The blog has moved. Just browse to


the fighting cock podcast
blog best viewed on

Firefox, Safari, Chrome and IE8+.

Powered by Squarespace

Entries in EPL 2011 (35)


The spur of the cockerel needs to be sharpened

Swansea 1 Spurs 1

Not the best of days. Jaded, fragmented and lacked shaped, more so when Harry changed it up with the two substitutions in the second half which only served to invite more pressure from the home side. Two points dropped? Well no, not really. It was a point gained considering how much of the possession we gave up in the second half. The hosts were the better team.

The thing with mentality is our players should ask themselves why it failed today, why were we not at the races? Ask then put right next game and next time we’re away to a tricky side that might cause us a few problems. What I mean is, if there was a casual aspect to our play and if we held back in the early exchanges then there has to be a collective reason for it. Don't think it was anything more than the aforementioned jadedness.

Personally, I don’t buy into complacency or believing our own hype. Doubt very much we went there believing we’d just need to turn up to win. We just lacked that spark and all things considered, if we’re going to have an off day away from home then a point might as well be acceptable. Swansea had all the right in the world to attack us. Sadly we could only produce pockets of possession and could not get a handle on the midfield. Don’t underplay the fact that it only takes one or two players in the team to be just a little off balance in terms of performance level for that to have a knock-on effect.

Lack of rotation? Sure, that’s a reason, an obvious one. Perhaps because we haven’t quite defined our plan b we rely too much on a particular style of play which means rotation can have a detrimental effect on the side thanks to a lack of like-to-like replacements in the squad. We’ve played and won without key players before, but perhaps we’ve over-stretched a little and it’s caught up on us.

Still, if its fatigue we have an opportunity to be clever with selections in January (in our home matches) and capitalise on what looks to be an inviting fixture list. Also, it points towards the necessity for activity in the transfer window because we’ve still got a fair few games to get through and there is nothing more frustrating than losing out on something because we lack cover and then having to cite that as an excuse. When we were down to the bare bones last time, we somehow managed to finish fourth. It’s different today because we’re in a better position as a team and expectancy is on us to keep up the positive results.

One worrying aspect that remains concerns the players we do have, the fringe players, and which will perhaps (finally) be sold on as there is little chance of us signing someone when we’re not shifting others out. When you start looking at the semantics, it can turn into a nervous game of patience with varying arcs dependent on other clubs and the business they seek to do.

In the past this usually means nothing happens until the final week or day (if that). As I said back in the summer we need to be decisive. We don’t need a massive overhaul. Just consolidation in key areas. If the politics of management and other off the field dramatics play a part in Levy’s decision making, then it gets messy. The side and its immediate future has to take precedence. Long term questions can be answered in the summer of 2012 (i.e. new goalkeeper). The messy bit for Levy is the decision that might need to be made regarding a new forward. Not just the element of risk if Adebayor gets injured. It’s the conundrum of whether we need to look to bring someone in this January and how that might affect the potential signing of the Man City loanee.

Considering we didn’t splash out £20M+ for a La Liga or South American player and opted for a loan deal you might find yourself agreeing that Levy is playing a waiting game.

As for the game; It was high tempo – end to end at times. Very ominous towards the end. You just knew they would equalise and it was deserved even if I would have accepted the 1-0 in our favour (obviously). Perhaps better goal-keeping would have seen us steal all three points. I guess it’s a thin line. Hold on and win and we’d have lauded the performance of grit when not playing too well. We drew and thus, we’re disappointed in the two points dropped from a winning position. But in each case, the performance is identical. Just an instinctive reaction or reflex (or lack of) makes the difference. Either way, we did not lose the game. Consistency and work ethic is part of that mentality we’ve built up, which means the old skool capitulation disorder is no more. We know how to compete.

I could not care less about other results. Let them worry about us rather than us rely on them slipping up.

It was untidy. The substitutions did not influence the game in our favour (they aided the opposition). The impact of losing both Rafa and Parker (who is in dire need of a rest) was pretty much as subtle as a brick in the face. We failed to adapt and appeared reactive to the play, with Sandro doing his best to defend everything. Reason enough to rest Parker and allow Sandro to fly solo. Kaboul also impressed again and Rafa (with the goal) worked hard for the team before going off.

When presented with opportunities we did not make the most of them. Adebayor not great with his first touch and only needs to be offside once more this season to equal Defoe's all-time record. Too many lethargic performances. Should work in our favour though. A reminder we have to work harder and Harry has to be careful as to avoid that rather obvious excuse in the making burn-out. In the grand scheme of things, our festive tally was a decent one what with the games played away from North London.

Special mention for Gareth. Stop it and cut it out of your game. As for his positioning, Harry should have instructed him to anchor himself a little to the flank rather than free-roam centrally where he appeared to have little impact. These things take time to work themselves out, so no need for a knee-jerk.

39 points from the last 48 points available. Third in the Prem. I’m content. I’m ecstatic to be honest. Sure, I’m hungry for more and we should not get into the habit of accepting second best but we still have to be realistic. We continue to evolve and the most vital aspect is to retain that consistency and momentum we’ve built up.

And if you are inclined to show interest in what is going on elsewhere, it’s apparent that everyone is beatable at the minute. Nobody is quite the same force they once was. The Prem continues to flux in its state of transition. I wouldn’t go as far as suggesting four or five teams are level-pegged – but the difference is hardly insurmountable.

We need to quickly nail down how best to rest/rotate and rejuvenate when we hit a lull and still retain our style of play or adapt accordingly for damage limitation.

It’s been a cracking season, one that I hardly imagined when we got tonked 5-1 at home and then lost (as per usual) up at Old Trafford. We’ve been exceptional without always being spectacular, but we’ve embraced our traditions and have continued to add new traits to our tenacity. We’re playing fantastic football at times and have players others envy. It’s hardly a shabby position to be in so do more than enjoy it. Wear your heart on your sleeve. Always.

We are Tottenham. All hail the arrival of 2012.

Love the shirt.



Forward failure

Previous season review articles:

In our defence

Midfield majesty


Onwards now with penetrating the penalty box of pessimism where our goal shy forwards sleep.



Patches of form is JD’s signature. He scores goals in spurts but then goes missing for a while. He lashes the ball into the back of the net, a regular trait much like his inability to beat the offside trap. He’s a player you always expect to see improved but doesn’t quite get there, although this season there was a suggestion he would surprise us. Alas, he was struck down by injury and that was that. It’s easy to forget about the big chunk of the season he was sidelined and just criticise him for his form post- return. He’s struggled to reclaim that blistering zip and had it all compounded by falling behind in the queue to start up top in Lilywhite.

I’m going to be brutally honest. I think on form and fit, JD will score goals. Even in spurts, he will hit 20 if he avoids injury. However, if Levy and Harry plug the hole we have up front in terms of balls deep world class quality to compliment the likes of vdV and Modric...then a sacrifice will have to be made. JD will be benched. He won’t be first choice and he’ll want to be and will therefore have to look elsewhere. I don’t think he’s going to change his ways. He’s not a bad player. We just need something that little bit extra special.

Seems we have players at Tottenham that are neither first choice or strong enough to lead the frontline. And that’s a weakness.

He’s scored plenty for us (you might have missed the t-shirt) so I hope he shows the desire to stay and fight, but his words recently suggest otherwise. In a confident side, with a confident Defoe...fireworks.



