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Entries in champions league (101)


Stating the bleeding obvious

Simply this: There is no more 'going for fourth spot'. It's of no relevance any more to target a position in the league that basically amounts to nothing. Sure, any other given season it equates to Champions League (with qualifiers standing in the way) but as witnessed this season that honour is vaporised by UEFA rules deeming its value to be nothing more than a sum of money form the Prem League for finishing in a lofty position. Fourth best club in the land is nothing to scoff at. But this isn't about the semantics of stature and that's what tends to blind us. We're fourth this season because that is what we deserve. It's a positive. But it's one with a devastating caveat. Any club with aspirations can no longer aim for fourth. It must aim higher. It will get congested up there. More so with every passing season, although it's up for debate until the summer is over in terms of which teams have truly strengthened and which teams have simply endeavoured to retain balance once more on the tightrope. As for us, we're going to need padding in our groin area so we're not kicked in the balls again.

RIP fourth, fourth is no more. Third is the new fourth.


Required: One centre-back, a midfield playmaker, a right-winger, two forwards.

This won't end well.



Is this the bit where I'm meant to brick myself?

Here we go then. This might just be fun. Although if Woolwich are dicking WBA early on, attention will soley be on attaining 4th until we switch onto Champions League final night to discover our fate. A variety of permutations, a textbook Tottenham end to the season. Admit it, there is no other way with us. Get ready to have that heart ripped out of your chest once more. With any luck it will be thrown back in and patched up in time for a post-match drink and smile.

I remember 2006 very well. More than I care to. I was in the depths of my depression at the time and football was key to the pretence I kept up when in public, which was basically only to go to football games or work (before I was signed off for my 'sabbatical'). Something I have joked about since concerning that period of time was the fact that when I returned home from Upton Park having witnessed us puke away our chances of a top four place, I proceeded to eat (a pizza) and later that evening experienced one of the worst bouts of food poisoning I've ever had. Knocked me out for a day. Kick a man when he's down.

No pizza for me this weekend and no Lasagne for Spurs in yet another final day of explosive emotives. Bit different this time round. It's not in our hands like it was that fateful day in 2006. Mind the gap? The gap? We fell into it and even though our olde enemy has given us an unexpected lending hand to lift us back up, we've managed to slap it away more times than I care to mention. Yet they have persisted in attempting to drag us back up. No puke, plenty of choke all round. Everyone wants it, no one is taking it.

No matter how the table looks at full time across the country on Sunday, there has hardly been that much in it across the course of the season. Between all the clubs up there, each one has its own set of unique frailties and strong points. Everyone has work to do in the summer. There might have been a points gap but there is hardly one in terms of quality and application. If there is a single point in it at the very end, you'll wonder about all the disallowed goals and the dropped home points and the unexpected away defeats. But don't bother. Won't change a thing. I can only speak for us and it's been discussed a thousand times, but we've been wasteful aided by a numerous amount of reasons ranging from tactical to outside distractions. It's like any season, there will always be regrets. Much like our competitors will argue the very same thing. Some valuable lessons learnt, 2013 is another season.

For now, all I ask for is a strong Spurs performance and three points. If its meant to be it will be. The irony is not lost that it's Martin Jol returning to the Lane. A man in our hearts, a man with Tottenham in his heart. A man that probably wouldn't share a hug with our chairman any time soon. No Dempsey for them. In addition some very pro-Spurs comments pre-match from big Martin. We're also unbeaten at home for an age in London derby games, and so on. I hate all the build up, it screws with the head. I'll probably gorge on re-heated pizza if we managed to lose and Woolwich dropped points to WBA.

Onwards Spurs. I love you so much you crazy cockerel. Echo of glory please.

Christ, what a season it's been. More of the same next year please, just keep the blips to a minimum. Ta.




I've been without the pleasures of the internet since last Friday. I did manage a couple of Tweets over the weekend, but avoided delving into the depths of despair that appear to have destabilised everyone's emotions once more. I guess I can't put this off any longer, so head first in I go...

The Villa Game

Shades of 2006 with a reverse twist and the added spice of Martin Jol once more being involved on a last day heart stopper. You couldn't make it up. Because it's such the bleeding obvious. At the start of the season I'm sure plenty of you cited the fixture list and laughed about the potentiality of us having to beat Fulham to qualify for the Champions League. We shouldn't laugh, we should take it for granted that this beautiful beloved club we support will never do things the easy way. Once more our chest is sliced open and our heart pulled out and kicked around because pain is Tottenham and Tottenham is pain and pain is love masquerading as pain.

First of all the logistics of processing the Villa game. I've already been told had Arsenal beaten Norwich we'd have beaten Villa comfortably and the fact we didn't constitutes a choke. Well, no, it doesn't. Firstly Arsenal have been choking all season. They've been choking for several seasons now. Their choking (this season) simply creates an illusion that we keep losing the initiative or surrendering the chance to recapture it. It's an illusion because no matter the form of Arsenal or anyone else for that matter we will continue to produce erratic displays within the constraints of 90 minutes and across several games that illustrate key missing ingredients to the pot as we stew.

The issues are ones discussed more times than I care to mention. You know them well. Rotation (lack of), tactical ineptitude, squad depth and management of players. When we're good, we are good, when we're not we don't usually have a way of working out how to be good again. It's partly to do with the lack of decisiveness in the manager amongst other long standing transfer market issues. See? More times than I care to mention.

This latest spike in 'form' is thanks to Hodgson and the FA (science of football proclaims this). We're playing like a team again, be it one that is still making for heart out of chest dramatics. I can only be philosophical about the 1-1 draw with Villa. Deflected goal aside and perhaps one or two other moments, the hosts didn't really have any aspirations to win the game. That deflected goal against the run of play was almost a gentle slap in our faces from the footballing Gods.  

'This is what you get if you're going to make hard work of it you lowly mortals you'

Danny Rose getting sent off, yet with ten men, after regrouping, we looked the most likely to win it. But then that's far too obvious a story arc. It doesn't fit into the Tottenham mantra. We have no necessity for the easy way. Not a chance that we would make it comfortable for ourselves. Then again, last time we had it in our hands we puked it out of our mouths all over the Upton Park pitch. The eternal underdogs we shall remain. Always seeking to 'get there'. The chase is better than the catch.

