dealing with. It’s not IFK Norrköping that controls these talks. We have a dialogue and we try to be updated as much as possible, but we definitely don’t control what bids and prices are available”.

As for the dialogue with West Ham he mentioned, he added: “I don’t want to go into those questions, but we’ve had a close dialogue for a year and a half and various types of solutions have been discussed. Today we also don’t know the impact this pandemic will have on the football economy in general.

“It’s likely that player prices won’t go up, but on the other hand, there is always interest in top players and Sead isn’t a mediocre Allsvenskan player”.

Either way, it appears that unless West Ham facilitate a move by lowering their asking price or coming up with some kind of deal that suits Norrköping, Hakšabanović appears to be on his way back to London Stadium, even if his stay there could be very brief.



Replies - Newest Posts First (Show In Chronological Order)

ted fenton 7:17 Wed May 20
Re: Wednesday newspapers (includes West Ham)
Thanks Alan 12:37 Wed May 20

COOL HAND LUKE 5:03 Wed May 20
Re: Wednesday newspapers (includes West Ham)
Joking aside, I reckon this is what we are likely to see i.e. a fire sale of second tier players as a preamble to flogging a couple of 'stars'.

Lee Trundle 5:00 Wed May 20
Re: Wednesday newspapers (includes West Ham)
I enjoyed reading and reliving the Spurs game.

It pleases me to know that Defoe immediately thought it was us that poisoned them as well.

COOL HAND LUKE 4:58 Wed May 20
Re: Wednesday newspapers (includes West Ham)
"It's got cheese, it's got bits
It gives Tottenham the shits
IT'S....
Lasagne..!"

Bloody funny... still makes your piss boil reading how Levy and co tried to wriggle out of it...

PwoperNaughtyButNot 4:15 Wed May 20
Re: Wednesday newspapers (includes West Ham)
Sead Hakšabanović Was worth £5m yesterday and now his value is £1m

Or papers just make up numbers

Texas Iron 2:27 Wed May 20
Re: Wednesday newspapers (includes West Ham)
Cheers...

blueeyed.handsomeman 1:13 Wed May 20
Re: Wednesday newspapers (includes West Ham)
cheers

Sven Roeder 12:52 Wed May 20
Re: Wednesday newspapers (includes West Ham)
Thanks Alan

Yes, the Jenas reaction was the first thing I noticed. Explains his bitterness when he commentates on us now.
The silly cunt. Must admit I do enjoy hearing him commentating like a sulky 9yo as Spurs lose

Mr. Burns 12:47 Wed May 20
Re: Wednesday newspapers (includes West Ham)
Interesting read that lasagne thing and I’m glad it pissed that wanker Jenas off.

Cheers Al

Thanks Alan 12:37 Wed May 20
Re: Wednesday newspapers (includes West Ham)
Thanks Alan





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