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Entries in tactical reshuffle (30)


White Hart blame

Tottenham 2 them lot 4

I’m over this result already. I'm philosophical about it. Ignoring the fact that losing to them is like stepping in dog sh*t, when you lose because of defensive lapses, it’s still self-inflicted which means you can tighten up and improve. It's a fine line. You might prefer to be out classed and thrashed and lose thanks to the brilliance of the opposition’s performance as it’s more clean cut but there is something ever so slightly comforting in today’s defeat. Let’s start at the beginning.

We start the day off with no Dembele and no Bale. The former injured on international duty (although seen walking around okay at the Lane – so perhaps precautionary that he wasn’t risked to avoid any long term issues) the latter in the starting eleven initially only to be replaced by Huddlestone. Gareth’s missus goes into labour and a 1000 twitter jokes are born asking why he didn’t shag her a day earlier nine or so months ago. Already there’s cause for concern. How are we going to shape up with two key players out? Dembele was possibly known in advance but with the amount of perpetration work AVB sticks in leading up to a game, Bale not being available will impact the structure of the side. We know our squad and we know there will be scenarios where it will be tested. If we do lack a certain degree of depth, we have to deal with it. There’s also a lot that can be said about application and urgency even if there’s missing quality. We have to be able to adapt.

With some irony in the opening forty-five we lacked not just application and urgency but any form of stranglehold on the game. Our passing was untidy and there was no shape making it relatively easy for Chelsea to ping the ball around confidently. No such concerns for a side that boosts a £150M + midfield. I probably wasn’t alone looking up at the sky cursing those damned footballing Gods. Christ, some one up there hates us. Probably his dad.

Other contentious selection posers: No Lloris who could aid with possession. Defoe retained his spot up front. Regardless, we made it very comfortable for Chelsea. Tempo, intensity and passing – second best. No complaints.

The story of the first half:

One – nil down, Gallas clearance an assist, Cahill volley deflected in.
Late second half rally, growing in confidence, Chelsea for all their tidiness lacking cutting edge.
Mata, Hazard, Ramaires, Oscar on form.
Subs essential at HT.

Far too many lacklustre performances. There was nothing cohesive about our play. Sandro had to do the work of two. Huddlestone struggled with the pace of the game. Players pushed out far too wide. I’m not taking anything away from the visitors. They’re a side in form (have only dropped a couple of points this season), this was no easy task for us but you felt the game was not beyond a comeback. Personally, I wasn’t quite sure how it would transpire unless we made personnel changes.

Something thankfully happened at half-time in the dressing room placing the necessity for subs aside. There was a reinvention of attitude in the second half. Motivation from the coach? A kick up the backside. Plenty of animated motivation from Freund on the touchline too. No major shift in leadership but a genuine team effort tinged with ample mental strength. We got in amongst it more and stole an early goal. I kept thinking to myself, it’s about aggression. It’s all about aggression. Be forceful, relentless and ruthless on the ball and off it. Hassle and pressure and push up. Be decisive. Again I had to quickly stare up at the sky and release a middle finger because the two players missing are two players so key to us being bullish and dominant where it matters most.

Dembele, the manner in which he drives forward and Bale – who can be so influential as an outlet on either flank and through the middle – something sorely missed today. No immense dimensional play from the home side and after all our huffing and puffing, it was ominous that the aggression would run low and Chelsea would simply pick us off. And they did just that thanks to more individual mistakes. But all this followed us going up 2-1.

The story of the second half:

1-1, Gallas header. Perfect second half start.
Better tempo (be it no subs), great pressing
2-1 Spurs, Lennon, Defoe. Goal out of nothing. Game of two halves. Electric atmosphere.
Plenty of guts, determination, fight.
2-2. Another woeful clearance from Gallas. Mata. Vert not covering.
Livermore on for Huddlestone
Vert goal saving tackle on Torres.
3-2 Chelsea. Gallas aided by Walker and enough space for Hazard to thread the ball to Mata (again).
Chelsea with creative clinicality.
Adebayor on. Dempsey off.
Far too many shots straight at Cech.
Ade 88th minute 'chance' from Cech spill. Doesn't quite connect.
Walker long range effort, saved.
Walker ‘whatever that was meant to be’ to allow Chelsea to score a 4th.

It's worth pointing out we had 26 attempts (10) on target compared to Chelsea who had 10 with 7 on target. Ho hum. Cue the standard what ifs about being at full strength and not making schoolboy errors. Fine line, right?

There were other heart in mouth moments, Defoe dipping effort and Torres missing a certified sitter. It was naturally quite an open game of football. Exciting and end to end punctured with some brilliant sublime moments (Hazard’s pass to Mata for their third) and some stupidly casual errors (see Gallas). Did Chelsea score a clean goal? Do they care? They took their chances when presented with them. We didn’t. Seems Gallas picked the wrong game to have a brain collapse. Lucky for our opponents. Bitterly frustrating for Villas-Boas – because shared points looked the most likely outcome.

They just had more spark and consistency and most importantly composure when it mattered most. They kept the ball better than us. But there were positives. When we were on top we looked very good and tested them. If this side we faced are title contenders, I’m not exactly sold on the way they defend. RDM seems to be a very fortunate man at the moment and I still believe he will be tested more so when his side hit a dip of form. Will be interesting to see if they can shift gear and step it up a notch further.

What’s also frustrating is that we’ve yet to really see us boss a game at WHL with the same signature football we’ve seen away. It will come and we’ll have to continue with being patient as there are one or two issues that need resolving first.

Kyle Walker being one of them. Okay, so here’s my rant.

Just some food for thought. Stop slagging off and writing off Kyle Walker. Was it okay to write off the Spurs team at start of season? No. He's completely off the pace and out of form. Needs to be managed by the coaching staff and AVB. It's down to them to sort the player out and for the player to sort himself out.