Redknapp dithered with the substitution. Does he go for broke and risk a 2-1 loss? Was a 2-1 loss even conceivable against a Villa side content with surviving the draw? Would Defoe have made a difference? Bill Nicholson would have gone for glory but then Redknapp isn't Nicholson and Nicholson had Jimmy Greaves along with one or two other not so shabby players. But we're hardly weak either in selection. Harry however preferring to  protect what he's got even if what we've got might allow us to take 4th spot and then lose it thanks to the final Chelsea have to play in Munich. No echo of glory here. The Rose red card will be key in how we plan to line-up against Fulham. Does he go with Bale back in the back four? Wing-back system? Is King fit to play allowing Gallas to slot into left-back? Please don't be sticking Luka anywhere near that flank. Can we risk changing the balance of the side now that we are at least picking up points?

To aid with recovering from this (1-1) disappointment its best to not dwell on the game as a singularity. We've had plenty of lost moments that offered consolidation. Many of them are practically repeat showings. A ton of possession, crossing, corners but imbalance with player positioning and offensiveness. Defending set pieces, attacking set pieces. Tweaks in coaching that could have been made prior to the game in preparation or during it failed to materialise. Across the entirety of the season there are a number of disapproving shakes of head and shrugs.

Had we managed a second goal at Villa Park, all of this would probably be of no consequence as we drown ourselves with superlatives about spirit and guile and lose sight of some of the serious deficiencies we have in our set-up. Make no mistake, we have high end calibre and we're easily one of the best sides in the country. But cutting edge and that killer instinct in the dugout still teases us from afar.

Harry Redknapp is a decent 'manager' but you can't win all your games in the hope that your best players in their best positions (or roaming around) will be able to do enough. That's where the most telling guile is missing. If we fail to finish 3rd or 4th it's because we still can't be b*stards when it matters most.

We, the manager and the chairman, have to aspire to always be better to always want for more. If you prefer to take it one game at a time and wish to review it as a singularity then perhaps what we got at Villa is as good as it gets. Twenty or so chances and one goal, from a penalty. You could say we were unlucky or  failed to create our own luck. Doesn't matter, that singularity ceases to be one if it keeps repeating itself.

I don't want the season to end on a soundbite. To dare is to do, daring is achieving...this is not being embraced enough. I'll be shot down by some for the romantic notions and dancing emotively again, but traditions are there for a reason.

I'd rather this club is glorious in defeat rather than whimpering out like a soft sneeze.



Siege mentality and smelling salts

I'm looking forward to writing the season review for 2012. Regardless of the final five games and what they might bring, regardless of whether we secure top four or don't, it won't change the fact that we have some tweaking, rebuilding to do. Redknapp or no Redknapp.

Nothing major in terms of ripping out the foundations and starting afresh. Just key areas of the team need to be looked at (defence, strikers) and decisiveness on potential transfers out. Redknapp has always been short term in application. Something long term is required when the next managerial change occurs. Long term in both the vision for the new coach and player acquisitions. The transition is not going to be one that shakes us and leaves us crying in the corner rocking backwards and forwards. No foaming at mouth. No matter your opinion on Harry Redknapp, he's achieved stability. Compared to the past 10 or so years we've gone from one poor managerial appointment and clean up job to another. Stability equates to competing if the right level of quality is possessed. We've done just that this season. Although we've been let down when it matters most. The foundations are strong. The cracks can be easily repaired. Just hire a new builder. Might take a summer to have everything fixed up in time for the next stormy winter.

Redknapp has got us winning games across seasons consistently, away from home. And aside from a handful of losses, always looking strong at the Lane. Our recent end of season form matches to last season and the issues at hand concern Redknapp's inability to rotate with impact. We've burnt out and the lack of guidance and consistency with formation has compounded matters for the worse. But all this is for the summer. I’ll probably break up the review into about 10/15 different articles. It's been a meaty season, plenty to chew on, plenty to bite at. Some of it, no doubt, will be hard to swallow.

I was told recently that our current form is our actual form, that this is us performing to our expected level. What does that even mean? I asked the same thing to the idiot that goaded me and apparently 'you're only as good as your last game'. In other words the team he supports who have been relatively slack all season and have come into form towards the end of it are showing their real form whereas they were under performing before then. I guess, as opposed to them simply taking advantage of our slackness. Funny how we're not considered to be under performing now, rather over-achieving at the start and playing standard Tottenham football at present. The semantics of football confuse.

What does it matter? It doesn't. But the reality is, we've failed to retain that measured composure across the entirety of the season. Quite ironic that we have suffered for not suffering a blip of form in the early part, but instead have held it back until the very end and half-imploded.

Drama the Spurs way.

I just want to gently remind everyone of our form from that first part of the season. The energetic, confident swagger and swashbuckle Tottenham side that had no fear and fought as a unit. Take that same desire and mix it with the team ethic from 2010 which was battered, written off and bare bones that played out of their skin and arguably punched above their weight (what with the squad depletion) to claim 4th spot. We've seen plenty of 2010 tenacity from this team, but its AWOL currently.

I just want to gently remind everyone that we are still one of the very top sides in the country and regardless of the players we need to sign/replace/sell we're a club that has been on the up for the past four or so seasons. Yes, we are under achieving based on squad comparisons and based on prior form when taking into account everything and everyone. Yes, this learning curve might prove to be costly. Yes, we need to be far more shrewd and tactically astute. Yes, our manager failed to draw a line under the England job. Yes, we are on a downward spiral trying desperately to find a way to claw some momentum back with very few games left to do so.

I just want to gently remind everyone to love the shirt. Supporters and players alike. Especially the players who need to be gently reminded that talking about it is no longer of consequence. Actions speak louder than words. You can't get more clichéd than that. Aside from the usual clichéd Spurs free fall.

5 games. 15 points.

These are the only words of consequence.

Stop being apologetic. Stop bemoaning. Stop worrying. Start believing. One last time, one last chance. This season, when done and dusted will be gone forever. Manager, players…you wont have another chance to relive these moments so how about you get a grip of yourselves and attempt to reclaim some of that lost pride you have so easily surrendered recently? You are not your wage packet. You are not a transfer request. You are not your agent. You are me. You should be me. Living and breathing Lilywhite. You are the thousands at the Lane. The thousands all around the world. You are the history and you are the traditions. If you can't get yourselves up for this then leave, there's no point in you wearing that Lilywhite shirt. My shirt. Our shirt.

Wake up before the slumber turns into a coma. Turn that faint whisper back into a noisy song.

What have you got to lose? Everything. Because everything is glory.



Echoing what you know already

It's times like this I was wish I was single because I can't see how I could explain hookers and coke away to the missus. THE DREAM IS OVER. MID-TABLE, PLEASE RETURN TO MY BOSOM cries out the voice in my head as it attempts to scratch its way out to escape from inside my skull.

Lacklustre, complacent, distracted and disjointed. No desire and no apparent attempt to grip the game by its neck and tighten our hands around it slapping it down and forcing it to abide by our rules. If we fail to turn up at Wembley next week I'm going to laugh. Proper laugh out loud with tears. Never ending tears. Of blood.

