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Entries in FA Cup (38)


Backbone made of crisps

Spurs 1 Chelsea something something

A ghost goal and phantom tactics...


So basically, in conclusion, the ghost goal becomes less relevant after the fact with every goal that proceeds it?

Okay then.

I'm not going to bother about Cech and if he should have been sent off. Only way that would have happened is if Bale wasn't up there with Adebayor.  Also, I do love how players still call for the goal when they know it hasn't gone over the line. Nice one. John Terry appealing for it even though he has since admitted he knew it wasn't over. Same for Juan Mata.

If it takes a photo from a very specific angle to show the ball DID go over the line, does that excuse a referee giving it on a whim that it was over the line? Referee's ref on gut instinct now? How sure was he in that split second that the entire ball crossed the line? There is no such picture, but it's all a mute point now.

Aside from this pivotal game-influencing moment its nigh impossible to predict what might/might not have happened in its aftermath which is why it should always be imperative that no matter the injustice you just GET THE F*** ON WITH IT. We defaulted to the textbook once more where this is concerned.

Other scratches of head: I would have started Sandro or Livermore instead of Lennon. Friedel should have been between the sticks. We should not have changed shape to 442 and (as cited) we fell apart way too easily, apologetically surrendering space with some woeful defending (regardless of being punished by some superb strikes/finishes). That shift in formation ruined us. Don't think we got the ball out to the flanks as often as we could of either. Gallas was just...<insert what you're thinking here>. Our full backs dizzy. Got into some decent positions, final ball not always the best. Once more no cutting edge. Our fitness, questionable. In conclusion, a completely uninspiring and somewhat unforgivable (second half) performance. Leadership, anyone? Shrewd and patience tactics lacking (remember the Stamford Bridge game)?

That shape you witnessed is one of a pear. I'm not even knee-jerking here.

Thought we looked fairly ominous even though we played alright for an hour or so. It was an evenly balanced game which saw Chelsea get lucky/take their chances. We competed without being spectacular and arguably at times were quite unfortunate. But still a lack of sustained want and desire to really go out there and dominate and bully them. It then turned into 'shades of City at home'. When the third went in, we gave up accepting yet another cruel punchline from the footballing Gods joke book.


It's not in!

Or is it? Parallax error says NO

It was gift wrapped for Chelsea.

Hate the fact that the game changed at 2-0 thanks to  Martin Atkinson. Let's just get this one out the way. I know there are times when refs make genuine mistakes based on instinct, but ***king hell, how was that not cheating? That wasn't an honest mistake, that was a concious decision to make the wrong decision because it felt right for him to react in a dishonest way. Hate the fact there has to be controversy. Hate the fact we had to lose a goal in that manner to then react positively. Hate the fact that we still capitulated and when we do, five is the not-so-magic number these days. Hate the fact that as good as we can be, when we're bad we just melt away. Hate the fact and despise the fact we lost to them lot at Wembley for the first time ever. Hate that not even in my worst nightmare did I expect that scoreline.

I hate that we didn't deserve to win.

Regardless of the phantom goal and the effect it had on the game, it's tiresome that we failed again to contain and channel the anger in the right way. It's a trend against this lot also (decisions going against us) but that's no excuse to accept it and roll with the punches.

It's also a continuation of recent form. We've not had the belief for the best part of this year. Lost our way? That's an understatement. With much irony, have to admit we lack the right level of man-management and decisive responsibility. When there is a certain ilk of pressure, we can't handle it. In the midst of the blip we've been incapable of somehow galvanising (Christ I HATE that word) and recapturing that much required tenacity to fight our way through it. There was a weakness in our game that is sometimes so much stronger than our strengths. Our Adamantium backbone from the first part of the season has turned into one made from crisps. Much like Atiknson and his decision making. Brittle.

But you know what, **** it. I can't do much about it now. Semi-finals since '91 hate on us in this competition. How many is that now? If this is rock bottom its rock bottom because of the expectations we've built up this season. We're disappointed because even though most thought it would be difficult to compete for the top four at the start we've done just that and at times excelled. But we've managed to p*ss it away recently.

We're disappointed because once more we've allowed ourselves to be consumed by the occasion at Wembley. However, there are still five games left in the league, so excuse me for a moment, I'll hold off writing the post-mortem for a few more weeks where CL is concerned.

If this is rock bottom, the only way is up. As long as we have a ladder. We're screwed if anyone is still holding onto that God damn shovel. Last time we lost a semi-final and got written off, you know what happened.

We are Tottenham. I am Tottenham. I wouldn't change it for anything. There's a reason a straitjacket is white.



As for the Chelsea fans, are you really that shocked?

"We are extremely disappointed a very small minority of fans embarrassed the club [during min silence for Hillsborough]" - yet another official club statement from CFC.

It's not a minority though is it? It's at the heart of their support. It's the core of their support. It's always been there, it never goes away. I expect nothing less from them and I hope it taints the rest of their innocent fans because they are the ones that need to take responsibility for sharing a stadium with scum.

In addition, reports of the usual anti-Semitic abuse also. Stay classy.



Knees? Check. Trembling? Check.

