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Entries in champions league groups stages (17)


Taxi for the haters

I'm loving it. The amount of despondent rhetoric being aimed at us by the haters warms my cockles cockerels. You can track it all back to last season if you so wished. Constant abuse about how we'd never get fourth spot, not consistent enough, always choke when it matters. Then when we go and do it we're told by everyone how we'd not get past the qualifiers for the Champions League. When we did they wrote it off, lapping up it up when the groups were drawn and we faced Inter which would pave way for humiliation. And now, apparently, we've topped a group with opposing sides that are not very good, sides that have made us look good. Their lack of quality helped us to score two goals per game and eighteen in total, and qualify with a game to spare and finish top to avoid the likes of Barca and Madrid in the next round. Inter, Twente and Bremen - all poor opposition which makes us equally poor for conceding so many goals against them.

We have no style or tactics (pass the ball to Bale, let him run down the flank, cross the ball in, someone gets on the end of it) or substance. We lack depth apparently in terms of being able to progress any further both in Europe and in the Prem because only United, Arsenal and Chelsea can juggle Europe and domestic bread and butter. And City could do it, in theory. And we should also just surrender the emotions we currently possess and ready ourselves for the Europa League next season. Because that's where we belong. Apparently we didn't read the small print, we're an embarrassment to the CL.

We'll be shown up once we play a proper team. Which apparently don't exist in the group stages if Spurs happen to have fluked passage into a group. And if you were wondering, the answer is no. We don't have any players out injured and yes, if we play five or six games and play well and win and then lose a game, we're defined by that single loss. And if we beat someone we're not meant to beat it's not because we've played well. It's luck or the other side have failed to turn up (see last seasons WHL wins over Arsenal and Chelsea and this seasons win at the Emirates and the 3-1 against Inter as prime examples).

You learn something new every day, no? This football lark, it's complicated.

I'm a little lost now exactly how poor and rubbish we're meant to be thanks to the constant moving of goal-posts by our obsessive critics.

No doubt when we do finally get knocked out of the Champions League by a proper team we'd be told we're absolute rubbish with a variety of lolcopters crashing down on our front lawn even though the reality is - no one actually expects us to win the whole damn thing and there is hardly any thing to be ashamed of considering the records of other seasoned competitors and their début seasons in the premier European competition.

But that's neither here or there. We're enjoying the experience, lapping it up, doing it our way and getting away with it. And sure, it's naïve at times and far too open and other teams (in waiting for the knock-outs) will be prepared and might attempt to suffocate possession and bore the game and us into submission when they face us. But then considering how easy we find it to score away from home...nah, let's not dream. Because that's a commodity that is quite simply inexcusable. You got that?

Then again, if we add King, Dawson, Huddlestone, a fit van der Vaart, Modric, a refreshed Defoe and perhaps one or two new players in January, it will make whatever happens on the 17th December positively gleeful.

It's been a roller-coaster. We've shown little fear. Perhaps one or two moments of Keystonesque footwork and trembly knees, but then this whole experience was meant to be nothing more than us experiencing top tier football and adapting to it for when we return to it in the future. Get a taste, let it roll around our mouth and then spit it back out again. We're having a ball. Swallowing every last drop (ooh matron).

This is Spurs. Patched up. Nowhere near full pelt. Winging it. And out of the group at the first time of asking.

Keep on moving those goal posts, keep on hating haters.




Another Twente quid on Spurs to win

So do we accept qualification and all it will bring regardless of finishing top of the group or second by fielding a side that's not the strongest available or do we seize the day and focus on getting into the knock-out stage as winners, thus avoiding football rape at the Camp Nou? Decisions, decisions. Why would we even contemplate not fielding our strongest side?

Oh yeah. Chelsea this weekend.

Okay, so it's not (blue scum) exactly the fixture of old which we'd brush aside and concede goals and points even before the kick-off. We've enjoyed success at the Lane against them recently and they're a pale shadow of the side that began the season with such relentless decimation of their opponents. Not that I'm naïve enough to think we'll walk all over them. Although I'd very much like us to do just that. It's a massive game that. Might put their gaffer under extraordinary early season pressure if we beat them. And the obvious upwards elevation/momentum/confidence booster - priceless.

But there's the small matter of Twente to deal with first. Irony not lost that I'm even entertaining league as a priority over Champions League. Hasn’t it mostly worked the other way?

The Dutch champions are seeking revenge. I can imagine they're come out at a pulsating tempo. No slow-build up play here. Home crowd behind them, up and at 'em attitude. If we've switched off already and the concentration isn't there then hello to complacency and second in the group.

I don't have a clue how we plan to line-up. I've seen plenty of discussion that has the side patched up (Bale rested, Keane starting etc) but will be content as long as the spine of the side isn't tampered with too much.

It's simple really. After this game is done and dusted, we're into the realm of two-legged cup football. I know this is an adventure for us and for the travelling away fans and our players it's what it's all about in terms of enjoying and building on the learning curve this top tier football is giving us. And savouring every second of it. But who wants to face the might of Madrid or Barca from the off when perhaps we could get through to the following round and then face them (or perhaps muddle through to the round after that and then face them).

We are hardly going to win this competition based on paper and on experience. But it would be foolish to suggest that we (traditionally a cup side that can turn it on and beat anyone on our day) don't stand a chance of progressing balls deep into the latter stages. Which is why finishing top (matching Inters result thank you please) will be delightful.

Finish top and we'll face Schalke/Lyon, Valencia, Copenhagen, Roma, Marseille or AC Milan. Not that any of these clubs don't have the capabilities to knock us out - but I'd fancy our chances to do just that to them.

Schalke/Lyon, Barcelona, Bayern Munich or Real Madrid. If we're second.

All this is based on how it stands currently. I think. Correct me if I've got anything wrong.

If the likes of Porto and Liverpool (when they won it, care to remember how 'great' they actually were?) are proof you don't have to be the best side to go all the way. You do need to believe and you do need to remain committed and focus. Both clubs had tacticians at their helm masterminding their run and granted, getting lucky once or twice along the way.

I'd be over the moon with each additional game we get and would love to get far enough to play another English club. Run around Tottenham, a lot, and kick it in the net. That should do the trick.

We've made a name for ourselves this season. Would be wasteful if we didn't strive to guarantee our survival for a little bit longer. If it doesn't work out and we end up away at the Santiago Bernabeu or worse…oh well, so be it. It beats getting giddy about the Carling Cup.

To dare is to swagger and hit the barn door.




As comfortable as a Sunday morning sleep in

Spurs 3 Bremen 0

Okay, so perhaps asking for some glory glory was slightly over-estimating it in the grand scheme of things. Werder Bremen tidy with their possession but hardly menacing in and around the box. The only worthy constant they achieved was stop-starting play with their persistent fouling. Non-effective passages of play, easily contained by our only at sixty percent boys in Lilywhite. No requirement to shift out of first gear. Hardly any point in even driving. We just parked up and switched the engine off. German boys sent packing back to Germania.

We were hardly fluidity personified ourselves, plenty of stray balls and casualness, but it didn't matter. One up after six minutes with Kaboul scoring with a strikers shot into the turf and into the net after Lennon picked him out (the little man had a decent game, lively and alert and involved with two assists). Two up just before the break, this time Crouch nodding on for Luka to tricksy his way inside of the defender and finish with a touch of supreme class looping the ball in and beyond the keepers reach. That was the first half wrapped up. 2-0 is always going to better than 1-0 because even though they hardly had anything to whisper about (let alone shout) we all know one mistake could let them back in. But with Gallas cool and composed at the back, the stray balls and casualness was never going to be enough to gift the Germans any hope.

In the second half, could have been three had someone not tainted a blade of grass near the penalty spot with Kryptonite. It was three when Crouch smacked it in from six yards out after some good nut-meggy work from Lennon (via another superb cross from Bale - which hit the cross bar and was kept in by Azza before beating his man and assisting). This coming after some decent sustained pressure. Still just about first gear football, key turned, engine humming.

