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Entries in Gareth Bale (77)


It's on the way

So'ton 1 Spurs 2

Feels like I'm writing up the same match report and analysis for every game at the moment. Comfortable, slick first half followed by an uncomfortable ugly second. Or vice versa. Or bit of both mixed in.

We destroyed them in the first half, yet we were not comparable in the second. That's Tottenham, making you work for it on and off the pitch. Whether it was thanks to tired legs that we spent the second half sitting back and inviting Southampton on - this remains to be seen how often it's repeated post-Europa League. Full pelt pressing followed by unavoidable downtime is a good tactic, only if we take our chances. A two goal lead is not quite enough. Leadership not always evident on the pitch to ease up on the tempo and claim some composure. There are methods of pacing ones self that does not always follow with the 'survival' tactic of just dropping back and hoping we don't concede. There's an instinctive missing ingredient, something in there to balance things out. Then again maybe it's as simple as having Dembele back in the thick of it. Bolster the midfield. Still, there has to be some admittance that in some games you'll surrender possession because the home side finally decide to wake up.

For want of better finishing (JD and one of those days or is that any given day?) we might have gone in at half time so far ahead that it would not have mattered what level of performance was displayed second half. Instead, we wasted chances and Southampton we're able to find a way back into the game. This led to all sorts of last ditch defensive heroics including yet another ridiculous slice of action from Sandro that saw him rise to block-deflect a torpedo off his head. You'd imagine if the world was ever in perilous danger from a monster meteorite, they'd send Sandro up into space to stop it.

Much like the WBA game from earlier this season (and patches and pockets of other matches) we've not buried the opposition and instead find ourselves time and again having to fight them off with the shovel. We have to boss games with complete conviction and leave our opponents eating dirt in a shallow grave. Easier said than done. I'd worry about our prospects for the season if we don't have a solid style by the 20th game mark. For the moment, you can't dispute the points accumulated and the manner in which they're being won. It's that second level of performance we're waiting for, that 90 minutes of pulling a side apart and blowing them away.

Instead we go from fluidity to the frenzy, with heavy reliance (this past weekend) on old man Gallas to steady the ship. No mistakes from him this week. Sandro an equal colossus, with his feet as well as his head. It's that same format of reactive football we have to endure thanks to, I'm not sure what. Why is there such a monumental difference in the two halves? Is it mental or tactical? Or simply down to that aforementioned opening blistering forty-five and those weary shattered legs thanks to the Euro hangover? Southampton upped the tempo, they were more urgent with their pressing. We just sat back and soaked it up. Perhaps because that's all that remained in the tank.

Goal one. Tom Huddlestone sends the ball in with a delightful dink for Bale who curls his header into the corner. Doesn't celebrate by celebrating subtly. Is there actually a difference? Next memorable moment was him taking his shirt off post-match. Goal two, Dempsey there to make sure it goes in after another superb Lennon run and a far too delicate finish by Defoe (trickled towards goal) which was cleared off the line. Rodriguez with the So'ton goal after a brilliant save and then cometh the second half of torment. Positives? That first half of wonderful overlapping and pace, ooh, we'd be salivating at the scoreline if we kept it up.

Couple of nice touches; Villas-Boas dedicating the win to football administrator Alex Carroll (following the death of his mother), the players throwing their shirts into the crowd at the end (AVB covering the cost) and for comic relief two Spurs fans tugging at Brad Friedel's shirt, waiting for the other to let go first. Laughed when the 'winner' offered the loser money. Classy.

Post-match musings?

The one thing that stands out for me when I stare at the Premier League table is the number nine. That's the amount of games played so far this season. Muscles being flexed, gentle jogs with the odd sprint. Still feels so early in the season yet give or take another five to ten games and the table will truly begin to take shape. We still can't report conclusively on Andre Villas-Boas as this Spurs team remains a team in progress. We've yet to dazzle White Hart Lane and aside from perhaps one game, we've yet to boss a match convincingly. We remain better away from home where we find exploitation of space so much easier to embrace. That missing creative craft in the games in N17 is an area that will be imperative for us to find to remain anchored to a top four position. That foot on ball away from home also essential to take the sting out of the hosts.

We're having to dig deep at times and make do without the likes of Dembele, BAE, Adebayor, Kaboul and Parker. VB citing lack of depth 'for all the competitions we want to do well in'. Because that's what we want. We want to challenge. It's the best way to build momentum. We'll have to hope some of those players are back as we look towards November as the fixtures creeping up could prove to be the impetus to see those sprints turn into a forceful run as we gear up for a marathon.

Wigan at home next, much like our gaffer has stated, it's a must win in terms of preparing for what follows. NK Maribor at the Lane and some squad rotation but almost certainly a must win if we wish to see ourselves progress to the next stage. Then it gets real. It's on the way. The month of heart in mouth.

City away.
Woolwich away.
Lazio away (Europa rest-bite).
West Ham home.
Liverpool home.

