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Entries in Europa League (23)


Could be worse. £13.90 for fish 'n chips

Maribor 1 Tottenham 1

Turns out it wasn't a must win game. Just a standard stutter our way through and gain a point type of game. Unbeaten in Europe and thanks to Lazio conceding a late goal, the group remains wide open. I don't have the energy or the inclination to read enough into our current performances in the Europa League as some form of progression gauge. We just don't have it going on in this comp currently. That sense of being underwhelmed plays heavy on the mind for most. I guess it's reflective from supporters to players.

Our 'lads' (official Tottenham Hotspur label for the players) don't look comfortable. The system has no identifiable swag and for the most part it's all untidy and complacent. Off the pace. I guess I should stop expecting the world and settle for a very small comet instead. A meteor. A hailstone. A melting snowflake. Okay, fine, a sweat bead from a flea.

Even though our line-up retains strength and experience on paper, a healthy mix allowing for key players (and some of the old men) to rest, not much happens out there.

Sure, we could have so easily beaten Lazio. And away in Athens, had we held on. But we drew both and we drew this one simply because we can't muster up enough urgency to boss the game. No disrespect to Maribor but I'm sure they really gave it a go. We just turned up, set ourselves to autopilot and came out the other end with enough shots over the bar to win us twenty rugby world cups.

But it's just a game. Best for me to remember it's also just the group stages. The two home games now are the ones that will define if the players truly want to see their way through to the knock-out stage. Hopefully we'll have players back for selection that we're unavailable this evening meaning a little more of that much required shape in the middle. Still no necessity to go full FULL strength, but something that little bit more direct and creative is desirable.

The only shape we had was Tommy Huddlestone that casted a shadow that resembled the titanic strapped onto the back of a ketmaine induced Godzilla. The only difference being that Godzilla would turn over in his sleep faster than Hudd moves. Easy there, it's just banter. Huddlestone is nowhere near being head fit let alone match fit. His defending for the goal conceded was akin to me forgetting to ask for chilli sauce on my kebab and turning back towards the counter to ask for some. No rush, it's going to happen no matter how slow I move.

Bang! 1-0. Bang! Chilli sauce over my doner.

Is it worth talking tactics? I'd love to know what Villas-Boas is telling the players in prep for these games and then before and at half time in the dressing room. I know there's no conspiracy (i.e. AVB not really that bothered with this competition) and it's also obvious that VB is aware of quality of opposition and is confident the players selected can 'do a job'. Have we ever really been in a position where we feared we would lose? Don't answer that.

As cited, Lazio could so easily have been three points and that performance was very controlled. But the two games after that have been lacklustre - or have they been calculated? Are the games just a lot more tricky than we perceive them from our lofty position of instant hindsight? By calculated what I'm referring to is, explicit instructions not to perhaps over exert ourselves (any less exertion and we'd be asleep - players and fans). Just that the execution is clumsy and without any sustained intent.

No argument, you could pull apart one or two performances from the games. Players isolated, ineffectual. Fluidity and passing erratic. Is it worth doing that? Are these games in isolation to the domestic bread and butter of the league? Are these perhaps missed opportunities by some to grab the game by the scruff of the neck and stand out from the rest? What am I doing? I'm trying to rationalise again when in the most simplistic terms the game can be summed up with:

Didn't play with enough conviction to boss midfield and game and failed to create enough chances to win. Poor first half. Better second half. Never in danger of losing but could have lost and never in danger of winning.

Nice movement for our equaliser. Nice until the scramble splat itself all over the penalty area for Sigurdsson to score. Not quite as comical as that first goal the home side gleefully accepted.

Sandro and Falque played well (I'm using the barometer here that I remember them more than any other players on the pitch, thus, they must have been quite involved). As for Maribor, they do love their dramatics. Ref more bothered with Naughton daring to fall after being fouled in the penalty area. Their home support more alter boys than ultras.

In conclusion, it's like having a beautiful woman in your bed only for her to ruin the moment by wearing red lingerie. You fancy her but you know your performance wouldn't be up to scratch. Red is simply not sexy on a woman, it's a massive turn off. Should always be black lingerie. Or something. That's all I've got people. Good night.


Turn up, turn on, turn them over

Maribor away. Must win. You would hardly have expected this game to be so important before our Europa League campaign kicked off. Something has been lost in translation. Last season this competition was practically dismissed and treated with little respect. This season, all the right words have been spouted in the lead up to it and the games played but the performances have been lacking the will and desire (aside from perhaps the Lazio match). Can't blame selection, the sides have always been strong if not quite full strength. Have these European fixtures simply fallen victim to our early season learning curve? We'll find out this evening thanks to the fact that even though it's a group match, it should really play out as a knock out cup game.

Our hosts are up for it. They want everyone to know who they are. Whether they have the quality to upset us is something that will be answered in a few short hours. Their ultras will bring intensity to the atmosphere, we'll have to match it on the field. It's that simple. Turn up, turn on, turn them over.

Villas-Boas seems to be aware of the games importance. We've got no Dembele, Bale or Adebayor. Livermore, Huddlestone and Sigurdsson to (possibly) all feature with Falque, Townsend and Dempsey as other potential selections. Dawson in at the back paired up with Vertonghen and possibly the return of Naughton? Not my problem who plays, just want to see commitment and professionalism.

And I want to be entertained. And win by two clear goals. Bully the opposition. Out class them.