Spurs 3 Bolton 1

I watched the FA Cup game against Bolton in a hotel bar in Swansea with a West Country Spurs fan on a big screen without audio but with the unwanted ramblings of a quiz master reading out daft questions and playing awful music from the 70s and 80s. Hardly borderline surreal but not my ideal setting to watch Spurs. Even so, for or all I cared I could have been tied to a chair and been subjected to Chinese water torture, it would not have distracted me from my enjoyment at witnessing a rebirth (of sorts) for team in Lilywhite who swaggered, swashbuckled and displayed the urgency, fluidity and sharpness in touch and pass that has been missing for several games.

Sure, okay, no need to point out that we lacked that clinical composure where it mattered but this is still a team, a group of players, attempting to climb back off the ground, dust off and gently jog to warm up those muscles before running at full speed again.

It might have felt ominous at times, I'm sure everyone watching flirted with the potential for us to be sucker-punched what with all the possession and chances we were carving out. But also you would have flirted with the thought that one goal would suddenly make more easier to come by. Rejoice, the latter was the satisfying conclusion.

Bogdan (Bolton's keeper) seemed to get his body/hands/finger tips onto everything kicked his way. Granted one or two opportunities should really have been buried past him beyond any doubt. But to return to the metaphor of getting ourselves off the floor and back up standing proud, in some ways the patience and perseverance probably worked out for the best because it now truly feels like we've exorcised the demons that have recently haunted us.

Harry got the starting line-up right and made the right change at the right time (although we're still far better with one upfront than two). Was impressed with Livermore. To be honest there was little not to be impressed about taking into consideration how we've lacked this ilk of tempo and now we appear to be have got it back. We scored from a set piece - surely that's deserving of smiles all round. In fact there's been a steady improvement of dead ball kicking recently, although that's hardly something to shout about when you check the stats and remind yourself of how poor we've been for seasons now.

What we need to do now is replicate it in the league. Can't think of a better way to do so than to go toe to toe with the tippy tappy free flowing Swansea side this weekend.

All to play for. Our season is alive.

We're going to Wembley. Not proper Wembley, but it's still 90 mins or so away from a Cup final.

I'm having some of that.



Thick and fast

What do we want from our players in Tuesday nights FA Cup replay? I'd say something comparable to the tempo of the first game against Bolton (before it all ended in the 41st minute) without the defensive lapses and surrendering of too much possession with additional confidence collected from the 0-0 at Stamford Bridge. Harry will no doubt tinker a little but I'm hopeful of a strong line-up and a win. It will no doubt be emotionally charged, plenty of Fabrice chanting in unison from both sets of fans but when the poignant moment is over everyone's focus and support will be for the football being played. Honour the lad and his recovery with a ding dong cup tie.

Bolton will be fired up. As for us, two successive draws in the league is hardly glory football but its a stepping stone for momentum. We've got to reclaim that winning mentality and we've got to rediscover that bullish swagger we've lost. One game at a time, but with so few left every game has to form part of a tapestry of tenacity.

No pressure then. They're coming thick and fast. Potential semi-final against Chelsea awaits and going on the game we just played against them its not too far fetched that one or two knees will go a little trembley with excitement. But first and foremost Bolton Wanderers.

Silverware + top three would crown off a crowing season even with our recent choke.


Will be travelling tomorrow and not back until Wednesday night. I might have to make do with Twitter to follow the game. Sad times.


Open bus parade dream still alive

Spurs 3 Stevenage 1

Well that wasn't exactly the swashbuckle smash'em display I had in mind. We asserted ourselves in the end but it felt like a walk through marshlands in a downpour, losing both boots in the mud, because we left the keys in the car and forgot about having a spare set in our back pocket all along.

The team we put out was easily strong enough to beat Stevenage. Didn't quite work out 'easily'. They defended deep, we had plenty of possession but not much in the way of sustained pressure. No injection of pace and tempo. No authority. Very little spark in offensive positions. But never really in trouble even if they happened to trouble us with pockets of effort. Subdued in part.

All this compounded after the visitors took the lead in the 2nd minute through a penalty. Nelsen slow with the tackle. He's better with his head than he is with his feet. They almost went 2-0 up after some poor defending (mark your man damn it) from a free kick which ironically lead to Bale and a 50 yarder finding Defoe who finished superbly for the equaliser. Joy! It's alive!

Then it went dead again.

Dawson went off (Walker on) injured and is out long term (ruptured ankle ligaments and he's done his knee in as well). Absolutely no luck that lad and I'm gutted for him. Lennon (hamstring) also lost to a first half brace of injuries (replaced by Adebayor). Brilliant preparation for Goodison Park.

Second half was an improvement. Which was always on the cards thanks to the low standards set in the first. Walker and van der Vaart working the right wing with intent. Bale was effective and at times befriended his old mate the left wing. JD had a goal disallowed (right decision) which was a shame because it was lovely. Other highlights included Bale smashing the ball onto the crossbar and van der Vaart taking a class corner (that might end up with its own DVD it's that rare) which was flicked on by Bale (no one on the end of it - no DVD then). In amongst all this glamour football was a penalty, for us this time. Gareth fouled in the box, Adebayor making it 2-1. I was getting excited now. Not because of this match (watched via an internet stream) but because Messi was on his way to a 5 goal haul in the Champions League. Multi-tasking with the viewing.

