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Van der Vaart is a hit on and off the pitch

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Dan Walker | 08:14 UK time, Wednesday, 19 January 2011

I thought this week I would write about Rafael van der Vaart and Jack Wilshere after speaking to them at a boot launch in London.

For the purposes of this blog, I am going to refer to Van der Vaart as VDV because Van der Vaart takes an age to type and I am constantly having to stop myself putting about eight 'a's in the Dutchman's name.

BBC Sport were there to interview VDV for Football Focus but I got to ask Wilshere questions in my capacity as host. Arsenal are understandably keeping a very close eye on how many interviews young Wilshere does. If his career continues as it has started, I think he will be doing them for some years to come.

Wilshere, Van der Vaart and Dan WalkerWilshere, Van der Vaart and yours truly.

Upon meeting Wilshere in the reception area before the event I was instantly struck by how wide he is. I remember Theo Walcott saying that - despite his size - he is surprisingly hard to shove off the ball.

I might be 6ft 6in tall but I tend to run a bit like a demented crane fly because my centre of gravity is about 10ft above my head. That is one of the reasons why I talk about football and Wilshere is being talked about as the future of England's midfield.

Wilshere tucked straight into a chicken wrap while I ran him through the Q&A for the event. The organisers also told him that he would have to do a number of photo shoots before being allowed to go home.

When VDV turned up with Mrs VDV, I crane-flew over to introduce myself and check if the YouTube video of Mrs VDV doing keepy-uppy was in fact a fake. Those of you who have seen it will not be surprised to hear that it is.

VDV said he did not want to run through the questions but would rather just have a conversation on the stage. He was remarkably relaxed.

I nailed a tube of wine gums and we all moved downstairs to put our microphones on behind the stage. Wilshere looked a little nervous so I gave him some reassuring words and a little fist pump. I strolled on stage, gave a bit of blurb about the boot and the event before introducing the stars of the show.

It was a relatively low-key launch with only about 60 people in attendance. About 20 of them were guests while the rest were made up of Her Majesty's media.

Wilshere spoke well about the influence Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has had on his career, the importance of having good quality players around him, the pressure of expectation and his admiration for the man sitting next to him - that was VDV, not me!

VDV was perfectly at ease in front of the crowd. He joked about Arsenal's defeat to Ipswich the night before, mentioned how the Brazilian Romario was his hero and said he had never played with anyone remotely like Peter Crouch before.

Once the Q&A was over, the players started on their various media commitments. Wilshere wasn't doing too much but VDV stuck around for about 90 minutes, speaking to various publications and websites in four different languages.

Just before his chat with us, Mrs VDV asked me if I thought he had a shiny forehead. The glare of the camera lights were getting to the superstar footballer so I offered her my BBC powder thing so she could apply the necessary touches to her husband's face.

Freshly powdered and bang on schedule, VDV was ready for six minutes in front of the Focus cameras. Spurs fans already love VDV. He fits perfectly with Tottenham's style and has the same swagger as the likes of Jurgen Klinsmann or David Ginola. The fact he was not scared to tell us that the team could win the Premier League or Champions League this season will only further endear him to the White Hart Lane faithful.

VDV also spoke about being brought up in caravan, playing football on the streets and his desire to get the better of Manchester United.

Interestingly - and Lee Dixon picked up on this on Saturday's show - VDV has struggled to step out of the shadow of Wesley Sneijder in the last few years. At Real Madrid, Sneijder was preferred to VDV most of the time. It was a similar story at national level.

In contrast, Spurs are willing to build the team around VDV. That, he admitted to me, is an exciting prospect.

If you missed the VDV interview on Focus last week you can see it below...

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I am sure VDV will go down as one of the greatest bargain buys in the history of the Premier League. When you think about some of the sums being thrown around at the moment - Darren Bent, for example, who has just signed for Aston Villa for a fee that could reach £24m - the Dutchman's £8m price tag gets better by the month. As a Spurs fan pointed out to me last week , that's what they paid for centre-back Dean Richards!

This week's show should be a beauty. We have former Newcastle boss Chris Hughton on the sofa and a sitdown chat with Wenger booked in for Friday. If you want to fire me a question for either or both, comment about this blog or ask a general question about the show, then whack it down below.

The best place to follow the build-up to Focus is at


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  • Comment number 1.

    VDV is certainly one of the best midfielders of the generation. I still remember the goal he scored during one of the games when Hamburg SV team visited Arsenal at Highbury for Champs League.

    Jack Wilshere is the best Young Player at the moment despite what Mario Balotelli seems to think. Wilshere can grow into a player like VDV or even better like Zidane in future.

  • Comment number 2.

    Question for Hughton: Is he looking for a Premier League job or would he be happy to work at a Football League club?

  • Comment number 3.

    Great Blog but do the BBC have a heightist policy now with you and Jake?

  • Comment number 4.

    Good blog dan. What a thoroughly nice chap Van der Vaart seems, and intelligant too. Definitely been the signing of the season, even if he had cost more than £8 million he would be pushing for that tag, but an absolute bargain. Spurs and Harry have done some great business there.

    He's always been an exceptionally talented player, but one who usually seemed to never show it on a regular basis, but i think that comes down to the fact that he needs to be the main man in a team, not another player in the team. I think that's why he struggled at Real Madrid, and has never fully caught the eye with Holland. At Spurs the team is being centred on him and he's one of the key players, as he was with Ajax and Hamburg where he was more successful.

    Good luck to VDV for the rest of the season, and Spurs. The future looks bright indeed if they can hold onto the likes of VDV, Modric and Bale, as well as keep adding to them, and i don't see why that wouldn't be the case.

  • Comment number 5.

    Please ask Arsene Wenger why he did not buy VDV! Was he not given a heads up that VDV was available?