Not a lot then. Just one or two niceties.


Squad: Lloris, Cudicini, Naughton, Walker, Caulker, Gallas, Dawson, Vertonghen, Smith, Livermore, Parrett, Huddlestone, Sandro, Sigurdsson, Lennon, Townsend, Falque, Dempsey, Defoe.


1882 - NK Maribor at the Lane

If you don’t know what 1882 is, it’s simply a group of Spurs fans that want to go to games and sing. Not just for five minutes here and there but for 90 minutes. We started off as the ‘Ultras’, rather naively thinking we could perhaps redefine a label that has so many deep rooted connotations (on the continent) to the right wing (politically, not positionally). We drummed up interest last season and had 250 turn up to support the youth team in the FA Youth Cup away to Charlton. Although we weren’t allowed to physically take our drum into the ground.

We chose a youth game simply to make a point that it isn’t all about the first team, it isn’t all about the obvious opportunities to seek glory. It’s about the shirt, no matter the team, be it kids or full internationals. I know, I know...some of you are probably reading this and thinking ‘been here before Spooky mate’, but there’s plenty who won’t have heard about it. So skip ahead if you've seen all the background blurb before.

Our next game was at the NextGen at the Lane against Barcelona earlier this season. The club itself was very receptive and supportive (allowing us two blocks in the West Stand), be it with some teething problems on the evening itself, but we had 600 fans turn up specifically off the back of knowing about the 1882 movement (RIP Ultras) or being told about it by friends. Things have progressed again and we’ve had a meeting at WHL with Tottenham officials regarding the NK Maribor home match in the Europa League. Tickets are probably sold out now, but the club have once more facilitated us and we have block J in the East Upper.

Now personally, I know 1882 is considered to be a ‘group’. To be honest, I don't want people to think too much about a label. Yes, we (The Fighting Cock) are representatives of this 'movement', organising block allocation and spreading the word but it’s simply that; awareness. We’re not accountable or responsible for everyone who buys a ticket for the game in the block allocated. We’re just the sign post that points to where like-minded individuals can gather and not annoy the **** out of each other, because everyone is there to capture that old emotive and mostly dismissed spirit of supporting no matter what. It’s a bloody good laugh and I guess youth games (and away from home) is where this sort of thing will excel but it’s a worthy experiment for the Europa League.

In the long run we’re hoping to continue talking to Spurs. We’re heavily involved with the Football Supporters Federation and I guess the main aim is to have safe standing at Spurs (or for the idea to be recognised). Be it at the Lane or the new stadium.

Worth mentioning, that just because we are allocated a block that doesn’t mean we have special dispensation to stand. Persistent standing (as we all know too well) is not allowed. If you’re going, stand up and sing like you would normally do when reacting to atmosphere/football/fellow fans – but let the stewards to their job. We’re all very educated in the game of musical chairs that plays out any given home match. They're under instructions to do what they do.

The Barca game was the first 1882 'event' at the Lane. One or two of supporters got a bit carried away and words were exchanged, however its also worth highlighting that there were several positive moments between stewards and fans and even police officers. And lessons learnt no doubt, for example, some people purchasing tickets for a specially allocated block and then complaining about standing/singing.

I think it’s amazing we even have to consider doing this for a first team game. Amazing in the sense that the atmosphere should be organic for any given home match. But there you go, seems a fuse has blown and electricity running through the stands at White Hart Lane is hardly creating a spark thesedays.

If you don’t get to go to the Maribor game, then keep a look out for future youth games.

I guess this is all about communication and common sense. From all involved. The whole experience should be no different to any given match day at the Lane. No different to wanting to take your place in the Park Lane lower. No different to how you would behave if you sat next to someone that enjoyed a good noisy song. I hope the club actually grasp that because its important. Supporters present, in block J will be well up to support Spurs on the night. This isn't about being different it's about being Tottenham.



The aim of the 1882 movement is to support our team and the shirt they play in. To sing as loud and as long as our lungs will let us. We want to hark back to the days before the Premier League, when how loud you sing and how passionate you became wasn’t dependent on how well Tottenham were playing.

For more on 1882 click here.


Spurs involved in Greek tragedy

Panathinaikos 1-1 Tottenham

Highlight of the match was half-time when I cooked a rather delightful fry-up consisting of bacon, sausages, two fried eggs and some fresh buttered bread (not toasted) to soak up the golden yolk. The mug of tea (Yorkshire Hard Water) another bright moment in what was a completely satisfying feast. Unlike, unfortunately, the football that slept either side of the fifteen minutes it took me to serve up.

A half-empty stadium with no atmosphere and our hosts looking rather limp and ineffectual, whilst we bossed it without really trying too hard for forty-five minutes only to then mimic the Greek side by not really bothering to do much more in the second. Which meant it didn't take much for them to hold onto the hope of an equaliser, which came by way of a pass deserving of one. The high-line, Dawson looking lethargic, all the defenders looking lethargic. Sigh. It was generally a performance of much ado about nothing and thank **** we didn't end up with nothing. Honestly, I was begging for the ref to blow the whistle towards the end because I thought they might end up nicking it in injury time. That's insane considering how easy things looked early on. Daws did score though. That's the script the tabloid hacks dreamt about last night.