Much maligned. Scored some vital goals for us at key moments. Assisted Rafa on the odd occasion too. But it’s like bringing a sex doll to bed to help you get in the mood when your partner is lying naked next to you. There’s no need for it. It’s a distraction. It’s not a necessity even though you could get some use out of it. If there was no Crouch they’d be no hoof and knock-down. It’s those key moments that allowed many to tolerate his lack of impact domestically (lack of goal return). It’s not his fault, he’s built the way he’s built and he’s had success at former clubs. But much like a team has to be setup in the right way for Darren Bent to run onto the ball off the last defender, you have to use Crouch as an outlet meaning it’s fine if he’s a backup/impact sub but not so good if he’s the one leading from the front. Dynamic he’s not.

Those vital goals, in the CL. Appreciated by all. But we need something far more robust. Someone who kicks the ball with venom and isn’t just an obvious Plan B to launch balls at.



Remind me, did we sign him in the aftermath of Zenit dicking us about with the Arshavin saga? We paid around £14M for a player that joined us off the back of the Russian season. He seemed to be permanently injured and forever with his translator. He wasn’t convincing and was far too apologetic in body language on the ball and off it. For the money spent he hasn’t displayed the qualities we expected from him when he arrived. There’s an argument that perhaps had he started more games he’d have found a rhythm and settled far quicker. Perhaps, but he’s far too erratic for me.

He’s obviously a classy player. Some of the goals he’s scored have been majestic, technically superb and instinctive. And yet he ghosts in and out of a game at times like a lost Sunday league player who has turned up in a professional league by accident. He’s a luxury. I think Harry knows that and I don’t believe him when he starts claiming he’s the best finisher at the club. I think the crux is that even though he might be, he’ll never be consistent enough and he’s obviously not doing enough to claim that first team start (unless Harry is still controlled by favouritism).

Pav does have the class, like I said. But it’s always too little too late. Scored some vital goals last season. Scored some great goals this season. That’s about it.



I guess, ideally, we’d replace all three players with two top drawer forwards and a young third choice striker for the future. Personally think Defoe will stay and Crouch and Pav will go. Which means we’ll sign our ‘world class’ forward and will simply need to invest in some youth to make sure we have ample cover.

At the end of this epically long day we didn’t score enough goals. Not to completely blame the front men as we lacked cohesiveness with the tinkering, but there were several games when you were left holding your head in your hands. Either we’ve had one of those days all season long or we just admit we need to up our game and make the required changes for the good of this team and its progress.


Up next:

Prem and the Cups 

The Progression of Harry Redknapp’s Tottenham (including a 'arry review)

Summertime High Jinxs




In our defence

End of season review. An attempt at one. I have to be honest with you, I’m struggling a touch at the moment. I’m spending most of my available time online (when not working) musing on Twitter, slagging off the In The Know community simply because I default to this obvious caricature of hate because there is very little else to discuss at the moment.

I could perhaps talk about what’s-his-face and the delightful twitch his face displays when someone on Sky Sports mentions the Chelsea job. Then again, no.

A letter is due to the chairman, but I’ll wait another week or so before I drain blood and dip feather.

As for the ITK community, I’ve already spotted one Spurs fan on a forum make up some s*** about a player only for a supposed well known ITK to then post about it on the forum he frequents, giving the impression he heard about it from a club insider.

Even funnier is the fact that ESPN are obviously connected because they published a news article about Cristian Ceballos (even though they jumped the gun suggesting he had signed) without a single citation in the day(s) before from any of the esteemed ITK’ers. A Barca reject kid on trial at Spurs and none of the countless self-proclaimed messengers had anything to share other than providing updates post-ESPN exclusive.

Yes, yes. I hate it all with a passion and here I am talking about it, unable to turn away. But for the moment, I will.

So this is me skipping onwards with the end of season chit chat.

Before I do I just want to say goodbye and good luck to @drwinston001 who is ‘retiring’ from blogging and handing over his site ( to a couple of other top lads to continue its coverage of all things Spurs. His final article covered off an assessment of our squad, which is well worth a read. If you’re wondering, a baby is on it's way. Good luck Tom, look forward to your guest-blogging over at thfc1882 in the not so distant future.

So, player reviews up first. The defence.

To follow: Prem / The Cups / The Progression of Harry Redknapp’s Tottenham / Summertime High Jinxs.



From shot stopping genius to calamity clown. If Gomes was a centre forward he’d be of the ilk not too dissimilar to the ones we have at the moment. Very good when there is no time to think. Remember Robbie Keane during his better spells at the club? Stick Robbie in a one on one situation and his brain farts and the ball either goes wide or straight at the keeper. Gomes, when he has a similar pocket of time for his grey matter to rub up against each other, can only ever result with a haemorrhage of haplessness.  

He completely losses the ability to control his physicality, body going one direction with mind left behind between the woodwork, whilst we all witness the implosion in slow-mo.

What is Gomes? Is he a good keeper prone to mistakes and lapses of concentration? Or is he an average keeper, one that is always prone to errors, but masks the negatives with moments of unparalleled reflexes and super-saves? It’s a fallacy to suggest all keepers are loopy. By virtue of the fact they are the only ones wearing gloves to handle the ball with hands during the game, their mistakes will always stand-out more. Conceding a goal thanks to an avoidable mistake can change the whole course of a game and the psychology of the teams focus. Much like missing a sitter.

No doubting Gomes has given us moments of stupendous plot. Giving away a penalty in the last minute, then saving it (Chelsea at home) and saving a pen only to give one away and concede seconds later (Blackpool at home). We’ve been treated to a master-class of excellence too (AC Milan away) as well as insanity (Inter away). He was incredible at the back of last season. That wasn’t him over performing. That was him at the top of his concentration. Gomes strikes me as someone who is fragile with self belief and confidence and when one mistake or a moment or uncertainty plays out, like domino's, all layers of his mind collapse.

He makes wonderful saves but when he makes mistakes, they are epic (and at key moments). He can flap too and when mistakes don't lead to goals they lead to Keystone antics across the whole of the backline, infecting his team-mates with a dizzy virus and it's side-effect of momentary panic.

Personally, I don’t want to detach my faith from supporting him. People who prefer him to be replaced by someone with a more steady head might be forgetting that a keeper who retains concentration might not necessarily be capable of match winning performances and when they conceded, it might not be thanks to a lapse of concentration but simply lesser skill.

If there’s a keeper out there that’s capable of brilliance but has the cool composed calmness of a Cech, then the vast majority of us would not complain if he was signed and the Brazilian was sold on.

Sort your head out Gomes.



He’s ex-Chelsea, he’s ex-Arsenal. He’s a trouble-maker. He’s a melter. He’s too old. He’s too slow.

Wish someone has pre-warned me he would be an absolute gem, a steal...a stolen gem. With King and Woodgate hardly involved, having someone of Gallas experience in the side has played a major part in retaining strength and organisation at the back. It took a while for him to regain full match fitness and settle in with his new team mates, but his almost nonchalant ‘doesn’t give a **** other than just performing well’ attitude proved that sometimes there is nothing wrong with wheeling and dealing. I can remember feeling mixed emotions and displeasure when he was made captain. Kudos to Harry. Gallas has been imperative in the absence of King, if not a pound for pound replacement. Interestingly, he's yet to score for us.



