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Entries in Sunderland (15)


Danny wouldn't be impressed

Sunderland 0 Spurs 0

I'm fairly certain the reason we lacked any vibrant sharp urgency was because our players were battling narcolepsy having to watch Sunderland that close up. I know I was. I spent most of the game counting sheep. There was no tempo to our play which was a massive shame because had we stepped it up a notch we'd have won this comfortably. Although it would have entailed our players firing rubber bullets to get past Martin O'Neil's ten man demonstration against forward progression.

Still, our passing was sloppy. Even with a whacking 65% possession we failed to test their keeper. Did we fail to break down Sunderland? Yes. Trying to skip around a brick wall rather than attempting to jump it proved futile. Then again we don't have too many that can jump. As for our hosts they were the epitome of anti-football (if you haven't guessed yet).

I called them 'organised' and 'committed' in the match preview. Oh the hilarity of irony. They were defensive and negative and the personification of footballing boredom, drilled for containment with the hope of perhaps getting lucky from a set-piece. No want and desire to make a game of it. Shame on us for failing to snap out of the snooze and slap them down. Up to them how they wish to play (even if IMO a home team should be the one setting the pace of the game rather than camping out in their own half for ninety minutes. Each to their own).

Frustrating that we appeared to hold back. I thought about this earlier. Perhaps that pre-match focus (take one game at a time and treat it as the one that matters most till you get to the next one) failed us. If we did hold back with Norwich and Chelsea in mind when you attempt to understand what that means in a pragmatic sense, you can't. Well I can't. Does playing within yourself mean that exerting to say play a decisive forward pass in an up-tempo patch of football have a knock-on effect for the next game and the one after that? Is it possible for a collective, a unit of players to decide to play at 60% effort and restrain imagination from having the expansiveness of a lucid dream right down to a forgettable day dream?

I've played football. Its been many years now, but on occasions for whatever reason, things just don't work on that day. Whether you're off the pace or lethargic with pass and move, it's all a little clustered and without fluidity across all players in the same jersey. Fluidity is something we've recently rediscovered so perhaps in the back of the players mind a point was enough and that's what ended up playing out. That's a shame because every game should be about the three points. One will have to do this time.

Then again, we probably didn't hold back that much. We just couldn't muster the required craft and guile to trick our way over their brick wall. Being constantly hacked down didn't help with the rhythm either. The stadium extinguished light to darkness.

One to forget.

Danny Blanchflower would have frowned at this.



Get it done

Sunderland away. The last of the difficult fixtures we have. Not a favourite away trip in recent years (although we won there last season). They always seem to dick us or we manage to dick ourselves. If I wish to flirt with negativity then I could (reluctantly) label this game as the very last one we can afford to drop points in. Won't be easy, will be physical. But its probably best we best the Mackems and take all three. Winning a game where perhaps most would admit to be content with a point would set us up perfectly for the remaining ones. It's probably more important to perform and win here than to worry about performing and winning next weekend against Chelsea in the cup semi-final. We're more likely to compete with them at Wembley, whereas today's game against Sunderland is far more pressured.

So in reality away from pre-match predictions, we can't afford to drop any points.

We've got a balanced side again with confident players and the belief is back. Martin O'Neils side is organised and committed. They are blowing hot and cold currently but any self-doubt from us we'll be duly punished for it. Got to be on form. If we win, 3rd is most definitely back on. If we don't then every game left is a cup final (to be hopefully accompanied by an actual cup final in May).

Norwich at home follows in a blink of an eye, so it's not just about mental strength but also physical. Harrry's selection and substitutions will be pivotal in navigating the momentum. And with that cup semi on its way, there's also game-by-game focus required from the players so please no day dreaming Tottenham. Get it done.

Bum <-- Squeaky time.



Spurs don't need to wing it to win it through the middle

Spurs 1 Sunderland 0

It was hardly a quintessential new look Spurs home performance. A distinct lack of shape with that controlled cohesiveness in the middle of the park and that pulsating pace down the flanks MIA. We suffered a little watching the game unfold like a scrunched up piece of paper with a game plan scribbled across it. Except, well, it doesn’t unfold too well. You can sort of make out what the point being made is but its mostly indistinguishable. Thankfully, a second copy was printed out in time for the second half on glossy colour paper.

So what was this game in terms of form and formation?

The first half was untidy. Bale unavailable due to an injury he sustained in training. Lennon leaving the field of play with an injury that might keep him out a while. King (25 pts from 27 pts) was fit and started. Players playing out of position meant Luka and Rafa struggled to find  tempo. It looked ominous. It smelt ominous. You sort of watched and scratched your head and pondered that this might be one of those days where the team fail to adjust accordingly and can’t quite dig deep enough.