Credit to Norwich but this was gift wrapped for them. The ref did his best to aid us (two penalty appeals ignored for the visitors) but only time travel and a chalkboard for reference would have saved the day. Early season Spurs wherefore art thou Spurs? An Italian might have the answer to that particular conundrum along with an English man who failed to draw a definitive line under it.

Where (also) has the determined focus, drive and astuteness of the Swansea home game gone? Just when we thought our belief and swagger had returned, it's deserted us again. Just when our manager showed a glimpse of tactics and strategy it wasn't anywhere to be seen on Monday. Selecting eleven players and hoping they just happen to play well isn't good enough. From the boredom at the Stadium of Light to the White broken hearts of the Lane.

Momentum and mojo replaced with morbid misery. We had players for width and yet had no width. We had players of quality with no heart. We had very little of anything that deserved the three points so I really can't argue against it. Saha and Defoe don't work and yet there it was, both of them leading a 4-4-2 formation. Players rested but with Chelsea evident in the forefront of the manager and players.

Still, 442 or not, substitutions made or otherwise, we should be doing more than competing against the likes of Norwich. We should be beating them. We're now the team with the fragile inconsistent mindset. A shadow of what came before.

There is something far more fundamentally at fault here than the inability for professional players at the top end of one of the best leagues in Europe (supposedly) to fail to battle on two fronts. Psychologically we've displayed so much growth and maturity in the past with backbone and fortitude but we are still some what soft when it matters most. There's a failure of control. By manager and players. Both are accountable.

Here's some depressing stats copy and pasted off Twitter:

- Spurs form in last two years since January under Redknapp: Played 34, Won 12, Drawn 13, Lost 9, For 46, Against 40. Just 35% win percentage.

- Spurs before 8th February, the day Capello was sacked: 23 games, 50 points. Over 2 points per game. After: 9 games, 9 points. Two wins, three draws, four defeats. Relegation form.

- 24 - Spurs have gained just 6 points out of a possible 24 in their last 8 Premier League games. Dismal.

No point suggesting X manager at the helm would have had us sitting in 2nd spot. We haven't got X manager. We've got what we've got and until the season ends that isn't going to change. So what now? Don't know about you but I'll do the only thing I can do, the only thing within my power to do. Support. My hands are tied with the rest of it. If the players don't understand the importance of winning all the remaining games, if they don't grasp that reality like I do then there's very little I can do to motivate other than hope. The hard way is the Spurs way is the only way.

So wake the **** up and man up please Tottenham. You're better than this. So much better.



I got Mila Kunis, but she's wearing a paper bag on her head

Chelsea 0 Spurs 0


From the match preview:

On our current form:

It's like a really crappy ground-hog day where you get stuck in the lift alone for hours on end with no means of escape rather than being stuck in the lift for hours on end with a flirty Mila Kunis.

What we seek:

The one repeated necessity that I've cited on a number of occasions during this spell of misery is that we need to somehow rediscover our fluency, our mojo. Be it from individualistic magic or a collective tenacity to dig out the result. Or alternatively, luck. Just a lucky break. Anything. It's not happened in the two games where we expected it to happen.


Sort of on the right track? Not exactly flirty seductive Mila Kunis. More Mila Kunis with a paper bag over her head. She's there, you know she's there you can see her and she can still do the type of things Mila can do but, well, the paper bag is getting in the way, masking her beauty. There needs to be more bite. Imagine seeing her bite her lips. Bite Mila, bite! If anything just bite your way through the paper bag. In conclusion, the paper bag needs to go.

We haven't quite recaptured our mojo but there was fluency, structure and some restored pride which are all welcomed returning ingredients that have ever so subtlety spiced up Spurs again. I'm pretty sure I also caught a glimpse of ye olde leadership.

A first half of containment and patience, although from a personal standpoint it felt a little risky even if Chelsea had no clear cut chances. There was still an element of uncertainty at the back for us. Going forward, we played to the smart counter but with no hefty impact. Until that is we were all  left staggered on the brink of half time wondering how we failed to score and go in at the break a goal up.

A full pelt uber-confident Spurs side would have pulled this Chelsea side apart but then that particular Spurs side is MIA. The current one dug deep and in the second half we added that extra bit of zest and urgency to our play. We had more possession and crafted more chances on goal. We even had a couple of half decent set-pieces. Towards the end of the game we not only looked more likely to score, we looked certain. That lucky break still deserting us for the moment meant it finished goalless.

I'm happy. I'm content with it. First half I was concerned about the ominous nature of the game, heavily congested midfield with not much down either flank. It was ugly, stuttery summed up with Redknapp barking orders to Sandro to sit rather than chase. Our set-up there to frustrate and stop Chelsea from functioning, so sure  the game was unspectacular for the most part but who cares about Sky Sports and the neutral viewer? Credit to Harry because in the second half the tempo was far better and also aided by the way the game slowly started to open up, which was an expected eventually after such a non-eventful start.

The manner in which our players grew with confidence was more than evident in the way we kept pushing forward. Adebayor worked hard, holding up the ball, doing everything a team player does and proving that he is of the ilk of forward that works in this system and works in a team that includes so many attack-minded players. Shame he scuffs his shots more often than not. When he rounded Cech, that should have been the 1-0. Second time I celebrated prematurely in the game (the first being when van der Vaart struck it with his opposite good peg in the first half). Story of our day along with the header from Bale striking the woodwork and the Gallas header from a decent set-piece (I didn't make that last bit up - a decent set-piece). Bale even had the audacity to get a dead ball kick on target, forcing a save.

Talking of Bale, this kid has not turned into a massive egotistical nutjob that thinks he's 'made it' and swans around disinterested and not bothering to do anything other than take on the world on his own. Thanks to our lack of depth on the flanks we can hardly rest him or attempt to rejuvenate which means he continues to play and perform on a half empty (not half full) tank. Probably not 100% physically either. When confident, you tend to be far more instinctive. He appears to not only spend too much time over-thinking but he's also making the mistake of over-compensating by doing too much when the simple ball is sometimes the best option. Get behind him, support him because he's not going to get dropped any time soon.

Having said all that, even a 60% Bale can be influential, and he was. Along with Modric who got better and more effective as the game got on. Gallas also a highlight (although one or two moments reminded me of the requirement to bolster the centre-pairing options for next season).

One step at a time and this is as good as any foundation to build on. Even if 0-0 doesn't look it and even though we shouldn't quite celebrate our full return to form just yet (remember, paper bag needs removing). Chelsea lucky on the day relying more on half-arsed penalty claims than anything else although Brad was beaten for the Mata free-kick (was that us getting lucky?).

