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Entries in palacios (42)


Pav the Disney villain as we wave goodbye to Mickey Mouse

I applaud you, you the faithful that travelled up to Stoke.

I spent yesterday evening recording episode nine of The Fighting Cock podcast. Was still 0-0 when I left North London to travel back into the depths of Epping Forest and had to make do with watching the penalty shout-out on Twitter. Struggling to understand how we lost if Pav scored two points for his conversion. To think I thought we played a fairly experienced side (in part) and yet no goals in 120 minutes of play?

Pens are always a lottery although more a formality for the opposition when up against us. I should be despondent with us getting knocked out so early (a cup run is a cup run after all and Wembley is still Wembley) but I guess I've finally being turned by Champions League qualification. It's the way she lifts her skirt up and reveals her panties. Gets me every time. I've been seduced and therefore do not feel anything other than numb frustration we couldn't score.

I guess Harry has validated his pre-match soundbiting that he never wanted to get rid of Crouch of Palacios. We would have won if we had them both #footielogic.

I'm told Gomes was 'alright' but along with Gio and Pav, almost disinterested in terms of tangible effort. Just players going through the motions. Not sure why people wish to slate him (Gomes) for not saving a single penalty. I know he's a shot-stopper, but pens are always down to how good the pen is when taken.

Roman has more or less cemented his Jan move away if you happened to listen to the commentary on the radio or worst still, been there to witness it - he was apparently shocking. Body language was oozing negativity and his play was abysmal. I guess the lad is still trying to settle in England and learn the language, bless. And perhaps people will finally let go of the dos Santos in good Spurs performance dream once and for all as he was equally poor.

Carroll played well. Beef him up a bit I reckon. He'll be some player when he finally reaches 12 years of age. Townsend also looked bright. Not sure what a Lluongo is exactly, but chin up lad and well done for having a go.

All this is the consensus by the way, not opinion. If anyone at the game disagrees, then please share.

Positives? Four clean sheets on the trot (DVD?). Sandro and Gallas are back playing and Rafa gets to push on towards full fitness (if that's even possible with him).

I guess its disappointing we're out but the yoof players still have Europa to accumulate those precious minutes of experience. In the end, patched up side of first teamers, benchers and kids not creative enough and without cutting edge to progress.

That's all I've got.

Onwards to Wigan.



Midfield majesty

Continuing the season review from here.

It’s the midfield’s turn now.



Strange how things can turn out. One persons misfortune can lead to someone else coming to the forefront unexpectedly. Happened with Bale when BAE was injured. Happened with Sandro when Huddlestone was out. Might struggle to get back in now.

It’s been a mixed season for big Tom. A few seasons back, I discussed his merits and the fallacy of his immobility and his under-rated work ethic (he can occasionally boss games). His got the mad skillz with an array of volleys and thunderbolt shots and elegant passing that has a touch of the Hoddle about it. The dirty, darker side to his play needs to be policed as there’s nothing worse than seeing one of your own lash/kick out with studs.

Hudd offers something different to Sandro, but in a 442 (with vdV playing behind a lone striker) you would probably prefer the defensive qualities of the Brazilian to the offensive play Tommy has to offer. Mainly because he (Sandro) protects Modric who is then free to dink and dictate. What I do like, in terms of our squad, is that we have a rich variety of talent within our midfield pool – all players giving us something different.

The new conundrum (worth revisiting separately) is how best do we line-up to accommodate them?  2-6-2 anyone?

The bigger conundrum might actually belong to Hudd who might feel he needs to play week in and week out to truly maximise his potential.



I love Luka. So good you might not even notice him. His peers obviously didn’t. Although everyone else watching football from the stands or on television did. You can hardly miss his non-stop energetic coverage of every blade of the midfield grass. Always looking to play a pass or get on the end of one. Always recycling the ball with an almost Barcelonaesque presence. He is the control centre of the side, everything goes through him. The tempo, the possession. He’s imperative and quite simply irreplaceable. Because how would you go about replacing a world class player when perhaps signing one would prove to be a task of impossibility in this current climate of CL demands and ridiculous wages.

Luka spoke out recently, he’s an honest down to earth man. He’s happy at the club and isn’t looking to move on. We won’t sell him, we won’t look to sell him. Levy has already said this. Although money is money and if a bid came in for him that sat around the £35M-£40M and his agent whispered ‘150k per week’, an honest man wouldn’t lie to himself when questioning his loyalties to his own self being.

If you’re better than someone who is earning twice as much as you elsewhere, scratching your head you will.

I’m a romantic and with Spurs being in good nick with several top drawer players, I hope as a team they all have ambitions to stick together and achieve something at the club that works against what we’ve come to expect from history.

He might not score many goals but he’s magical with the ball at his feet. The fact everyone will be looking across to the Lane this summer speaks volumes about his quality. He would turn any midfield in this country into a better one.



This is what Tottenham is all about. Sign a young talented player, mishandle him through development and injury blips, almost destroy him and almost send him out on loan and then end up with one of the most iconic moments in our recent history: Bale, in the Champions League, destroying the reigning champions.

Okay, so yes there is plenty of style hype to run alongside the genuine substance. Gareth Bale is technically gifted, physically strong (or not – more later) and possesses great speed and agility. He’s also got an eye for goal. Unknown quantity in the CL meant he had a field day on occasions. Back home, one or two did their homework on the lad and nullified him. Although it’s hardly disparaging if you note how many times the opposition placed two men to mark him.

People who prefer to linger on the negatives are missing the point. There are no negatives. Just varying degrees of positives, some of which need nurturing to full bloom. He’s young. He’s learning. He’s had to deal with plenty, especially with regards to expectations and the extra attention after that hat trick.

‘Doesn’t do it in the league’ some have muttered. Well, sure, he’s not devastated opposing teams week in week out. But then his opta stats along with memorable moments might have been doubled had many of his brilliant crosses to head and across the six yard box found a forward. Not his fault movement from our frontline in and around the box let us down on numerous occasions.

He will improve, he’ll learn new tricks and his manager has to continue to play a part in progressing him. He’s a target, as we all saw with the tackle from Adam. He goes down easily, probably because he wants to protect himself. You can hardly blame him, it’s not like he isn’t being fouled. He is. He just takes a moment’s pause to make sure he isn’t broken. Someone still needs to toughen him up as it’s all in the head.

Modric might be the trigger, but Bale is the bullet. And he needs to remain in our gun.



Whether it’s because of the bench warming or loss of form and focus, Lennon has not been at his best. Sacrificed by Harry, I get the feeling that Aaron is at times disillusioned. He’s shown glimpses of what he can do but as cited by Tom over at thfc1882, we’ve never seen the best of him at the same time as Bale and you wonder whether an opposition could live with all the questions fired at them if both our flankers were at full pelt together. I’m not suggesting one is detrimental to the other. It’s probably just bad luck and circumstance. But much like Bale needs development and a word in his ear, someone at the club has to drill home to Azza when best to cut in and when best to cross. He still possesses the pace. He’s a weapon that won’t do much damage loaded with blanks.

Harry has to stick him on the right and the coaching staff have to work on his decision making. At full pelt, it’s hairs on back of neck dancing time. We need him rejuvenated and not wasted, much like how Fabio managed to do within the England set-up.