    Also, Arsenal are desperately short of quality defenders and several names have been linked to them during this transfer window. As a long time fan, I think we need at least two world class defenders as we do not have the cover when our first choice players are injured.

    Hopefully, Arsene will also be able to talk about the Carling Cup Final and whether the long wait for a trophy will be ended this season.

  • Comment number 6.

    Hey Dan, it would be great if you could ask Mr Wenger: "When are you going to take over the England team and lead us to footballing glory?

    Of course, we want him at the helm for a couple of decades scouting and training up talent so that the whole team becomes as talented as Jack Wilshere and the other young English players coming through at Arsenal. That's the brand of football we want England playing, and Wenger knows how to get it out of his young prodigies!

  • Comment number 7.

    Van Der Vaart - "The whole world knows that Tottenham is a great club and i'm a great player"

    And finally... Dan Walker- "Where are Spurs going to finish this season?"
    VDV- "First"

    He's a Tottenham legend already.

  • Comment number 8.

    I think VDV is a unbelievable talent. For spurs to buy him so cheap and my understanding that chelsea had the chance to sign him completly dazzles me. Harry must be rubbing his hands together now. As a welsh fan, Wilshere is one english player who actually scares me with the potential he has. if he continues to blossom then it is only a matter of time before england reach a major final.

    Question for hughton - Would he ever consider a return to newcastle if the option was presented to him in the future ?

    Question for wenger - What is his biggest transfer regret ?

  • Comment number 9.

    VDV is a massive lad. Wilshere's nervousness is still to be expected he's only 19. Would have been nice to see Wenger sign VDV when we had the chance but then we would have had too many similar players and our star man at the moment Nasri may not have even started this season.

  • Comment number 10.

    I only wish VDV had signed for Liverpool, how different things might be now..*sighs*

  • Comment number 11.

    As per WengerforPM can you ask Wenger why Arsenal didn't buy VDV!? Even as an Arsenal fan I can say he is the signing of the season.

    And also, why cant he sign some quality defenders? We'll never win the title without a solid defence.

  • Comment number 12.

    Tottenham are very lucky to have captured VDV for such a "relatively" small amount of money, when as you say, the likes of Darren Bent can command £24m for his signature. Bent may do quite well at Aston Villa, but having VDV in your midfield would be far more preferable.

    #9 is quite right that it would have been great to have had VDV, but it could well have restricted Nasri, who hasn't done too badly himself this season. Ultimately, you can't have everybody, and you have to make your choices.

    I'm sure the question will be asked in one way or another, but it will be interesting to hear what Hughton would like to do next. I wonder whether he would feel comfortable being a number 2 again, if that sort of opportunity arose again? I think he would make a fine deputy at a club like Chelsea and would provide that oft talked about link between players and manager a la Wilkins, as well as injecting some English blood into the managerial setup there.

    Alternatively, he would be more than suited to a manager role somewhere too. I wonder whether he has had much contact with other clubs since he left Newcastle? Perhaps they could even bring him into the England setup?

    As for Arsene, I wonder how he feels about the challenge of juggling the need to bolster the teams defence, with the need to manage the transfer budget that he has available? A lot of teams automatically add a few million to the asking fee of a player as soon as a big club starts sniffing around. I'm sure he wouldn't want to just buy someone for the really short term, but at the same time, injuries to defenders are really hurting the team.

    If Arsenal could build a really strong defence again, then I think the midfield and attack could really start to flourish and approach their full potential. At the moment, they are often getting cut to ribbons at the back, placing more strain on the players in front of them. Getting attackers who don't break down every few matches would be useful as well.

    Here's hoping the Ipswich first leg match was an aberration, and Arsenal will move safely into the Final, and not blow the opportunity to win a trophy again. Winning something again would hopefully be just the boost that would give that confidence to the players that they can see things through to the very end again.

    Shirley Bassey

  • Comment number 13.

    Hi Dan.

    It must be good seeing a young lad enter the throws of media attention and seeing how they cope. That gets me wondering are there any people you have interviewed over a long career, from youngster to elder statesman? How have these people changed, have some took time to get used to it all? (Rooney) or have some been good from an early age? (Owen) Any who have just simply never got to grips with it all?

    Young Wilshere wouldn't go wrong in looking a Sylvain Distin last week. It's not often I have seen him interviewed but he was a massive breath of fresh air. Charismatic, and full of honesty and opinion. Full credit to the man who has forged a successful career in a foreign country.

    How nice it would be for one day a native of another country to say words like these about an Englishman playing abroad.

    Buck Melanoma

  • Comment number 14.

    Question for Hughton, Dan: Would he ever consider a coaching role at Spurs again if such a role arose or would he prefer to move back into full time management? If managment, would he like to work up from the lower divisions or go straight back in at Premiership level knowing how volatile Premiership owners now seem to be?

  • Comment number 15.

    Hi Dan.

    Firstly, just to say I wasn't sure whether David Silva would be a good signing for Man City or not, but it hasn't taken long for him to convince me that his style of game can flourish in English football. What's so refreshing to me is that, in Jack Wilshere, we have an English player of a similar breed. I think David shades it at the moment, but Jack is living proof that England is capable of producing the latest models. Thank you Arsene, but where are the English Arsene Wengers?

    Which leads onto the man himself. Can he see the day when he leaves Arsenal, or like Ferguson, is there no reason to leave? Will he ever coach France?

    Finally, sympathies to Chris Hughton. What a fantastic job he did at Newcastle. Ashley's decision to give him the boot is right up there with Peter Swales sacking of Peter Reid.

  • Comment number 16.

    Seems like a genuinely nice bloke as well as being a brilliant footballer (what a bargain for Spurs). You don't tend to hear too much about footballers being nice intellignt people in the media nowadays.

  • Comment number 17.

