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Entries in newcastle united (8)


Let's hug

Played well without being outstanding, could get away with using the old cliché 'we'll play worse and win this season', tactically sound in parts, made a couple of mistakes, one or two players not firing on all cylinders, Bale could have done with being further forward, Sigurdsson looked bright, high line worked, defensively sound, bossed shots on goal but lacked cutting edge, draw would have been fair result. Defoe did well, had more shots on goal than Newcastle did, although perhaps you could argue he could have done better. If we're ambitious we need to be world class in forward positions. Defoe and Kane, not enough for the long run. That sum it up?

It's okay to rationalise this defeat because we're still in transition from last season. One game, it's one game, and we are missing chess pieces. Can't quite play the game at full strength without them.

I don't want to delve too deep into what was basically our first ever competitive match with VB, practically akin to pre-season without the 'pre' and not quite enough seasoning to warrant bad taste. Would I have preferred to see us go there and smash 'em 3-0? Sure. Reality tends to dish out far harsher truths this early on.

Obvious we need to conclude our transfer business asap, two forwards, a winger and a Modric replacement. I'd add a sweeper goalkeeper to that list too but it almost feels like we're going to be disappointed in one area. Hope it's not detrimental to our season but can't judge until after window closes. Not enough creativity in the middle without an out and out playmaker. Also, unfortunate that two yellows for our holding mids limits the thunder they can clap. I've been off-line this weekend. Temps too hot to be sat in-front of pc so don't know enough about the Huddlestone tweet to comment.

Final word. Utterly no point in defending VB, because he's not guilty of doing anything wrong. My assumption is the media have kicked started their campaign against him, so apologies if I'm wide of the mark with that. I've not opened up a newspaper today. It's one game, good to have Spurs back and confident in coach that he will seek out and improve what needs fixing. Over to the chairman for the lending hand.

One certainty, seems nigh impossible for us to conclude all business earlier on in the summer. We would do well to appreciate all the variables at play. It's one thing wanting to be decisive (which is possible as seen early on in the window) it's another having to deal with the complexities of signing players where middle ground is only found during those last desperate hours. Although it does seem amazing how long we've gone without cementing a forward, on a permanent. But not so amazing when you consider our targets and strategy changes from one summer to the next. More so this summer with the change in head coach.

Something is about to give way. Hopefully an announcement or two on the official website.



And so it begins...

Here we go then. Season 2013 is upon us. You ready?

Modric is still with us. Just about. Should be gone any day now if you believe the latest 'news' suggesting Madrid upped their bid (a day after we supposedly accepted a far lower one) and that Spurs are asking for some time to confirm a replacement. Which sounds ridiculous. None of it matters really, aside from the official club statements which will tell all. I'm still confident Luka will be gone, Adebayor will arrive and another player or two. But for now, we look forwards with what we definitely know to have in Lilywhite.

Couple of things here to discuss then.

Firstly, patience. Without it we're doomed (I'm being over-dramatic because we don't do things by half measures). It's going to be bad enough to have Redknapp's soundbites and the media's agenda on our back - let's not meltdown early doors. A lot being discussed about how we've massively cocked-up by not getting all our business done before the first game of the season and how we could lose several points like we did against the Manc sides. Except this season is not in any way comparable to the last. We have a new coach, therefore all the prep work and training ethics will take time (hopefully not too much time) to bed in. There's so much you can get out of pre-season. It's also not comparable because Villas-Boas is unlikely to start a player equivalents to Niko in the middle of the park and leave us beyond light-weight in a key position.

Positivity is the key on and off the pitch. VB will hopefully not fully commit to the high-line set-up (mainly because we still don't have a keeper that can play it). I think the main difference I'm hoping to see is the player instructions and how the team push up, pressure and pass the ball. What type of tempo we'll be playing with and how we counter attack. For example, will Bale stay on the left, swap wings, roam? How will Sig or vdV fit into the hole behind the lone forward? How will that lone forward link in with the midfield? No Adebayor (not yet, any day now), who was superb at dropping deep and holding the ball up. We've got Defoe, altogether a different type of forward, not as complete and robust as Adebayor and for some arguably not a long term first team choice (has he ever been that?). Still he's one with confidence after his England goal. Kane will be on the bench. That more or less illustrates the work required for the next couple of weeks.