Step up, step up. Everyone knows Daws excels when he has Ledley King by his side. He’s been equally impressive with Gallas playing next to him but Daws is best positioned to the right of King. Regardless, he gets on with it and defends with royal passion. Just that, what with his age and with Ledley missing for large chunks of the’s time this prince became a King.

Mixed season, inconsistent at times and brilliant on occasions. You love Daws because of his relentless desire to do well. He might not be the quickness and he might lack the assured presence a Gallas or King possesses  but you can’t question his work rate (and his distribution ain’t too shabby).

If he can replicate the form he is capable of when he plays alongside King, then he’ll have grown into the player that we all wish him to be. At the minute, we’re just wishing. Dawson needs to believe in himself, just a notch more and take each game by the scruff of the neck. Which he does already, just not in every game.



Not one of his better seasons. All over the shop early on, replaced by Alan Hutton whilst we all wondered what had happened to the always reliable Croat. His positioning, key to make up for his lack of pace, had deserted him completely. I like him. I like the way he works the flanks with Lennon. I think, on form he offers more than our other options. He’s intelligent on the ball and can play football rather than perhaps just knock the ball ahead of him and run onto it. Hopefully it was a blip. I doubt Hutton will be with us next season. Kyle Walker will. So you can’t help but feel content that competition at right-back will be tight.



Everyone huddles, except for BAE. I mean, he’s there. You can see him, but his back is straight and his head is facing upwards and looking away whilst all the other soft-hearted lads are bending down to listen to the rallying speech. Simply put, Ekotto is too cool for skool. A modern day footballing anomaly. He doesn’t follow the game as a spectactor. Although it’s slightly stretching the persona of coolness to perhaps suggests he doesn’t care. He’s a model professional without the superstar add-ons.

His consistent, he’s drilled. He plays for the team and he does exactly what he’s expected to do at the back. More kudos to Harry for solving this conundrum as there was a time before his arrival when we were not quite sure he was the answer to our left-back headache.

Excellent player, excellent season...lets Bale rampage whilst he sits back and defends and never appears to lose focus. Hopefully Danny Rose will continue his impressive cameos into next season and give Ekotto a rest now and again (won't be too presumptuous and say 'competition' just yet).



Okay, so he’s offensive and he runs forward with intent and can impact the game but he can’t perform at the back as an individual or as part of a unit. He doesn’t fathom the concept of positioning and he has no astuteness in the art of defending. Had a period this season where some of us thought we’re be proven wrong, mainly down to the fact Charlie was so awful. Alas, we were not proved wrong in the end.



When Comolli signed him he stated he was ‘one for the future’. In true Tottenham fashion we threw him into the first team and ruined him. Well, we thought we had. Quite surreal that he was sold and then signed back. He’s grown and matured, he’s still raw in places but I can’t help but believe he has a strong future at our club. Development of his defensive abilities on the back foot need to match his awareness going forward with the ball. He possesses the right attributes to be a beast and hero status for the third goal to complete our famous win over at the swamp.



Who? Oh yeah. The forgotten man. Thought he was more than decent for us last season and yet this season he’s hardly figured. If Harry doesn’t fancy you, then you don’t get a look in. Shame because he is more than capable.



The discussion about whether it’s worth retaining him if he’s only going to appear in a handful (if not less) games per season will continue throughout the summer. He’s one in a million with the one knee, and yet he can do more than most are capable with two. Galvanises Dawson and improves our defence every time he plays. Statistically, we lose less games and concede fewer goals when he plays. If he had two knees, we’d still be where we are King would probably be playing for Barca or Madrid.

Might as well mention Woodgate. Depending on what you read he's either going to be let go or given a pay-as-play contract.

We certainly need to decide on our back-line in preparation for 2012. Fullback positions are fine, it's the centre pairing and the backup(s) that need attention. Preferably not the type that involves ice packs and cotton wool.


Overall, we've done well in defence. Just not scored enough goals down the other end to relieve them from pressure which has resulted in loss of shape and conceded goals. Confidence with the keeper/defender relationship another required fix. It's not just four at the back, it's five.

Across the season, as a unit (ignoring moments of madness in the CL and in the cups) I can't complain more than I have above, which isn't a lot.


Midfielders and attackers to follow...




Running up that hill

So there stood the general with his army at the foot of the hill. Memories of a past glory in battle which was fought gallantly and won. Having returned to reclaim the land for a second time, his tired troops look up at the steep hill and frown. For it's not an easy task to climb and fight and then stand at its peak victorious, then do it all again.

Their foes, they are more prepared this time. The element of surprise, no longer a factor.

"Onwards we shall charge", the general commands.

Dissent in the ranks.

"Onwards? Charge? Again? Why can't we just go around the hill? Then come up the other way and surprise them? Fight from the top and push them back down", say the tired troops.

"We don't have enough men to do that", some say to each other.

"We don't have the right type of men", some dare to whisper.

"Onwards!" Screams the general.

"This just about worked last time, we've been stuck at the foot of the hill all year, it's too late. We should have attempted something different from the offset. They can see us coming", say the tired troops, dismissing their generals strategic know-how.

"Onwards! Let us claim what we deserve!" The general commands as he begins to lead his men forward on horseback.

And onwards they march, for they are soldiers and they obey their orders.

Once more. Running up that hill, battle cry from all.

And if they were to be pushed back once more by the barbaric hordes that await them then surely the general will admit defeat and return to the foot of the hill and await for reinforcements from the emperor. And then perhaps another tact will have to be embraced to once more reclaim the land and plant the flag of victory in it's peak.

The hill will always be there. The fight will always be a tough one. And if it's been done before, it can be done again. Perhaps next time, by taking no prisoners.





10 things I hope to see from Spurs this weekend


1) Not to be out fought
2) Not to be second to every second ball
3) Not to concede the first goal
4) Clinical finishing in front of goal from Roman and Jermain (why you laugh?)
5) If Bale is match fit, he should play a part in the game with Milan and full match fitness in mind
6) Leave Crouch on the bench till latter stages
7) Hutton at right-back ( go on 'arry, bite the bullet), with Gallas back in central defence, thus...
8) Composure across the back four
9) Do not underestimate ikcle fighting for their lives Wolves who have beaten up all the 'big boys' on their home turf
10) Avoidance of 'one of those days' delivered with three vital points to secure top four


Hardly moon on a stick territory.



Spurs away, hopefully no broadcast on Cartoon network

Newcastle away. It’s the type of fixture that historically always had me half-thinking about what excuse I should have at the ready on return to work on a Monday morning. We hardly win up there. Timothée Atouba wonder-strike and that God awful Cup match where Pav scored the winner, just about the only highlights I can remember off the top of my head. My last visit to the mecca of football was the FA Cup game which we lost 1-0 after going behind minutes into the game, and then proceeding to attack attack attack only to have Given give away nothing.

In fact, the only way to get one over Newcastle was to go out on the town post-match. Get one over, get leg over, don’t hate me for the clumsy word play.

So, Newcastle away. Not quite as daunting a task as it once was mainly because the bogey team element has somewhat been extinguished thanks to their relegation and our growth in mental strength. They’ll work their socks off, so we’ll have to match the tenacity on show but with no Carroll you would hope our quality will be classy enough to soak up the blood and thunder and strike them down with a swagger of this and a swagger of that. That’s if we don’t repeat our performance level we witnessed at Goodison Park.