If you remember his first few appearances, the main criticism would have related to Sandro’s lack of comfort with the pace of the English game. Understandable. Which is why Harry slowly introduced him, what with pressures of moving to a cold country and settling into our way of life. But what struck me was the kids apparent unfazed demeanour and the manner in which he went about his business on the pitch. He made mistakes, he picked himself up and he got on with it.

Mental strength in abundance and therefore not a concern in my mind that we had found ourselves a winner. A player who believed in his ability to succeed for us. It’s early days but there is nothing to suggest otherwise. He’s a gem. But then he hardly arrived to Spurs from a nothing club. He starred for Internacional in their 2010 Copa Libertadores win.

No more mistakes, no more mis-reading of the games tempo and no more clumsy tackles and yellow cards (well, almost). In the Champions League he was quite simply superb. The pick of the bunch his performance away to AC Milan. His general defensive awareness as good as we’ve had, probably since Carrick. He allows others to flourish forward as he sits back and protects.

I’m excited at the prospect of seeing him in the team from the start of next season.


van der vaart

Just when the transfer window was about to shut, we were gifted a world class player at a steal. You can hardly say no. What you can say is, ‘how best to fit him in?’

I’m uncertain whether we’ve figured that one out. With a more robust centre-forward up ahead of him, perhaps we’d have seen more goals in our favour. He creates, he assists and he scores and he isn’t/wasn’t even 100% at any given moment during the course of the season. I hope his summer and pre-season is a great one because if he returns at the top of his physical peak, it will feel like we’ve signed him all over again.

I must have used the word galvanised a thousand times this season. It’s what Rafa does. His self-belief has proved vital and he’s practically dragged us up from the ground screaming and shouting in games, scoring all important goals and leading from the front – even though he’s not playing up front and can sometimes lose himself in deep areas between the defence and midfield that would leave Robbie Keane blushing.

Fourteen goals in a season of tinkering. Again, if Harry works out how to accommodate our key players in a formation that befits their talents and ability you’d be hard pressed to find a more attractive, pulsating midfield in the country.


Not to end this part of the review on a downer...

Palacios/Pienaar /Kranjcar/Jenas

Palacios has never fully recovered from his lowest ebb. A destroyer in his first season, he’s lost that intensity and with the emergence of Sandro and the inclusion of vdV and Bale on the left wing with Modric in the middle makes it extremely difficult and unlikely that he can work his way back into the side. A crying shame at £14M. I like him. He’s a good hard working lad who has lost his way and has failed to reclaim his past form. Again, we’ve been here many times before with players who we have written off and they’ve come back stronger. Just have a feeling that won’t happen for him at Spurs. Especially if we do end up signing another midfielder in the summer. Which I hope we don’t (other than perhaps a right-winger to cover Lennon).

Pienaar has been subjected to countless shrugs of despondency since his arrival. I’ll just say this: He was Everton’s player of the season. He’s no mug. Squad players should not be dismissed and he can and will do a job for us. He’s been here 5 minutes, give him a chance. Yes, he’s South African, and I would be dismayed if he was signed simply as a commodity (Khumalo anyone?) to aid with our SA fanbase. Okay, I admit he hardly fitted into the criteria we needed – but then when do we ever sign the right type of player? Charlie Adam – where would he have fitted into the side had he arrived during Jan? I think Pienaar is essentially a ‘Harry’ signing. Nice and cheap (wages excluded) and doesn’t quite make sense but does when he can offer cover. I'm trying to remain upbeat on this one. I'm probably in denial.

Kranjcar. Last season so so vital. This season, marginalised. Don’t think Harry utilised him enough and can’t see him at the club next season. Beautiful footballer and not too bad with the skills (boom boom). Rotation could have been slicker from the gaffer and Niko should have played far more minutes. Can’t remember what game it was now, but he was awful (along with one or two others) when given a start...but you wonder how much of that was down to man-management on the training pitch and sheer frustration.

Jenas? Injured for the best part of the season other than one decent cameo spell. He seems to be the perpetual squad player, always in and around the first team. But this season we’ve hardly had time to make disparaging comments because he’s hardly had the time on the pitch to live up to our low expectations of him. It’s not quite fair to be honest to say anything negative about the lad. He’s not been at the races. Another player who might be on his way in the summer. Because I can’t see how he’ll fit into the team any time soon. It's either him or Pienaar.


Next up, the forwards (or lack of).





Simply put; beat Blackpool, finish Top Four.


Last season, on a number of occasions, we dropped points but never lost sight of the target. It still took a monumental effort to take us into that must win game at Eastlands, makers of our own destiny if we chose to dare. Which we did. This season the trend has been one surrounding the quality of our form, and that we have yet to truly blossom into a free-flowing rampant goal-getting beast humping our way through the herd never asking for phone numbers or bothering with breakfast. But neither has anyone else. Not a b*stard to be had.

To continue to play this shy game of step aside that everyone seems to be partaking in remains one of great risk.

There is something very Spursesque about us doing it the hard way, written off by our own as well as the press. It's the fuel we consumed during the drive through the 2010 season. You half sort of give up hope because it's easy(ier) to prepare for dejection than it is to build yourself up for an even bigger fall because the height will hurt you even more if said hopes tumble. And climbing that ladder is for some, too much to cope with.

Been there, done it, didn't fall down. We've even moved onto a taller building. Ladder is fairly stern too.

Someone once said something about aiming high and something about an echo. Words mean little without action. We lived the words through our actions which is why, even if it's hardly 'glory' to finish fourth it was a necessary step that had to be fought for and celebrated when achieved.

Plenty believed our season was over at least four or fives times. Just when I thought I was out...they pull me back in. Agony, followed by glee, followed by agony. Would rather this time there was no debate around being anything but in.

Mind your step on the ladder.

Don't care if it's ugly, pretty or lucky. We have to win at Blackpool. I wont go as far as suggesting it would kill any ambitions we have to reclaim a Champions League position. Simply because of how this season has panned out and with the end in sight, nobody has yet to take a stranglehold with their consistency.

Yet. The key word. The same tired excuse to protect the dream.

It's time for us step it up and let others concern themselves with the catching up stuff. The less pressure we have on retaining a top 4 (screw it) a top 3 position as the weeks fly past the better. Our form is actually very good. We've been consistent, accumulating a healthy tally of points. What's required is avoidance of those occasional blips, hiccups that can cause hope to rise in others.

Harry claims (tonight) it's as big as the Milan game. It's not, but it is. It's the most important game we're going to be involved in this evening.

Of course it's frigging important.

What we've achieved in Europe has been nothing short of, well, Tottenham. Our unique brand of swash buckle, heart in mouth comebacks and unexpected (and devastating and patient) dismantling jobs - we've done it all. And nobody can pretend we've not made an impact on the continent. We have proven, without a shadow of a doubt, that we can compete at the very top level. Our learning curve has been one of fizzy refreshment in the usually bland and stale group games and maturity (thus far) in the knock-out stage. Perhaps next season we'd have to adapt further as we'll no longer be unknown entity. If there is a next season.

Blackpool and Wolves away, on paper, easy. In reality, hardly. We all know how the Wanderers have faired this season against the 'big' sides. And we all know how tireless and spirited Blackpool can be. But in paying respect, there's an admittance of the possibility of defeat.

We've yet to cement ourselves as a side that will finish top 4 season in season out. The landscape of the Prem might not allow another monopoly to exist. Others are expected to awake (Chelsea) and take (Man City) what is suggested to be rightfully there's based on the norm and money spent.

