Second Coming of Hod: When Glenn Hoddle became Tottenham manager on this day in 2001

by Matthew Crist / 28 March 2018, 08:54

Glenn Hoddle

Glenn Hoddle was the outstanding player of his generation at Tottenham, an artist of outstanding vision and a fantastic touch, but when he returned to White Hart Lane on March 28, 2001 to manage the club that worshipped him things didn’t quite go to plan.

In his playing days with Spurs Hoddle won two FA Cups, the UEFA Cup and finished fourth or higher in the league on four occasions while playing some of the most attractive football at a time when the long ball game was favoured by more than just a few sides in the top flight.

In his final season with Tottenham Hoddle was the midfield maestro and architect of an assault on three fronts including a third place finish in the league, an FA Cup final and a League Cup semi final, but his departure to Monaco heralded something of a slump in the club’s fortunes with a League Cup win, FA Cup success and a seventh place league finish being the only highlights in the decade that followed.

So when the prodigal son returned to Spurs to replace George Graham in 2001 there was understandable optimism among the club’s long-suffering supporters who believed Hoddle’s arrival would bring with it a change of playing style from the often pragmatic approach adopted by a man who many still hadn’t taken to their hearts due to being the former Arsenal boss.

Hoddle had cut his managerial teeth as Player-Manager at Swindon Town before carrying out the same role at Chelsea with mixed fortunes as the Blues reached the final of the FA Cup in 1994 followed by a semi final appearance in the European Cup Winners’ Cup the following season.

Hoddle's reign at Chelsea came to an end in 1996 when he accepted the England job and successfully secured the side’s place at the 1998 World Cup, a tournament which they would eventually exit at the first knock-out stage to Argentina.

But he left his post as national team manager in February 1999 when a controversial interview with The Times, in which he shared many of his Christian beliefs and even claimed that disabled people were being punished for sins in a former life, drew condemnation from the then Sports Minister Tony Banks and Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Returning to club management with Southampton a year later Hoddle managed to work miracles against all the odds at a club with limited resources but departed the club acrimoniously in the spring of 2001 when his former club came calling – it was an offer he simply couldn’t refuse.

Hoddle was determined to establish Tottenham as a top playing side once more as they had been in his days as a player but attractive football does not necessarily equal success on the field, something which he found out early in his Spurs reign.

His first match in charge was an FA Cup semi-final against London rivals Arsenal which Spurs lost 2-1 and although he would eventually lead his side to a cup final the following season in the League Cup Hoddle’s Spurs side lost the final to Blackburn Rovers.

In the league Tottenham’s early season form, which had seen Hoddle named Manager of the Month in October, soon dwindled and the club eventually finished ninth in the Premier League. The following season started well, too, and Hoddle was again named Premiership Manager of the Month for August after they ended the month top of the league but once again it would be something of a false dawn.

Tottenham would eventually finish 10th in the table as the pressure began to build on Hoddle whose side appeared to offer so much but delivered so little and the last straw came, ironically, against the club he departed controversially just over two years previously.

As Southampton scored their third goal at White Hart Lane on September 20, 2003 Hoddle turned to his assistant John Gorman and said 'I'm out of a job,' and he wasn’t wrong with the eventual 3-1 home defeat that day being his last game in charge of the club.

But despite two rather mediocre seasons, the Tottenham fans have always stayed loyal to one of their favourite sons, probably more due to the memories he made as a player rather than a manager and in the first game following his departure, an away win at Coventry City under caretaker boss David Pleat, the travelling Spurs contingent continued to sing his name; confirmation if it were ever needed that Hoddle will always be a legend at The Lane.

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