Looking at the table (here we go again for the 1000th time) this is a musty-winny type of game in that we need to play catch-up with the teams just ahead of us otherwise, these dropped points will start to hurt our push for another CL place. In fact, I’m tagging this game with a ‘show us your intent’ label with an additional ‘make a statement’ badge.

We need to be polished, professional and penetrative.

Easy now.

Team news at time of writing has BAE possibly out with injury so I guess this is an opportunity to welcome Stevie Pienaar into the fold. Bale will/should slot back into the left-back position with Pie at left-midfield. Unless Bassong make a make-shift appearance at LB. Which I doubt. No point considering we’ve splashed the cash for the new boy, may as well throw him into the action. I’m sure Gareth will be just dandy over-lapping.

Modric to conduct as per usual. van der Vaart will probably have far more freedom to get involved (United did an excellent job in suffocating his ability to impact the game in the space between midfield and the area just outside the box – by the time he was in the box there was about twenty United players standing in his way).

How we shape up, up front is where it will count. It’s Newcastle. It’s away but the game will be open (as I don’t expect them to sit back) so we need to be offensive, take the game to them, make them chase the game to stretch it further.

Honestly, this is proper Football 101 right here.

Spurs to drop out of Top 4 race?


No reason to complicate matters. Possession football, smart counter-attacking and clinical ruthless utter utter b*stardness in front of the onion bag.

So Crouch and Pav up top then.

Calm down, just jesting. Defoe up top with vdV behind him. Middle bunch of Lennon, Modric, Jenas and Pienaar (I’m going on the assumption that Wilson is also apparently doubtful so JJ in for energy-bursting runs and box-to-box industrious blood and sweat and Niko completely out of form so doesn’t make sense to see him at LW).

What? Oh, the JJ description? Let’s just pretend, right? His comments this week about him being happy and loving the squad, he knows he’s a squad player so I’m cutting him another slice of slack. If Wilson is out, then Harry has to instruct him to donkey-work and bite opposition ankles a plenty.


Oh just ignore this bit if you don’t like it.

Okay, so that leaves the back four that will consist of Hutton, Dawson, Gallas and Bale. Nutter in goal. Seen a suggestion for Kaboul at right-back, leaving Bale in his trusted LW position and then either JJ or Pie in the middle. Like I said. Let’s just keep it simple. Like this Friday afternoon lack of substance blog.

We should be just fine. We bloody well better be.

We just need to contain 'best midfielder in England' Barton and potenial bane in the arse, Nolan.

In addition, the Toon are not only missing Carroll but also Tiote, Gosling, Smith, both Taylors and sadly for us Sol Campbell is not available. Leg injury apparently. I think he tried to eat it.



Listen to Newcastle v Spurs on Absolute Radio extra - on DAB Digital Radio, 1215AM and online in the UK from 1.30pm as programming kicks off with Russ Williams for pre-match build up, followed by full live commentary from Jim Proudfoot at 3pm, while Ian Wright takes care of post match analysis at 5pm featuring player and manager interviews, fan phone ins and a healthy supply of banter. Tune in for the full Danny Simpson interview.

For more go to



WANTED: One top class striker. Requirements: ruthless eye for goal, sublime first touch, clever movement and a bit of a swagger

Tottenham 0 Manchester United 0

If Manchester United were toothless, Spurs were limp. Neither side had cutting edge. Both sides defended resolutely. And yet there is no disguising the disappointment that we didn't carve out more clear cut chances. Ball seemed to get stuck under feet once or twice. When a quality ball was crossed in, there was no quality at the end of it to finish it off.

Perfect illustration that we can go up against the teams that are meant to be on another level to us, compete and feel regretful for not quite grasping the initiative and punishing them.

Sure, we're not title contenders. Mainly because we lack that extra punch in the side that probably would have seen us take more points than we did against Man City (D), Chelsea (D) and now Man Utd (another D). The concern is that other sides might have that punch aplenty, either from seasoned experience of from splashing out £27M for the privilege.

We need to turn these almosts and if onlys into three points at home and dig deep away. Regardless, let's face it, even if Man Utd are hardly the beast of old they are one that has to be respected and very much admired for their spirit and their annoying doggedness. They battled and they could have nicked it, at least their fans would argue they had players with the potential to do so. But much like us, the game (end to end as it was) lacked that final third slick pass and movement to get past the bricks in defence.

Rooney and Berbatov hardly had me biting my nails. Apart from perhaps two efforts on goal by 'Wazza', but hardly heart-stopping. But alas, unbeaten they remain. The red card (not that it's helped in the past) was hardly fruitful in terms of possession in our favour. As we didn't quite make it count down the flanks and through the middle. A day for defenders indeed. Still think we're going to finish top four, got the players for it just need that ruthlessness in the key forward area. So yeah, top four ‘if’ we get that ruthlessness in the key forward area.

Crouch, no doubt, is going to be much maligned in post-match discussion, I'm certain of it. Nothing to suggest we would not have discussed the same 0-0 result had Pav started or even Defoe.

The Russian probably would have given us little movement or bad first touch (depends what variant of Roman would have turned up, but can't have seen him troubling Rio and Vidic much). Defoe also might have found himself lacking the cunning to get behind the Utd centre backs. Although, arguably, both Pav and Defoe could lay claim to having better shooting boots than Crouch.

Just that Peter can hold the ball up and head it down know, stuff, for a big man. Crouch 'should' have scored from that delicious Hutton cross. In another parallel dimension. Not to single out Crouch, so I won’t, also worth noting vdV was not quite crisp with his efforts either.

And let's be honest, regardless of the forward(s), it would have taken something special to unlock the United defence on the form they were on. Trend developing here, with the reoccurring references re: defenders.

Don't think too much was wrong with our performance and our intent. Modric was supreme again. World class? Yeah, go on then. Stick that on the back of his shirt. He makes us tick, he conducts and dictates. Fergie licking his lips on the touchline.

Palacios played well in parts, but also doing his best at times to remind us of his erratic composure when attempting to pass, but he was effective with defensive duties. Not so bright in offensive positions. And please someone have a word with him regarding shots on goal. Jenas the alternative. Pienaar the alleged transfer target (Chelsea to nick him). Huddlestone, no doubt, the preferred choice of partner for Modric. Having him back in the side might actually feel like a new signing. You felt for all the majesty of Modric, with vdV not quite claiming a stranglehold on the game like he usual does, Hudd's pinged balls into and around the box are missed in games such as this where chances are not quite crafted with ease not for lack of invention – just needed a different type of question to be asked when moving towards the United goal.

Moving away from their defenders to ours...

Hutton and BAE worked tirelessly. And Dawson is beginning to be a tad talismanic at the back. What's that now, one goal conceded in our last five games? And that other bloke at the back, whathisface, the old bloke. Quietly quietly, he's proving one or two of us wrong with his composure and experience . What with Ledley stuck on the sidelines.

Other minor talking points?

Our set pieces remain utterly pants. Last decent free kick was taken back in 1991. More conversations required on the training pitch with D-Beck please.

The red card? Well it was hardly a Mendes or Nani or Webb incident. And petulant as Raphael was/is (the second ‘foul’ was probably meant rather than being accidently) he probably should have got away with just the one yellow. The first tackle, clumsy.


In the end, not enough, when enough was not that improbable but neither likely. United, needing the point more than risking the requirement of all three. They contained us. I guess we should take that as a compliment?