    @12 Chris HUghton cant inject some English blood considering he's Irish, slight difference.

  • Comment number 18.

    He played for the Republic of Ireland, but he was actually born in Stratford, England. Slight difference.

    Eddie Wearing

  • Comment number 19.

    VDV why get the best of united

    As the saying goes, if you cant beat them join them

  • Comment number 20.

    Great blog Dan.

    Although an Arsenal fan, I feel that VDV has been a terrific signing for Spurs and I'm glad that he's found his old Hamburg form again. I remember him playing in the same team as the little Brazilian magician Diego, who then went onto Juventus, and he was absolutely electric. Couldn't believe it when RM then bought him for next to nothing and kept him warming the bench! Although I doubt Spurs will win the CL or Premiership (at least not this season), by making some quality signings like they have done recently and keeping hold of their gems, there will definitely be more to come from them in the future.

    Also, seeing that it's now the transfer season again, a question for Mr Wenger... Who has been his most important/influential signing throughout his managerial career, and, although he is unlikely to answer this, who is the player he most regrets not signing?


  • Comment number 21.

    At Tottenham, the team is, to some degree, built around VDV (and a fast paced midfield in general) whereas at United the midfield is very different. The likes of Scholes and Giggs are much older, albeit still good players, but they don't have a fast moving midfield like they do at THFC. I think the style of Tottenham suits VDV very well based on how they have been doing so far.

    They finally have a team to rival Arsenal in terms of style, and performance.

    Glenda Jackson

  • Comment number 22.

    Dan - when you have a chat with Arsene Wenger, can I suggest you try to open up the interview to cover his thoughts about a much "bigger picture" than just football - I'd be particulary keen if you could ask him about his religious views. I know you are a Christian and so I'm confident you would know the types of questions to ask that are especially important from the Christian standpoint

    One of the great things about when the Beatles, and then Bob Dylan came on the scene back in the early 60s, was that journalists asked them proper questions. Up til then no-one had asked the likes of Elvis anything of much depth, but they could see the Beatles and Dylan actually did have grey matter between the ears and so treated them with relevant respect not just like schoolchildren. So throw in a few challenging questions to try to get below the surface of superficiality.

    Wenger is an intelligent man so why not give him an opportunity to get off the subject of football - there is after all a limit to the number of questions one can ask on football and in any case I'm pretty Wenger must have already been asked every one of them sometime or other (and most likely more than once !) in the past

    Be much appreciated.

  • Comment number 23.

    hi Dan, thought the chat was really good. VDV has very good talent and was a good buy for aston villa. I wish he was English though so that he could help us out in big tournaments. Jack Wilshire is also a good player. Although he is young, his talent is growing everyday and he will be fantastic for England!!!!!!!!!!
    hope you can do another chat soon. maybe with footballers like Gerrard and Terry. also maybe some younger palyers like Carroll and Bale

  • Comment number 24.

    "Please ask Arsene Wenger why he did not buy VDV! Was he not given a heads up that VDV was available?"

    What would be the point of signing him as good as he is?
    We have Fabregas who is a better player than Van Der Vaart.
    Would he want to warm the bench? I doubt it, hence why he left Madrid.
    Attacking midfielders are not really something that we're short of at The Emirates either.

    Back to VDV, he has been excellent this year. His finishing has been superb, he has a real instinct for the kncok downs and the breaks of the ball and a tremendous left peg to finish with.

  • Comment number 25.

    Hello everyone

    Thanks for the comments so far. Interested to see the appreciation for VDV with almost everyone wishing he’d signed for them.

    SS11 #1 Better than Zidane? If he gets anywhere near the great man he’ll be very special.

    Andrew Ferguson #3 Correct –you’ve got to be 8ft to present on the BBC these days.

    Vic777 #6 Wenger for England boss? I just don’t know if he’d want to miss out on the day to day work with the players.

    On the VDV signing for Arsenal questions... a midfield with Fabregas, Wilshere, Nasri & VDV would be wonderful but lack a little defensive purpose me thinks!

    I'll be back later... just got to take the car to the garage... mechanical issues here.

    Keep the comments coming and the questions for Hughton and Wenger.

    See you soon.

    Dick Van Dyke

  • Comment number 26.

    Hello Dan

    Nice blog again.

    I have a question for Mr Wenger, I would like to know after 5 tophy-less seasons is he starting to feel the pressure to deliver even a League Cup? At what stage does the pressure start? 2/3/4 years?

    I would also like to ask the very dignified Mr Hughton if he ever considered an unfair dismissal claim against NUFC? It was a shameful state of affairs. Would he ever go back to being a Number 2? Come and help King Kenny rebuild Liverpool.


    Father Dowling

  • Comment number 27.

    Interesting that everyone is so VDV. As a Spurs fan who was at the game yesterday I agree he has great talent, the big problem is he lacks a bit of pace and fitness. Therefore it is not a case of wanting to build a team round him but having to.

    The main reason Spurs are looking for a striker who can play on his own is to accomodate VDV as a 2nd striker / midfielder. Defoe is never comfortable on his own and 2 small guys up front and a tiny midfield with Lennon and Modric gives us probs at set pieces without Crouch.

  • Comment number 28.

    "I am sure VDV will go down as one of the greatest bargain buys in the history of the Premier League."

    If he plays in 2011 as he did in 2010, he will have no rival. He will be THE greatest buy (on a money:performance ratio) in the history of the Premier League.

  • Comment number 29.

    All these all time greats in spurs side - Modric, Bale, VDV, and yet they're nowhere in 5th place?

  • Comment number 30.

    Hi Dan,

    Good blog - VdV is a brilliant player and I always knew he would explode in the Spurs side - they were incredibly fortunate to get him (just due to quality/price, nothing to do with the club itself) and it's another credit to 'Arry!