We made it 3-1 (that rubbish Welsh winger-come-Ronaldo-come-Stoke) with his third assist. This one via his hands to Defoe who scored a brilliant second finishing with some pomp to finally settle the game. If anyone had any lingering doubts we'd balls it up, a sigh of relief stated 'Calm down and support your team'. Defoe proving he's full of confidence but the arguments that he still struggles to fulfil other team duties will rage on and into the weekend when we wait to see if we go 442 or bench JD and start with Adebayor.

We need to make sure our set pieces (taking and defending) improves vastly for the remaining games.

Stevenage, to their credit, still gave it a go. At 1-1 Cudicini saved point-blank from Roberts who also had another chance cleared off the line. Cudicini was kept busy once or twice, mainly thanks to some shabby back four defending. They had one or two other efforts on goal.  Didn't make for comfortable viewing.

We got the job done, but Christ it was hard work. Hindsight is yelling something about how we wouldn't have required this replay had we played our strongest possible side in the first game.

Although all this might read quite harshly, I do appreciate the fact that the players probably knew and believed they would win the game without exerting themselves at full pelt and were not that bothered with wasting fuel on this game what with the desire to end our two-game Prem crisis in a few days time. No Luka and a make shift defence doesn't bode well for momentum but we'll be fair more structured and balanced next time round. A win is a win and the squad rotation worked even if we went round the houses to see it unfold positively. Perhaps the want for something special pre-match masked that a little.

I know it's three unconvincing performances. The NLD was woeful. Utd at home was a mugging (aided by incompetence from us). This game, does it really count because of the line-up? Or do we bunch it in with the other two and start to show concern for morale? Because regardless of the line-up we should have been far more convincing and despatched them with that missing relative ease. The real test is the Everton game. There's got to be hunger and there's got to be guile and above all some intensity.

Guess we should remind ourselves that the standard we've set this season is very high. Anything below that standard almost feels like we've lost our mojo. Look behind the sofa Harry, guaranteed to be there.

Bolton at the Lane in the 6th round. We'll have to be full strength for that one what with it being a game away from a semi-final. With Everton at the weekend, I appreciate that players had to be rested. I'm also not going to lose any sleep about the injuries (although as mentioned, really want to hug Dawson and tell him everything will be alright). Fact is, Tottenham are no strangers to doing it the hard way and if it's bare bones that the footballing Gods wish to bestow on us, then so be it.




Not much to share with you in preview for this evenings FA Cup 5th Round replay against Stevenage. Hoping for the following:

- Convincing confidence boosting win

- Plenty of width (unlikely as it's 'weaker' opposition so if Bale plays he'll most likely roam)

- Smiles on faces

Unlike the first game where the pitch looked like it was prepared by Godzilla, I'm hoping our groundsman lays down a field of silk grass, perfectly cut for fast paced tempo driven swashbuckle. Win and it's Bolton at the Lane and win that means everyone gets a semi.

Parker, Bale, van der Vaart all expected to be available. Defoe will most likely start (no Saha). No Ledley. Gallas to return? Curious to see how we handle the right-back position for this one. What with Everton on the weekend. We'll have to wait and see what defines a 'strong side' as predicted by Redknapp in the build up, what with his mix and match efforts sometimes unbalancing the output.

It almost feels like a forgone conclusion so I'm hoping the players don't see it as such (although it would take a monumental effort to balls this one up). Would still like to see us pressure them until they collapse early doors and have this wrapped up before half time so if Harry wishes to rest key players he can do just that.

Here's hoping we smash'em.




We didn't beat Stevenage

What a wonderful afternoon of cup action on Sunday. Fluid sexy movement, push and run football from the visitors and gallant efforts from the lower tier hosts who battled bravely to defend their pride against the hot-shots from North London. It was a majestic occasion.

That's basically how I hoped this match report would start in an ideal post-game world, however what we got instead was abject hoofing, fragmented selection and quite possibly Tottenham's most below par performance of the season. Seriously, 0-0? You sure? Credit to Stevenage, but that was poor. This wasn't Spurs, it was bizarro Spurs trying to out-crap the previous cup game away day at Watford. It's like we're trying to be the anti-cup side this season and do as little as possible as we muddle through each round just to prove how nonchalantly we can be and still win in the end. Although the win is on ice until the replay. Compounding matters further was the ITV coverage that included in-game interviews. Pleasantly surprised they hadn't booked in Haye and Chisora to make an appearance to spice things up a little.

I could have written up a match report citing said hoofing of the ball and the general lack of botheredness and focus along with our initial formation (and the eventual shift to 442) and questioned why we took such an apparent risk in not playing a strong cohesive side. Be thankful I'm not going to make you re-live the match in blog format.

We've since been told one or two of our players are 'injured' and not match fit. Hence the selection. But in all honesty, the team we did field should have been more than capable of dismantling the hosts. If we want this FA Cup (Bolton at home once Stevenage are dispatched in the reply) we need to start treating the competition like it matters. But then what do I know. I'm a fan with an internet connection and Harry Redknapp is the one being touted as the next boss of England. Damage limitation on a dodgy pitch away from home, job done is probably the reasoning (excuse). Second half was better than the first, if only for the apparent discovery of shape the team managed to embrace.

The only positive I can draw from this experience is the fact that you can still count on one hand (a finger or two) how many below par performances we've had this season. And still not lost (I'm ignoring the pre-Parker defeats, they don't form part of our new history).

If (I'd state when but I've already cited dispatched, and trying to avoid a karma jinx) we get past Stevenage and play a stronger side at home to Bolton...we'll be in with a chance of making the semi-final.