Sure, we should have had a penalty, once again we were sort of robbed but still, that's too apologetic a reason to accept as for the disappointment. Effort gentlemen please. Bit of emotion? Passion? Even some arrogance would have been acceptable. If Andre Villas-Boas is taking this competition seriously and if the players and side being selected is pwoper norty in terms of bullish strength, why so lacklustre? International break after the Villa game, right? I'm left scratching my head.

Far too many below average performances, a few cameos and plenty of homework for VB to chuck at his Powerpoint presentation for the flight home. Careless possession too. Walker remains lost positionally, Dawson - love him, but just because I want to slap his back and hug the big lad doesn't mean he's good enough for our team. Nice gesture to give him the captains armband but on this evidence you can understand why QPR was a viable option for him during the summer. I'm trying to be gentle here.

Huddlestone looked like he cloned himself pre-match then ate his clone and decided to run around without burping first. Yet still he manages to produce the odd sweetly hit volley or pass. Damn you Tommy, if only you were born in the body of Zidane. Lloris played. So bored he was, he even let the ball slip out of his hands just so he had something to do in the first half, correcting his mistake.

We should have just steam-rolled them. We should have come out for the second half and steam-rolled them. Judging by our coach on the touchline seeking players to push up more, we lacked urgency and lacked common sense. Really need to want it more Spurs. I guess perhaps that was the crux of it. Should of steam-rolled them but instead, slowed down in body, the soul and spirit. We could have done with a Shamrock or two on our shirt.

It's still tricky to be too critical of the selection. Had VB selected a less 'first team' heavy side would the players in the side been more enthused and prepared to impress enough to claim the win with comfort? Won't ever know. Redknapp played youth and we got nowhere because everyone at the club wasn't that bothered about it. Seems we need to be trying that little bit harder. Too many players with their mind on the Prem? Probably.

Andre citing 'heat and tiredness' post-match. I think he's being too kind. But all part of the learning curve I guess. This wasn't quite a wet and windy midweek away day at Carlisle. But at least he's honest and upfront about it all. You get the feeling he's noting everything down and that mistakes made are going to be processed on the training pitch, rather than being tagged with a 'one of those days innit' label.

Another point gained but we'll have to do better at home in the next Europa League game by actually winning otherwise dreams of Amsterdam will go down faster than a sassy brunette in a kamer. Maribor double header up next.

No injuries either. I guess bundles of energy stored up now for Villa at the weekend. So, no excuses right?

AVB resignation on hold until then.


Away to The Shamrock

Panathinaikos sound a touch miserable. Poor league form (DDLDW), captain ‘sacked’, two points deducted thanks to their fans behaviour last season and a 3-0 stuffing against Maribor in the Europa League. Now here’s a club with a fair few domestic trophies in genuine turmoil. This won’t be a clash of the Titans. But hopeful they will feel our wrath.

(and with any luck our performance will be more fluid than the last couple of sentences)

At least that’s the plan according to Andre Villas Boas who is determined to have a crack at this undervalued competition. We should line up with a fair amount of strength and confidence. Lloris between the sticks possibly the only change if we want to turn up and leave them in ruins. But more than likely we’ll see a similar side to the one that faced Lazio.

We’re making do quite well. VB is keeping it tight with selections and we can still look forward to the likes of Parker, Benny and Kaboul returning to the fold in the near future. All arguably first team ‘regulars’ – although whether they’re first choice by the time they’re back we’ll have to wait and see. Parker might have trouble dislodging Sandro but he’ll bring some extra bite for games that require it.

Add to them the likes of Smith, Townsend, Mason, Carroll and Falque (all available now) and we have a far more cohesive unit than we did last time out. A more solid blend of youth and seasoned quality. Last season consisted of a mis-match of benched players and others stuck somewhere between limbo and loan. Feels like so much more preparation has gone into it this time around.

Let’s not be forgetting the likes of Dawson and Huddlestone. The latter almost lost to Stoke. We might not have pound-for-pound replacements for certain first team positions but there’s more than enough about us to hassle and bully our way out of the group stages.

Livermore and Naughton still not available, Adebayor has only trained once – so the metamorphosis of Jermain Defoe will continue, from moth to butterfly. Although in Europe and importantly against Panathinaikos we could be treated to Dempsey up top again (although away from home, we might need a bit more in forward positions, so Dempsey behind Defoe will suit us well).

I’m actually fascinated by all this as it serves to delve deeper into the thinking of our coach. Does he select based on managing the fitness of key players with the league games in mind but without surrendering the chance of victory or does he involve players that will slowly be able to cover those same key players in the league – thus giving us a robust machine ready for any occasion. Rather than one that slows down with rust if it happens to rain?

Sigurdsson is one player I’d personally like to see involved at some point. If anything to get his career in Lilywhite kick-started as he’s so far struggled to find a groove.

Should be decent game for us. Should be a decent win.




Lennon - called up for England. Deserving, but once again, first thing that came to mind was: Don't get yourself injured. Same goes for our other selected men in Lilywhite. Be safe.


Did Ryan Mason take a shower?

Tottenham 0 Lazio 0 (Europa League, Group stage)

That was a bit of alright. Not so much the result but the further progress displayed by our coach and reflected by the players out on the pitch. I can’t help but imagine that if this game was played out in front of a capacity crowd it would elevate the game and post-match mood rather than give the appearance it was all rather low key. In some ways it was, but then we were facing a resurgent Lazio side unbeaten this season that were both physical and stubborn in their style, biting at our legs, giving away countless free kicks. We also faced some questionable officiating which saw no benefit of the doubt siding our way in key moments (ball in the back of the net tends to be rather important in football).