A defining part of the season as we head towards the festive period. One that will require an uplift of intensity especially at Eastlands and the Emirates. At the moment (famous last words) there still appears to be no change to the past couple of seasons in that nobody at this stage looks to be a class apart. Although granted, the money of City and the experience of Utd always allows them to pull away when it matters. Chelsea offensively remain a massive threat and the more games played the better Hazard, Mata and Oscar get. Arsenal have a variety of questions marks littered over them, much like we do.

For the moment, we continue to look at the return of Dembele. Try to work out what when exactly Adebayor will be ready to play football before he's lost to the Africa Cup of Nations. And look towards to our coach for clarity on the goalkeeping situation. A situation that for many doesn't actually exist and for some remains mystery. Before you know it, the January transfer window will be open and the same tired story arcs will be talked to death.

The season doesn't quite feel it's truly started, but it's about to.


Soton, away


LLLLWLDL, 3rd from bottom.

They've conceded more goals than anyone in Premier League history at this point in the season.

They can't handle being attacked down the flanks.

Gareth Bale returning to his former club.

They're newly promoted otherwise refereed to as 'ominous'.

Tottenham have lost and failed to score in all of their previous four Premier League games against Soton at St Mary's (1-0 each time). Also got dicked 4-0 in the Cup there.

It's just stats, right? None of the above is applicable. Aside from the obvious deficiencies the hosts have festering in their top flight misadventure.

Spurs to dominate game and win easily?


Dare to predict?


White Hart blame

Tottenham 2 them lot 4

I’m over this result already. I'm philosophical about it. Ignoring the fact that losing to them is like stepping in dog sh*t, when you lose because of defensive lapses, it’s still self-inflicted which means you can tighten up and improve. It's a fine line. You might prefer to be out classed and thrashed and lose thanks to the brilliance of the opposition’s performance as it’s more clean cut but there is something ever so slightly comforting in today’s defeat. Let’s start at the beginning.

We start the day off with no Dembele and no Bale. The former injured on international duty (although seen walking around okay at the Lane – so perhaps precautionary that he wasn’t risked to avoid any long term issues) the latter in the starting eleven initially only to be replaced by Huddlestone. Gareth’s missus goes into labour and a 1000 twitter jokes are born asking why he didn’t shag her a day earlier nine or so months ago. Already there’s cause for concern. How are we going to shape up with two key players out? Dembele was possibly known in advance but with the amount of perpetration work AVB sticks in leading up to a game, Bale not being available will impact the structure of the side. We know our squad and we know there will be scenarios where it will be tested. If we do lack a certain degree of depth, we have to deal with it. There’s also a lot that can be said about application and urgency even if there’s missing quality. We have to be able to adapt.

With some irony in the opening forty-five we lacked not just application and urgency but any form of stranglehold on the game. Our passing was untidy and there was no shape making it relatively easy for Chelsea to ping the ball around confidently. No such concerns for a side that boosts a £150M + midfield. I probably wasn’t alone looking up at the sky cursing those damned footballing Gods. Christ, some one up there hates us. Probably his dad.

Other contentious selection posers: No Lloris who could aid with possession. Defoe retained his spot up front. Regardless, we made it very comfortable for Chelsea. Tempo, intensity and passing – second best. No complaints.

The story of the first half:

One – nil down, Gallas clearance an assist, Cahill volley deflected in.
Late second half rally, growing in confidence, Chelsea for all their tidiness lacking cutting edge.
Mata, Hazard, Ramaires, Oscar on form.
Subs essential at HT.

Far too many lacklustre performances. There was nothing cohesive about our play. Sandro had to do the work of two. Huddlestone struggled with the pace of the game. Players pushed out far too wide. I’m not taking anything away from the visitors. They’re a side in form (have only dropped a couple of points this season), this was no easy task for us but you felt the game was not beyond a comeback. Personally, I wasn’t quite sure how it would transpire unless we made personnel changes.

Something thankfully happened at half-time in the dressing room placing the necessity for subs aside. There was a reinvention of attitude in the second half. Motivation from the coach? A kick up the backside. Plenty of animated motivation from Freund on the touchline too. No major shift in leadership but a genuine team effort tinged with ample mental strength. We got in amongst it more and stole an early goal. I kept thinking to myself, it’s about aggression. It’s all about aggression. Be forceful, relentless and ruthless on the ball and off it. Hassle and pressure and push up. Be decisive. Again I had to quickly stare up at the sky and release a middle finger because the two players missing are two players so key to us being bullish and dominant where it matters most.

Dembele, the manner in which he drives forward and Bale – who can be so influential as an outlet on either flank and through the middle – something sorely missed today. No immense dimensional play from the home side and after all our huffing and puffing, it was ominous that the aggression would run low and Chelsea would simply pick us off. And they did just that thanks to more individual mistakes. But all this followed us going up 2-1.