You. Not I. Well perhaps I’m not in a minority with this but I hardly knee-jerked to the tune of ‘we’ve got our Tottenham back, you know the one, the rubbish one’. The word patience bounced around my head, even with Roman on the pitch.

This season, placing aside the entertaining uber-confident football we know we’re capable of when at full strength, we’ve managed to almost contain ourselves from an anti-climatic scenario. Never quite peaking, always looking to aspire for more and when it doesn’t quite go according to plan...we grind it out. Multi-facet Tottenham. We can win any which way we wish. We battle through at times and even when we impress there is always room for improvements. That’s a fairly healthy position to be in.

The untidiness saw plenty of misplaced passing, average to poor ball distribution and not so positive positioning. No attacking outlet with the missing wingers/insider forwards which let’s face it, is Plan A (attack, counter-attack with pace). Plan B is sort of, well, what is it exactly? It’s not what we witnessed in the first forty-five minutes.

The despondency some felt is natural. When you become accustomed to something that plays out at a high level of expectancy, if it drops, when it drops – everything gets the microscopic treatment, with critics at the game or on the sofa moaning and head shaking. We’ve been spoilt, of course we have. You can’t party every weekend. And the come down is never going to be pleasant. Days like this are equally just as important as the ones where the swagger has us dancing with joy.

The  winning mentality is built on persevering and pulling together. Okay, so it was only Sunderland and perhaps (again) it proves we need perhaps extra quality in the squad to compensate for long term injuries if they happen. But it turned out nice again, didn’t it?

We were the better side at the break but still the second half needed impetus and structure. Cue Harry, cue whatever it is he does in the dressing room at half-time. I imagine it’s not the hair-dryer. Probably gets all the players to jump in to a giant-size snuggle blanket and sings gently the tactics in the form of a soothing lullaby as he hugs his way through the first eleven before shaking them all awake with a fatherly pat on the back. Go get ‘em.

All players entering the field of play for the second half more focused, with intent primed and ready to damage the opposition and once prove to everyone the old Tottenham (that rubbish one) no longer exists. We’ve just got a new one that has worked its way through puberty, voice broken, ready to growl and spit and have a ruck if need be.

Luka and Rafa far more central in the second half with Parker pushing further forward and Sandro The Bricklayer building a wall to stand guard over like an over-keen gardener who doesn’t want any silly children playing ball on his lawn.  


Rafa was the completely opposite of his ineffectual first forty-five ghost, giving it one of those Neo from the Matrix performances. Stand out moments that delicious pass to Benny, enough to make you fantasise about it (sorry Sylvie babe) and quite obviously the reverse ball to Pavlyuchenko who finished it for the 1-0. The Russian, quick to point out his name on the back of his shirt. Yes mate, we know it all too well. It says ‘lazy half arsed footballer with sublime technical ability but frustratingly poor with all the other things a complete forward is meant to have’. Costs a fair bit to have that printed on a replica.

If we could perhaps take Pav and Adebayor and fuse them we’d have a player with work ethic, movement, team-work and hunger (Adebayor) with one that can finish with pomp (Pav)...or perhaps not and we end up with a hybrid gone wrong who can’t talk English but smiles broadly when he misses a sitter.

The goal was enough. Modric could have made it two but preferred not to score and keep it for when Chelsea visit. Walker and BAE worked tirelessly down the wings (thus allowing Luka and Rafa to mix it up where they mix it up best – down the middle).

Still hardly at full pelt, but we displayed the grit and tenacity which will always lead to that moment of sublime skill to carve open a goal scoring opportunity. Brad also busy between the sticks when called upon. We got through it. It’s what we do when it’s called upon us. Sandro was admirable, got to love the way players bounce off him as he moves forward with the ball leaving them devastated on the ground.

Parker survived the yellow card that could have ruled him out of Thursday’s game. King ‘should’ play. Kaboul will be back. Bale? We hope will be fine and there’s a little kidology going on.

Start to worry if we’re playing like this and winning like this every single week. Then we might need to discuss a lack of spark and ingenuity. But that won’t happen. Also no point discussing the Jan transfer window until it happens. Only thing that matters it the next game.

We played without two key players, instrumental to the style everyone associates with us. Narrow, congested football doesn’t quite work if it doesn’t have its outlets. Harry worked it out in time for the second half. We need to work it out before we whistle is blown on Thursday to kick-off.

442? Patient possession play? Decisions, decisions. Will say this much though...this game is not as pivotal as its being written up to be. Okay sure it is if we win but we all know it only then takes two or three not so smart results in the aftermath to change things around. If we lose it will hardly be the early Xmas present we’ve asked for but we’re hardly going to have our hopes crushed for the season. However, that attitude is firmly one that sits on the fence.

Smash’em to pieces is therefore the only conceivable option. No matter the players, no matter the formation.

