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Entries in GLORY (7)


Glory doesn't come in half-measures

No matter where I look, where I turn...I'm surrounded. There's no way out. I must conceded defeat. No escape. I have to accept my fate. Fate being the positivity from the media which is almost as consistent as Tottenham's on field results.

Zombies would have made that opening a little more exciting, I know. Maybe next time.

Whether it's the broadsheets or the tabloids or the journos on Twitter, everyone loves a bit of Spurs. Phil Thompson and Alan Hansen were so giddy in their compliments, I'd imagine they shared a booty call at some point last week just to get it all out of their system.

There has been plenty of title talk from the press. More shocking is that probably for the first time in recorded history (since the very early 80s and 60s) when a Lilywhite speaks the words 'title challenge' when in amongst a group he's not mocked and forced to paint his face in clown colours and waltz up and down the road with everyone pointing and laughing. It might not be possible due to a certain Mancunian project but a challenge is hardly improbable thanks mainly to the continued transitional form of the other former Sky Sports greats. In fact, we're almost beyond that point now when discussing such matters. Rather than 'can we win it?' it's a far more complex conundrum that poses the more relevant question; what do we need to be able to win it?

Probably £100M, and that isn't going to happen.

I'm sort of half jesting anyway. My opinion on this is to aim for top spot because anything directly below it (2nd, 3rd, 4th) will be dancing in the street acceptable. At the start of the season I would have taken fourth. At the start of the season we all thought it would be another long hard struggle. I would have accepted another hard fought, almost nigh impossible bare bone must win every game journey to the final day of the season this time out too. Yet all the early season disarray we struggled with (i.e. that transfer saga) switched on that in-built mechanism we posses to always consider the worst case scenario first, resulting with many knee-jerking away. More so after the opening two results.

I can also remember plenty of 'Has Harry taken us as far as he can?' light-bulbs blinking away in unison. That being the result of our form at the back end of last season which was hardly inspiring. Hindsight tells us the reason was simply due the side requiring new blood. Consolidation. This season has proved that to be correct. More so that with every step taken, further consolidation is required.

We got us the engine room. We got us the complete forward. Wanting to improve further is a sign that the culture of comfort is without air, six foot under.

The most important element of all is most definitely the fact that we held onto our key players. All that belief since Bale's hat-trick in Milan, all the momentum birthed going back further in time to Crouch nodding in the goal at hasn't been wasted with another blue screen of death and reboot.

What have we won? Well, nothing. But what relevance does that have when we've been achieving something for more important in the long term? We've had to rebuild and this time with not a cowboy in sight.

Doesn't matter, honestly hand on heart, it matters not at all if we/they/them think we can win the title.

What matters is whether the players believe they can. Even if its a day dream or a gentle whispering voice in the back of their heads, it's enough. It's enough for us to challenge at the top. Misplaced, delusional...sure, fives years ago. These days, it seems to be up for grabs. It's not just us with an invitation, there's one or two other clubs out there and their fans who are nowhere near as strong as they once were but could put up a similar argument that its not impossible.

There is nothing to be embarrassed about, displaying ambition. Wanting glory. Neither is acceptable in half-measures. You can't sort of want to oh go on then challenge for anything. You either believe in yourself or you don't.

Fives years ago simply no longer matters other than looking back to it as a reminder of where we once stood. Neither does last season. Even yesterday is history. All focus has to be on tomorrow. The next day. The day after that. And so on.

We don't quite have that experience of the pressures that come with being in a position far more lofty than challenging for 4th whilst looking up from 5th. The winning mentality is fledgling but its one that has many (non-Spurs including) licking their lips with admiration and a little green-eyed jealously. Our opponents might be able to cite that much sought after experience but they gained much of it in days when they only had three other clubs to concern themselves with. Pressure, it doesn't just exist for us. It exists for them too, finding themselves in a place they are accustomed to.

Everyone is fighting each other and having to fight their demons within.

Champions League qualification will no doubt elevate this club to the next level once more, with a solid chance of retaining it the following season (along with retaining those key players that everyone enjoys wanting to link with moves away). That's the target, but this being Spurs, a club that had dreamt for so would be rude not to aim higher. We would dream of CL when we were nothing more than a mid-table side. Now we have a look of a top four side, it's only fair we revel in our confidence.

If we stumble, if we fall...I have complete faith we'll get right back up again, dust ourselves off and continue marching. That's the big test so many of our recent admirers are adding as a caveat in small print embedded subtly alongside their kind words about us. Not that I'm wishing such a thing (the 'L' word) just yet.

Beyond Stoke, beyond the New Year. I can only repeat myself. Sure, we have the best midfield in the country (pound for pound) but regardless of whether we believe our squad depth is sufficient enough say if we did lose a key player or two, we can not take that chance if that chance equates to struggling.

We have to be shrewd and take no prisoners. On the pitch and off it once the transfer window opens. What we've shown is we can grind out results, play without a key player or two. Now just imagine if we strengthen an already very strong first team eleven.

