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Entries in home win (6)


Villas 2 Villa 0

Tottenham 2 Villa 0

Still not completely convincing at home. Lacking that ruthless killer instinct. One or two players struggling with their form. Other's still settling. Other's forming new on field relationships. Pre-match I wanted to see:

  1. More than just 45 minutes of dominance, fluidity from start to finish.
  2. Boss midfield and tempo with aggression and pace.
  3. Clinical in front of goal.
  4. No late goals conceded.
  5. Comfortable win.
  6. Noisy happy atmosphere.

We sort of got some of the above, in pockets, more so in second half than in the first – including a moment or two where the opposition might have punished us, but thankfully, they too lacked that killer touch. Yet, even as this team builds momentum and team unity, even with new players still looking to find their groove in Lilywhite, we still find ourselves sitting in 5th spot with four consecutive league wins and unbeaten in nine games. Momentum breeds confidence and confidence breeds style. All in good time. Considering we lost two key players (Luka and Rafa) in the summer along with an injury to another (Parker)  and the retirement of Ledley plus an overhaul of coaching and training...if this is a transitional period, it's hardly traumatic. Andre Villas-Boas inherited a side in a state of flux. We are hardly the sitting ducks some expected (prayed for) in the aftermath of the summer.

Sure, okay, no problem...I agree (how can I not?) that the swagger isn’t quite free-flowing at the Lane. Would be naive to expect a new coach to implement new ideas as casually and easily as flicking a switch on. We look better, more fluid, away from home at the moment but the signs are there that improvements will be made which should have a more positive effect on how we set up at the Lane. It’s one thing being a side that attacks attacks attacks but if there is no added dimension to our play, no adaptability – then we’ll get unstuck against more clued up opponents. However, the drawback at the moment is that as we look to progress we might get unstuck by virtue of the problems that exist, the ones we’re trying to iron out.

Say, for example, sitting too deep at 1-0 or not taking our chances early in the game. Then again, as good as we were at full pelt last season at home there were plenty of games where for all our intent we failed to break down teams. Looks like we’re worked through our early season issues (WBA, Norwich) already but the real test will come when a far stronger side visits.

What did we learn with the 2-0 against Villa?

Sandro and Dembele are forming a robust partnership in the centre of midfield. The Belgian completing 77 passes from 79 and was never dispossessed and aided the powerful push forwards in the second half. Such a great mix of abilities and with Parker out, Sandro is able to graft his way towards making the position his own. Dembele is quality and players like that won't struggle to settle if they have the confidence to play thanks to their team mates effort and work rate. Can't wait to see the immensity of their partnership 20 games into the season.

Special extra mention: Sandro and the 720 degree turn. He's a mentalist.

Vertonghen is superb. So vital we have players in key positions that are world class. There, I said it. I'm not ashamed. He's a centre-back that looks equally comfortably at left-back and attacks as well ad he defends. Oozes confidence and leadership. Caulker's eduction by the side of both Jan and Gallas, better spent with us than out on loan. The youth of Spurs are being coached and selected. No favouritism. If you're good enough, you're in. Mature beyond his years but then we caught a glimpse of that when he was at Swansea. Talking of maturity, Gallas, on the quiet, getting the job done and continuing to prove many of us (including me) wrong. Still has it. We look strong at the back, more so when the injured return to full fitness.

Dempsey is still bedding in (much like Siggy is) – when both find their place in the team then both will give us that extra bit of oomph in midfield that we lost when van der Vaart returned to Germany. Dempsey scored a bundle for Fulham. Siggy equally effective for Swansea. Both, thus far, bit part players trying to work into the system. The American currently ahead in selection.

Adebayor’s return is massive for us. Holds up the ball, retains it well, allowing the midfielders to press forward and his link up play is far superior to what Defoe can offer. It’s part of his natural game. Hoping he gets in amongst it with the goals once he starts to play regularly.

Not sure of original source of image. Possibly computer generated. Blatant fake. They're all smiling.

