Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Basel Chief `Not Given Enough Time at Spurs'

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Basel Chief `Not Given Enough Time at Spurs'

Article excerpt

Byline: By Simon Rushworth

Tottenham outcast Christian Gross could have transformed the North Londoners into Premiership powerhouses had his employers kept faith with one of continental Europe's finest coaches.

That's the verdict of Newcastle's chief scout Charlie Woods, who will tonight come face to face with Basel's highly-rated manager for the first time since the pair parted company at White Hart Lane four years ago.

Gross made Woods his chief scout within weeks of taking up the reins at Tottenham and the pair travelled Europe assessing the best players the Continent had to offer.

However, the respected ex-Grasshoppers' boss failed to act on his talent spotter's recommendation that Spurs should sign Kieron Dyer and Spurs chairman Alan Sugar finally dismissed his Swiss manager in 1999 following a turbulent end to his Premiership career.

"I worked under Christian as his chief scout for about a year and a half," recalled Woods. "He was a very well organised coach, a very strong character and a true gentleman in every way.

"He knew what he wanted and wouldn't be swayed. He won the respect of the Tottenham players and got on very well with his team.

"Christian was at White Hart Lane before me and so he had done most of his spending by the time I got there. We watched a few players together and I encouraged him to sign Kieron Dyer from Ipswich but there wasn't too much money in the kitty by then.

"I went with him on a few scouting trips abroad. He knew the Scandinavian scene like the back of his hand and had good contacts in Germany, Italy and Switzerland. I feel sure he could have turned things around given more time."

Time was a luxury not afforded to the unfortunate Gross but a brilliant return to front-line management with Basel, culminating in last season's Champions League campaign, has gone some way to silencing his English critics.

"He didn't have a great deal of time to make his mark at Tottenham," admitted Woods. "Maybe, if the club had kept faith with him, he would have been a success.

"There was never any doubt in my mind about his ability as a coach and perhaps the people at Spurs look at what he has done with Basel and wonder what might have been. …

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