We should not care less about the rest and their problems because they won't care too much about us. As for those kind words. Be certain they will gladly ram it down our throats if we stumbled and failed to get up.

The marker is down.

But having said all this, let's not allow things to bog us down with serious faces and ample chin scratching. Enjoy it for what it is. Tottenham Hotspur playing with style and industry and desire.


Love the shirt.


European dreams

guestblog by Chris King


It’s the 23rd May. The Year is 1984.

A nine year old boy is watching his mates run around on the stage at the Curzon Cinema on Shaftesbury Avenue. His Mum leans in to him, nudging him on the arm. She asks why he is not up there playing with his mates; why he looks so serious, on this his birthday. She offers popcorn, sweets and a sip of fizzy pop, but nothing seems to wake him from his near trance.

“Come on” she says. “Don’t be sad, do you not want to see the film?”

“It’s not that Mum”

“Well, what is it then?”

“Mum. How are we going to stop Enzo Scifo?”

Some of that has been Hollywoodized for the narrative to introduce this piece, but I did spend the afternoon of my ninth birthday watching the Fox and Hounds at the Curzon. I can’t really recall much about the film, it wasn’t until I saw it on video some months later that I realised the fox…. Well, I won’t spoil it for those who haven’t seen it.

Only one memory burns bright from that day, and “If you know your history” the opening sentence to this piece will tell you everything you need to know.

It’s been all too easy to think of negative things to write about Spurs for my contributions to this site over the last month or so. I don’t get down to as many games as Spooky, so compiling match previews or reports is a bit of an ask, given that we often have to rely on the incomprehensible ‘Mers’ on Soccer Saturday, to fill in the blanks in the wilds of the North.

But that doesn’t mean I can’t change tack. To look both forwards and back; to be like a nine year old again – both anxious and giddy with emotions at the prospect of another massive European night of football for the Spurs.


"It's magnificent to be in Europe and this club - a club like Tottenham Hotspur - if we're not in Europe.... we're nothing. We’re nothing."

That quote comes directly from Bill Nicholson. He’s right. Some would say he was always right where Spurs were concerned. The year after that majestic night in 1984, we had another good run – falling agonisingly short to the eventual champions Real Madrid by the odd goal in the Quarter-Final. We’ve had some moments since then, including the Inter Milan game at home this year – but they have been all too few and far between. We’ve been hopeless in both getting in to Europe, and re-establishing our place once we get there. But it used to be all so different.

There will be people reading this that weren’t born in 1984, let alone got to see that penalty shoot out – who will remember Tony Parks the player rather than the goalkeeping coach. A player, much like Newcastle’s Steve Harper, who spent eight fairly unproductive years as back up keeper – amassing the sort of game time Gomes will do in a less than a season this term. But no one cares about that. All those that saw the game can remember is his one great game. The sight of him diving to his right, getting both hands to substitute Arnór Guðjohnsen’s penalty and pushing it out towards the west stand; reeling off with both hands in the air, before being mobbed by his team mates.

It was our third major cup success in four years (to add to the 1981 and 1982 FA Cups) and I couldn’t imagine it being any different as a Spurs fan. How wrong could I be? Thanks first to Heysel and then one poor mid-table side after another, we only managed two further appearances in Europe in the nineties – neither of which amounted to much; especially given the own goal Stephen Carr conceded in the last minute to send us out away to Kaiserslautern.

Since then we’ve had a couple of decent runs in the now defunct UEFA Cup; but the Jol era aside, it has never really felt as though we were really 100% committed to the task in hand.

That is until this season.

A terrible start to the campaign seems to have shaped our season a touch – hopeless in the opening phase of the first half away from home. But at home, in front of our fans – what a joy it has been to watch European football again at the Lane. Young boys, Twente, Internazionale and Werder Bremen - all blown away by the sort of attacking, entertaining and heart lifting football we’ve craved since those Glory, Glory nights of the 60s, 70s and 80s. We’ve played with a spirit that shows we fear no one, even during those calamitous passages of play – but do pray to whatever sporting or religious deities you hold dear, that no on dives in for a reckless challenge in our box in the opening 10 minutes tonight.

To have the chance to play AC Milan, at the Giuseppe Meazza on one of our biggest European nights since that fateful birthday back in 1984, I can’t but help paraphrase Bill Nicholson’s quote. For it is magnificent to be in Europe, and this club – a club like Tottenham Hotspur to be playing the Italian league Leader in Europe without fear proves we’re something. For even though the internet appears to have written our chances off for tonight at least, especially with the absence of key players – for once, we as fans still all seem to believe. How great is that!

So today, as I sit at work – slightly fed up, slightly distant – looking south east out of the window towards Milan I can’t but help being transported back to that cinema seat in 1984. As my mum leans in, nudges me on the arm and asks why I’ve not completed the Project Plan I should have had done by lunch time…

“Come on” she says. “Can’t you do your work?”

“It’s not that Mum.”

“Well, what is it then?”

