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Entries in match report (120)


Niko spurs a thunder bolt-on

Challenge Spurs™ 2011: Thou Shalt Not Lose

Spurs 2 Bolton 1

The Spurs way is the hard way is the only way. Textbooky Tottenham does it again.

Challenge Spurs™ 2011 is up and running with the perfect start; three points. Even if we did leave it till the last seconds to carve out the win. A blistering thundering effort from forgotten man Niko Kranjčar in a game that witnessed three penalties, two scored, one disallowed then retaken and one missed - all in the space of three minutes. Along with a further one initially given then not and one for the opposition that could should have been given but wasn't. Consistency the Clattenburg way.

We were also blessed with a goal keeping mishap, Jenas wood (ooh), Bolton wood, a wonderfully worked waltz by BAE to vdV to Defoe but alas disallowed, Pienaar almost scoring and the men up front not (we had a goal from a forward in midweek so best not to complain and be too greedy with our demands). Defoe snapped too often, lacked composure, but held the ball up well but did complete a smart finish for the disallowed effort...offside would you believe? Crouch involved, usually resting on the backs of opposing players. But hey, Roman assisted so it's not all grim in the land of the strikers.

It was gritty, it was in parts laboured. There was effort, but not of the swaggering type. And there still remains a question mark or two about the competency of aforementioned forwards (442 the gift again today). We've dug out six points from the last two games. Winning ugly or to be less harsh, winning when you're disjointed but doing your best to avoid falling back on the excuse of missing players - it's just as sweet as dismantling the opposition (I'd still take the latter on any given Saturday).

Fact is, the five games, it's about the points and it's about coming through a tricky period where we are weaker because of injuries and might require rotation to remain competitive away whilst welcoming back the likes of Bale and Modric and dealing with Europe.

Mental strength last term held us up hight above and beyond. If you believe you can win even if you don't perform well, you tend to do just that. Luck might play a part. Who cares, right? Not every game can be analysed with microscopic depth, attempting to decipher why there was no constant free-flowing football. The very fact Jenas (first half) was probably man of the match means we can probably just accept that we won because we scored one more goal than Bolton. Have that Hansen.

Pienaar (second half), also decent with link-up play and covered ground effectively. Lennon sparked once or twice as he continues to be one of our more consistent performers, and thankfully Fabio can continue his fixation on other muses for the time being. International midweek not too far off. Harry will no doubt continue his fixation with the Crouch and JD double-act.

But if I was to flirt with analytical commentary (just a little), based on the magnificent seven essentials that Challenge Spurs™ is looking out for in the games at hand...

Team cohesiveness - Midfield played well considering the players missing and vdV stuck out on the right (although not super-glued there). Wilson, Jenas and especially Lennon (another plaudit) all played well. Pienaar industrious when coming on. Wasn't pretty, we made hard work of it but it worked when ball was played through the middle rather than launched forward by our back-line. Same with the defence apart from the Gomes hiccup.

Leadership - vdV wasn't (isn't) at his best and hopefully his calf issue is not serious. Again proves at half-pelt he can be influential and we need that quality in abundance.

Work ethic - Doesn't matter when you score right? First minute, last minute. We need to rediscover some our tempo and pace but any team that has four or so key players missing is going to struggle a little but as long as we work hard as a unit we'll make up for it in less marauding ways.

Craft and creativeness - When you've got no Modric to dictate and conduct you're going to lack something big from the small man with magical feet. Plenty of hoofing for the textbook Crouch flick-on meant lack of smart moving groundwork but when it was played through the middle, even JJ looked sparky with ball at feet.

Clinicality - Hardly. Defoe appears to snap at shots he should passing into the net and then getting himself into offside positions when making it look simple. But his work rate was more than decent. Crouch scored against Blackburn so the next one is due in 2014.

Tactical astuteness - Can't fault the selection from Harry. As good as it can get at the minute. We kept scratching away at Bolton, pretty much the old analogy of trying to get through the front door without a set of keys. Subs worked a treat. But then, what other options off the bench do we have?

Fighting spirit - Great to see a fringe player (which is what Niko has become) make such a vital impact. When frustration can birth such thunder, it's best kept close to you than afar. Hope to see him used more often. Could have quite easily ended as a draw so it's not quite the back-end of the 2010 season just yet. Sunderland away will hardly be easy but they can be got at. And Wolves (top tier killers) will be more than interesting in terms of trying to out-quality them, as well as go up pound-for-pound with the physicals.

Conclusion: Gear change required.


So, what about casualties? The van der Vaart calf problem, subbed at half-time. Gomes, nothing to do until he decided to cushion the ball under his body and onwards to the net, just to make things interesting. Thankfully no tears were shed in the end.

Question marks on selection (not my opinion - just the vibe of discussion I'm getting from you lot), as a few of you are asking questions surrounding the whole bare bones sound-bite our gaffer likes to beat the drums to when we have players in the squad that should be given more game time and plenty of yoof players loaned out and doing well at other clubs.

Rotation the key, and more importantly - players should be in the side based on performance and the will to perform well. Harry loves JD, but if JD is struggling to regain form then bench him and allow him to come on and do a Niko and then surf on the success of it. Just a thought. Of course when the only option is Pav (he wants to leave...again), as much as you might want to embrace your anti-Harry agendas, the alternatives (thanks to deadline day) don't leave us with much in choice.

Harry has never fancied him (Pav), even with the goals scored towards the end of last season - he's still 3rd choice. Which means he'll never play enough for us to see him 'bed into' the side so we can find out if he works or is just plain ordinary.

Regardless of whether we got lucky or not, a win is a win is a win. Even if another minute less added time would have had us drowning our sorrows on more points dropped. A Spurs lull that still generates the points. Let's try not to forget what we can do when we actually turn it on full pelt. And slowly, them missing will return.

I don't quite buy that we are fighting a downward spiral. Not yet. But then I'm always blinded by optimism. We all know we are capable of so much more offensively. But unlike past swaggering teams, at least this one has a winning mentality. We can dream about having Teddy and Jurgen up front for us or a Berbarotica/Keane love-in, and irony might send you loony, but it's wasteful to dream. But boy, what a dream!

Second best home record in the league in the last 6 games. 3rd best away record in the last 6 games and one defeat in 14 in the league. One more point (44) after twenty-five games than we did at this stage last season (43).

And as mentioned, next game, away to Sunderland. Remember that fixture last season? Lose and 4th goes with it. And what happened? And then what followed in the remaining fixtures?


Keep the faith.


Thou shalt not lose.





Sideways Spurs need fantastic forward

The one definitive observation from Saturday’s draw at St James Park was the one we always discuss in the aftermath of another ninety or so minutes of frustration. You know exactly what it is I’m referring to. Regardless of all the tippy tappy possession and the undoubted Barcelona brilliance of Modric (just call it Lukalona football) who you just have to stand back and applaud when remembering the slow but necessary process of his gradual but now explosive return to complete form.

Even if his performance at Newcastle was not full pelt thanks to the physicality of the opposition, pushed and barged throughout the game, but refusing to be bullied and was desperately unlucky what with the woodwork rudely getting in the way from a shot that deserved net.

So regardless of all that...we still don’t quite manage to make it count up top, we don't seem to create the clear cut chances that the build up play deserves, mainly because when the ball gets up top in and around the box, we are let down by either lack of composure, wrong decisions or poor ball/cross. So that vital bit of the build up is where it sort of falls flat.

Plenty of guilty touches shared by many. Lennon, on the left (having started off in his traditional right) got his foot stuck under the ball once or twice when a cross might have resulted in a goal. On the left, crossing with his weaker foot. Not going to work really.

There was a patch in the second half where we knocked on their door constantly. Well actually, we were practically kicking the door down even though we had the keys in our hand, however dropping said keys walking away from the door back towards the start of the driveway before running back and kicking the door...again. Never really breaking through it. There was an easier way.


Lennon did do quite well trying to get in via the window (that’s cutting in onto his strong(er) right foot and what with him being so small, perfect fit for it). Along with Modric, Azza was our best player on the day. Even with his final ball hiccups. His goal was deserved. For his effort and for our effort with not giving up. Even though we might look back in regret at some fundamental issues that aided Newcastle into the lead and for most of the game likely to hang on to it. I under-rated them post-match. Shame on me.

As for us - we made hard hard work of grabbing a point.

Their goal, awful really from our perspective. Hutton’s slow and slower footwork the first facepalming moment, Cudicini’s attempted save the second. The latter redeemed himself. The former is fortunate he’s decent going forward. His positioning remains awkward at the back, along with his lack of instinctive quick thinking defending with additional ball and player watching. Can we try Charlie again at RB again? Or Kaboul?

Before this, should have been 1 up at half time (JD miss) but 1-0 down in the second it was, and the day continued to run with the ominous theme of despair. What with BAE out injured, Bale in at LB from LW and then out early in the game with a back injury. And then 1-0 down and lacking punch.

Dawson, talismanic on his return bringing with him some clean sheets to replace the dirty old ones found himself hiding under the blankets avoiding the big scary hairy monsters. He got turned, badly on one occasion. I still love the big smiling lad to bits but a day to forget for the most part. Could have easily been 2-0 once or twice when we pushed forward only to be countered.

Jenas was like a goldfish swimming in shark infested waters. Talks a good talk does JJ. Talks. Pienaar didn’t look sharp or completely 100%. Did have one or two worthy moments of intent, but he’s come straight into the side so we can hardly start having a go. He did okay, we’ll expect better over time if he’s going to be more than just a squad player (which is what I think he is). Bassong did fine considering it’s the first time he’s slotted into LB this season.

Other mentions. Defoe should have had it just before the half time whistle, as mentioned. Buzzed about but his decision making sometimes has me eating my fist. I dislike the way he always seems to fall down after a poor first touch in front of the pen area. I know it was physical game, but it happens too often. van der Vaart? You sort of forgot he was playing at times, what with dropping back in deepest midfield to help out Luka and sort of getting stuck there. And please Rafa, stop allowing gravity to pull you down with such comparative ease.