Might as well book that open bus for the parade.

Hold up, you mean if we beat Stevenage then Bolton we have to play a semi-final? Can't we skip that  altogether? No?

Oh well. The dream is already practically over then.



Friday Night Football. Let's never speak of it again.

Watford 0 Spurs 1

If the game where Hoddle scored that wonderful wonderful chip was enthralling, this 2012 FA Cup match (from a Spurs perspective) was an abomination in comparison. Harsh, but a fair assessment. It really wasn't very good from start to finish. Watford, hardly Brazil but very unfortunate to have not scored. All things considered, a 1-0 win and progress into the next round is hardly scoffable. New Spurs, can play without edge and still claim victory, riding lady luck bareback...willing to take the risk.

We lined up with a strong side. On paper more than decent. The reality altogether a different experience. No true shape and absolutely no width. Thankfully Lennon was on the bench for the second half but before we got there we had to endure very little in the way of anything of substance. Midfield was unbalanced, Luka lost out on the left. Rafa in there somewhere doing something. I think. Actually I don't know. I kept having to check the starting line-up to confirm and then reconfirm the existence of some of the players out on the pitch. No fluidity, no smart, sharp movement and passing. There was no tempo other than chasing Watford back when they came forward. Rose and Walker under early pressure whilst we lacked direction.

Modric and Rafa struggled to gain influence. The two forwards (JD and Adebayor) waiting rather than gathering. There was no apparent system to our play that would have allowed the variety of in-team units to work together. Retaining possession, recycling possession, push and run. Nothing. It progressively got worse. That's until van der Vaart scored on 43 minutes from a counter attack (a Walker threaded ball) to the anonymous enigma who scorched the ball into the net from twenty-five yards. Although how anyone can notice how a player can be anonymous in amongst a sea of anonymity is beyond me. I was just happy to see someone attempt a shot on goal.

Second half, Luka off and Lennon on gave us width. Pace. Eased the pressure on the flank Rose was patrolling. Still, we continued to ride our luck with Murray clear on goal hitting the post and the rebound squandered by Deeney. Wakey wakey, right? Wrong. More coma-inducing football followed. We did carve out a chance or two (rose cross Walker header Loach save). Rafa was slightly more involved in the play, in that he got to touch the ball. Have to admit I found myself easily distracted by the want for Yorkshire tea. Also, had to call Sky up because my Sky box lost its signal (was watching the game on an internet feed on the pc). On the phone to Sky they asked me to unplug the box which I did. Then press the backup button, keeping my finger pressed down on it. Then I was asked to re-plug the box in. I kept my finger on the backup button, but could not reach the plug. I needed assistance to complete this so I called out for the missus. I then proceeded to turn into Alan Partridge.


I burst out laughing when she walked into the room. She had no idea why and gave me daggers for distracting her hair straightening until I explained the necessity for the Sky plug to find its way back into its socket. It fixed the problem. Highlight of the game that was. Not relevant to the football, but thankful for ye olde living room improvisation theatre rescuing me momentarily before the bleak return to the internet stream.

Rafa hit the crossbar. But Watford continued to press. Without being patronising either way, we played poorly with plenty of disinterest. Friday night football, obviously not our stage. But even with our lack of oomph, Watford for all their plucky resilience and belief still couldn't get past Cudicini and his heroic save when it looked a certain equaliser. 25 shots to 6, supposedly. That's 25 Watford efforts to our lazy half dozen.

I really did expect us to walk this when I saw the line-up but credit to Watford for at least turning up. Not sure if that was a City hangover being flushed out of our system or just one of very very (very) few below par performances we've witnessed this season. Perhaps evidence that a slightly weakened Spurs side is detrimental to momentum. Perhaps evidence that players did not wish to run around a lot and get injured. Sometimes we don't have much choice but to take that risk. Props to Livermore. I noticed you Jake. Either way, its done. We're into the hat and we can look at the far more important business of the league and Wigan at home.

What? Come on now, the FA Cup...its still an afterthought I'm afraid. The magic has yet to spark us into life. Perhaps in the next round.

Regardless, we win. Onwards we go.


Love the shirt.



Sunflower and birthday cake


I've just about recovered from a week of torrid insomnia and it's main catalyst, acute Bronchitis, to find myself back on-line but it would appear with very little to share. Nothing cute about it. I think it's fair to say most of us are still reflecting on the City game. Still seems impossible, within the context of how the game played out in the second half, that fate managed to re-script the narrative with such a harsh finale. But then a score-draw would have lacked the brutal punch of certainty. In this case, it's certain we've (once more) been written out of the race. Which is all good. Much prefer us in the backdrop of 3rd place with less pressure on us leaving behind the hefty superlatives the media have blessed us with recently.

I still fancy us to push for 2nd spot. Although its more appropriate to now take one game at a time. Talking of which; the FA Cup. Friday evening. That's a fairly new one on me. Not the best of kick-off times. Means Sky+ will be used whilst I pretend to show interest in Eastenders and avoid all social media until I start playing catch-up.

Watford away. Cue re-runs of that majestic piece of genius from Hoddle. We should win this one comfortably. We need to want to win it comfortably just to get back to winning ways and also because there won't be any harm complementing our CL push with a proper old fashion cup run. Redknapp has taken us to the semi-final before. We failed to show up that day. Don't know how many times I've said it but we were once synonymous with this competition. Now it's just a distant memory. So, make it so Spurs.