The story of the second half:

1-1, Gallas header. Perfect second half start.
Better tempo (be it no subs), great pressing
2-1 Spurs, Lennon, Defoe. Goal out of nothing. Game of two halves. Electric atmosphere.
Plenty of guts, determination, fight.
2-2. Another woeful clearance from Gallas. Mata. Vert not covering.
Livermore on for Huddlestone
Vert goal saving tackle on Torres.
3-2 Chelsea. Gallas aided by Walker and enough space for Hazard to thread the ball to Mata (again).
Chelsea with creative clinicality.
Adebayor on. Dempsey off.
Far too many shots straight at Cech.
Ade 88th minute 'chance' from Cech spill. Doesn't quite connect.
Walker long range effort, saved.
Walker ‘whatever that was meant to be’ to allow Chelsea to score a 4th.

It's worth pointing out we had 26 attempts (10) on target compared to Chelsea who had 10 with 7 on target. Ho hum. Cue the standard what ifs about being at full strength and not making schoolboy errors. Fine line, right?

There were other heart in mouth moments, Defoe dipping effort and Torres missing a certified sitter. It was naturally quite an open game of football. Exciting and end to end punctured with some brilliant sublime moments (Hazard’s pass to Mata for their third) and some stupidly casual errors (see Gallas). Did Chelsea score a clean goal? Do they care? They took their chances when presented with them. We didn’t. Seems Gallas picked the wrong game to have a brain collapse. Lucky for our opponents. Bitterly frustrating for Villas-Boas – because shared points looked the most likely outcome.

They just had more spark and consistency and most importantly composure when it mattered most. They kept the ball better than us. But there were positives. When we were on top we looked very good and tested them. If this side we faced are title contenders, I’m not exactly sold on the way they defend. RDM seems to be a very fortunate man at the moment and I still believe he will be tested more so when his side hit a dip of form. Will be interesting to see if they can shift gear and step it up a notch further.

What’s also frustrating is that we’ve yet to really see us boss a game at WHL with the same signature football we’ve seen away. It will come and we’ll have to continue with being patient as there are one or two issues that need resolving first.

Kyle Walker being one of them. Okay, so here’s my rant.

Just some food for thought. Stop slagging off and writing off Kyle Walker. Was it okay to write off the Spurs team at start of season? No. He's completely off the pace and out of form. Needs to be managed by the coaching staff and AVB. It's down to them to sort the player out and for the player to sort himself out.

All this 'he's f*cking sh*t' nonsense is hypocritical. He needs a rest, he needs competition. He also needs to develop his defensive game (and do the simple things right) but his form is rotten at the moment so his going to be prone to mistakes. It’s hardly a situation that is easily solved as we all know that if you persisted in selecting a player out of form, there is no guarantee of improvement and if he’s dropped his confidence could drop further too. I support the team and AVB and his staff are paid to manage and develop. And that is what I hope they do with this particular headache. The kid has raw talent. It has to be nurtured. Once again he lacked positional sense and discipline, when to overlap and when not to.

I’m having a dig at the selective criticism that tends to play out when players are not performing well. Some of the abuse dished out to footballers that wear the Tottenham shirt is on par with the abuse opposition players get. Some shameful behaviour from some of our lot. You’ll have your own opinion but to me it’s not as simplistic as ‘he’ll never make it, get rid of him’ which appears to be some people’s attitude toward resolving it. Another example: Siggy. Obviously over-rated because he's not sparking up the midfield yet so let's get rid. How about we stick 'em all in a Big Brother house and vote out the weakness link every week? Then we can start to pull supporters from the stands and off social media to play in their place.

On the subject of Sigurdsson he's still not found his groove (along with Dempsey who both attempted to compensate for the lack of Bale on the left). We say that most weeks but it's still early days. The argument might be that a player of a certain quality shouldn't be taking this long to adjust. So does he have the quality to succeed in the long term? I don't agree he's over-rated. It's a cliché, but he just needs that one defining league performance to find that extra step up. The midfield, our midfield is still in a state of flux. The holding positions are sorted but the attacking midfielder/second forward still hasn't owned the mojo as well as van der Vaart had it. Worth mentioning that Rafa (brilliant footballer and one that could craft something out of nothing) also struggled at times. Just remember the age gap and experience factor between the two.

Also on the subject of Gareth Bale. Football banter aside, there is very little in life (if anything) that should stop you from being by the side of your missus if there's a chance you're going to witness the birth of your child. At the time of writing I don't know if she's given birth. Knowing our luck she'll be in labour for 20 hours. Actually, that's probably unlucky for her. What we went through today is hardly as painful as giving birth. Good luck to the both of them.

As for those aforementioned contentious pre-match questions. Adebayor did very little when he came on. Someone that’s not played this season (aside from subs bench cameos) should have no excuse to not chase down the ball. Defoe on the other hand performed admirably depending on your perception of what warrants a solid performance. He’s goal was sweet (be it out of nothing but that's what he does) and his work ethic again commendable – but I can’t quite work out what else he offers to the team. However, I'm still appreciative of the fact he was one of our better players on the day. He’s an ambiguous footballer. I guess the confusion arises from the fact that we are always comparing him to the type of player Adebayor is meant to be for us. This story arc will run and run (or stand still depending on what Adebayor plans to do).