    Question for Wenger:

    Considering his previous record for growing players and more specifically playing players in different positions to grow the areas of their game (Henry - on the wing, Walcott - on the wing, Wilshere - centrally/defensive) does he feel that this sometimes is counter productive? For example, a small Russian chap I know, who was fairly amazing with the ball at his feet when he came to this country, has offered startlingly little in contract to the unquestionable natural talent in his locker. Is this consistent drop in performance and even appearance of disillusionment the sign of a player played in a position too abstract for his game? Is it time to play him centrally off the strikers to get the form back and perhaps keep him central and, failing that, release him?

    Another question; does he feel that having a young(ish) team with varied vice-captaincies and multiple voices of encouragement dilutes the effect of leadership in a team that is starting to show such strength of spirit yet such abject confusion in games against opponents of perhaps lesser quality and perhaps taken for granted as a pushover (but nonetheless lesser threat)? Is there a feeling that having so many voices to encourage the team severely hampers the chances for an inspiritational individual to show through words/encouragement, as well as on-pitch action, the way out of certain situations? In the modern game, team strength is as important as ever, is it ironically the single-figure of a talismanic captain that provides most effective immediate impacts on the field, rather than a sole half-time team talk from a manager? (Examples: Vidic, Torres, Gerrard, Lampard, Drogba, Tevez) Whilst you can never argue Arsenal have non-inspirational figures, it's also arguable that none of them have that gravitas to pick out one man who is most likely to offer up that leap of quality/belief when it's most needed, compared to the rest of the top 4 or so teams in the EPL...

    I know the big man is a major thoerist on group morale and statistics - I'd be fascinated to see what he has to offer.

    Gilles Grimandi!

  • Comment number 31.

    Can you ask Chris Hughton whether he is at all bitter about his depature from WHL and if he would contemplate returning there in the future?

  • Comment number 32.

    Question for both managers: do they need a scout in Paraguay?

  • Comment number 33.

    van de varrt is good and yes one of the best bargains in history how much was he bought for? 7 million lol man utd missed out again that is what we do we miss out, like we missed out bale, he is the best midfileder in primer leauge, right now he is, how comes man utd miss out on players like that and sign bervatob. if he carries on to play like how he is playing now for two or three years than sir alex will retire with a bad memory imagine va der vaart and anderson playing togother.

  • Comment number 34.

    Can you ask Chris Hughton how he felt the day Spurs sacked him as he is a massive spurs legend for all the work he did at the club and to be treated in that way was despicable?

    What a signing VDV has been massive bit of business by Mr Levy getting Arry that good a present now hopefully Arry can deliver Mr Levy a gift like the Champions League Trophy come May

  • Comment number 35.


    Diego has never played in the same team as VDV. Van der Vaart played for Hamburg and Diego for Werder Bremen although both brought an amzing level of skill to their respective teams and both would kill for them back.

  • Comment number 36.


    Can you ask both Mr Wenger and Mr Hughton if either are interested in hosting my clog dancing extravaganza! It will be a marvellous occassion, infact Dan I want you to be the star!! I want you there centre stage showing your skills!

    Oh how cloggy it would be.


    How have you been?

    The cats well. Although doesnt like her new lair, I dont know why, it has all the requirements to be the perfect feline lair. She needs a fire, thats what it is.

    Another trip to the woods for me then!!


  • Comment number 37.

    Not enough credit is given to camera men. To fit A Crane Fly (Dan) and a Midgit (Wilkshire) in the same picture is quite a talent!

    Van Der Vaart has been a great signing for Spurs, I would say only Modric is more important for them than him. Please people don't compare Wilkshire with Zidane, It's a ridiculous comparison and let Wilkshire be Wilkshire as he looks to be a very promising young player. I certainly can't think of any other English player who prioritises technique over power like Wilkshire does.

    Ferenc Puskas

  • Comment number 38.

    ould it have been so hard to type VDV in your article, then do find and replace on VDV, replacing it with Van De Vaart?

  • Comment number 39.

    Hi Dan.

    I'm loving VDV too. He's got that arrogance that great players have but also a fantastic work ethic and I love the way he celebrates his goals. Good to see Spurs getting the big guns all wobbly - hope that continues.

    I've got a question for Wenger. I find it so frustrating that he hasn't signed a marque player (like VDV!) for years - he refuses too. As every transfer window opens you hear noises from the Flashburton Boardroom that Wenger has money to spend. As every window closes, it's to the groan of every Arsenal fan that they haven't brought anyone in. They always threaten to bring someone in, but they don't. Why they didn't sign Shay Given for instance is beyond me. Man City would have let him go (and would still let him go), and Given himself would want to go if the approach was right from Arsenal.

    Fabregas can not carry that team by himself. They need another big man, a leader. Not since Viera left have they had someone to pick up the team when they're down or put an authoritative boot up their back sides when they need it. Then the rest of the fleet foooted marvels can do what they're good at - and I'd put Fab in the fleet footed... camp too. It takes too much out of him being captain.

    It's unbearable to see seasons come and go with Arsenal providing so much early promise and then fade as the season wears on. Oh but they play such thrilling football. I agree with Evra - so what?

    But for the moment I'm glad they're fragile and inconsistent. If they play as badly as they did against my team (Ipswich) in the second leg as they did in the first we might get a day out at Wembley. But they'll probably turn up the collars and stuff 7 past us. Still, it'll be nice to eat one of Betty Wenger's expensive pies while watching Ipswich at the Emirates.

  • Comment number 40.

    Ooooh - can you also ask Chris Hughton if he was approached by Ipswich? I'd be rather upset if they didn't at least have a conversation with him. He'd have been perfect for Ipswich - everyone of us wanted him - but we'll do the right thing and support Paul Jewell.

  • Comment number 41.