Also found a lot of our play was down the middle, forever smacking into a cluster of Newcastle players. Lost the balance of width and as the game progressed (three at the back) we still seemed to get to their pen area and lose impact due to a loose ball or whatever. Ref was as messy as our final third effort.

When you cry out for Crouch (which is what five of us were doing as we watched the game on a plasma – the wonders of streaming from lap top to tv) you just knew the day was now totally engulfed in ominous-ness. When he came on we hardly managed to us his tallnessness. Lack of width, lack of crosses. But he did get his head onto a flick-on once or twice which is either deemed as constructive to bringing his team mates into the game or the only thing he does which is hardly reason to depend on him.

In the end, Lennon worked his swagger and from the jaws of defeat yadda yadda yadda. He made the right decision and finished splendidly. Two points dropped, no? Well actually probably not. Because that observation from the game once more illustrates that if you have no consistency up top you’re not going to produce consistent performances. This is not an issue with the 4411 formation. Well it is, I guess, because we’ve not got the player to compliment vdV and especially the magic of Modric. But I prefer this step up to a more traditional 442 as with the right players it will work better than say having JD and Crouch starting. Will being the operative word.

Our midfield has remained more or less the same and when Huddlestone returns we’ll be even stronger in terms of creativity. Pinged balls and disguised passes aplenty from Tommy.

But the forward conundrum continues to plod along.

Recent games, recent partnerships:

vs. Newcastle - Defoe/VDV
vs. Man Utd - Crouch/VDV
vs. Fulham - Pavlyuchenko/VDV
vs. Newcastle - Pavlyuchenko/VDV
vs. Aston Villa - Defoe/VDV
vs. Chelsea - Defoe/Pavlyuchenko
vs. Birmingham - Defoe/Crouch

(thanks to Mumorn, GG)

And the stats:

Crouch - 1 goal in 1315 minutes, or 1 goal per 14.6 games
Defoe - 0 goals in 548 minutes
Keane - 0 goals in 226 minutes
Pav - 5 goals in 801 minutes, or 1 goal per 1.8 games.

Our strikers - 6 goals in 2890 minutes, or one goal per 5.4 games.
6 goals in 23 Premier League games

Our Midfield - 21 goals in 9580 minutes, or 1 goal per 5 games.
21 goals in 23 Premier League games

(thanks to...not sure, if stats are not correct – let me know)


Now, take the team as is and stick a prime time Dorgba-esque player up top. Much like the Dutchman and Croatian galvanise our midfield, so will a top drawer centre-forward.

We don’t test the opposition keeper enough, when we do we don’t score enough from chances created. It’s almost there, the design, the workings. I know we struggled with the final ball but it’s all limp where it matters. None of the penetration deserving of some of our football.

Was a time when we were scoring goals for fun (circa Berba/Keane era). This team just needs that spark. Because the moment we click and we're clinical and ruthless, we’ll be dangerous. We’ll kill teams off and we would win games that ‘Top 3’ teams are expected to kill off. The reason we are once more thinking more about the 'battle for fourth' is because we are probably sort of better than last season but not massively improved to compete with the other sides who are churning out the results.

Final word:

Don’t fret at the Prem table. We got completely written off last season, countless times. We’ll still finish fourth. But it will go down to the final week(s) again.

Also, I have a question about our scouting system. I've discussed this a few times already this past weekend with Lilywhite supporting family and friends and it's something a number of you have probably scratched your heads about plenty of times. Why do we let it drag out, re: signing players? Is there no smart decent striker somewhere in world football we could pick up for a relatively good price or are we are about to enter the usual last gasp bid and win transfer bingo of deadline day? Do we not have people working on potential transfers in the months leading up to the opening of the window so we can just make bid on the first day - 100% it's the player we believe will better us?

Behind the scenes, we might well have two or three players that fit the bill. But you can't quite believe that's the case. Hope I'm wrong.






WANTED: One top class striker. Requirements: ruthless eye for goal, sublime first touch, clever movement and a bit of a swagger

Tottenham 0 Manchester United 0

If Manchester United were toothless, Spurs were limp. Neither side had cutting edge. Both sides defended resolutely. And yet there is no disguising the disappointment that we didn't carve out more clear cut chances. Ball seemed to get stuck under feet once or twice. When a quality ball was crossed in, there was no quality at the end of it to finish it off.

Perfect illustration that we can go up against the teams that are meant to be on another level to us, compete and feel regretful for not quite grasping the initiative and punishing them.

Sure, we're not title contenders. Mainly because we lack that extra punch in the side that probably would have seen us take more points than we did against Man City (D), Chelsea (D) and now Man Utd (another D). The concern is that other sides might have that punch aplenty, either from seasoned experience of from splashing out £27M for the privilege.

We need to turn these almosts and if onlys into three points at home and dig deep away. Regardless, let's face it, even if Man Utd are hardly the beast of old they are one that has to be respected and very much admired for their spirit and their annoying doggedness. They battled and they could have nicked it, at least their fans would argue they had players with the potential to do so. But much like us, the game (end to end as it was) lacked that final third slick pass and movement to get past the bricks in defence.

Rooney and Berbatov hardly had me biting my nails. Apart from perhaps two efforts on goal by 'Wazza', but hardly heart-stopping. But alas, unbeaten they remain. The red card (not that it's helped in the past) was hardly fruitful in terms of possession in our favour. As we didn't quite make it count down the flanks and through the middle. A day for defenders indeed. Still think we're going to finish top four, got the players for it just need that ruthlessness in the key forward area. So yeah, top four ‘if’ we get that ruthlessness in the key forward area.

Crouch, no doubt, is going to be much maligned in post-match discussion, I'm certain of it. Nothing to suggest we would not have discussed the same 0-0 result had Pav started or even Defoe.

The Russian probably would have given us little movement or bad first touch (depends what variant of Roman would have turned up, but can't have seen him troubling Rio and Vidic much). Defoe also might have found himself lacking the cunning to get behind the Utd centre backs. Although, arguably, both Pav and Defoe could lay claim to having better shooting boots than Crouch.

Just that Peter can hold the ball up and head it down know, stuff, for a big man. Crouch 'should' have scored from that delicious Hutton cross. In another parallel dimension. Not to single out Crouch, so I won’t, also worth noting vdV was not quite crisp with his efforts either.

And let's be honest, regardless of the forward(s), it would have taken something special to unlock the United defence on the form they were on. Trend developing here, with the reoccurring references re: defenders.

Don't think too much was wrong with our performance and our intent. Modric was supreme again. World class? Yeah, go on then. Stick that on the back of his shirt. He makes us tick, he conducts and dictates. Fergie licking his lips on the touchline.

Palacios played well in parts, but also doing his best at times to remind us of his erratic composure when attempting to pass, but he was effective with defensive duties. Not so bright in offensive positions. And please someone have a word with him regarding shots on goal. Jenas the alternative. Pienaar the alleged transfer target (Chelsea to nick him). Huddlestone, no doubt, the preferred choice of partner for Modric. Having him back in the side might actually feel like a new signing. You felt for all the majesty of Modric, with vdV not quite claiming a stranglehold on the game like he usual does, Hudd's pinged balls into and around the box are missed in games such as this where chances are not quite crafted with ease not for lack of invention – just needed a different type of question to be asked when moving towards the United goal.

Moving away from their defenders to ours...

Hutton and BAE worked tirelessly. And Dawson is beginning to be a tad talismanic at the back. What's that now, one goal conceded in our last five games? And that other bloke at the back, whathisface, the old bloke. Quietly quietly, he's proving one or two of us wrong with his composure and experience . What with Ledley stuck on the sidelines.

Other minor talking points?

Our set pieces remain utterly pants. Last decent free kick was taken back in 1991. More conversations required on the training pitch with D-Beck please.

The red card? Well it was hardly a Mendes or Nani or Webb incident. And petulant as Raphael was/is (the second ‘foul’ was probably meant rather than being accidently) he probably should have got away with just the one yellow. The first tackle, clumsy.


In the end, not enough, when enough was not that improbable but neither likely. United, needing the point more than risking the requirement of all three. They contained us. I guess we should take that as a compliment?

In a season where nobody is head and shoulders above the team just behind them. In a season where Chelsea are showing signs of mortality and weakness, City spending more to consolidate and improve, Arsenal ruthless against the lesser teams and Man Utd, not playing with swagger but not getting beat either. It’s a soap opera with many unmissable story arcs and sub plots. We are stronger but with the ‘top four’ becoming ‘five’, so is the top end of the league which means we need to evolve further, and quickly. Twists and turns guaranteed, no doubt, before the finale.


Five of our next six games in all competitions are away. Backs to wall, wouldn't have it any other way. Well, other than being ten points clear of 4th spot looking down at it.





Spurs drop two points and then gain one

Spurs 1 Chelsea 1

Should have won the game. Arguably could have lost it. The emotion that sits alongside me post-game is one of regret and frustration. Go on, hands up if you're gutted we didn’t collect the three points? Gutted, but hardly surprised at the final result. Yet another perfect illustration of just how small the margin is from pretenders to something a bit more than just pretenders.

Let's review.

Our opponents

For all their possession (especially in the second half) they still lacked any sustained cutting edge up front (sound familiar?). Passion wise, they rediscovered some much needed form, but then it was a derby so you expected them to play a lot better than they have in recent weeks. But even now looking back, if this is Chelsea trying to rediscover full pelt it was hardly punches to the back of our neck. When their missing and returning players return to full fitness they'll probably shift gear. Thought we contained them first half and they had pockets of pressure in the second half. Wasn't easy but I was hardly biting my nails either.

Their stand out player, was (pains me) John Terry. Made some point-saving interceptions.