Also, time to bench Brad and start Hugo as the definitive number one. Nothing against Brad aside from the fact that Lloris is a better footballer and goalkeeper. This will be one to watch in the next week or two because Villas-Boas has to be decisive here. We need to cement that spine.

More food for thought for our head coach in the coming weeks: Vertonghen to displace Gallas and regain his place alongside Caulker, all dependent on Benny's return to the side. Not forgetting Kaboul. We need to fine tune our defence but can't do so with players out of position.

Sandro missed Dembele, seemed to be ineffectual in presence to the standard we expect from him when lined up with our Belgian beast. Scott Parker's return still not booked into the calendar.

So in the end we got a game of two halves plus an encore. Not in it for the first, came back in the second, lost that impetus and pressing game and allowed them to claim it back before we almost stole an equaliser only to see another twist and concluding goal that sealed it for the visitors. The fact we conceded four mistakes the way we did will not be lost on AVB – who can do very little but bemoan the fact we let ourselves down. But then if you want to be truly reflective you'll admit that the point of a truly solid performance is mistakes are not made and if they are you either take advantage and punish them not find yourself on the back end of one (or two or three or four). Which they did to us, be it with some supremely talented players (Mata is terribly good). Heads up Tottenham. Here's to the next encounter with us being at full strength.

Villas-Boas a class apart in his post-match interview, composed and honest. Giving credit where it was deserved and indicating what proved to be so costly. Was a cracking game. Onwards to the next one.

So that’s that.

Hopefully someone in Lilywhite is having some fun this weekend. I reckon it’s in a private hospital ward with Gareth Bale blatantly smashing his way through the gas and air.


The life and dives of Gareth Frank Bale

The one good thing to come in the aftermath of Gareth Bale’s embarrassing dive is that Tottenham supporters are pretty much one voice of disapproval for such dramatics. It’s not in our nature to witness/welcome/accept our players cheating. Other teams might have made it part and parcel of their ‘winning’ mentality but it’s something that retains discomfort when a player in Lilywhite is guilty of it. I remember Zokora play acting a fair bit when he was with us. I remember the lack of applause for his ‘performances’. Leave it to the continent and some of our supposedly more classy neighbours.

If you wanted to entertain any form of defence for Bale you could cite the rather obvious concern he has with being clattered in a challenge. It plays on his mind. It plays on his mind so much that he’s consciously thinking too much about that potentiality when he’s running with the ball.

I can almost understand and accept when he's physically brought down and remains grounded. Although there’s an element of strength to be displayed by simply dusting yourself off and standing up as if nothing has happened, these are not the 1960s when players played on with broken bones. The modern footballer is far more self conscious, especially one that has been hacked and injured in the past. The last thing any player wants is to be sidelined. So somewhere in amongst all this, Bale has confused matters by attempting to control that potentiality of being clattered by avoiding it altogether. When he’s fouled, he makes a point of it to perhaps influence the referee he’s being targeted (which is fair enough) and to make sure he's okay but when he’s not fouled he has a habit of tumbling over far too easily to win the free kick. Being 'touched' by the boot or leg of an opposing player doesn't constitute the easy surrender to gravity that prevails.

Much like the way he remains grounded, some might defend his insistence of falling down easily when challenged as a further form of protection. But the fact he entertains this school of thought means that soon enough the ambiguity will cloud his judgement and any chance of any Tottenham supporter attempting to rationalise his behaviour will evaporate. If you're challenged and you don't lose balance then there's no reason to take a tumble.

what happens next?

You go from protecting yourself by simply exaggerating to then second guessing what will happen and falsifying the outcome. The dive Bale was guilty of against Aston Villa was ridiculous and the perfect illustration of this. The keeper was nowhere near making contact. Bale, reacting to what might have happened had contact been made moves his leg to avoid impact then drops to mimic what would have happened had contact been made. Was it instinctive? Was this an example of that ambiguity clouding his judgement? No and no.

It all leads back to Bale always thinking about it. He’s constantly pre-occupied with that potentiality, so much so he's now using it as an excuse rather than the reason. There’s little chance he dived to protect himself in this instance. It was far too choreographed, much like any given dive on a football pitch. It was inexcusable and it was premeditated. He might not have set out to cheat for the sake of cheating but is there really any difference? If you simulate then you're in the wrong by default. If you do so in the penalty area then you're a methodical cheat and if you do so to get someone sent off you're just as pathetic. If you're doing it outside the penalty area then you're just being stupid.

Inside Gareth's head, he probably started out thinking this every single time: He might whack me, he might injury me, I'll glide it out, I'll jerk my leg and minimise impact and injury. Whereas now, it's simply the easy safe option to take every single time.