Chelsea are no mugs. But we’re hardly in the shadow of a beast.

I want us to go for their jugular. We play best when we play the Tottenham way.



Love the shirt.


Must win

Pocket-sized match preview. Time is against me today.

Banana-skin, they call today's visit of Sunderland. I prefer to call it a 'test' of character. We have to retain focus and make a solid statement of intent and continue the level of performance we displayed second half against Stoke. We're hardly out of form. We suffered a blip. A wake up call, a gentle nod towards avoidance of complacency.

With Chelsea visiting us on Thursday, this game is equally as important in terms of winning all three points as we drive towards the festive period and the new year. January will be season defining. We've got plenty of home games and that game in hand against Everton. Whatever happens in the transfer window, is pretty much irrelevant for now.

Stand strong Tottenham. Bully your opponents. Boss the midfield and the tempo and take your chances with supreme confidence (you hear me Adebayor?). Take nothing for granted. Play to win like your lives depend on it. That's simply the only attitude to have.

We're going to be missing a few players today. I don't want to be citing that as an excuse come the final whistle.


Love the shirt.


True Grit and its supporting cast of Spurs (no cowboys included)

Challenge Spurs™ 2011: Thou Shalt Not Lose

Sunderland 1 Tottenham 2


Bare bones. Three points. Saddle up.

And if you like numbers, then smother yourself in these:

32 points from 45.
1 defeat in 15.
2 points behind Man 'they were challenging for the title before Saturday' City with a game in hand.

Quietly, quietly, Tottenham. Ssshhh.

From the match preview:

Churn out a result at Sunderland. Go to Milan, keep it tight (yeah right) and come back with at least an away goal and a score draw or even a damage limited 2-1 defeat. Then drown them at the Lane in the return fixture with a down pour of glory glory superlatives.

So that's part one done and dusted.

Churn probably the most apt word although dug deep and gritty are a couple of other qualities I don't mind throwing at the 2-1 result at Sunderland. A place we hardly ever win at and not easy for most others to do the same.

First half was fairly diabolical. Even with the missing army of first-teamers (for an assortment of reasons) we still appeared flat-footed, lots of backwards going forwards. Painfully slow in midfield and harassed, allowing Sunderland to press and bully with the added bonus (for them) of conceding a goal that could only be birthed in Tottenhamland. Gallas, off the pitch changing his boots with Dawson admiring Gyan's control and shot, scratching his chin in awe.

I have this saying, a simplistic philosophy, an outlook a game that's about to start. It simply goes something like, "The first ten minutes will tells us all we need to know about the game". And after ten minutes it was ominous. Disjointed and without any signs of a coherent pattern to our play. We all go through the same journey in games like this, high and low emotions and knee-jerks as we process the threat of a loss, no matter how early in the game. Many of us are drama queens without the cool, calm, collected Clint Eastwood stare. It's more Woody Allen than Clint. But, like the players on the pitch, you persevere.

The equaliser was like a magical hangover cure. One glug and the pain is gone. Just before the break too. Another goal birthed in Tottenhamland. The two players at 'fault' for the Sunderland goal (okay, Gallas was off the pitch and you could argue he wasn't at fault because others should have covered him in defence) involved. Dawson, this time the one blessed with the freedom to connect with the ball, accepting the Keys to Bramble, headers the ball towards goal and Gallas dancing in front Gordon, his legs shifting to allow the ball to go through them and then through the keepers. Crisp. Stick that on a DVD.

Second half was for the best part a role reversal, although the home side continued to have a go, hitting the woodwork. We were far far better as a unit. Our mindset tuned into a more robust tempo. Not the best pitch, not the best performance if you picked out individuals and critiqued them in isolation. Doesn't quite work like that though, does it? There was a work ethic evident through the team that elevated the performance to a far more acceptable standard.

Defoe, will no doubt split opinions. He's forgotten how to score, probably trying to hard and let's himself down with his touch at times and his sudden reluctance to just blast the ball without that aged old footballing weakness some of the more instinctive players don't always require (thinking). Sure, he needs to pass the ball towards the goal at times but you sense he lacks edge at the minute.

But he covered ground, worked the channels. Our lack of any creativity would not have helped either of the two front men. Hence the reason why it's quite easy to compound the negative energy towards the little man based on previous games included.

Pav was also ambiguous in performance depending on how you perceived the game. Personally thought they both stuck in a hard days work. Although won't argue that at times both players let themselves down with lack of composure. But some decent link up play from the Russian with the midfield and plenty of free-kicks won makes him the better of the two - and arguably the closest of the two regarding tangible form (if Harry decides to persist with him).

Roman, by the way, is unbeaten in the ten Prem games he's started this season. Ooh. Play him more often, yah? Roman Publyuchenko on the Hackney marshes, not quite.