This game, from our perspective, was one of structure, control and patience. Not perfect, as there are some missing ingredients but still there's an overriding feeling that this was another checkpoint in the path to enlightenment that Villas-Boas is guiding us towards.

We lined up in strength, as expected. Lloris, Caulker and Dempsey the changes made. Lennon handed the captains armband as longest serving player (aside from the almost transferred out Dawson). There might have been no thunderous smacks of swashbuckle or high intensity tempo but there was assured quick movement and discipline from our players. Okay, sure, Lazio had one or two moments where they created opportunities but they failed to get on the end of them. So there was plenty of evidence that we have to improve concentration at the back but this is no different to any area on the pitch. Players are on a learning curve because what they do has to fit into the way the unit works, it has to be methodical. This is about the collective. That's not to say there wasn't just a little bit of magic missing. That individualistic touch of creativity and expectancy. I see this as one of the more fascinating challenges the teams faces. Is the role of the playmaker now shared amongst many?

Currently, as a unit, we are playing with far more spacial awareness so players rely on their team mates to find space so that effective passes can be made. It's a little more complicated than running around a bit, in that the instructions given will involve how the team pressures, pushes up and defends - as a single unit made of three parts. It was far more compact than the Reading away game. Perhaps because this one was in Europe and against Lazio.

What we did see at Reading away was Lennon attacking space to beat a man rather than with ball to feet attempting to skip past them all the time. Without that single playmaker that demands and supplies, recycling possession and linking play as it shuffles forwards, everyone now has a responsibility to form a more collective approach to attack. This does mean that this more methodical approach does lack that magic. It will probably be more bullish and aggressive football in the long term. Much like the fast paced swashbuckle of the previous seasons but with far more control offensively and defensively. This means more balance and more astuteness rather than a complete reliance on individuals to perform by simply doing the same thing every week. You can stop one player but it's far more difficult to stop a team. Especially if that team, over time, fine tunes itself into a robust adaptable machine. We are but a handful of games into VB's tenure.

Dembele is a super player, but he’s very direct and not as thoughtful and subtle as Luka Modric. The fascination for me is if we wanted and still want Moutinho, then dare to imagine the added dimension to our play if such a player takes centre stage in midfield. For now however, it’s about working with what we’ve got, for the players to know their responsibilities as second nature instinctive actions. Dembele isn't Luka Modric but that doesn't mean he can't be as effective in a different way. No deep-lying role here for the Belgian.

First half was decent, Lazio had chances but we bossed possession. Some players are still not firing on all cylinders, Bale being one of them and he’s intrinsic to our attack. A storming season from both himself and Lennon is vital. At the moment both are involved without being overly influential. Aaron got himself into decent positions but couldn’t find that killer ball. He was, in his defence, kicked and fouled a couple of times. Dempsey in the startling line up, not quite match sharp but unlucky to have his goal struck off as offside. It was close. It was on. But this being Spurs lady luck once more looked the other way. Defoe leading the front-line again worked hard, was instructed to drop deeper which he did and generally looked busy. As for the Lazio chances, they struck wood work, so there was that ominous sign as a reminder that we could get mugged.

We found a way through twice more in the second half, both disallowed making it a hattrick of shrugs. One was arguably offside, the other (a Caulker header) wasn’t a foul and should have been given. Lady luck not even in the building for that one. Game opened up slightly as well. Again, you could argue that for all that structure and organisation there was no bravado, no thumping personality to the play. Can it be too structured in approach? Can you be too clinical in how you group, pressure and hassle, hold onto possession and attack? Maybe. But then again probably not because had we scored (I know we did) but had we officially gone a goal up then that extra bit of character would have been more evident. Confidence goes up a notch, so does the tempo. But we didn't make that (official) breakthrough.

It finished 0-0 so the obvious citation would be one concerning three successive home matches drawn. That next step on the curve is just getting that home win out of the way. And perhaps against known opposition as opposed to the continental variant, the game will allow us to gamble a little more. QPR might sit back on Sunday but we might have a more expressive game plan to get at them.

Not many negatives for me. Yes, there are individuals that need to give more. But the side looked comfortably on the ball and far more receptive to what is happening on the training pitch and how it translates in games (as opposed to the lacklustre display at home to Norwich). We didn’t win, we should have won. We could do with perhaps more industry through the middle of the park and not always look towards the flanks – although we do create plenty from width. We just have to step up the standard of the final ball.

Lazio were ugly on and off the pitch. Platini in the stands seated next to Daniel Levy. No doubt the hefty 30k Euro fine will hurt the Ultras. They're paying it, right? Siggy came on for Dempsey. Lennon replaced by Townsend (good to see he will play a part this season, we won’t know if he can make the grade until he’s involved in these type of pressured games). Caulker was beastly. He just looks the part. We were blessed to have Ledley King, even if it was only ever a percentage of him. In Caulker we have a centre-back that might, just might make that position his own. Offers so much more than Gallas (aside from experience) and importantly fits into the Villas-Boas mantra (athletic, composed and intelligent on the ball).