The boy Bale wasn't too shabby either. You know Bale, he's the one with the barnet, plays out on the left. Mortal Bale (you call that a penalty son?), earlier hit the cross bar from a free-kick and came a whisker away with a shot that skinned the far post (the latter laid off by Defoe). Also crossed majestically for Crouch who saw his deft header come off a defender for a corner. Busy thanks to the open invite from the opposition, he played the game like a training pitch exercise, trying out different tricks and movements. Subbed late on to keep him freshly for the weekend.

JD, getting more minutes as he slowly re-adapts to first team football after his return from injury, having a crack at goal and almost being played in a couple of times. Nice run out.  He looks up for it and is eager. Just needs a goal to settle himself down.

Other minor (or major if you like) points of discussion?

Jenas going off injured. Pinch me, but I mean it when I say this, I hope he's back soon. Having him play consistently regardless of the debate as to whether he's an average player playing well or a decent player rediscovering form - we can't have yet another central midfielder disappear from the pitch onto the treatment table. With Huddlestone long term, fingers crossed for @jjenas (yes, he's on Twitter now). Palacios came on for him and did the usual Palaciosque stuff, biting at ankles and breaking up play and every so often passing the ball to nobody.

Hutton continues to impress coming forward but for me his positional sense is just not very good. Gallas superb. Kaboul strong as ever but showed a glimpse of naivety with a misplaced ball in an area where a better side would have punished us. BAE untidy. But I'm willing to forget any indiscretions (from the both of them) because of the way the game played out. Crouch loving it continental. Modric king, taking centre-stage and controlling the game via remote whilst sitting feet up on the sofa.

The talismanic van der Vaart rested, if you missed the game.

Special 'wtf' mention for Roman Pav who was offered the penalty but turned it down. A striker turning down a goal from 12 yards? Considering he tends to score from the spot, this is a little strange unless Harry in post-match interviews has taken it out of context and Pav was politely saying to Bale, 'no you take it because you're holding the ball' rather than 'soz, no, I'm brickin it'.

So, nice run out for the team. As comfortable as a Sunday morning sleep in.

In conclusion then. Clean-sheet. Third successive win. Three million quid for our troubles. Momentum has awoken. Welcome back old friend. Be alert, there's another game this Sunday we need you for.

This Champions League lark, bit easy innit? First time of asking, into the knock-out stages. Only the second debutants in the past five years to get through the group stage. That wasn't meant to happen, was it? Meant to be out-classed they said, in the group stages. Whatever happens - we've made our point and opened some eyes that would hardly look our way prior to our arrival. So hold onto your hats when we play Barcelona away and get trounced 7-0.

Before the next stage of our European adventure we have to visit Twente for the final game to claim top spot from the Rafa's devolution at Inter. So there's still one final twist to be had. One thing is for certain, I've got a taste for these games now and not being involved next season isn't something I want to entertain.

We edge ever closer to the January window and there's one word on my mind.




Let's be 'aving some of that Glory Glory

Three key elements for tonight's game.

1) Forget about Saturday

2) Don't get complacent

3) Do not under estimate the opposition

Stick all of the above together with some glue made up from a paste of swagger and belief.

A win would see us qualify. Imagine that, through the group stages at the first time of asking in our début season. Fully deserved that would be too what with our refreshing approach, whether it's dismantling the opposition or giving them a head start - we've left our mark all over the competition. The scratches made hardly the ones of cowboys. These Spurs are real.

Bremen are struggling, which is why it's key to be focused completely on treating the opposition with a degree of respect and not allowing them take a cheap early lead which could easily allow their confidence to breed. Their league form might be woeful as of late (6-0, 4-0 defeats), but I still say - be cautious. Sometimes an escape from domestic hell can be the perfect remedy for a home headache.

Having said all that, I don't want to be over-bearing with the negativity (thinking the worst). I'm just weary that there is a twist and turn wherever Tottenham ply their trade. Not too much respect then.

Opening 20 minutes will tell us how we should compete in the remaining 70. I might have it all wrong, the Germans might be as bad as their bread and butter results which means we could well be in for a party as we march onwards. Let's just wait for the invite to be handed out before we pop the streamers.

One party that will no doubt start before the kick-off is in the stands. The atmosphere will be electric, he said. Yes it will, they replied. Another Glory Glory night within our grasp, the home support will still be buzzing from the dicking handed out to them lot down the road. That should aid with the expectancy on the players shoulders, who should not be weighed down with pressure. This position we are in, it's a good one and should be enjoyed.

We're a decent side, more than decent, who have already displayed the balls and guile to be rewarded with a potential knock-out gem of a tie in the next round. Let's prove how deserving we are. And Harry along with the leadership and tenacity of our unofficial captain of galvanisation (van der Vaart) are taking us forward with the rest of a rather sparkling supporting cast. No knees are trembly here.

The attitude has to be right from the off. Whether we fight it out or brush them aside, this is another potential history-making night. You can't help but feel giddy with excitement. One player to keep an eye on is Jermaine Defoe who has told us countless times how the hairs on the back of his neck would stand when listening to the CL music whilst watching it at home. That was when Spurs were dreaming about playing at this level. We now are and JD gets his chance to shine in the group stage.

Fingers crossed Bale and the Raf are available to start. Another Interesque performance in terms of application and focus will have me queuing up at the Spurs Shop for the dvd 'Group A' highlights package post-final whistle.

We want 90 minutes, not a cameo of 45.

So, no after the Lord Mayors Show reverse hang-over from Prem to Europe please Tottenham.

To dare is to f*cking do.




Still buzzing...

The promised land. It took us years of wandering around in circles, lost and confused, before we found it and now having done so we've just gone ahead and stuck a massive flag in the centre, opened a deck-chair and sat puffing out smoke nonchalantly from a massive joint.

“Is it cause I’m Tottenham?”

No matter our faults, no matter the naivety displayed in prior CL games, no one can take away the fact that we are born entertainers, refreshing and rampant. Ladies and gentlemen. We’ve clicked. In the pulsating atmosphere in N17, we stepped up a gear and went from learning curve virgins to master-class sex gods.

Stunning, staggering, immense, epic...the superlatives won’t drown you - you’ll be floating on top of them, out-stretched, hands behind head basking in the glorious sun thanks to the glory glory night where boys became men became giants. And so be it if it was just for the one night only.

Someone said to me that I would have trouble writing up a concise report on the game. And to be honest, I've struggled. Mainly because I was going to report on the game much like most other reports and just found myself repeating most of those aforementioned glittering superlatives that the Tottenham nation are today rejoicing in. You’d think only Bale was on the pitch with the coverage our young cyclone stud is getting. Coverage he deserves for destroying Inter over three halves of football. But everyone at the game, in pubs, watching at home, abroad in the early hours - will have witnessed the rather magnificent bravado and confidence of the other men in Lilywhite who defended and counter attacked as part of the devastation.

Even when the Italian club pinged the ball about in possession, reminding us of their quality (Eto’o with a stunning sway and shot and goal too), we didn’t fold under pressure and neither did we betray our traditions. 2-1? Sit back? Nah guv, let’s get the ball down their end again. Notch a third. End them.

Special night, outstanding in so many ways (not least the noise made inside the ground). And the noise made by everyone's reaction to the manner of their dismantlement. I have no time for anyone who dares suggest this was Inter not paying us due respect and being tormented for it. They didn’t underestimate our quality pre-match regardless of the first half back in the San Siro. They simply couldn’t live with a Spurs side that dared to do and dictate. They had a few players missing, didn’t they? Well, so did we.

The movement, the focus and determination. The relentless work ethic and self-belief. Harry and his bullish soldiers defending home soil and banishing the invaders back across the waters. Taxis no doubt parked outside in waiting, no tips, other than next time perhaps assign Leonidas King of Sparta and 300 Spartans to man-mark Bale.