Hugo Lloris proved why he’s got so much more than Brad Friedel between the sticks in terms of this being a team game. His distribution and his communication is vital to improving the way we defend, acting as both keeper and sweeper. He did make one mistake that went unpunished. Still, a clean sheet. Ta muchly. Brad, the model professional all smiles on the bench (unless Friedel was not actually at the game and Spurs were using 'tupac' holographic technology to show us a smiling Brad to aid with disguising the turmoil in the dressing room). Another feature of Hugo is the way he sees danger and seeks to throw himself onto the grenade. Love the way he reads the game so well and dashes out to tackle/win the ball. Also – 67% passing rate (Brad has 18% average).

We accepted the slice of luck to go 1-0 up and that was enough of a breakthrough to set us on our way for a far more comfortable second half. Although Villa had a moment or two (one shot straight at Lloris and the other, the aforementioned mistake from the keeper that thankfully saw Benteke’s header go wide). A reminder of those problems that need ironing out.

Walker is still struggling. I don’t get why some are so keen to dismiss him because he's currently detached from solid consistent form. He’s a young lad, he had a fantastic season last time out. I don’t know what the reason is behind his erratic displays but much like the team as a whole struggled, we need to be supportive.

Might be in need of some rotation/rest/competition once Naughton is available for selection again. We all know he needs to work and develop his positioning and defending. He's got all the right qualities for AVB's tactics. We just need to make sure he's focused and disciplined. Maybe he does need that rest. But there's no doubt he needs to understand he's a defender and usually defenders need to defend. Rest aside, the coaches need to nurture the raw talent. I guess some will still slag him off or not open their eyes to the long play much like they were all too eager to see Bale go off on loan to Forest.

Lennon's goal was great. Sandro, Dempsey involved, lovely finish from Azza. As for the first, Defoe cleverly aiming for Caulker to purposely deflect the shot in to beat the keeper. As for Gareth Bale. Solid performance without being outstanding but the 'dive' deserves its own article. Will share soon.

No sitting too deep second half with positive attack minded substitutions.

Villa were not very good. Did well in the first half to nullify us (although we still crafted chances of promise). But our first half misgivings had plenty to do with untidy passing and decision making and lack of tempo and composure. Too anxious perhaps? Trying too hard to force the issue rather than dismantling the opposing side with cool, calculated movement. We still looked solid and we improved and in the end the visitors had very little to show for it. A better striker up front for them and perhaps the game would have played out differently.

We could have made more of it after they went down to 10 men, but failed to find a third goal. Woodwork making sure of it.

Good work going into the international break. We still look like a side playing at around 60% - 70% of our true potential. The trick is that we retain that winning momentum when we’re not firing on all cylinders, whilst aiming for 80% +. Once the spine of the team is settled and we’re more fluid in movement and intensity, then we’ll be standing on that next level of performance. Once on that level, I’d expect us to be far more dominant and bullish at home. It still has that ominoius feeling that its a bit to much of a graft to earn the points. But then that's hardly a bad thing. We're still winning, still finding a way through. The progression of Andre Villas-Boas Tottenham continues.

Special mention again to Brad Friedel and 320 consecutive games played in the Premier League. Phenomenal. Also worth noting (again), seven played with fourteen points. One defeat. Nine games unbeaten all comps.


Tottenham beat Tottenham to beat QPR

Okay, so first things first, my preview versus what actually played out. Worth doing just to mug myself off a little and remind myself that when things look really straight forward on paper it’s best to remember that the opposition can always perform better than expected. QPR might have had it bad in some early performances this season but proved they could organise themselves to worthy competency (with the draw against Chelsea).

via @TheloniousFilth

I keep waiting for us to step it up with delicious delight and tick all the boxes. I got it wrong the other week. It seems there is a monkey on our back, one that nests at the Lane. Think King Kong cradling the East Stand. Any which way to get rid of it and then perhaps my preview promises and hopes will play out with less pressure and more expressiveness going forward.


Preview statements in bold.