“Mum. Let me tell you how we’re going to stop Zlatan Ibrahimovic…”





Vaart in the face of the Zlatan Zeppelin

Simply put:

Go to Milan. And attack.

I'm going to hazard a guess that they won't expect us to be that cheeky, all things considered (when you look at some of our away day performances and momentary hiccups). Defending away from home in Europe doesn't quite work out for us in terms of being negative and withdrawn to combat the home sides offensive. The aim is probably to soak in the pressure and counter. Theoretically it works. But we're a main man down on the flanks. And all-out defending is not the Tottenham way. Very much illustrated by the manner we go about our business when we play at the cauldron of White Hart Lane. Need to take it to them.

The benchmark should be that first half against Bremen. But the opposition this time round are just a bit better. And they have The Zlatan.

Let's just take a moment...

They said we wouldn't challenge for a Top 4 place.
They said we wouldn't finish in the Top 4.
They said we would choke.
They said we'd go out in the qualifying round.
They said we'd get thrashed in the group stage.
They said we'd...

You know what? Who cares what they said or continue to say. We have stormed it plain and simple. Sure, naive and at times calamitous, but it's been a stunning and refreshing journey of discovery for the players, the club and the fans.

Honestly, hand on heart, if you don't feel pride for what we've achieved in this campaign then you're a miserable git. We've done it the Tottenham way all the way. From the sublime to the ridiculous.

The whole point of finishing Top 4 - if you break down the dynamics of what it gives you by way of qualification - appears to be based around being part of a monopoly because traditionally, the 'top 4' rule the roost in terms of attracting world class players. The top end of the Prem is in a state of flux and nobody can quite predict how things will pan out over the next season or two. We might find that with each year it changes. No longer the same four clubs entering Europe's elite competition, but a time-share between five or six.

Regardless of the future, the present has some people already dismissing the knock-out stage double trouble fixture with AC Milan with the tagged on suggestion that finishing in the Top 4 is more important so that we're part of the adventure again next season. Apparently, we're not going to win so let it be and concentrate on making sure we find ourselves in the same position next time out.

Scratching your head like me, right?

Surely if you're going to be pessimistic you might as well just be damned with it all and proclaim to go down in a blaze of glory trying to beat every team you come up against. Tis a cup competition you know. Upsets, shocks. They happen. Destiny? It's in the hand of the one who believes the most.

Okay. I get it. Being part of the group stages sort of (hopefully) guarantees that your best players won't leave and status continues to grow. And if you consolidate a top four place you weaken someone else and it gradually builds towards possibly creating a gap of class in our favour with the unlucky team(s) that don't make it looking up at us. It's happened and it wasn't fun on the outside looking in.

But football is about these types of games. Meelan.

Back last season when we dropped points away to Everton and got beat away to Sunderland and the side just kept coming back..was it the dream of finally achieving a top four place or the dream of playing against Europe's top sides that made your heart skip beats? Back last season when Crouch scored that goal at Eastlands...all of it, the derby wins against the red and blue scum. The run-in. It gave us the keys to the door that opened a world of swashbuckling learning curves a breathtaking voyage of discovery. We just can't lose, what with it being our very first season in the competition. It's been a test to see exactly how we, the Champions League virgins, went about losing our cherry. And boy did we slut it up.

It's all about feeling pride and spin tingling excitement when the troops march out to that dizzying theme and into battle. It's no different tomorrow. And regardless of the obvious quality of Milan, I'd still be fairly gutted if we lose/go out of the competition.

We're contenders again for the top four, and if we were perhaps more fortunate with injuries and even signed ourselves a top class forward (if if if) it could have been a little more comfortable a challenge. Plenty of hard work to be had domestically, but that adrenaline you get from momentum, it's golden.

Top four is important. But tomorrow, nothing else will really matter other than the ninety minutes ahead of us. We are involved because we are deserving of it and we I'm sure the players understand the importance of carving out yet another magical footnote to the 2011 season.

We've done superbly well to get out of the group stages. Even the neutrals have loved our participation and our mantra to entertain (be it not always planned). Plaudits here plaudits there plaudits everywhere.

Nobody expects us to get past Milan (few do). Plenty of chat that pin points the fact that we are no longer an unknown entity. Teams know what to expect. I have not a clue how the Italians plan to line-up (in terms of tactics) against us but would guess they will go for the jugular. Strong hard-working midfield, creativity up front. It's tasty. Don't want to see us on the back-foot for 90 minutes, so the work rate of our middle four will have to match theirs.

Away goal anyone? We might remain depleted (Bale out, JJ suspended, Modric - not sure, vdV - expected to play) in key areas. We might be outclassed by the simplistic virtue that they have a better standard of players. No standing back and watching in awe please Mr Dawson. Get stuck in.

Hoping to see the ilk of performance we displayed at home to Inter. Not so much with the type of oomph you would possess as the home side taking the initiative, but more the discipline and concentration that might aid us in frustrating and upsetting the hosts whilst applying ample pressure on them. Making them defend enough to turn it into a contest rather than a mauling ala first half capitulation last time out in Italy (4-0 down).