If you place the 'modest down to earth with out of this world ability' Gareth to one side re: Man of the Match there are several candidates you could otherwise award it to. Testament to everyone at the club. The perfect shift. Because without that team unity and desire, giving the ball to Bale would have accounted for very little if we were bypassed in midfield and leaking goals at the back.

So yes, struggling I am to write a concise report. Think most of us are still living it. Instead I’m going to take a look back at a few things from the match preview for the Inter game (a tidy letter to Daniel Levy) addressing one or two statements made.


> We lack that bit of extra something with regards to testicular fortitude.

We choked against Young Boys then dug deep, momentarily collapsed away to Bremen and then froze like rabbits in headlights before we recovered in the Giuseppe Meazza stadium. We’ve been waiting for this Spurs side to click not just in structure and backbone but in strategy and professionalism. Sure, it’s refreshing the way we go about learning our lessons in our debut season and we’re entertainers. The miseries on The Sunday Supplement said we were just having ‘fun’. No more. Now we are deadly serious. Mature and fearless in a game we were not expected to win. Testicular fortitude? Oh yes. Hopefully  we’ve got some spare for Saturdays game against Bolton.

> We are what, 30%, 20% away from it clicking into place and working. The players we do possess for selection at the time of writing are more than capable of waking up and shaking themselves into the mentally powerful frame of mind - as seen last term in the push for fourth. We have it in us which is what's so frustrating. I don't buy all this 'Spurs over-extended themselves last season' nonsense. We fought for it. We need some of that fight back in abundance. And goals. Plenty of goals.

Two points here. We proved – even with missing injured players and with the apparent need to add two or three brand new players to the squad – we can find the resolve to compete against the very top top side in Europe (ignoring its Rafa deficiency). And it’s now time for the players to find this type of ethic every week, regardless of the opposition. van der Vaart said in his post-game interview ‘it’s only a game, it’s only three points’ or words to similar effect. That’s the right attitude. Let us – the fans – dance naked in the streets whilst they go back to work and do it all again next time round. Are we over-extending again? Or are we making the gradual step up to that next level? The latter. Obviously.

> We have to reclaim the swagger. Not give a f*ck about the opposition in terms of respect. Turn the tempo up.

It wasn’t outlandish swagger, more controlled and respectful. I guess showing no respect to Inter could have proved to be suicidal. But we cared not to weigh up the opposition and wait for them to settle. We took the game to them and scored a gem of an opener. I can still see Luka with his key, unlocking the door, and sending Rafael gate-crashing through. Don’t underestimate the quality of that goal. It was brilliant. Tempo duly turned up. Pace of the game not full throttle EPL thunder, but a notch up from the usual slow-paced CL football.

> Don't be afraid. Don't hold back. Play emotive sweeping football and play too our strengths. Retain possession, do not concede early, hassle them in midfield and please for the love of all things Lilywhite - be clinical in and around the box. The home crowd will have to play their part in all this too.

The Lane rocked. The midfield rocked with it. Really cannot say anything more than f**king brilliant re: our midfield. Huddlestone is vital to the side. Look up the stats, I’m certain we win more with him in the side than when he doesn’t play. Even when van der Vaart failed to appear in the second half, Jenas – of all players – was industrious. Matching the rest of his team-mates. Nobody was letting anyone down. Everyone with a job to do. Everyone with their fight face on.

> Momentum from this game if we win it could prove to be priceless. And you must agree, January will be easier to do business if we are heading towards the knock-out stages and sitting in 5th/4th.

As mentioned, we have to step it up in the Prem. I know that you don’t tend to play at the same level when facing the likes of West Ham or Wolves. But the quality of the opposing side shouldn’t matter if you do endeavour to push yourself to do your utmost to win. This attitude breeds winners. Few years back, had we beaten a top side, you’d say all this talk would be over-dramatic. But today? It’s part of the blueprint for the games ahead. We have it in us. We need to wave it about in everyone's face. Every week.

> Cudicini concentrate please. vdV might be back. Huddlestone also. Modric is on the verge of exploding into form. Bale has been contained in recent games so hopefully he'll adapt quickly with having to cope with fourteen men marking him. But if they do double up on him (or worse) then someone elsewhere on the pitch has an advantage if another someone else is quick enough to play that first someone in. Lennon continues to improve which is important.

> Concern about Kaboul in central defence who has that annoyance of switching off for a costly second far too often. Gallas still has to prove his worth to the side. Crouch will probably start, but call me crazy, I keep having visions of Pav doing very little other than being in the right place at the right time to plant the ball expertly into the net - something he can do. Does little else. But he has a habit of notching the goals.

Let's review. Player ratings, special mentions:

Cudicini - Corker of a save from the 'you're just a shit van der Vaart' free-kick. More confident in Gomes (even with his loopy meltdowns) but can't fault CC. Must feel great after the three he conceded in Italy. Far more assured.

Gallas – This is why he was signed. Commanding and in control aiding  the defence at all times.

BAE – He plays football like it's an inconvenience that needs to be worked though so it's got out of his way. ‘Oh, I’m on a football pitch for 90 minutes, fine then, I’ll just run down the minutes by getting involved’. He never looks fazed. Uber-cool. Defended and pushed forward superbly.

Kaboul – Really didn’t expect this. He’s shown us signs before but has let himself down, but not this time. Great effort and discipline on the night. Prone to mistakes, hope he eradicates them from his game. Could turn out to be a monster.

Hutton – Got done on the goal, or is that too harsh of a criticism considering it was Eto’o? Still think he struggles positionally. And with Lennon ahead of him I'd still prefer to see Corluka there. However, time, it can heal. Just look at Gareth. Hutton has masses of potential.

Lennon – With each passing game, he reclaims some of that lost form. Thought he was excellent. Now imagine Azza at full pelt on one wing and whatshisface on the other.

Huddlestone – Did not look out of place. The questions we (as a collective) ask about his ability and whether he can stamp his authority on a game, once more answered. A tireless solid performance. Vital to us. Might not have played the quarter-back role he's accustomed too, but that just shows his versatility.

Jenas – Quite obviously followed the gaffers instructions to the letter. Didn’t stop with the lung-busting when he came on.

vdV –Yet another goal at the Lane. Loving it. World class performer who has galvanised the side. Supreme touch. No culture of comfort at Spurs no more.

Crouch – Another European goal. It works. Let’s have more faith. He worked his socks off for us.

Pav – I stand by my words. He doesn’t appear to do much, but score. I’m not complaining.

Modric – This is the Luka we know. Was involved in everything, buzzing all over the pitch – effective and instrumental in both offensive duties (the pass for the opener) and defensively (interceptions and mixing it up in the midfield battle). Wanted the ball at all times and retained and recycled possession expertly.

Bale – The media have gone a bit loopy, haven’t they? Broadsheet journos equally so. I can’t wait for James Richardson’s Football Weekly and the patronising thoughts of Barry Glendenning on whether he thinks Bale got lucky again. Ooh. Bale is a beast. We knew that. Everybody now knows it. He’s going to get better. Scary, eh? Looks a level headed polite lad. Gotta love him. Destroyed Maicon. Destroyed the Champions of Europe. It's pure fantasy right before our eyes.

Harry – And he’s meant to not have any tactical astuteness. Delegator come good. Or we can just give the credit to Joe Jordan and Kevin Bond.

> Let's remember what this club is all about in terms of its traditions. We might not have a massive haul of silverware but if you take any random Bill Nicholson quote you'll have your answer in terms of what it means to be a Spurs fan. Glory. Even if said glory is 90 minutes in length.

> I want a performance. I want a statement of intent and end product. I want the emotion. I want the swashbuckle.

> My spine is tingling. My head buzzing. Rediscover yourself Tottenham. Want it. Shout out that you want it. Then prove that you want it. Then don't let anyone stop you from taking it. You'll get more than a cuddly toy for your endeavours.