And what do I want? All I care for is the monopoly of one. The Tottenham paradox. Even the critics who were scoffing a season and a half ago are now drowning themselves in Lilywhite drenched plaudits. Bizarre but acceptable. But not enough, more is needed. The very thought of defeat pains me. Not that long ago it was almost a bi-weekly emotion. Spent most of the 1990s accepting its inevitability.

And in the present we've been written off more times than I care to count but now expectancy weighs down on us. Time for us all to just admit that we are now a very good side and that when hiccups are suffered, they're just that. And not throw-backs to a disease that still might plague us. We don't choke. We just sometimes, individually or collectively under perform. Like the vast majority of sides. Which is why we have a Spanish Inquisition when it happens.

No under performing tonight please. Let's under perform when we play West Ham and only beat them by three clear goals instead of five.

I know what you're thinking. It's only Blackpool away, get a grip of yourself you drama queen.

It's bread and butter and we need to eat it up. If we're going to truly elevate ourselves onto that next level of competitiveness then we need to show reinforced tenacity, as displayed in the last couple of Prem outings. Every game is a must win, right? But not every game is winnable and there are some games where less than three points (that being quite obviously a draw) is acceptable in the grand scheme of thirty eight games.

I've used that 'excuse' to defend my belief we would finish fourth last season. I've used it once or twice this season. Faith and all. I'm scrapping it for the purpose of our next two games.

This time, I'd rather not do it the hard way. Even if the hard way is the Tottenham way. Even if the hard way is more nail biting, exciting and entices that never say die attitude that makes us perform on an electric level of intensity that can sometimes give ample juice to the adrenalin that drives us beyond limited expectations*. And breathe.

*Best illustrated by the run-in last season which was and still is 'special'.

Belief was the key last time. Momentum, the buzz word for the present. Our progression, evolution - it doesn't stagnate. It hiccups, it's an annoyance, we down a glass of water, it sometimes works, we move on. Not always solving it the same way the next time it happens. But we don't look back. And we always move on.

We are spirited and driven. The culture of comfort at the Lane is long gone and we have players who play for the team, for each other and for the club. Hungry for success. Wanting to better themselves.

We might still lack a cutting edge and perhaps (arguably) there remains doubts on the consistency and delivery of Harry Redknapp's astuteness with tactics. We have key players missing. But yet here we are. In amongst it domestically and swaggering continentally.

Time to prove we can switch on for those wet wintry mid-week games as well as the high profile glamour ties (equally wet). Not just tonight, but Wolves in the next away game too. I have no more nails to bite and my heart is whimpering from the relentless emotional pulls.

The metamorphosis from plucky lucky pretenders to sustained genuine gritty yet silky contenders has to start somewhere.

This rallying war cry is probably going to fall on deaf ears, what with Redknapp citing 'miracle' for us to finish in the top four again. Backs to walls, bare bones. It's how he works his magic. Perhaps the hard way is the only way and I need to stand down from painting myself navy blue and white and screaming at the dodgy internet stream of the match like Mel Gibson in Braveheart. He failed (William Wallace) in the end. Aimed very high. However, even in his failure there was an echo of glory.

Hanged, disembowelled, drawn and quartered. Let it be the ones in Orange not the ones in Lilywhite.

Hiccups? Hold your breath.

Either way, I'm still going to need a heart transplant.







To Dare is to do 'em

Meelan 0 Tottenham 1


Football at the best of times is unpredictable. Expect the unexpected and such. It’s mostly unpredictable when attempting to assess how a game might pan out based on, well, based on form and selection and tactics and formation – which all stem from plenty of pre-match discussion in the build up to kick-off.

Myself and quite a few of you made a series of assumptions, much like we always do before a game. In this case, it’s AC Milan away and we’ve got a long list of missing players. I won’t talk about you here and instead concentrate for a moment on my preview of the game for a moment. Rather than attempt a zonal marking styled deep thinking analysis, I just opted for the subtle war cry based on the power of belief, emotion. You know, the fluffy stuff. With some controlled attacking football and plenty of heart and tenacity. It’s the easy way to write up a preview. Just ask and hope that the team stand strong together and give it some.

I was naive with my predicted starting eleven but then I hardly care for my foolishness. Because Harry Redknapp, that’s tactically astute Harry Redknapp, got it completely on the money, so much so that perhaps some of the non-believers will nod a gentle acknowledgement in his direction as a way of a thank you for leading the team out in the San Siro in possibly the most unexpected of circumstances in terms of performance and end result. Mature, disciplined and unequivocally focused from start to finish. What’s that? Magnificent? Go on then, and throw me a superb and a great to go with it.

Perhaps part of the misconception pre-match was spending too much time on those assumptions made about how the game would play out. A lot was made of Milan and their defensive and offensive qualities in their domestic campaign. Plenty of superlatives were made of their forwards and their experienced Champions League seasoned performers. Whilst most of us took extracted moments of indecisiveness and weakness from our league games and continued agendas against players we either dislike or don’t rate simply because of inconsistency and frustration back in the bread and butter of the Prem.

Equally so, many critics and neutrals cited our swashbuckling ‘we’re gonna score one more than you’ mantra from the group games and the additional possibility of a re-occurrence of stage fright.

So many potentials. Which is why I kept it simple before the game. Show some heart and some intent without playing over elaborate football that would leave us open to punishment.


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


What we did instead, and kudos to Harry, is set the team up to be highly competitive in the middle – the foundation to build on for the rest of the side to retain the ball, work tirelessly off it to regain it when lost and endeavour to push into forward positions to possibly carve out an opportunity.

I’m not going to be critical at all at the lack of massive chances/shots on the Milan goal. Let’s just remember nobody gave us a chance of winning, most of us thought we’ve do good to lose 2-1. The application and delivery of the team and instructions the gaffer gave them is testament to what we can achieve when we are completely focused – no matter who is missing.

Doesn’t matter if one of the assumptions made was over-rating the Italians or even under-estimating Harry. This was no fluke 94 minutes of football. This was a set of players proving to themselves, to us, to everybody that they compete at the very top level. I’m sure if we were full strength and Milan had their best side, we’d have witnessed an absolute humdinger. Instead, we got a top class display of character and concentration, frustrating the home side to the point of petulance (go on then Gattuso, have a go if you think you’re hard enough, Jordan eats hairy cavemen for breakfast, turns his milk hairy) and half-chances and cheating.

Tottenham, going all weak at the knees from fear when bullied by Young Boys to standing tall (in one case that extra bit taller) and executing a clinical whack to the back of the head of one of the dons of the European family.

How did we achieve it?

Gomes between the sticks. No dramatics. Just acrobatics. Two brilliant saves, the first game-saving. Did nothing wrong. When this Brazilian is on this type of form you’d let him sleep with your...well, you probably wouldn’t but it’s the thought that counts.

Corluka and BAE both linking up superbly with Lennon and Pienaar down the flanks. Charlie a victim of former scum, always scum Flamini. How he wasn’t sent off for his two-footed tackle is beyond most of us. Big of him to apologise post-game. Wondering how many flowers he would have had to bring to the hospital bed of Corluka if he had broken his leg. Hoping it’s not too serious, he’s (Charlie) a class act and he’s about 1000 times more reliable at the back than Hutton.

Benny was also a class act, as he’s been all season long. Doesn’t care about football, hey? Wish players cared as little as he did. 21 mis-placed passes apparently. Best drop him to the bench then.