Plenty of questions then, although it is only the first game and it is away at a place where we traditionally don't get too much from. It's going to make great viewing. That goes without say. It's Spurs.

So how should we shape up for it?

Defence selects itself with Brad, Walker, Kaboul, Vertonghen and Benny. Sandro (or Livermore) as holding midfielder alongside either Livermore or Tom Huddlestone (as a replacement of sorts for Modric). He's not a like for like replacement obviously but he's got a range of passing that will add an offensive touch to our player in what would otherwise be a pedestrian central midfield. No Luka to recycle possession so Tom will give us another type of dimension to our play. Alternatives? Jenas? I won't go there. Of course, there's a chance Sandro won't play as his pre-season consisted of a silver medal and not much training field work with the gaffer. But his quality should be enough to allow him to 'get stuck in' for the shirt. Livermore can stake a claim off the back of last season's mature performances (on occasions) and his England call up. Would still opt for Sandro.

The three players sitting behind the forward will be Lennon and Bale on the wings and either van der Vaart or Sig spearheading the threesome. Perhaps for continuation of familiarity, he'll opt for Rafa. Will have plenty of work to do, supporting Defoe. The good thing here is, both Rafa and Sig are not goal shy players and are sweet at positioning and finishing.

The rest, the flow and pace of the side, the movement...that's for us to sit back and be entertained with. Either way or draw, I'll be getting smashed afterwards.

Enjoy your Saturday.





Follow me on Twitter @Spooky23


Tottenham expects

And we're back. Back to the football once more. Sort of.

We've got a game that will no doubt be dominated by the vocals of the home support singing the name of Harry Redknapp. It would have been all about the not guilty verdict but it's shifted a little thanks to that little matter of the England job and it's availability. In today's press conference Harry handled himself very well. The media present lapped it all up (the joke about losing the England job before he's even got it went down a storm). That's Harry. Entertaining. Gives them the sound-bites they demand. Whether he can keep everyone onside a year or two into looking after the national side is up for debate. The press, they will always turn on you. Even a favourite will be built up because the sound of the thud made when he falls is too much for them not to crave. Perhaps Harry is the chosen one the media will worship no matter what.


Other footnotes from the conference include safe and respectful answers to questions relating to England and that other thing, whatisface...oh yeah, Tottenham Hotspur. The club he's currently contracted with. It's hard to work out exactly what Harry might do next. You would expect him to want the national job but he hinted its something he'd have to consider with his family (managing England can seriously damage your health). He's focused on Spurs he says. Which is what we expect from him until circumstances change. Hopefully if the FA ask for permission then they along with Redknapp agree its best to wait until the summer to make anything official. That way, everyone is content.

We've still got plenty of work to do this season. It would help if something happens quickly either way. I can't be alone in being completely bored of all the (rival) managers and players and their constant approvals for Redknapp for England. This is also quite beneficial to our 'opponents'. Bless their concerned hearts. We need more Chelsea/Utd/City players telling us what the FA should do. I do know they get asked the question by journalists so they are obliged to comment on it. Would still like to see a memo fired out to the ones that frequent Twitter stating they should stick to discussing Nandos than stating the bleeding obvious. Shock horror <insert name of English footballer here> would like Harry as the next manager. Really? How unexpected. Shame no one dared to be more original, if anything just to cause a nice distraction to the mundane. Warnock for England trending would have made my day.

But then that's the nature of the game. Tabloids and Sky will make sure they ask a dozen people for their opinions to continue generating the hype to fuel their 24 hour coverage of an hours worth of news.

I know people say it's akin to tapping up. It's not (not really) but its still amusing how dismissive everyone appears to be of Spurs in all this whilst we are told by various ex-pros and pundits along with current Top Four opponents that the FA just have to give him the job. Don't ever believe that the media perceive us the darlings of the Prem. It's Harry they adore. We just lucked out. The patronising is grating but we're big and bad enough to ignore it, right? We've had to deal with a lot worse down the years.