Job done. Haters? Stick it up your bollix. You’ll never understand what it means to be part of this club.

> I want a DVD.

No DVD to be released. Gutted. But I’ll deal with it. When I close my eyes, I can't re-open them for ninety minutes.

Still buzzing.




Glory Glory night, N17, invite only, bring a (some) bottle

Dear Mr Levy,

Here we are, looking forwards again rather than looking back. Let's talk football and leave the conspiracy laced debate for next time we return from Old Trafford where no doubt a United player will score a brace during the half-time interval and Clattenburg/Webb/appeasing FA ref-bot will allow both goals to stand on grounds of enthusiastic punctuality. Then book Ledley King for dissent. Even though King hasn't travelled up there due to injury. Then award a penalty whilst Richard Scudamore touches himself in those private of places whilst David Dein continues to orchestrate proceedings from the shadows.

Sorry, did I say 'let's talk football'? Lets.

Inter, at the Lane. Glory Glory night. On when the Spurs go marching in. Ticker-tape and plenty of oohs and aahs. We hope. It's what we've worked so hard for. Looking back at our home Champions League matches, even though we beat Young Boys and Twente it felt like we plucked and plucked with plucky effort to get ourselves through the games (actually the YB victory was far more comfortable than the roller-coaster that was the Twente game). We've not been assured. The away games have been testament to that. In fact, we've failed to be 100% at any stage this season regardless of the competition. We lack that bit of extra something with regards to testicular fortitude.

Let's not look too far forwards just yet in terms of January and the re-opening of the window.

In the present, yes we have injuries. Yes we have a conveyor belt of a defence. Yes we are still attempting to adapt to 451. Yes we don't truly have a certified full-on forward to best the formation. And on top of all this scratching of heads is that although we have players of majestic quality that can win games with individual pomp we don't quite have the cohesive flow through the team, top to bottom. The signs are there but we keep taking the route to a dead end.

It's all a bit Blu Tack instead of Super-Glue in terms of sustainable fixed focus. Have a word with Harry please. Can you perhaps replace all mentions of To Dare is to Do littered around the Lane with Two Points Eight Games?

So far this season we've had a good half here or there. Plenty of decent movement, but a distinct lack of goals - no cutting edge, no ideas outside of  giving the ball to vdV and letting him galvanise offensive play or just giving the ball to Bale and moving that box of Kleenex a little closer as the beast runs rampant.

That's not to say it's completely emo-Spurs, sad eyes, reading out poetry about the bottomless pit of despair. This is hardly Ramos or Santini. Or even the worst of times under Jol. Crisis? There is no crisis. Just cryogenics as we find ourselves frozen in time. The world of tomorrow awaits.

We are what, 30%, 20% away from it clicking into place and working. The players we do possess for selection at the time of writing are more than capable of waking up and shaking themselves into the mentally powerful frame of mind - as seen last term in the push for fourth. We have it in us which is what's so frustrating. I don't buy all this 'Spurs over-extended themselves last season' nonsense. We fought for it. We need some of that fight back in abundance. And goals. Plenty of goals.

And it's up to the management and the players to prove that the thrill of the chase is not better than the catch. Last season is gone. We should be hungry for more. Have we not got more at stake this time round?

We are a team, a unit. I keep saying this every week and it's now about five games away from becoming an ominous cry for help and thus changing my tune, from a skipping whistle to a groan and moan. Wiping sweat from your beautiful bald head week in and week out as you look down from your directors box is something I wish not to witness. We have to reclaim the swagger. Not give a f*ck about the opposition in terms of respect. Turn the tempo up. Otherwise the stuttering will turn to stalling. And you'll have to wear a wig to hide your uncontrollable erupting sweat glands.

Easier said than done they tell me. Turning up the tempo. Not wearing a wig. I've not quite lost all my hair yet.

So what about the group game and our visitors?

I know this is Inter and some expect them to play ultra-defensive counter-attacking football and double up on Bale. But it's far more likely they will come out and attack attack attack after the comparative ease they walked through us in the San Siro. They'll have plenty of belief and confidence to do the same again. So how about just scoring one more than they do?

Don't be afraid. Don't hold back. Play emotive sweeping football and play too our strengths. Retain possession, do not concede early, hassle them in midfield and please for the love of all things Lilywhite - be clinical in and around the box. The home crowd will have to play their part in all this too.

Is that asking too much?

It's still not quite right in the league is it and it's a mix bag of heart-stopping football in Europe. Yes, it's a learning curve and we are learning plenty about how to shape up in the premier of competitions. But let's learn from the lessons dished out and play to an equal standard in both the CL and the bread and butter of the league.

Momentum from this game if we win it could prove to be priceless. And you must agree, January will be easier to do business if we are heading towards the knock-out stages and sitting in 5th/4th.

No Gomes. Cudicini concentrate please. vdV might be back. Huddlestone also. Modric is on the verge of exploding into form. Bale has been contained in recent games so hopefully he'll adapt quickly with having to cope with fourteen men marking him. But if they do double up on him (or worse) then someone elsewhere on the pitch has an advantage if another someone else is quick enough to play that first someone in. Lennon continues to improve which is important.

Concern about Kaboul in central defence who has that annoyance of switching off for a costly second far too often. Gallas still has to prove his worth to the side. Crouch will probably start, but call me crazy, I keep having visions of Pav doing very little other than being in the right place at the right time to plant the ball expertly into the net - something he can do. Does little else. But he has a habit of notching the goals. Regardless, no lumping the ball up to Crouch. And no calamity, no margin for errors. If we're going to go down, let's go down in a blaze of glory and not with clowns shoes on our feet.

That reminds me. You reckon the policy of buying young English players with sell-on value still rings true with Jenas?

No? Okay.

You'll be in agreement that the key for this game comes in the shape of Tommy Huddlestone's feet and the pumped out relentless chest thumping of Rafa van der Vaart (please be fit). Desire and clinicality the essential ingredients.

I've not forgotten about Luka. Much like Tottenham this season, we await his arrival.

Harry has to use his smarts in the same way he has used them in some of the key battles (i.e. Arsenal at the Lane, Spurs at Eastlands) and instil that never-say-die attitude we have not lost since that famous 4-4 at the Emirates.

Back to basics for our simple creatures proudly soaking in the Champions League theme music with cockerels on chest.

But let's not underestimate Inter. Champions of Europe. The game is not going to be influenced just because we approach it a certain way. We've got to react to their tactics. They've got enough about them in terms of quality to strangle the life out of the game and take the emphasis away from us and dictate. Which is why we have to have balls the size of melons.

I know that the Bremen home game and Twente away return is where our qualification will be won or lost. And some of the faithful have quietly whispered that losing to the Italians will not be a disaster. I disagree. A point will be decent. A win, fantastical. But it's far more than that isn't it Mr Chairman? Let's remember what this club is all about in terms of it's traditions. We might not have a massive haul of silverware but if you take any random Bill Nicholson quote you'll have your answer in terms of what it means to be a Spurs fan.

Glory. Even if said glory is 90 minutes in length.

I want a performance. I want a statement of intent and end product. I want the emotion. I want the swashbuckle. I want a DVD. Damn it, it's almost Christmas and I want frigging Box Set! It's more than just Champions League this. It's more than the three points on offer. It transcends all of this. You know it. I know it. We all know it.

Wakey wakey. Rise and shine. Cock-a-doodle-dare is to do do do.

My spine is tingling. My head buzzing. Rediscover yourself Tottenham. Want it. Shout out that you want it. Then prove that you want it. Then don't let anyone stop you from taking it. You'll get more than a cuddly toy for your endeavours.

Otherwise, what's the point?

Heart on sleeves. Heart on sleeves.