I'm struggling to remember the last time they beat us at the Lane. Just in case you wanted another example of evidence of how we've dragged ourselves out of that horrific hoodoo that haunted us for so long.

Chelsea are as fragmented as we are.


It's simple really and it’s the same conclusion discussed at the end of most games these days. Forwards. It's not quite right up top, is it? But then it's not just about our lack of clinical pomp in the final third from our front two. It's the movement and decision making that is a few per cent off from resulting in two or three goals rather than the one - which on Sunday would have had the game wrapped up at half-time (although I prefer to theorise on prior games that we would have wrapped up - let's not forget that we were playing the Champions, poor form or not).

That final ball, that early ball, the required movement into space. It's not quite silky and instinctive.

There were a number of occasions when I felt Bale and Lennon could have played in a pass releasing Defoe/Pav. A top class forward would make an obvious and effective difference. Equally so if Modric did not have to spend too much time on chasing/defending he'd possess far more freedom to carve and craft. Then again - two DM's with Modric behind the front two and Bale on the left is hardly balanced on paper and with Hudd and vdV out it's about making the most of what we have. Which isn't half bad considering our recent unbeaten run of games.

Even with the slightly (ever so slight) off-key decision making, we'd probably have survived had we not made one or two errors at the back to allow Chelsea a share of the points.

1st half - could have punished them further. 2nd half - could still have punished them on the break and when we reclaimed some possession in offensive positions, but lucky not to lose in the end, amazingly, with our finger on the self-destruct button.

It was in our hands and we dropped it. Rather than being battered into submission.

The Goals

Brilliant touch and movement from Pav.

Ball in from JD in front of the practically static Chelsea back-line, Pav then touches the ball taking him away from Terry and co, creating time and space to thrash the ball in for the 1-0. Considering some of the Russians 'first touches' littering the game you might wonder if he actually meant the touch that set himself up for the goal. But that's harsh. Probably. It was a class finish. From the very top drawer.

Drogba's goal was altogether a different ilk of beast. Okay, so we all know Gomes is a loopy loon of a tune. Expert shot-stopper, instinctive reflexes when there is hardly time to think. So why exactly did that shot go through him with such ease? Much like I'd even expect Superman to be downed by a bullet made of Kryptonite, with Gomes it felt more like a pie to the face of a clown. And yet perhaps his only mistake was to think he could have saved it by allowing gravity to pull him downwards, rather than standing tall and taking the ball in his face.

Alas, this pie had a brick in it, and the power of the shot was just too damn powerful for his girlie wrists. Did he have time to work his positioning before the shot flew towards him? No matter, he should have done far better than he did.

Sure, Drogba hand-balled it, quite blatantly, and Dawson was a second or two slow to react (because of that second spent looking across for the flag). Defensive errors cost us dearly here. It was a soft goal to concede. But for all their possession, they scored a goal from almost nothing. Not quite gift wrapped. Drogba still had to take his voucher to the shop and select his prize.

The Penalty

Madness. Why goalkeepers go charging out then hold their hands up proclaiming innocence…dear oh dear. But like some demented twist and turn of a screenplay, fate would have him give the penalty away so that he could save it and reclaim some lost dignity, even though this was a mess he created. Because of how it played out, during the time it took for the ball to be placed on the spot and be taken - it felt like we had lost the game. So the save made it feel like we had won a point. Crazy. Poor penalty helped matters. Lovely irony what with Fwank on the pitch.

In Defence of Gomes

Yes. He's fruit-loop. He's also an outstanding keeper and let's not forget the amount of times he has saved us playing with a forever changing back four in front of him. Does need a good slap in the face every now and again (gentle slap, don't want him crying) but he showed character. He guessed which way to go with the dive for the pen, going opposite to where Drogba tends to place them. Homework or luck, what does it matter. He redeemed himself for this particular last gasp dramatics.

Who is this Wilson?

Not that Chelsea were formidable in the centre of the park, but let's still stand and applaud Wilson Palacios for a performance which had bite and some much missed intensity returning from a long sabbatical. And in addition, a refreshing lack of misplaced passes. He did his job perfectly, got himself involved, closing down players and laying it off with a simple ball to feet. Not quite the destroyer of his early Spurs form, but one game at a time, right?

The Redknapp Substitution

Defoe is taken off. On comes Peter Crouch. Why?

Well that all depends on a couple of things. If it was about JD, he might have been subbed to preserve some juice as he's only recently returned from his injury. Don't think he picked up a knock. If it wasn't that then it has to be tactical. Knowing Redknapp, I'd hazard a guess he wanted Crouchie to lend a hand (head) at the back to defend set-pieces. But it didn't quite work, at least that's the ranting going on in Harry's direction over this tactical reshuffle.

Defoe and Pav worked well. JD's work-rate was very decent. There was a partner-ship there, be it one that still requires a few more games to click. But if we suddenly need to change it because of the opposition asking questions deep in our half, do we do so to the detriment of our forward play?

Would it have been more apt to sub Pav (no pace, not great in the air) and bring on Crouch to knock the ball down to JD? Crouch did very little, did get his head on the ball a few times but nothing more. Was okay but with Defoe off the pitch, we lacked an outlet of pace. Crouch and Pav is hardly the most dynamic combo. Then again, for all of Defoe's work-rate, he didn't have enough about him to get in behind the Chelsea defence. So perhaps this was a fitness issue after all.

Not sure what the point of bringing Keane was other than hope he could produce something from that long lost forgotten locker. Needs to find the keys first.

Dawson's Return

Great to have him back. Superb, got caught out for the goal, but for him to play in this game as a return to the side game do so with some comfort wearing the captains armband - that makes me smile.

Player Ratings Score-Card

Gomes - 6 - The good, the bad and the ugly.
Hutton - 7 - Far more disciplined than usual defensively and didn’t nullify Lennon. Still think he's positional sense and intelligence is not great.
Dawson - 8 - Early Christmas present. We might finally see our back four settle down now.
Bassong - 7 - Reliable and focused. Made some telling contributions.
BAE - 8- Cracking performance.
Lennon - 8 - Continues his rehabilitation, proving what a little confidence can do. 2/3 games from his best if he continues this form.
Palacios - 8 - Still on the subject of confidence, perhaps it was the responsibility bestowed due to the occasion. Can hardly fault him.
Modric - 8.4 - Really beginning to tick. Shame he can't shoot for toffee.
Bale - 7.2 - Quiet but still had opportunity to create with a few marauding runs down the flank, probably should have released the ball early once or twice, got cluttered and marked out by Chelsea. It's a transitional stage for him this, learning to adapt to the adaption our opponents are having to adopt.
Defoe - 7 - Worked hard, assisted for the goal. Still not 100% but he'll get there.
Pav - 7 - Brilliant finish. When he starts he scores. Was detached from play second half.

Crouch - Header here, knock down there. Not much of an impact but then the subs came late in the day to truly influence proceedings.
Keane - Spent a lot of time in the middle. Not sure I can remember much else.
Sandro - Hardly enough time to make an impact.

The ref - 5 - Made plenty of mistakes, let one or two obvious fouls go without yellows. Neither side will be best pleased. But at least he didn't ruin the game like some.

Forward Conundrum

World class forward up front and we'd be laughing right about now, yeah? The lack of guile at times and the obvious lack of testing their goalkeeper is what births the pressure on our back four the longer the game goes on. Ground-drog day. Perhaps with a vdV in the side and a Huddlestone we'd have created one or two more chances that could have left us in a far more comfortable position. When either or both return, we're back to Harry and his tweaks. It's going to define our season this. A new forward won't work out if our midfield isn't set up to maximise opportunities. I'm talking about decision making with the final ball and movement from all concerned.

Very obvious stuff this.

Our Form

Think it's just four wins out of nine so far this season at the Lane. Which on the face of it is not great. But then when you delve deeper it's one Premier League loss at home during the last year (1-0 to Wigan).

It's also six defeats in all competitions in twenty-six games played. Shame we were so abjectly bad away to West Ham and allowed Wigan to win at the Lane.

Race for 4th, 3rd, go on then why not…race for top spot

Another stat-attack for you - we are three points behind our total from the 2010 season, if you wish to compare.

09/10 - 17 games, 30 points
10/11 - 17 games, 27 points

Not the perfect benchmark I know (different season altogether, can't really compare game to game) but the more telling total is how far off the top we are. Because that's more relevant. Five, at the time of writing.

That's not shabby.

Harry, Levy - take note of the niggling repetitive quirks to our play that need fixing. January - it's imperative. But more so are the games from now until then.

Onwards. As ever, onwards.



The Five Stages


It's not two points dropped - it's a point gained at Fortress St Andrews. Chelsea got nothing there. We've got players out injured, about sixty to seventy players. We're decimated. Our defence is beyond the realms of depletion. We've got a sixth choice centre-back in there ffs people! And JD is a bit rusty what with only just returning from injury. But it's still all good. We got a point there last season too, didn't we? It's a good result. And don’t fret, Defoe will regain his sharpness soon, he's three to four games away from being fully fit. Just needs a couple more appearances on the Xtra Factor and he'll be tip top. He'll be able to beat the offside trap blindfolded, I promise you. There’s nothing wrong with our strike-force. It will come good soon. They got lucky, should have been three or four to us. Mark my words. Everything is just fine. It's dandy.


Mary mother of Christ, why? Why damn it, why? What's the point in beating Arsenal and Liverpool and then not following it up with another win? Can we not just hold out in the final ten minutes of a game? Its ten minutes. That's ten minutes of pulling it and holding it together without collapsing. Ten minutes, it’s not exactly the length of time it took Benjamin Button to regress from an old man back into a baby. And yet we manage to turn from giants into mice the moment the clock ticks over the 80th minute mark.

Same old Tottenham. Why didn’t Harry instruct his players correctly from the dugout? What the hell does he get paid to do? All he has to do is change it, you know, do something. Formations or something clever. Or a sub or two but not a substitution that fails to make us win. The sub has to work. And if it does works then, granted, it won't be down to him, just luck, but at least the result will be in our favour.