There's life left in us for sure. But the games are now fast running out. We'd have taken fourth place at the start of the season. That is looking good what with further complacency unlikely after our three successive defeats/blip. No more margin for error. Been there done that, we now have to make sure we start winning at home (win all home games) and work as hard as we did today away. Third should still remain the target.

We're beginning to wake up from our slumber just in time for the up and coming frolics and twisty banter that will no doubt consume us up until May.



What we all really want on deadline transfer day...

While the insanity and arguments continue over the transfer window and the targets we are linked with along with its imminent closure, there is far more pressing matters to be had. Matters that concern three points from a convincing home performance which then kick-starts momentum after two disappointing results. Wigan, at the Lane, under the floodlights, in the freezing cold. Thirteen points clear off 5th spot by this late evening if all goes according to plan. The plan being simply this: turn up, turn it on.

Wigan are woeful, generally, more so on their travels. I have no desire to entertain a 'plucky park of the bus' away performance, frustrating the home side. We expected (hoped) that the Wolves game would be one of much glory and panache and instead got shocked with the single point shared at the final whistle. We then almost won, could have drawn but managed to lose the game at the Eastlands. Irony time: Wigan one of only two teams to have won at WHL in the past two seasons. Ooh.

A draw and a loss - this is the new age crisis at the Lane. We need redemption, we need to be professional and ruthless. This is the type of football match where I would instruct the players to kill off the opposition in the opening 30 minutes and then contain them with comfort and counter to build on the lead admirable into the second half.

Lessons learnt; we still need the players to look back and remember what Wolves achieved against us. We need to appreciate and respect this league is not always black and white and the shades of grey can leave many confused and irritable. We have to work hard and retain focus. In doing so we might then take it by the scruff of the neck and dominate, and thus not allow Wigan to get any sort of anchor in the game. When all said and done...

Tonk 'em, Tottenham.

No offence to the visitors but the forty or so fans who make the journey down won't complain too much if they watch another dvdesque destruction. Well, they would, but at least they can claim to have witnessed it.

Defoe and Lennon are doubtful. No Aaron probably a touch more influentially on how we line-up, but at least with Bale we'll have some width if he's instructed to retain some level of consistency down the flank and not spend too much time through the middle. At home, against such opposition, it's good to stretch them a little. Which I'm sure we'll do (because if we don't then there's something very wrong). Keep it structured, simple. No need for anything too fancy. Plenty of necessity however for tempo and movement. This isn't so much a tricky game in that I believe Wigan can beat us. I am however cautious that any game can have the potential to upset, and in this game we can beat ourselves which might allow the opposition to beat us.

I might wish for it to be over in 30 minutes, but if we have to be patient then the onus will be on us to display some level of intelligence to carve them open and create match-winning opportunities (I prefer not to dwell too much on players dwelling too much in front of goal. The less said about offsides the better).

I know the trend is for the opposing team to defend deep, all men behind the ball and play with physicality. I'm also aware of the question marks being raised that we don't always have the (aforementioned) intelligence to break well-drilled sides down. Our home record would suggest otherwise. We can and have done so in the past. On occasions, we fail but that sometimes has a lot to do with the way the opposing side played (credit is never given as we prefer to blame within and it's worth remembering similar games where we have lucked out and scored a winner when it looked unlikely). Wigan try to play football but it would be naive of them to attempt to do so this evening. Even so, I don't think they're quite as savvy as Wolves if they attempt the opposite. I reckon they'll end up parking the bus but leave the keys in the ignition.

We owe them after the 1-0 of last season, the most ironic of results that followed the 9-1 from the season before. They owed us but it's now our turn for revenge. It's football, we take turns, it's how the Gods like it. Won't have to worry about next season as they'll probably get relegated in this one.

Adebayor needs to score a couple as well. No pressure then Spurs. Christ, I can feel it, this is going to end up being an untidy game that we just about manage to score the winner late on *shudder*...

Three points please. Possibly more important than any signing we make in this window.


Daring is achieving. Love the shirt.



That's football

Sometimes you can feel more alive and inspired when the overriding emotion is one of dejection and disappointment. Football is dramatic, ironic and cruel at the best of times. It’s operatic with its twisting arcs. Colourful with its characters. Devastating at the finale. Yet somewhere in amongst the pain and anguish that you feel when the whistle is blown and the defeat sinks in, you can appreciate the intent and desire that played out during the game. It’s bitter-sweet, but it’s not misguided and neither is it a deflection to ease one’s self through the stages of grief.

We lost a game of football. A game we could have won 3-2, which we lost 3-2. But we could have genuinely won 3-2. The margin for error is so small, one half step too late or to early you don’t quite make it. On this given Sunday, we did not make it. We lost a game of football against the side that's most likely going to win the title.

Such defeats are always the worst kind to accept, especially when the difference in both sides was negligible. They were missing two key players, arguably the same can be said for us. There’s plenty of debate to be had concerning Lescott and Balotelli. Discussions on our defending, hindsight withstanding. For me, it was always going to be about the belief that has seen us generate so much solid consistent momentum going into this game. There is never shame in defeat if you match your opponent. Let's remember the tag this match had before kick-off and the fact our name was attached to it.

This is a Tottenham side contending. A Spurs side that doesn't lose often. Building from one game to the next. The title is beyond us now, probably always was. But the margin remains small. City have quality in strength of depth. That's their edge, much like Manchester United's is one of experience and seasoned tenacity. We still have to mature a little with what we have. And yet, if that half step wasn’t late we might be celebrating instead of commiserating. We’re simply reminded that we still have work to do.

I feel alive and inspired because we came back from 2-0 down and we displayed to all that witnessed that we are no longer this delinquent teenage punk giving it all mouth then apologising for the noise. We’re tooled up these days. We can take a punch and we can dish one out. We have the mental strength. The Bale goal, beautiful in every conceivable way when wishing to describe a goal scored by Spurs. That spirit, makes me embrace the positive emotion from the dejection and disappointment. City might have let us back in the game but you still have to turn up when invited.

If Bale had crossed early...
If Defoe had moved to attack the ball a second earlier...
If <insert City player> had been sent off...
Had we not given away three goals...

Games are full of incidents, perhaps not always as controversial or heart-stopping. The incident with Parker, regretful. Regretful that Mr Webb didn’t witness it. Balotelli knew what he was doing. Did not look like an act of retaining balance. The FA agree. Inconsistency though with the Lescott elbow being ignored, on and off the pitch. As bad as the Mario kick. In a perverse way its good that our two (recent) defeats (this one and the Stoke game) have question marks littered over them. But no point in claiming victimisation. It's just a harsh lesson that you can’t rely on anyone other than those in Lilywhite.