Will be fascinating to see self-proclaimed greatest player Ibra and Pato up against Dawson and Gallas. The there's the experience of Flamini, Gattuso and Seedorf up against Palacios, Modric (fingers crossed) and Lennon and Niko. Milan likely to play three in the middle and three up top (Ibra, Pato, Robinho). Doubtful we'd start with Sandro and Wilson - that would encourage the wrong attitude. Pienaar in with a shout in place of Niko another possibility, but why drop someone bang in form?

Rafa's return, imperative. Modric equally so. Two out of three will have to do.

Attack. Controlled and focused. What's the worst that can happen?

Okay, right, where's the Imodium?

Would still rather get knocked out giving it a right proper go than conceding defeat by allowing fear to consume us.

It's the Champions League. We know, on our day, we can turn it on. I'd expect us to do just that back at the Lane. As for Tuesday, don't sit back, go for their jugular. No Gareth to bale us out this time, hoping we get to unleash him in the return. Might work out in our favour. The unexpected. What with all the pre-match hype usually geared towards how to defend against the Welsh juggernaut.

Width is going to be an issue (if I return to the painful truths of reality) so here's hoping they don't double-up on Azza. They probably don't rate him much like Fabio.




Kranjčar  (Pienaar)

van der Vaart
Pav (Defoe)


They've got players missing too (injuries and cup-tied) but it's hardly going to make the task any easier. Much like us, their defence is not as great as their attack. Although if I'm honest, it's been a stalemate this season when deciding whether we're offensively or defensively best. Milan, they can be got at.

So, heads high, chin up, chest pumped out. Belief and tenacity. It's 90 minutes. Then it's a Glory Glory night in the cauldron back in N17. I'd take the score draw. I'd even accept a 2-1 loss. I'd rather have the moon on a stick.

Best team wins. Show some heart Tottenham.

To dare is to do 'em.






History in the making

Portsmouth. Arsenal. Chelsea. Manchester United. Don't know about you, but I'm salivating. Exciting times.

For the most part of the season we've had key players out injured. We've been written off but we've always pulled our way back into it, even with the depletions. There's definitely a new-founded spirit at WHL. A backbone. But there's some unfinished business that plays on my mind, a reminder that we're not quite there yet. The tonkings we received from three of the above mentioned teams at the start of the season. Three games in which we allowed the occasion to overwhelm us. Including a textbook cameo from Howard Webb to help compound things further. We displayed some of that olde lack of mental strength and composure and self-belief. Apologetic in reaction. But other than the Sunderland defeat last week and the non-events at Liverpool and Wolves (twice)- we've been fairly consistent all season long, since that early season hiccup(s). But we've suffered shock results where we dominated but failed to score, and lost.

Frustratingly, we let ourselves down when expectancy is high. But this is no longer the disease it once was. Beating Arsenal and Chelsea to win the Carling Cup. Beating Chelsea at home twice in recent years. We don't always fail to turn up. We have the capabilities to do so.

But redemption is still required because the players were/are better than the results we suffered against the three aforementioned 'big 3' sides (and the other defeats too). But before the epic week and a half ahead, we have the small matter of the FA Cup semi-final against Pompey. And placing aside the battle for fourth, beating them and reaching the final is just as important as the on-going fight in the Prem. 

93, 95, 99 and 2001 need to be forever vanquished. That and the fact that once upon a time we were synonymous with this grand competition. And it's just been way way too long since we tasted some of that FA Cup final magic. I spoke about how back in 1991, as the underdogs, we upset the scum to go on and win the competition in a season where we on the brink of financial ruin. I dislike the parallels being made with Portsmouth mainly because it serves as a reminder that ANYTHING is possible on the day.

Cup games, we all know, inspires the unexpected. And considering this is quite possibly the last time Pompey will play at Wembley and the last time for a long time that the chance of silverware is within their grasp, I doubt they're going to choke. They have nothing to lose, having just lost their Premier League status, relegated on Saturday afternoon.

Pound for pound, it would take an exceptionally average performance from us to allow them to bully and beat us. And I'll be shocked and shattered if we fail to win. Okay, so I just explained that upsets happen - but that's not to say I'm without confidence. We need to be professional and match their effort and our quality will win through. If we choke, then facepalm and don't dare look up. But these games don't always match-up as you expect them to when discussing it on paper.

I guess part of me is attempting to mentally prepare myself for the potential consequence of defeat so that it's easier to live with if it happens. Part of the DNA I guess. Nobody want's to lose a semi-final.

                                   80's swagger required

There were a couple of 'moments' in our last encounter with them at the Lane where they could have / should have scored. We outclassed them in the end, but I'm confident that Harry has pointed that complacency is unacceptable on the day and that control and patience will be key. Control the game, carve out chances, and be patient and the goals will flow. That's the ideal scenario.

So yes, I'm fairly confident. Just not taking it for granted. Considering the plight of Avram Grant's side, it would be so FA Cup if they managed to get to Wembley a second time. 