So good luck. Wish the lads all the best. And let's hope the night does not end with me handcuffing myself to the West Stand gates again, naked (obviously) wearing an original Chirpy mask (the face he had prior to his self-indulgent plastic surgery) in protest of whatever excuse I can think of at the final whistle. If Jenas plays, I'll use that.

Yours Sincerely,





Inter 4 Spurs 3: Astonishing Bale (Part II)

Read Part I here.


Part II

Wasn't that long ago that the rumours told us that Bale was Birmingham/Forest bound. For about £3M. I'd rather have him bound to my bed, with me throwing rose petals over his lush bronzed body. I'm not that way inclined, I promise, but I'm willing to bestow this young Welsh stud with my undying love. Whether he wants it or not.

I heart you Gareth. We all do.

The baiting world expected more humiliation but the side attempted to reclaim some of that hurting pride. I wont dwell on other individuals. I'll let the gaffer re-watch and make notes and spit home truths in their faces in terms of lack of organisation and communication and leadership and other fundamentals. Eye of the tiger next time please. Okay, I'll say one word. Gallas. There, said it.

I'll also give a special mention to Jenas (J-E-N-A-S) and Lennon. JJ for improving in the second half, although that wasn't tricky considering his first half performance. Lennon for making things happen. Jenas was also instrumental in the goals. Ooh. Shocker. Hate on him if you dare. What's that? The first half? Oh yeah...sigh.

Keane, BAE, Captain Hudd, Hutton, Gallas, etc etc - is it worth commenting? Of course not. Mark them out of 10, between 2 and 5.

But it's all about the one man for me. But yes, well done to the collective for keeping a clean sheet as a unit, one that resembled a team, and never giving up in the quest for redemption.

Back to Bale.

1 - 50 yard storming run. He would have smashed through Gandalf had he been standing in the Inter penalty area with staff. Brilliant angled effort, tucked into the right-hand corner of the net.

2 - Practically identical to the first, same pulsating run into the box, same corner.

3 - Excellent run from the excellent Lennon, laying the ball off, arguably almost selling Bale short, and yet…smack, that same ruined abused corner, once more.

Pick'em out the back of the net Julio 'best keeper in the world' Cesar.

Okay, so the final two goals came in the final two minutes, but we've been here before haven't we? 4-3 is infinitely better than 4-0 or worse. It’s a 1-0 loss in terms of goal difference. With ten men, ffs. And qualification is not beyond the realms of impossibility, in fact, it’s in our hands.

Suddenly it's not so bad. Sure, we've glossed over problems what with Bale Bale Bale getting all the acclaim for such a determined, willing, simply refusing to roll over and die performance, but why not? We played into their hands and then we dug deep and clawed our way back into it. Another minute of injury time and Bale probably would have notched a fourth. He was that imperious to his surroundings.

Majestic, beastly, marauding, locomotive….Bale. He has completely turned his world and ours upside down. Who needs a striker when we've got this extraordinary machine?

Well actually, we could do with a striker. One that scores. Because if you add that to this team, get vdV back in there, stick with eleven men on the pitch and organise the defence to an advanced level of competency…ah, let's not tease. Let's just cross those fingers that this club of ours never fails to stop entertaining us. Even if it's the type of entertainment that involves Hannibal Lector removing parts of your brain and eating them in front of you.

4-3. Almost, but not quite. And not wholly acceptable but in terms of being able to show my face at work? Great.

Hat-trick. Away to Inter. Four goals and seven assists (correct me if my numbers are wrong) overall. And all this without King, Dawson, Defoe and van der Vaart. You could even throw Woodgate in there. And Modric didn’t play a part after the red card.

Some recovery.

This bi-polar club of ours with it's inherent twitches and panic attacks.

Rather than remain spanked, we learnt our lesson and reacted to it there and then. And thus avoided that potentially damaging hangover (although quite how we've been pencilled in for an early Saturday kick-off is beyond me).

It's an adventure. We're never going to win it and in terms of edge of seat football, we are making our mark in Europe. It's all very refreshing, so I'm told.

When the ps3 over-heated and I was unstrapped from my chair, I knew, deep down, that if we iron out the reoccurring problems and tweak mental strength along with backbone set-up (moon on a stick) - we are not far off. Not far off from more balanced and consistent swagger than the schizophrenic screams. Would also help in abundance if Hutton understood the concept of positioning.

Third best defensive record domestically, but much more is needed on this particular level to survive and bully our way to a respectable stature in this playground of giants. We don't do badly all things considering, what with our musical chairs at the back. But it's got to be tight(er) at the back. Chastity belt tight.

We have enough about us to avoid collapse in the manner we did, even though we've now experienced three variants of said collapse on our travels. Perhaps it is just a learning curve.

I'd say plenty of it is about intensity. It will come in time. Gritted leadership and intensity, it will come in the form of vdV. And hopefully some of our other players grow into brave and bold men who do not welcome fear. Having van der Vaart - a genuine world class player - is something we should embrace.

Roll on the return leg.

In the mean time, don't fret about the live brokering of Gareth by ITV who seemed obsessed with selling him on before their coverage ended.

He's not world class yet. He has world class performances in him. And United fans can pretend he's going to sign for them with the loose change they have left over from plucking Modric and vdV up to Old Trafford.

He's our left-wing. And let us rejoice in the fact that he should now never frequent the left-back position again.

Just enjoy it. This, this beautiful defeat. Not quite worthy of a dvd as a whole, but the hat-trick is more than worthy of countless repeated You Tube play-back.

My special chair is back in the basement. I'm cleansed, like clockwork. Not orange. Just lilywhite.

Two weeks before I strap myself back in.




Inter 4 Spurs 3: Mayhem in the Meazza (Part I)

Part I

Not sure where to begin. But I will endeavour.

I edited the game highlights into a condensed goals only package, with the four conceded and our second-half redemption. Then wirelessly streamed it from pc to TV via ps3. I proceeded to ask the missus to strap me into the specially made chair facing said television and then fit the contraption onto my face, forcing and pulling my eyelids back. Lights off, roll footage. Missus was happy. She went to bed.

The next eight hours was spent watching the 4-0 down, 4-3 finish in continuous loop whilst Chas'n'Dave played loudly in my ears.

It was the only way to cleanse my giddiness, for surely defeat should not make me feel this good? As I sat motionless in chair, wrists and ankles aching, it allowed me ample time to contemplate and consume the various intricacies of the game witnessed in the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza , some of which were hardly delicate and subtle but rather massive jackhammer body blows that would crush ribs do dust.

Spurs, once more, ripping up the script and replacing it with a demented David Lynch re-write. There is absolutely no doubting our ability, the teams ability, to take us through the mire and make us feel completely alive, bungee jumping off the edge of oblivion. This is Tottenham. Manic, ridiculous, expected and unexpected.

I made a comment pre-match on Twitter that the opening ten minutes would be most telling. I was expecting to base this on possession, movement, tenacity and other mundane run of the mill bread and butter ingredients. Instead I choked on a slice of football pie that was positively brimming with maggots and pubic hair.

In all honesty, why even eat the pie when you know it's only going to give you grief, picking out the pubic hair from your teeth, or translated into pure footballing terms; picking the ball out of the back of the net. The wrong net. Four times.

This was live on ITV (which made it doubly worse thanks to their contractual obligation to really drill home the horrific truths with continuous anti-Tottenham lol's, mostly unavoidable to be fair). Champions League proper, our first true test against a genuine giant. The reigning champions of course. And what do we do? We do exactly what the haters predicted/wanted us to do.

We pull a grenade out of our back pocket, remove the pin, then swallow the grenade, turning to the camera and playful winking.

"It's Tottenham Hotspur. What do you f**king expect? You want bland and boring, switch over to the United game"

Delightful entertainment for the neutrals and the haters. Abject misery for the rest of us.