So, to the football then. Newcastle United at the Lane. No van der Vaart which means no deep moving link-up play with the midfield. This could result with one up front with that one looking more like a zero, all alone and isolated. Perhaps not as extreme as what we witnessed away to Liverpool. However, this being a home game we'll more likely to move the ball with better fluidity and create chances even with a single body working the box. Then we have the return of Aaron Lennon and his probable inclusion giving us complete width from the right to the left. Would be rude to dismiss the shift Niko put in last Monday, so he's in with a shout to retain his place if Harry prefers to introduce Lennon off the bench.

One up front? You've got to fancy a more traditional 442 for this one. We got away with it at Liverpool because of the restraints on selection. We can dare to achieve a little more at the Lane.

It's Newcastle United. They're going to give it a go and they'll be sparky up front, not afraid to attack. So best we look to dominate as the home side should do and keep them busy at the back. Something that will work better if we start with two forwards. Radical stuff.

Defoe is back. So Adebayor will have a partner unless JD isn't quite 100% and Saha is preferred. King should be available (to partner Dawson) but Sandro and Kaboul are doubts. Shame about Sandro as we could do with being very competitive in the midfield (although his inclusion would not quite fit into a 442 - and there's always Livermore for backup). Control the middle and you'll control the game. The onus is on us so we simply can't afford to be bullied.

Effective possession. Something the likes of our two key players are more than capable of doing. Parker patrolling the park and Modric making magic. Got to be confident with that. They've got to be equally pumped up when White Hart Lane will be positively bouncing with energy and noise. I also hate to see Alan Pardew smile.

It's another big game for us. When do we ever involve ourselves with anything less? It's a good time to be Spurs. Harry has done a grand job for us. I remember the start of this season well. The despondency based on the back end of last season and the suggestions that he had taken the side as far as he could. Proved everyone wrong again. He makes a habit of surprising people. If he moves on we'll remain a fantastic proposition for the next man to come in and take the helm. That's still neither here or there for the moment.

All that matters is the next game. Anfield was a test, one that had us display a master-class of grit and defending in containment. On Saturday we have to defend our proud home record by attacking. The lucky ones going will sing their hearts out and we'll endeavour to go marching on.


Love the shirt.



Sexy beast, not so sexy

Newcastle 2 Tottenham 2

It's almost like the footballing Gods read my preview for the game then worked the proceeding ninety or so minutes to play out like a tapestry of mockingness with canned laughter playing at critical moments. In this case both times Newcastle scored. I highlighted (in the preview) that we don't tend to do well up at St James Park. We switch off. It can be calamitous. That wasn't the case on Sunday.

Wasn't so much calamitous. More cataleptic. Yard off the pace for practically the entirety of the first half. The odd moment of progressive movement but mostly on the back foot. In fact no, not on the back foot rather both feet up on the sofa. We didn't get going. Not so much Sexy beast. More sleepy beast.

The intent, well, it can't be constituted as genuine intent if its powder-puff.

The formation, the lacked. Sat thinking we need a goal here. A Newcastle goal. What I got (mockingly bitter-sweet from the Gods) was a penalty for Spurs. Rejoice, yeah? 1-0 at half-time. My head is then full of rhetoric about how 'big teams, they create their own luck, they don't need to play well to win games'.

I then start to think back on the stale first forty-five and wonder why we haven't quite woken up to the concept of perhaps perceiving the game as must-win. But then psychology of this ilk is redundant. You have to be physically losing one nil for the team to wake up. In this case we we're winning one nil by sleeping. Seriously, HELLO? WHAT IS THIS MADNESS?

Before I came to a comforting conclusion, it was 1-1. What now? Pretend like we're losing? Take nothing away from their build up play other than taking it all away. We should have defended far better than that. The word 'casual' popped into my head and I finally had a tag to label that first forty-five with. In that crazy unexplainable fashion that only professional footballers and managers understand we suddenly take shape (pretend like we're losing <-- oh yeah, psychology 101) and poke Newcastle a couple of times in their belly-button, almost flicking out that coloured fluff that lives there. Alas, not quite.

