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Entries in fergie (5)


Spurs in turmoil

Manchester United 2 Tottenham Hotspur 3


Someone, please hold me.

I swear, hand on heart, before the game kicked off, in the build up to it I was not in the slightest bit nervous. I guess because it’s Old Trafford and the memories of the past twenty-three years have turned the occasion into a foregone conclusion. We know the script, we’ve read through it dozens of times before. It's a seasonal tradition. At full time I was a complete mess of a man. Why? Because of that oh so common anomaly that can sometimes crop up when we play them. On those rare occasions, perhaps two or three times in amongst the twenty-six games without a win in their back yard, there is sometimes an inclining of hope. That moment when you almost believe because you think the players believe.

On those rare occasions we’ve had that cruelly and sometimes brutally and many times comically snatched away from us, without remorse. It’s in these moments of hope where you suddenly care so much more. Not that you never care about what transpires for Spurs but you care more so because the very thought of losing is soul destroying because you believe you've got a grasp on victory. Hope is the unequivocal reason. Hope, hope takes you, grabs you by the throat and drags you to the very brink of hell, pulling you down, making you experience all you witness in slow motion. You suffer every second, it becomes unbearable. This is what it feels like to be a supporter of any club. For us it’s pretty much the standard.

We have had to endure being out classed, losing to dubious referring decisions and a variety of capitulations that were birthed from the fact that for all the desire to believe, there was nothing to truly back it up when it mattered most. Why was that? Probably because we allowed that negativity to become synonymous with playing them. 'United, they’re bound to beat us', and they do, every time. Thinking it is enough to constitute believing it. A single shred of doubt is enough. In my match preview I said that for all the years and games played, in many ways, none of it should be of any relevance to the present day and the game to be played next. Why should it be? Fact is, bad luck and decisions aside, we have never been good enough to beat United at Old Trafford. Tactically and mentally. On this occasion we got it right and to make certain of the three points, a footballing God up in the heavens decided that there would be no thunderous rain to drown us in. They looked away for once.

This is a new Tottenham Hotspur, in its infancy in terms of maturity of system and tactics but eager, hungry and willing to impress. It’s still early days. There’s still plenty to improve on, but you can take a performance and a result like this and you use it as evidence of squad harmony. It feeds into boosting morale, confidence. Also, it adds to the justification of the faith placed in the coach and in being patient. The great fallacy about football is that if one person says something another believes this to be true simply because it’s been said. One person says 'pressure' therefore another believes there must be pressure. What pressure? Who cares? The word is sometimes nothing more than a commercial commodity to make money from the hyperbole it generates. Villas-Boas isn't under pressure, he's just probably irritated. His emotional celebrations are a release. No doubt the frustrations and experience at Chelsea still need to be worked out of his system along with one or two other bug bites that need to be scratched.

The game itself was fascinating because it illustrated just how juxtaposed when comparing one half to the next.

The first half was exceptional. 1-0 up in no time at all. Half man half amazing Jan Vertonghen bursting into the box to score. It was easy, too easy. Too earlier? Was hope planning to drag me down kicking and screaming within the opening couple of minutes? We continued in good form. Bossing the game. More pace, more power and some beastly performances in midfield and on the break. Sandro starting a move with a brilliant tackle on van Persie, playing the ball out to Dembele who released Bale for the second. 2-0 at the break. The most telling aspect of our play was the intensity of our movement, always looking to hurt United. Composed and effective passing. Confidence in abundance. Which is where that ominous whisper makes its appearance, that voice in your head, pulling you back from being overcome with excitement and bravado. Hope.

“We’ve been here before”, it whispers, "...You know what happens next, don't you?"

Would have been naive to expect United to come out second half and not attempt to claim some type of stranglehold on the game. We were deeper, sitting back too much and not defending the flanks but then we never got hold of the ball enough to dictate tempo. One stat I saw shared on Twitter was that we only completed around 35 passes in the second half, such was United’s dominant pursuit with making a breakthrough. You expect them to make that breakthrough too. Regardless of our past history with them, it’s United, they’re famous for it. It’s what they do.

From being in control with splendid work ethic and intelligent movement in the first half, we chased down shadows and surrendered that intensity to the hosts in the second. We got teased and slapped around by hope once more, as she loves to do. That anomaly, that rarity. Once more into the heart of darkness we stared.

