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Entries in bolton (5)


Knees? Check. Trembling? Check.

Spurs 3 Bolton 1

I watched the FA Cup game against Bolton in a hotel bar in Swansea with a West Country Spurs fan on a big screen without audio but with the unwanted ramblings of a quiz master reading out daft questions and playing awful music from the 70s and 80s. Hardly borderline surreal but not my ideal setting to watch Spurs. Even so, for or all I cared I could have been tied to a chair and been subjected to Chinese water torture, it would not have distracted me from my enjoyment at witnessing a rebirth (of sorts) for team in Lilywhite who swaggered, swashbuckled and displayed the urgency, fluidity and sharpness in touch and pass that has been missing for several games.

Sure, okay, no need to point out that we lacked that clinical composure where it mattered but this is still a team, a group of players, attempting to climb back off the ground, dust off and gently jog to warm up those muscles before running at full speed again.

It might have felt ominous at times, I'm sure everyone watching flirted with the potential for us to be sucker-punched what with all the possession and chances we were carving out. But also you would have flirted with the thought that one goal would suddenly make more easier to come by. Rejoice, the latter was the satisfying conclusion.

Bogdan (Bolton's keeper) seemed to get his body/hands/finger tips onto everything kicked his way. Granted one or two opportunities should really have been buried past him beyond any doubt. But to return to the metaphor of getting ourselves off the floor and back up standing proud, in some ways the patience and perseverance probably worked out for the best because it now truly feels like we've exorcised the demons that have recently haunted us.

Harry got the starting line-up right and made the right change at the right time (although we're still far better with one upfront than two). Was impressed with Livermore. To be honest there was little not to be impressed about taking into consideration how we've lacked this ilk of tempo and now we appear to be have got it back. We scored from a set piece - surely that's deserving of smiles all round. In fact there's been a steady improvement of dead ball kicking recently, although that's hardly something to shout about when you check the stats and remind yourself of how poor we've been for seasons now.

What we need to do now is replicate it in the league. Can't think of a better way to do so than to go toe to toe with the tippy tappy free flowing Swansea side this weekend.

All to play for. Our season is alive.

We're going to Wembley. Not proper Wembley, but it's still 90 mins or so away from a Cup final.

I'm having some of that.



Thick and fast

What do we want from our players in Tuesday nights FA Cup replay? I'd say something comparable to the tempo of the first game against Bolton (before it all ended in the 41st minute) without the defensive lapses and surrendering of too much possession with additional confidence collected from the 0-0 at Stamford Bridge. Harry will no doubt tinker a little but I'm hopeful of a strong line-up and a win. It will no doubt be emotionally charged, plenty of Fabrice chanting in unison from both sets of fans but when the poignant moment is over everyone's focus and support will be for the football being played. Honour the lad and his recovery with a ding dong cup tie.

Bolton will be fired up. As for us, two successive draws in the league is hardly glory football but its a stepping stone for momentum. We've got to reclaim that winning mentality and we've got to rediscover that bullish swagger we've lost. One game at a time, but with so few left every game has to form part of a tapestry of tenacity.

No pressure then. They're coming thick and fast. Potential semi-final against Chelsea awaits and going on the game we just played against them its not too far fetched that one or two knees will go a little trembley with excitement. But first and foremost Bolton Wanderers.

Silverware + top three would crown off a crowing season even with our recent choke.


Will be travelling tomorrow and not back until Wednesday night. I might have to make do with Twitter to follow the game. Sad times.


Fix up

I've been deeply philosophical in recent weeks and equally cautious. With each passing game when considering a battle cry for the next one (knowing the risk of repetition and the sorry fact that what follows is a post-match post-mortem allowing for both the knee-jerkers and the blind faithful to knock heads together) we stand waiting for something unexpected to happen. Like a win.

It's the FA Cup this time. That's not unexpected. We've had one of these puncture our league games before. The win in the previous round against Stevenage was hardly inspiring but taking into account the away team performed admirably in what was their 'cup final' it was never going to be a walk in the park. Spurs were professional enough in the end to get through and into the quarters with a semi-final the new prize to those that dare to achieve. Being that this is now a quarter, as a collective, we have to up our game to match the desire required for this stage of the competition.