At least the second forty-five had some tempo to it.

What is going on then? Is this Newcastle, a team that's 'okay' nothing special but obviously doing something right and playing well...playing well against us, Spurs...a side that hasn't quite found the pace of the game easy to run alongside too. Or is that harsh? Do we expect too much from our ourselves? Is this simply an off-day? And if an off-day is drawing 2-2 away to an unbeaten that not a good day? Or should the Toon take more credit?

Oh yeah, 2-2. That was the final score. King, we had lost. Walker over-worked. Bale wasn't playing (he wasn't playing right?) and Defoe replaced van der Vaart and promptly scored a belter.


Oh, hindsight, you wonderful thing you, with your frilly knickers and red lipstick. Let's be honest here. We were collectively on a low ebb first half. The intelligent play I expect from Rafa and Ade was all half-arsed and casual (there's that tag again, it's not gone to waste). Perhaps both players were not quite 100%? Although with Rafa I should rephrase; Was Rafa perhaps not 70%?

Possibly being unfair to Newcastle United and their midfield. Might lack obvious quality and depth but they got the job done against us. That's job done enough to stop us from taking it by the scruff of the neck. But then onus on home side. We can't have it all our own way when we play away from the Lane when we expect it.

Also probably unfair on Ade. He looks a class above in terms of movement and possession. I think we might still be two or three games away from actually clicking. We need to cut out the schoolboy thinking when attacking and look for the more measured pass. More often. Happened today a couple of times second half (Parker and Modric). Clickety click soon hopefully.

As for bringing JD on, a player who wanted to prove a point...well that happens all the time. Why didn't he start? Because he wasn't selected. I know, ground-breaking. Would have been lovely to have had Parker and Sandro in the middle also but you just have to deal with it. The formation wasn't great. But nobody would be saying that if Rafa played in Ade and he scored. One match proves nothing. Didn't work on Sunday. Let's just be grateful the substitution did.

What a belter. Then Defoe displayed the more frustrating aspect to his game. Lay the ball off son, lay it off and we'll score again. Selfish strikers, what do they know?

Then another sub breaks our hearts. 2-2, 86 minutes.

Happy with the point when we could have been happy with all the points but then also could have quite easily gone home with nothing more than a souvenir bra from the night out in Newcastle on Saturday.

If this type of performance happens two or three more times, then we can start discussing whether Harry still can't get to grips with having certain players playing in certain positions. I'm sure some of you will point to the right hand side and the fact we have conceded a few via the make-shift flank we have there (get fit Azza).

For now, may as well put this down to a sleepy day at the office and just about getting away with doing as little work as possible without being found out. That cut-throat beastly slap we need to be smacking down on opponents in games is still something we haven't quite worked out. Would have been perfect had we nicked it at 2-1. Had we, this match review would have been a universe apart when in reality, there is very little in comparison. Well, apart from two points.

Onwards. Five games unbeaten. Game in hand. This show IS on the road. Even if we have nine players out injured, and two not fully fit...Shh quiet, hush.

COYS. Love the shirt.



Sexy beast

I'm not sure of the team that will face Newcastle what with talk regarding one or two potential sidelined key players (and Harry hasn't used the Batphone to dial into Sky Sports News as far as I know to share ITK). Ade probably shouldn't be risked. Sandro might be missing. Not at full strength then?

I welcome it.

Ideally would prefer not to be weaker in any department but its going to happen at some point in the season so what better place to see how we cope than against unbeaten Newcastle United. Not just any old away game is it?

We hardly win at St James Park. At times we've hardly turned up. But we've evolved and discovered a gritty backbone to the once upon a time wastelands known as 'away days'. Best part of the 90s were spent accumulating enough points for mid-table mediocrity at the Lane and the odd one or two shock wins (celebrated like Cup games) on our travels. These days we bully and battle and even at times out-class the opposition. Most of us (no longer nervous and dejected) can look ahead at the fixture list and lick our lips with a fanciful 'we'll 'ave 'em for the three points'.