They have injury and selection issues. So do we. King, Dawson, Huddlestone and Corluka all doubts. Lennon might be on the bench (and might even play - although Harry might think we can win without him and saved him for the NLD).

So going back to what I said earlier in this article, the reason it's so important is simply this:

People remember the games and the lifting of silverware because of the stage it's played on. Nobody will ever forget Villa weaving and twisting his way in the penalty area back in '81. Players, our players, have the opportunity to write history and become part of Tottenham folklore. You'll always talk about Cup finals and you'll talk about them even more if you see your side win one because it goes down into the history books forever. Finishing 4th won't.

That really should be inspiration enough.



Cup or 4th?

Plenty of discussion about whether we should take tonight's Carling Cup quarter-final seriously. It's a quarter-final, of course we bloody should. Yes, fighting tooth and nail for 4th spot is (should be) the priority, but we are but one game from yet another semi-final. Why on earth should we sacrifice it when we have plenty in reserve? If Harry does want to rest some of the more important members of the first team, that's fine. Although I'd probably just play a full strength team and instruct the players to go out there and tonk them. Need to score at least two goals to cancel out the penalty Utd will no doubt be given at a pinnacle moment in the game. Clattenberg is the referee. Happy happy joy joy.

One thing is for certainty, Utd will not be at full strength - but they do have great depth, so this won’t be an easy evening either way. We've not beaten them at Old Trafford for nearly 20 years. Utd are also unbeaten since being knocked out of the competition the year we won it.

The Prem can wait. The players will have time to 'recover' in time for the weekend. Just stick Defoe up front and keep Niko (edit: he's cup tied...oh hum) in the side. I'd even give Pav a run-out. We owe the Mancs for the 5-2 and the disappointing final last season. In fact the players owe us (the fans) for caving in and collapsing practically every time we are faced with Fergie's team up there.

I can't believe for a second that Redknapp would give up the chance of another Wembley appearance, so pinch of salt with any of the dramatics you've read in the press in the past day or so. I want silverware. And 4th. Four more sets of 90 mins isn't going to ruin our chances in the league.

2-1 Spurs.


The Saviour of Spurs

Dear Mr Levy,

You complete me.

For years you have been the Lex Luther to my Superman, leaving a trail of Kryptonite that has had detrimental damage. The Bane to my Batman, lifting me up in humiliation and breaking my resolve without a flinch. The Mike Ashley to my Newcastle, defecating in my bowl of corn flakes, day in and day out. You and your dark shadow that has blackened the Park Lane into unnerving darkness with no presence of even the faintest light. Until…until you had your epiphany. The moment, the one truly pure defining moment of your villainous Sarumanesque reign over my beloved club. The moment birthed from the depths of darkness where a blinding ray of sunshine cut up the night sky to shreds and turned it into a supernova of raining rainbows. You, the one responsible for the dread and the disillusion, changed the course of time its self.

One single decision that has enlightened and blessed us all.

You rid the club of the Director of Football structure, and as a consequence returned to simple fundamental basics. And saved us. Even though you left behind you a tapestry of mistakes that you were accountable for. They can now be brushed aside and forgotton about.

Daniel, I'm no longer in Kansas. And in front of me is a white and blue brick road leading us to the return of Technicolor glory.

I have preached outside White Hart Lane many times, disguised as a fundamentalist Christian armed with a megaphone telling passing supporters wandering down towards the South Stand that Jesus Christ loves them and forgives them. All ignoring my drooling monotonous ranting, laughing and taking the piss as they walked past. But I was influencing them and their thoughts, and they didn't even know it. Not willingly that is. Subliminal messages work in a mysterious way. The megaphone transmitted low frequency directives to anyone within 50 metres, penetrating their subconscious mind.

"Don't buy the Opus"
"Don't sit down, stand up"
"If we lose, it's the chairman's fault"
"Smoke in the cubicles"

Guerilla warfare against the oppressive dictatorship you stood for was a difficult and draining 24/7 campaign. I know people expect me to stand outside the West Stand main entrance and relentlessly chuck water balloons loaded with the contents of Pot Noodles at your passing car. Or shooting frozen shit pellets (do you have any idea how long it takes for me to make these? The diet I have to retain and the cost of refrigeration?) at board members when they're out dining with their wives. Handcuffing myself naked to the turnstiles and boycotting the Spurs Shop have served me well over the years and the country too, thanks to the generous amount of community service that her majesty has bestowed on me. Incidentally, that evening I was walking my cat (she was very domesticated) and it just so happened to jump over your gates and into your garden hence why your wife found me going through your bin bags. Cats do like rummaging for scraps. Anyway, the resulting restraining order was a little harsh, it has to be said. I'm considering legal aid, because I've not seen my cat since that day and your guard dog is looking suspiciously tubby. At least I was considering legal aid. It's all behind me now. The leaflets, the online propaganda. The effigies. All of it. It's in the past. I've forgiven.

Tottenham under Ramos

No more burning my season ticket in full view of the directors box. No more calls for others to do the same. Embrace your season ticket. Kiss it gently. Touch it in it's private area. Make sweet love to it. Whisper your unconditional loyalty, while you cheekily slap its sweet firm arse.