Now I do appreciate that if you remove the rhetoric shared by the ilk of non-Spurs supporters who magically forget about various humiliations and lessons learnt by their own teams in debut and early years Champions League, and one particular result from as recent as last season where the then  reigning champions handed the nal it's arse back…you could almost hear the collective groan and head shaking of Lilywhites across the planet coming to terms with what was looking like the start of the mother of all decimations. Regardless of other lessons learnt, this one, the one that matters to us, was beyond the threshold for standard N17 regulated pain.

68 seconds. Might be a decent night for most overly eager young men, getting a tad excitable with the occasion at hand but this is not Switzerland. Or Germany. It's Italy. And it's Rafa's inherited Serie A topping Inter. Let's not bend over. At the very least, use the lube.

Sixty three year old Zanetti, 12 yards, 68 sodding seconds. The defending, abysmal, non-existent. Okay, perhaps that's not fair. It was sloppy. And at this level, everything is magnified, slowed-down and punished - relentlessly punished. You could see the goal before it happened. It was simple. And it was rammed down our throats. I could hear the cheers in Islington from my sofa.

Okay, so its 1-0. Let's. Not. Panic. Get hold of the ball, stand strong and tall. Leaders on the pitch. Where are the leaders? Captains armband? Huddlestone man, don't let heads drop man. No, wait…what are you doing? Why the hell do you carry a grenade in your back pocket. Now what? Why have you given it to Gallas man? He's polishing it? A grenade and he's polishing it? What the... he's kissing the frigging thing, he's kissing it! Oh Christ, what next? No, no, not Gomes, don't give it to Gomes. Of all the people, not Gomes! For the love of God, he's pulled the pin off it. He's juggling the thing on his head. And there we have it. He's swallowed it. He's gone and swallowed the grenade. Heimlich manoeuvre someone please! Anyone?

Oh sh*t.

Kaboom. Not of the Younes variety.

Red card. Carlo on, Modric off. Eto'o from the spot. 2-0. Was Biabiany the last man? Was he denied a certain goal-scoring opportunity? Does it even matter when your keeper implodes in the path of an opposition player?

Before I had time to tie the knot in the noose, it was 3-0. Stankovic, showing off, with a shot from just outside the pen area. The fourth goal (Eto'o again) more or less had every sofa in a Spurs supporting household engulfing it's occupier. Without fight. The away fans in the San Siro still coming to terms with the rude interruption of their rendition of 'oh when the Spurs' from the opening seconds. Not quite finding their stride and song again until the second half.

How dare Inter put us in our place. Us, an infant in this top tier competition, lost in the playground, surrounded by older bigger kids, snatching our dinner money and slapping us across the back of the neck. I want my mamma.

4 fragging 0. Blogs and forums on fire. Text messages and photo-shopped specials in the making.

Down to ten men. Against the Champions of Europe. In their own back yard. The difference in class positively puked out in superlatives by ITV during half-time. It's going to finish 6-0 perhaps 7-0, probably 8-0. No way Inter won't be scoring again in the second forty-five. Better to forfeit the game and take a three goal deficit.

Oh ye of little faith.

It's frustrating, it is. Had we left that grenade back home. Had we held our nerves for that opening ten minutes. Not being overwhelmed with the occasion, if that was in fact the reason for our lethargic in legs lethargic in brains performance. Not to suggest it was all down to our embarrassing defending. Inter ravaged us with beautiful decisive football. It was like being gently beaten up with a feather made out of Adamantium.

Coutinho looks a player. Our lot looked like pretenders. Did Harry get it wrong? We didn’t have time to find out. You can argue about the ethics of sacrificing Modric, but it was damage limitation after the first minute of the game. And with hindsight, it's how we reacted second half that would speak volumes. 451or otherwise, its about application and focus first, formation and tactics are secondary if the players feet turn to jelly.

Pride at stake, what with it being super-glued back together during the break and handed out with (I assume) implicit instructions to get a f**king grip of ourselves.

Okay, so they shifted down a gear or two in the second half. But that is no concern for me. 4-0 down, forty-five minutes to avoid potentially devastating dejection at the final whistle which might well have detrimental long term trembling of knees (the bad kind).

And then it happened.

Hello Europe. My name is Gareth Bale. You can call me the beast. Just make sure you ask me for permission first.


Click here for Part II.



MatchDay Frolics: Inter v Spurs

Time for another bout of alternative minute-by-minute comment based musings of the game. Live.

It's Inter versus Spurs.

It all stems from myself requiring in-game therapy by sharing my observations because I need to vent and also strike up a bromance or two with my fellow Spurs fans. Because if you're at home and not in the pub and on your own, then it helps to have others suffering along with you, be it electronically.

This minute-by-minute commentary is not as consistent in terms of structure as the Beeb's version and definitely not as witty and pun-driven as the Guardians. But a f**k load better than ITV's in-game audio commentary. Which, let's face it, isn't exactly the greatest brag in the world. Chiles and company are akin to listening to diarrhetic elephants emptying their bowels, so this blog will easily suffice as a superior companion to the game than the giddy nonsense churned out by the incompetent guardians of the tactic truck.

Point being, unlike the rest, it's all-Spurs.

Rather than update this blog article with dated-by-time comments, I'm going to use the magic of  curated Tweets. So if you follow me on Twitter, you'll see my inane statements of insight as the game progresses. Otherwise, just stay tuned to the below where the curated tweets will appear. I'll also throw in other words of wisdom from fellow Twitter based Spurs fans for additional ample scoffs of hilarity.

To be honest, this is all experimental and it might turn out to be far easier to just update a standard article. Or even easier for you to just sign up to Twitter and follow the direct tweets and get involved yourself.

If the embedded code falls over at any point, then I'll go back to just updating this article. The applet below should auto-refresh, if it doesn't, refresh browser to see new entries.


Inter v The Tottenham





Subscribe here to the curated MatchDay Frolics.



You'll always find you can't smile without Tottenham

Can't even begin to describe the feeling. Schoolboys own stuff.

No disrespect to Young Boys, Bremen and Twente. Wednesday's game away to Inter in the San Siro is what it's all about. Sure, we can afford to lose it. So if that's the case, what is there to fear? Bit of dignity if we ship a few at the wrong end perhaps, but I'm not talking about the necessity to go all la-la land with tactics. Play for each other, as a strong unit, play to our strengths. Focus. No shame in losing to the Champions of Europe. But what a dvd it would be if we nicked it.

Rafa might try to get a little too clever what with his experience of Spurs in the Premier League. If Crouch starts will be very interesting to see how Inter plan to deal with him, considering Rafa knows the player well. What we could do without is the lack of mental strength if we do happen to hiccup (no first half V Young Boys, no second half V Bremen). Just ninety minutes of cohesive, structured football with a touch or two of ye olde Spurs magic. Tasty team is Inter, they will no doubt have a go at us. So f**k it. Have a go back.

Not dismissing a controlled, deep laying defensive minded midfield (players tracking back, chasing down the ball), pressuring their players when off the ball, attempting to retain it when on it. I'm all for frustrating them, but let's not pretend they don't have the better more experienced players.

Our power is one of belief and complete and unequivocal front.

Fortes fortuna adiuvat.

This is the thing about us. Expect the unexpected, even though the most obvious is also likely to happen too. Never a boring second supporting this club. Heads up. I'm giddy with delight. That Crouch header at's brought us here. Why bite your nails? Enjoy it.

It's enough to make me break out in song...


We have no King or van der Vaart and I'm scared that we'll get stuffed
Enough to drive the fans to drink I don't want us to f**k up
But I have faith in Harry cause Spurs are on the up
On the up in the San Siro

But you will always find him twitching on the bench in the dugout

Me and the Park Lane shrugged when Rafael saw red at home
Don't fret we've got Jermaine Jenas so we are not all alone

Jermaine Jenas. What is he supposed to do?