    #5, WengerforPM : I have been asking this question for many years why Arsene never signed players like VdV and Aimar earlier. They were young and promising and they would have had great career at Arsenal.

  • Comment number 42.

    #36 Will any mice be there at your clog dancing extravaganza? I think you should get Max Bygraves' record playing in the background.

    #38 did you do find and not replace on the W at the beginning of your sentence?

    This season is going to be a real test of Tottenham's and Man City's mettle as to whether they can break into the top three by the end of the season. Tottenham need to maintain the momentum of qualifying for the Champions League this season by doing the same again this season. The money and exposure from achieving that will allow them to really consolidate. Man City have all the money they could ever need, so now they need patience, and stick with Mancini for at least the next 3 seasons. They also need Champions League football, so clearly one of the other three big boys is going to miss out if that happens... maybe Chelsea?

    Jessica Fletcher

  • Comment number 43.

    Question for Wenger

    Does he specifcially tell Gael Clichy that he cannot go beyond the 18 yard line to the goal line and cross the ball BACKWARDS to anyone of the small midfielders who could score from that angle ? Instead of hit and hope crosses from the wing on the 18 yard line through the centre. In short as he has a Plan A has he forbidden a Plan B and if so WHY ??

  • Comment number 44.

    question for chris hughton:
    After about 14 years with spurs, how did it feel leaving after two such great seasons?

  • Comment number 45.

    Hi there Dan, all the best with the garage visit. Just had a question to Chris Hughton:

    He was fully responsible for forming a promising and well-gelled Newcastle squad who are very entertaining to watch, and part of this is down to getting the best out of unpredictable and irratic characters like Barton (who even has been rumoured to be getting an England call-up soon), just how was he able to do this? He seemed to achieve the best out of a player who at one point looked to be destined for the downward spiral both on and off the pitch, and seemed impossible to man-manage.

    Thanks very much.

  • Comment number 46.

    Q for Wenger:

    Considering the length of time Arsenal have gone without silverware, would a further trophyless season be acceptable, given the resources Arsenal have available compared to, say, Portsmouth, who have won the FA cup more recently?

  • Comment number 47.

    42, Oh i forgot to mention, first dance of the night will be done to the sports report tune!

    Yeah, now your humming it!!

    Woo woo!!

  • Comment number 48.


    aha - the old what if question?

    What if Howard Kendall in 1997 had decided to not buy John Oster and brought in Harry Kewell instead. Could we have not bought Ruud Van Nistelrooy instead of Michael Madar? Surely Jaap Stam would have been preferable than Slaven Bilic?

    Wenger probably didn't sign Aimar at an early age because he believed he had the right player in Luis Boa Morte. He had Stephen Hughes, why did he need Van Der Vaart?

    The famous line from Jack Walker (God rest his soul) always makes me laugh. Why do we need Zinedine Zidane when we have just bought Gary Flitcroft?

    Dan see post #13 - would like to know.


    Gordie Lachance

  • Comment number 49.

    Cracking blog. I have not read all your blogs since you took the FF chair but I would rate this one as one of the best, up there with your report on the anniversary of the Bradford Fire.
    Only one little remark, try jelly beans instead of wine gums; not as a permanent replacement, but as an alternative every once in a while. Ronnie Reagan swore by them and always had a jar of them on the Resolute Desk.
    Any way, the interviews. Great stuff man. How old is JW? Clearly he does not have the football or media xperience that VDV has. As a gooner I can't help hoping that Mr. VDV has a successful and profitable carreer...elsewhere.

    Qu for Wenger: (modification of #46 Soxsexsax's) " We all recognise that Arsenal's business model of club football has been a financial success, and one highlighted by FIFA, but also we recognize that in light of the fact that, in recent years, Portsmouth and CCFC have both got to more finals than Arsenal. Can a case be made for a slightly more liberal business model that allows a degree of greater investment in the team? Could it be the case that some what greater financial input into players, if successful, might actually yield greater profits and thus more cash for the business."

  • Comment number 50.

    As a watcher of the Bundesliga, I was surprised that it took Real Madrid to come along to temp him away from HSV.

    Rafael van der Vaart is a great player and actually very well suited to the Premier League. It just goes to show how good German clubs are at operating on a limited budget. The record transfer fee is something ridiculous like 20 million GBP.
    That is the basic difference, German clubs buy in at the talent when it's still cheap and develop it, see Edin Dzjeko, Dimitar Berbatov etc etc. It might take some time but it is worth it, this is the opposite of what EPL clubs do.

    Look at Özil, he nearly ended up on the scrapheap, as a troubled young player he had sidelined himself, because Bremen has virtually no money to buy players, they took him in and turned him into one of the highest profile players in European football.
    The technical ability, given to him in Germany had always been there, it just nearly went to waste.

  • Comment number 51.

    Not sure who i love more van der Vaart or Dan Walker. Definately my two favourite people.

  • Comment number 52.

    51. At 16:02pm on 19th Jan 2011, oj1os wrote:
    Not sure who i love more van der Vaart or Dan Walker. Definately my two favourite people.


    Crikey that is almost a proposal! Still I feel the same way about Torres and Evangeline Lilly, for different reasons I hasten to add! :)

  • Comment number 53.

    Question for Arsene Wenger:-

    Has he heard of Adrian Durham?

    Ned Ryerson

  • Comment number 54.

    Question for Chris Hughton, If offered the Republic of Ireland job would you be interested Chris?
    Comment: Chris a gentleman to his fingertips, badly treated by Newcastle Utd and Mike Ashley. Best of luck in the future.

  • Comment number 55.

    VDV (8), Modric (16.5), Bale (5) and Lennon (1) have been our best players this season and they have cost us 30 million. If you think that Man Utd payed 34.5 million for Hargreaves (17), Smalling (10) and Bebe (7.5) - that is a serious bargain

  • Comment number 56.