Perhaps there is a solution to being pegged back like that. Something VB noted for future reference. The ball, when sent forward, was instantly lost and United pressed on over and over again. We failed to take the sting out the game, we failed to slow it down. This resulted in a variety of emotions and cursing and praying. But we did not collapse or give in or lose focus and concentration. Yes, the wood work saved us a couple of times. Yes, there was a decision in there that might have, could have gone United’s way. Yes, they missed a couple of chances that they could so easily have buried. But these are the very same incidents that all clubs suffer but sometimes succeed with, week in week out. Just because we’re the benefactors of luck this time, doesn’t demean it. Justice for Pedro, right?

That second half was more to do with Manchester United waking up than it was to do with our tactics. Much like United's first half performance was influenced by our dominance. Tactics aside, the players had to dig deeper than ever to find that resolve and that belief, which is usually nothing more than an empty shell at Old Trafford but this time was fleshed out the size of Godzilla fighting off an army of attacks.

At 2-0, after the second forty-five kicked off, I made a dash to the toilet. Butterflies in my gut had morphed into piranhas. I returned and stared with sheer amazement that the score was now 3-1. I had time to blink and it was then 3-2. No no no, not this I cried out. The game, in the space of 140 seconds had gone clinically mental. For all of that structure of the first forty-five, the game had opened up massively. As games do. Tactically, the game had relaxed. Loosened up. You can argue the way things panned out initially is how we had planned. We set out to attack and pressure and hassle United and it worked. The second half was probably going to be the same from us but perhaps with looking to turn defence into attack, on the counter. Yet it become a game where United were always in the ascendancy and we became reactive to everything they threw at us. We lost the remote behind the sofa and had to endure forty-five minutes of a tv show we didn't want to watch. Aside from luck, it’s here that mental strength can come in quite handy.

Tottenham believed. And for once it was not false or deluded or misplaced. For once it wasn't an empty shell.

For all those years, I’ll be damned if I wasn’t ecstatic about this. United might not be the team of previous seasons but this is more about the team we can become rather than the state of the teams we play. They still have the experience. We still have to earn it. This win goes some way to setting the foundations for future victories.

Friedel – Did his job. Held onto the ball when it was imperative to do so. Safe hands.

Walker – He still hasn’t got a grip on positioning which means we’ll be punished for it, inviting pressure on. More discipline required.

Gallas – Experienced. Proving a fair few wrong. Looked suspect earlier this season, almost felt last year was his last run out and yet he’s managed to retain some influence and composure at the back for us. With no Ledley there, it’s perhaps fortunate we kept Gallas.

Caulker – Didn’t panic, but he’s hardly a Premier League fledgling. Gallas by his side helps.

Vertonghen – Did I see a Superman celebration? Keep this form up and he’ll easily be our Player of the Season. Brilliant in defending as he is bringing the ball out. Risky with the shirt pull, but his run in the early minutes was deserving of the goal he got. Not too shabby at left-back.

Sandro – This might well be the season we see him mature. Beastly as ever, and much like Bruce Banner, in control of the monster within. A vital element to the way the side sets up. Holding midfield, defensive midfielder, brick wall. Call his role what you want, he doesn’t just defend. By virtue of winning the ball he can spark an attack with a simple ball. That tackle on Robin van Persie.

Dembele – Another powerful performance but struggled a little with his passing in the second half.

Dempsey – Scored. Still finding his groove, still has to work on his awareness and movement with new team mates. He'll score a few by attacking the penalty area.

Bale – Much more like it. Scores and assists.

Lennon – I’d like to see Villas-Boas to work on how he can use his runs more effectively. Honestly, at full pelt, running at defences, he can be unplayable. Doesn’t happen enough, but he’s started this season in superb form. 14 key passes so far this season.

Defoe – Worked hard. Will always struggle a little with holding up the ball when were up against it (something we desperately needed in the second half) but can’t fault his performance and link up play when we attacked. Was involved in two goals. He’s a much better footballer under VB. His run left Ferdinand and Evans in no mans land for Bale's goal and he held the ball up wonderfully well in the build up to Dempsey's.

Sig, Huddlestone and Dawson – all helped out when coming on. It was hardly the easiest of games at the time of arrival. Chris Hoy will be able to tweet without any repercussions concerning mistaken identity. Sir Alex will still be complaining, as officially 'Fergie Time' isn't due to finish until Monday morning.