The transfer window is still open. You might have forgotten all about it. Although doubtful thanks to the daily routine of re-reading the same football agent rhetoric that's used to attempt to drum up interest in players looking to leave/arrive. I stopped watching Sky Sports News a while back. Although on deadline day, I'm sure to tune in just to watch the almost Chris Morrisesque 'The Day Today' qualities of their newsroom as they go round the training grounds and stadiums of England to show us reporters standing outside waiting for a car to pull in or out so they can confirm 'something must be happening'. Exciting. It never fails to amuse. Looking forward to Jim White turning up, with CCTV showing him parking up and walking towards the lift whilst checking his Blackberry for ITK.

We're being teased that Gio is finally on his way, which means someone has agreed to pay us the £40M that Levy has quoted for the ex-Barca player. Pav is still with us. He is right? Of course he is. You know that because of the daily reminder of him wanting to leave. Think I read we extended his contract to drive up the asking price. And you wonder why he's still here. As for players in? The latest from the ITK community is: Sunflower. Yes, you read that right. Another ambiguous cryptic clue that tells you nothing but can probably explain a dozen potential names in the aftermath of anyone signing.

Harry is relatively busy at the moment so not sure if he's going to be available for late night pizza as the clock edges towards midnight on the fateful last day. This ambition I have for consolidation. Considering we are less than a week away from the window closing, you would expect that any major signing(s) we are planning must have plans afoot already for the deal(s) to be plausible. And if so, the fact no media outlet or message board teenager is sharing suggests nobody other than the chairman is aware of it. Which is always the way. That or nothing is afoot and we might be left with hoping (despairing) for another opportunistic super-signing in the dying moments. Oh the joys will be upon us soon.

As for the court case. It all sounds doom and gloom. Would do because its the prosecutions job to make it sound just that. Defence will level it out. Not even sure how important any of this is, in terms of the short term and long term. I'm not worried. At all. Also, if you're one is spurs61.

Happy birthday to Bill Nicholson (RIP you grand legend of a giant of a man). Also HAGO to Jose Mourinho who appears to be a popular talking point to some who have already began to legislate for a new Spurs manager. Can I remind everyone of The Special One's style of football and his managerial traits and then ask you to compare them to the manager we currently have. Jose, he's a winner, but he's a winner at a cost. Both to the transfer budget required to support his efforts and the ethos of the shirt. Also, if you don't like Harry and his ego-brand protecting I hate to imagine what you'd make of Jose and his delightfully pleasant personality and relationship building skills. All this is simply hypothetical, just for discussion points.

Talking of the Special One. Happy birthday to me. I'm in great company. A thank you to Tottenham for the birthday card sent and the subliminal message it included by way of having Darren Anderton's name and shirt visible on the back. Very poignant to include 'Sicknote' in a message to me on what ought to be a day of celebration. Is that a gentle reminder of what might happen if I fall out of line again, Mr Chairman? I know you're watching. You're always watching.


I ain't scared of you.



We need it

One of my earliest memories of the FA Cup is not a Tottenham one (that came the year after and again the year after that). The first Wembley showcase I can recall is the one between West Ham United and Arsenal. 1980. It's a memory I'm staggered to have to be honest. But still, it's there.

I'm sitting on the floor in my grandparents living room, tv on, and I watch the moment Brooking nods in to make it 1-0. I guess the preconditioning from my family already had the 'hate the ones in red' set to moderate, easing the dislike gently in as I half-heartedly celebrated by looking at my uncles reaction (one of delight). I then proceeded to leave the room, pick up a football and attempt to recreate the goal in the garden between two flower pots.

81 and 82 followed. Almost all the cup finals of that era were memorable. I actually forgot how last seasons final played out. Had to be reminded of the Stoke/City affair. That memorable and that important. You could once go back ten years and run through the scores of every game played between the twin towers. Why? Because each one of them was an occasion.

Then the competition started to lose some of its magic. Football began to evolve into a beast. Sky Sports. The Champions League. Uniteds rejection. The Cup was time-shared between the same group of teams for an age (no irony lost it was the same clubs dominating the top four). Then it birthed indirect (and direct) disinterest from many that still resonates now, what with clubs preferring to rest players and prioritise continental ambitions as a more viable target to bolster stature via financial gain. The usual suspect still got to finals.

Having the semis at Wembley also doesn't help. It meant something to win it. It was almost as important as the league. You can hardly even contemplate saying that now.

Let's not pretend it's the same competition it once was. It isn't. Much like the League Cup has long ceased to be anything more than an afterthought and day out for most. Regardless of what team we put out on Saturday in the 3rd round against Cheltenham I hope that when the opposition require us to field a strong side, we will.

I'm not about to dive back into the depths of the silverware v Champions League argument. Okay, perhaps just dip my toe in. If we finished 5th this season we'd be devastated thanks to the consequences it would have - a by product of modern day expectations. Although deep down you'd still wear your heart on your sleeve and sing for your team. But its undeniable, the buzz that comes with being a very good side is better than the one that falls asleep in mid-table.

5th and the FA Cup would still give us a migraine across the summer of 2012 attempting to hold onto our key players. Silverware does mean you get that never to be forgotten footnote in history entered into the record books. You'll hardly find the same accolade stating 'x years of CL qualification' achieved by the side of 'Finished 4th'.