This is still Tottenham which means none of us ignore the caveat attached below all the plaudits and smiles. You know the one. The one that reminds us that we are sometimes guilty of switching off. Individually and as a unit which can then lead to an unequivocal collapse, a calamitous capitulation. The other manner in which smiles can turn to tears is more draining, slow brooding to a similar result but with an agonising story-arc as we give it our all without giving it much. Lots of possession, too much over-play and a deathly lack of cutting edge.

In conclusion we are prone to the odd off day.

Guess what? Everyone is. The fact you could probably name and shame the results in recent seasons of when we've failed to show up is evidence that it doesn't happen that often. We win plenty and it's shown in our league form. Granted we have been out classed on occasions ourselves (still a couple of places we've yet to get a handle on). But expectations are usually met and we are disappointed when they are not because of the target we aim for in these hedonistic days of lofty ambitions.

We are made of sterner stuff. You hear that 1990s? You can stick your flux-capacitor, we ain't coming back.

So what of St James Park? A place of knowing torment accompanied always by a pre-match 'we never win up here' sound bite. There's been the odd (I remember two recent wins) happy moment. But we usually get smashed about. 

So what of St James Park, 2011? Hand on heart? I could not care less for the past. Sick of the caveats. We have a strong squad of players. Our midfield is the Ryan Gosling of the Premier League, beautiful in looks and beastly in body, tinged with elegance and craft. A sexy beast. Okay, so we might be missing a player or two, but so what? I'm not going to grab hold of such obvious excuses. Won't be looking to grab hold of Ryan Gosling either (I appreciate but won't participate) but I am looking to witness this Spurs side grab the game by the scruff then place it in back pocket.

Dominate the midfield with busy Parker leg work, to allow us to play to our strengths, allowing Modric to conduct and look to release Bale in marauding fashion. Be clinical up front when presented with opportunities, meaning clever inter-play between Rafa and the forward rather than hugging the last defender and looking to break the offside.

Robust. Resolute. Ready? We're only good enough if we believe we're good enough and if we don't then it doesn't matter the result on Sunday because we'll stagnate if we don't accept our responsibilities. That being simply to live up to what we know we are capable of. I'm talking generally here rather than just this particular game. The three R's must equote to the one M (momentum).

Time to break Geordie hearts. Might be a false position they're in. Might be punching above their weight. Plucky, lucky. It doesn't matter. They deserve their praise and are hardly lacking in confidence. Although this is not do or die or a must win game it will look good to make it five on the trot and further consolidate our good run of victories and push on up the table.

Professionalism please Tottenham, needed in abundance. Three points would truly make the 2-1 win over the enemy even sweeter. You have got to be able to follow up on key results with ones equally key.

That marker we failed to lay down for top four through out the entirety of last season? Put it to good use. Just aim a little higher though. Always aim higher.

Play with a smile, be it one that bites.


Love the shirt.



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.






Spurs away, hopefully no broadcast on Cartoon network

Newcastle away. It’s the type of fixture that historically always had me half-thinking about what excuse I should have at the ready on return to work on a Monday morning. We hardly win up there. Timothée Atouba wonder-strike and that God awful Cup match where Pav scored the winner, just about the only highlights I can remember off the top of my head. My last visit to the mecca of football was the FA Cup game which we lost 1-0 after going behind minutes into the game, and then proceeding to attack attack attack only to have Given give away nothing.

In fact, the only way to get one over Newcastle was to go out on the town post-match. Get one over, get leg over, don’t hate me for the clumsy word play.

So, Newcastle away. Not quite as daunting a task as it once was mainly because the bogey team element has somewhat been extinguished thanks to their relegation and our growth in mental strength. They’ll work their socks off, so we’ll have to match the tenacity on show but with no Carroll you would hope our quality will be classy enough to soak up the blood and thunder and strike them down with a swagger of this and a swagger of that. That’s if we don’t repeat our performance level we witnessed at Goodison Park.

Looking at the table (here we go again for the 1000th time) this is a musty-winny type of game in that we need to play catch-up with the teams just ahead of us otherwise, these dropped points will start to hurt our push for another CL place. In fact, I’m tagging this game with a ‘show us your intent’ label with an additional ‘make a statement’ badge.