Also enjoying Dembele. Eases past players. Attacks space in a different way (mentioned that already) than what Luka did but then the comparisons should really stop now as both offer different avenues of attack (I'll stop with the comparisons now). Once Dempsey is match sharp then their Fulham connection might go a long way in settling in both players. Dembele linking with Dempsey in and around the box? Sounds like a plan. What I want is for us not to be completely reliant on the lone forward and have a midfield that creates and scores goals from anywhere on the pitch. Everyone wants that, but if you look at our team it's particularly scary to think about the potential there. Siggy hasn't bedded in just yet either and we know what he's capable on based on his time with Swansea. Go on then, why not, let me say it out loud...patience.

Adored Lloris. You can see why he was signed and why he's so important for the future. Owns his penalty area, commanding and knows how to use his feet – which he did with confident distribution. Sweeper keeper indeed. He's got that thing about him. So assured. Seriously, if I came home and found him on top of my missus I'd be like 'sorry mate, sorry...I'll leave you to it' and walk out. Why? Because I know she'll be in safe hands. 

Naughton decent again but on crutches and wearing a protective boot post-game. We might see Vert slot into left-back for the weekend (unless boot was precautionary).

Frustrating night then but with plenty of positives. We’ve got such a strong spine, we’ve got technically gifted players and with more time there will be more invention and intent. The players have to be in complete comfort with the formation and movement and then their individualisms will shine through. Also, with a more complete forward (a fit and ready Adebayor) we might see more of a spark up front. It’s something we’ll have to wait for. Defoe is scoring, he's in form, so he should retain his place. Against stronger teams in tighter games, he should be benched.

The team is beginning to gel. Tidy stuff, but we need more titillation.

Special mention to Ryan Mason who came on for Dembele very late on for seven seconds. Did Mason take a shower after the match or just change back into a track suit? It's an important question that needs answering.


Remembering love lost

Lazio at the Lane under the floodlights. It's not the Champions League, it's the Europa League and if we're not in Europe we're nothing. So the saying goes. There's a fair amount of anticipation for this game. For me at least, you might not be as excited. You might not care too much. You might be hoping for some rotation and no injuries. Or perhaps not, perhaps you're rubbing hands together gleefully.

I'm looking forward to seeing how we line-up, with Andre Villas-Boas wanting to take the competition seriously. There's a very decent cut of opposing clubs in this years competition. Most of them are going to take it very seriously, so there's no reason to be dismissive in approach and application, unless we want an early exit. Doubt yourself for a second and you'll be punished for it. What Villas-Boas truly envisages in Europe won't begin to play out until the whistle kicks off proceedings. But I'd like to believe he will use the squad with the express aim to win each game, taking into account the fixtures that follow the European encounters.

He's alluded to the fact that silverware is important. Something we tend to forget and rationalise as secondary in a world where a league placement is perceived as a far more relevant accolade. We are more gutted about losing out to say 4th spot or CL than we are failing to get to a cup final or losing one. That's the royal 'we'. I know not everyone thinks the same way. There are still some traditionalists that pump their chest for a good old fashion cup run. But I'll hazard many are conflicted. I know I've argued for both sides, because I like to think it's possible to have the best of both worlds. Although admittedly I'm sided ever so closer to the league runs in recent years believing that you can consolidate in strength and be fitter to challenge for those cups. The reality of this thought process is that you're gambling the present with a vision of the future that might not play out.

League placement is important if a club wants to be able to sustain that challenge in the top tier consistently. Such is the hierarchy of modern football blah blah blah, I've made this speech a dozen times before. If you harbour dreams for the title, as far away as this might seem what with other clubs in stronger financial positions to compete - if you want to realistically be in the mix you have to qualify for the elite competition and milk it for all it's worth. Money is the commodity clubs perceive as the gateway to success. Yet this vision of the future might never materialise and remain simply a dream forever out of reach.

But as we all know, such things do not get chronicled in the history books as success or as glory glory days. That's if all you do is finish in a place that grants you access rather than seeing your clubs ribbons on a bit of silver. Although playing against the best sides in Europe, even if all you get out of it is away trips, should not be frowned upon. As a supporter you'll always desire a little more than that.

We finished fourth last year. We've been heavily involved in that top tier for several seasons now. That's the bread and butter of our season. The league games. But when was the last time we had a massive dollop of jam spread across that bread? 2008? And before that in 1999? And further back in 1991? Not forgetting some continental  in 1984? Yet too many times since and in-between our tea has gone cold waiting. It's time for a fry up. And there's no need for Marmite on the table.

The days of the Cup Kings and flirtations with the Twin Towers, that's history, some of it iconic never to be forgotten. These moments are truly the building blocks of a clubs identity and their traditions. We swaggered and might have gone on swaggering had we not hit a brick wall that left us bloody and bruised and nursing injuries we've only just recently recovered from. Rehabilitation has been a long and laborious journey. Whilst we began to walk again, others around us sprinted past, knocking us back down.

We all know the story.

The 1980s. The Big Five. On the verge of something greater. A young chairman with a heart bigger than his brain. Crippling decisions with development at the Lane and the baseball bat to the knees that was Hummel. We never stood a chance. Instead of being primed for the Premiership we were left struggling, on our knees and perilous close to financial ruin. Scholar tried to innovate but all we did was dehydrate. That's just how things panned out and in 1991 we anchored ourselves to survival by winning the FA Cup. Mostly thanks to Des Walker but more so thanks to a shy Geordie that practically dragged us into the final only to then implode. Cruciate ligaments raptured, his transfer to Italy delayed for a season. Another cliff-hanger of a finale in the roller-coaster ride that is THFC. Then into the wilderness we went. In many ways, so did Paul Gascogine. Both of us at the foot of the brick wall looking up, uncertain of the climb ahead.