We were top drawer at times against the top team in the country. You don’t get any points for that, but I trust the players to take similar inspiration from the performance as I have. Confidence to fight back in-game has yet to translate to confidence to dominate this type of encounter from the kick-off. To believe that attack is the key to winning and taking three points rather than containment to guarantee a single one. Okay, so there were naive mistakes made but then I've not quite understood the necessity to slate certain players (i.e. Walker) who still have much to learn. It can cost us, but then when someone as great as Ledley King is prone to error it adds perspective to the occasion. But then you can sit and debate the mechanics of destiny that led up to the games defining moment until you've gone mad. Had the ball not been cleared in the manner it had. Very easy to point out the obvious after the fact to lay blame on the outcome.

It's also worth detaching yourself from a single game in isolation or only citing a series of performances that might add weight to your argument and thus ignoring the bigger picture. Would Ronaldo be the player he is today if he was simply left to play out wide? Gareth Bale was once a left-back. To free-roam, to play as an inside-forward...this is essential to his development. Coaching and tactical instructions equally imperative to aid his movement and effectiveness across the season and in single games when perhaps more discipline is required. We need to be shrewd in making sure the development retains cohesiveness and is not detrimental to the sides balance. The boy is a beast. But he's still a boy. Thought he was superb in the second half.

The secret to success is to hate defeat, to despise it. But also to respect the fact that it happens. No doubt the players feel devastated but this should only add fuel to push forward, harder. Thankfully for us it only seems like we’ve lost twice this season (rather than four times) because of the lack of a cohesive middle in the opening two fixtures I find myself detaching myself from those two games. Still, four defeats, 3rd, a ten point gap between us and 5th spot. That is hardly discouraging.

We can’t afford to lose focus. This unit of players are deserving to themselves and the shirt to truly aspire, to dare to achieve. I hold onto the positives because it’s easier to support and love your club if you accept the truth and embrace it. And the truth is? We’re not quite good enough. Not yet. But we are still a very good side. The best I've seen for decades. We have to continue to grow and adapt and display the team spirit we've shown in abundance this season.

When you remind  yourself of that margin, this article might have been altogether a different read. Maybe next time the belief will be evident at the first whistle and cemented at the last. Another complete forward will do the trick so we can then always retain Plan A.

Football is dramatic, ironic and cruel. In nine minutes and six seconds we were left dizzy. At the death, left numb.

Still marching.



A day to forget, yet worth remembering

I've re-posted the match review of the 1-5 home defeat against City (it's a little further down). I think I knee-jerked a little in places (that's the magic of hindsight) but more of a controlled knee-jerk than all-out effigy burning voodoo doll pinning.

A day to forget, yet in many ways the catalyst for the run that now finds us sitting pretty in 3rd and aspiring for more. We made the necessary additions prior to the transfer window closing which birthed a solid fluent midfield that has been a roaring engine ever since. Perhaps in need of an oil change, but it's incredible how finely tuned you can become when slotting in the right ilk of player(s) into the side (and sometimes struggle when said players are missing).

We still need to consolidate for the remaining games ahead. It's not just about the next game. Momentum is paramount which means its the performance that matters more so than the result (although the latter is still key to truly making a statement of intent).

City are however a far stronger unit of players with extraordinary wealth of depth (ignore Mancini and his complaints). No shame in defeat as long as we're not bending over after handing them the lube. But the very thought of defeat, I'd rather not entertain. Like I said, we have a right to expect something out of the game. I'm sure our players will believe that to be the case too. Especially because of the spanking dished out to us at the Lane.

It's a Galáctico type of game (not in any way as supernova as any given El Clasico). But when comparing both sides, like for like...there's some tasty match-ups and plenty of match-winning talent and show-piece skill on display. And although they excel in certain areas (more so than us) we can arguably go toe-to-toe with them. Up front, they'll have an obvious advantage. But they're missing key players in key areas (Toure and Kompany). I'm hoping we play it on the ground (no requirement for the hoof), push patiently forwards and look to get the ball out to Bale and Lennon with Modric involved as much as possible in the centre. It's going to be bruising in there, shame there's no Sando. Have to hope Parker re-discovers his tempo. I'd rather not think too much about Dawson facing Dzeko and Aguero.

Luka v David in the battle of the influential.

If King plays, we win.

van der Vaart's form and subsequent (hopeful) impact in this game is also imperative - what with us starting Defoe up top, Rafa will have to make sure he moves into forward positions rather than get lost in deeper ones. We have to find ways to pressure Savic.

We have to adapt (no Adebayor) and continue to make do without other key players (although King might yet be the surprise inclusion).

Is this make or break? Of course not. Mainly because I'm not sure what this is meant to make or break. Other than perhaps the morning after headlines. February in it's entirety will make or break. Let's not lose sight of the marathon.

Few are expecting an upset (City's home record testament to that - ten out of ten). So we've got nothing to lose. I mean that. Go for the glory. It's the Tottenham way. Although that might involve plenty of pragmatism, with midfield possession and counter-attacks rather than romantic notions of gallivanting and swashbuckle. Worth noting that in the last two games up there, its been intense and tightly fought. It won't be easy for us. Equally so, for them.

For now, sink your head into your hands and sigh ever so gently if you so wish to remind yourself of the debacle of the 1-5. On (super) Sunday however, hold your head up high and believe. We are Tottenham.

I'm buzzing off the hype. Feet still on ground. I'll only levitate if applicable at the final whistle.



Spurs 1 City 5

Okay, so some perspective. We lined up with no defensive midfielders and started with Peter Crouch upfront and then found ourselves out numbered in the middle and final third quicker than you can say 'tactics'. Once again, there was an element of the disjointed and perhaps even a touch of the stubborn (what with Crouch supposedly on his way to Stoke City yet in the starting line-up - perhaps a message from gaffer to chairman forming yet another twist in their alleged damaged relationship).

Placing aside in-house disagreements, we lined up not only with a team not shaped to contain City but a team that lacked the belief they could do that and anything more. But that's not to say it was a chaotic calamity filled 90 minutes of football. At 2-0, it flattered City some what. After that, they deserved to ruin our afternoon at will and with ease. We let them with no reply of our own. Once more, apologetic.

There is no excuse for losing 5-1 at home. But it was the most passive 5-1 defeat you're likely to witness. City simply picked us off with clinical football. Confident in themselves, each other and their formation and confident in front of goal. Even though they were not completely fluid (expected considering their new players - makes it even more bitter a pill to swallow for us).

They were enjoying their day and their football. How ironic considering at the start of last season it was them containing us whilst we swashbuckled down the flanks and through the middle, with only Hart stopping us from running away with it.