Interesting stat I stole about the missing man yesterday (Crouch). The Sunderland win was the first time in 63 league game he has not featured in (that's as a starter or sitting on the bench and coming on).

As a unit, we pulled together. And that's what matters. But if you wish to rain down the abuse, you sort of hope for a lot more from our two front men. It's tricky to gauge on just one watch of the game if Defoe, for example, was never in it or simply tirelessly working his way through it in a selfless way without swagger.

Regarding JD's seasoned selfishness of past glories. Has to be in a position to receive the ball. And it simply wasn't that type of match where the midfield could provide him with the chance. Pav slightly better in attempting to create space for a shot on goal.

Re: Meelan. Start Pav over JD.

The winner was sweetly struck.

The Corluka through-ball to Sandro which resulted with the Niko sexytime was understated yet majestic. Kranjčar, from the far reaches of despondency on the sidelines to hero, two games on the trot. We keep changing our minds when it comes to discussing squad depth. We say we have depth and then  dismiss it when the players that are not first teamers fail to impress when given cameo opportunities.

But then on days like these, when you see the likes of Bale, Modric, van der Vaart, Lennon, Crouch, Kaboul, Huddlestone (throw in King and Woodgate to make it look even more impressive) all missing because of injury or rested because of Tuesday - you have to accept that more than a little man-management is required to get the balance and focus spot on. Even if it takes half a football match to get there.

We are still miles away from our best line-up and our best level of performance. It's still hard to self-doubt when we keep chipping away at the top to try and remain anchored there. Squad depth? Seems there's something in that after all.

If you want to pick out negatives (go on, you're Spurs you know you will), you could perhaps once more groan at the lack of set-piece quality (ignoring the goal).  Talking of which, once upon a time JJ wasn't too shabby at them. And still on Jenas, loved his epic tackle (think it was edge of pen area around the 85th minute mark) and his BAFTA winning turn when he protested his innocence after blatantly fouling an opposing player. Who me? Break a leg Jenas. Yours, metaphorically, not one belonging to one of their players*.

*more of a pole-axe, granted.

Talking of acting...Gomes. Honestly, what a fruit loop. Love him to bits but it's embarrassing to watch him cry on the field of play, especially when he was hardly touched. Ooh look I'm going to almost fall over, then scream at the player who punched me in the gut then cry a little then I'll be fine.

Because Gomes is eccentric (cliché) you sort of laugh it off with 'oh look there he goes again', but you'd berate any other keeper that done that (or player) and just because he's got such a comical face doesn't mean he should be allowed to get away with it. Quiet word in his ear, gaffer.

Dawson has had a wobble or three in recent games after that outstanding return. Not sure why. I've been impressed with Gallas so there's every reason to be confident with that back two, but still...? Improved second half - but then again, everyone had to. Did win everything in the air, but at times you worry about his reactions on the ground.

Wasn't pretty, was very gritty. Three more points and further character building proving a success. On the surface, didn't look the best midfield from Harry, but it worked, eventually. Hoping all these rumours of Bale and vdV not making the Meelan game are deflections. Have to wait and see who travels. We need a far more evident buzz in the middle and more width. As well as vdV who can (word of the season) galvanise the forward play.

Positives? Sandro got better as the game progressed. He's been unfortunate at times when starting (and scarified) so glad to see him take to the game after an untidy first half. The kid has mental strength, doesn't seem to be fazed too much. Although Harry should let him know this is not Brazil and you don't tend to have 10 seconds to stand on the ball. Probably did just that at half-time.

So onwards with Challenge Spurs. Two games, six points. Perfect record.

Team cohesiveness - Non-existent first half thanks to so many erratic performances and a lack of control in midfield, but the players dug deep again to grind it out. Doesn't have to be easy on the eye every time.
Leadership - Present by virtue of belief to turn it around.
Work ethic - It's easier when eleven players are a unit. Once players pulled together to retain the ball and use it effectively, confidence grow and the more of the ball you're going to see,'re more likely to carve something out.
Craft and creativeness - Lacking up top which meant Pav and JD we're never going to get themselves into goal scoring opps, but no questioning Niko's movement and passing. Important when you consider we are lacking the likes of Luka, Rafa and Tom. But against better opposition, we need the keys to the front door rather than waiting for someone to leave a window open.
Clinicality - Wayward free-kicks, but when it mattered, two goals. Brilliant finish from the Croatian. Again. Not many more clear cut chances on goal.
Tactical astuteness - The second half proved there was little wrong with the selection Harry stuck out there. Need to start these types of games with the same level of commitment and composure as displayed after the HT.
Fighting spirit - 10/10. These types of results go a long long way.

Spurs. Nowhere near full-strength. Away from home. Three points. Niko and Sandro the stand-outs.