QPR. At home.

> Hey, I got this right. Move aside Nostradamus.

Is there really anything more to say than to find a happy medium between the dominant Reading performance and the cohesive one against Lazio and win in bullish, aggressive fashion? Anything more, aside from:

> Ever since that opening first half against WBA it seems we’re struggling to awake from a nightmare and when we think we’re awake, it turns out to be one of those awakening experiences. You know the type. You get out of bed, wash your face, make a cuppa and stick the radio on only to then wake up for real and realise you have to go through all that again. Except when you do you don’t because you wake up in bed again. More about the tactics in a moment but in terms of matters of the head, there’s a problem. Not enough application or bravery. The strategy, it’s not apparent. So either something is losing itself in translation or our boys in Lilywhite are experiencing stage fright thanks to an impatient and difficult to please audience.

One holding midfielder, not two.

> One. Because without Parker and Livermore there‘s only Sandro. We’re also at home so we have to show intent. The line-up saw Bale slot into left-back (old skool) with Gallas returning at centre-back and Dempsey in midfield. I said before half-time I’d have preferred Caulker at centre-back with Vertonghen at LB and Bale attempting to capture some form on the left flank. That switch happened at half-time. For the best as we looked unlikely to make a breakthrough before then.

Score an early goal.

> Some opportunities early on. QPR forcing Friedel to save twice. Sigurdsson feeding Defoe. Zamora and Hoillet enjoying their afternoon. Faurlin impressive. As the game progressed so did Rangers. Closer and closer to making the break through. No pace or tempo from us. Possession not always clean and fairly redundant because nothing was made of it. Visitors happier on the break, hosts not asking Cesar to dirty his gloves. 33 mins on the clock and its 1-0 to them. Friedel edging closer to the bench when failing to move off his line quickly. Then again, not sure who was meant to be moving quickly in the build up. The pass was superb, our defenders not quite playing the offside. Vert on a different wave length to the rest around him. Zamora smiling the outcome.

So early on, no evidence of that press, hassle and push ethic of the previous two games. Our midfield ominous.

Then get another before half-time. At a push a third.

> Not only did I miss the dart board with this, I hit the landlord in the face with my aim.

If not a third before half-time, score it within ten minutes of the second half starting.

> Well, we did score after 15 minutes into the second half. Well actually, they did, for us. But we scored ourselves a minute after that. Hedonistic scenes. Open bus parade. DVD. Levy stripping off his shirt and tie in the stands and screaming ‘Come at me bro, come at me!’.

Kill the game, kill it dead. If they park the bus, slap 'em with a parking ticket then hot wire the sonofab*tch and clamp it on the touchlines. It's our back yard, don't allow them to dictate and force us to react in a way not becoming to our preparation. Control equates to tempo which results with initiative. They need to be adapting to us. Our home, our rules. Their struggle.

> QPR did not park the bus. They all arrived on motorbikes whilst we struggled on dainty roller-skates to keep up. There was no ownership of playing at home. We seem to be up against ourselves foremost, the opposition just take advantage of it. But we did improve in the second half. Having Bale in midfield helped more so than being lost not really knowing his role as a left-back. There was a little more urgency if lacking that confident conditioned cohesiveness of say the Lazio game. Inventiveness was also a struggle to introduce. But chances were finally being crafted. Heads did not drop. An own goal followed by a counter. Caulker with a looped header and Faurlin netting past his own keeper via his shoulder. Then Vergonghen breaking, releasing Bale, shot saved onto the bar and Defoe lapping it up. Lady Luck not just in attendance, but pouting her lips and licking them. The minx.

via @barryslater

Take the sting out of the game if necessary in the latter stages. No need to witness the last 20 minutes consisting of nervous dispositional football. Solidification please.

> No forceful take down of the match happened, we didn’t force a stranglehold to the point where you could perhaps sit up and say ‘we got this’. But we still had chances and could have made it three. Huddlestone and Townsend subbed on. Clint Hill another pick out player for them. Kudos to Defoe who has limitations but has still managed to score four goals in five games (and assist one).