I am proud. Proud of the team and proud of your newly refined clarity. Many people go through life without a life-changing Darth Vader moment. You did. You have come full cycle, restoring balance. You are positively drenched in midi-chlorians, bringing with you a new hope.

And Jar-Jar Binks is nowhere to be seen.

When Comolli was axed, you were able to see the necessity for complications was redundant. No need for a continental structure when the most successful of clubs in England have done just fine without one. A traditional managerial appointment was needed. A man for the hour, a man for the immediate future. No 5 year plan. No lofty delusional assessments of our progress. Season upon season of transitional nonsense had rendered us null and void. A fragmented mess, disjointed. Beauty spots on a blemished face. Great to look at from afar, ugly up close. We had become the Paris Hilton of football clubs, believing our own hype thinking we are great and important. When in reality we had a stupid face and disgusting feet.

You did a brave thing. You made a ballsy decision. With the Spaniard sent home and the fans nervous about two measly points from eight games, the very foundations of the club began to shake. You remember that evening? I remember it well. I stood outside White Hart Lane, holding up a 'LEVY OUT 3:16' sign along with my 'THERE USE TO BE A FOOTBALL CLUB HERE' banner which I last held aloft just after the George Graham appointment. I stood there, tearful, waiting. And that's when I heard the news. Harry Redknapp. The new manager of Tottenham Hotspur.

A new dawn was upon us. I went home. Content. Happy.

The great managerial escapologist. Harry Houdini. Back to basics. English. And loyal to the club he's just joined until he's loyalty shifts across to his new club. And his new club was us. It was time for Tottenham to fight it's way out of the depths of the mire it had found its self in. And Harry was the man to lead us upwards. No more DoF interference. No more politics. No more misguided dreams. Get out of the bottom three and never look back.

Harry Redknapp's Tottenham

You read our predicament for what it was. A unmitigated disaster. Granted one of your own creation, and another Ramosesque appointment was an impossibility. Redknapp, man-manger extraordinaire, speaker of the English language, man of the media - the sound-bite king. This wasn't just about repairing the damage to the squad, the players confidence and the clubs non-existent stature. This was, in the most simplistic way, a relaying of our foundations, plastering over the cracks. The media love a bit of 'arry. The cynical might argue that this was a strategic stroke of genius, getting in a man who doesn't need to wait for a journalist to come knocking on his door. He calls them up. PR heaven. On and off the pitch. But who cares if the attention is deflected away from the chairman and onto the manager. Isn't that the whole point? You took responsibility for your actions rather than stand sheepishly behind a Frenchman.

Superfluous signings? Forget about it. Harry saw what was missing, what was needed and did the simple thing: Sign players that would improve the teams effectiveness. And you supported him. It would take 1000 Zokora's to match the presence of one single strand of hair from the head of Wilson Palacios. JD's return is proving to be inspired. Keane returned home from his sabbatical and claimed the captaincy. And in Chimbonda we made sure we covered our defensive line. In case anyone got injured. Or if we needed to cover anyone who required a rest. Not that we did. We did, but not that we had to call for Chimbonda's assistance. But it's not the winning that matters, it's the taking part. Which technically Pascal didn't do, well neither, but he was there. With us. In spirit. And that was the effect Harry had. He got the players working for each other and for the club and restored the pride that had deserted us.

And then the moneyshot, the reason why your decision to bring in Harry will go down in history as one of the great master-strokes of chairmanship. Escaping the clutches of relegation and coming within a whisker of European qualification, along with another cup final appearance was simply inspirational. It justified everything and made a mockery of the director of football mantra.

And this season, it's more of the same. Upbeat, positive and belief from the players and the fans in the stands. Good solid signings. Nine points, three games. Top of the Premier league. Free-scoring. Swaggering. Swashbuckling. Sexy. Harry has given us our Tottenham back. WHL is a fortress and away games are a blast. We all know of course that this - the present - is all Harry's doing with regards to results. So the real test is yet to come. The one concerning how we react to any minor (or major) blip in form - with nobody to blame as the responsibility will belong solely to him. The one about mental strength and staying power. And Harry is here to restore respectability and make sure the foundations hold strong. So that the next appointment is not a transition but a continuation.

You have learnt a valuable lesson in football. You need to walk the walk rather than just talk the talk. Appointing Ramos on the advisement of Comolli and Kemsley to take us to the next level displayed a lack of realism and a dollop of over-confidence about where we stood in the food chain of football.

We are now a team. A unit. A dolphin not a haddock. A badger not a skunk.

And it's because of you Daniel.

I can forgive your good self and Paul Barber for the travesty of the yellow-streaked home shirt. I can forgive you for the continued employment of that arrogant sonofabitch Chirpy and his sexual harassing of supporters (he touched my back once and just starred back at me, smiling. I felt violated). I can even forgive you for the commissioning of the endless supply of club DVD's chronicling score-draws.