In his head, it probably doesn't sound daft. We'll argue it isn't pleasant viewing and it's embrassing, he'll argue that having his ankle snapped isn't too pleasant for him. That's probably his rationalisation, that was the reason but as cited already, it's now his excuse.

The one positive to take from it is that he never cried out for a free kick, he didn't roll around. He might have done so had a little contact been made. Had that happened we might not be discussing a diving incident now. Instead we might be asking why he didn't fly past the keeper and aim for the net instead of being easily clattered. If you're going to cheat you may as well see it out until the end. He knew exactly what he did and hopefully when he watches it back he'll have a word with himself. Or he'll just get better at cheating. We'll have to wait and see.

If he truly remains so scared of being injured from a challenge and it is the reason for his behaviour, rather than disguise it by limiting impact and diving (to avoid injury), how about just jumping out of the way. Not so dignified but more so than falling to the ground in pretence.

Bale has to man up. He has to stop thinking about what opposition players might do to him and start doing to the opposition what they fear he can.


Much Ade about nothing

Bale and Adam

Gareth getting a ton of flak from his own fans over the Adam vendetta, a tart some say for constantly banging on about it. Next time, if his ankle is broken, I'll quote Bale's complaints to remind you of the tarts feelings on this matter.

Victoria Line extension

Haringey Council have unveiled their vision for 'Tottenham' which includes information relating to Northumberland Park train station finally getting an extension via the Victoria Line to aid that extra incoming traffic and escape home. The document is 56 pages long. Also worth noting is that the summer of 2016 is when the NDP is aiming for completion. We'll have to wait a little longer for the tube extension with work beginning 2017.

The high line

Not perfect yet is it? But then we've not played that many games and we still lack a key component for it to work - a 'sweeper' keeper. Lloris rumours continue. The system won't work too well with Brad between the sticks because of his lack of adventure walking forwards. Equally important is having the likes of Parker and Sandro available to pressure players in the middle of the park. Early days. Parker set to miss start of season due to op. The high line itself also relies on communication and fluidity of not just the defenders but how they push forward with support from said midfield. A variety of components are required for it to work but it won't do so with assured confidence until we have all the necessary players in place. Also, patience. It won't be perfect from the off which means expect errors early on once the season starts proper until they are ironed out. Of course, if everyone is on key with positioning it will be a lot more comfortable and stress free the stronger it grows from one game to the next.

Adebayor and Luka

Nothing appears to have changed publicly aside from Villas-Boas citing the mental state of Modric who is currently training whilst we wait for the next chess move between Levy and Madrid. Almost feels like nothing else (transfer wise) will happen until this is resolved. How certain are we that someone will meet the clubs valuation of the player? How certain are we that Levy will hold strong on his stance and not shift from it, much like he did last year with Chelsea? It's dragging like a legless zombie crawling through a graveyard. We can't sign a replacement until he's gone so if we're not signing a replacement is it because we're unsure of the players departure? When is the cut off date - as a deal on the final day of the season won't work for us unless we've signed another midfielder before then.

As for our forward line. The Adebayor deal appears to be going the distance much like the Jan Vert signing did. Technicalities concerning wages? It's more than likely to happen much like it was this time last week/month. Whatever the hold up with us/City it's going to be an identical issue if Adebayor was attempting to sign for any other club. So with all the work done thus far on trying to get him on a permanent contract, I don't think the deal will collapse. We also need a goal scoring machine and the real mystery remains who that might be. Wouldn't surprise me if we announced someone out of nowhere. Wouldn't surprise me if we didn't. We've not 'signed' a striker since Robbie Keane returned to the club. We are due something very special. Otherwise, tears will be shed.



The top five alternative existences of Charlie Adam.

5 - Carcass for pig feeds

4 - Chained up yard dog

3 - Subsitute for rat poison in badly mixed batch of cocaine

2 - The pus in a zit on the arse of Joey Barton

1 - Footballer


The Stupendous misadventure of Gareth Bale

Spurs pre-season Tour of the US...

Gareth: 1-0! Take that Galaxy!

FIFA’s HQ...


PA: You want to use that as part of your press release?

Blatter: No, no. Just state if a club does not release a player then their association, if they so wish can come to us here at FIFA and we can then ban the player from participating in club related football for the duration of the Olympics. I’ll let everyone take my generalisation and run with it to the hills. If the kid was injured during the selection process it's a non-story. Now cancel my 10 am call. Berlusconi is coming over. He said he’s bringing a nineteen year old. Malt whisky I guess. At least I think he was talking about whisky...




Against a Galaxy far far away (well, not that far, across the Atlantic)

Morning. A quick flirt before breakfast.

A 1-1 draw with an MLS side with us displaying a slow moving awkward high line leaving wide open spaces for comfortable exploiting and a general lack of fluidity going forward. What is Villas-Boas doing?  Has he not learnt a thing from his calamitous Chelsea tenure? End of days. Mid-table mediocrity awaits.