First half wasn’t great at all, second half there was something resembling a team. Lennon worked extremely hard. Caulker impressing again. Vertonghen outstanding, more so for an utterly epic challenge proving (much like King did against Robben) that you can celebrate a defenders tackle (easy there tiger) as emphatically as you would a strikers goal.

Sigurdsson has still not found a rhythm to his game. Hoping that happens soon.

Belief. On the pitch, in the stands.

> King Kong has fallen. I’m hoping the players relax a little now but this is entirely dependent on the atmosphere inside the stadium which is now defined as defeatist before a ball has even been kicked. I’ll leave this alone until later. Said I wouldn’t bang on about a minority but it seems said minority is influencing the majority and as a consequence - silence is defeating.

Home win.

> What was required we got. Lucky win? Sure. Wasn’t pretty. Wasn’t a blueprint but I’m hoping I’m right and we can now shrug off the mental anchor that held the players back. But the learning curve is just that. We are not continuing from before, from last season. We are trying to start over. There is no legacy left. Best to ignore the fallacy and look to the future. It’s risky but it’s also brave, so onwards with Villa-Boas, who looked magnificent celebrating in the pouring rain.

QPR deserve plenty of credit. They won’t quite believe the result. Their game plan was not to sit back exclusively but to seek the counter and the initiative. They had moments where they could so easily have killed the game dead for us.

Interestingly, AVB says he wanted to give QPR the initiative in the first half so we could counter them. Didn't quite work out. Not sure it can if Bale is stuck at left-back.

Positivity in blog comment sections and pubs the world over.

> Steady now. You’ll end up waking up in bed and all the above was just a dream. Even with a slice of luck to aid us - we had to show some spirit and move on from the WBA and Norwich results. We did just that, which is why we can afford a smile or two. So smile. Or just pinch yourself.



What are you made of?

Friedel, Walker, Kaboul, Gallas, Rose, Lennon, Modric, Sandro, Bale, Van der Vaart, Adebayor.

Subs: Cudicini, King, Nelsen, Livermore, Giovani, Saha, Defoe.


What are you made of Tottenham?


A jelly and crisp combo or gritty metal with a sharp point?




Job done

Never been a fan of radio commentary. Back in the day (when unable to get to the game) preferred the lottery of waiting for the page to refresh on Teletext. No live streams knocking around for today either as the game wasn't broadcasted live anywhere. Sounded pretty much like a walk in the park.

Starting eleven: Cudicini; Livermore, Bassong, Dawson, Rose; Lennon, Kranjcar, Pienaar, Giovani; Defoe, Pavlyuchenko.

Subs: Gomes, Kaboul, Bostock, Carroll, Falque, Parrett, van der Vaart.

Gomes not even fancied for a home banker. Bostock with an apperance off the bench (certain night out in Nandos on the cards after that).

Midfield made up of four wingers/wide players and no natural centre midfielders. But it hardly mattered. Was more than enough to brush Cheltenham aside. Niko with all the time in the world. Well, Town are hardly City. Key highlight was resting all our first eleven with Everton in mind. Job done then.

Defoe (stealing it from a certain chipped Gio goal), Pav (quality team goal) and Gio (deflection) all scoring. Official report here.

Keep an eye out on this video wall from Winkball for post-match reaction from fans who went to the Lane.

The Double is on.








What does Scott Parker do exactly?

Spurs 3 QPR 1

There was talk pre-match that newly promoted QPR could be a potential headache what with past experience that has involved a no-show in such occasions and thus allowed frustration to plunge us into the abyss of disappointment.

I was hoping for something emphatic and convincing. In the first half that’s exactly what we got. Go on then, I’ll use my two favourite words in the English language; Swagger and swashbuckle. It was joyful to watch the passing and movement. Wide or narrow. Interchanging of wingers. A hard working forward that took up the right positions and held the ball up to allow others to attack the penalty area. A midfield that included an absolute peach of a box to box performance and another that illustrated the majesty of a winners mentality. The only downside at half time was that the game wasn’t being transferred to Blu-ray for the club shop to make available the next day. 2-0, should have been 4-0 or more.