You are forgiven. Unequivocally.

I want us to hold hands (metaphorically, as the restraining order still has me at 100 metres distance) and march together, forward.

The future is bright. The Future is lilywhite.

I have sent you a hamper of bagels and a lovely bottle of white wine (never red, right?)

I love you man.

Yours forever,



The Didier Zokora Cup Final

Chelsea 1 Tottenham 2 aet

There was a moment in this game that had me jumping around, screaming out to the heavens muttering the same word over and over and over again.

Why. Why. Why. Why. Why. Why. Why. Why. Why. Why. Why. Why.

Why Zokora? Of all the players to find himself running towards the goal, why does it have to be him? Didier, bless him, makes Steffen Freund look like Thierry Henry. But then he isn’t a goal-scoring midfielder. Even when he managed to find Cech’s head rather than the goal, he failed to compose himself and lay the ball to Berbatov or better still, find the target with the second opportunity presented to him.

See, these are the moments that pretty much define Spurs.

If only.
So close.

The cruel irony is that the player who run from midfield is the one player that you know won’t be able to do what you oh so want him to do. But it was at this very moment that I had an epiphany.

Chelsea had done practically nothing all game. And rather seeing this assessment from a typical Spurs point of view, being ‘we’re gonna fuck it up’, I saw the game through the eyes of a neutral. Just for that one all-seeing moment.

There was nothing to suggest Chelsea would get something from the match. Spurs were in their ascendency. And I could see it. But before we get to this part of the game, let’s go back to the start. The opening 45 were ominous to say the least. My epiphany at this point in time was nothing but a sperm casually backstroking towards the egg.

We started brightly and created chances, but Drogba’s insistence at taking centre stage with his theatrics proved to be the dramatic catalyst for the wrong kind of breakthrough. This was Drogba’s no country for real men, and with each pathetic fall to the ground, it made me wish for an air-powered cattle gun. Yet another collapse to the ground, this time 30 yards out was definitely a free-kick, and the irony wasn’t lost on anyone.

What followed was a quirk that was probably noticed instantly by Ramos (mistakes like this are avoidable). A complete mess of a wall, built with Marmite rather than cement. Not only was it in the wrong place, but the fact King and Robinson failed to orchestrate some kind of organisation was unnerving. You could see exactly what Drogba was going to do. He tried it earlier. This time it was an open invitation. We hate it, they loved it. Drogba shots and scores. Robinson hardly moves. This time not because of consumption of pie, but rather the fact that even if he did dive in the general direction of where the ball was placed he wouldn’t even get there in time with rockets on his boots.

1-0 to them and much biting of nails insured.

One highlight from the first 45 minutes involved the Chelsea fans rising to sing a chorus of ‘Stand up if you hate Tottenham’. The Spurs fans stood up and sang ‘Stand up if you hate Arsenal’. The Chelsea faithful should really do their best to look elsewhere for that defining rivalry.

During half-time I wondered if this was going to be one of those disappointing days where efficient Chelsea do enough to stifle the game into a non-glamorous victory in their favour.

At this point I was worried. Goes without say I was enjoying the occasion, but I suddenly got sickeningly nervous of losing. Yeah sure, it’s the Carling Cup. The lickle half-breed cousin of the FA Cup. But this was Chelsea, and losing to them (and fucking ‘ell have we done a lot of that in recent years) is just not a feeling I choose to experience anymore. I hate it. I hate it more than losing to Arsenal. It’s like losing to Fulham. Why the fuck would you accept losing to Fulham?

Then there’s the fact that it’s a ticket back into the UEFA Cup. It’s not the ideal way in but it’s on offer. And with our bad start to the season costing us any true chance of finishing top 6, this is the dream ticket.

And finally, its silverware. You know. That thing other teams outside the top 4 sometimes manage to flirt with on the odd occasion the second-string eleven don’t make it through to the final. Makes the honours list look not too shabby either. What’s good for the goose...

Winning it would also make it number 15 in Cup competitions won domestically and in Europe (only Utd and Liverpool have won more). Call it just rewards for the progress made by Ramos in the short months he has been here or proof that we don’t choke when it matters. A medal of honour.

So back with the sickeningly nervous feeling, I couldn’t shake. And onto the second half.

“Huddlestone has to come on”, my mate commented.
“I can’t see where a Spurs goal is gonna come from”, I informed him a few minutes earlier.

And then Hudd came on. For Chimbonda. I burst several veins in my forehead screaming abuse at Pascal the Mercenary who was disgraceful in the ungracious manner he walked off the pitch. No urgency, no care in the world other than his vanity. And off he went down the tunnel. It’s bitterly disappointing he wasn’t sold in the January transfer window.

So with the skinny demure Hudd on, things began to change a little. A disguised pass here and there. Lennon, who might as well have been in Faces during the first half, began to show a little spark. And as I thought back to my comment about not seeing where we would score from, we go and win a penalty. Didn’t think of that one. The decision was never in doubt. Juggling the ball isn’t controversial imo. It’s nailed on, ball on the spot.