The good? Second half. The bad? First half. The ugly? You call three points ugly?

In a word, resilient. Just need the gunslingers back.





Tottenham article that doesn't mention the 'S' word

Sorry, I lied. Sunderland away up next.

Arguably more important in the grand scheme of things than the Meelan game next week. Obviously not in the hairs on back of neck standing up way of importance (and excitement) but the game at the Stadium of Light is of the ilk that has the potential to leave us in the dark.

I'm not about to tag it with the 'must win label'. Last season we went up there and Darren Bent, armed with Blackberry and Twitter account, lol at us aplenty, as he pinged penalty after penalty towards the Spurs goal. Take that Sandra. Gomes his nemesis again, but alas, we still got trounced and for what seemed like the 100th time that season, some of us knee-jerked that 'that was that' shrug of despondency.

Hardly that was it?

But this season, what with its more apparent openness and the fact that it only takes one or two teams to go on a run of wins to completely change the balance of top tier power…a loss in a crunch match in terms of current standings could prove to be far more damaging than a loss this time last season. We competed against City and City alone last time out. This time round, it's fairly tricky to work out which team(s) are being pulled towards 4th spot because the maths are far more fundamental.

Hoping we're aiming for 3rd personally, but regardless of what Harry is working towards, I'm tagging it with the must win label. Yes, a contradiction after stating I wouldn't. But I've just talked my way into it. And it's all because of the necessity of momentum. Which is required going into the Meelan game and beyond.

And the whole point of Challenge Spurs is to win them all. Or at the very least believe/attempt to.

All season we've been waiting to find some proper full on form and haven't quite embraced it. We've experienced pockets of sublime. The same can be said for the teams above us. The teams below us have been less consistent but hardly a million miles away. Just a few hundred now.

We've dug deep, it's been gritty and ugly at times and lacking fluidity. But we are deservedly in with a shout still to reclaim a CL place. And dare I say the one advantage we have with 'the chase' is that we've been here before and shown we know exactly how to tune into the required tenacity and fortitude to power ahead with mental strength and belief. And tasty football too.

Chelsea, whether they push on with menace or not, we'll have to wait and see. There's the potential for devastating forward play there. But the politics and egos might damper the mood further and how they react to chasing 4th/3rd might breed more inconsistency. City - the pressure is firmly pushing Eastland's south as the push for north. The expectancy is for them to get it on the money this time round.

The pressure with us concerns our injury plight that has and will continue to effect tactics and formation. You feel Harry has to continue to use his bare bones mantra for that extra little kick. It's just a bit more serious compared to last term. We've got Bale, Modric, Huddlestone and Kaboul all out. King and Woodgate* forgotten men (although the latter is back playing and aiming for full match fitness). van der Vaart** should be okay for Saturday but you'd be right to be concerned about the potential for any more injuries (to the Dutch galvaniser or otherwise) what with that trip to the San Siro just days away.

*Sheeeeeeeeeeeeet. Woody is in the squad.

**vdV officially out

Crouch out too (back strain according to reports). So expect 442. Expect even Niko and/or Pienaar to start if vdV isn't risked. Bloody 'ell, even expect want away Pav up front. It's going to be disjointed and unsexy I'm sure, but a squad of quality finds a way and finds the result when perhaps they are not expected to. Spirit, grit and composure. You got that Daws, Wilson, JJ and JD?

And no capitulation please.

Sunderland will come out all guns blazing. A win will bring them within four points of us. Liverpool (at home to Wigan) will continue their march with King Kenny and upside down held up high scarves so it's best to retain the buffer between us and them and keep anchored to Chelsea just above us.

Now I know what you're thinking. Biggest game in our recent history coming up in the Champions League. The reason we worked so hard last season, the award for our metamorphosis was to bask in the elite European competition. Which we have. We have been refreshing exciting bold brave and ridiculous. So why on earth should we be considering Sunderland away when all our thoughts should be on AC Milan? By virtue of just because, we might not finish in the top four this season, simply because the teams above us might match our points tally all the way to the end of the season. So surely we should enjoy the experience and with a complete cavalier heart, go forwards with swashbuckle and pomp and just do our very best to produce another sensational result?


Well, sure. Yes. But call me greedy, I don't want to look back on this season with regret. Domestically.

Churn out a result at Sunderland. Go to Milan, keep it tight (yeah right) and come back with at least an away goal and a score draw or even a damage limited 2-1 defeat. Then drown them at the Lane in the return fixture with a down pour of glory glory superlatives.

Momentum. Winning breeds winning. Every game should be important, every game should be must win. If you start to prioritise games then you are prioritising performance and the team, as a unit, will fluctuate and stumble. Sure, we are depleted in key areas. We are missing our main counter-attacking weapon and our conductor of creativity. But others have stepped up in their absence and have to continue to do just that.