So what are we left with? You might cite the need for momentum and that continued growth of mental strength and belief. Because if you combine a CL place with a cup, then at the very least it equates to a tangible honour that rewards a team for its effort, desire and history. There's still something to be said for Glory. And Glory is in the eye of the beholder because lets face it, who cares what anyone else thinks when all that matters is the team you support and the days out you have with them.

You still have to win something to be a winner. We're aspiring to do so. Which is why its important to give it everything. Which is why the league will take priority. But it shouldn't be about priorities. We should always look to win every game we play. We should always believe we can win every game.

We've not won the FA Cup for a while. We've not challenged at the top end of the top division for even longer. There's no escape from it. Football has changed and so have we. Gone are the days when a headed goal from an unlikely source or a mazzy run into the box are history defining moments never to be forgotten, more important than a mere 4th or 3rd spot in the table.

Don't want to patronise this grand old competition. Don't think we'll be doing so if we rest several players for the 3rd round. But we've suffered before by doing just that in the past. We still need to show it the respect it's lost, the respect it deserves. The FA Cup was synonymous with Tottenham once upon a time. We've won it eight times. Of course it means something to us.

We've had a fair few semi-final defeats in the past couple of decades. It's been too long. Regardless of the cup not having the same glamour it once had, its best to remember that glamour is created by players and the teams in the games played. Those magical moments of movement, touch and vision. The great goals and comebacks. Its in those moments that it becomes something more than ribbons on a piece of fancy silver.

I went to all the cup games in 1991 when Gascoigne almost single-handling dragged us into the final. That was a defining season in the clubs history. We needed to win the Cup with Death looking down at us with sickle in hand. We won it. Every game in that run to Wembley becomes more than just 90 minutes of football, long to be forgotten. It's never forgotten. Like a novel unravelling from one chapter to the next, ending with epic emotion and then forever being able to pick it up and read through it again reliving the joy of its concluding pages.

Football is about these moments.

The only way we can go all the way is if we want to go all the way. It's that simple. Rotation, fixture congestion and the league will always run parallel to the FA Cup. None of that should be used as an excuse. Got to hope we change, that I change and that clubs change. You should always look to win the FA Cup regardless of what else is going on. It's a knock-out competition, anything can happen. As for choosing between it and the Champions League, its a moot point. You'll never have the option to choose. We either qualify for the CL or we don't. We either get to Wembley or we don't. The clue is in our club motto.

I hope when my daughter is old enough and if she choices to ruin her life with football, I hope her earliest memories include Lilywhite and silver and perhaps an iconic moment or two. I was lucky enough to see a bloke with a beard score a goal that will never be forgotten in the history of both Spurs and the FA Cup. It was a bit more special than Brooking's the year before. These are the moments that can never be take away from us.

We need more of these moments in our lives.





The Prem, the Champions League and the FA and Milk Cups


Someone recently pointed out to me we should be aiming higher. Higher than 4th spot. 3rd or even 2nd. No mention of a cup.

I understand the sentiments.

Modern football at the top tier is no longer about domestic trophies of the cup variety. They are simply deemed nice to haves. A day out. It’s prestige lost, drowned out by all the unnecessary music, fireworks and pomp. I remember growing up, swelling with pride when citing  the amount of FA Cups, League Cups and European trophies we had won. Okay, not as many in total as Liverpool or United (at the time we did lead the way in FA Cups) but those finals, they meant something. A badge of honour. Days of glory.

We now live in a footballing society that is geared towards the Champions League and that without entry to this elite competition we cannot progress to the next level and we cannot attract the right calibre of players to do so. Winning a cup remains a bonus, one that is still usually picked up by the very top sides, other than the occasional anomaly.

So, what to do? Only one tangible option. Don’t look back.

We’ve only been in the CL the one time. We’ve only very recently become contenders for the ‘competition for 4th spot’ after the degradation of the monopoly that made it practically impossible for anyone other than Utd, Arsenal, Liverpool and Chelsea to finish in any of those fabled positions. The reason we (and the media) even refer to it as ‘the battle for 4th spot’ is because even though the monopoly is no more, the teams above us still possesses that extra bit of quality and experience which means on paper it’s still not looking like the seasoned regulars are about to be knocked off their perch.

But much like it was never viable to knock one of them out of the CL places completely (and now it is) the same thing can quite easily happen for 3rd spot. And so on. As witnessed this season and last. The Prem continues to remain in a state of subtle flux.

If you consistently finish top four and partake in CL football then you’ll grow into a side strong enough to mount a title challenge every season. In other words, you push for top spot (even if it’s out of reach by five to ten points) and regardless of the outcome you’ll find yourself to be good enough to never fall further than fourth. Which equates to the ilk of stability that will turn you all powerful and evil (you'll shudder, part of your soul will die, but you’ll have been corrupted by then and won't notice).

It’s going to be difficult for all involved if we along with one or two others sustain our progression in the right direction. Six teams into four positions doesn’t work. I don’t believe we’re on the verge of a new monopoly either. Just some fancy musical chairs as we all dance to the tune of ambition. It might be something we have to settle for, a time-share with perhaps only the same two teams guaranteed CL football and the rest fighting for the remaining two slots. There’s no way of knowing how it will all play out across the next five years.

All we can do is aim to improve.

