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Boas-urns Boas-urns

It still quite hasn't clicked for us yet. A consequence of transition. Although a fair few (media included) seem to expect a continuation of what Harry Redknapp left behind to spark our season into action. Even though what Harry left behind was a side that crumbled mentally like a dunked digestive for the last quarter of the season throwing away all the work achieved in the early stages. I guess that's a cheap shot and I shouldn't sit here comparing the past with the present but it seems that the people already on the managers back or slating Daniel Levy for his lack of effort in the transfer window are happily citing Villas-Boas Chelsea tenure and the fluidity of Redknapp's side as reasons for this transition to be renamed a crisis. I guess that makes me an apologist for daring to remain balanced. Probably no reason for me to do so what with the support VB will obviously enjoy from the friendly tabloid hacks.

The pressure will be quite enough from out side the club, I see no productivity in joining forces with the outsiders.

Seems Villas-Boas promise not to change too much hasn't blossomed well. Probably because the reality is things do have to change and it's not a fluid transformation from old to new. If we wanted him to play the way we played before he arrived he might as well just tell the lads to get out there and kick the ball about a bit. Worked for the last gaffer. Is he still available, the last gaffer? We could bring him back in as an advisor. Organise a proper handover.

So are we playing well?

No, not across 90 minutes. In patches we've shown encouraging signs of focused attack and intent but we've been a little too static in shape. The lack of creativity from the middle of the park means we're pushing our efforts out to the wings and it's not quite paying off with neither Bale of Lennon quite finding form. New players in will need to bed in. The same can be said for the system which seems to be very slow in positive movement. No much sign of the high-line either at the moment and far too much sitting back towards the end of games which has cost us (although individual error has been just as responsible).

Lack of leadership on the pitch? Sure, there has been no true accountability. But then there's no King (forever) or Parker currently. Those new players will inject that extra something we're lacking. Shake up a few of the current batch that seem to think it's still pre-season.

The rhythm, the tempo. Its lethargic, disjointed. Ghosting in for a cameo and then disappearing. There's no link from defence to midfield and into attack. Goes to show just how vital Luka Modric was and just how gutting failing to sign João Moutinho is. This is why we can't play to that old swagger tune we've been spoilt with.

Adebayor still doesn't look fit enough (let's blame Levy). Defoe will never quite fit into this system, unable to hold the ball up with intelligence and far too inclined to hold onto it just to shoot the ball into defenders body without any spacial awareness. The two holding midfielders isn't working. Can't play Livermore and Sandro together, there has to be a mix in there and there was a marked improvement with Dembele on the pitch who scored a superb goal. So I can already see how we'll improve post-international break with him in the centre with perhaps Clint Dempsey who will take the place of previous chief galvaniser Rafa van der Vaart, looking to inspire players to match his effort and urgently. Dempsey could even go wide.

Two home games played, we've made hard work to just get our noses ahead and then two very late equalisers - both avoidable yet open invitations on both occasions. It won't breed confidence but then had we sneaked both games at 1-0, even with the disjointed play, they'd be a little bounce about us. Winning when not playing well, we'd have heard plenty of that. Whereas at the moment it feels far worse than it is because we've thrown away four points and haven't looked like a side with a clear identity of style.

On the subject of points:

Huddlestone was stupid. Wasn't as bad as it looked but with that type of tackle you won't get away with just a yellow unless you're playing in red at Old Trafford. Dive in like that, even if you get a little of the ball or appear to pull away last second - it doesn't look good. Ref should have given Norwich a penalty for a shirt pull by Benny (unless I'm misremembering that incident). Erratic.

Vertonghen, Sigurdsson are still settling into the side.

Defence too deep in latter stages of the game. Not much of the high line. But then not sure how much the high line would work currently as side not pressuring opposition enough.

Livermore and Sandro as holding midfielders in a home game is not positive enough (as neither drive forward half as much as they should attempt to do) and it doesn't provide an outlet when the attacking midfielder (Sig) can't dictate play, which is no criticism to the individual. Just a consequence of making do with what we have. He's not playing as a central midfielder, just one that's pushing up to offer support to the striker. Imagine the difference Luka would have made in there. It's that simple. Or at least it would be but we have to move on without him and adapt until January. From what is being said, Mout almost signed. He agreed personal terms. The fee was agreed. The documents sent to us from Porto needed correction and we run out of time.

Sigurdsson (in that forward position) was there to create for Defoe but isolated thanks to lack of flank support. The less possession he has, the less chances will be carved out.