As for repetition, I was going to cite the catalyst nature of this fixture . In isolation, it's potentially 90 minutes from a game at Wembley. A push for silverware (remember when this ilk of adventure meant something important?). In terms of our season, it's a chance to re-birth lost confidence. Blah blah blah. Re-read any of my prior match previews. It's the same colourful emotive nonsense that has failed me each time.

To compound matters further, Harry Redknapp appears to have taken responsibility to inspire the troops and fans in the post-match build up.

“Finishing top four is not a must to keep those players. If Arsenal don’t get in the top four, are their best players going to leave? If Chelsea don’t, will their best players walk away?"

“It doesn’t work like that. We don’t have a divine right to be in the top four. If we finish in the top four — and I think we will — we’ve punched above our weight"

“If we don’t make it, it’s just one of those things. We’ll have given it our best shot. We’re third in the league and we would have taken that at the start of the year"

“We’d be way over expectations if we finished in the top four. We haven’t finished above Arsenal or Chelsea for a long time and it looked like it would be tough to finish above Liverpool at the start of the season. We’ve finished in the top four once, not every year. If we do it this year, it will be fantastic, and I think we will.”

My blood is pumping and I'm dizzy from the head rush.

Underplaying much there Harry? Protecting the brand name? Comfortable? I'm hoping his team talks are a little more zesty in delivery when standing in front of the players with the aim to muster up some passion.

Pundits, managers, fans, the lot of us basically change our perceptions on a game to game basis to suit our emotions and analysis and protect ourselves from suffering if what is expected and first predicted doesn't happen. We've gone from just outside top four, to top four, to third, to title challengers, to third, to possibly 3rd, to probably 4th and now 'it will be expected if we finished 5th'.

Fix up Spurs. Regardless of the contradictions and media sound-bites, finishing outside of the top four now would be a failure compared with the form we've displayed across the season as a whole. A failure of ours rather than the result of others.

I'd like to see far more emotion (from the players its a given) but also from the gaffer, but then this is hardly a revelation (his comments to the press). It's textbook. Still, words are just words. Actions on the other hand...

We have a chance to stick those white and blue ribbons back on a piece of silver we've not had our hands on for far too long. A cup once synonymous with this club. It's all about glory, right? Nothing in the small print saying that glory can't be packaged up in two parts.

Get it done Spurs. Cup on Saturday. Then Stoke under the lights. Wake up. A good performance is imperative (rather than 'just win any which way') as we have the tools to play well and with flair. We need to apply them to inject that belief back into the side. Momentum. Remember that?

As for a traditional DML battle cry, it would be rude not to, so I'll end on this:




There is no Doomsday. Just All-Stars.

One of my favourite scenes from Superman II is the diner fight. Both of them in fact. A powerless Clark Kent gets bullied and knocked out by a truck driver. Clark means well, but deep down it's all bravado. He knows this but gallantly attempts to blag it. The truck driver humiliates him, leaving Clark bloody and beaten.

It's like the 1990s and early 2000s in constant loop. Spurs turn up, look the part, but everyone can see right through them and can't quite believe they want to go toe to toe and proceed to get brushed aside. The victor arrogantly show-boating whilst Spurs pathetically fail. Teaching someone manners has to be backed up with a good slap. We were limp and no amount of fronting was going work.

Not pleasant viewing. Disillusioned and confused, we were lost whilst those around us grow stronger and more powerful. There was no competition for them and just survival for us. Going through the motions with no apparent evidence that a shift in power would ever occur.

Sure, we had powers in the past. Okay so the metaphor doesn't quite stretch to us giving them up for the love of a woman but we may as well have considering how we turned into a parody of ourselves. An empty shell. I wasn't alone in my Fortress of Solitude either during those dark times. Had one or two fellow Spurs fans sharing the despair, head in hands, shaking despondently at another beating.

So what changed exactly?

The powerful ones got complacent thanks to greed and comfort. We got fed up kneeling down. We switched it. We did it to them. Well, not unequivocally. We still need to crush the hand of Zod and throw him into the depths. Zod being Man Utd in this part of the metaphor...just keep humouring me until the end of the article. Those that want to work with me, you can take Man City to be Lex Luthor and Arsenal can be Non (figure it out).

We're no longer that weak Kent asking the bully to step outside. Rather a supremely confident Kent preferring to tease jokingly about the past then swagger on in. Belief all-consuming.

Come and get it. Oh how we've done just that.