In a season where nobody is head and shoulders above the team just behind them. In a season where Chelsea are showing signs of mortality and weakness, City spending more to consolidate and improve, Arsenal ruthless against the lesser teams and Man Utd, not playing with swagger but not getting beat either. It’s a soap opera with many unmissable story arcs and sub plots. We are stronger but with the ‘top four’ becoming ‘five’, so is the top end of the league which means we need to evolve further, and quickly. Twists and turns guaranteed, no doubt, before the finale.


Five of our next six games in all competitions are away. Backs to wall, wouldn't have it any other way. Well, other than being ten points clear of 4th spot looking down at it.





So how exactly do you beat Spurs?

Spurs 2 Liverpool 1

How do you make sure of beating Spurs? Well for starters perhaps try to score 5 to 6 goals in the first half then park the bus to stop them from mounting a sustained comeback. Because a one or two goal head start won't be enough. 

Choke? Capitulations? Catastrophe? Thanks but no thanks. We no longer own the copyright.

Comeback Kings. Tag us up. A new era is upon us.

We've now notched up 16 points from a losing position - which illustrates the strength of character and belief this side has. Again, it’s scary to start theorising about how good we might be if we played with relentless intent from the opening whistle. Would like to see us take a lead, go two up and then kill the game off, perhaps with another to make it comfortable. Show some wit and guile by stopping the opposition from playing and dictating tempo at will.

Hey – it’s Christmas so the moon on a stick in my stocking is not a far-fetched request for Santa to deliver. I can’t help but flirt with the idea of the next step we need to be taking.

Beating Liverpool in the manner we did was not a vintage Spurs performance. Actually it was going by this season’s template. No need to play well across the full 90 minutes. Dangerous heart-in-mouth game plan. The consequence of no clipboard.

But that's fine because we're not degrading in terms of momentum and we'll surely continue to improve, especially if we manage to consolidate in the Jan transfer window.

Had it ended in defeat or a draw we would have spent a few days knee-jerking about what’s wrong with the team, struggling to cope with injuries and cohesiveness, losing out to a Liverpool side that have hardly been expansive with their football away from home this season. They looked up for it, attacked with a degree of on the deck directness and were combative in centre midfield. Torres could have punished us and brought us crashing back down to earth after our NLD win and qualification into the knock-out stages of the Champions League. But the Spaniard deciding against pulling the trigger when it was the easiest option to take probably because, I don’t know, he didn’t want to hurt our push for Top 4 what with his imminent transfer to N17.


Not quite moon on a stick that, more Andromeda galaxy on a stick. Grateful he didn’t leave us flat on our backs looking at the stars.

Liverpool squandered one or two chances. We did too, Defoe should have lifted the ball into the goal rather than just hit it low, Carragher blocking. And then in the second half, a fairly poor penalty. I’m sure you know the stats with pens off by heart now. Five out of nine missed or something. Bale also had an effort cleared off the line.

Open game that it was (Spurs do not do cautious well) we had to overcome a few in-game obstacles. van der Vaart pulling up early on, subbed, and probably out for a month. Kaboul also going off with a muscle problem – Bassong on as his replacement. Harry’s arms tied behind his back in the dugout. But if there is something we‘ve learnt time and time again this season is Houdini is capable of an escape or two. Never doubt our spirit, or do so at your own risk. Backs against the wall – we’ll just turn around, smash it down and walk straight through it. Granted not always with a bulldozer, just a one or two explosives expertly positioned. That will always do the job.

Liverpool just about deserved their goal, not much we could have done about it other than better man-marking – but it happens. Scrappy opener and the Reds could have doubled/tripled their lead either side of half-time. Torres brilliantly playing in Rodriguez who scoffed his shot, and Bassong superbly getting to the ball leaving Torres frustrated...again. Good to see him looking sharp and with Dawson a week or so away, at least our defence won’t be completely decimated – what with Gallas forging a decent partnership with the rampant Kabul.

Found myself frustrated by many things during  the game and before the final moments.

BAE’s posturing. Wilson’s distribution of the ball. Defoe still rusty. The fact Lucas was running tings in midfield speaks volumes about our inability to take a stranglehold of the game. It was all a bit lazy. Give the ball to Bale even though Bale has two men on him most of the time. Hoof balls forward for the knock-downs. Palacios is not even half the player he once was and losing vdV and not having anyone else to slot into the midfield (with JJ out), makes it all the more tricky if the opposition – no matter their depth of quality – put in a good shift.

Having said that, Liverpool were not quite head and shoulders above us.

One penalty miss, one not given (yes, Liverpool might have had a shout for one too), two off the line. We still looked for a way back in. When we did eventually score it was the excellent dinking Modric running through Liverpool’s back-line with ease and playing it across the six yard box, Skrtel forced to make contact with the ball (having scored for the 1-0) making it 1-1, otherwise Crouch would have. Luka is only just getting started IMO. He’s going to be vital over the next two months where that fabled marker just has to be placed down as we look to get ourselves into the top four  - and stay there.

The winner was direct (now there’s a shocker), BAE long, header on by Crouch (knock him if you like but was that another assist?) and Lennon rushing past probably the worst Liverpool defender in their recent history (not saying much) to score in injury time. Fully deserved for the ickle man who is regaining form. He’s got his spark back.

The opposition not so much mugged, but leaving their wallet on a table to be snatched with comparative ease. In the end an out of sorts Spurs side pushed aside a plucky Liverpool side. Oh my how things have changed.

We’re still not at full pelt but neither is the Premier League – and we’re six points off the top. Aim high(er), right? Three successive league wins. Four in all comps. Five games unbeaten. Momentum, dear old friend, is back with us.

Kudos to Harry, if anything for another half-time team talk and holding on till late to bring on Sandro (a substitution he could not have made earlier in the game due to the injuries). Not sure we can spend too much time being concerned with the way we don’t quite own the full 90 minutes. But then this might just be a consequence of the injuries and the related tinkering – and it’s something we need to muddle through until the dawn of 2011.

The big news I guess in the aftermath is the injury to Rafa van der Vaart. Possibly out for a month which is a massive disappointment considering his talismanic qualities and White Hot Lane goals. There is no discounting his influence. But like I’ve said – we need to be able to win without him. Kaboul also out (not sure for how long) - so it's biting of the nails time as another two men go down on the battle field. Time for the spirit of 2010. Dig deep.

One final footnote - the crowd getting on Palacios back – f*ck off idiots.

Yes he’s not the defensive destroyer he was when he first signed for us and although I’m quite happy to agree that he might need to placed aside or leave if he fails to recover from his crisis of confidence (Paul Robinson anyone?) there is no need for prawn sandwich booing and sarcastic cheering. Groan and moan it’s your right – but ease off trying to apply extra unnecessary pressure on the guy by making a point of singling him out in this manner. Support him. Some of his work wasn’t that far off decent. His passing is woeful I know. Harry hug and perhaps a gentle slap in the face required to perk him back up. It’s a massive concern because he’s not shown any signs of recovery so far. Not the same player since losing his brother. And is unlikely to be if some of you make the decision to hate on him before you even turn up at the Lane.

Slagging players off on blogs and forums, probably the best place for it because it’s unlikely they give a sh*t about something they won’t be reading. In the ground – it’s not. Jog on to the Emirates if you want to act the c*nt.