Team effort. I know it's moon on a stick to expect high octane football when we're running at 60%. Not asking for naïve stupidity rampaging forward without a care and over committing and equally not asking for a underwhelming lacklustre effort without bite, focus elsewhere. Just asking for unity and good old fashion blood and thunder determination. Saturday is all that matters right now.

Sunderland? Meelan? Smash 'em. I want our players hanging off the back of them.






6 games, 2 wins

From my match preview of the game:

No win in three in the league. All eyes on Harry and his selection. All eyes on our erratic Lilywhite troops. Get it wrong and we might find ourselves below mid-table. Get it right and it's one step back onto the path we want to be swaggering down. More like John Travolta. Less like Charlie Chaplin. And definitely no Harold Lloyd hanging off the hands of a clock high above.

Keystone Kops it is then for their equaliser.

Textbook infuriating performance we have become accustomed to this season. Practically dominated possession, carved out chances without really carving them out. Even our goal was scored with the help of a handball. Yes, yes Webb is a joke, but tbh I'm busy laughing (crying) at how we manage to make the art of scoring goals into a task equal to finding the end of a rainbow.

Modric buzzed, I snoozed. Most of them not good enough. Lacklustre. Plenty of effort but no cutting edge quality against what was a well drilled and organised Sunderland. But a Sunderland we can beat if we play to our tempo. What's our tempo? You know what our tempo is. It's the one that only comes out to play in Europe.

Countless corners. Around 4,000. Yet we are incapable of attacking them. Gallas and Kaboul get a second mention: KEYSTONE. Bale managed the one cross, majestic it was, Crouch to vdV for his obligatory Lane goal. Had we not gifted them a way back into the game we might have scraped a 1-0. Either way, it doesn't hide the fact that we are seriously lacking focus in the Prem at the minute.

Two points wasted. Six games played at the Lane. Two wins. Ouch.

Still onwards. Anyone for a 5-0 thrashing of Blackburn?




Anthony Lozano


Quick post, couple of things. Firstly, Kenwyne Jones. £8M to Stoke City. Absolutely no dis-respect meant to the Potters but lolololol at this. Sunderland's Drogba on the cheap. You have to really look back and facepalm when we allegedly bid for him and they wanted £20M+. Players of the moment are just that. In the moment, form of their life, until they level out and settle at their true playing standard. In this case, decent at times but mostly inconsistent. £15M burnt on Bentley stops me from going any further with this.

Second thing is this:

Anthony Lozano. Honduran. 17 years old. On a 10 day trial in N17. The Promise of new Honduran soccer, apparently. Obviously our recent track record with kids hasn't exactly been great. What with dos Santos and his attitude, Adel and his delusions etc. Let's say he impresses and we sign him. Any ideas if he's 'one for the future' thus, we wont see him in the first team for untold years if ever? Or does he play a part early on? Bostock is out on loan to Hull. So this kid has to be special special special for it to mean anything for the immediate future.

We live in hope.


Dry them and move onwards

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Match preview quickie

We all know how important today is. A win keeps us on the road to fourth and applies the pressure on the chasing pack. Yes, I know. We are depleted and from the looks of it without Dawson, Palacios and Huddlestone today...along with the usual suspects including the not far off from returning Lennon. I did have a dream last night that Woodgate announced his retirement, but hopefully the negatives will remain buried deep inside my subconscious.

Even with so many players out, some key, the spirit at Spurs is such that I'm quietly confident. April is meant to be the hellmouth month with the big 3 games not that far off, but I actually prefer us going into this month as underdogs, backs to the wall, fighting and kicking for our lives. We get to find out if we are good enough. Although the arguments about consolidating our squad depth in January (the fact we didn't) will no doubt resurface if we fail because the inconsistency of the balance of the side.

Tbh, I'm glad we face Arsenal, Chelsea and Utd. Massive games for every side. And if our lot are not motivated for these opponents, then playing CL football isn't even something that should be flirted with. But then, we've already had our hands down the panties of the Top 4, so I know - and you know - we are game on.

But Sunderland are up first, and we need to remain focused on the here and now.

What's that? Kaboul? In at the back alongside Bassong? Then again, Sunderland are jam-packed with players that were deemed not good enough for us (other than Steed who had his moments in Lilywhite). Bent is obviously going to do his bestest to stick two fingers up at us and Harry. Especially after his pen miss at the Lane. No doubt it will be frantic. Fingers crossed we stamp some of that swaggering quality on the game. Injuries? So what. There is still plenty there for us to claim the points.

COYS and all that jazz.


@DBTheTruth The beachball would have scored

Irony and football. It's majestic at times, more so when your team is the one blessed with it's touch.