City have grown with the aid of several million pounds and no wage cap. We've stagnated if you take a look at the back end of last season and how we stopped performing. But preparation for this one has hardly been great considering we appear reluctant to compete at the top end of the transfer market. Perhaps because fiscally, we can't. Ambitious targets beyond our reach. Still, you would have hoped for decisive action by chairman and manager. Instead we have suggestions they don't quite see eye to eye and once more, transfers will need to take place in the final couple of days or so.

The visitors have found their groove. We've lost ours.

Again, injuries don't help but if we look weak in key areas pre-match then you'd want admittance from Redknapp that perhaps we need to be shrewd, cunning in our formation and our strategy. Not the Tottenham way. Not what I previewed yesterday. But it looked to me like the manager believed we could perhaps play them and match them pound for pound when the reality was they were far too polished whilst we simply did not work as a unit and had various degradations of form from individuals.

Modric played. But his productivity hardly outstanding because the players around him were distinctively average. But he played okay. Not sure why he was subbed. Didn't make a difference either way in the end. Player not looking at the manager or applauding the fans when walking off the field of play. Disgruntled.

The goals (most of them) we conceded were not defended well at all. Embarrassing stuff, lack of any apparent focus. We had chances, but how many times do we have to sigh in despondence when said chances are not taken? It was City playing with intent and us presenting them with the red carpet. Never red, indeed. Red with anger today.

Nasri, Aguero and Silva. Stick them in our team then watch how different the result would have been. Hard knock life. We still have quality in abundance. We need to shake off the rust from last season's disappointing finish and reclaim that grit and spine we had so famously in 2010. Think back, we had injuries then too. Perhaps not so many issues with central midfield as we do now.

We've played two games and lost two. Arguably against the two strongest sides in the country. Our problems have been illustrated in quite a humiliating manner with regards to the scoreline for all to analyse and discuss. It's obvious what we need in terms of signings. We've got us a striker. We need DM cover. We could do with a centre-back. We could still do with a right-sided forward to compete with Lennon and give us options when playing two up front.

Adebayor will bring us that much needed cutting edge. Rafa will have a far better forward to play off if Harry continues with the current formation. Only takes one moment, once slice of luck or inspiration to completely change the course of season and set us on our way.

Crisis? The fact we are even discussing avoidance of a 'crisis' after two games...well, its over the top. It hurts, but we might have to admit that the likes of Utd and City are in a far more comfortable place than us. We've lost direction, perhaps because of the Modric saga and the in-house disagreements (assumptions). We have to show unity once more.

More importantly, we need the players and the manager to get a grip and to remind themselves they are capable of much much more. We got it very wrong today and were duly and deservedly spanked for it. If Harry is keen on self-preservation of his brand name, then he has work to do. Levy has to support him in doing so. And Harry has to respect the chairman at all times.

Losing to a good team is one thing. Losing to a good team and making them look great is another. Losing badly to a good team that don't even manage to shift into a more aggressive gear is simply shambolic.

Not a good day at all. But with both Manc games out of our system, we can just look forward now. Redknapp, the players - they have a lot to answer for and a lot to give back to the club in the next couple of games to avoid any dramatic twists that might well cause us to unravel further and crisis isn't the only 'c' word quoted by the fans.

This Modric stuff is beyond ridiculous now and Redknapp constantly citing him as the root of all evil when in the past he's actually called him a model professional is almost touching comedy, the ilk that few will laugh at.

Onwards with pride Tottenham. I want to hear the cockerel crow.

We'll improve. I still believe we'll compete for the top four. Arsenal are having their own problems and Liverpool still have to prove their longevity and how they react to loss of form.

Not defending our teams performance today (it was poor), just trying to anchor myself to something to avoid drowning in depression.

We've come a long way baby.


Love the shirt.



Spurs 1 Chelsea 1

I’m disappointed. Mainly because I know we are potentially better than Chelsea, at this moment in time. But potentially means very little in real terms especially if the application falls short when it matters.

Okay so we’ve got players missing and we have to adjust our shape and selection accordingly. We’ve been here before. If anything it simply illustrates the necessity to strengthen the side in January. Start of the month rather in the final hour before the window closes. Unless we reschedule all our home fixtures into that hour, we could well see an opportunity wasted to consolidate our position in the top four three. Business has to be concluded early so that we can work through early 2012 without too many dropped points. Otherwise its plan b - digging deep and attempting to wing it (literally).

But the window opening is altogether a different headache and I have to stop referencing it when its not yet relevant.

So when I say potentially I’m referring to how we’ve played this season with out and out wingers swapping sides. But we only had the one and can only speculate and theorise. We struggled, they held the initiaive for most of the game. But still, there is something endearing about an opposition that has so often taunted us on the pitch and in the stands, to come away from White Hart Lane feeling proud of their performance. They looked content, more than content because they thought they could have won the game. As the away side, they had us on the ropes once or twice in the second half. They contained us.

Disappointed I might be, but there was a moral victory in there once more for Spurs. Because we competed. Because we’re competing. Even if it looks like a Manchester title, we're contenders by virtue of being 3rd at Christmas.

It’s all very nice but we need to carve out that opportunity to still somehow win this type of game (even with the standard of performance) and remove ourselves ever so slightly from the subtle patronising of being this plucky new kid on the block trying to impress the older ones.

We should have really dicked Chelsea. We didn’t. We didn’t because, well, I’m uncertain why exactly. In terms of tempo and belief, we did little wrong in the opening twenty minutes. The first genuine rampage forward from Gareth Bale led to a cross and a goal, Adebayor beating Terry to the ball and then beating an uncertain Cech. The goal we conceded was a catalyst. Before that happened, we looked up for it. Focused and with fortitude. Handball aside (in the build up to the equaliser) both BAE and King need to be accountable for failing to pick up Sturridge. Is that a hole in your pocket Ledley? Benny was setting precedence for the rest of the game, out of position, slack and slow. He would add poor distribution to his forgettable evening.

Before it was 1-1, it did look very promising. The movement. The strength and industry of Sandro and Parker. Still, gradually, signs of an ominous type made fleeting appearances. A reminder that this was still Chelsea. A quality opposition with vastly experienced players. Before we gifted them the goal, they did their part to elevate tension just a notch. After the 1-1 we got a tactical schooling. Not quite a spanking, but you have to admit their presence in midfield nullified any creative spark from men in white.

van der Vaart was out there. Somewhere. I’m sure of it. Chelsea patiently retained possession and any attempt to reclaim some of that zesty Spurs football was, was out of our reach. Still, they weren’t dominant. Stats might paint a picture of assault, but most of their chances at goal were missed punches rather than body blows. We were still in it. Felt like the game was untidy. They were not imperious like the previous Chelsea sides we’ve faced. Effective, not so wasteful in possession and a threat from set-pieces. We looked loop-side and lacked cultured intent and at times far too eager.