That's why you'll always hold your head in your hands at matches
You will always hold you head in your hands at matches
You will always hold you head in your hands at matches

No Ledley but we've got Gallas and he'll play at the back
He'll have Eto'o in his back pocket there's no chance he'll ever slack
Leaving Hudd to quarterback the midfield and enjoy a Big Mac

Glory glory night in Europe in Italy on Wednesday
Glory glory night in Europe in Italy on Wednesday

4-5-1 don't laugh at it we won't be sitting back
We'll look to strike and run the flanks giving Rafa a panic attack

Just give the ball to Bale in the San Siro on Wednesday
Give the ball to Bale in the San Siro on Wednesday

You'll always find you can't smile without Tottenham
You'll always find you can't smile without Tottenham


Based on You'll always find me in the kitchen at Parties (Jona Lewie), obviously.



Spurs: 'top 4' side, top 4 decisions

Fulham 1 Spurs 2

I've had pockets of time since the final whistle on Saturday afternoon to attempt to write up a structured match report of our splendid away win (and second successive three point come from behind reward), but alas, no such luck. I'm still sick. Epically tired and somewhat detached from creativity, but still I'm managed to muster up some tweets today whilst laying across the sofa watching the continued demise of Liverpool FC and then Man City trying to do their best impersonation of the Jose version of Chelsea by spending the vast majority of their game against Blackpool boring the very essence of my soul from my fever stricken body. I still don't rate them. Yes, they are lucky, yes, they don't lose often, but something about them just screams out 'CHOKE'. I guess with Man Utd doing their very best to tread the line of ordinary, this season could see a further shake-up to the one we introduced last time round. So perhaps discounting the billionaires from Eastlands would be a tad dangerous.

Okay, so Fulham v Spurs, I'm going to free-style it. Then just hit the publish button.

Saturday and Fortress Fulham. In yer face Mark Hughes. And Lily Allen. In the context of the game, we deserved to win. Some of our defending at times was not best and against better players (Eto'o) we might be left scratching our heads. But that's out of context. Which is not a concern, not until Wednesday.

First half, opening exchanges, thought we played very well. Slowly and obviously, Fulham got themselves back into the possession game. Sandro put himself about. Bit too eager, I guess he still has to get to grips with the pace of the game and the fact that clumsy challenging won't warrant too much other than a yellow card.

Was very content with Harry's selection. Strongest side, be it with one or two minor tweaks, but this games was vital in terms of needing to win - whereas the CL game on Wed isn't. Because we get to play Inter again, at the Lane. Which will be important. I'll talk more about the CL game in a later blog.

Fulham took the lead, Kamara scoring. Bit of a mess from all concerned in terms of positioning for this one. It's easy to point and shout at Gallas who showed a lack of awareness of where the Fulham forward was (behind you!) but you could also lay scorn on Hutton who run into a central position, practically clashing with Kings space and the cross/ball going through the both of them into the path of Kamara who tapped it home.

Did Gallas think someone (in Spurs colours) was tracking the forward? No matter, organisation here was left wanting. All too easy. Needs to be worked on in training. School-boy mistake tbh.

But this is brand new Spurs, feasting on Dutch cake, of the Amsterdam variety. Relaxed and giddy, as you were. We go down the other end and equalise. From the kick-off. Brilliant skill from vdV to turn and chip onto the bar, ball falling down to Pav who had a simple tap in, but made sure he pointed out his name on the back of his shirt just in case anyone was in doubt of the clinical polished ball-pushing over the line touch off his boot.

Have to say, I'm still lol'ing at the Fulham fans (bless 'em) who didn't even had enough time to finish their rendition of 'you're not singing any more'. So the Spurs away support did the polite thing and finished the song off for them.

Other mentions. Gomes pulled off a save or two. King went off injured, Bassong replaced him. I know that with Ledders, I sort of half expected him not to play and be rested for Inter, in what many expected him to play a damage limitation role. I'm glad Harry started him, it's a shame he limped off and won't be available for the Everton game next weekend (as well as no Italian away day). But it's a statement made. We didn't take the game for granted or displayed signs of looking ahead to mid-week.

It's part and parcel of the risk we take with King. Get well soon. Once more, we re-visit the age old conundrum of the centre-back pairing and what we need to be doing in terms of looking ahead for the future. Once Dawson is back, we might place said conundrum back onto the back-burner again. Which isn't ideal, what with us still not knowing for sure if Woody is going to be 100% again.

Second half, Sandro off. Subbed, not sent off, which he might have been not out of malicious play but from untidy tackling. Azza replacing him before the kick-off. Lennon was good. Again. Off the bench appears to have given him a gentle kick up the bum in terms of desire to impress. Cracking
movement with BAE finding Pav who played the ball inside to Lennon - weak shot, but good to see all round. He seems to have direction rather than losing himself cutting into central midfield positions or running out of steam down the flanks.

More assured second half from start to finish I thought from us. Not perfect, Kamara spoiling chances which I was happy to see spurned. Wasn't so much about individuals today, but more about the unit. vdV, Bale, Modric...all relatively quiet. vdV had his moment with the first goal. Moddle is still slightly off the pace, his touch not Lukaesque just yet, but he's made it clear he knows he's struggling a little. He'll get there. Bale was definitely quiet compared to the beastly performances he usually produces. Did pulsate forward creating a vdV chance. But as a unit, the lads did enough, which was worthy of three points. So no shrugs of despondency from me.

Other bits and pieces off the top of my head. Hutton and Gomes getting in each others way, a Hutton effort on goal, Crouch on for Pav. Oh yeah, almost forgot. The goal for 2-1.

First time in history I've ever agreed with Alan Shearer (with his MotD assessment). Hansen obviously disagreeing with him and baiting Lineker. So very very bitter. Always let you down the Spurs don't you know.

If you want to start playing the game by the letter of the law - at the time of the Hudd shot, their keeper was in sight of the ball leaving the boot. Gallas, offside position, not interfering with play. Ball takes a deflection, still not interfering. Gallas tries his best to put any doubt in the refs mind about disallowing a potential goal by attempting to kick the ball, still not interfering because he didn't touch the ball.

Ball crosses the line. 1-2 Tottenham.

Lino however decides to flag, so good on Hudd for making sure the ref took note of the journey taken by the ball into the Fulham goal. Mike Dean, giving us the decision. I'm sure I would have complained about it if it was the other way round, but deep down, even though you could argue it is interfering because the player was trying to become active - he wasn't active because he didn't change anything (i.e. the ball was still on course with going in after the deflection, so Gallas could have stripped naked and slapped a haddock on his backside, it would not have made a blind bit of difference - although no doubt it might have made it onto Soccer AM's third eye).

Active, not active...ambiguous, no? The authorities would not have it any other way.

Good performance. We're 5th. 14 points. A few off the top, and obviously regretful of the points dropped against a couple of sides this season which might have had has even higher. But this season will be more open and closer than the last, so it's a case of staying in amongst it again - and aiming for bigger scalps in the way of our 'Top 4' opposition and doing something about the lack of wins away to them in 60+ games. Also feel we need to start to destroy sides at the Lane again.

Mentality should be about maximising our potential against the supposed weaker sides at home and continuing to dig deep away. Stick the pressure on the other contenders by pulling away. At the minute, everyone appears to be very evenly matched (there's four or so tiers in the Prem itself).

Momentum = confidence = belief = success.

Simply put, get through to the Jan window in a top 5 position. Then consolidate the f**k out of it.

Back to bed I go.


Spurs 4 Twente 1: DVD? Nah, got us a vdV

Why bother supporting any other team when the one I've got rips the heart out of my chest and then mockingly juggles it around in my face? How could anyone possibly turn down the chance to feel completely alive by virtue of being dragged kicking and screaming to near death?

It's a never-ending this, a roller-coaster ride which dips into the pits of hell and loops its way upwards through purgatory and onwards at great speed into the fluffy lilywhite coloured clouds of a blinding heaven. Which by this point you are so mentally and physically ruined you can hardly muster up the energy to enjoy the moment because you're too busy trying to push your ravaged and just about beating heart back through your rib cage, breathing life back into your shattered body.