Defoe himself is in a state of limbo. He can't find comfort in the system and we can't accommodate his strengths.

Livermore is getting plenty of game time, confusion on Sandro being subbed off - but not sure if this was tactical or due to a knock. Villas-Boas might be testing the kid or doing something extraordinarily left-field and believing in him. Something a fair few have already given up on.

Bale is not sticking to the left.

Lennon's crossing is far too opportunistic on second attempt.

Not enough composure on the ball. Players not passing the ball, moving and passing. I've said static once already right? They need a rocket up their a*se.

Friedel was superb.


The booing, the fact we've dropped points at home twice on the trot - we should remember that fine line and that we're hardly looking in complete disarray. But then some believe we're looking just that. So either I'm not facing up to the truth or others have already predicted the future.

We started on fire against WBA. If it wasn't for poor finishing we'd have been out of sight. So easy to just ignore that fact. We didn't however start well against Norwich. Villas-Boas has to get that intensity from kick off in how we compete from the off. Because it takes one goal (well two actually to hopefully gauanntee a win) to awaken that sleeping belief and confidence so that both supporters and players truly now a new era has started.

Things are not half as bad as they are being perceived. Some will never give the new coach their full support no matter what as they've already decided he will fail and are behaving accordingly to fit into their belief system (lack of). Remind you of someone else's early tenure?

If he fails, I can't quite believe I'm being forced to even talk about that possibility three games into a season, but if he does at least I'll be able to say I got behind him and the team. I'm I deluded? Am I avoiding the inevitable? Am I in denial? No.

I'm hopefully the majority that will out sing and shout the minority in support of the team.

Some of you are proud of the fact that you believe he will fail and want to fragment yourself from the rest of us and disassociate yourselves from being supportive of him. You wear your disdain like a badge of honour claiming it's your heart on your sleeve. If it was your heart on your sleeve you would muster up words and songs of encouragement instead.

It's not even about the booing. The booing is just a time-stamp on the lack of support.

Seems we are more disjointed in the stands than we are on the pitch. Getting what we deserve at the moment.

Seems we'll have to agree to disagree.




(title of article plagiarised from here)


This is Tottenham



Followed by:


A magnificent seven games in what will be a defining seven weeks of football. This is not quite the run-in but it qualifies as the business end of the season (the business end being every game until we cement Champions League). We might have to dig deep, get lucky but the emphasis as ever has to be on retaining momentum. Suggestions the court case is affecting the teams focus. Opinion that we are so finely tuned that a key player missing here or there weakens us with far greater impact because of how much we rely on a very specific style of play. It’s a testing period, every game massive. Every point vital. If we trip and fall, I have no qualms about our ability to stand up, dust off and continue the march.

I’m buzzing. This pressure and at times anxiety is what football at the top is all about. There’s an edge to it because of what’s at stake. But I’m still managing to maintain some dignity and haven’t quite begun to feast on my nails. You know you’re doing something right when you go into every game echoing its importance.

Defeat isn’t something I’m entertaining in any of the above matches although the odds suggest it’s probable. But considering we’ve yet to truly disappoint in defeat this season (excluding the opening two games) I’m confident that the team can fight and perform well. It resonates, the belief. We’re going to need to be exceptional across the next four games and if we are then we might no longer feel the need to look behind (if you’re that way inclined - some prefer to still look upwards).

If you work out the points ratio to games and the fact that everybody is still prone to slipping up, we only have to continue our form (points accumulation) to retain our position. I’d rather not though. I’d rather play like we need to make up a ten point gap. I’d rather we continue to chase the impossible dream, if only to hold onto a standard that will practically guarantee a top three finish. Can’t settle with what we have, we need to always be better than our last game.

Forgetting all future fixtures, the only one that matters at the moment is Liverpool away. Two morale boosting wins against the two Manchester clubs (one over two legs) but their home form is still erratic. Traditionally a tough place to visit, much like last season when we travelled north and faced a resurgent home side to then return home with all three points. Mental strength in abundance these days and we’ll need it on Monday evening. They won’t have forgotten the spanking we dished out at the Lane. The indignity (for them) more so in the fact we could have scored double the goals we got had we not ease off and slowed the pace down to simply possession play. They’re going to want to put that right. As you would expect.