Ten minutes left and they equalise. It's gotta be Harry and his non-existent tactics. All his previous victories against Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool and City? Flukes. The lot of them. Flukes. He doesn't have a clue. Winging it. That's what he's doing. I could do his job. Sit on the bench, twitch a bit. Send a Russian on. Easy.

And Crouch, what is the point of Crouch exactly? We might as well play a ladder up front, it would probably give away fewer free kicks and is undoubtedly a better dancer. Can't head the ball, the ladder, so no difference there.

Why can't we just stick our chances away like other top top sides do? Harry really doesn't have a clue with how to make our forwards move about the pitch aptly and kick the ball in the net. Useless.


Please tell me it's going to be fine? I promise to wash my lucky 1981 circa y-fronts  for the first time if we can just win two or three on the bounce. That's all I want. Just another run of games, three points a time. I promise I won't slate Jenas or Wilson or Crouchie. And no more accidental collisions with Chirpy when he's out shopping for the weekend in Tesco's. Unless he stares at me because then he's asking for a punch in his big fat stupid head. Or the back of his head when he's not looking, depends where I'm positioned to be honest. And if his wife, the skanky chicken, happens to get in the way. Self-defence your honour, self defence.

I'll sing my heart out unequivocally just for some sustained consistency and end product. We just need a defensive midfielder in there to compensate for the determent of our creative players always pushing up and the inability of our forwards to retain possession in the final third. Wasteful of the ball in areas of intent. Which results with the likelihood of dropped points because we allow the opposition a chance to claw it back. It’s cheap.

One goal is never enough, right? Or is it? No, it is. I reckon it is. If we don’t ship any in the opposite direction.




What's the point? I can't handle this. I can't handle the expectancy and the pressure of needing us to win every game. It's just too much weight for me to carry on my shoulders. City have too much money, we can't compete, we just can't compete. In the long run we're going to lose out, so what's the bleeding point of it all if it's going to end in tears? We're gonna be crippled by the new stadium any  ways.

And Bale. Christ, we're going to sell Bale, I can feel it in my bones. Levy wants the money for his transfer kitty when we move to Stratford. Oh God no, not Stratford. I can't handle this, I don’t want to handle any of it. Just want peaceful tranquillity. This is just too much. We didn't even get a club shop dvd of the 3-2 win at the swamp. The Arsenal fans were right, it doesn't count. It doesn't count! Should have been a dvd! Ah damn you! God damn you all to hell!

And St Andrews. 1-1, when it should have been 1-0. I'd rather not experience this ilk of low. I wish we were mid-table going nowhere again. That type of hurt, it's hurt I can live with. Its gentle hurt, not losing three on the trot is 'good form' type of hurt. We're rubbish but its okay we're rubbish. Like West Ham. That type of disappointment, that type of expected disappointment, it's easier to cope with.

One clean sheet in twenty-two. One clean sheet in twenty-two. How's this title winning form? We might not be bottom but we should be. This is an unmitigated disaster. I'm taking the toaster to the bathroom. Oh Christ, I forgot to pay the electricity bill. I hate you Tottenham.


It's going to be fine. We've been here before haven't we? We drew, it's not like we lost. We drew up at Everton last season, that was a far worst result but it didn't matter in the end. We learnt from it. We've got a patched up defence coming off one of the best weeks in our recent history, qualifying for the Champions League with a game to spare. Not much Harry could have done tactically. Gone more defensive? Killed the game off? Perhaps. But if the Brummies had scored after a tactical change by the gaffer he'd have been slated for not being positive enough had he gone defensive. If Pav had knocked one in we'd all be laughing now. Mistakes, individual mistakes are hardly the fault of the manager. Need to be clinical up top. Then manager will be deemed a genius.

Dropped points might catch up with you by the end of the season but then again it probably won't when others are dropping points but I guess had we picked up points when we needed to we could have placed down a marker and pushed onwards because if we win and others don't then we've got an advantage but it's hardly as convincing as when we drop points and they win. When that happens we're in masses of trouble. So what will be will be. We'll end up where we deserve to end up. Much like last season.

5th spot currently. Six points off the top. Three points off the Champions League places. Yes, yes, all good. 1-1 draw with Birmingham just another reminder of what needs to be fixed if we're going to progress to the next level:

Clean sheets. Defence needs to be consistent. Midfield bossing the tempo and dictating play - i.e. shut up shop, kill the game off with controlled possession. Do not invite the opposition to come a knocking on the door. Forwards holding up the ball intelligently and finishing off chances, clinically.

Easy. Jot it down on a clipboard.

Next up, Chelsea. It's up to Harry to navigate us through the game to victory using Cerebro-amplified powers to man-manage our players minds and feet and result with the Prem League offering us four points for the win.

Patience, it's the key. Missing players returning, the January window opening. I can wait. Patience. I promise I've got patience in abundance. We're not doing all that shabby all things considering. I can wait. Just a bit longer. We're almost there. I'm in the departure lounge. Just waiting for the delayed outgoing flight to be scheduled for boarding. Got my ticket. Not long now, not long. One way ticket to the that bit of land just beyond the promised land.

It’s going to be fine.

Faith. Keeping it.





So how exactly do you beat Spurs?

Spurs 2 Liverpool 1

How do you make sure of beating Spurs? Well for starters perhaps try to score 5 to 6 goals in the first half then park the bus to stop them from mounting a sustained comeback. Because a one or two goal head start won't be enough. 

Choke? Capitulations? Catastrophe? Thanks but no thanks. We no longer own the copyright.

Comeback Kings. Tag us up. A new era is upon us.

We've now notched up 16 points from a losing position - which illustrates the strength of character and belief this side has. Again, it’s scary to start theorising about how good we might be if we played with relentless intent from the opening whistle. Would like to see us take a lead, go two up and then kill the game off, perhaps with another to make it comfortable. Show some wit and guile by stopping the opposition from playing and dictating tempo at will.

Hey – it’s Christmas so the moon on a stick in my stocking is not a far-fetched request for Santa to deliver. I can’t help but flirt with the idea of the next step we need to be taking.

Beating Liverpool in the manner we did was not a vintage Spurs performance. Actually it was going by this season’s template. No need to play well across the full 90 minutes. Dangerous heart-in-mouth game plan. The consequence of no clipboard.

But that's fine because we're not degrading in terms of momentum and we'll surely continue to improve, especially if we manage to consolidate in the Jan transfer window.

Had it ended in defeat or a draw we would have spent a few days knee-jerking about what’s wrong with the team, struggling to cope with injuries and cohesiveness, losing out to a Liverpool side that have hardly been expansive with their football away from home this season. They looked up for it, attacked with a degree of on the deck directness and were combative in centre midfield. Torres could have punished us and brought us crashing back down to earth after our NLD win and qualification into the knock-out stages of the Champions League. But the Spaniard deciding against pulling the trigger when it was the easiest option to take probably because, I don’t know, he didn’t want to hurt our push for Top 4 what with his imminent transfer to N17.


Not quite moon on a stick that, more Andromeda galaxy on a stick. Grateful he didn’t leave us flat on our backs looking at the stars.

Liverpool squandered one or two chances. We did too, Defoe should have lifted the ball into the goal rather than just hit it low, Carragher blocking. And then in the second half, a fairly poor penalty. I’m sure you know the stats with pens off by heart now. Five out of nine missed or something. Bale also had an effort cleared off the line.

Open game that it was (Spurs do not do cautious well) we had to overcome a few in-game obstacles. van der Vaart pulling up early on, subbed, and probably out for a month. Kaboul also going off with a muscle problem – Bassong on as his replacement. Harry’s arms tied behind his back in the dugout. But if there is something we‘ve learnt time and time again this season is Houdini is capable of an escape or two. Never doubt our spirit, or do so at your own risk. Backs against the wall – we’ll just turn around, smash it down and walk straight through it. Granted not always with a bulldozer, just a one or two explosives expertly positioned. That will always do the job.

Liverpool just about deserved their goal, not much we could have done about it other than better man-marking – but it happens. Scrappy opener and the Reds could have doubled/tripled their lead either side of half-time. Torres brilliantly playing in Rodriguez who scoffed his shot, and Bassong superbly getting to the ball leaving Torres frustrated...again. Good to see him looking sharp and with Dawson a week or so away, at least our defence won’t be completely decimated – what with Gallas forging a decent partnership with the rampant Kabul.

Found myself frustrated by many things during  the game and before the final moments.

BAE’s posturing. Wilson’s distribution of the ball. Defoe still rusty. The fact Lucas was running tings in midfield speaks volumes about our inability to take a stranglehold of the game. It was all a bit lazy. Give the ball to Bale even though Bale has two men on him most of the time. Hoof balls forward for the knock-downs. Palacios is not even half the player he once was and losing vdV and not having anyone else to slot into the midfield (with JJ out), makes it all the more tricky if the opposition – no matter their depth of quality – put in a good shift.

Having said that, Liverpool were not quite head and shoulders above us.

One penalty miss, one not given (yes, Liverpool might have had a shout for one too), two off the line. We still looked for a way back in. When we did eventually score it was the excellent dinking Modric running through Liverpool’s back-line with ease and playing it across the six yard box, Skrtel forced to make contact with the ball (having scored for the 1-0) making it 1-1, otherwise Crouch would have. Luka is only just getting started IMO. He’s going to be vital over the next two months where that fabled marker just has to be placed down as we look to get ourselves into the top four  - and stay there.

The winner was direct (now there’s a shocker), BAE long, header on by Crouch (knock him if you like but was that another assist?) and Lennon rushing past probably the worst Liverpool defender in their recent history (not saying much) to score in injury time. Fully deserved for the ickle man who is regaining form. He’s got his spark back.