The sickeningly nervous feeling turned into a haemorrhage. Up steps Berbatov. Some Spurs fans run down to the bottom of the aisle and look upwards to the fans, preferring to watch the crowd reaction rather than the actual penalty.

Up steps the Bulgarian and in one majestically cool second we are level. Pandemonium at long last. And that little bit of hope is embracing us.

Tainio on for Steed. And Spurs continue to press and push and the tempo is now where it should be. Pace with movement and purpose. Chelsea are disjointed in comparison. Anelka isolated with zero chemistry between him and Drogba, or anyone else for that matter.

Lampard unable to control a midfield bossed by Jenas and Zokora. Jole Cole on the bench. Woodgate and King in complete command at the back for us. It’s not quite a walk in the park. More of a brisk jog with a poodle chasing behind you. But you know it’s never gonna catch up, let alone bit you on the arse. Although at this point, I still had nightmares of the poodle ripping its way through my gut like an Alien.

And then, the sperm completes its journey and my epiphany is born. The precise moment this happens is when Zokora runs through towards goal with Cech being the only person standing in the way of folklore. And you know what happens next. And nobody can believe it even though the outcome was exactly what we all knew would play out.

But when I held my head up away from my hands, I knew that this miss would not go down in history as a testament of why we always seem to fail when it matters. What had Chelsea done in the game that would lead me to believe they could go on to win it? As a Spurs fan you’d automatically think it’s more likely to be us who give something away or make a mistake. But without anchoring myself to what I would normally expect in that oh so classic defeatist manner, I was free to see the facts.

Chelsea were fucking shit and had no hope in hell of beating us. I was enlightened.

Extra-time. Jenas, not for the first time this season floats in a perfect cross and Woodgate, the most unlikely of heroes nods the ball, which is palmed back onto Woody’s face and into the net. Silk finish, it was not. But when you’ve seen Gary Mabbut score an own goal, you don’t tend to be picky about the quality of a winning goal.

It was a strange moment in the stands, at least where I was. There was almost a delay in celebrations. Fraction of a second if that. The initial header and its journey away from Cech and into Woodgate seemed to take an age. When the ball crossed the line it was Pandemonium Part II.

Keane limped off. Kaboul trotted on. Chelsea huffed and puffed without really scaring us too much, though that’s thanks to a decent stop from Robinson.

When Zokora completed his brace and overplayed a ball to Lennon that would have surely settled it beyond doubt, there was still way too much tension in the Spurs end. Not helped by David Copperfield who plucked out 3 injury time minutes to be added onto the end of the second half of extra time.

One of the best moments of the game was TT wasting time with a throw-on (good to see Spurs are finally learning to do this when it matters) and earning a yellow-card, only for Drogba to come running onto the scene to berate TT, wasting more of the precious time Chelsea had left.

And then the final whistle and 9 sodding piss poor fruitless years come to an end, and for the sixth decade on the trot our players have winner’s medals.

And we got to laugh at Drogba’s complaining to their bitter end.

Who would have ever predicated Jonathan Woodgate scoring the winning goal in a Cup Final for Spurs? Effortlessly brilliant at the back, I pray he stays fit. Same for Ledley.

Jenas and Zokora were superb in the middle of the park. Berbatov, worked fact, apart from Chimbonda, I don’t have too many complaints.

Maybe had we beaten Bolton or Boro in the final (no disrespect to either of them) then this wouldn’t mean too much. But beating Chelsea also meant that semi-final 5-1 got its icing on the cake.

Spurs stalled under Jol. We all know it. He deserves some credit for what he achieved in building the foundations, but Ramos did something that Jol could not have possibly done. And that’s masterminding the semi-final win and then lifting of the Cup.

Ramos and Poyet have galvanised us. Take this Cup success as the first hurdle crossed in the transitional cross-country race.

The players have tasted success. They have beaten a Top 4 club. They now know they have it in them. And there’s no doubt when the euphoria settles Ramos will gently ease in the mentality that next time, it should be something bigger. Something like the FA Cup, or maybe even the UEFA Cup.

We all know a sustained 4th spot position is the Holy Grail. And we all know that’s still way off. But with the chasing pack taking turns each season, it’s always open to anyone who really gives it a hard push.

So, there I was at Wembley loving every second of it.

That included Robbie Keane’s tears and utter joy at finally winning something. Berbatov also looked like something he hasn’t quite been all season. A Tottenham player. He celebrated like someone who you wouldn’t bet your money on leaving (caught up in the moment?).

And Chimbonda made an appearance along with a Spurs fan that joined in with the celebrations. The fan had more right to be there than Pascal.

Robinson can thank Cerny’s mistake for allowing him a way back into the team. Last thing he expected a few weeks back was for him to be part of the team again.

So as the fireworks fizzled out and the players disappeared down the tunnel (to finally reappear at Faces nightclub) we left Wembley happy. Chelsea fans long gone, it was pretty much the perfect Sunday.

Cheers Juande. Piece of piss wasn’t it mate?