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Jol on road to nowhere?

The Tottenham Hotspur hierarchy must have breathed a huge sigh of relief on Tuesday when manager Martin Jol snubbed the opportunity to return to his native Netherlands with Ajax Amsterdam and confirmed he was 'fully committed' to the latest rebuilding process taking place at White Hart Lane.

Following Ronald Koeman's shock departure from the Eredivisie club on Friday Jol was installed as the favourite to succeed the Valencia bound coach by the Dutch media - 'Martin Jol is Ajax's number one candidate,' declared Voetbal International.

And Spurs chairman Daniel Levy must have feared the worst when Jol's inconclusive comments following Tottenham's 2-0 win over Fulham at the weekend proved ineffective at diffusing the speculation. Consolation then on Tuesday when Jol reaffirmed his desire to continue the excellent work he has begun in North London.

'I am fully committed to Tottenham, I'm very happy here, I'm not in discussions with anyone else at this stage,' the Dutchman's statement read.

'I don't want to go elsewhere. People will always speculate but at the end of the day I've come to Tottenham to do a job and, as I have said before, I want to bring success back to this great club.'

The decision of Tottenham's highly-rated manager to stay speaks volumes about the club's renewed ambition to shed its underachieving image and move forward. The Tottenham of two seasons ago would never have been able to successfully fend off an approach for their manager from a club of Ajax's standing - not that any such club would have contemplated an approach.

According to the Dutch media Ajax dangled the carrot of virtually guaranteed Champions League football, the most high-profile job in Holland and the chance to work with the finest youth system in Europe in front of the ambitious 49-year-old, but yet he appears to have refused the offer.

The rebuff is an indication that Jol, who has three years to run on his current contract, believes his own fresh-faced squad under construction at White Hart Lane can finally wax away the mediocrity that has become the trademark of Tottenham's recent history.

Since replacing the much criticised Jacques Santini as head coach in November 2004 Jol has cleared away the dead wood and delved into the transfer market with an apparent acumen.

Jol devolped his skills working on a shoestring budget in Holland with a series of non-league outfits before getting his big chance in 1996 with Roda JC. And in his first season at the helm he led them to their first trophy in 30 years, the Dutch Cup.

In 1998 he took over at RKC Waalwijk and transformed the struggling relegation candidates into challengers for European football, once again on a limited budget.

In 2004 he won the Manager of the Year award with the unfashionable side and narrowly missed out on both the Feyenoord job, beaten by Ruud Gullit, and the PSV Eindhoven position, losing out to Guus Hiddink, in the summer before following close friend Frank Arnesen to Tottenham as part of a 'continental' restructuring which came almost in spite of the arrival of former France boss Santini as head coach.

Jol's arrival was a timebomb waiting to happen for the former Lyon boss. With Arnesen negotiating the transfers and Jol's ambitions in the coaching arena, Santini's departure served to make the club operate on the lines that Arnesen and Jol were used to in Dutch football.

Martin Jol: Frank admission
Martin Jol: Frank admission

The new regime at The Lane had ousted the likes of £11million flop Sergei Rebrov, £6million calamity Helder Postiga, ageing midfielder Darren Anderton and fringe players such as Gary Doherty and Mauricio Taricco, replacing them with fresh new faces.

Tottenham made their first steps towards a more productive era with the capture of burgeoning England duo Paul Robinson and Jermain Defoe last term and have continued the rejuvenation of the squad with 12 new signings this season - more than any other Premiership club, bar Crystal Palace.

With those signings, and more so the mangerial shake-up, Tottenham reluctantly accepted that they were no longer one of the heavyweights of English football and made a concerted effort to do something about it.

The summer transfer window saw the arrival of a completely new defence, amongst other things, with Swedish international Erik Edman, Cameroon international Thimothee Atouba, Deportivo veteran Noureddine Naybet and Nice's Noe Pamarot joining Spurs' existing figurehead Ledley King at the back.

The January window brought in Nottingham Forest starlets Andy Reid and Michael Dawson to bolster the ranks of the relatively young talent being groomed at Tottenham.

Jol and Arnesen understand that Spurs can't compete with the huge amounts of cash lavished on established stars and have invested the majority of their £15.2m expenditure in talented players who can perform in the Premiership and also have the potential to develop into outstanding footballers of the future.

With 11 wins in 20 games, Jol has forged this fledgling squad into a team challenging for a UEFA Cup place and in doing so has also become the first Tottenham manager in an age to be headhunted by one of Europe's top clubs. His predecessors have often brought with them the promise of resurgence only to leave a bitter taste in the mouths of Tottenham's demanding fans.

Gerry Francis, George Graham, David Pleat and Jacques Santini have all vanished from the managerial arena, while Glenn Hoddle has stepped down a league. Ironically, Tottenham's most ridiculed manager, Christian Gross, is the only one to have restored his reputation, mainly due to an impressive Champions League run with Swiss side Basle.

Having been thwarted on so many occasions the departure of a coach who actually looks capable of hauling Tottenham into a position of strength would have been a devastating blow. Jol's decision to stay gives a clear indication that the Dutchman can see Tottenham going places.

However, the words 'false' and 'dawn' are all too often twinned together at White Hart Lane.

  • If you have any thoughts you can email Dominic Raynor.