I’m not going to dwell on the past too much. It’s easy to remember their dominant cycle during the 70s and 80s and more recently their consistency in finishing top four and winning cup competitions. There’s no doubting their pedigree. But they’re in transition. They’re going to cite the past to aid in fuelling their motion forward to reclaim those past glories; it counts for very little until they’ve actually achieved it. Much like the position we’re in. For both clubs it’s wise to remember that football owes us nothing. Liverpool are still in transition. We’re several steps ahead of them. The onus is on us to prove that. Both clubs have to fulfil their immediate ambitions. For us, it’s finishing as high as possible in the league and to qualify for the CL. For them?  Consistency to lay claim towards challenging for a top place finish again.

A win for us would be demoralising for a fair few clubs inside that top seven. It really is a strong position to be in. One we are still becoming accustomed to. Several steps ahead but still on that learning curve and still earning that experience. You look at how Utd came back against Chelsea. This being a Utd side that might lack the depth of quality of previous revisions but still retain that sense of all-consuming belief, that never-say-die attitude that only Champions can possesses. We’re in there, we continue to compete, contend. We’ve got to really want it and show that desire in games like this.

As for Liverpool, their style. I can never shake off the feeling that they are quite workman like, nothing overly fancy but still well drilled with a caveat to being susceptible to lethargic performances. Their form is much like the form of older Spurs teams. Bit all over the place. Dare I say they are similar to us when we began to rebuild (for the umpteenth time), trying hard to find a cohesive pattern. Things can change quickly, so it’s best we do our utmost to widen that gap further.

Do they have players that can hurt us? For sure. I still worry about defending set-pieces (that’s if Downing manages to get a cross in successfully). A certain returning player from a lengthy ban might be making a comeback appearance. So all eyes (and lip-reading) on him. Do we have players that can hurt them? Let me think about that one. Yeah, one or two. You do get the impression that Dalglish’s men will try to take us on, bring the game to us and attack. Which should suit us fine (hoping we’ve learnt lessons re: Stoke and Swansea away). An open game means if we keep it controlled and composed at the back then we’ll have plenty of opportunity to go forward with intent.

How do we win? We win by owning the midfield. Might be an idea to play Sandro and Parker, match their work rate ethic (which  is far more one dimensional than ours) and get Modric on the ball as often as possible. Width key (as ever). Bale should do his best to stretch them to the left and only look to cut inside if the passage of play invites him to do so. Structure and discipline essential. I do hope for once Adebayor does more than bring others into play. Needs to start scoring again. Would be perfect timing if he rediscovered his touch in front of goal and went on a little run of games. Would accept arrogant, bullish displays of ruthlessness. Alternatively, Saha might have to do. Defoe (along with Lennon) not available (if you refer to official team news updates). That’s hardly been his trademark for a while. Would prance around like a character out of Glee if he was to rediscover that instinct one chance one goal state of mind. Hoping we are careful with where we give away free-kicks. They have players who can do damage by way of a dead ball.

As ever, Tottenham need to keep it Tottenham in terms of approach. We are hardly the most tactically astute side and that tends to benefit us when we go out and look to retain possession and attack/counter-attack. We play the Tottenham way, we swashbuckle but with a spine and strength that isn’t too dissimilar to Liverpool sides of yesteryear.

If we play like the second half at Eastlands or in fact if we match our almost destructive nature from the White Hart Lane 4-0, then when thinking of Anfield, you’ll most like to reply...'This is three points'. Couldn’t care less for comparisons of silverware and history. Very few clubs can come out looking better than Liverpool in terms of titles and cups. All I care about is the present and living in it. With any luck, enjoying it too.


Love the shirt.



There is no Doomsday. Just All-Stars.

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

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

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

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

So what changed exactly?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Reality can also be many more things.

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

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

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



An echo of glory

W.B.A 1 Spurs 3

Twenty eight out of a possible thirty points. Five away wins this season already (seven in total last time out). Is this the thing they call consistency? Of course it is. We've been accustomed to it for a while now. Don't pretend otherwise. Spurs have gradually gained said consistency across a season since Martin Jol almost lead us to the promised land. Since then, its been consolidated under Harry Redknapp (we'll ignore the blip that was Ramos). We continue to build up the defences at Fortress Lane. We've only been ransacked on rare occasions by canny thieves and barbarian armies. Away from home we conquer territory, sometimes with sheer perseverance and stubbornness, knowing we have the ability to attack and kill and leave the battlefield victorious.

The uncertainty, it no longer troubles us. It's now a routine. Sometimes expertly choreographed. Sometimes with a smile from the Gods.

A winning mentality, is not possessed over night. We've got one. It's fledgling and its in our hands (and heads and feet) just how well we nurture it.