    JamTay #52
    You might find others have beaten you to Torres & Lilly.
    Recently a rather strange person was telling me that Evangelina Lilly is happily tied up with the Lord of The Rings Actor Merry (Dominic Monaghan ??sp??) and didn't Mrs Torres give birth recently causing Snr Torres to miss the last game with Villa?

  • Comment number 57.

    VDV has proved to be a real asset to Tottenham, and it's brought the best out in Modric as well. Win/Win for Spurs.

    Ludwig (the other van) Beethoven

  • Comment number 58.


    "I remember him playing in the same team as the little Brazilian magician Diego, who then went onto Juventus"

    When did they play together? Diego was at Werder Bremen and VDV at Hamburg

  • Comment number 59.

    have to agree (sort of) with #27 - he is slow and he tires on 70 minutes. i'm a spurs fan and of course love vdv, but i don't think the team should be built around him. it is out of necessity at the minute because he's the only player of any quality up front. and i include defoe in that. defoe is a good player, he's still offside too much, lashes the ball at the keeper too much, and is terrible when he has time to think. some reasons why i think he'll never be considered a quality player. crouch is just terrible, and pav, aah pav...the team should be built around modric. if there were a statistic for assisting an assist, modric would be head and shoulders above anyone else in the league with the exception of scholes in his heyday.

  • Comment number 60.

    I can't say approve of this VDV Americanism. What is wrong with copying his name and each time pressing the keys ctrl and v?

  • Comment number 61.

    As a Spurs fan who was at the game yesterday I agree he has great talent, the big problem is he lacks a bit of pace and fitness+++++++++++++***********

    That'll be due to the fact the in all other leagues emphasis is placed on passing and technique, not just running up and down the pitch until you burst your lungs.
    I do agree though, Spurs definitely need some talent, that's why a player like van der Vaart sticks out some much, 'cause he is a well rounded player.

  • Comment number 62.

    VDV will surely go down as one of the best buys ever in the PL, and as a spurs fan i'm delighted to have him, but he has some way to go to better Cantona, Schmeichel or even ole Gunnar Solskjaer as the best PL bargain ever, who were all signed for around a million a piece if memory serves.

  • Comment number 63.

    Erm..... re: 39 - my question would be ... why does Wenger not go out and splash the hard earned Arsenal cash on a marquee player - i.e. someone's that already established themselves at one of the big European clubs.

  • Comment number 64.

    Arsenal have made some pricey purchases in the past, I think Arshavin came in for quite a bit of money for example. Wenger is obviously more renowned for bringing in the likes of Anelka and Henry, and moulding them. Anelka turned a big profit for Arsenal when he departed, much as it was a shame at the time.

    Someone mentioned earlier about Blackburn not being interested in Zidane because they have Gary Flitcroft reminds me of when Gordon Strachan was at Southampton, and decided not to buy Malouda and Drogba... oh dear.

    If Wenger can sort out the issues with the defence, they could win more than just the League Cup (which they really should win in view of who's left, bearing in mind you haven't got another of the "big teams). The Leeds match should be interesting tonight... just a shame it's on the "other side".

    Andy Connor... are you going to have a Dutch theme with the clogs? Shame you couldn't get Steve McClaren as an honourary former Dutchman...

    Van Der Valk

  • Comment number 65.


    The most impressive thing about your day wasn't your interviews with VDV or even the boots, it was your ability to remain completely coherent while standing next to such a fine specimen of woman as Mrs VDV!

    Anyway...VDV has been a revelation, as has the breakthrough of Wilshere. A top quality prospect. I wonder how much he'd go for if he were ever to be put up for sale...

  • Comment number 66.

    Knowing all this, and knowing the impact of Bergkamp on the Premier League, how is it possible that Liverpool dares to offer only 15M for Ajax jewel Suarez. If Darren Bent is a 22M deal, how could Suarez be less than 40M?

  • Comment number 67.


    It ish a shame, I tried to shpeak to him about the possibility of him shtarring he said
    Nein, zat vud not be possible.

  • Comment number 68.

    I was suprised when I heard that Spurs had bought Van Darth Vader...and it is proving a great buy for them. Good to have players like him in the prem.

    Question for Mr Wenger:

    What will be the deciding thing for him to retire...age, health, motivation?...and what would he have done if he had not been a footballer/manager?

    Champion the wonder horse

  • Comment number 69.

    Dan can you please ask Mr Wenger if/when he is ever going to publish his memoirs or an autobiography?,having read the likes of Sir Alex, Sir Bobby, Stanley Matthews and Cloughie it's always great to here things in their own words. Everyone has a story to tell, though not all as inspirational as what he has achieved, I can understand that his thoughts are focused on the future, but surely he must be immensely proud of the legacy he has built, personally I feel he should be remembered more for the philosophy of how he plays, and has moulded that club in his own image more so than the Double winning achievements. The real story would be in reading how he has learned from the past, whether as an amateur, in France and Japan, what his influences were and how he has moved on from his mistakes to develop into the best nurturer of talent of his generation.

  • Comment number 70.

    VDV was always a great player only he had competition with Sneyder in national Dutch team, so not much exposure in that regard since manager preferred Sneyder;
    but not at all surprise he is doing well at Spurs; attacking game, and plays his game as assist, tactically he his strong and can even score goals, think he will thrive at Spurs, and wans to make a statement to dutch national team

  • Comment number 71.

    The guy is an absolute class-act. I'm still staggered at the fact we got him for £8 million! The best buy of the season; no doubt. The goal's he scores, the way he plays is just pure perfection. And to make it even better, he seems like a genuinely decent guy, unlike some of the egotistical footballers now adays.

  • Comment number 72.