The opposition not so much mugged, but leaving their wallet on a table to be snatched with comparative ease. In the end an out of sorts Spurs side pushed aside a plucky Liverpool side. Oh my how things have changed.

We’re still not at full pelt but neither is the Premier League – and we’re six points off the top. Aim high(er), right? Three successive league wins. Four in all comps. Five games unbeaten. Momentum, dear old friend, is back with us.

Kudos to Harry, if anything for another half-time team talk and holding on till late to bring on Sandro (a substitution he could not have made earlier in the game due to the injuries). Not sure we can spend too much time being concerned with the way we don’t quite own the full 90 minutes. But then this might just be a consequence of the injuries and the related tinkering – and it’s something we need to muddle through until the dawn of 2011.

The big news I guess in the aftermath is the injury to Rafa van der Vaart. Possibly out for a month which is a massive disappointment considering his talismanic qualities and White Hot Lane goals. There is no discounting his influence. But like I’ve said – we need to be able to win without him. Kaboul also out (not sure for how long) - so it's biting of the nails time as another two men go down on the battle field. Time for the spirit of 2010. Dig deep.

One final footnote - the crowd getting on Palacios back – f*ck off idiots.

Yes he’s not the defensive destroyer he was when he first signed for us and although I’m quite happy to agree that he might need to placed aside or leave if he fails to recover from his crisis of confidence (Paul Robinson anyone?) there is no need for prawn sandwich booing and sarcastic cheering. Groan and moan it’s your right – but ease off trying to apply extra unnecessary pressure on the guy by making a point of singling him out in this manner. Support him. Some of his work wasn’t that far off decent. His passing is woeful I know. Harry hug and perhaps a gentle slap in the face required to perk him back up. It’s a massive concern because he’s not shown any signs of recovery so far. Not the same player since losing his brother. And is unlikely to be if some of you make the decision to hate on him before you even turn up at the Lane.

Slagging players off on blogs and forums, probably the best place for it because it’s unlikely they give a sh*t about something they won’t be reading. In the ground – it’s not. Jog on to the Emirates if you want to act the c*nt.

Anyways, you’re meant to reserve your disgruntled energy for when Jenas is back in the side.


Loving my JJ fix at the minute. Oh we are such a fickle bunch.

To end on a positive. Credit to all concerned, we’re not going to let go of our top four entry easily.




Exercise or play sport regularly? Join Spurs legend Graham Roberts and tell Arthritis Research UK about your experiences of sports pain or injuries:



Still buzzing...

The promised land. It took us years of wandering around in circles, lost and confused, before we found it and now having done so we've just gone ahead and stuck a massive flag in the centre, opened a deck-chair and sat puffing out smoke nonchalantly from a massive joint.

“Is it cause I’m Tottenham?”

No matter our faults, no matter the naivety displayed in prior CL games, no one can take away the fact that we are born entertainers, refreshing and rampant. Ladies and gentlemen. We’ve clicked. In the pulsating atmosphere in N17, we stepped up a gear and went from learning curve virgins to master-class sex gods.

Stunning, staggering, immense, epic...the superlatives won’t drown you - you’ll be floating on top of them, out-stretched, hands behind head basking in the glorious sun thanks to the glory glory night where boys became men became giants. And so be it if it was just for the one night only.

Someone said to me that I would have trouble writing up a concise report on the game. And to be honest, I've struggled. Mainly because I was going to report on the game much like most other reports and just found myself repeating most of those aforementioned glittering superlatives that the Tottenham nation are today rejoicing in. You’d think only Bale was on the pitch with the coverage our young cyclone stud is getting. Coverage he deserves for destroying Inter over three halves of football. But everyone at the game, in pubs, watching at home, abroad in the early hours - will have witnessed the rather magnificent bravado and confidence of the other men in Lilywhite who defended and counter attacked as part of the devastation.

Even when the Italian club pinged the ball about in possession, reminding us of their quality (Eto’o with a stunning sway and shot and goal too), we didn’t fold under pressure and neither did we betray our traditions. 2-1? Sit back? Nah guv, let’s get the ball down their end again. Notch a third. End them.

Special night, outstanding in so many ways (not least the noise made inside the ground). And the noise made by everyone's reaction to the manner of their dismantlement. I have no time for anyone who dares suggest this was Inter not paying us due respect and being tormented for it. They didn’t underestimate our quality pre-match regardless of the first half back in the San Siro. They simply couldn’t live with a Spurs side that dared to do and dictate. They had a few players missing, didn’t they? Well, so did we.

The movement, the focus and determination. The relentless work ethic and self-belief. Harry and his bullish soldiers defending home soil and banishing the invaders back across the waters. Taxis no doubt parked outside in waiting, no tips, other than next time perhaps assign Leonidas King of Sparta and 300 Spartans to man-mark Bale.

If you place the 'modest down to earth with out of this world ability' Gareth to one side re: Man of the Match there are several candidates you could otherwise award it to. Testament to everyone at the club. The perfect shift. Because without that team unity and desire, giving the ball to Bale would have accounted for very little if we were bypassed in midfield and leaking goals at the back.

So yes, struggling I am to write a concise report. Think most of us are still living it. Instead I’m going to take a look back at a few things from the match preview for the Inter game (a tidy letter to Daniel Levy) addressing one or two statements made.


> We lack that bit of extra something with regards to testicular fortitude.

We choked against Young Boys then dug deep, momentarily collapsed away to Bremen and then froze like rabbits in headlights before we recovered in the Giuseppe Meazza stadium. We’ve been waiting for this Spurs side to click not just in structure and backbone but in strategy and professionalism. Sure, it’s refreshing the way we go about learning our lessons in our debut season and we’re entertainers. The miseries on The Sunday Supplement said we were just having ‘fun’. No more. Now we are deadly serious. Mature and fearless in a game we were not expected to win. Testicular fortitude? Oh yes. Hopefully  we’ve got some spare for Saturdays game against Bolton.

> We are what, 30%, 20% away from it clicking into place and working. The players we do possess for selection at the time of writing are more than capable of waking up and shaking themselves into the mentally powerful frame of mind - as seen last term in the push for fourth. We have it in us which is what's so frustrating. I don't buy all this 'Spurs over-extended themselves last season' nonsense. We fought for it. We need some of that fight back in abundance. And goals. Plenty of goals.

Two points here. We proved – even with missing injured players and with the apparent need to add two or three brand new players to the squad – we can find the resolve to compete against the very top top side in Europe (ignoring its Rafa deficiency). And it’s now time for the players to find this type of ethic every week, regardless of the opposition. van der Vaart said in his post-game interview ‘it’s only a game, it’s only three points’ or words to similar effect. That’s the right attitude. Let us – the fans – dance naked in the streets whilst they go back to work and do it all again next time round. Are we over-extending again? Or are we making the gradual step up to that next level? The latter. Obviously.

> We have to reclaim the swagger. Not give a f*ck about the opposition in terms of respect. Turn the tempo up.

It wasn’t outlandish swagger, more controlled and respectful. I guess showing no respect to Inter could have proved to be suicidal. But we cared not to weigh up the opposition and wait for them to settle. We took the game to them and scored a gem of an opener. I can still see Luka with his key, unlocking the door, and sending Rafael gate-crashing through. Don’t underestimate the quality of that goal. It was brilliant. Tempo duly turned up. Pace of the game not full throttle EPL thunder, but a notch up from the usual slow-paced CL football.

> Don't be afraid. Don't hold back. Play emotive sweeping football and play too our strengths. Retain possession, do not concede early, hassle them in midfield and please for the love of all things Lilywhite - be clinical in and around the box. The home crowd will have to play their part in all this too.

The Lane rocked. The midfield rocked with it. Really cannot say anything more than f**king brilliant re: our midfield. Huddlestone is vital to the side. Look up the stats, I’m certain we win more with him in the side than when he doesn’t play. Even when van der Vaart failed to appear in the second half, Jenas – of all players – was industrious. Matching the rest of his team-mates. Nobody was letting anyone down. Everyone with a job to do. Everyone with their fight face on.

> Momentum from this game if we win it could prove to be priceless. And you must agree, January will be easier to do business if we are heading towards the knock-out stages and sitting in 5th/4th.

As mentioned, we have to step it up in the Prem. I know that you don’t tend to play at the same level when facing the likes of West Ham or Wolves. But the quality of the opposing side shouldn’t matter if you do endeavour to push yourself to do your utmost to win. This attitude breeds winners. Few years back, had we beaten a top side, you’d say all this talk would be over-dramatic. But today? It’s part of the blueprint for the games ahead. We have it in us. We need to wave it about in everyone's face. Every week.

> Cudicini concentrate please. vdV might be back. Huddlestone also. Modric is on the verge of exploding into form. Bale has been contained in recent games so hopefully he'll adapt quickly with having to cope with fourteen men marking him. But if they do double up on him (or worse) then someone elsewhere on the pitch has an advantage if another someone else is quick enough to play that first someone in. Lennon continues to improve which is important.

> Concern about Kaboul in central defence who has that annoyance of switching off for a costly second far too often. Gallas still has to prove his worth to the side. Crouch will probably start, but call me crazy, I keep having visions of Pav doing very little other than being in the right place at the right time to plant the ball expertly into the net - something he can do. Does little else. But he has a habit of notching the goals.

Let's review. Player ratings, special mentions:

Cudicini - Corker of a save from the 'you're just a shit van der Vaart' free-kick. More confident in Gomes (even with his loopy meltdowns) but can't fault CC. Must feel great after the three he conceded in Italy. Far more assured.

Gallas – This is why he was signed. Commanding and in control aiding  the defence at all times.

BAE – He plays football like it's an inconvenience that needs to be worked though so it's got out of his way. ‘Oh, I’m on a football pitch for 90 minutes, fine then, I’ll just run down the minutes by getting involved’. He never looks fazed. Uber-cool. Defended and pushed forward superbly.