This is not false hope. This isn't Spurs of old. Win a few games, then resort back to mediocrity. You have to be foolish to think that based on the fact we have some irresistibly slick players in our squad and the team, as a unit, has an organic progression to it. Last season was considered a failure because we finished 5th. That speaks volumes to how far we've come from those dark perpetually transitional periods in the 90s and early 00s.

When we have a full strength team arguably we have one of the best midfield's in the land. Robust, intelligent and exhilarating. Players like Luka, Rafa and Gareth...dream targets for the competition.

When I found out Luka Modric was also out of the game against W.B.A. (along with Rafa van der Vaart) I found myself scratching head contemplating this would go a long way to displaying the fortitude of manager + players. We don't get much at the Hawthorns so to turn up there with two key players missing means you're going to instantly knee-jerk and resort to questioning the depth in squad, or lack of. Then you might start to panic about what would happen if say Adebayor picked up a knock. It's all valid concern and I'd like to see us consolidate in January by signing two more top class players to really push this home and retain a top three placement.

So two players out, Defoe and Sandro in. Further maturity gained for club. What we got was yet another piece of striking evidence that this Spurs side is strong, physically and mentally.

First half, we struggled to adjust and our defending was neither tidy/organised. But at no point did I think here we go again because we've not actually gone there for an absolute age. Even if the side lacked a cohesive flow to it we have such an abundance of quality (see move that led to Lennon being fouled and awarded the penalty) that we can soak up pressure but always retain that potential to hit back. Regarding the penalty, scuffed shot for the kick, but Adebayor followed up to knock it in for the equaliser. Redemption for the team for the manner in which we conceded the easy opening goal W.B.A scored.

Second half was a bit more like it. Parker more aggressive in forward positions, team possession and passing improved (still the odd lapse and loose ball). Was nowhere the perfection we witnessed against Villa but again our quality gives us an edge that clubs like our hosts will always struggle to defend against. The flick to JD and his subsequent run and shot...brilliant. Adebayor scuffed again (Christ only knows what he'll be capable of once he finds himself in sharp form) for a third. Could have had more. Seven goal, six assists for our loan star so far.

W.B.A might argue they created a chance or two. Chances don't equate to points.

No nerves. Plenty of patience. Some luck.

Kaboul might have had the shakes, but there were more positives from the game than negatives. Adebayor continues to prove the virtues of having a complete forward who works relentlessly for his team mates. Lennon's renaissance continues. Even on the left-hand side. Defoe made an impact you can hardly ignore. Sandro, beastly as per usual, even if dangerously close to seeing red.

There's an air of confidence that allows the team to play without finger hovering above the panic button. In fact, where is the panic button? Once upon a time it was big enough for one of our players to simply head butt it to signal a capitulation. It's been a long time coming but it's nice to know that these days its more likely to be pressed by the opposing side.

When we play well, we are unplayable. Sometimes we can do just about enough to get through ninety minutes and secure the three points, almost like it was never in doubt even if there were moments when it was.

That, ladies and gentlemen is the mark of a proper team.

Well done. Again.

Still, early days. Not even Christmas yet. Long may the run continue, but all we've done thus far is set the foundations for what might be a superb season.

We are still growing and adapting to obstacles (of a selection type) that challenge us. If we're still involved at the top come 2012, which I'm sure we will be, then the transfer window will be imperative for us because to make this side even stronger by adding two or three players into the fold could be the difference between Top four or Top two.

Oh look at me getting all giddy and excitable. What do I care, heart on sleeve, I'm enjoying this as much as you. I refuse to be nervous and I refuse to hide behind negative what ifs. As improbable as a title challenge might appear to be, you'll never know just how good you are or just how good you can be if you don't aim high.

So aim high Spurs. Aim high. What will be will be.


Spurs facts. Click here.


Spurs drop two points and then gain one

Spurs 1 Chelsea 1

Should have won the game. Arguably could have lost it. The emotion that sits alongside me post-game is one of regret and frustration. Go on, hands up if you're gutted we didn’t collect the three points? Gutted, but hardly surprised at the final result. Yet another perfect illustration of just how small the margin is from pretenders to something a bit more than just pretenders.

Let's review.

Our opponents

For all their possession (especially in the second half) they still lacked any sustained cutting edge up front (sound familiar?). Passion wise, they rediscovered some much needed form, but then it was a derby so you expected them to play a lot better than they have in recent weeks. But even now looking back, if this is Chelsea trying to rediscover full pelt it was hardly punches to the back of our neck. When their missing and returning players return to full fitness they'll probably shift gear. Thought we contained them first half and they had pockets of pressure in the second half. Wasn't easy but I was hardly biting my nails either.