I remember Sunday afternoons on Channel Four, James Richardson and the odd Gazza cameo and wonder goal. He only played around 40 games for the Rome club before ending up at Glasgow Rangers. The first player, the only player I ever idolised. I remember Hoddle and adored his effortless gliding and majestic arrogance but Gascogine was the one plastered all over my bedroom wall. Somewhere, at my parents home, I have a box full of cut outs of newspapers and magazines, practically all of the match reports, articles and interviews of the player and the coverage he got just before he joined us and whilst he wore Lilywhite. I remember 1990 very well. More so that fabled 91 season. All the cup games. The queuing for the semi-final for tickets. That free kick. It's just the FA Cup right? No, it's more than that. It's something that's untouchable that nobody can ever take away from you. It's Tottenham Hotspur.

So where am I going with all this? One thing is for certain, we're over that wall. Gascoigne too, but he's still sitting at the foot of it on the other side. We've left it behind us, from a jog to a run. We're not so easily knocked down any more either. But we've got plenty of shoulder bruising and there's one or two runners up ahead.

From Europa League to the seasoned question of silverware versus Champions League and long lost love for a breed of player that no longer exists. It's simply this: You can't create history that can be looked back on with pride if you let the present pass you by as an inconvenience.

It's not that supporters don't want to win cups it's just that so many of us prioritise the league and want that top four place more than anything else that we forget that there's no necessity for sacrifice. This won't be easy. The games come thick and fast. The recognition isn't what it was in bygone eras. You could even argue it's just a financial safety net for clubs falling out of that other more grand competition. Then again, if you win it you get to play the winner of that grander competition and that doesn't always turn out the way you expect.

To host Lazio, another club to have loved and lost Paul Gascogine, unbeaten and a dangerous opponent - it's a fine way to reignite a lust for a different type of momentum. One that can lead to moments in games that remain in memory forever. One that can lead to success, regardless of its downgraded stature, regardless that its perceived as an afterthought. Football is what you make it, not what someone else tells you it is. Those conflicted thoughts around what is or should be more important pale into insignificance. It should always be about Spurs and it should always be about glory.

How else can you define yourself as a winner if you don't actually win anything? More importantly, you can't add to those blocks of identity and tradition if you don't set out to build them to stand the test of time.


"It's full of history & different winners. It does not generate financial advantages but it generates emotions when you win it."

- Villas-Boas on the Europa League


Things I want to see from Spurs this season (#1)


Take the Europa League seriously


It's not the Champions League. The group stages are not sexy. It's an afterthought to keep the plucky sides that missed out on the elite competition happy, even though for the most part they're not because they're distracted with trying to qualify for that very same elite competition. It's not been taken seriously for a while, but with Villas-Boas you sense he will want committment. It's important if you believe it's important. It's either this or the Capital One Cup. Take it seriously and it shapes into something tangible. But beyond the standard discussions on squad rotation and head coach ambitions to drive home a winning mentality no matter the game being played, the final is in Amsterdam, in The Amsterdam ArenA.

Amsterdam. The final is in Amsterdam. It's in the 'dam.


*Tag with 'potential to be greatest ever away day'.

Do we really need another reason to want to go all the way to the final? It's in Amsterdam. The prospect of silverware is a nice to have, but the prospect of...Hash cakes, mushrooms, red light district, beer, fit birds on bicycles, threesomes (affordable), pornography, red light district, coffee shops, lap dancers, red light district...

Never red? On this occasion, it's an acceptable alternative to blue. Trust me.

I want to go all the way. I demand a happy ending.





This is hardly the Europe Bill Nicholson spoke of

A while back on the podcast, the question of 'Top 4 or silverware' was put forward. Crops up a lot. No matter the quote or the belief you embrace when discussing priorities in football, there is no argument that football has changed so much in the past twenty years that such a question is rendered redundant because it's easier to just wait and see if you're knocked out before assigning the tags on what matters and what doesn't.

The title > Champions League > Domestic cups > Europa League

Not everyone has the privilege of challenging for the first two and very few are interested in the lesser European competition because it feels like its only there to appease the clubs knocked out in the group stage of the elite competition. Would change if they awarded the winner with a spot in the CL proper and perhaps didn't allow losers from it to drop into the Europa. That's hardly going to happen when football is structured to make the rich richer.

Now I know it's ironic that we want a piece of the pie and want back in, but from a purists point of view we want another bite, perhaps a feast this time - going pound for pound with the top tier teams the continent has to offer. So does that mean it's okay to devalue one competition for another? It's what we've done this season playing a mish-mash of second teamers and youth players whilst our first team concentrate on the Prem games.

I think if you strip it all away, even Bill Nicks quote on Spurs and Europe, you would simply want your club to win every game. To always look to be competitive and to have a mentality that every competition is winnable. Go back to the 80s, that was pretty much the way it was. But that romantic notion can not be stretched through the decades to the present day.

