Today marks what would have been Bill Nicholson’s 98th birthday and thus a suitable opportunity to reflect on some of the many words of wisdom from the great man who helped create the Tottenham we know today.
Its interesting, no matter how much the game has changed, just how many of these have stood the test of time.
Speaking in 1974 he said, “Success in soccer comes in cycles, it cant go on forever. You must have experienced players to win things but the problem is that they grow old together.”
His views on teaching young players “Really a club should put its best coach with its youngest players. That’s when you can teach them the right habits and mold the way they play for the rest of their careers If they still have their bad habits at 23 its very much harder to do anything about it.”
On his style of management "I was never a desk manager, I would tell the directors that they could get me in the office before a quarter to ten. After that I would be out with the team, coaching."
On how to build a team ‘You don’t particularly have to have 11 stars to make a football team you’ve got to have 11 players who will understand each others game and play with each other and fit into the system you’ve got to have a system of play.’
Talking to Phil Soar who wrote the official history - ‘I felt in 1960 I had a side well prepared to do something you cant put it into words it’s a feeling you get’.
When there were changes to the offside law and players had to be inferring with play, Bill was very clear in his opinion.
"If he isn’t interfering with play he shouldn’t be out there“
Reflecting on the Double season “The success of a football side is a team affair, unless harmony prevails between the board of directors, the team manager the players and the training staff real success can never be achieved.”
On the fans that year ‘In addition we have been favored with the most loyal and perhaps the loudest support any club ever had. The faith and trust of our fans has encouraged the Spurs right through the season and all at White Hart Lane from our Chairman right down to the youngest recruit who has played in front of them knows the influence their famous roar has had in urging the team to greater efforts.’
Here are a few of his short phases he used with the players -
When not in possession get into position,
The ball without the ball makes the play,
When the game dies make sure you come alive,
Work is the key to success at soccer,
There is no spectating on the pitch people pay to do that
And on providing entertainment "The public can't be kidded. They know what they want to see, what is good and what is bad and what is just average. At least I believe they do."
"If you don't have to drag yourself off the field exhausted after 90 minutes, you can't claim to have done your best."
"When it is played at its best football remains the greatest game of all. And Tottenham, so close to my heart, is still to me the greatest club."
"There's no use being satisfied when things are done wrongly. I want perfection."
"It's no use just winning, we've got to win well."
The players - Danny Blanchflower “He is a wonderful asset, he has an unorthodox approach to the game and marvelous ball skills.”
On arriving at the Lane on his first day as a Tottenham player Alan Mullery said ‘Morning Boss’, to which the reply was - ‘Don’t call me boss call me Bill.’
Jimmy Greaves recalled one of Bills team talks - ‘whatever your feeling now remember you’re going to run out now in front of the people that pay your wages their expectancy is high, their value of you is high their opinion of you is high do not let them down.’
And when he arrived in Milan to sign Greaves from his Italian nightmare, he went to their flat and Irene Jimmy's wife opened the door, Bill asked “Do you know who I am?” “Yes,” she replied, “Our saviour!”
After the Everton game (10-4) that marked his entry into management in 1959 – ‘I’ve been in the game long enough to know you can be in the clouds one minute and down to earth the next.’
When asked for his thoughts after that game ‘I knew I had to work on that defence.”
Explaining why he never mentioned to his wife he had been appointed manager “I never used to take business home with me,” Bill explained. “I was eaten up with thinking about tactics and which team to pick. Never had time for tittle tattle.”
He once told a player who was complaining ‘The time I stop worrying about you as a footballer is the time you have to start worrying about yourself .’
You will know this next one, but were you aware what the next paragraph was?
"It is better to fail aiming high than to succeed aiming low. And we of Spurs have set our sights very high, so high in fact that even failure will have in it an echo of glory.
We shall go on playing football as we know it, we shall go on working to prefect the quality of our play and we hope in the process to go on serving up first class entertainment.
Reflecting on a lifetime at Spurs "I always said that it was an honour to serve Tottenham Hotspur and I feel the same every time I walk back into the stadium. Any player coming to Spurs whether he's a big signing or just a ground staff boy must be dedicated to the game and to the club. He must be prepared to work at his game. He must never be satisfied with his last performance, and he must hate losing."
"Naturally I'm a Tottenham man. So far as football is concerned, it means almost everything. Because I can reflect back to being a player with, and manager of some of the finest players that have ever been in the game."
To close one that I tend to favour, when asked what was the worse part of his job he replied
‘having to listen to people telling me how to do my job when they couldn’t trap a bag of cerement.’
To the memory of a great man and best wishes to his family.
t- Keith 16024542
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