Kaboul – Really didn’t expect this. He’s shown us signs before but has let himself down, but not this time. Great effort and discipline on the night. Prone to mistakes, hope he eradicates them from his game. Could turn out to be a monster.

Hutton – Got done on the goal, or is that too harsh of a criticism considering it was Eto’o? Still think he struggles positionally. And with Lennon ahead of him I'd still prefer to see Corluka there. However, time, it can heal. Just look at Gareth. Hutton has masses of potential.

Lennon – With each passing game, he reclaims some of that lost form. Thought he was excellent. Now imagine Azza at full pelt on one wing and whatshisface on the other.

Huddlestone – Did not look out of place. The questions we (as a collective) ask about his ability and whether he can stamp his authority on a game, once more answered. A tireless solid performance. Vital to us. Might not have played the quarter-back role he's accustomed too, but that just shows his versatility.

Jenas – Quite obviously followed the gaffers instructions to the letter. Didn’t stop with the lung-busting when he came on.

vdV –Yet another goal at the Lane. Loving it. World class performer who has galvanised the side. Supreme touch. No culture of comfort at Spurs no more.

Crouch – Another European goal. It works. Let’s have more faith. He worked his socks off for us.

Pav – I stand by my words. He doesn’t appear to do much, but score. I’m not complaining.

Modric – This is the Luka we know. Was involved in everything, buzzing all over the pitch – effective and instrumental in both offensive duties (the pass for the opener) and defensively (interceptions and mixing it up in the midfield battle). Wanted the ball at all times and retained and recycled possession expertly.

Bale – The media have gone a bit loopy, haven’t they? Broadsheet journos equally so. I can’t wait for James Richardson’s Football Weekly and the patronising thoughts of Barry Glendenning on whether he thinks Bale got lucky again. Ooh. Bale is a beast. We knew that. Everybody now knows it. He’s going to get better. Scary, eh? Looks a level headed polite lad. Gotta love him. Destroyed Maicon. Destroyed the Champions of Europe. It's pure fantasy right before our eyes.

Harry – And he’s meant to not have any tactical astuteness. Delegator come good. Or we can just give the credit to Joe Jordan and Kevin Bond.

> Let's remember what this club is all about in terms of its traditions. We might not have a massive haul of silverware but if you take any random Bill Nicholson quote you'll have your answer in terms of what it means to be a Spurs fan. Glory. Even if said glory is 90 minutes in length.

> I want a performance. I want a statement of intent and end product. I want the emotion. I want the swashbuckle.

> My spine is tingling. My head buzzing. Rediscover yourself Tottenham. Want it. Shout out that you want it. Then prove that you want it. Then don't let anyone stop you from taking it. You'll get more than a cuddly toy for your endeavours.

Job done. Haters? Stick it up your bollix. You’ll never understand what it means to be part of this club.

> I want a DVD.

No DVD to be released. Gutted. But I’ll deal with it. When I close my eyes, I can't re-open them for ninety minutes.

Still buzzing.




68 games and counting...

Utd 2 Spurs 0

I wont be mentioning that goal.

In the grand scheme of things, another loss at Old Trafford probably doesn't change anything. In fact, from a psychological perspective, it probably didn't even hurt our players - who displayed more oomph in complaining at the death of the game than across the whole limp ninety minutes.

It was a performance that lacked spark, ideas and cutting edge in the final third. There just wasn't enough there to carve out enough chances to stake a claim on the three points.

Far too many under-whelming Lilywhites, under-par and from the looks of it under the big bruising thumb of United. Again.

The Manc side were not exceptional in any great way. Efficient. And focused. But not beyond the realms of defeat. They could have been got at if we had some of that long lost intensity and desire. But I guess if you can't pluck up the courage, you're still a level away looking up at them rather than fighting to compete.

Ignoring certain old skool inclusions in the side and missing players - we still had enough about us to give it decent go. We saw evidence of growth and evolution last season - even with injuries and tinkering. What I don't like is this almost defeatist attitude in the manner of our play, as if this game did not warrant that extra lung-busting will to better the opposition.

If the gaffer drills it into the player in the week leading up - this game is a must win game - then we'd have had a right go at them. I don't believe this is as good as we can get when facing a not that scary United side.

Dare I mention Tuesday and Inter. It looked like their minds were on this game and not on the one playing out at OT.

We played some good football, there was some decent movement, but nothing that made me believe we would score or win. Their first goal was thanks to some non-existent defending. Kaboul poor for giving away the free-kick and then losing his marker. He's not a centre-back.

At half-time you'd still have believed something might give, if we stepped up the pace. But we kept stalling the car. Failing to turn the keys, but then why bother turning them when the tank is empty? Long walk home it is then.

Tottenham, I'm afraid, simply did not want it as much as they could have wanted it, considering that a win would have meant far more than a win on Tuesday (because the game on Tuesday is not a decider, the ones against the Dutch and German clubs are).

Beating United at OT would have been far more significant.

Still, perhaps the selection wasn't the best for the occasion.

Keane, wasn't that great, but then did okay for someone playing in a position which was slightly isolated and as he didn't come deep too often to collect the ball, his performance looked worse than it did. But still, you have to accept his time is over. He just hasn't got the mojo.

Jenas played the ball forward once or twice, which for him is rare positivity. But he's not strong enough in mind and spirit to make us stronger. Our midfield was brushed past too often.

Both are not first-team players and it showed why.

As for the rest? Some mentions:

Hutton is detrimental to Lennon. The more the Scotsman got forward the less Lennon impacted the game. Azza did have a good first 45 until Hutton decided to take over the offensive duties.

Modric faded a little in the second half, but although he was busy dinking around the pitch, it's still far from vintage.

vdV was superb in the first half not so superb in the second and I'm hoping the hamstring injury was exaggerated a little, only in the sense that now we've lost, he can be fit for Inter. Cracking effort off the woodwork.

Did Bale get his beach holiday or not? Very quiet evening for him.

I find myself slapping my face with this one, but Roman improved us when he was subbed on.

As much as I do agree a new forward and another midfielder/defender might elevate us further, there has to be a change, another evolution, in terms of priority and focus with these games.

It felt far too ominous for me early on. It's tiresome now Spurs. Let's stop playing for DVD's in Europe and start playing for morale boosting points in the Prem.

Tactically, it didn't work. We had no apparent plan. We need to smarten up for these types of fixtures once and for all. I keep calling for us to up the tempo like we've done against Chelsea at home in recent seasons or play smart football like we did against Arsenal at the Lane last time out when we let them play pretty football which amounted to pretty much nothing then hit them hard twice.

Best post over on GG was the statement that went something like 'f*ck attempting to play free-flowing footie, just do a Stoke on them'. The idea here is to get in their faces, push and hassle and do the utmost to stop them playing. Play ugly and win. Just to get out of our systems. Just to edge that psychological barrier closer for us to jump over. I'm not someone who would usually suggest that and if I'm honest, I want Tottenham football the way it should be played, but it's time we took a leaf out of the United way and recycled our possession and made opportunities count.

Be relentlessness and punish. Of course, perhaps the reason why we can't always manage this and never seem to be able to do so away to these teams is because we don't quite have what's required on the pitch. And perhaps on the bench in terms of management. No knee-jerk here, just that at some point we have to show some b*llocks and stand tall.

So to conclude from an overall perspective taking everything into account, at the minute, 4th spot is as good as it will get which means we need to start to better Man City's results and make sure Everton and friends do not fly past us.

The battle for fourth is on. We can review again after Christmas and the closure (after the re-opening) of the transfer window and decide then if there's anything more to be had.

I'll leave you with the billion dollar question: How do we improve our mentality?

In the meantime, COYS.



Spurs: 'top 4' side, top 4 decisions

Fulham 1 Spurs 2

I've had pockets of time since the final whistle on Saturday afternoon to attempt to write up a structured match report of our splendid away win (and second successive three point come from behind reward), but alas, no such luck. I'm still sick. Epically tired and somewhat detached from creativity, but still I'm managed to muster up some tweets today whilst laying across the sofa watching the continued demise of Liverpool FC and then Man City trying to do their best impersonation of the Jose version of Chelsea by spending the vast majority of their game against Blackpool boring the very essence of my soul from my fever stricken body. I still don't rate them. Yes, they are lucky, yes, they don't lose often, but something about them just screams out 'CHOKE'. I guess with Man Utd doing their very best to tread the line of ordinary, this season could see a further shake-up to the one we introduced last time round. So perhaps discounting the billionaires from Eastlands would be a tad dangerous.

Okay, so Fulham v Spurs, I'm going to free-style it. Then just hit the publish button.

Saturday and Fortress Fulham. In yer face Mark Hughes. And Lily Allen. In the context of the game, we deserved to win. Some of our defending at times was not best and against better players (Eto'o) we might be left scratching our heads. But that's out of context. Which is not a concern, not until Wednesday.

First half, opening exchanges, thought we played very well. Slowly and obviously, Fulham got themselves back into the possession game. Sandro put himself about. Bit too eager, I guess he still has to get to grips with the pace of the game and the fact that clumsy challenging won't warrant too much other than a yellow card.

Was very content with Harry's selection. Strongest side, be it with one or two minor tweaks, but this games was vital in terms of needing to win - whereas the CL game on Wed isn't. Because we get to play Inter again, at the Lane. Which will be important. I'll talk more about the CL game in a later blog.

Fulham took the lead, Kamara scoring. Bit of a mess from all concerned in terms of positioning for this one. It's easy to point and shout at Gallas who showed a lack of awareness of where the Fulham forward was (behind you!) but you could also lay scorn on Hutton who run into a central position, practically clashing with Kings space and the cross/ball going through the both of them into the path of Kamara who tapped it home.

Did Gallas think someone (in Spurs colours) was tracking the forward? No matter, organisation here was left wanting. All too easy. Needs to be worked on in training. School-boy mistake tbh.