This being Tottenham, the players failed to continue in the same vain (perhaps a little credit for QPR here) and the visitors had us under pressure resulting in a poorly defended goal. I say poorly because leading up to it we could have been far stronger as a defensive unit to clear it and push out. They hardly cut us open with slick football. It was untidy stuff.

But our reaction was not to capitulate. Why should we? We have the capacity these days to recover rather than switch off completely. We did react. Scored a third, could still have had more. Apart another moment of madness in injury time, overall, the performance was solid. Bread and butter games, the ones we lost/dropped points in last season are the very ones that cost us in the end.

So far so good this season. I know, I know...the smiling, the constant can hurt a little. But it's acceptable pain.

What we got in this game that is worth highlighting are examples of the character traits this team has when it simmers along at boiling point. There is no doubt we could still look to retain ambition in the transfer market and sign competition for the flanks. Talk about a more long term replacement (for the irreplaceable) Ledley King another talking point. But in terms of our form since the two Manchester defeats and our Goslingesque penetration when attacking the opposition on Sunday, we in fact do possess that much maligned balance. Be it one that still requires a little fine tuning.

Having a forward like Adebayor equates to a work ethic that will compliment the attacking midfielder that roams a few steps behind him, and vice versa. Ade spears the attack, the team work the ball into the box be it via the flanks, cutting in or through the middle. Options are interchangeable. Ade might not quite have that final touch in front of goal at this moment in time but you can’t fault him for much else. It’s impossible to do so because the unit works as a unit (rather than being dependent on one player). If he doesn't score. Someone else will.

van der Vaart is irrepressible, celebrating any goal scored like it’s against Arsenal. A midfielder with the instincts of a striker. Positioning and finishing a cut above. On paper he might as well be noted as the ‘1’ behind the ‘1’ in a 4411 formation but he’s more than a number. He’s a free man! A deep lying forward, call him what you want but labels aside – it works. It just works. He loves playing, he loves scoring and he loves winning. Wasn’t that long ago that we had to rely on lesser footballers to heighten expectancy and make consistency a reality. Heart broken so many times. He's not just about the goals either. Applause for his passing and intent.

Lennon is still searching for consistency, with confidence remaining the key. The two assists will have done him good, even if many appear to be split on how much impact he had in the game. He did look isolated at times.

Was that because he didn’t drop deeper to make himself available? Was distribution out to his flank not that great? Was his positioning the reason distribution was not forthcoming? Why does he not attempt to knock the ball forward past the defender and fizz past them? Has he lost the pace to his game? Is he simply not as effective because of the attacking qualities of Walker? Therefore, do we need to look for a different ilk of player for the right or do we keep the faith?

Questions that won’t be answered for a few more games. Competition required for that wing will tell us if this particular conundrum has to do with attitude or not. Fact remains, when it mattered, he produced it. Nice work to set Bale up for the first. The second goal was ridiculously good. From the tippy-tappy footwork and close touch passing to the utterly sublime caress with power the ball travelled with when beating their keeper in goal. Goal of the month right there.

It’s also worth citing that Azza defended quite well. His awareness of when to drop deeper to cover a marauding Kaboul, for example should not be ignored. But then he's always been quite good at tracking back. Equally so the fact that his partnership down that wing with Walker is still fledgling. We still need him at his best (think of the counter attack and Lennon racing towards goal dinking right and left making the opposition defenders dizzy). We need that back.

In midfield, Luka again worked his socks off but by the standards he has set himself many expect a more obvious creative outlet rather than recycling possession (which is also vital to the mechanics of the team). But if you re-watch the first half and just make sure your eyes are constantly focused on him, you’ll see his worth to the side. Link up play and involvement in forward positions more than evident. Had he perhaps wrapped his foot around the ball rather than toe-poke it that would have been all the ‘in your face’ creative outlet required. Does look like he’ll get on the end of a few this season. Seems to drive into the pen area a lot more these days.