I know that’s wishy washy, but unless you have a spare flux capacitor it’s hardly feasible to point out the team(s) that will experience a devastating end of cycle life run, and drop several places. The Sky Sports era of the 90s and early turn of this century has cemented certain clubs at the top who can survive just fine without being at the peak of their powers.

So yes, all we can do is improve and aim to better ourselves first before looking to better the team just above us.

Aiming for 4th spot is that initial step required to understand what represents the minimum requirement. It's not a failure to finish in 5th spot. It just doesn't amount to the same thing as finishing above 5th. As we all know after the heroics of the 2010 season.

Discussing this so matter of fact is still sometimes surreal considering how we (and others) laughed off any claim we’d compete for CL football five years ago. It’s taken a long time and the reality is that we no longer day dream, we endeavour to push on and the disappointment when we miss out hurts. But once more, don’t look back.

The ugly truth is that a transitional season is always a season away. Managerial appointments and players personal targets are short term which means, with the best endeavours, we can be disrupted in a blink of an eye. To sustain and build further on the foundations you simply have to be involved in europe’s elite competition as it feeds you the power and the money to bully the rest domestically.

It’s sad, compared to the competitiveness of the 80s and the lust for domestic cups we all had back then. But it’s just how the mechanics of the game are oiled these days, fuelled by money.

At the most fundamental level, I want Tottenham to always embrace their traditions. Swagger and swashbuckle. But now that we have a spine and a taste for something bigger and bolder, we can hardly look back and return to the darkness having caught some colour out in the sun. I’m not asking for a decade of dominance. Just another beautifully scripted slice of history that can sit proudly alongside all the defining moments that have blessed us across so many decades. It’s what any fan desires of their team. It’s what the players representing the fans and the club should desire too.

We all know what’s at stake if we don’t finish in the top four next season. This summer alone is going to be dramatic and tiresome with rumours of potential bids for our key players and frustration as we await to see who we might sign. Stripping away all the intricate details of how best we line-up and tactical conundrums, we’re left simply with this: Audere est facere.

And in pragmatic terms?

We have to aim towards being competitive in every match we perform in. Momentum breeding a winning mentality and a hatred for losing. We are lacking a cutting edge. We can’t stand around wasting time wondering if the others around us will fix their own issues or drop further in form or improve. It’s always going to be in our hands. There are no complaints if you are the best you can possibly be yet fail to achieve your dream. Echo’s of glory, right?

At this given moment in time, there is very little in it. A few more home wins and...well, what hasn’t happened hasn’t for a reason. Those intricate details that need looking at are key to avoid a repeat. The learning curve won’t be so forgiving next time round. Others might be better placed thanks to their stable foundations and experience, but there are cracks in the wall. But once more, it matters not if we don't build something as durable over time that we can one day look back at with pride whilst the rest crumble.

As for the CL itself, it’s made for us. Our nature to attack and the knock-out element of the latter rounds. Shame we lacked a similar ethic domestically, leaving both cup competitions early were low ebbs in a season mostly made up of giddy highs. Distracted was the excuse, but it’s hardly a valid one. City have won the FA Cup and finished 3rd along with playing a fair few games in the Europa League. Perhaps débutantes (in the CL) are simply not strong enough in terms of experience to handle the pressures unlike the seasoned pros. City might falter in the league next season. We don’t know and who cares about something we can’t control?

Fact is we didn't appear to have the time or inclination to bother with the FA Cup and Carling Cup.

I’m not dismissing silverware with this modern footballing culture marginalising it. With all my rhetoric about the importance of the league, it’s still something tangible (Carling Cup might not mean much in relative terms, but try to deny it didn’t when we beat Arsenal in the semi then Chelsea in the final). If it’s good enough for the ex-monopoly to win cups and play CL every season then it has to be good enough for us. That shouldn’t be the reason behind wanting to. We need to recapture some of that old fashion spirit and look to add to our honours tally because that's what history remembers.

Football is still about the moments. Having such a moment is better than having none at all. I can't be alone in wanting us to reclaim our mantle as cup kings. Younger fans hardly remember the tag.

Perhaps the art of balancing our progress and maturity and focusing on the league equates to an altogether different type of transitional season(s) as we continue to grow. Perhaps for now, sacrifices need to be made.

Either way, don’t look back, look forward. But you'll be forgiven if you do happen to reach out to the past to inspire you. Ricky Villa dancing through on goal will live longer in memory than finishing fourth. You'll be happy to replace that memory with one of Modric dinking through midfield as we write a new chapter.

We have to be more astute on and off the pitch with our focus and squad rotation. The Europa League is not ideal in set-up and the winner of the competition  should really be awarded CL qualification rather than the whole thing appeasing the teams that get knocked out of the CL early. But we should still look to progress in it as far as possible. Same with the domestic cups.

The league, the Prem, much like it is for Utd, Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool and now City...will always be the priority. Times have changed for us. So, if we’re truly hungry, its bread and butter on the menu with a cup of whatever you fancy to clench our thirst.


In our defence

Midfield majesty

Forward failure




Things I missed out on this past Sunday

Cracking debut from Andros Townsend. Confident, quick, tricky, jet heeled, right foot, left foot, controlled passing, chips, a goal. Okay so it was against Charlton in the FA Cup and we've been here before with impressive first games from yoof players. Feet firmly on ground then, but dare to whisper it - we might have something here. Much like Kyle Walker, a loan to another Prem side might aid with development and let us know how he would shape up against better quality opposition, week in week out. Steven Caulker (who continues to impress out on loan) makes it a trio of tenacity in terms of hope for the future.