We need to be polished, professional and penetrative.

Easy now.

Team news at time of writing has BAE possibly out with injury so I guess this is an opportunity to welcome Stevie Pienaar into the fold. Bale will/should slot back into the left-back position with Pie at left-midfield. Unless Bassong make a make-shift appearance at LB. Which I doubt. No point considering we’ve splashed the cash for the new boy, may as well throw him into the action. I’m sure Gareth will be just dandy over-lapping.

Modric to conduct as per usual. van der Vaart will probably have far more freedom to get involved (United did an excellent job in suffocating his ability to impact the game in the space between midfield and the area just outside the box – by the time he was in the box there was about twenty United players standing in his way).

How we shape up, up front is where it will count. It’s Newcastle. It’s away but the game will be open (as I don’t expect them to sit back) so we need to be offensive, take the game to them, make them chase the game to stretch it further.

Honestly, this is proper Football 101 right here.

Spurs to drop out of Top 4 race?


No reason to complicate matters. Possession football, smart counter-attacking and clinical ruthless utter utter b*stardness in front of the onion bag.

So Crouch and Pav up top then.

Calm down, just jesting. Defoe up top with vdV behind him. Middle bunch of Lennon, Modric, Jenas and Pienaar (I’m going on the assumption that Wilson is also apparently doubtful so JJ in for energy-bursting runs and box-to-box industrious blood and sweat and Niko completely out of form so doesn’t make sense to see him at LW).

What? Oh, the JJ description? Let’s just pretend, right? His comments this week about him being happy and loving the squad, he knows he’s a squad player so I’m cutting him another slice of slack. If Wilson is out, then Harry has to instruct him to donkey-work and bite opposition ankles a plenty.


Oh just ignore this bit if you don’t like it.

Okay, so that leaves the back four that will consist of Hutton, Dawson, Gallas and Bale. Nutter in goal. Seen a suggestion for Kaboul at right-back, leaving Bale in his trusted LW position and then either JJ or Pie in the middle. Like I said. Let’s just keep it simple. Like this Friday afternoon lack of substance blog.

We should be just fine. We bloody well better be.

We just need to contain 'best midfielder in England' Barton and potenial bane in the arse, Nolan.

In addition, the Toon are not only missing Carroll but also Tiote, Gosling, Smith, both Taylors and sadly for us Sol Campbell is not available. Leg injury apparently. I think he tried to eat it.



Listen to Newcastle v Spurs on Absolute Radio extra - on DAB Digital Radio, 1215AM and online in the UK from 1.30pm as programming kicks off with Russ Williams for pre-match build up, followed by full live commentary from Jim Proudfoot at 3pm, while Ian Wright takes care of post match analysis at 5pm featuring player and manager interviews, fan phone ins and a healthy supply of banter. Tune in for the full Danny Simpson interview.

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War Spooky

Stevie, you ledge. Seriously mate, get your head out of the tub of Brown Ale or whatever it is you lot up there take your baths in, and stand up straight and show me your cock. Yes, you heard me right.

Show me what you got.

No? Ok, let me show you what I've got. Its fucking big, mind. Maybe not as big as this red Manc I know and this scouse git who always walks down the street with it hanging over his shoulder, but mine is still big. Actually, I suppose it isn't compared to that Manc and that scouse git. Or the pikey who lives in the caravan at the end of my road. But I tell you this 'mate', it's bigger than whatever you've got in your pants. And I know this because I asked around and you ain't pulled since 1955. I mean fuck me, that's fucking ages to go without. Must send a man loopy. And blind. Doesn't count if you're constantly playing with yourself. You do know that, don't you? It doesn't count.

And I aint going to accept any of those European bints you got hold of, cause squeezing a tit don't count either. At least I've dipped my end in some choice skirt, home and abroad, since you last tasted some. I don't go without see. Even when I'm not top of my game, I still manage a clever chat up line at the last moment, to help save the day.

So you know what. Let's just leave it. Don't bother getting your small shrivelled cock out. You'll only make the Boro fan standing next to you look hung like a donkey.