This is Tottenham '10/11. We don't just win. We entertain. In that 'oh crap we might yet still lose this' kinda way. And in the process they make sure you lose at least ten weeks off your life expectancy, for every ninety minutes of this torturous wonderment.

Whether you were at the game last night, getting drenched, lapping up the Champions League theme music and advertising boards and the slow renditions of 'Oh when the Spurs' or sat at home wondering at what point exactly a portal opened and sucked you into a parallel bizarro dimension where Spurs play their football on the tiny pitch at Highbury - it doesn’t matter. In the space of 94 minutes or so, the Champions League lost it's Spurs virginity at White Hart Lane. And she loved it. The slut.

Back to back defeats before the game. There was plenty of concern pre-match. The injuries to the back four make it swap shop every weekend. The tinkering of formations and player selections. The lack of any full forceful desire and guile, leaving us with no platform for the possibility of momentum.

We lined-up in a more traditional 442. King back in the team with Bassong alongside him. Hutton right, BAE left. Lennon benched, meaning a middle two of Hudd and Modric with Bale on the left and van der Vaart on the right but with the license to shift into more central positions. Crouch and Pav up top. First thought when seeing the team? Balanced and logical. We're at home. We need to be on the offensive. No need for the complexities we've witnessed recently of 451 where some of our players struggle with their assigned roles. That's if they have any to start of with.

Game kicks off, and it was all a bit frustrating during the opening exchanges. Twente didn't let us settle, there was no zing to the ball, no suggestion that we could perhaps turn the pace of the game to EPL standard. When they had the ball, they created pockets of half-chances and almosts. Our play was ever so slightly off-key, summed up with Bale's wasteful pass to no one when it was easier to find vdV.

There was a tinge of the ominous about the game. It was open, end to end. But still, you wondered if this was simply the way CL football is, or that once more we would flatter to deceive and fail to make an impact. But slowly and surely we found a way in.

You saw the game. So you can fully appreciate it's wonderful mixture of ups and downs and thank f**ks. So I won't run through an incident-by-incident analysis. Instead, I'll cover off the vitals:


Give him the captains armband. Yeah, okay, so it was obvious after 10 minutes he'd get red-carded at some point what with the way he was running around with his chest pumped out, exuberantly trying to be involved with everything, every touch of the ball, kung-fu or otherwise. It was like watching Gascoigne, just without the big fake tits and tears. We haven't had a player like this for a while. Someone who leads by example, be it last night was a mixture of the good, the bad and ugly. He's got a 'I'll grab you by your throat get up and go' styling about him that practically begs his team mates to match his intensity. The fact he is technically top drawer is additional man-crush material.

I absolutely love Rafa and his relentless desire to push forwards. Should have hit his penalty lower, towards the corner and not given that twat in goal for Twente the chance to cheat-save it. But what a start to the second half. Brilliantly taken goal (or quite an easy one if you let Alan Smith explain the dynamics to you). His second yellow, much deserved as his first. Unnecessary. Gutting. Luckily, Spurs are made of sterner stuff and survived. I heart you Rafa you decadent piece of Dutch delight.

The defence

Welcome back Gomes you nutter. Wayward kicking, couple of uneasy moments, but reminded us of his class with his 'one-to-one I'll sit down to save this with my hand' save. I'm far more confident with him in the side even if he is prone to loopy moments and girlie crying.

Hutton. Superb offensively be it to the detriment of the defence, so if you're a misery guts you'll argue he's a tad undisciplined what with his marauding down the flanks and thus a liability. But it does sort of work. If he can spot the dangers of when not to run forwards or as long as Harry instructs some quick-smart cover, then I actually quite like to see him retain his place for the moment. Mainly because we still have to wake up in the EPL. And at home, he can be an asset.

Bassong. Went on one mazy run. Was like watching a slow-mo version of Zokora with better control of the ball and moving in more than one direction. Nothing like Zokora actually. But much like Zoko, amounted to nothing. Defensively ok. Same with BAE. They both just got on with it. I don’t remember BAE getting forwards much, but not complaining too much there. They can both play with more assurity, that's for certain. Talking of which...


Not brilliant, but doesn't have to be. He's still better than most even when running at 80% with his knee super-glued on. Ledley; a prestige player. Indispensable. Levy, if you're reading this, screw the new stadium, spend the money on a cloning machine. In fact, if anyone knows the whereabouts of Nikola Tesla's teleportation machine, get in touch. Oh wait, hold up, it burnt down. Oh well, we're screwed.


Didn't notice him? That's because there was no fireworks, just the strong whiff of Croatian sweat. Bottle it up, sell it as a cologne. 'Luka', the scent of smart. He never wasted possession, constantly and tirelessly working for the side. Not the clever crafting Luka we know and love, but the game required a more disciplined effective player who made sure the midfield tick tocked without a pause. Multi-layered is Moddle.


He's a bit all over the shop at the moment. Easily could have seen a red card for his backwards flying arm. Keep those eyes from turning green, Bruce. Good shift with regards to defensive duties, what with the blocking and tackling. Perhaps no time for studs on ball, look up, Hollywood passing but you need to adapt quickly to the pace of the game and he did so. Just about. I think he's struggling with the adjusting he's having to make.


Even when he's not quite firing on all cylinders, he's still a joy to watch. Powerful, beastly Gareth, with a barnet to die for. His goal (our 4th) summed it up for me, taking advantage of slack defending, pulsating forwards, slotting it home. Like I said, not quite firing on all cylinders (crossing was meh at times). But essential to the team because he always looks like creating something. Has to remain at LW. Forever and ever and ever.

Crouch and Pav

Peter got himself into positions but seemed to hedgehog himself when the ball flew towards him. Didn't have a comfortable time out there. Did win us a pen and did assist for vdV. So if I could reach, high-five Peter. Pav, non-existent first half and yet somehow better in the second when we had ten men. His penalty taking was superb. Clinical Roman, he can take his chances when gift-wrapped, but still has the Darren Bents about him in terms of effectiveness off the ball. Does hold the ball up well on occasions. But it's obvious, we lack the upper tier quality required to really lead from the front. Holding the ball up and whatever, come one now, it's bread and butter. We need more than this.

Redknapp and the formation/tactics

Ding-dong game wasn't it? Some generous refereeing decisions with the pens. But the team worked as a unit and certain individuals took responsibility and are deserving of good post-match hug. Back to the basics of 442. It worked. Okay, so it was not quite solid in places in terms of some of our defending and we did not look overly convincing at times (we'll have to play eight at the back against Inter). And the front two didn't have a sharp cutting edge type of night (do we ever?), but there was more than enough about us to see it through. A better team probably would have taken advantage and punished us where Twente perhaps wasted opportunities. But you could argue, with Defoe up front, we could done the same to them.

The game

Ridiculous. Heart out of chest, in mouth, gagging football. Thanks to the officials, someone ought to point out to them that Christmas is still a few months away. First penalty, for me was a pen. Second was very soft but we've seen them given. Third wasn't a penalty, but hey, anything that sticks it to Mihaylov is fine by me. Game was won with the possession of the ball in the second half after Twente got back into the game and Rafa got sent off. Our reaction to it was for me, excellent. Harry bringing on Jenas (at 3-1) was a very clever move which resulted in a spell of possession football which killed 10-15 minutes and practically ended Twente's belief they could claw their way back.  

Defence worked hard. Midfield tried to make things happen. Front two, not so effective, but in the end it was more than enough.

Hopefully the team will have a touch more confidence and focus for the EPL now. Even though, the reality is, we were not by any great means wholly convincing. But the tenacity was there. It's time for us prioritise the league starting with Villa at home.


To dare is to do a bit of everything. van der Vaart, my man of the match.