But this is brand new Spurs, feasting on Dutch cake, of the Amsterdam variety. Relaxed and giddy, as you were. We go down the other end and equalise. From the kick-off. Brilliant skill from vdV to turn and chip onto the bar, ball falling down to Pav who had a simple tap in, but made sure he pointed out his name on the back of his shirt just in case anyone was in doubt of the clinical polished ball-pushing over the line touch off his boot.

Have to say, I'm still lol'ing at the Fulham fans (bless 'em) who didn't even had enough time to finish their rendition of 'you're not singing any more'. So the Spurs away support did the polite thing and finished the song off for them.

Other mentions. Gomes pulled off a save or two. King went off injured, Bassong replaced him. I know that with Ledders, I sort of half expected him not to play and be rested for Inter, in what many expected him to play a damage limitation role. I'm glad Harry started him, it's a shame he limped off and won't be available for the Everton game next weekend (as well as no Italian away day). But it's a statement made. We didn't take the game for granted or displayed signs of looking ahead to mid-week.

It's part and parcel of the risk we take with King. Get well soon. Once more, we re-visit the age old conundrum of the centre-back pairing and what we need to be doing in terms of looking ahead for the future. Once Dawson is back, we might place said conundrum back onto the back-burner again. Which isn't ideal, what with us still not knowing for sure if Woody is going to be 100% again.

Second half, Sandro off. Subbed, not sent off, which he might have been not out of malicious play but from untidy tackling. Azza replacing him before the kick-off. Lennon was good. Again. Off the bench appears to have given him a gentle kick up the bum in terms of desire to impress. Cracking
movement with BAE finding Pav who played the ball inside to Lennon - weak shot, but good to see all round. He seems to have direction rather than losing himself cutting into central midfield positions or running out of steam down the flanks.

More assured second half from start to finish I thought from us. Not perfect, Kamara spoiling chances which I was happy to see spurned. Wasn't so much about individuals today, but more about the unit. vdV, Bale, Modric...all relatively quiet. vdV had his moment with the first goal. Moddle is still slightly off the pace, his touch not Lukaesque just yet, but he's made it clear he knows he's struggling a little. He'll get there. Bale was definitely quiet compared to the beastly performances he usually produces. Did pulsate forward creating a vdV chance. But as a unit, the lads did enough, which was worthy of three points. So no shrugs of despondency from me.

Other bits and pieces off the top of my head. Hutton and Gomes getting in each others way, a Hutton effort on goal, Crouch on for Pav. Oh yeah, almost forgot. The goal for 2-1.

First time in history I've ever agreed with Alan Shearer (with his MotD assessment). Hansen obviously disagreeing with him and baiting Lineker. So very very bitter. Always let you down the Spurs don't you know.

If you want to start playing the game by the letter of the law - at the time of the Hudd shot, their keeper was in sight of the ball leaving the boot. Gallas, offside position, not interfering with play. Ball takes a deflection, still not interfering. Gallas tries his best to put any doubt in the refs mind about disallowing a potential goal by attempting to kick the ball, still not interfering because he didn't touch the ball.

Ball crosses the line. 1-2 Tottenham.

Lino however decides to flag, so good on Hudd for making sure the ref took note of the journey taken by the ball into the Fulham goal. Mike Dean, giving us the decision. I'm sure I would have complained about it if it was the other way round, but deep down, even though you could argue it is interfering because the player was trying to become active - he wasn't active because he didn't change anything (i.e. the ball was still on course with going in after the deflection, so Gallas could have stripped naked and slapped a haddock on his backside, it would not have made a blind bit of difference - although no doubt it might have made it onto Soccer AM's third eye).

Active, not active...ambiguous, no? The authorities would not have it any other way.

Good performance. We're 5th. 14 points. A few off the top, and obviously regretful of the points dropped against a couple of sides this season which might have had has even higher. But this season will be more open and closer than the last, so it's a case of staying in amongst it again - and aiming for bigger scalps in the way of our 'Top 4' opposition and doing something about the lack of wins away to them in 60+ games. Also feel we need to start to destroy sides at the Lane again.

Mentality should be about maximising our potential against the supposed weaker sides at home and continuing to dig deep away. Stick the pressure on the other contenders by pulling away. At the minute, everyone appears to be very evenly matched (there's four or so tiers in the Prem itself).

Momentum = confidence = belief = success.

Simply put, get through to the Jan window in a top 5 position. Then consolidate the f**k out of it.

Back to bed I go.


Spurs 0 Wigan 1, dvd unavailable at club shop

Spurs 0 Wigan 1

Now that's what I call falling back down to earth with a bump.

Wigan didn't park the bus in front of the goal. They all screamed shotgun and drove it around White Hart Lane. Didn't even bother with seat-belts. Credit to them for their hard work off the ball, closing us down, not allowing us time to stick a foot on the ball and take control of the tempo gauge. They did park up second half. And not because they run of gas. However, shame on us for not having the tenacity to push them off the ball, stick that foot on it, and smash 'em out of N17.

It was made even more so comfortable by our lack of composure. Sloppy, uneasy early play meant confidence to Wigan and not a lot in the way of penetrative football from us. Couple of decent Defoe efforts, but lacklustre in comparison to what we can do. What we know we can do. Champions League hangover? Hate that phrase already. Not something I want to be hearing again this season.

Turned up the pace in the second half, but it was still all a bit stuck at the 60% mark. No swagger. No clean crisp classic Tottenham movement. Shades of last seasons dark moments at the Lane. Basically, on days like this, you tend to get the following head-shaking components:

We start slow
We survive a couple of scares
We fail to take hold of the game
We retain possession
We create some chances, but don't finish them
The game progresses
And continues to progress
But we never truly dictate
And we never actually visibly shift gear

What you have here is break-down of the quintessential Spurs home game non-entity, which results in a long walk home up the high road and Match of the Day removed from your recording schedule.

BAE giving his doubters some evidence of his sometimes dodgy concentration. Off he went at half-time, Niko on, with Pav on for Crouch (Gio on late on for Azza). Possession mostly with us, Wigan just defending, remaining disciplined.

For us, frustration personified. Ominous. You could see what was coming. Because we've seen it before.

How we joked pre-match we'd win comfortable. I guess if we're going to earn distinction on the lessons learnt (lost) from last season by losing again to remind us of our frailties, we may as well get them out of the way early doors because any more misfiring like today and we'll regret it towards the back end of the season when we tally up the points. One mistake at home, that's your lot Spurs. No room for more, k?

We lacked any sort of individual magic, talismanic inspiration or moment of brilliance to get us out of the sleepy performance. You know the sort of thing, when you play below average, but someone out there does something completely out of the blue and out of synch with the rest of the game, to win the points.

How long is Modric out for?

BAE going off and having Bale move back into LB position meant we lost that power going forward, but then he wasn't overly impressing today anyway. No one was.

It's funny how nowadays, when we drop points, its usually because the side don't quite get it together, rather than being abjectly rubbish or outplayed off the park. Ordinary is enough for a hard-working side to get the better of us. Yes I know - it doesn't happen often but that doesn't mean we can't be displeased when we see it play out again. It's easy for the opposition because all they need to do is the same thing all afternoon because we're not going to try anything different to shock/surprise them. Granted we came close, but it was all apologetic©. And this allows them to the opportunity to perhaps steal all points.

Then we enter the final ten minutes of the game. That's when we completely switch off, fall apart. It's getting a bit silly this. I still struggle to see a leader on the pitch. Pre-match huddles are over-rated. Can we not just pretend we're playing Chelsea every week?
78 minutes (Alcaraz). And again on 79 minutes (Gomez). Two massive misses from Wigan. Phews everywhere. Lucky escape you thought to yourself. So we let them have another go. 80 minutes (Rodallega), 0-1 Wigan.

Contrary to popular belief, it still exists.

Couple of chances to equalize (Niko, excellent save, Daws, another superb save), but what does it matter? Banana skin well and truly slipped on.

This is the 4th time (recently) so we are not quite grasping the resolution to this problem. Perhaps it was written in the stars, redemption for Wigan for last seasons humiliation and their nightmare start this term. And for one appearance only, the Tottenham Hotspur Charity (we give to the needy) decided to donate all three points. Bless us.

We had Kaboul at the death, easier to score. So he misses. But no scapegoats, the whole team and Harry need to get to grips once and for all why we stuttered and slumped. And Harry in particular needs to work hard on this. Tactics, they don't win you games, players do. So he says. Well, our players still have a chink in their armour that I'd rather not be seeing. And there's an argument that when the opposition do frustrate you, if you do happen to say, change the formation (and thus tactics) they might not be able to cope, what with the onus on the opposition to stop a renewed and different charge forward.

Losing at home to a side that we should never be dropping points too. We all didn't expect this because it was way too obvious for it to happen. And yet here we are about to knee-jerk (let's not).

Two home games, one point. Let's try not to do this after every CL game please. Because I reckon that's going to be the excuse for this shower of nothingness. It poured the other night against the Young Boys. It dripped today.

Wasted afternoon. Wasted for everyone other than the 60 away supporters who travelled down probably believing they would witness another spanking for their miserable side. Not so miserable today. Ridiculous is football. Champions League? You're 'aving a...I can't even be bothered.

This is not meant to be the way we roll.


We have the players so lets see more of an in-game evolution of 442, to 433. It's going to be a necessary ploy for us in Europe. If a side is parking the bus, or hassling us, or whatever, there has to be a positive change. Harry has got it right before with substitutions, so I can't help thinking that we are still, somewhat, slightly fragile. We appeared to be - as eleven players - one predator that couldn't quite muster up the effort to chase and kill its prey.

I wont knee-jerk because this type of performance will only happen 2 or 3 times a season - but that's potentially nine points lost. So, greedy as I am, I want to see it eradicated from our match-day make-up. Completely.