So when Bolton visit us at the Lane, much like so many teams have done in recent times, they will possibly look to trap us in the Phantom Zone. Frustrate, break up play, populate the midfield with physicality to leave us trapped in a perpetual state. One or two might be expecting that slip, that off day, that defeat. Others are preferring to bask in the positives and await a DVD spectacular. Directors cut.

I am neither concerned nor am I giddy. Simply fulfilled.

This Spurs team is not quite at the stage of being able to fly around the earth and turn back time to avoid Louis Lane's death (the 1990s happened, deal with it, history can't be changed). But we can still fly around with our underpants over our trousers with arms upright and clenched fists. I mean literally underpants over trousers. If we keep winning I'm going to have to take 'shrooms just to sober up and attempt to anchor myself to reality.

Reality is also over-rated for some. Many that surround us might wish to believe otherwise but there is nothing to fear. Other than ones self-doubt. So many citations to the past from those desperate to cling to it when in the past we had to endure a desolate future. Times are changing. If you don't care to admit it you're either blind or covering your eyes with your hands. Be blessed if you have x-ray vision.

Reality can also be many more things.

If we lose a game, this team is hardly going to fall apart because of it. In fact the team is more than likely to taste it and accept it as part of the learning curve and move onwards. Backbone is a quality that was mostly missing from those darker times. Defeat, when it hurts, when it should truly hurt, is when it's in isolation rather than being part of consistent inconsistency.

Let's also not forget that loving to win is one thing, learning to hate defeat is another - but equally as important. Whether it's against a trucker or a megalomaniacal Kryptonian.

These days, I quite fancy us against either. Super Spurs. They've been...working out.



Fix up, look sharp 

Okay hands up. Who's bricking it?

It's Bolton. It's at the Lane, it's imperative, must-do, must-not-fail, a do or die game with the pressure completely on us leaving Bolton to play anyway they wish to, party popper hats on head if they want to dress up for the occasion. But fear should not be a factor in all this. It should be embraced and approached with the same type of focused tactical guile we showed against Arsenal but with us forcing the issue, then dictate the tempo and push forwards with some of the style and swagger displayed against Chelsea. No room for under-achievement (as seen at OT).

This, ladies and gentlemen, is business time. Final home game of the season. And it's been a roaring success for Harry Redknapp, with his continued galvanisation of the club. Just three more steps to go before we reach the door (key under the mat) needing a gentle unlock and push to open wide, gatecrashing the party, pissing in the plant pots and proceeding to scare the shit out of the hosts. I'm bored of the timid games of knock-down ginger.

Since the Cup semi-final defeat, I've persistently quoted 'to dare is to do' and it has never been better illustrated and performed than the two London derby games which gave us the 6 points that have kept us in this race, because let's face it, anything less and we'd have been out of it.

Spurs choke? Spurs bottle it? I guess when we are underdogs and not expected to win, we ooze the right balance of spirit and belief to upset the odds. The question marks have always been whether we can do the same when expectations are high. There was hype surrounding our game against United and we came unstuck.

We're expected to win tomorrow. Mancini is at it (kidology) saying how 5th would be fine for his side. And mathematically, even Liverpool could steal into 4th if results go their way. And Villa, out of nowhere, are a serious threat. All eyes on us.

And I guess that's why some of you are also bricking it a little too. Because it's in our hands, which makes it ours to lose. It's only natural to be nervous. Bad enough when it's just a bog standard match, let alone one that involves a priceless set of three points.

Bricking aside, I'm still well up for this. Everyone is. 12th man and all that. The players are equally passionate about what's at stake. You look at them and you believe in them more than at any other stage in recent years. The noise inside WHL has to be epic, regardless of the fact that the Bolton fans will have all travelled down together on a single skateboard.

The City game on Wednesday is massive, right? Wrong. It's not important. I don't care for that game. Only Bolton should be in our mindset. The immediate future is the only priority. The priority being this: Take all three points and be damned with the rest of the world. They all want us to fail, they all expect us to fail. Facebook is relying on the traffic. So buckle up, take your Imodium, and sing until your lungs give out. Get through this one, worry about mid-week during mid-week when priorities have moved on.

Carpe Diem Cras. Thought we could do with a different Latin soundbite to replace the usual dumb down English translation that tends to make an appearance round about now.

So fix up, look sharp. And make 'em dizzy.