Dawson and Gallas were also bang on it. It’s strange how leading up to this game Daws seemed out of sorts, erratic. Both were solid and without error, always in the right place to tidy-up. The whole backline suffocated the Zlatan Zeppelin, burning the big balloon of hot air to the ground. Hardly any time for Ibra, Robinho and the harassed (mostly by Wilson) Seedorf to play clever intricate balls. And even though Pato introduced an improved dimension to Milan’s play in the second half, it still wasn’t enough to generate any ilk of nerves and knee-jerks.

Sandro. Palacios. Our two defensive midfielders in the middle tirelessly biting at ankles. Wilson perhaps over enthusiastic at times and still occasionally too slow to move the ball on when in possession – but enough negatives. His first half performance was part of the catalyst that saw us nullify any threat. Milan’s midfield had no time to think or create and simply failed to take a stranglehold allowing us to dictate our own comfort. Talk about taking responsibility. Well done.

The selection of Sandro was a master-stroke. Pre-match (assumptions) you wondered if it was fair, the baptism of fire. Some doubt lingered, to do with playing him alongside Wilson. It worked perfectly. He’s always struck me as a player that remains unfazed and mentally strong. Just off the Prem pace at times as he finds his feet in England, but in this clash – top drawer. Showed glimpses of the future. Positioning and movement, quick on his feet when using his brain and his tackle (ooh). Just ace. He's going to be a beast. But the type of beast that never looks he's going to break sweat beasting it. Well done Spurs do exist afterall.

Outlet of Lennon on the wing and Pienaar on the opposite flank chasing down balls as well as aiding when moving it forward. Azza (with no Bale) was always going to be key to crafting out a chance - what with us set-up with just the two dimensions (Lennon, on the flank, Crouch up top with his head). Got into some great positions, not always the best cross and sometimes not used and found when perhaps his team mates should have looked towards him to pass. But how simple and cool and calm was the only pass that mattered, off the feet of Aaron to the feet of Crouch?

Pienaar, pre-match, spoke about European football being just like a game of chess, and once more, some of us scoffed that this would mean Harry would perhaps look to sit back, defend, soak it up and counter. Not quite sit back and defend with complete lack of ambition, but counter we did – and it was worthy of bishop taking queen, chess board knocked to ground with the opposing player trying to head butt the victor.

van der Vaart, intelligent on the ball, off it, led by example. This guy cost £8M for the love of God, we should write up a cheque to Madrid for an extra £25M because the guilt must be killing us. Cracking effort with the chip, just sublime, just not quite perfect for what would have been the ultimate. What was so brilliant about his role, his responsibility out there, was his link-up play was practically seamless when he left the field of play to be replaced by Modric.

Both players, obviously not 100%, yet both imperious to making it tick, what with the overwhelming physicality of our DM’s allowing pockets of freedom to roam. Luka, armed with remote control (the ball has an electronic chip in it) hardly ever losing possession, dinking here there and everywhere – always looking for a touch and a pass, always making sure we didn’t stagnate and remain motionless. Earlier in the game, especially the first half, I kept thinking had he started I would not have been anywhere near being nervous. The game was so made for him to dictate. It was just good to have him back and no surprise he was involved in the goal.

Sandro interception, Modric releasing Lennon, Lennon running full pelt, finding Crouch, superb finish. 0-1. Bask in a classic counter-attack. What I thought we couldn't do, we did. Soak it up, hit 'em on the break.

And what of Mr Majorly Maligned? Did not expect him to be fit (I guess that was the closet thing to kidology we got pre-match), possibly wasn’t completely in prime condition (sorry if I missed it but I’m guessing he took injections to play?) showed us that on the right stage and most definitely in Europe’s elite competition, he is imperative to how we line-up. It just works. Doesn’t matter how or why, it just does. Diagonal balls to his head (not that he got many of them thanks to the panic marking), the flick-ons, the chest downs and holding up of the ball, his touch and his composure when handed the golden opportunity for that all important away goal. Yet another player who did not stop working till the final whistle. Also did well to keep the dog on its leash. Plenty of bark, no bite. And no problem for Peter to laugh off.

They all worked their socks off. What topped it all off was Woodgate coming on (still having to rewind and’s him, it’s not CGI, I’m certain of it). Niko also impressive when taking to the field.

All of it, the way the script unravelled itself, just perfectly. Selection, temperament, tempo and belief. Confidence simply oozed.

Sure, we had one or two heart in mouth moments, great call at the death from the assistants who disallowed the Ibra bicycle kick. Would have been tragic to draw, even though that would have been more than acceptable before kick-off.

The first half – one of the best 45 minutes I’ve seen in terms of how we conducted ourselves. Owning their patch and dominant in application.

The second half – Milan asked more questions, but just fumbled and stuttered as they attempted to make a statement. Spurs making paper aeroplanes out of the crumbled paper-thin attempts. And on the occasions they did manage to be concise and to the point, we (Gomes especially) countered it with a sterling comeback, faltering any chance of a sustained argument.

Meelan, not having Pirlo in there was very much detrimental to how we all expected them to perform. I guess, perhaps in some way, they were disjointed (something I would have tagged us with when witnessing Sandro and Wilson starting) and they struggled to get to grips leaving us to take the initiative. Even on the back foot we remained tight and crowded out their attacks. Gattuso summed them up. Uncertain, erratic and nervous. He's also apologised for his actions. He'll miss the return. Says he and Jordan were both talking Scottish to each other on the touchline, during their fiery incidents. What's Scots Gaelic for 'you're missing with the wrong man son'?

So, in conclusion, I wanted us to have a go. And we did, but we did so with an unexpected twist. We birthed offensive play from the sheer gritty defensive qualities we displayed from start to finish. Even if it was partly one-dimensional. It was enough to come away victorious. We did not allow anything to rattle us. Even when it got a little tasty and dirty. Although I found myself laughing at Gattuso punching the ground (if that’s meant to rile up the home support perhaps we can get one of our players to run out with a spade in the home leg and dig a hole for the Milan players to hide in).

Wasn't pure Tottenham in terms of exhilarating pulsating expansive football. But it worked. And kudos again to the gaffer for it. Milan, out-smarted. Defensively, flawless. Italy's top side contained. Clean sheet – what more can you ask for? Away goal? Got that too. Every man a hero. Would dearly like to understand the psychology behind how teams can produce football performances like this. I dare us to perform like that week in week out. We won't, but then if we continue to play like this in the CL, our adventure might yet continue into the quarters.

Professional and mature Tottenham. What happened to the 4-3's then?

English clubs have a habit of getting results in the San Siro. Looks like we've gatecrashed yet another party. Outstanding performance. This team proved on their day they can compete with anyone. No fear. Belief, it transcends individuals and players to the next level. We have to win games like last night to breed that winning mentality. The further we get into this competition the better we'll be for it. Take this attitude to the Prem please.

Our evolution continues.

As for the return leg? Harry has to make sure that the players understand this is far from over, backs to wall regardless of last night. We should play out the return leg like we're a goal down. Some of that Spurs v Inter intensity. Bale should be back. Modric and vdV might start. I expect us to revert back to a more traditional controlled attacking style, marauding down both flanks with devastating pace. Refer you again to the dismantling of Inter. That’s how we should set up to play. It’s only 1-0. And even though the likes of Ibra and Robinho flatter to deceive and tend to disappoint, both are more than capable of scoring something out of nothing. Especially as many now would pencil us the favourites to get through.

We can worry about that in three weeks time.