The lack of confidence, not because of weak mental strength but more to do with the fact that we are so finely tuned to play a certain style that perhaps the reality is that against the very best teams in the Prem, we can't get always get away with some of our adaptive make-overs.

At half-time I knew this game would finish 2-1. To someone. I was wrong, but the way the second half played was most definitely a game where they could have won it and we could have nicked it.

Rafa didn’t appear for the second half. Injury. Which might explain (excuse) his ghost appearance in the first forty five. Harry changed things. He’s got it right recently when he’s had to make tactical swaps. This time, it didn’t quite work. 442 works although I prefer 4411. You just can’t play the latter if Rafa is off the pitch and if you’re replacing him with a certain Russian forward you’ve got more chance of finding a unicorns ball sack in heap of rocking horse ****. Roman does not do much on the field of play so there is zero chance of him working with effect in the space between midfield and attack. Neither forward dropped deep. There was no significant link up play to aid that much needed fluidity.

Still, we battled on. It remained dis-jointed. Luka drifting in from the right. Parker was less influential as per usual. Has his performance level dropped recently? Probably. Expected considering the run in the team he’s had and the results we’ve produced in that time. Sandro at least has given us hefty reassurance that if needed, we can rest Scott. The Brazilian was on fine form. Rough round the edges, but the type of rough you find acceptable. Like beard growth that itches every now and again in discomfort but you keep it because it makes you look good. You know soon enough it will grow nice and thick giving you full facial protection. Whatever we do, let’s please not shave it off.

Chelsea continued with their attempted body blows which at this point would have been knock-out punches. They had the opportunities, Tottenham’s chin presenting itself on more than one occasion. King at the back didn’t (on this evening) equate to the best defending as a unit. Although Ledley did make up for his earlier lapse with smart interceptions and tackles.

With the Christmas fixtures ahead of us and Rafa now joining Lennon on the sidelines, we could make matters worse if Luka retains his drifting in from the flank position. Having been second best for periods of the second half (well, most of it) we could have won the game with some golden moments as we edged towards the final whistle. Three great chances. Wasn’t to be. Chelsea I’m sure will think the same with their efforts. Gallas should have. Sandro was deserving. Adebayor might have lifted the ball higher at pace towards goal (easy for me to say it sitting here typing it).

We didn’t play too well. Shadow of the side we have been this season. But let’s not get too carried away with the negatives. Our opponents were hardly going to roll over for us. So the disappointment of failing to perform to the standard we could have might get bogged down with ‘tiredness’ and ‘injuries’ and ‘lack of genuine key play positional depth’. But as I've citied, its a good (strange) feeling to feel p*ssed off about drawing at home to Chelsea. But that doesn't excuse it, at least that's how the players mindset should be.

As long as the players believe this was a missed opportunity then that’s a good thing. I don’t buy into any of the rhetoric that the likes of Chelsea and others have come through their difficult period. They might have, but that doesn’t mean we can’t improve on ours. We’ve failed to win two on the trot. Crisis time. The making of any team is one that grafts their way through a period where obstacles are aplenty. Our ones are self-contained and require us to find that next level. We've not been in such a position before, so there's that to consider too.

How much as the Tottenham supporting psyche changed to feel disappointed? Still, it's just one game. It’s done, we need to move on. Let them celebrate the point whilst we look to make amends for dropping two.


Want it

Writing a match preview can be a tricky most of the time because you simply look to share an opinion on team selection and tactics and then dress it all up with statistics about recent form in the league and history against the opposition then wrap it up with a concluding expectancy of how the game will (hopefully) pan out. I prefer to delve into the analysis mostly in the match review post-result and stick to a battle cry in the lead up to it. Today is no different.

We are currently uncertain of the staring first eleven that will take to the pitch against Chelsea.

No Lennon, Defoe, King, Bale, Adebayor = bare bones, backs to wall, mission improbable. Any team would struggle if you remove that many key players.

Lennon is a non-starter for certain. Defoe, rumoured to be missing too. Then we have the usual kidology and ambiguity concerning King, Bale and Adebayor. We all know it takes several days for Ledley’s knee to return to normal (as normal gets) but can’t imagine us playing him against Sunderland and thus risking him for tonight’s game. Adebayor will also play. Mainly because I refuse to believe the footballing Gods would be so cruel as to unbalance what should be a good solid tight game by depleting us and handing over advantage before the whistle is blown. As for Bale. It’s just a hunch, but I think he’ll start too.

If I’m wrong on Gareth, then the second half against Sunderland is the reminder we need to look back on as to avoid playing so narrow and allow both Luka and Rafa to drift into central positions to be effective. We need to be astute tactically with covering space left open by such marauding and push from full backs to wings. Goes without say that the industry we have to display in the middle of the park, in the war zone, has to be relentless. Parker hasn’t been completely on top form recently but then his level of performance was bound to dip ever so slightly. Sandro might have a role to play.

I wouldn’t scoff at a more traditional 442, knowing full well that this will mean van der Vaart playing alongside Adebayor which means he’ll play behind him, which then means he’ll drop deep and wander meaning it will turn back to a 4411. Discipline is what will take precedence, or at least it’s what should take precedence. Discipline and focus. We need to get at them and retain concentration at the back (Sturridge for me is key to them having any success in advanced positions).

Fact is simply this. We can’t play our trademark game if we don’t have the pace down the flanks. So we have to adapt and do so with minimal sacrifice in terms of style and more importantly ambition. We have to look to win this game. Go for their jugular.

It’s vital we get it right through the middle and overlap to mix it up a little. Width is how we damage, how we counter. If Bale plays, we retain some of that style. If he doesn’t, we have to up the work ethic and aim for fluidity as a unit (players playing for each other).

Chelsea, unbelievably, are probably the ones tagged with the underdog label. Plucky and resourceful, they’ve pulled a few results out of the bag when one or two were expecting more implosions. They still slip up (as seen at Wigan). But they have more than enough quality to hurt anyone. This being the game that it is – a derby and one that comes with a possible festive divide within the top four, there is no way of ignoring that it’s going to be defined with more than just team selection and formations.

This game is worth several points in the mental strength stakes. The three points are what matter but equally so does the statement made when acquiring them.

All eyes on Terry (if he starts). He doesn't mind this ilk of game, he tends to thrive on it such is his self-importance and arrogance. All eyes on Luka too. A chance to dictate tempo and control the game, a gentle nod towards the opposition. You can look but you can't touch. I'll only consider the irony of a Spurs win post-game and what opinion his agent might have of it.