As for our coach? Top marks. Let the haters keep on hating, let there be a siege mentality if necessary, but everything outside of Tottenham that only exists to criticise is hardly of any true relevance any more. Most of it is borderline fantasy mixed with unintentional parody. Such is the lack of substance. Club in crisis. Villas-Boas wins the three games he had to win to save his job < insert canned laughter here >.

We won the game because of the first half. United were only as good as they were in the second because of the performance we put in. The spirit and survival instincts displayed our character isn’t one dimensional like past teams that flattered to deceive. We can be bullish and we can be bullied, but we can still come out on top. It’s just one game, but its testament to the work being done at Spurs. A fantastic result for a club in turmoil, where players hate training and dislike their coach by refusing to play for him and then mockingly hug him after the final whistle.

The game left me both physically and mentally exhausted by the end of it. But utterly joyful at the same time. Only our fifth away win in eighty games against the old traditional top four. Another hoodoo gone. But more importantly, twenty-three years aside, justification in support of our coach.

So onwards to the next test and the next step. Where no doubt hope awaits once more to suffocate our beating hearts.


Fergie's Grudge - Why he keeps trying to nick our best players

There's a bit of noise about the place regarding Luka Modric as a potential transfer target for 'Yoonited.' Most of us can laugh this off as a bit of slow news day, pre-World Cup nonsense, but then we've been here before haven't we? Harry's been swift to nip it in the bud this time, although there are some that can't help asking why he would bother making a statement on something that is supposedly untrue. I guess the only way to kill the story is to get the chequebook and the specially engraved contract-signing pen and give the boy a bit of a raise. Just ask Gareth Bale.
But why is it always Fergie that comes batting his eyelids at our prize assets every year? Sheringham, Berbatov and Carrick succumbed to his wily charm just as we were starting to build a team around them, and we were a much weaker side for it. Yes the lure of playing for the self-appointed 'greatest team in the world' must be quite exciting for any professional. As is the chance to clock up a few medals to show the grandkids. But you rarely hear of Chelsea or Liverpool doing the same. At least with not such brazen consistency.
Well I think I've found the answer. Today I was ambling through youtube electronically jizzing my pants at various video compilations of our most recent season when I came across (figuratively, not electronically) an interview with 'Ol Red Nose talking about the talented Mr. Gascoigne. Besides being quite an interesting interview, if you watch to the end you might finally understand why Surralex is hell-bent on signing any decent player we manage to get hold of.


What a sad, bitter old man he is.


by guest-blogger Fox Mulder


Would you swap Modric for Carrick?

It hasn't taken long for the rumourwhores and ITK's to start suggesting that Man Utd are after Luka Modric. The maths here is easy. Harry mentions Fergie rates him, Harry mentions he has no problem re-signing ex-Spurs players and Carrick is left out of the squad for Utd's last game and therefore that quite obviously equates to a Utd bid of £10M + Carrick (28 at his peak), for our little Croatian magician (23 nowhere near his peak).

This has already been picked up by a journo. Although not sure I've seen the story hit the major tabloids just yet. Although most would ignore this as bollocks, other's would point out that life outside the Top 4 usually results in feeding the likes of Utd because players - lacking commitment to a contract they've signed - tend to know that jumping ship when the opportunity arises is impossible for them to reject (because staying at a club longer than 2 years and become part of a side building towards sustaining a challenge is far too long of a project time wise). Silverware within a season is something that cannot be ignored. The bigger get bigger the slightly less big continue to slim down to an unheathly size.

If you allowed your imagination to run wild, you might conclude that Ferguson has already began his game playing, looking to unsettle a team brimming with confidence (ok, that's just me taking the piss, because I doubt he's worried about us being a threat just because we've won 3 games on the trot). Drag it out over the course of the season, flirting in the media about the target (remember the Berbatov saga?) and then swoop in with a bid knowing full well that even if we reject the bid, it won't be long before the player agrees personal terms leaving the club threatening legal action which results in a charity donation to complete the deal. The side-effect is that a key player has gone, meaning other key players would consider doing the same which leaves us in a position of uncertainty and (Jesus wept) another transition.