Two things. The first thing is a collection of things bunched together:

- Not all our (key) players are currently available for selection

- Some of the ones that are might not be available to us once the season actually starts

- New players bedding in

- High line movement and understanding hardly something to be achieved over night

- We've not finished our transfer activity (striker(s), Luka replacement etc required)

- The heat + Galaxy fitness at mid-season stage

- Our fitness levels still being built up

- Some of our players more keen to impress than others

The second thing?

It's pre-season, which accounts for all of the above. Who cares, save injuries. Talking of which Walker and van der Vaart picked up knocks. Nothing serious, couple of days out at best. We looked good in parts, couple of very decent chances to add to the one we got.

Most interesting thing to note is the reminder that Gareth Bale (who scored) pulled out of the GB Olympic team due to injury. Works for me.


Hot Spurts

Quick run-down of today's 'news'.


1st of July. Not so Super Sunday. The main Tottenham related highlight was Under Armour releasing the launch date of the new Spurs shirt. So basically the big news was an announcement being announced. The 2012-2013 kits will be unveiled on Thursday 12th and available to order to purchase from Spurs shops the next day. Yep, that's right, on Friday 13th. You just can't make this ilk of PR up.

The new era is still waiting to make its grand entrance. Pick any day this up and coming week and you might strike lucky. We all know it's going to happen, we all know what's going to happen so there's very little to say until after it's happened. But to reiterate, I'm positively beaming with encouragement and excitement.

Khumalo is set for PAOK in Greece. A season long loan. It's signings like this that make me question some of Levy's ethics in the transfer market. What was the point of him joining Spurs in the first place only to be sent out to the Championship? When Harry spoke about the lad was he just doing so to raise the profile of the player and if so why? Just so Reading can sign him? This smells of raising another type of profile in South Africa. That's football. Anyone know where Toda is these days? Then again, you could argue what was the point in signing the likes of dos Santos and Bentley. That's also football. Mistakes happen regularly.

The Times were the first to break the story linking us to Brazilian starlet Oscar who plays for our buddy club Internacional. I don't know much about him (do any of us unless you follow South American football?) but do remember similar stories about our interests in him from last year. Mainly because I signed him in Football Manager soon after reading about it. Tasty attacking midfield pixels that might translate well in the real world. Although if this is something that pans out to be true, along with Sigurdsson and our current central mids, we have a plethora of talent to visually taste cometh the new season. AVB was in Brazil scouting recently, so this one might be a possibility. Leandro Damiao (for now) does not look like one based on recent speculation and price tags.

Cracking teasing, flirting quote from Moutinho (FC Porto) saying, "I'd work with him again tomorrow" - re: AVB. Obviously meant as compliment of how highly regarded a coach Villas-Boas is. But pretty much more meat to sink our teeth in to what will be a feast of targets that will be cited post-press conference (tune in on Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday, maybe Thursday or Friday). We'll be looking for a Luka replacement. Oscar or Moutinho?

From one question to another. Theo Walcott to Spurs? Yeah sure, why not. For £4M he'll do well to come off the bench for the final 15 minutes of games. Give Lennon a rest.

Redknapp was in the press a couple of days back talking to Sky Sports wasn't he? Who cares.

Ledley King retirement imminent? We know something will soon be announced as we've already been told King is considering his options. The man is so much part of the club that there is little chance of him being potentially discarded when the new manager arrives, in terms of a coaching position. Unless King is looking for a more ambassadorial role at Spurs. Ledley retiring is possibly for the best, for his own health and future. A brilliant and majestic footballer, a legend. Whatever his decision he'll remain Tottenham forever and if he wants to be involved the club have a duty to make sure he is.

Investment on the cards? According to Graham Roberts on the radio. According to the ITK news from the past few weeks. Although this seems to be mostly guess work (i.e. I know someone who knows something), from directors supposedly told to remain in the country and not go on holiday to rumours about funds being made available to aid in breaking the wage structure or perhaps naming rights for the new stadium. Surely any investment would go towards the latter?

Bale out of the GB team. Meh. Pre-season is upon us. Don't care for much else other than my club. The whole Stratford affair has burnt me out and I have little interest in the Olympics.

Thoughts on that Daily Express article here.

In other news: Euro Final. In summary, Spain play possession football to ease into the final, get called boring, up their game by a notch, destroy Italy.



Bale and Adebayor


In his post-match interview Gareth Bale stated ‘confidence is building’. There is little argument from me that you can’t expect a team to snap out of bad form in a single game, at least not in our case when we’ve slumped to three losses on the trot followed by two draws. We’ve hardly been calamitous (bar one game in particular), but we’ve lacked fluidity and direction, usually just trying really hard without any essence of discipline. The court case and the England job have been influential (something I've preferred to avoid accepting) and the fact that up until this blip we had not actually suffered one beforehand (when losing previously, we’d bounce straight back). Trying to exorcise our demons was one of gradual progression, equalising late on against Stoke and then applying congested tactics away to Chelsea before growing in stature to almost nick the game. The Bolton cup game saw the return of our expressiveness and swagger with the players and team looking comfortable and instinctive in movement. And then it all worked itself out in the Swansea game.