Darren Bent

Most were concerned and playfully joked about how he would return to haunt us. You could see it happening. Bent, sways past King to thrash the ball past a despairing Gomes as he sprints towards the Sunderland fans, Blackberry in hand, tweeting 'Sandra would never have scored that one'. Except football sometimes doesn't go according to the obvious script. It prefers instead to take care of the ones that are meant to be the bad guys. Us. Almost like poetry, Gomes saved a flaky penalty from Darren. I'm still undecided about the first penalty appeal in the first half, but the one that was given in the second was the type that no blame could be pinned on the ref for giving it. He doesn't have the luxury of action-replays. Bent allowed gravity to pull him down before Gomes went for the ball. It was a con. And such is life. That not only did Benty do a naughty thing but that he then proceeded to shag it all up. That's why we sold you indeed.


I thought were superb. And if there was any evidence that Tottenham's transfer policy is at times an embarrassment, look no further then Steed Malbranque. Class act that gives it 100%. I still can not fathom why we sold him. Andy Reid, who I can live without, was also impressive (lovely shot that had the woodwork saving us). Without sounding condescending, I don't think Sunderland can improve much more. They're a tidy outfit who will do well enough. What the game illustrated was that we can't afford to grind out results all the time - which is something we've done for a number of games since beating Hull 5-1 away. More on that in a second. First, Steve Bruce. Shut up with your complaining. All this 'Gomes would not have saved the penalty if he had been red-carded' ranting is just plain silly had Bent not forgotten to put on his anti-gravity boots. Fact is, penalty aside, they failed to get one past our enigma between the sticks. We on the other hand, as poor as we were, did. Twice.


Scrap it Harry. It simple doesn't work. And with Wilson Palacios still struggling with form, we can't keep on restricting ourselves in this manner because you persist in playing Robbie Keane. Four in midfield, two upfront. Let's get the basic foundation right for the 90 minutes ahead of us and changed it if we happen to be chasing a goal late on. We got over-run on Saturday. The change to a more traditional 442 and a late surge of confident play, saved us IMO.

Robbie Keane

Rumour going around is that he earned himself a cool £1M for Spurs not getting relegated (allegedly). If true, it's not his fault the club offered him the contract they did. If not, then it's further proof that people continue to be critical of him since his return by always bringing up his contract at every given moment. He's got a clause has Robbie. He can't be dropped if fit. You have to wonder whether we are missing something in his performance if he is selected based on form. In the past, I've stood up for him. He does get important goals and he does do a lot of work for the team that us common folk might not appreciate. But I'm hard pressed for examples at the moment.

Grinding our results

Someone over at a Spurs message board discussed how we are 'grinding out results' and that we are reliant on a flash of brilliance of a slice of good luck and that this is not the basis of a Top 4 challenge. I can't disagree in that we lack options when Modric and Lennon do not start and that Harry makes curious decisions at times with formation. There's no doubting that our bench is not as strong as we would have the likes of Keane make us believe. And if we continue to grind out the points our luck will eventually run out of steam. But then Modric is almost back. And this will galvanise the players and the fans. What Harry has to do is make sure we have not just cover (was Niko not meant for that?) but also the courage to play the best team for the occasion, even if it means sacrificing the unsacrificable. What's the point of Bentley exactly? Don't answer that.

Special Mentions

Special mentions to Hudd, Woody and Jenas - who along with Gomes all looked decent and held us together when it mattered. Tommy's goal was a corker, layed off wonderfully well by the returning Defoe who was a little on the quiet side - although Gordon would beg to differ. Corluka remains his sleep self. And General Wilson is more army cadet at the moment. Which is a massive concern considering the season is due to get tasty in the coming months when the top 4 or 5 start to pull away from the chasing pack. Harry needs to turn on the man-management charm and fix this problem. Quickly.

Ledley King

Not been offered a contract yet. You wonder if there's a reason behind that. I think that it's easy to start banging on about the decline of the great man because he has been rusty in the last few games he's played, but let's remember - top players who do not have dodgy knees lose form now and again. King is obviously suffering at the moment. Might be his knee is finally bringing him down, or he's just not on top of his game - not so much because of the injury but simply just because. For some of our fans to start doubting him is just the type of typical knee-jerking that grates me (sorry about the pun there, purely coincidently).

Still, we do need to start thinking about a long term plan. King, Woodgate...we need to know who will come in as replacements. If King's form continues to go south then perhaps it's time for me to re-evaluate my opinion on the subject. A changing back four can't be helping matters with regards to consistency.


Won us all three points. Outstanding. Just outstanding. I love him. He can cock up once every 5 games if it means he plays like that for the rest (although I'd prefer if he didn't cock up at all).