Bale was on form, not at full destroyer pelt by any means but he scored and got himself into positions to add more. Unlucky on two occasions not to do so. Again the opposition wasn't the best but this is all about confidence (when isn't it?) and he looked comfortable on and off the ball and flank-swapping. A busy Bale performance, one that he needs to carry into the next game and the one after that to recapture more of that lost spark.

King was in his throne as per usual. Kaboul wore the jesters hat when in possession at times. Perhaps with a more tentative approach he can still be the long term solution when Ledley abdicates his crown. Walker and BAE impressive (the latter more so). Kyle made to work by SWP once or twice. Benny and the free-kick was a personal favourite moment. He'll score one of them some day (if Rafa ever lets him get near a dead ball again).

As for Parker (saving the best for last), excuse me for a moment whilst I finish off my lightly salted hat with side salad and a glass of smooth and youthful Catena Alta Malbec.

I didn't quite rate Scott or think he was the player we needed at Spurs. On reflection, I must have allowed myself to be corrupted with contempt based on the players former rejections to join Spurs. That and the fact he was surrounded by abject woefulness at West Ham that even Chirpy with ball at feet would look good in their midfield. He always struck me as a player with an engine but nothing spectacular or special. Under-used at Chelsea. Can’t say I took much notice when he was at Newcastle. But at Spurs? Harry 1 Doubters 0.

He might well be a short term solution in that the boy Sandro will be a beast of a player and is the future but it sets the standard of performance level required in the middle of the park from a player that has the sole duty of allowing our more creative stars to shine. Parker is something we’ve been missing for an age. Dynamic, box to box and always involved. Jenas, bless him, had the lungs but not the direction or implementation to own the responsibility he was given and graft non-stop with such comfort and confidence.

Parker is not a leader of men in the same finger to lips shut your mouth type of way van der Vaart possess. Parkers influence is to win back possession and push us forward with players around him having to be alert to match his intensity with or without the ball so that we work efficiently and effectively as a defence into attack unit. He’s a constant irritation to the opposition. Be it one of physical elegance (even if he does look akward in movement, that hair style still wins me over every time).

Technically, in terms of getting stuck in with the tackle, he’s very very good. Much like Sandro is when he cameos. The difference is Parker is at his peak and is therefore the perfect role model for our Brazilian to fully appreciate the expectations Premier League football asks for a midfielder who has to defend, win the ball back and get drive towards goal.

Dave Mackay was the comparison made. Easy there fella.

Obviously Harry had to squeeze in a mention that he was after Parker all summer long (we get it mate, you rated him before we did). The Mackay comment was score-pointing for the masses, but I can guess at what he was attempting to convey with it.

Mackay was instrumental in so many ways for Spurs in both the tackle and creatively. Work ethic and ability legendary as was his leadership qualities. Broken legs, Bremner by the scruff of the neck, doubles and titles. He was a born winner, a born leader. Not just at Spurs either. The comparison is probably one aimed at how important and effective both player were/are to Tottenham’s midfield. There is no comparison really, Mackay is Top 2 material re: best Spurs player(s) ever. He was far more skilful too (dust off your old VHS copy of Terry Venables presenting a best ever Spurs eleven – there’s a wonderful story about Mackay in training that illustrates his genius) and his presence on the pitch more assertive.

They’re not alike at all if we’re honest about it, but if you take the game and the performance level that Scott produced you can appreciate Harry citing Mackay. Both players work(ed) their socks off for the good of the team. Both made impact. Both essential.

Parker was tremendous, but then he’s been so since he made his début. He functions to facilitate players that do have better ability when attacking. Where the ball goes in midfield, Scott goes and Scott only has eyes for the ball and said ball being at feet of a Lilywhite player and Scott does everything he can possibly do to make sure that's what happens.