Football, it’s about moments. So please do stick this one in your history books. Until we meet the The Rossoneri again, go get drunk on the fumes of yet another Glory Glory night.


To Dare is to do 'em.



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.



63.02%, triffic

What with real life getting in the way, I've not quite done a match report on the Young Boys game and our safe passage through to the CL proper. So, here's some belated bits and pieces and some post-match commentary.

The performance (4-0)

Wasn't vintage Spurs by a long shot but there was no necessity for anything more than what was given. We did enough, and enough was more than enough. We all know that deep down we have a deficiency as fans to think of the worst case scenario. It's a defensive mechanism to aid in appeasing any potential disaster, but it's also something that has engulfed our match-day psyche. Plenty of people thought they might nick an away goal. I thought we might be in for a tough night. In the end, the true difference in class was more than evident. They were hardly the plastic fantastics of the first game.

We might not have been 100mph or swash-buckled our way through them in the pouring rain, but we were professional. Rode our luck (Defoe goal) and just got it done. There were pockets of tension thanks to the sheer importance of getting through, for the first time ever, which meant it was all a bit tense until the fourth goal went in.

Good solid performance. Happy days. Soz to all the trolls. You can now move onto your 'you're gonna get smashed in the group stages' one-liner.


Anyone still got doubts on this one? He was superb. Is superb. We all know he can pass and now we are seeing him take control and dictate. For all his lack of mobility, his intelligent moving (off the ball) makes up for the lack of pace. And he's only a youngster. We have ourselves a giant, one that can sit in the middle of midfield and ping balls out to the wings without even having to look up, retaining possession when required (although he has to be careful with spending too much time caressing the ball). His technique is sublime and there is evidence that although his weakness with defensive duties has been a bugbear in the past, he's displaying far more composure and positional awareness. Which can only help the team when under pressure. European football will suit him just dandy.


I love this guy. He's not perfect. The way he flirts with the offside trap does my head in, but he's a pure finisher. What he has to add to his game (which is going to be difficult considering how instinctive he is) can be illustrated by what should have been the 3rd goal. He missed the target when it was easier to lay the ball off to Crouch or Palacios. Against top drawer opposition, we might not get an abundance of chances. So cool head please Jermain.


I heart you Gareth. You, your barnet, your marauding runs down the wing. Your confidence and belief that you can beat a man. Your class technique and touch, the way you smash past the opposition. And the fact that you can have a fairly average quiet game in terms of lacking beastly front-line destruction, but still get four assists. Bale v Maicon? I'm positively drooling.


Our current much maligned forward, because he's not prolific. Not sure why there's persistent stories linking him with moves to Stoke and Everton when Peter appears to be that awkward styled option that will cause one or two defensive problems for our CL opposition. He's going to score a few for us in Europe. Harry loves him. I can't see him leaving.


A&E. Not actually heard anyone call him this at Tottenham or anywhere else other than in the comments section of this blog and on one or two other blogs. He's meant to be reckless. A bit maverick with his positioning. And yet, all I see is continued improvement. He's got a bite about his play. We don't need to fret about this position.


Hasn't regained his form, has games where he's on top of it and then several games where there is a distinct lack of concentration. Not sure what the answer is here. Sandro will gradually be introduced and there are whispers (as ever) of potentially signing another midfield for further depth for the games ahead. Wilson might end up being marginalised because of the competition, and his confidence continue to degrade. Harry needs to hug him harder. To me, he still looks like he's hurting, and to be honest, I don't blame him. But if he's detrimental to the side, then we've got to make the sacrifice and get him fixed up. On form, he's a revelation for us. At the moment, he's a risk.


Nutter. I know he was probably genuinely injured the other night (pulled out of the Brazil squad), but f**king 'ell, how soft is he? I was actually pleasantly surprised he didn't start crying when Harry waved him to stay on the pitch. Looked like Harry was more annoyed than anything.

The Champions League Draw

Group A
Inter Milan, Werder Bremen, Tottenham, FC Twente.

Happy? Can't say there's an easy group at this stage. I mean come on, this is the premier competition in world club football. And what's the point in wanting to avoid certain teams? Arguably, its not a sexy group we could have got. It's not quite as glamorous as facing the White Storm or Barca and you could also argue that as a spectacle, playing Inter might be a touch overly defensive (on their part) but, who cares. This is what it's all about. We've got a chance. Can't wait to see how we get on and how Harry intends to compete against Rafa and his inherited champions of Europe.

So, can we now play the kids in the Carling Cup?

Transfer 'targets' and Redknappology

I don't think Harry is about to come out and say who we might be after or how close we are. It's all a bit messy what with him telling us we need 3 players to challenge (a few weeks back) to now saying we don't need to improve the squad. It's all part of the game, but its one of many contradictions. But what does it matter, as the stories that get printed never seem to refer back to any original statements any ways, so with every day, it's something new when in fact its something old and re-churned.

Of course we want to improve the squad. Consolidation is now imperative. Just no need for any massive massive changes. Two new arrivals is more than likely. I've got my fingers crossed for a major signing 'upfront' which will also involve the departure of Robbie Keane. Quite an obvious prediction there, but its one that sits well with me at the moment.

Harry Redknapp

The 4-0 win was Harry's 50th with Spurs, 96 matches into his THFC tenure.

P96 W50 - D21 - L25 - F163 - A103

Winning Percentage: 52% Overall Record: 63.02%




Wilson's yellow card conundrum

I do love Wilson Palacios. If you happened to tape last nights FA cup action, watch the game from around the 88th minute. And keep an eye on our Honduran Panther as he goes on a quest to pick up a yellow card. It's hilarious, diving in, taking down players yet every time doing enough to warrant all the effort perfectly legal - be it ugly and untidy. One rash attempt when he seemed to lunge towards the ball had him cleanly win it obviously by mistake. Bless. Perhaps a naughty tap of the oppositions back-heel with his boot or a tug of a shirt would have resulted in a quick-fire yellow. The fact he tried so hard so late in the game was borderline silly, as he could have quite easily risked a red. I mean, how do you go about getting a yellow card by tackling someone badly? It's not a bright idea.

So, what does this mean now with regards to the up and coming matches?

If he gets booked on Saturday he misses Sunderland away and the FA Cup semi-final. But he'll be back to face Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United. So perhaps he can play on Saturday, try not to get booked (which probably means he will get booked) and then rest him against Sunderland to then be eligible to play in the semi-final. Although Sunderland away is not going to be an easy day out, so perhaps we should just play him in every game and let the Gods decide.

Apparently if he reaches April 11th (semi-final day) without having picked up another yellow card, then my understanding is the cards get wiped (or he needs a further 2 to get a suspension - I think). In fact, if anyone knows or can confirm - let me know and I'll update this article accordingly.

Anyways, well worth checking out his attempts to foul the opposition.

Big Willy style.


Really Mad is our Wilson

Palacios to Madrid? It's an exclusive apparently, with The Sun running the story that Wilson would one day like to play for Real Madrid. And one day I'd like to return to the white island, Ibiza, and dance my arse off on the terrace at Space (although ideally would prefer to be part of the chemical casualty mess that is/was DC10). But that's not going to happen because DC10 has shut-down thanks to the corrupt police force and government. But that doesn't mean I won't return to Ibiza. I'm sure I will. Just wont be able to go exactly where I want because the choice won't be available to me. Much like Wilson probably won't join Madrid, but might end up at another club that plays CL consistently.