I've felt empty and fairly disillusioned and disinterested with Europe this season because although we did manage a level of competitiveness it was hardly the Glory Glory Tottenham I know, all in white, under the floodlights giving it the style and grace we have come to expect. Europa League is not the Champions League. Its an after thought, the League Cup of the continental stage. You start to take it seriously the further you progress. That chance was missed when the Greeks visited the Lane.

It's a shame that the younger players and the rest wont get any extra game time. That in its self sums up the experience we've endured on Channel 5 and ITV4.

Nicholson's Europe is not the Europa League.

I'd love to see us line-up with strength and the desire to beat our opponents in every single game, but it's not going to happen. This competition was sacrificed. It hurts, but it won't kill.

That question, 'Silverware or Top 4'. I answered Top 4. That's not to say finishing in a CL spot is in any way glorious or defining as any cup competition win. Not a chance. But, in the long term, for this club and the players we currently possesses in Lilywhite it is just as important as lifting a bit of silver with white and blue ribbons.


I don't particularity want us to become the next Man Utd. I don't want ten years of dominance or anything like that. I don't actually believe that will happen again and can see the Premier League being a far more open competition. What I would like is another chapter in our history akin to the one in the 60s and the early 80s. Another glory side. We were once synonymous with the FA Cup.

In addition, if we finish top four or higher. If we consolidate and build on the squad, it's not a case of just finishing in the 'Top four' and being happy with another adventure the following season. It's about growing stronger from one season to the next to be able to aim for the very top.

We would never have had this conversation a few years back. Testament to how much the landscape has brighten from a dull dark sky to a blue one punctured with the odd white cloud.

We can't ignore the position we're in and the potential the side has and the club, players have to believe that a small sacrifice here or there is for the greater good.

If you continually finish in the top then those trophies, that silverware that is far more satisfying (and historically noted) will be far more tangible options in the short and long term.

That's my belief and in some way, my sacrifice.



Greek tragedy

Spurs 1 PAOK 2

If this was a must win game, Harry should have played our strongest side. The fact he didn't more or less tells you the importance of it. That's been the problem from the very start. It's not a priority. It's an after thought. It's something that's there that can't be ignored so it's patronised. Placing aside the emotive aspect of Europe and a cup run, the actual competition is hardly geared towards aiding you domestically due to the sheer volume of games to be played. I guess if our aspirations were different, say we sat in 8th - 6th place and that was the best we could hope for we might have sacrificed more for the it rather than simply play youth and fringe players.

Last night, what with it being a 'must win', Harry added Modric, Lennon and Defoe to the starting line-up. Bale and Walker also made appearances. Was of no consequence when the defence appeared to freeze frame on a couple of occasions in truly calamitous fashion early on in the game rendering it game over before we had a chance to make any worthy impact. I guess proving that if you call upon players that sit on the bench most days, their lack of focus/first team action can prove to be devastatingly ironic. We lost the game in the opening twenty minutes. Got to be honest. I could have walked through the Spurs defence with a kebab in one hand and an Essex bird on the other. No shocker to see an average side do the same (minus the dodgy meat and bint).

The penalty, fortunate as it was, also went a long way to suggest it was going to be an ominous night in front of goal. I could not shake off the feeling that we would dominate possession and still not hit the target convincingly - and that's basically the story of the second half. Even with 10 men, the Greeks contained us. With ample help from the officials that disallowed an equaliser for no apparent reason other than complete incompetence. Player goes down injured. Nobody (officiating) are concerned for said player, play continues, Defoe scores, the assistant referee starts to run back towards the half-way line and the other bloke (that stands by the side of the goal) hardly made an effort to gesture anything. So the ref, in his infinite wisdom, gave a free-kick to PAOK. If it was for the foul, why the delayed reaction? If it was for offside, it quite obviously wasn't offside. All very bizarre and idiotic.

It's a shame, but the reality is - Harry never believed the squad had the necessary depth to take this competition seriously. Hindrance is the vibe I get. Perhaps he thought we could get away with playing the likes of Corluka, Gallas, Bassong, Pienaar etc as they are/were first team players. But once more, if you lack recent competitive game time, it doesn't matter what the name is on the back of your shirt. It was all disjointed and mish-mashed with very little sustained quality (Modric was decent enough).

All down to mathematics now. I think Harry and co will not care too much about the formulas as they are far too tricky to contemplate. The league is the only challenge of importance to this side and retaining our current position, to be awarded with a far more attractive European prospect. Perhaps the FA Cup can give us a much missed run towards silverware.

We tried to get away with it in the Europa League. We didn't. Looking back at the group, we really should have walked it. But if you don't really want something you're not going to be scared or fearful about losing it. That was apparent through-out the group stages.

Onwards to Bolton at home. Quite obviously a game of far bigger importance to most.



Rubin 1 Yoof and disinterested souls 0

Guest blog by Boxbat (regular over at The Fighting Cock forum).


Rubin 1 Yoof and disinterested souls 0

Redknapp picks a great night to stay at home.

There may have been a notable lack of first choice personnel on the pitch, on the bench, and in the dugout, but those that did bother to make the trip showed some good early intent – Ryan Fredericks opted for short sleeves on what I can only imagine was a brisk evening in Kazan, whilst Jake Livermore made a fine tackle in the opening stages to stop a pitch invader in his tracks.