As a collective, we’re rejuvenated. One or two in that collective have been pivotal at times this season and are now rediscovering their old form (mojo) just in time for the run in.

When Spurs struggled so did Gareth Bale. I’m a staunch defender of the player. I’m not going to patronise you and suggest that players should not be immune to criticism but at times there is no balance to some of the arguments put forward. Some love to love him when he's playing well but seem  quick to shoot him down when he doesn’t, mostly to do with taglines such as ‘believing the hype’ and having an 'ego'. I guess the thinking is he does what he wants on the pitch to the detriment of the team. The reality is that he’s young and level-headed but is also ambitious and wants to be the best in the world. We've got a player who has the potential to be able to believe that without a laughing track accompanying him. If he’s encouraged or instructed to play on the right, swap wings or play centrally then he’s not going to say no to it. Harry Redknapp has to take responsibility here as there is no doubt that roaming/free-role play will make him a better player in the long run but he has to be managed correctly and not simply given the license to play inside every game regardless of opponent.

A confident Bale would still create and be effective centrally but one lacking assurity (from himself and when surrounded by subdued colleagues) is hardly going to set the world on fire no matter the position he takes. Hence why we’ve all been screaming for back to basics. Bale, on he left. One up front. Modric in the middle. Get them doing what they’re good at because at this moment in time the team is more important than any one player. But any one player can excel when he's playing in a team with equally confident team mates.

Bale mixed it up when the opportunity allowed him to against Swansea but the vast majority of his work was down the flank. Now perhaps against sterner opposition (as we’ve witnessed) the power and the glory is not always forthcoming (hence the central experiments). Again, this is down to coaching and making sure Bale is not overly impressionable off the back of the hype. When he's running low on confidence and attempts to run at goal all on his own that's not him pretending to be Ronaldo. That's him over-thinking, over-complicating matters because he's not quite in synch. It's a cheap shot to simply yell 'ego'.

Believing ones hype doesn’t necessarily mean they think they can do as they wish and thus do so with arrogance. There is no disputing his technical skills, physical presence and his pace. He should be attempting new things all the time but he shouldn’t be forgetting what he’s solid at. He should continue to believe in the hype because it's not really hype. It's belief. This is about the desire to be the best. I guess in some ways it is about ego. But he's not parading himself as anything other than Gareth Bale. The beast has to be leashed but there are moments when he has to be unleashed. The owner needs to know exactly when to restrain and when to let go.



The most complete forward in the league? I don’t care about anyone else, he’s the most complete forward at Spurs and that’s all that matters. We’ve been crying out for a player like him. Sure, perhaps the player in our fantasy dream world scores 30 goals per season but the reality is that such players are hard to come by and due to the system we play, we can only have one up top. Which means as important as goals are, being a team player is doubly important.

Sure, he can go missing and have off days. Because of his role (as forward) this is far more apparent but let’s not pretend he’s the only player that suffers from dips. Fact is, he assists. Fact is he allows others to come into offensive positions by virtue of his holding play and movement. If there’s a player out there who will cost the same and score more whilst being able to offer the same link-play as he does then I suggest we sign that player. Otherwise, we make sure we sign the one we’ve got on a permanent contract and concern ourselves more with our second and third strikers (for the long term).

Even Berbatov (one of the finest players we’ve had in recent years) was accused of being lazy. The imperfections are always there but it’s what they offer when they play to their best that matters and how they can still be influential when perhaps a goal is not forthcoming. Ideally, Adebayor should be scoring more. Questions will continue over his (sometimes) lacking first touch and his reluctance to bury the ball first time (didn’t have a problem on Sunday). But if you take a look around the Prem there are few if any potentially available players that could do the job for us, the job he's doing.

Adebayor is a piece that fits into the puzzle. There is nothing to say we can’t get ourselves a better puzzle, but we’ll have to lose a piece first for that to happen.




This given Sunday

Spurs 3 Swansea 1

Any given Sunday? Not for Spurs in recent weeks. We haven’t won since early February until this particular Sunday just gone, but we finally did so with focused discipline and tenacious execution. We won because we fought for every inch in what is possibly my favourite victory at the Lane this season. I’ve bestowed this particular accolade to it because of the test the opposition gave us and the astuteness of our tactics in our response. We were patient and structured, our football was slick and our players spirited.