Not a lot from Palacios and Sandro other than Wilson struggling to assert himself onto the game because it just wasn't that type of game for a player of his ilk (tackle this tackle that) and the Brazilian is still bedding himself into life in England, strong and hard working, no glitz or glam.

Defoe being given the freedom of the park.

Modric, the Croatian Xavi, doing his usual effortless swashing around. Untouchable and sublime in movement and passing. Changed the game from a nothingness first half to a comfortable three to nil second. But then from the sounds of it, his inclusion was much required as you're unlikely to get anything in the way of creativity from a centre pairing consisting of two DM's.

So players rested and players that played sort of tested. Still no spark from disillusioned Niko? No surprise, what with him being disillusioned. Fulham away in the next round. Will probably need to play a stronger more balanced side there.

In other news. Beckham is signing. Might stay on permanently. Then Beckham isn't signing. Then he's just training with us for a month - official. Then the deal might be back on for the loan. Then not. It's to do with insurance. Then it's not because of insurance. Then it's back on. Or not? Make up your own headline. You probably won't be too far wrong. Could have done without the constant sound biting commentary from Harry. It's bad enough listening to all the nonsense from the ITK community let alone having our own gaffer give us information that he then contradicts be proclaiming he doesn't actually know what's happening. Down boy down.

If he does just train with us and nothing more, then I guess the advantage is there's no chance of impacting team selection in a negative way (not that he would if he was given permission to play) and we simply reap the benefits of having him on the training pitch, piggybacking Azza around.

Not too shabby for a weekend, where most of us probably sort of switched off and rested a little before we start to focus on Manchester United at the Lane.

Howard Webb anyone?




FA Cup or 4th - Revisited

Remember this?

FA Cup or 4th?

FA Cup = immediate silverware, club shop dvd, another chapter written into the history books


4th = CL

CL = more money, better players

More money, better players = possible title challenge

Title challenge = top 4 placement every season

Top 4 placement every season = CL every season

CL every season = even more money, even better players

Even more money, even better players = sustained title challenges

Sustained title challenges = potentially lots of silverware


Simplified, I know. Qualifying one season for the CL doesn't mean there's a guarantee you'll be in it the following. But that's a defeatist attitude. Anyways, to answer my own question:


A Cup final didn't quite work out for us, but the intensity of the Prem game at Eastland's felt like one. And tbh, as much as tangible silverware means the world to me (it goes down in history as history and the game is meant to be about glory, right?), in order to push on we need CL football. It's just the way the modern game is built. Otherwise all you're left with is the odd cup final win now and again, leaving you somewhat empty because you're missing out on the next level of play (read the quoted text above again).

We need it season in season out. Now that might not be possible if Villa, Everton and of course City (and go on then) Arsenal continue to have aspirations to crack the top 4 or stay there. And let's not forget the red-faced Anfield club. Hence the importance that as much as we all like to remind ourselves that we sat at the bottom with 2 points from 8 games and CL football was never the true target this season - failure would have been / could have been devastating. Morale would have been impacted and potential of key players looking elsewhere for their top tier Euro fix a possibility much like previous summers. We now have the players anchored and can look to sign new ones who in the past politely declined because of our league standing.

The monopoly is dead, for the moment. And the new dawn might comprise of 5-6 clubs fighting for 4th and 3rd meaning that CL entry is shared from one season to the next. That might have a detrimental effect on Chelsea and United and the top of the Prem might end up being wide wide open. Which, for the love of football, would be amazing. But with feet on the ground, it could still yet prove to be a hardship. And that's how we should approach it. Take nothing for granted.

I've heard a few people say it, 4th is the new FA Cup. I don't doubt our ability to actually get our hands on that old and beautiful trophy. I'm sure we'll have our day again at Wembley. One step at a time, and the club should simply look ahead and prepare themselves for the qualifier and then (fingers crossed) the group stages.

Where Harry needs to earn his money all over again is making sure we don't get carried away with our travels into the promised land and continue to concentrate on the Prem - because until we are actually good enough to win the CL (dream the impossible dream - I don't actually expect us to win it by the way, but it would be stupid to make it THE only objective next season) the league has to remain the priority.

But honestly, all this is just hypothetical musings, way to early and too serious to be thought about in any great detail at this point, at the end of a fine season. 2010 has been a blast. Our club likes to take us through the mire, punish us for daring to support them, taking us to the edge and back so finally achieving this means a lot. Considering how dismissive other fans and the media have been in the past, it's a significant milestone in our recent history and the EPL.

In the mean time, get sodding drunk, enjoy Sunday at Burnley when there is no pressure on the players at all and sing up, sing up, with those arms out-stretched and fingers waving to the tune of...that song we sing, the marching one. I'm sure you've heard it a few times.

We'll let Levy and Harry worry about the '5 year plan'. As long Spurs continue to play with flair and entertain the f*ck out of us, whilst pulling our hearts from our chest down to our toes, I will continue to love my life as a supporter of THFC.

To dare is to do do do.


p.s. I'm wetting myself in anticipation for MoTD and Lineker v Hansen/Lawro.