Look, let's be honest here. If he rediscovers the form he had prior to the death of his brother, someone bigger will attempt to pluck him from our grasp. It always happens. It's big fish eat little fish. On current form, and believe me he is imperative to our backbone, he's Premier League class, international class but not world class. Not to say Madrid don't sign their fair share of not-great players, but at the moment we can sleep peacefully about it. He won't  be moving on anytime soon.

He's ambitious. He obviously has much self-belief and it's a shame not all our players think the same way because then the collective eagerness to be better might pull the whole club forwards. And if we move forwards, enough to finish 4th, then Wilson wouldn't have to move.

The Sun have lifted the quotes from this interview here.

And in fact (thanks to a part translation from Cule-Spur), Wilson actually states the following:

"I'll keep working hard so that I'll soon have the possibility of playing for a bigger club."

Which is probably more worrying (if you're that way inclined) than the quote from the tabloid that reads as follows:

"I am really happy at Tottenham but I will continue working for a future move to a bigger club"

If anyone can translate the interview in full, please do. Other bits translated - from Cule-Spur - include Wilson talking about the anger he felt after his performance against Arsenal earlier in the season. He states he would love to play for Real Madrid (no shocker) and before you crucify the guy, he does say that he's never thought about playing for a bigger English club because he's very happy at Spurs.

Obviously, without question, if any player at the club no longer wants to be at the club, then show them the door. If the time comes, then take the pin and move it slowly towards the effigy. It does make me shake my head though how footballers don't stop to think how their comments might be perceived and latched onto and then possibly have their quotes distorted (not that they have in this case) and cause an ever so slight air of despondency. All quite unnecessary really.

Wilson - you play for Spurs. Talk up Spurs.

But regardless of all this non-eventfulness, sing up for The Panther and the team. Don't let the bed-bugs bite. This will be forgotten about tomorrow.


Heroes and Villains - Part I

Was going to write up an award-style blog looking back at 2009 and it's highlights but thanks to some inspiration I'm opting to go instead with a heroes/villains piece. A sort of player-by-player review and accompanying aspirations for each individual for the year ahead.

Gomes - Hero

All gone a little quiet hasn't it? We usually have to listen to plenty of 'ooh look he's flapping' sound bites when commentators knee-jerk as per their contractual mantra on being overly critical of our Brazilian import and his keeping abilities. Okay, so he was a bit shaky for a time and struggled with the odd injury and brought it on himself, but he's not only dug deep, he's fought hard to reclaim some pride and done so with some breathtaking saves and some consistency with decision making. He has personality, and unlike Robinson before him, he has belief and it's a true testament to his character that he has rebuilt himself in this fashion. He has captured the types of headlines that made him a transfer target in the first place. On form, he wins us points. And he's on form. We do not need David James.

Do more in 2010: Instinctive out of this world shot-stopping, and the simple things.
Do less of in 2010: Crying, using brain in scenarios where there is too much time to think.

Bentley - Villain

I have nothing personal against David Bentley. I don't know him. I know of him only by what he does on the pitch and how he presents himself as a Tottenham player in the public eye. So at the moment it's fair to say he's coming across as a bit of an apologetic prick. We've been here so many times with David, trying to figure out what's going on in that head of his. Dealing with facts, pure footballing facts, he's been the ultimate flop. Claims to be a Spurs fan, dream move, la la la, and apart from that goal he's struggled to find an ounce of self belief that would help elevate his confidence to a passable level.

He has attempted to showboat himself out of trouble and it's been one face palm on top of another. But then it's not all his fault. Yes, that's right, let's pin it on the DoF system and Comolli simply because everything is the fault of the Frenchman. Making a 'big money name player of the moment' signing in the wake of Robbie Keane leaving for Liverpool. A player who can only play right-wing and but is hardly a wing-wizard. There is no doubt he has ability. And you'd think, Bentley cross + Crouch head = Goal goal goals. But alas, he's either injured or on the bench and rarely showing any signs of life.

Even with Azza out, I'd much prefer to see Niko and Modric in the starting line-up rather only one of the two Croatians and Bentley slotting in on the right.

Time to end this. Reserve team football to Sunderland perhaps. Not sure I see the point in loaning him out to anyone. Get something back for our troubles. Anything. Let’s face it, it won’t be £15M.

Do more in 2010: Play football rather than play football from memory.
Do less of in 2010: Star jumps, lurking on rooftops, living in skips.

Jenas - Dysfunctional side-kick

The definitive poster-boy is still in Lilywhite. You know what, I can never imagine him wearing another shirt. Honestly, don't mean to scare you, but he's become synonymous with Tottenham. He's like the physical representation of the club. Promises much, delivers little. And with the club showing (dare I say it) signs of changing, perhaps its time for us to firm-handshake and man-hug a goodbye to JJ - who bless him, remains in a state of flux. Apparently, he's a good player. So say all managers who have managed him. I guess he must be something akin to Pele out on the training pitch. But when he was once upon a time a first team starter, he's seen himself relegated and lost in the mighty big shadow of Tom Huddlestone.

So, what does Jenas do exactly? Splits fans, as ever. And it's been discussed to death. He was meant to be the complete midfield. Box to box, defend, attack, score. He's got the lungs. But he lacks the heart. What we get instead is plenty of potential and little end product. But that term, 'potential', is very much an easy way out, forgiving his inconsistency. Fact is, if he doesn't fulfil expectations perhaps its because those expectations are beyond him. When JJ 'turns it on' he's immense. And the mistake made is expecting or believing that particular version of JJ is the one he should be producing week in and week out. The reality is different. Jenas may well be an average player who once in a while excels to giddy heights. Or maybe, just maybe, he's a good player - not good enough for the Top 4, but good enough for teams outside of the cartel and one that won't be plucked away from us, in the same fashion as Carrick was. This can't be as good as it gets, can it?

Every summer we say 'this is the year for him'. I've been saying it for 4 years now. And still we wait. I like him. I wish he was arrogant, I wish he was a piece of shit personality wise. Driven by the desire to be the very best. Look at Lampard of Gerrard. In comparison, there is no comparison.

At the moment, Hudd offers more than JJ does.

Do more in 2010: Tackle boy, don't be afraid, you're not going to hurt it. It feels no pain. It's a football. It loves to be treated rough.
Do less of in 2010: Playing hide and seek out on the pitch. WE CAN SEE YOU, THERE'S NOWHERE TO HIDE.

Palacios - Hero

Here's to a better 2010 for Wilson. Last year was not a good one for the lad and his performances since very early season have been a mix bag. Maybe not as disciplined or sharp with his passing as he can be when completely on top of his game. He's been off-key. But he still brings something to the side that we have lacked for an age. He's a beast. A brick wall. The defensive enforcer we have desperately wanted for. Even a Wilson at 60% is better than a Zokora at 80% (although if we are talking pure comedy and dancing then obviously Wilson is rubbish in comparison). Harry has to get him playing with discipline again. The second part of the season needs us to be completely on top of our game and with Modric back and Niko looking to play a part in the same line-up, we have to be strong in the centre. Is another DM on the way? Sandro? I'd go with that if whomever arrives is an understudy for Palacios. He needs a time out every now and again. He is vital to our midfield and our progression. But he is one man. And no, bringing back Jamie O'Hara is not the answer to the understudy question.

Do more in 2010: Bite. Bite them. Bite all of them.
Do less of in 2010: Air miles. Any chance we can move all Honduran international games to London?