Anyways, you’re meant to reserve your disgruntled energy for when Jenas is back in the side.


Loving my JJ fix at the minute. Oh we are such a fickle bunch.

To end on a positive. Credit to all concerned, we’re not going to let go of our top four entry easily.




Exercise or play sport regularly? Join Spurs legend Graham Roberts and tell Arthritis Research UK about your experiences of sports pain or injuries:



In support of Jermaine Anthony Jenas

No - the blog has not been hacked.

Welcome to the JJ and Pav Appreciation Society. Membership is free.


You'll have noticed four things this past weekend. That's if you are straightforward with your honesty. I know I did, and it was echoed by others. A minority it would seem in parts - but I guess due to past crimes many of us struggle to come to terms when attempting to quantify then justify and compare one of the greatest of Spurs conundrums...and any supporting acts touring at the same time.

The rest shrugged and stated nothing has changed. And it probably hasn't. Because their perception of Jermaine Jenas has remained constant so it supports their opinion of the player, no matter what changes around him.

Now before you start accusing me of over-reacting or suddenly acquiring misty eyed delusions, I'm just pointing out that both Jermaine Jenas and Roman Pavlyuchenko (two of the most much maligned players we possess who sit on the bench of besmirch with Bentley, Keane and one or two others) played well. That's it. Not saying that for example JJ has suddenly achieved redemption and is owed respect and medals of honour or that Pav is the answer to our lack of cutting edge up front.

All this article wishes to state (in a traditional long-winded manner of therapeutic acceptance and apology) is that to balance out the Spursverse and stop the stars from falling from the skies, it's only fair we get into the habit of acknowledging those that deserve some praise, be it a gentle pat on the back or something more. The culture of knee-jerk, blame and favouritism remains and its easy to ignore anything that might contradict your opinion. We are guilty of it.

And sure, it was only Blackburn Rovers, but then it was only Sunderland, Bolton, Everton, West Ham, Wigan etc etc. We need players performing, no matter their apparent squad importance.

Both Jermaine and Roman deserve polite plaudits. I'm hoping this won't send some of you into cardiac arrest. So considering how quick we are to throw rotten fruit, it's only fair right? And equally so, my feet are firmly on the ground in terms of expectancy from both players. Because we've been here before, especially with JJ, who has flattered to deceive countless times. When he does play well its easy to confuse a standard performance for most other players with something sublime or superb thanks to it's rarity when he delivers the goods. And soon you come to the common conclusion that it's a blip, a positive spike of energy, and normality will resume. It's the ongoing soap opera we follow with Jenas, the same plot line repeated over and over again.

Not sure if its the smell of the NLD that has him looking sharp and focused, in time for a possible hopeful obligatory Tour de force cameo against the scum. Or if he has simply dug a little deeper with no spot-light on him. Arguably one of our best performers on Saturday against Rovers. What with rumours of Huddlestone crocked (now confirmed - 3 months), although both are completely different ilks of players, on form, Jenas isn't too shabby a player to have as a replacement. On form. Which is where the problem has always been. He's not always on form. Or to put a finer point on it - he's never the player we expect him to be. Which in some ways is the reason so many of us look on in despondency and always expect him to be below average. Even when he's not.

JJ is nondescript, say, in comparison to a Hudd or a Luka. You know the strengths and weakness of both of these players but with Jenas, he's just box-2-box but doesn't excel in one particular area other than his energy levels and his long-busting runs. When on form. With Hudd, it's his quarter-back stance and power-shots and vision and Luka is a crafter, a dinking magic man. JJ is always meant to be something, but we're never quite sure what that something is meant to be.

On Saturday he covered the pitch with intent and purpose, wanting it, playing balls to the flank for Bale, cross pitch marauding runs and some trademark box to boxing, driving forward (almost scored) eating up the space ahead of him. He's played decently a few times this season, but in comparison to the Bale and vdV hype, nobody tends to notice. Unless he plays sh*t, then we notice.

I know I've probably been guilty of ignoring him and grabbing the Kleenex for fast wrist action when watching Gareth destroy the left wing. Kleenex obviously required to wipe away the tears of joy from my eyes as my wrist struggles with the constant grabbing of the remote to rewind and replay.

This time though, I've found myself basking in Jenas tackling and battling on the field of play. Okay, basking is a touch too far. Pleasant. It was pleasant to see and with our injuries, it's fairly joyful to have a forgotten player reminding us that he can still offer his services to the side. Unlike Bentley who never appears likely to re-discover form he possessed prior to his move to Spurs.

I suppose you might still not be impressed and you might cite something I've always preached about  Jenas. When he plays well, as aforementioned, it's a blip. Levy's original poster-boy for 'sell-on value'. He is the perpetual prince of potential, forever we await for him to grow out of footballing puberty and then grow some much needed balls. Belief, he lacks it. And the home support equally so lack belief in him.  Hence the target on his back. We all want him to be the player he's expected to be.

He was never (going to be) a blood and thunder die hard mentally strong player we could build our midfield around. Whereas perhaps now, he can simply offer us some energy and directness, not as a Plan A, but as a Plan B.

"Uh, no, they're saying "Jen-urns! Jen-urns!"


We stand by the likes of Modric etc when they under perform because we know how well they can consistently play when on form. We hate on JJ because we expected him to be Gerrardesque in terms of stamping his authority on games. Perhaps not so much these days. Once upon a time when we lacked class in our midfield, he was our only hope. Hence the misguided faith and expectancy that weighed down on his fragile ickle mind. Now the landscape is one of riches so Jenas can - when given the opportunity - get on with doing the hard graft work whilst others swagger and silk.

He has played well this season, with a couple of poor performances thrown in. Much like many of our players have too. Considering how easily we excuse some of these players and look the other way and whistle.

So what four things did I notice on Saturday? Not rocket science this.

1) JJ played well

2) Pav played well

3) JJ still gets maligned via the 'Jenas is crap' reflex

4) Pav gets support from the crowd even when he's missing 'open goals'

Now the latter is great to see. Not the missing of open goals, but the support. Roman shots wide a glorious chance, then misses a penalty, but still we cheer him on and when he scores we lap it up. He always notches up a goal does Pav, even though most of the time he lacks much of anything else. But we seem to accept him. Did play very well against Blackburn and showed the type of movement we need from a forward whilst we wait for JD's return. And he showed strength to get on with it and stick the header away.

As for JJ, when the pressure isn't on, he turns it on. And we could go on talking about how a player who needs to be handled with care is not the right type of player for the club in the direction we wish to continue going. But it wouldn't be so much of a problem if we didn't treat him like he goes around bragging he's the best midfielder in the country.

Well done Jenas, I appreciate your efforts. You're not exceptional in any great way and your abilities are less special than say the likes of Modric and Huddlestone and company that offer those dinking runs and sublime passing but on this type of form, if we just accept you for what you are and can be (a solid squad player) then hopefully we'll see more of this from you. With the odd anomoly that has you playing out of your skin. And we promise not to expect from you every week.

Consistency, it's all we want.

JJ. Not reinventing bread just lightly toasting it. The Marmite is optional.

Support your team. Support your players*.

*if you play sh*t JJ, I will ruin you mate.


As for Pav, he needs a run in the team, otherwise we'll never know if he's just the right man in the right place when coming off the bench (Darren Bent anyone?) or a forward who can work as part of a cohesive fluid Spurs side.