Their stand out player, was (pains me) John Terry. Made some point-saving interceptions.

I'm struggling to remember the last time they beat us at the Lane. Just in case you wanted another example of evidence of how we've dragged ourselves out of that horrific hoodoo that haunted us for so long.

Chelsea are as fragmented as we are.


It's simple really and it’s the same conclusion discussed at the end of most games these days. Forwards. It's not quite right up top, is it? But then it's not just about our lack of clinical pomp in the final third from our front two. It's the movement and decision making that is a few per cent off from resulting in two or three goals rather than the one - which on Sunday would have had the game wrapped up at half-time (although I prefer to theorise on prior games that we would have wrapped up - let's not forget that we were playing the Champions, poor form or not).

That final ball, that early ball, the required movement into space. It's not quite silky and instinctive.

There were a number of occasions when I felt Bale and Lennon could have played in a pass releasing Defoe/Pav. A top class forward would make an obvious and effective difference. Equally so if Modric did not have to spend too much time on chasing/defending he'd possess far more freedom to carve and craft. Then again - two DM's with Modric behind the front two and Bale on the left is hardly balanced on paper and with Hudd and vdV out it's about making the most of what we have. Which isn't half bad considering our recent unbeaten run of games.

Even with the slightly (ever so slight) off-key decision making, we'd probably have survived had we not made one or two errors at the back to allow Chelsea a share of the points.

1st half - could have punished them further. 2nd half - could still have punished them on the break and when we reclaimed some possession in offensive positions, but lucky not to lose in the end, amazingly, with our finger on the self-destruct button.

It was in our hands and we dropped it. Rather than being battered into submission.

The Goals

Brilliant touch and movement from Pav.

Ball in from JD in front of the practically static Chelsea back-line, Pav then touches the ball taking him away from Terry and co, creating time and space to thrash the ball in for the 1-0. Considering some of the Russians 'first touches' littering the game you might wonder if he actually meant the touch that set himself up for the goal. But that's harsh. Probably. It was a class finish. From the very top drawer.

Drogba's goal was altogether a different ilk of beast. Okay, so we all know Gomes is a loopy loon of a tune. Expert shot-stopper, instinctive reflexes when there is hardly time to think. So why exactly did that shot go through him with such ease? Much like I'd even expect Superman to be downed by a bullet made of Kryptonite, with Gomes it felt more like a pie to the face of a clown. And yet perhaps his only mistake was to think he could have saved it by allowing gravity to pull him downwards, rather than standing tall and taking the ball in his face.

Alas, this pie had a brick in it, and the power of the shot was just too damn powerful for his girlie wrists. Did he have time to work his positioning before the shot flew towards him? No matter, he should have done far better than he did.

Sure, Drogba hand-balled it, quite blatantly, and Dawson was a second or two slow to react (because of that second spent looking across for the flag). Defensive errors cost us dearly here. It was a soft goal to concede. But for all their possession, they scored a goal from almost nothing. Not quite gift wrapped. Drogba still had to take his voucher to the shop and select his prize.

The Penalty

Madness. Why goalkeepers go charging out then hold their hands up proclaiming innocence…dear oh dear. But like some demented twist and turn of a screenplay, fate would have him give the penalty away so that he could save it and reclaim some lost dignity, even though this was a mess he created. Because of how it played out, during the time it took for the ball to be placed on the spot and be taken - it felt like we had lost the game. So the save made it feel like we had won a point. Crazy. Poor penalty helped matters. Lovely irony what with Fwank on the pitch.

In Defence of Gomes

Yes. He's fruit-loop. He's also an outstanding keeper and let's not forget the amount of times he has saved us playing with a forever changing back four in front of him. Does need a good slap in the face every now and again (gentle slap, don't want him crying) but he showed character. He guessed which way to go with the dive for the pen, going opposite to where Drogba tends to place them. Homework or luck, what does it matter. He redeemed himself for this particular last gasp dramatics.

Who is this Wilson?

Not that Chelsea were formidable in the centre of the park, but let's still stand and applaud Wilson Palacios for a performance which had bite and some much missed intensity returning from a long sabbatical. And in addition, a refreshing lack of misplaced passes. He did his job perfectly, got himself involved, closing down players and laying it off with a simple ball to feet. Not quite the destroyer of his early Spurs form, but one game at a time, right?