Crouch, Defoe, Kranjcar, Hutton, Huddlestone, Pavlychenko, Bassong, Corluka, King, Assou-Ekotto, Woodgate, Bale, Lennon, Keane, Modric, Giovani and Dawson to follow...


How do we fix him? Play him? Bench him? Hug him?

Does he even need fixing?

He's a bit lethargic. Expect more from him. The way he's moving around, he's just cumbersome. Okay, so he shows us glimpses and there are positives but it's not in anyway a complete performance. It's all we get from him. He's disappointing and not showing signs of improvement. Not in a big-step kinda way.

Jenas right? Huddlestone? Nope. Neither.

Wilson Palacios.

The question is simply this. If Wilson's current and recent displays (arguably nowhere near the tenacious and disciplined marshal of the midfield we were blessed with at the back end of last season) belonged to either the much maligned JJ or Hudd - we’d be crucifying them. Not that we don't anyway.

Are we too soft on Palacios simply because we know that when he's on song, he's a monster of a player (unlike the other two who are not quite at the same level of expectancy and delivery)? Or does he still offer too much to ignore even when he's not at his very best? Meaning he still has a positive effect on the side and tactics.

Is he perhaps immune to really loud criticism? Interested to know what people think. Interested to know if some of you are even aware that he's not quite 100% at the minute, because opinions on this seem to vary depending on who I'm talking to/reading.

Personally, he has to be there in the mix of things regardless. Because we don't have another option. Which is not the best way to handle the matter. His form is a little confused at the moment, especially his passing. But take him out of the side, and where does the protection came from? Hence the need for an understudy come this Jan transfer window.


Is there a problem?
Is he detrimental to the side when not playing well (because of the importance of his role)?
Do we have to be patient and wait for him to reclaim form?
Will he do so when the team finds a satisfying equilibrium?

I believe in the lad. Smashing lad he is. And he's no Zokora, who was also a smashing lad, just lacked a brain.

I just can't seem to work out why General Wilson is 'suffering' at the moment (other than the personal problems he experienced the death of his brother). Which might answer my question.


Rome wasn't built in a day

Dear Mr Levy,

Rome wasn't built in a day. But then again Rome wasn't built with plasticine. It seems that’s the main building block used by our centurions as they attempt to fathom the foundations for a brave new empire. Our putty like team of very small creatures is becoming stop-motion when it should be morphing and leaving all the goobledygook behind. It's the cause of missed heart beats. Are you as nervous as I am? You should be.

The last thing we want is for us to lose our grip on this very precious chance we've been given. You know exactly what I'm talking about. This season, nobody wants to do consistency. But at some point, someone, possibly more than one club will hit form. And if we're left behind then we'll be face palming well into the summer months at another lost opportunity. We don’t have to be great, we just have to be good. A little better than good will do just fine.

New stadium? Grand. Lovely. But that’s years away. And we've still got to get planning permission for it. And I can't be staring at photos of the proposed structure for the next half a decade whilst others travel around Europe visiting already built and populated stadia in the Champions League. Applause for all the sterling work off the pitch, with the business side of the club. I'm not naïve, I know that in this day and age the finances have to be strong in order for us to be able to spend £15M a pop on the latest player of the moment. Everything is primed and in place. It always has been. But that cutting edge in both decision making on a managerial level and on a chairman level has been left wanting. Leaving us with no cutting edge where it matters most - on the pitch.

You say, in a round-about-way that there is no money to spend on players. Meaning to sign someone we need to sell someone. Harry then comes out and suggests that all the proposed outgoing players according to the press are not actually going anywhere. And in the midst of all this we are meant to be signing Sandro. That's the Brazilian defensive midfielder, not Harry's better half. Classic word play there.

Obviously, what is said publicly is never a true reflection of what is going on behind the scenes, and that should be the case. No need to be in the know until the press conference. How we get there does not matter, as long as we do. As long as the conclusion is identical to the one the majority are hoping for. And in this case, the majority want to see certain players gone and brand spanking new ones arrive. You might believe that consistency regarding players is the way forward, but if some players are not capable of that, then consistency will never be forthcoming.

Recent results have highlighted that the team under Harry requires a bit of tweaking. By tweaking I mean gutting and by a bit I mean the same amount Jack the Ripper ripped out of his victims.

Harry has a monumental job in attempting to reshape a culture of comfort that exists deep in the psychosis of the club, no matter the players, staff or coach. The same niggling reoccurring issue of mental strength arises. Perhaps it’s our transfer policy and the ilk of players we traditionally bring here that are of a certain criteria that is only good enough for a mid-table to a rare 5th place position. Any player with true hunger for genuine success, looks elsewhere and we become a stepping stone for those who truly believe they can achieve more. Rather than those who don’t quite grasp the moment and remain content, chasing shadows on the field of play and women in bars.

Carrick moves on striding forwards with confidence. Jenas stays, picking his nose and chasing butterflies.

As a collective we constraint the entity that is Tottenham, eleven players, lacking a sustained balance to shift up a gear to the next level. From one generation to the next. It has to end. And doing it slowly slowly leaves no potential for a conveyor belt of club shop dvd releases. Score-draws are so yesterdays news darling. We want more. Much more. And we want it now.

It's time to throw more money at the problem at hand. It's the only way to fix it. No time for patience. No time to wait for the players to learn from their mistakes and grow together. They have taken us as far as they can. Harry (when he arrived) rid the club of the cloud of depression, got the players working as a unit, got us strong and capable away from home and lifted belief. But these blips we are experiencing are ones that are becoming detrimental to our immediate ambitions. It's because some of the players are punching above their weight and failing to land any shots.

The responsibility is split between yourself, the coach and the players. But one cannot move to resolve it unless the other two aid its attempt.

The blips need removing. Show Harry the money. Let Harry make the changes to the team and that will allow the team to turn from plasticine into something more quantifiable. Like Lego. You can build cool stuff with Lego. Like the Millennium Falcon. Plasticine doesn't do hyperdrive. And let's face it, Han Solo or Lando Calrissian sitting on top of a ball of clay in the midst of the Galactic Civil War is never going to be a cool or productive sight to behold. And remaining on this literal space kick...

Robbie Keane is playing football out of phase, like that episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation where Geordi La Forge's quantum state is out of sync with normal matter, leaving him invisible to all around him. Unable to influence anything or anyone around him. If I remember correctly, it was thanks to a transporter accident. Something that is quite possibly the reason behind Robbie's demise since his road trip north went south. He can't even be arsed to wave his hands around and shout anymore. That's the damage Rafa inflicted on this once crowd favourite. The player that made Berbatov look great.

Crouch isn't scoring the goals - proving that tall players are only good for hoofing the ball up to their head, and as he's useless with his head, he doesn't really do enough with his feet to warrant a place alongside Defoe. Honestly, that thing he does with his feet. You know, the controlling of the ball? Don't shout it out but I swear I've seen normally sized players do the same. Ssh.

And as for Defoe, over-rated. Scores five against Wigan then misses a penalty against Everton and does nothing against Wolves. That's all the evidence I need. He's due another loan spell.

Pavlyuchenko? I can't actually remember the last time I saw him play. Does he still wonder the aisles in the Tescos over in Waltham Abbey looking to pick up cheap dvd players with the aid of his interpreter? Can you perhaps email Comolli and ask him to forward the youtube link that he based his decision to sign him on? Perhaps we can sue the Frenchman for industrial sabotage.