    Please can you ask Wenger why is he still keeping Arshavin and Denilson in the team they should be sold also he should buy Samba from Blackburn lets have some toughness at the back.Lastly why must he wait till the 70th minute before effecting changes when he can see that a player is not doing well in a game.

  • Comment number 73.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 74.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 75.

    @ 46: I am sure his response will be that getting to the FA Cup final bankrupted Portsmouth and with Arsenal he's in for the long haul. Is it so terrible that the club has had a top-four finish and Champions League football every season during this trophy-less spell, not to mention the fact that they are generally a lot better to watch than their rivals? Let's face it, the vast majority of loyal fans support teams that don't win major trophies.
    @ 55: Hargreaves was in the VdV category and therefore a good investment at the time; both he and the club have been very unlucky with regard to his injuries.

    Most impressive thing about VdV for me is his reading of the game, which enables him to turn up in just the right place at the right time. If only Defoe could learn this from him!

  • Comment number 76.

    Good Blog Dan

    Wonder what Phil McNulty would say about VdV

  • Comment number 77.

    VDV best spurs player since... er bale, only joking they both amazing and spurs can realistically win the prem this year!!!!! :)

  • Comment number 78.

    I’m back. Car is fine. Let’s see what we’ve got going on here then...

    Tomefccam #13 couldn’t agree more about Distin. I thought he came across incredibly well and spoke with real honesty.

    Snippet #22 I know what you mean big dog but it’s time constraints that prevent that sort of thing.

    Swoopster25 #27 correct about the pace issue and I think he would admit that himself. If he was quick he’d be super special.

    Kapnag #28 tremendous sarcasm.

    Sergio Lahaye #32 are you offering your services big man?

    Andy Connor #36 you know some people read this blog just for your comments? Do you comment on any others or just save your best for this beauty?

    JamTay1 #37 true talk my friend... true talk.

    Peejkerton #38 10 out of 10 for pedantry and 9 out of 10 for not spotting one’s tongue in one’s cheek. Having said that, yes you are right.

    Tomefccam #48 “Why do we need Zinedine Zidane when we have just bought Gary Flitcroft?” One of the great quotes.

    Blaenorynclwyd #49 he’s 19 big dog

    Letsbe-avenue #50 excellent point about the Bundesliga. Worth a football focus piece!

    Oj1os #51 I might put that on my CV!

    HSpurs76 #59 good bit of balance there chief.

    PelhamWarner #60 My CTRL key is broken! I shall try not to be so American in the future.

    IvanGolacIsMagic - PeterHoustonIsMagicToo #65 She was a creature of rare beauty and also very nice to chat to.

    Right. I'm off to watch the rest of this Leeds v Arsenal match. Thanks very much for the comments and questions. I have made a little note of some beauties to put to Wenger and hopefully some of them will appear on Saturday's show.

    Have a good night and keep those comments coming comrades.

    Other than a bit or VDV annoyance we've had no rage this week which is all very nice. Well done everyone.

    Sylvie Van Der Vaart

  • Comment number 79.

    ** ask AF if he would do the hargo deal again if he could go back knowing what would lie ahead and he will gladly tell you he would do it again remembering the important contribution OH made to those pl & cl titles. that $ is nothing, NOTHING compared to what those titles mean. of course AF knew what he was getting- all the experience of a player in another of the world's BIGgest and best clubs, champions league experience, Bundesliga titles, german cup titles, intercontinental cup title. yeah no- the footy journos got it right and AF was wrong. riiiiight..history often repeats itself in everything surrounding the world's BIGgest game and just like not only the british media, but the media most everywhere in the world got it wrong leading up to WC 2006, (and 2010, save that one for later) they have gotten it wrong in much since and will continue to until they learn to put their bias aside and tell the truth (not likely)

  • Comment number 80.

    Dan - as much as i admire your restraint in NOT including a picture of Mrs. VDV, would you kindly post one now?
    cheers ;l

  • Comment number 81.

    I wanted to hear a bit more about Wilshire. As an arsenal fan I feel I haven't heard from him much other than post-match interviews...

  • Comment number 82.

    Great blog Dan.

    As a Chelsea fan it pains me to say that two of the players I have enjoyed watching most this season have been VDV and Jack, with Nasri a close third. Both play football the right way and seem to love to play the game.

    I also think Spurs have the best squad in the PL but lack that one key ingredient to make the push for PL or CL victory, a world class stiker. They just don’t have a Drogba, Rooney, Torres, Messi, Eto’o or Ronaldo. Add any player of that calibre to the team and watch out. Although hopefully for Chelsea’s sake they don’t.

  • Comment number 83.

    Hi Dan

    Qs for Wenger

    The best Arsenal under Wenger must certainly have been the record breaking squad including Henry, Vieira, Ljunberg, Pires, Campbell, etc. That was the most thrilling, accomplished football of any of Wenger's projects. Just about every player in that formation were either the best or one of the best in Europe for their role, trully world-class. How, then, is not signing established, world-class players going to bring Arsenal back to that level? If he concentrates on signing children to develop them, wont Arsenal just finish off being a selling-club like Ajax?

    Following on that, he (Wenger) was very angry, or at least annoyed, that Barcelona tried to sign Fabregas, because Cesc is such an important figure, so as to make him Arsenal's captain. About 3 years ago Fabregas asked Wenger to sign established players who would help Arsenal win titles. If Fabregas is so important, why completely ignore his plea, and then act all surprised that he wants to go?


  • Comment number 84.