The Redknapp Substitution

Defoe is taken off. On comes Peter Crouch. Why?

Well that all depends on a couple of things. If it was about JD, he might have been subbed to preserve some juice as he's only recently returned from his injury. Don't think he picked up a knock. If it wasn't that then it has to be tactical. Knowing Redknapp, I'd hazard a guess he wanted Crouchie to lend a hand (head) at the back to defend set-pieces. But it didn't quite work, at least that's the ranting going on in Harry's direction over this tactical reshuffle.

Defoe and Pav worked well. JD's work-rate was very decent. There was a partner-ship there, be it one that still requires a few more games to click. But if we suddenly need to change it because of the opposition asking questions deep in our half, do we do so to the detriment of our forward play?

Would it have been more apt to sub Pav (no pace, not great in the air) and bring on Crouch to knock the ball down to JD? Crouch did very little, did get his head on the ball a few times but nothing more. Was okay but with Defoe off the pitch, we lacked an outlet of pace. Crouch and Pav is hardly the most dynamic combo. Then again, for all of Defoe's work-rate, he didn't have enough about him to get in behind the Chelsea defence. So perhaps this was a fitness issue after all.

Not sure what the point of bringing Keane was other than hope he could produce something from that long lost forgotten locker. Needs to find the keys first.

Dawson's Return

Great to have him back. Superb, got caught out for the goal, but for him to play in this game as a return to the side game do so with some comfort wearing the captains armband - that makes me smile.

Player Ratings Score-Card

Gomes - 6 - The good, the bad and the ugly.
Hutton - 7 - Far more disciplined than usual defensively and didn’t nullify Lennon. Still think he's positional sense and intelligence is not great.
Dawson - 8 - Early Christmas present. We might finally see our back four settle down now.
Bassong - 7 - Reliable and focused. Made some telling contributions.
BAE - 8- Cracking performance.
Lennon - 8 - Continues his rehabilitation, proving what a little confidence can do. 2/3 games from his best if he continues this form.
Palacios - 8 - Still on the subject of confidence, perhaps it was the responsibility bestowed due to the occasion. Can hardly fault him.
Modric - 8.4 - Really beginning to tick. Shame he can't shoot for toffee.
Bale - 7.2 - Quiet but still had opportunity to create with a few marauding runs down the flank, probably should have released the ball early once or twice, got cluttered and marked out by Chelsea. It's a transitional stage for him this, learning to adapt to the adaption our opponents are having to adopt.
Defoe - 7 - Worked hard, assisted for the goal. Still not 100% but he'll get there.
Pav - 7 - Brilliant finish. When he starts he scores. Was detached from play second half.

Crouch - Header here, knock down there. Not much of an impact but then the subs came late in the day to truly influence proceedings.
Keane - Spent a lot of time in the middle. Not sure I can remember much else.
Sandro - Hardly enough time to make an impact.

The ref - 5 - Made plenty of mistakes, let one or two obvious fouls go without yellows. Neither side will be best pleased. But at least he didn't ruin the game like some.

Forward Conundrum

World class forward up front and we'd be laughing right about now, yeah? The lack of guile at times and the obvious lack of testing their goalkeeper is what births the pressure on our back four the longer the game goes on. Ground-drog day. Perhaps with a vdV in the side and a Huddlestone we'd have created one or two more chances that could have left us in a far more comfortable position. When either or both return, we're back to Harry and his tweaks. It's going to define our season this. A new forward won't work out if our midfield isn't set up to maximise opportunities. I'm talking about decision making with the final ball and movement from all concerned.

Very obvious stuff this.

Our Form

Think it's just four wins out of nine so far this season at the Lane. Which on the face of it is not great. But then when you delve deeper it's one Premier League loss at home during the last year (1-0 to Wigan).

It's also six defeats in all competitions in twenty-six games played. Shame we were so abjectly bad away to West Ham and allowed Wigan to win at the Lane.

Race for 4th, 3rd, go on then why not…race for top spot

Another stat-attack for you - we are three points behind our total from the 2010 season, if you wish to compare.

09/10 - 17 games, 30 points
10/11 - 17 games, 27 points

Not the perfect benchmark I know (different season altogether, can't really compare game to game) but the more telling total is how far off the top we are. Because that's more relevant. Five, at the time of writing.

That's not shabby.

Harry, Levy - take note of the niggling repetitive quirks to our play that need fixing. January - it's imperative. But more so are the games from now until then.

Onwards. As ever, onwards.



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,