Our record against them lot at the Lane remains impressive in recent years. Our home support is more than capable of being the 12th man (as long as Howard Webb doesn’t take that mantle at any given moment in the game).

That buzz you’re feeling, tingling in your bones. It’s the type of buzz I want to be feeling week in week out from now until the end of the season. Points ratio suggests we’ll be in amongst it and if we keep up our strong home record then we’re going to be anchored to the very top tier. This game gives us another opportunity to show that there’s more than one way to skin a cat. Upright blue ones included.

Guile, tenacity and decisive quality please Tottenham. This won’t be easy. Sing your hearts out. As ever, aim high.

Love the shirt.


Spurs don't need to wing it to win it through the middle

Spurs 1 Sunderland 0

It was hardly a quintessential new look Spurs home performance. A distinct lack of shape with that controlled cohesiveness in the middle of the park and that pulsating pace down the flanks MIA. We suffered a little watching the game unfold like a scrunched up piece of paper with a game plan scribbled across it. Except, well, it doesn’t unfold too well. You can sort of make out what the point being made is but its mostly indistinguishable. Thankfully, a second copy was printed out in time for the second half on glossy colour paper.

So what was this game in terms of form and formation?

The first half was untidy. Bale unavailable due to an injury he sustained in training. Lennon leaving the field of play with an injury that might keep him out a while. King (25 pts from 27 pts) was fit and started. Players playing out of position meant Luka and Rafa struggled to find  tempo. It looked ominous. It smelt ominous. You sort of watched and scratched your head and pondered that this might be one of those days where the team fail to adjust accordingly and can’t quite dig deep enough.

You. Not I. Well perhaps I’m not in a minority with this but I hardly knee-jerked to the tune of ‘we’ve got our Tottenham back, you know the one, the rubbish one’. The word patience bounced around my head, even with Roman on the pitch.

This season, placing aside the entertaining uber-confident football we know we’re capable of when at full strength, we’ve managed to almost contain ourselves from an anti-climatic scenario. Never quite peaking, always looking to aspire for more and when it doesn’t quite go according to plan...we grind it out. Multi-facet Tottenham. We can win any which way we wish. We battle through at times and even when we impress there is always room for improvements. That’s a fairly healthy position to be in.

The untidiness saw plenty of misplaced passing, average to poor ball distribution and not so positive positioning. No attacking outlet with the missing wingers/insider forwards which let’s face it, is Plan A (attack, counter-attack with pace). Plan B is sort of, well, what is it exactly? It’s not what we witnessed in the first forty-five minutes.

The despondency some felt is natural. When you become accustomed to something that plays out at a high level of expectancy, if it drops, when it drops – everything gets the microscopic treatment, with critics at the game or on the sofa moaning and head shaking. We’ve been spoilt, of course we have. You can’t party every weekend. And the come down is never going to be pleasant. Days like this are equally just as important as the ones where the swagger has us dancing with joy.

The  winning mentality is built on persevering and pulling together. Okay, so it was only Sunderland and perhaps (again) it proves we need perhaps extra quality in the squad to compensate for long term injuries if they happen. But it turned out nice again, didn’t it?

We were the better side at the break but still the second half needed impetus and structure. Cue Harry, cue whatever it is he does in the dressing room at half-time. I imagine it’s not the hair-dryer. Probably gets all the players to jump in to a giant-size snuggle blanket and sings gently the tactics in the form of a soothing lullaby as he hugs his way through the first eleven before shaking them all awake with a fatherly pat on the back. Go get ‘em.

All players entering the field of play for the second half more focused, with intent primed and ready to damage the opposition and once prove to everyone the old Tottenham (that rubbish one) no longer exists. We’ve just got a new one that has worked its way through puberty, voice broken, ready to growl and spit and have a ruck if need be.

Luka and Rafa far more central in the second half with Parker pushing further forward and Sandro The Bricklayer building a wall to stand guard over like an over-keen gardener who doesn’t want any silly children playing ball on his lawn.  


Rafa was the completely opposite of his ineffectual first forty-five ghost, giving it one of those Neo from the Matrix performances. Stand out moments that delicious pass to Benny, enough to make you fantasise about it (sorry Sylvie babe) and quite obviously the reverse ball to Pavlyuchenko who finished it for the 1-0. The Russian, quick to point out his name on the back of his shirt. Yes mate, we know it all too well. It says ‘lazy half arsed footballer with sublime technical ability but frustratingly poor with all the other things a complete forward is meant to have’. Costs a fair bit to have that printed on a replica.

If we could perhaps take Pav and Adebayor and fuse them we’d have a player with work ethic, movement, team-work and hunger (Adebayor) with one that can finish with pomp (Pav)...or perhaps not and we end up with a hybrid gone wrong who can’t talk English but smiles broadly when he misses a sitter.

The goal was enough. Modric could have made it two but preferred not to score and keep it for when Chelsea visit. Walker and BAE worked tirelessly down the wings (thus allowing Luka and Rafa to mix it up where they mix it up best – down the middle).

Still hardly at full pelt, but we displayed the grit and tenacity which will always lead to that moment of sublime skill to carve open a goal scoring opportunity. Brad also busy between the sticks when called upon. We got through it. It’s what we do when it’s called upon us. Sandro was admirable, got to love the way players bounce off him as he moves forward with the ball leaving them devastated on the ground.

Parker survived the yellow card that could have ruled him out of Thursday’s game. King ‘should’ play. Kaboul will be back. Bale? We hope will be fine and there’s a little kidology going on.

Start to worry if we’re playing like this and winning like this every single week. Then we might need to discuss a lack of spark and ingenuity. But that won’t happen. Also no point discussing the Jan transfer window until it happens. Only thing that matters it the next game.

We played without two key players, instrumental to the style everyone associates with us. Narrow, congested football doesn’t quite work if it doesn’t have its outlets. Harry worked it out in time for the second half. We need to work it out before we whistle is blown on Thursday to kick-off.

442? Patient possession play? Decisions, decisions. Will say this much though...this game is not as pivotal as its being written up to be. Okay sure it is if we win but we all know it only then takes two or three not so smart results in the aftermath to change things around. If we lose it will hardly be the early Xmas present we’ve asked for but we’re hardly going to have our hopes crushed for the season. However, that attitude is firmly one that sits on the fence.

Smash’em to pieces is therefore the only conceivable option. No matter the players, no matter the formation.

Chelsea are no mugs. But we’re hardly in the shadow of a beast.

I want us to go for their jugular. We play best when we play the Tottenham way.



Love the shirt.