With thanks to yid-soldier over at for the visual

The irony is, some Spurs fans are actually hoping this rumour is based on fact. Personally, I can't see Michael making a move back down to Spurs from Champs League considering he left us for that in the first place. He's won three titles there and the biggest prize of them all. He left Spurs because he had no faith in us challenging for 4th spot. The Redknapp factor might play a part in swaying his opinion but isn't the whole point to retain some form of consistency? Carrick is excellent. But how would you go about replacing Modric? Huddlestone will once more stagnate. And let's face it, if we have aspirations for the Top 4 - and Carrick is a Top 4 player, then would Utd really let him go considering (away from the hype of the Ronaldo's of this world) how vital he's been for them since moving up there? Nothing fits, other than subjective chitter-chatter that may well come back to bite (me) us in the backside if we slump and finish 10th.

Only way to banish this would be to finish in the Top 4 and then maybe we can tap up Carrick, with the offer of Champs League and the bright(er) lights of London.

Don't you just love football? Now where's that bottle of Absinthe?


If Fergie wants to play the kids, let him play the kids

The final weekend of the season is almost upon us. Hoping we get a decent result up at Anfield, but I won't be crying if we lose. It's been a ridiculous season and I'm more than happy with our finish and looking forward already to the start of next season. The summer will no doubt be a rollercoaster with the rumours of comings and goings that will clog up the blogs and forums as we frantically await official word of where our season ticket money is being spent.

In the mean time we can all sit back and enjoy the relegation scrap and it's aftermath. You know, the one that fans of all other clubs were hoping we'd be stuck in. Except we're not. Not even two points from eight games could stop us leaving the rot behind.

Sunderland, Hull, Newcastle and Boro are the not so fortunate ones. The same ones crying (minus Hull) about Man Utd possibly looking to field a 'weakened' team and how they might sue if Ferguson does just that and Hull stay up.

Yes. Sue. Because it's Man Utd's fault that the likes of Newcastle and Sunderland have been utterly shit for months and are at the bottom of the table because of the countless games they have failed miserably to win and thus not accumulating enough points for Prem safety. They are bottom because that's as good as they deserve based on performances. Why should Utd care about Hull away when they have Barcelona in Rome next week? They have the right to do anything they want. They've earnt it. But there's the wee little FA rule about always fielding 'your strongest side'. Which is contentious because they could argue (if they play kids) it is their strongest side with the Champs League final in mind.

I hope Hull dick over Utd regardless rendering everything else insignificant.

It would mean I can settle down and bask in the knowledge that next season Match of the Day will be viewable without you know who smugging his way through the program in that ultra-bland monotone moan that has me head butting the tv.

Yes. After a prolonged 'Let's Relegate Newcastle' campaign to see them go down, not because of any hatred towards their fans or their history or anything else other than the fact that I do not like Alan Shearer. And for that matter, neither do I like people of similar ilk to Mike Ashley. A man who tries to endear himself to the Newcastle faithful by downing pints and wearing black and white when in reality he's just another ego that has failed to grasp the concept of what it means to run a football club. Two words sum it all up: Dennis Wise.

Debt clearance aside, it's been shambolic. From the Keegan debacle to leaving Chris Hughton (I wonder if he reads this blog?) in charge for so long and for the appointment of old skool Joe Kinnear before opting for someone who probably would not have taken the job if there were 15 games to play rather than 8 - as failure in that scenario would be a little more tricky to worm out of - legend or no legend.

Almost makes me forgive Levy for his indecisions and cock-ups which seem irrelevant in comparison.

Regardless of my hopes and aspirations, something tells me that Newcastle won't go down leaving me with a win-win situation. I guess in this paralysing scenario I may still come out ironically victorious as Shearer may opt to stay on as boss and thus leave me with a smugless Match of the Day without his dreary punditry which will give me time to concentrate on MotD2 and trying to understand what Adrian Chiles is saying because even with the volume turned up to full whack on a surround sound system all I hear coming out of his mouth his whispers. It's like the man has a black hole in his mouth that sucks in all sound waves leaving only lip-readers with the ability to comprehend his introductions to highlights.

If anyone can provide transcripts, I'd be grateful.


Loan moan

Fergie is apparently discussing the option of bringing back Campbell from his loan spell at Spurs, once the transfer window re-opens, thanks to a clause in his contract that means he can be recalled in January. That's right. No only did we sell them Berbatov at the last minute, they gave us a player on loan and we agreed to include the option for them to take him back. Genius.

Unless this is a Utd ploy to force Spurs into bidding for Frazier, which is also unhanded genius as they would want around £7M for him meaning that Fergie and co get back the money that Levy drained out of Utd by prolonging the Dimi transfer saga.

Looks like either way, Spurs will be spending a little money on a forward soon.