As for the game itself. Good to have you back Spurs. Well, at 60%, but good enough. Disappointing to concede two late on, especially in the soft manner we did, but otherwise it's important to knowingly nod at the fact we scored four goals at home comfortably with two goals from forward players in a 4-4-2 formation (bastardised a tad to account for vdV's wondering into central positions).

Back to basics Tottenham and Harry. Huddlestone injury to be discussed later. NLD previews on the way.

Onwards Spurs.





A lot. At the minute. Hoping that minute turns into hours.





The next three games

No win in three in the league. All eyes on Harry and his selection. All eyes on our erratic Lilywhite troops. Get it wrong and we might find ourselves below mid-table. Get it right and it's one step back onto the path we want to be swaggering down. More like John Travolta. Less like Charlie Chaplin. And definitely no Harold Lloyd hanging off the hands of a clock high above.

The tag, THE BIGGEST GAME IN OUR HISTORY EVER, is one I've used in jest many times over recent years for games that on paper are hardly glamorous but the result (in our favour) nothing less than imperative. Historically, if my memory serves me correctly, we've turned up every time (apart from once, possibly twice). This is not quite 2points8games territory. But because of the nature of our lack of sustained domestic consistency and end product, we are now 90 minutes away from what I would constitute a crisis.

A crisis of faith.

Now hold on a second, I hear you shout out in anger, calling me a hypocrite and contradictor. You keep banging on about how we're going to finish fourth again. And yes, I still believe that. Devils advocate hat is firmly on head.

Losing one game doesn’t automatically write off our season. But when that one game is the third on the trot and is number five overall (theoretically) then you would have reason to question my optimism. I'd begin to question it. Self-doubt would slowly creep back into my clouded thoughts.

Momentum takes you upwards on the back of confidence and belief and just stuff clicking into place naturally and instinctively when you win games.  Where is the momentum going to come from? Are we waiting to sign said momentum in the January transfer window? Are we really struggling that much for some oomph? Or is all this yet another throw-away episode in the dramatic life of being a Tottenham fan, all a bit exaggerated and over the top, what with everyone around us being just as erratic. That and the frustrating fact that we all know what we are truly capable of when we do wish to turn up (Spurs 3 Inter 1). For me that's the new improved Spurs. What we appear to be watching sporadically in the league games is a window to the past. The version we need to brush off once and for all. Box it up, stick it in the loft.

So when are we going to step up?

I'll make some suggestions. Three simple suggestions.

Sunderland, Lane.
Blackburn, Lane.
Scum, the swamp.

Three games. Nine points.

There's this fallacy that Harry only works best when he's fixing a problem someone else has left behind. Hence the sterling recovery from the Ramos debacle. However, a debacle that many believed was always recoverable passed on the fact we always had the players, we just didn't have someone to instil the required desire and effort. Harry did just that. Got them organised. Wasn't the miracle everyone tagged it with, however what he then achieved was near enough one considering the money and managers we have thrown at attempting to progress. Down to bare bones, but even if Harry used that as a ready made excuse, the players didn't even acknowledge it. Superb man management, no?

He deserves the credit even if he makes the most of it with his self-hype. And in lapses of support where some have questioned his tactical astuteness, he has time and time again proved he can win games and adapt strategically. Perhaps the learning curve is one that takes slightly longer than other 'world class' managers. And sometimes we are left wondering why the team isn’t quite sharp enough or motivated. He's not perfect but he's not stupid either. I promise.

There's no room for complacency. Or are we back to arguing over prioritisation of challenges (with CL winning it seems)?

The point here is that what with the vdV and 451 conundrum and the various key injuries, rather than attempt to be overly clever or experimental we need to reclaim some of the back to basics fighting spirit. Backs up against the wall mentality. Harry keeps citing the importance of fourth spot. I'd like to refer you to the evidence. It's somewhere here, give me a second. Nope, can't quite find it.

Harry has to get everyone on it, eye of the tiger. We are not bare bones, so it shouldn't be that tricky to achieve. Right?

If we are genuinely lacking in depth in terms of fluidity when having to replace first team players with 'reserves' and if this is suddenly a problem when it wasn't so much one last season or the season before after Harry took over - then batten down the hatches. Either the players struggle to perform having been benched for a while or their personal motivation isn't at a decent enough standard to replace missing stars. January is still (just under) two months away. We can't postpone the games and play them after we sign a forward.

What to do? Run around a lot and kick it in the net.  Win, any which way, but if I'm going to be picky, win with style and get the momentum going. No more half-baked attempts at 'getting stuck in'. I know what you're thinking, 'how can we boss games if we lack the rhythm when missing players?'. Fact is, we've had something missing even when we've had the players available.

It's probably more a question of commitment and intensity. A lack of. It's not the biggest game in our history ever. But it's important in terms of changing direction. Crisis? Don't be silly. But if we wish to aim high, then drawing a game should be labelled a crisis. Defeat - a disaster.

Two home games, nothing less than six points. Am I asking for the moon on a stick? No, no I'm not. I'm asking for our players to show their true colours. Brilliant white. Not p*ss stained yellow.

I want two solid, focused performances before the away trip to The Stench. How we manage to beat Sunderland and Blackburn with the obvious to all redundant no cutting edge inept strike force (lol), well, that's not down to me. My job is to scream and shout till my lungs burst. Harry's job is to do the same pre-match in the dressing room, on the touchline during and…just plenty of hugs and congrats at the final whistle.

We need to be complete in terms of intent, all the possession in the world counts for nowt if we don't stick those chances away.

COYS with pomp and gritted teeth. And a little prayer. With or without Rafael. Pressure is on.




How to lose points and ailenate fourth spot

Bolton 4 Spurs 2

My initial gut reaction to Saturdays could not be arsed performance in the majesty of the cathedral of football (the Reebok Stadium) was simply this: Harry Redknapp…why?

I appreciate that we shall never defeat the conspiracy (oh look another early Saturday kick-off straight after a Champions League game) but that was no excuse to just shrug at the prospect of perhaps claiming something tangible up at Bolton, were historically we get as much action as Cliff Richard. So no shocker, cometh the final whistle. No celebrations either, just footballing celibacy. Our players displaying the type of effort you'd expect from a walk on a beach mid summer holiday.

Should my knees begin to jerk ever so slightly? Or should I continue to whistle a gleeful tune and dance nervously holding up a sign that reads 'The End is not Nigh, So Stop Fretting'. Am I  ignoring the evidence of domestic degradation of consistent form and backbone? Do I rely too much on the varied weaknesses that are displayed by opposing (rival) sides with each passing week as a reason to remain optimistic? Do we - as a supporting collective - add more weight to our results than when we look across at other teams where perhaps we rationalise and exaggerate and gloss over the importance of their results in comparison? Is our squad depth not at depthy as it would suggest? Regardless of the dizzying questions, there are only two that matter at this still early juncture of the season.

What's broken and how do we fix it?

Or perhaps it's better worded as; how have we broken it and why isn't it getting fixed?

Perhaps things are not quite broken, they're just not in full working order.

We are erratic. The side is hardly ever settled in terms of juggling between league and Europe. Injuries confirm that as sublime as our first team can be, when we lose certain key players we lack cohesiveness and this has a knock-on effect with other commonly required footballing essentials (intensity, desire, focus etc). But even with a storming first team (on paper) we've disappointed in the league still. 451 works in Europe. Doesn't quite sex up at home.