What does Scott Parker do exactly? Everything we need him to do without complaint. What does Harry Redknapp do exactly? Quite a bit of you ignore his disassociations and soundbites and not so loveable personality. Box all that up, don't watch Sky Sports or listen to Talksport and you might just find yourself giving him a knowing nod of approval. Subtle nod though, let's not go overboard with it.

You want to talk about balance, look at the spine of the side. No need for a tap. We’ve left behind the taste of defeat inflicted on us by Manchester and we haven’t looked back since. We still await a more dominant display that sees no goal conceded and one or two more scored in our favour. Moon on a stick football is fine and dandy if you can get it at a premium but I’ll happily take the odd heart in mouth moment.

You simply feel far more alive when you get a slap in the face from reality but then dust off to knock it the f*** out.



Pav scores, empty seat salutes

Tottenham 1 Rubin Kazan 0. What did we learn?

Kurban Berdyev should consider looking for the receipt for his prayer beads.

Spurs fans who managed to attend might have been better entertained had they remained home and played around with a different ilk of bead.

24058. You should be applauded for turning up.

Kaboul and Sandro swaggered with cool, calm, controlled class as they punctured the game with powerful pomp. Not that you can complain too much about the standard of football. This was a second eleven (be it one with plenty of internationals) with returning first teamers and youth players that can't truly be expected to 'turn it on', as much as we'd like to see it turn on. It was more Sorry Sorry, than Glory Glory. Don't think this was the Europe Bill Nicholson referred too.

Pav proved beyond doubt that he is most effective when he is standing completely still and has ample time to consider options and weigh up the best course of action. He does that every time he plays, but alas, doesn't always pay off. What we do know after his free-kick goal is that he can't do it on a cold week-day night up at Stoke but can at the Lane when nobody much cares other than nerds who create animated gifs of goals. We'll always have the gif Pav.

I'll give Gomes a 7. Gio a 5. As for Carroll? 8. That's not out of ten, that's his age. On reflection (having watched the game a second time) he wasn't quite this elegant floaty flicky footballer I thought I witnessed (against the Russians) rather I had fantasised he was far better than he performed. Okay so he moved about, looked for the ball...but the nature of the game and its tempo meant that it was all much ado about nothing. But that hardly warrants him being tagged with 'out of his depth' comments. He's played a handful of games and he has to continue to make first team appearances to gain experience/confidence and understanding. He looks comfortable, very comfortable with the ball. Give it time, plenty of protein and we'll beef him up I'm sure. Keep on using him Harry please.

Can I mention Sandro again? Hands up if you retained your interest in the game just to see him charge towards a player to tackle the ball back into our possession or for his Gandalfesque-like in 'you shall not pass' defending. If I was Sandro, I'd never take that gum shield out of my mouth either. You never know, he might happen to brush past Godzilla in the pub and spill his pint and we all know 'zilla struggles with his temperament.

Bassong. Captain. That is all.

Lennon is back. Sort of. I'm sure I can remember him making some tasty runs second half. Don't make me watch the game a 3rd time - I wasn't making notes, I was busy multi-tasking and reading Channel 5's online coverage of the Big Brother house so I could appreciate more the various link-work Jim Rosenthal and the commentating team were doing.

Defoe blow out some of that cold, just reminding us that he's still capable of doing so. It's not all hot. Has it ever been any different?

Walker and Rose had a decent enough run-out. Gio was Gio. It's like getting dressed up for a night out, polishing your shoes then being turned away from the club door by the bouncer for being over-dressed. Gio looks the part but he can never get in on the action where it matters most.

As for the visitors. They looked more like a unit, a team. Which was hardly a shocker considering the line-up we fielded. Risky football, but we got away with it. They were not as good as I expected them to be (our first eleven would wipe the floor with them). Europa League group stages, hardly a priority then. So no, we have learnt nothing new.

Could have quite easily been a home defeat had we not rode our luck some what (thank those malfunctioning prayer beads). We got away with it. Stronger side required when we visit them.

We won. Isn't that all that really matters?