No point singling out and criticising anyone in particular tbh. It was a collective fudge up. Everyone was low-key, lacked urgency, no game-changer. Under-par all over the pitch.

Creative spark

We have plenty of players to supply one, so let's not be knee-jerking about Hudd or Bale or anyone else. As above, collectively, nobody was on-form today. Simple as that. Shame of course, that nobody was able to lift the team for that moment of inspiration. Because, its what the big teams do, even when they play crap. Not so big today Tottenham.


They got their own tactics spot on. Considering they took all three points in similar fashion to how we lost them last season in the same ilk of depressive defeats. Talking of which...

Wolves, Hull and Stoke and now Wigan

No more. Breaking down these types of teams appears to be our main gripe. Taking all the good things into account, the fact we can beat Arsenal, Chelsea then City with the pressure on (end of last season), but fail when we're favourites to win at home against a side inferior to us proves there's still an issue.

Redknapp post-match

He called it a rare day. And I agree. It's good we can name and shame disappointing games because they don't came around often any more. Let's not forget that. But like I've said already, it's not excusing it because if we want to push on, we can't afford to be baffled too often, especially on our own patch.


Enjoy the bank holiday. Hopefully we'll see some game-changing new signings arrive to help with restoring a smile or two on our frowning faces.

COYS, hugs and stuff.



0-0, how exactly?

I have to say I was left requiring a cold shower to cool myself off, having got slightly hot and bothered. I'd hate to think of the mess I would have made had we actually scored a goal or three. Blistering. Pulsating. This is Tottenham. It's basically more of the same from last season. And whether our forwards (all four of them) sharpen up or we manage to bag a genuine canny trickster striker before deadline day - I'm more than confident we're going to push onwards yet again.

Let's face, we had the players before Redknapp arrived. What we lacked was direction, structure, are more than familiar with the list. He got the basics right and yadda yadda yadda. We finally achieved what we've been flirting with for so long. Sustained progression resulting in 4th spot.

Obviously, pre-season had many of us asking if we had the mentality to continue to play at the standard of last season - with improvements in areas that needed improving. We'll find that out in due course, I'd say ask the question again after 15 EPL games. And although I'm not about to positive knee-jerk after the opening 90 minutes of our season, I'd say I saw enough to have that shower running cold for many weekends to come.

We battered City in the first half. Joe Hart's day and his team will be happier with the point than we were. Outstanding Harry called it. Can't really add anything more to that. We just looked a proper fully fledged team.  No residue of those nasty depressive tears from displays of yesteryear, pre-HR. You know how it is, us fans, you expect a signing or two because new blood can add to squad depth and galvanise a side further. And I'm not saying that we should completely discount an additional player or two - but this game reminded us that we have a pretty tidy set of players as it is (we still need a player or two, but can we at least lay to rest the fallacy of importance of pre-season games now, please?)

One or two will regain their high standard in the coming weeks (Lennon still seems a little bit off-key, perhaps one too many summer Cubans?) What I (we) witnessed was a Spurs side that simply works. And did so with the tradition we lust.

Modric, tenacious rather than magical but adapted very well against City's five man midfield, running around the pitch biting at their ankles, tackling and nicking the ball. Think, white short version of Palacios with a mullet. Huddlestone controlling and dominant. Why bother to even be surprised with this? Dare I suggest this might be our most effective midfield partnership (as seen v Arsenal, Chelsea, City last season)?

Okay, so perhaps Moddle wasn't so much effective (magical) going forward as he can be, but as a unit - it worked. It all worked.

Back four - solid. BAE played alright, didn't he? Yeah, no? I'll let you lot argue that one out. Special mention re: his tackle on SWP, start of second half.

Bale is just ridiculously good, much like Daniel Day-Lewis in 'My Left Foot'. There's a reason why My Right Foot went straight to dvd, and it's the same reason why the ball went wide from Gareth's not-his-left-foot foot. Agonising and disappointing. He's still a beast though. And one of our WMD's. Keep him fit, for the love of all things beautiful on God's Lilywhite planet.

The Crouch-Defoe-Keane-Pavlyuchenko quad rotation lacked cutting edge. Heard that before, haven't we? But there's goals in them, I'm certain of it. We still need that ooze of class to push us upwards which we've all been waiting for since the end of the World Cup. At the expense of what unlucky player, I'd say it will be between Keane and Pav. If...if we managed to actually sign someone. Group stage CL football would demand that, IMO. Although the EPL has to remain the priority (and all of the above can comfortable repeat last seasons feat, but that might not be enough for 4th - we might need something extra to push us that little bit further). And how is Harry expected to keep them all happy? (look out for the next blog post).

Gio (why the persistence with agent talk over his future?) didn't have enough time to truly impact the game. But I liked the cut of his jib.

Gomes? Did he have a shot to save?

First half then, Crouch; Defoe, Huddlestone, BAE (deflected), Bale (post) then Lennon, Defoe again - all with decent efforts. Hart annoying in his defence of the goal. Second half, SWP should have scored (BAE innit), King deflected header could have also given them a goal. Pav had a couple of shots, and Bale and his right foot (arguably the easiest chance of the game) and Pav late on.

Okay, so second half City retained the ball better and had us chasing them down quite a bit, but they never threatened to the point where I was watching through my hands. Yes they have stupendous depth, but Mancini's obsession with all things defensive will probably be detrimental to them in the long run. They also had three debutants out there so I guess we should revisit this particular question (will they gel?) in around 15 games time also. And it serves to keep our feet firmly on the ground for a few games longer also.

I guess you could say we exhausted ourselves some what, but still carved out chances to win it. Toure and Kompany key players for them. Should have won it, deserved to win it. But heads up, it was a corker of a 0-0.

Clinical. That's the word for the weeks ahead. Make possession count, and try to avoid making the opposition goalkeeper man of the match, by ya know, sort of placing the ball out of his reach.



Dry them and move onwards

What a ridiculous waste of an afternoon that was. Worst performance of the season? Spineless? A consequence of fragmented selection? Poisoned by lasagne?

Yeah sure, injuries aside, I still fancied us pre-match. Around about the 37 second mark I conceded that today would be shambolic and that conceded my confidence was cursed. To which it was.

Players looked lethargic and dis-interested. When Frazier Campbell is made to look like quality you know there has to be something surreal going on. In this case, the Spurs players appeared to drift away into next weekend and their FA Cup semi-final date. Knees trembling, for all to see.

Even a second half improvement (just about noticeable) wasn't enough, neither were the heroics of Gomes who saved two penalties, although he was probably guilty for that 36 second opener as he could have done better. Maybe that's a tad harsh. It smelt a goal the moment they got a corner. A preview of the pattern of the game that would play out over the 90 minutes. Us, willing Sunderland on, to have a pop at any given moment they chose.

Talking of pens, the ref was abysmal. One of the three he gave (the 3rd) was a no brainer - the first two were weak weak decisions. Although he sort of made amends for disallowing a 3rd Sunderland goal, which didn't matter because when Sunderland did score their third it was almost worthy of applauding, such was its genius. It's horrible horrible genius. A volley that will no doubt when goal of the month. Ref was also reluctant to dish out yellow cards. Although Wilson came out of the game without one. Small mercies.

Crouch cameo the only worthwhile moment to give us a glimmer of hope. Gomes proving that even though Bent believes he has banished the Sandra sound-bite by notching a brace and celebrating with much venom, he's still an idiot with a stupid beard (honestly, I have nothing more at the moment). His face after his second pen miss, a picture. The only picture I'll be choosing to remember cometh tomorrow. Defoe might have done better with a one-on-one, Gordon to the rescue, who then saved another goal-bound effort moments later. Bentley header in the first half, easily saved. Not sure there was anything else, offensively, for us.

There's probably plenty to analyse and discuss, and I had notes from the game and was planning on singling out one or two players who struggled and the detrimental impact the missing players had on the team - something I sort of refused to dwell on too much as a potential excuse pre-match.

Stuff like our inability to retain possession, control the ball, play with any type of shape, show any sustained intent and courage. Bassong missing Dawson. BAE lacking confidence. Palacios messy. Bale lacking composure with his passing. All-round clusterfuck to be fair.

Credit to Sunderland. Talk about making it an easy afternoon for them. If they had a better forward up front, it could have been humiliating (haha, yeah, still bitter). Jones air-kick testament to how stupid we and his owners were back when a £20M label was being tagged on his shirt. But they still won and Bent has taken his revenge, no doubt he'll be gutted he won't be able to Tweet about it.

So yeah, no deep thinking post-match tactical breakdown. The players never switched on. They hardly looked bothered. So if this was a pre-Wembley type of 'ooh let me try not to get injured' performance, then shame on all. Or perhaps I should just admit I was wrong and having so many players out has damaged us. Pompey might even fancy us now (j/k).

I just don't want to believe that we under-performed because the FA Cup was made a collective priority subconsciously by all who took the field. So I'll have to hug the excuse that the lack of Dawson, Corluka and Huddlestone and the forced re-shuffle has made us momentarily poop our pants.

Pushed, bullied, kicked and out-played. At least its done and out of our system. 5 wins on the trot halted and today makes it just 8 defeats all season in the Prem. Not bad. But we are no longer in the driving seat for 4th. Don't fret. I'm not knee-jerking. I've been saying it for a while, we'll still finish 4th. Just have to do things the hard way now.

Maybe conceding that goal so early was a catalyst, but to suggest had it not been scored we might have performed better is a bit like hoping that having gone 1-0 down we'd get back into the game. It won't happen unless you make it happen.

Tragic we failed to turn up for this. I'd rather we play beautifully and with effort and desire, and if we lose at least we can say we gave it some. Rather than just lube up and bend over.

What's that? City, 4 up at Burnley after 20 minutes? 5 up at half-time? Our goal-difference nervously looking over its shoulder? Although it's now City looking over their shoulder at us.

Okay, we really do have to do it the hard way now.