    Since being awoken by a mate whilst on holiday in Mallorca surounding that fact that VDV had signed for spurs I didn't know how to react. Of course I was excited about VDV coming to the team, I've passionately supported since my first game where the trusty(?) Sol Cambell headed in two last minute headers against Man United, however I beleived he would soon after snub spurs and head to one of the original top four. I couldn't be more wrong. Seeming like one of the most genuine and down to earth guys he's a role model to anyone, on and off the pitch. On it he shows passion with dignity, whilst flare and creativity, despite at times being irrational. Off it he's Intelligent and witty, he stands out from amongst the rest, making it more of a pleasure to be spurs fan. I hope for great success at White Hart Lane, through our hard effort, we've finally delivered what spurs fans have deserved. VDV is the don!

  • Comment number 85.

    What inspired Arsene Wenger to coach in Japan?

    What would Wenger be doing if he wasn't a football manager?

  • Comment number 86.

    Great session this Dan, VDV seems very down to earth and couldn't have settled down any quicker at the lane.

    Question for Wenger: How long does he think arsenal will be in tottenhams limelight? ha ha

  • Comment number 87.

    I do find it rather amusing that your ctrl key is broken as i rely so heavily on mine because my 'a' button is broken. Everytime i want an 'a' i have to paste (ctrl+v) the constantly copied 'a' i know how restricted you feel.

  • Comment number 88.

    I would like to ask Wenger how the crowds critism of player such as Bentdner, Arshavin effect the player does it make them play extra hard to try and win approval or do they become Apathetic and how does this affect the other players in the dressing room?

  • Comment number 89.

    VDV is the type of player who does well given the right circumstances. At Ajax he was under the shadow of Ibrahimovic, Madrid will a little too big a club, and he did well at Hamburg. He seems to have found his place at White Hart Lane. There are many such players around. Forlan for example..

  • Comment number 90.

    Hi Dan,

    Nice article.

    Bit of a long one and may be a little worthy but here's a question for Wenger.

    Arsenal were recently held up as a model of how a club should be run in a financially responsible manner, going against the grain of so many in the Premier League. When will Wenger start setting the standards for responsibility on the touchline as well. The new 'Don't X the line' initiative to promote positive touchline behaviour will only be successful if the 'role models' in football act responsibly as well. So as a manager who rants at referees, criticises in post-match interviews and rarely sees key moments; when is he going to stand up?

    Told you it went on a bit.


  • Comment number 91.

    Hi Dan

    It's far too early to be writing messages on your blog, but please don't forget to ask Arsene that question that John Motson came up with - which of the four competitions that Arsenal are still in, would he prefer to win?

    He'll no doubt come out with a non-committal 'eet ees eemportant to win sometheeng..." (apologies for the bad French keyboard accent), but do try and pin him down if you can.

    Ask him if he's supporting France in the World Cup this weekend, too - the World Cup of Pateisserie, that is (in Lyon)

    All the best - have a great day, be lucky etc.


  • Comment number 92.

    VDV displays a very dynamic and constructive approach and mindset. Wishing VDV all the very best at Spurs. Great blog Dan.

    Dr. Cajetan Coelho

  • Comment number 93.

    @89 At ajax VDV was under the shadow of Ibrahimovic? You got that really wrong! Vandervaart was a key player at Ajax, driving force on the attacking midfield, scoring easy. At that time Sneijder was upcoming. Ibrahimovic had always trouble finding his form, Ajax treated him with a lot of patience, at some point he found his form and then immediately forced a transfer to Juve for 16M (in 4 terms) 2 days before transfer window close.
    Real Madrid was too big? He would make them better still now, but Real has no vision, I guess for Sneijder Real was too big too?

    In fact, if you want to play awesome football you need dutch influence. Like Barca was built on dutch football, the ideas of Cruijff.
    For decades Ajax has been spawning world class players and sold them for little money, around 1995 even free. We will have to live with the fact that England and Spain will simply buy all our players, but I got good hopes that from now on we make you pay lots of hard euros! Suarez? 35M+

  • Comment number 94.

    Re #78

    Daniel what sort of man do you take me for? Putting it about indeed.

    If I had not been so fascinated by the staring contest this bear and that crow are having I may have been upset.
    But I'm not upset so your off the hook.

    Hey dan this one is for you

    You're a star, you're a star,
    Armani suit and new guitar.....

    Carl wayne

  • Comment number 95.


    Diego plays for Werder, they resigned him from Juve in the summer!

  • Comment number 96.

    Question for Hughton- When he next looks to get into management will he be looking for a Premier League job, or will he be interested in dropping down to gain more experience?

    (Derby fan in hope)

  • Comment number 97.

    Van der Vaart is a cracking player and always has been, he has a lot more still to do before he becomes as some people claim, "The greatest bargain signing ever in the EPL"
    For one thing, it's a sign of where we are with transfer fees that 8mil is considered a small amount haha, but if that is a bargain then I would also consider Thierry Henry to be something of a bargain, bought for £11mil. What about Anelka for £500,000? Cantona £1.2 mil? He has probably been the buy of the season but he still has a way to go to being the best bargain ever.

  • Comment number 98.

    52. At 16:29pm on 19th Jan 2011, JamTay1 wrote:

    51. At 16:02pm on 19th Jan 2011, oj1os wrote:
    Not sure who i love more van der Vaart or Dan Walker. Definately my two favourite people.


    Crikey that is almost a proposal! Still I feel the same way about Torres and Evangeline Lilly, for different reasons I hasten to add! :)


    Considering how feminine Torres is and how masculine Evangeline Lilly is that doesn't bode well for your taste.

  • Comment number 99.

    Forget the video of keepy-uppy. I'm more interested in the video of her brushing her teeth.

    YouTube it, and thank me later.

  • Comment number 100.

    VdV is a great player, no doubt, and with what seems to be a fantastic attitude to the game. He’s been a huge asset to Spurs this season, not just on the pitch, but in terms of inspiring confidence. Still, Spurs need a bit more if they are going to regularly break into the top four and do well in the Champions League. See what I wrote about that here:


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