There was no parking of the bus from the Swans. They turned up to play their possession football, to have us chase them. But Harry Redknapp set us up to combat this with Parker and Sandro in the middle. A case of containment and closing down perfectly illustrated by both players that led by example, challenging the opposition higher up the pitch with the aim to win the ball back as early as possible. Give them no time to pass and run and break up any pattern to their play. You could question why we’ve given them so much respect as to line-up with the aim to nullify their rhythm. Why not? It was intelligent play, making sure that Swansea did not get a stranglehold on the game and allowed us to display strength in body and concentration and more importantly, still be able to play ‘our game’ when in offensive positions. It proves as a unit we are functioning, as a collective we can do what’s necessary to frustrate the opposition and carve out opportunities at the other end.

It also proves we placed the nessisity of winning above all else. Chess game football. Okay, so it was Redknapp, so it's probably more Backgammon.

First twenty minutes or so Swansea dominated possession (60/40) without dominating the match in terms of sustained pressure. We defended resolutely, our midfield showing industry in chasing down every ball/player. We took the lead with a quick attack (four passes for the ball to find its self at the feet of Bale) with Luka releasing Gareth. The cross for Adebayor was intercepted, finding itself in the path of van der Vaart who finished with supreme pomp, passing the ball into the net. Our first shot on target. A proper punch, no sign of playful slapping. Once chance, one goal. Clinical.

Defend. Chase. Recycle possession with pace. Attack.

The tactic was all about tempo. Don’t let them play, win the ball back, release the ball as quickly as possible to force an attack. It was working, be it to the detriment of the player’s physical state (retaining this pace for 90 minutes is unlikely in any scenario). But then the plan was not to ‘contain’ Swansea for the entire duration of the game. The hope was to hit them on the counter/break a couple of times to put it beyond them.

Bale was in his far more traditional left-flank role, waiting for the pass, looking for the pass but still capable of moving inside if necessary. He worked himself into decent positions. Wasn’t the only one that looked hungry for it. Adebayor worked as hard as we know he’s capable of in his lone forward role, except it’s not really lone with the support he’s able to facilitate with his movement. vdV busy and sublime, Modric always seeking to play the killer ball. Something he forgot to do when he took a shot rather than slip Adebayor in for what could have been 2-0.

The pressing game was a success. Swansea, for all their endeavour could not penetrate. Gallas made you forget King. Kaboul was a rock. Walker pulsated and BAE made me LOL when he struck Parker in the back with the ball from a free kick (best moment of the game).

What followed in the second half was the true test of whether we had turned that corner and rediscovered our belief. The tempo was now at a slower pace (in terms of easing down on the closing down) which meant they would see more of the ball. But as with most games the balance would mean we would be able to express ourselves equally so rather than remain confined to the exclusively to containment instructions.

Brad saved brilliantly with fingertips from Sigurdsson. Ominous. In the 58th minute Routlege lays the ball off to Sigurdsson who this time kicks his shot into the ground which bounced up and in for the 1-1. Open space, open game. But if you believe you have better quality in attack then it’s to our advantage. Pound for pound it should be our advantage. The test was whether we buckled or remained patient and pushed for it.

The latter.

Bale to vdV, header, saved. We continued to push for it, building up sustained possession and pressure in the final third towards the 70th minute mark. Lennon made a welcomed return (on for Sandro) giving us the option to truly stretch the game with width on both flanks. An open game, further opened with the emphasis now on Swansea to do the chasing and closing down. The home team now dictating the rhythm, the opposing team dancing to our tune.

More good work from Bale saw his cross cut out by Williams with Adebayor in waiting. Corner, delivered, Bale header off Graham for another corner. This was like watching a team getting the basics right from dead ball positions. If that felt surreal what followed was akin to a twist in a David Lynch movie. vdV with a peach of cross, as simple as it gets, into the box for Adebayor to jump between Williams and Monk to head in for 2-1. A goal directly from a corner. Insanity.

We still continued to push. Bale beasting his way through defenders into the box, laying it off for Modric who had his shot blocked. Then Livermore (on for vdV)  makes up for a misplaced pass by winning it back and giving it to Modric who then swapped the ball with Bale a couple of times before releasing the Welsh wonder who run full pelt through the middle before reshaping to cut in ever so slightly to shoot with his left. Ball found itself saved and landing at the feet of Lennon who took it out to the wing, then teased and turned to cross beautifully for Adebayor who once more got between two players to head in for the 3-1. Rose came on for BAE late late on,  Swansea had some half chances towards the end, but in the end we claimed all three points with a top drawer professional performance spiced up with some delicious football – a testament to both manager and players for turning that corner and setting us up nicely for the final seven games.

We never lost our focus at the task at hand. We remained completely committed to claiming the three points.

Redknapp out thought Rodgers, so credit to him for drilling the players into the perfect mindset and a formation that asked a lot from the players but never neglected the style we adore to watch. Credit also to Swansea for having the balls to play the way they did. As for Rodgers as a prospective Spurs boss, I'd like to see how he handles a second season with Swansea at the Prem first. Having drawn our last two league games it was important for us to finally consolidate our momentum with a win. Work rate evident was ample proof that this team has woken up and has no desire to fall back to sleep.


More on Bale and Adebayor in a separate article.



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.