Parts of the team - when the team is not at full strength (or as full strength as selection can allow) are at  times found out and thus has a detrimental effect on the rest of the side. Our defence guilty as charged. Against Bolton (who were not that good) we gifted them goals (regardless of the first being offside) because we managed to be even worse than them.

I said my initial gut reaction was to blame the gaffer, and I still do, but the players have quite a bit to answer for in terms of ye olde mental strength. But then it all goes back to the erratic selection which births lack of rhythm and style from one game to the next. We play our best football and best players in Europe. It's time we shared the wealth with the mundane task of finishing fourth. Before that ship sails and we're left drowning in shark infested waters. Or something equally grim.

So what went wrong at the Reebok? Easy peasy:

- 451 when there is no van der Vaart to accommodate. So why bother with 451?
- Crouch up top on his own. Why didn't Pav start? We are struggling with goals from our strikers in the league, so you do the math - two is better than one. There is no dynamic movement when pushing forwards and although Crouch and Pav is less Batman and Robin and more Rodney and Del Boy, it's the better and more obvious option to go with the two of them. Pav - for the record - has notched seven goals in all comps this season. That's from six starts and nine substitutions. His league record overall is rubbish (53 apps, 13 goals). So can we just tell him it's a cup game (21 apps, 18 goals) every time we play?'
- No flow and support structure in key areas (i.e. Hutton and Niko hardly a passable execution of 'how to support a team-mate')
- Sandro and Wilson in the starting line-up? Really? One newbie finding his feet and one oldie who has managed to lose his.
- Huddlestone on the bench. Stamps his authority on the game when he eventually comes on. Fails to wrap his boots around a decent pass.
- Kranjcar given a start which he does nothing with. Bentley on the other hand displays 'glimpses' of decency which is a little bit like saying, 'Look ma, he's star-jumping AND winking at the same time'.
- Wait to go three down before showing urgency.
- Complete lack of character, which is either the last dying remnants of the culture of comfort that almost destroyed this club or something isn't quite working in terms of prioritising the importance of climbing the table.
- Play badly to make opponents look good and yet almost  get back into it late on. Botheredness, the Spurs way.
- Keep dropping/losing points when it's even more obvious that this season is going to be less of a challenge to finish 4th than last season IF…IF IF IF…we attain the same standard of football we played at last season.
- No insight or astute pre-game analysis or tactical master planning of the opposing side. It's all very 'I'll select eleven players and hope they gel for ninety minutes'.
- Lack of in-game insight/astuteness and tactical re-shaping of the opposing side. It's okay to be reactive. That's 'reactive' to the game and opposition BEFORE we go three down.

Not frigging rocket science is it? And yet the same mistake(s) are made every few weeks.

We are up for the European adventure, and not so up for concentrating on league form. There might be a subconscious shared thought in the club that has everyone thinking we might not get a chance in the CL again for another two or three years so let's enjoy it and let's make our mark. Daniel Levy appreciates this as he's well aware that long term planning is vital and he won't go loopy for the sake of the short term. But considering how obvious our problems are, speculating in early 2011 would make the double challenge of home and away far more achievable than it stands at the minute.

The short term win can make the long term far more comfortable and we can stop looking around and concerning ourselves with the form of others and leave them to concern themselves with our form.

So panic? Don't bother. Not yet. Honestly, we still have some sand left in the hour glass.

We are not playing well but we are in there in terms of points and position. Sure, we are closer to the bottom than the top and the next three games are vital because if we win our home games (Sunderland/Rovers) and get something off the scum then we'll have gone from weeds to blossoming Lily's. If we don't then panic. PANIC PANIC PAAAAAANIC.

There is a point in the season where we (I) can't keep saying - we are still within touching distance. We have to move on and get in amongst the top five and pull away with them and then deal with the fight it will take to remain there and aim for 4th rather than 5th. I think we are at that point now. If we miss it, then we're going to get dragged down further with loss of focus and belief and distraction in the shape of the CL. And the point becomes one of no return.

I don't particularly want to share CL football with the likes of City or Liverpool (yes, Liverpool because they're back baby, they're back!!! Did you not see the game on Sunday?). We might find we don't have a choice and that every other season we challenge and reclaim entry to the elite competition because of the openness of the Prem. On the other hand,  we lose out this season and the Prem goes all monopoly again - and it's back to mediocrity as our players get plucked. The latter is less likely, but I'd rather not entertain that risk.

I lost count of the amount of times we got written off during the 2010 journey. I've said it many times this term - we might appear to be going sideways but we are not far off at all from getting this fixed. Just a couple of variables to be added to the formula. Just need to stand tall and proud before the money shot. Our CL hangover record is actually better than Arsenals. Not that it makes it acceptable to lose to Bolton and it's frustrating that we never get anything there - but with two home games and then the scum away (before CL and Liverpool) - this is when we discover if this fantastical learning curve - for the manager as well as players - has sunk in and we are better for it.

Get to Jan even with the same type of difference we have at the moment between us and say 3rd spot - and then it's over to the chairman and the transfer window to consolidate the work and progress achieved last season and eradicate this blip we are experiencing in the Prem. I don't need to tell you what we need. If we get what we need then we'll gonna get a whole heap of what we want.

I'll end with some positives from the game.

Ridiculously great technique and finish for the goal from Roman. Superb effort from Hutton also. That's it.

Also, can I point out that Gareth Bale didn't make his debut at the San Siro. And this fallacy of him being non-existent in the league is exactly that. Although my point would be more poignant if made on another day, rather than after a quiet performance and defeat.


Last time I'm going to say this now. We are not playing well, we dissect every loss because of the standards we have set ourselves and we are showing frailties that are probably not half as bad as some other clubs have in comparison but probably more susceptible to repair. We've got it in us. It's time to prove it.

That's it.




Can we not play Inter at home every week?


Sorry for the lack of a serious match preview. I'm balls deep into Football Manager 2011 at the minute. The other half and the baby are away, so home alone which means plenty of walking around in boxer shorts eating yesterdays left over kebab for breakfast and catching up on HBO's latest masterpiece, Boardwalk Empire. Committed, that's me.

To be honest, I'm still having flashbacks to last Tuesday's epic. As much as I'm looking forward to this afternoon, I'm around 15% worried that we'll suffer a hangover. No neat and tidy slick incomparable passing from Bolton ala Inter. It's altogether a different task at hand. We don't get much up there so getting three points today would be a near perfect follow-on from our European adventures. So it's about bettering the opposition in one department more than them and making sure the points have Lilywhite ribbons at full time. Bettering them, but battering them would be so much sweeter.

Comfortable, emphatic 3-0 win the perfect tonic. A bruising 1-0 scrape, just as worthy.

No vdV or Lennon. Potential for a bit of tinkering from Harry. Will Bale be rested? 451? Questions. The one I'm asking myself is surely we'll get a result, what with Liverpool winning there? Yes? Okay, let's not go there.

The defining point for me is that today, it's not the type of game we can afford to lose or drop two points at. Not with the way things are beginning to shape top end. Can't be devaluing it or thinking back to the last game. Move forwards Tottenham please.

So, enjoy the game. I promise my match report will be far more astute and professional.

Will be curating tweets from my own feed and other Spurs fans during the game, they'll appear below (if it doesn't auto-refresh, then do so manually).




Follow me on Twitter.

Facebook group.