The Media

Stoke survive an onslaught and nick all three points and are called magnificent. I don't expect us to be tagged with such superlatives, but let's look at the facts. We played poorly. We scored twice. We won. If that type of thing happens once it's luck - but if it happens more often then its a sign of a decent team. It's when it happens all the time that we can start to scratch our heads.

I'd say that sitting in 4th spot after 12 games on 22 points is pretty damn good considering. Harry has had us on the up since he joined. We've stuttered a few games recently but rather than just cave in and free-fall, we've dug in again. I guess I'm happy for everyone to continue to down play our chances and write us off. Now if only our players would stop talking us up off the pitch and start doing their talking on it - we might climb out of the small ditch we've found ourselves in and start running up that hill again.

The Games Ahead

We need to find that intent and purpose about our game again. We have to thanks to the fixture list. Wigan at home should not be a game taken for granted. Three points is imperative there but more so is a good performance. Because we then go into games against Villa (A), Man Utd (A) (CC) and Everton (A). Then we're back at home again entertaining Wolves and then Man City. Blackburn and Fulham away is then followed by West Ham at home. Some tricky games in there. We need to reclaim that early season buzz and see ourselves through to the new year still hanging around in the upper regions of the table.

Hate to place all the responsibility on the little shoulders of Modric, but it looks like he remains the key for us to reclaim that rampant balance we lost when he broke his bone.

Keep on grinding out the results when necessary, but I prefer to have a firm grip on our own destiny by being the ones asking all the questions.


Levy holds out for the pot at the end of the rainbow

From the Tottenham website:


Bent transfer - Stock Exchange Announcement

The following statement has been released to the Stock Exchange:

5 August 2009
Tottenham Hotspur plc

Player Transfer

Tottenham Hotspur plc announces that agreement has been reached for the transfer of the player registration of Darren Bent to Sunderland AFC for a total consideration of up to £16.5 million.


Daniel Levy, this time there will be no melted bagels thrown at your car windows. Neither will there be effigies burning outside on your front lawn at 3am in the morning with your guard dog peacefully asleep by my feet with a tranquiliser dart in its arse. No sir. For this one-off occasion, I am placing aside all the politics we disagree on and would simply like to say...well done for holding out and getting what you wanted rather than giving them something they want for far less. I guess Sunderland’s demands for £20M for Kenwyne Jones has come back to playfully slap them in the face. Not a penny less is quite obviously a winning strategy.

They got their man. We get our money back. Well sort of. Close enough anyway. Have to laugh how Sky Sports News are reporting it as £10M (is this what Sunderland are telling the world?) Since when do those extra clauses (consisting of further payments based on performance and appearances) get left out of the transfer fee when made public? If Bent manages to trigger those clauses, it's more money our way.

I didn’t expect us to get £10M+ to be perfectly honest. He's not worth that much.

And here’s the magic.

We don’t tend to ever look this deep into a transfer; we simply take what a player is sold or bought for. Thanks to Intrepid over at GG for the explanation, something unlikely to be discussed or understood out in the stands:


The Charlton deal was a total of £16.5 million with £1 million as add-ons. The profit of £5.5 million will be shown in the audited accounts if we receive the full consideration of £16.5 million from Sunderland as Bent’s value to the club’s accounts was £11 million when we sold him - £16.5 million divided by 6 (length of contract) multiplied by years he spent with us (2) - that figure taken from original total fee of £16.5 million.

This deal highlights again how football player trading is a complete nonsense – we have paid Charlton £16.5 million and if Sunderland pay us £16.5 million then in monetary terms (actual money in the bank)we have broken even but in accounting terms we have made a “profit” of £5.5 million. That “profit” attracts taxation so we get taxed on money we have not really received.

In accounting terms every asset has to have a value to be accounted for – player’s values are accounted for by amortising their costs to the club (transfer fees and/or signing on fees) over the length of their original contract.

e.g. Bent signed a 6 year contract for a total consideration of £16.5 million (£15.5 million plus £1 million add-ons) – the way the accounts work is that when hejoined he was worth £16.5 million and for each year he is with us his value drops by £2.75 million p.a. - £16.5 million divided by 6 (the number of years of his contract). He has been with us for 2 years so his “value” to the accounts is £16.5 million minus £5.5 million (2 years @ £2.75 million) therefore as of today his “value” to the club was £11 million and anything we get from a transfer fee over and above £11 million is accounted for as a profit.


However, the above numbers may need a little adjusting because according to Charlton’s AGM, due to their financial struggles, an agreement was made for the money to be paid up earlier and Spurs got a discount (so to speak) for agreeing to do so. Meaning the final fee that was paid to them was in the region of £12.5M.

Daniel, my knickers are in the post.




P.S. Daniel, if Bent scores 25 goals and they pip us to Europe by a point and we lose out on millions as a consequence then you will be held unequivocally accountable.