The rest of the first quarter of the game resembled the trip to Salonika, with Spurs’ youngsters afforded time to string a few passes together but looking unthreatening at the business end of the pitch. As Rubin struggled to find momentum of their own, a repeat of the stalemate with PAOK did indeed look on the cards. Unfortunately, whilst Tottenham’s Europa League attack proved reliably toothless throughout, Rubin soon upped their game and started to look more like a team that had beaten Barcelona not so long ago. With backup full-backs Corluka and Rose both injured, Townsend and Fredericks were left with the unenviable task of deputising in defence and stopping the Russian side’s wingers. Who turned out to be their best players on the night, naturally.

Still, Gallas looked commanding on his return, Falque was lively on the right, Defoe put in a decent ball across the six yard box, and Cudicini made several excellent saves to keep the score at 0-0, so those Spurs fans who cared enough about this game to experience emotions could feel rather satisfied at half time.

After the break Gallas went off injured, Falque and Defoe faded out of the game and we conceded the single goal that, in honesty, always looked like being enough. Seb Bassong did his prospects of an extended run on the sidelines no harm with a needless foul on the edge of the area, and commentator’s dream Bebras Natcho hit a scrumptious curler into the net. Credit must also go to manager Kurban Berdyev for keeping faith with those prayer beads.

Townsend, Carroll, Fredericks and Kane all showed moments of promise going forward, but they are not game changers just yet. Nor is Steven Pienaar (at least whilst he regains fitness), whose energies seemed to be mainly directed towards conversing angrily with team-mates, opponents and officials after every foul or cock-up. I’ve spent the last couple of days defending Pav, but tonight’s game hinted at what many had suspected: whilst he can occasionally pull it out of the bag back in Blighty, he just can’t handle a cold Thursday night in Russia.

Still, Carlo kept making those saves – a MoM performance that deserved a clean sheet. It wasn’t all in vain, though, as by keeping the score down to one Spurs retained parity on the head-to-head. Qualification from the group should still be a formality, though to get much further in the competition we may need to call in some backup (i.e. not the backups...)

A minor irritant, then, but fear not: the first string are back in action on Sunday, and Harry still has his own unbeaten streak intact. Canny fella.



You'll win nothing with kids (and Pav)


5pm kick-off. ITV4. It's what dreams are made of.

I'll be driving back home and will probably miss the opening exchanges (thanks to the virtues of modern technology that won't matter too much when I sit down to watch it). This competition in group stage format still leaves me a little detached from getting all giddy with excitement. Going through the motions is hardly box office but there is still interest in how we might cope with each test our mix match of benchers and kids face up too. Especially in this game, what with it being the 'toughest' we've faced thus far.

Few would disagree that if we play the way we played in our first encounter with Rubin Kazan, they will probably punish us for our naivety and inexperience. Gomes, Gallas, Bassong, Pienaar along with Defoe and the ever-committed Pav should give the hosts plenty of work to do if we can be bothered to compete. A win and we qualify. Really does come down to the players selected. Obvious statement, but playing a weaker team lacking first team regulars will always leave us susceptible to a slip and fall. If we lack a spine and authority, I can see us suffering with aforementioned punishment and not the good kind you pay top dollar for from Miss Dominique Matrix. I'm talking about the 'why do I still sort of feel gutted that were losing in a competition I'm not supposed to care about' type of punishment.

I'd suggest (and hope for) Sandro in the middle of the park. Add to that less experienced 'kids'  Livermore, Townsend, Carroll and also Falque. Bet I lost you after Sandro. Centre-backs will have to be sharp. Baptism for Willy and his return to first team action.

edit: Sandro not in the squad, ho-hum. Hope turned to dust. Seems I did lose you after Sandro.

Draw? I'd take that. Win, I'll have that. Loss? Wouldn't shock me as this competition remains an annoyance to the manager. Hopefully the game can serve one purpose regardless of the result. That being a shop window for that Russian forward that rates himself a bit.

PS Get well Harry.

The Tottenham Whisper

If you've read The Tottenham Miscellany by Martin Cloake and Adam Powley you might remember a mention in it about the mystery surrounding The Tottenham Whisper. Nobody appears to be able to provide conclusive truth, meaning there is little chance after so many years for a truly definitive answer to be discovered. So instead, its a case of perhaps trying to work out the most logical answer. I've read a pretty ace explanation for it which I'm happy to accept as the answer.

Sent in via email to The Fighting Cock team:

This memory is hazy as its from something my late granddad once told me. Apparently back in the day there was some kind of dig made at us spurs fans for the manner of our support during the games. We apparently out shouted, sung and cheered the oppositions fans so extensively that...

Read the rest here.

Movember Day Three

Movember update and it's day three and not a lot is happening in the mo-area of my face.

If you want to get involved and highten awareness you can join our team The_Fighting_Cock and visit our 'My mo space page'.

We'll be updating the page and the thread over at The Fighting Cock forum with weekly photos and updates on the growth and styling of our majestic moustaches.

To donate or join the team, click on the link and ‘donate to my team’ or ‘join team’. Rejoice the 30 day journey of moustachery.


the fighting cock podcasters


Movember, Day Three.

If you look close enough, there is mo-stubble there. Honestly, I promise. Okay, so it's still in a pathetic state of nothingness, but it's day 3 and I practically guarantee something resembling a moustache by Sunday/Monday. Tuesday by the latest. Wednesday for sure.


Check out the thread over at The Fighting Cock forum for other participant photos and updates.

For previous days, click on 'Movember' directly below this article, next to 'tagged'.