The midfield requires more weight. And I'm not talking about feeding Huddlestone extra cheeseburgers. There is no leader, no one to scream and shout at the players. It's a fundamental basic ingredient. And it's missing. Talking of which, your poster boy Jenas is still knocking around. Doing what exactly remains a mystery. But there he is. There. Just standing, watching, as the world passes him by. Young English player with bonus sell-on value. So when the fuck do you ever plan on selling him then? HIS VALUE IS DECREASING WITH EACH SUNSET MATE.

And as for Hutton. Allow me to make a suggestion here based on what I know from experience. He was signed from Rangers. That's it. No more questions your honour, no more questions. Players that look good up in Scotland will probably be passable at a Championship side down south. I guess if the club spends £8M on Dean Richards, then £8M on Alan Hutton is a given. You know, cause we don't want to appear to be racialists.

Gio. Mexican. Likes to party. Doesn’t like to train. Played for Barcelona. He's going to be a mega star. He just needs time. More time. And protection. Just like Adel out on loan to QPR. Both world beaters. You just wait and see. Just wait. They can dribble, the lads. Get 'em playing for us. Recall Adel. Play Gio. I'm telling you, it's…okay, this one, it's going nowhere fast.

Even the good ones are struggling. Take Wilson Palacios who has gone from beast to Gruffalo. He has lost the tenacity and discipline to own the space between defence and the oppositions midfield. Like a key lost behind the sofa, he's busy looking for it in the kitchen. Its behind the sofa! The sofa, Wilson, the sofa! He just needs to refocus. Thankfully, that might happen with the aid of a little Croatian by the name of Luka. Small enough to fit his skinny arms and reach out for the missing key. But we cannot place all hope on his petite shoulders.

The back four changes it's line-up more times than Danielle Lloyd changes…ah, nah, I'm not going to go there. Way too easy. I'll be the first not to.

And don't even dare get me started on David Bentley. You know Dave, right? He's the one making mischief with the star jumping and the skip shooting. You can't miss him. He's wearing a wolf costume. And as punishment, Harry sends him to bed without his supper. And in his room a mysterious wild forest and sea grows out of his imagination and he sets sail to the Land of the Beck Things. These are smouldering good looking sexy creatures that Dave conquers by staring into their beautiful green eyes without blinking once and is made the King of all Beck Things. And he dances around with them in a not so but quite possibly metrosexual way and has much fun and then finds himself lonely and homesick so he returns to find that although his supper was left waiting for him, it was now gone. Yep. No hot supper. No, it wasn't Tommy. Not this time. It was patience. Patience ate his supper, his last supper. And as far as I'm concerned he can go back to his imagination land with his showboats and row z free-kicks if it means selling him to any mug willing to take him off our hands.

The problems we have, they are obvious ones. Do not allow complacency to ruin it. Remove the dead parts. Replace them. And then work with the improved group to further improve their state of mind. Your job is to make sure that Harry has the support to birth consistency before we lose our way completely.

All this is quite possibly in hand already. So I guess this just serves as a reminder of what I'm expecting. Because you know, us fans know exactly how a football club and team should be run more than anyone. Take note and get back to me at the end of January.




Do not fade away, my darling Hotspur

International abyss over and out. Finally back to the bread and butter business of the Premiership. And one simple ask for the boys in Lilywhite:

Do not fade away.

We've done fine getting ourselves in the upper regions of the table, even with the almost eternal loss of Modric and one or two other hiccups, we've picked up points more so than failing to. But if our form continues to stagnate, then I can see us dropping 2/3 positions and then yo-yo'ing between 7th and 5th. Which wouldn't be too bad but considering the form of others, it would be a disappointment not to give it a more determined go and continue to hang onto 4th spot before the likes of those other pretenders, City, punch their way out of the paper bag they're in and Liverpool awaken from their coma.

Wilson, bless his wonderfully big heart, is not the player he was last season. Obviously deeply saddened by the death of his younger brother his form has been lopsided. Which is understandable. He'll rediscover his discipline soon enough and channel the anger and regret through his footballing boots. He has to. He knows it. We just need to continue to support him. I'm making an assumption that his dip is down to the loss of his brother. It's probably a mixture of different things including no Luka (it's always about the Moddle) and plenty of trips across to Honduras for internationals. Regardless, what I'm not going to accept is some of the idiot Spurs fans who are know claiming that Wilson is suddenly no better than Zokora. Honestly chaps, please do one and stop embarrassing yourselves.

Another potential problem that has caused Palacios to be a little off his game is the conundrum of who should be standing tall by his side in midfield. Things started well this season with Huddlestone paired up with him in the middle and when Jenas came into the fold one or two expected the dynamite partnership we were treated to towards the back end of last season.

Once again, we've been let down. Jenas sometimes reminds me an eskimo. Cool, ice cold and in control -  a blank white canvas surrounding him with ball at feet, prepared to paint a rainbow of colours. Not sure how that's an eskimo exactly. Perhaps and eskimo with a paint brush? But suddenly, the igloo behind him melts along with all the surrounding snow and the sudden hot temperature has our man sweating, unable to withstand the heat he strips off his clothes and runs around in a daze of confusion incapable of avoiding the glare of the hot unforgiving sun whilst neighbouring penguins look on with despondency, nodding their heads and groaning as naked Jenas eskimo falls into a crack in the ice whispering for help as he drowns. When the conditions suit him, he's a triffic player. He has no fear. Think Derby at home. Or even Arsenal. Such is the impossibility of knowing when he'll show up. But when the conditions do not suit him, he's beyond average (in the wrong direction). He's the most consistent of inconsistencies is our JJ.

Huddlestone, some of us thought, would take the opportunity of JJ's early season injury and cement his position alongside the General. But as expected (by the rest of us) the well known deficiencies in his armour have been once more shown up. So we are left with the January transfer window and the possibility of a new recruit to bolster the weak link in the side. The same weak link we had at the start of the season but failed to plug thanks to a drawn-out chase of various DM's - all of which came to nothing.

I'd expect Hudd to partner Wilson on Sunday v Wigan and the comfort of a home match might allow us to attempt to dictate play and tempo. If Palacios is in good nick and bites ankles, then Huddlestone might give us a quarter-back special, which will have us drooling again for another week before he's shown up as being slower than the QE2 attempting to do a u-turn in the Sahara desert.

Would dearly love to see Niko out on the left (still no Modric) and the return of Lennon on the right. No doubt Defoe will start up front and absolutely no doubt Keane will partner him.

That's Robbie 'played very well against the French' Keane. Robbie '5 goals in 6 league games' Keane. That's Robbie 'he's got a clause in his contract and that's the reason he's playing and it's not because of his form, no sir, it's not' Keane.

Ledley at the back? If we can rest him further, then I'd happily take that. He's another who's been out of sorts recently but rather than hang my head downwards in depression and start balling my eyes out about how this is all evidence of the demise of the King, I'd rather not. It's a lull. His knee hasn't gone to the dogs just yet. Perhaps this is a game for Awesome Dawson to smile his way through and allow Ledders extra time on the sidelines resting. It's not a perfect system, I know. Our best defender, with one knee. In the long term this isn't helping anyone chopping and changing.

As for the game itself.

We need the team to give us a confident performance. That’s one that sees us play well, dominate possession and swagger it with tasty end product. One that keeps us 4th in the table.

No banana skin frolics or daft defending.

Prediction? I'm going for a home win. I know, I know. Shocker.