All this 'he's f*cking sh*t' nonsense is hypocritical. He needs a rest, he needs competition. He also needs to develop his defensive game (and do the simple things right) but his form is rotten at the moment so his going to be prone to mistakes. It’s hardly a situation that is easily solved as we all know that if you persisted in selecting a player out of form, there is no guarantee of improvement and if he’s dropped his confidence could drop further too. I support the team and AVB and his staff are paid to manage and develop. And that is what I hope they do with this particular headache. The kid has raw talent. It has to be nurtured. Once again he lacked positional sense and discipline, when to overlap and when not to.

I’m having a dig at the selective criticism that tends to play out when players are not performing well. Some of the abuse dished out to footballers that wear the Tottenham shirt is on par with the abuse opposition players get. Some shameful behaviour from some of our lot. You’ll have your own opinion but to me it’s not as simplistic as ‘he’ll never make it, get rid of him’ which appears to be some people’s attitude toward resolving it. Another example: Siggy. Obviously over-rated because he's not sparking up the midfield yet so let's get rid. How about we stick 'em all in a Big Brother house and vote out the weakness link every week? Then we can start to pull supporters from the stands and off social media to play in their place.

On the subject of Sigurdsson he's still not found his groove (along with Dempsey who both attempted to compensate for the lack of Bale on the left). We say that most weeks but it's still early days. The argument might be that a player of a certain quality shouldn't be taking this long to adjust. So does he have the quality to succeed in the long term? I don't agree he's over-rated. It's a cliché, but he just needs that one defining league performance to find that extra step up. The midfield, our midfield is still in a state of flux. The holding positions are sorted but the attacking midfielder/second forward still hasn't owned the mojo as well as van der Vaart had it. Worth mentioning that Rafa (brilliant footballer and one that could craft something out of nothing) also struggled at times. Just remember the age gap and experience factor between the two.

Also on the subject of Gareth Bale. Football banter aside, there is very little in life (if anything) that should stop you from being by the side of your missus if there's a chance you're going to witness the birth of your child. At the time of writing I don't know if she's given birth. Knowing our luck she'll be in labour for 20 hours. Actually, that's probably unlucky for her. What we went through today is hardly as painful as giving birth. Good luck to the both of them.

As for those aforementioned contentious pre-match questions. Adebayor did very little when he came on. Someone that’s not played this season (aside from subs bench cameos) should have no excuse to not chase down the ball. Defoe on the other hand performed admirably depending on your perception of what warrants a solid performance. He’s goal was sweet (be it out of nothing but that's what he does) and his work ethic again commendable – but I can’t quite work out what else he offers to the team. However, I'm still appreciative of the fact he was one of our better players on the day. He’s an ambiguous footballer. I guess the confusion arises from the fact that we are always comparing him to the type of player Adebayor is meant to be for us. This story arc will run and run (or stand still depending on what Adebayor plans to do).

Also, time to bench Brad and start Hugo as the definitive number one. Nothing against Brad aside from the fact that Lloris is a better footballer and goalkeeper. This will be one to watch in the next week or two because Villas-Boas has to be decisive here. We need to cement that spine.

More food for thought for our head coach in the coming weeks: Vertonghen to displace Gallas and regain his place alongside Caulker, all dependent on Benny's return to the side. Not forgetting Kaboul. We need to fine tune our defence but can't do so with players out of position.

Sandro missed Dembele, seemed to be ineffectual in presence to the standard we expect from him when lined up with our Belgian beast. Scott Parker's return still not booked into the calendar.

So in the end we got a game of two halves plus an encore. Not in it for the first, came back in the second, lost that impetus and pressing game and allowed them to claim it back before we almost stole an equaliser only to see another twist and concluding goal that sealed it for the visitors. The fact we conceded four mistakes the way we did will not be lost on AVB – who can do very little but bemoan the fact we let ourselves down. But then if you want to be truly reflective you'll admit that the point of a truly solid performance is mistakes are not made and if they are you either take advantage and punish them not find yourself on the back end of one (or two or three or four). Which they did to us, be it with some supremely talented players (Mata is terribly good). Heads up Tottenham. Here's to the next encounter with us being at full strength.

Villas-Boas a class apart in his post-match interview, composed and honest. Giving credit where it was deserved and indicating what proved to be so costly. Was a cracking game. Onwards to the next one.

So that’s that.

Hopefully someone in Lilywhite is having some fun this weekend. I reckon it’s in a private hospital ward with Gareth Bale blatantly smashing his way through the gas and air.




"Tottenham last year played magnificent attacking football," Villas-Boas said. "We want to keep that exactly as it stands, to take it into the pitch, but training in a different way. We would like to be a team that has speed in possession and different combinations, a team that looks to the counterattack in a very aggressive way. We'll have to make sure we continue to do exactly that like we have in the past."

"We're trying to continue with the same system that Tottenham played most of the time last year. It's a system that benefits Rafa and [new signing Gylfi] Sigurdsson as the two players competing for that role behind the striker."

No major tactical reshuffle in terms of set formation. 4411 with added shine for the short term with a long term ambition to perhaps mould the team into a more traditional 433 that Villas-Boas has a preference for, shifting to a combative 4231 (two holding midfielders). Adaptive formations is something we're about to become accustomed to. The way the team shapes up when not in possession is equally pivotal for strengthening the basics, such as winning the ball back and organised defending when placed under pressure. In our case, hopefully plenty of hassle, pressure and quick feet to work it from box to box.

Really looking forward to see how quickly we mature. Our players will adapt comfortably I'm sure. We've got the confidence, we just need the intelligence to drive us forward, to know when to change gear and run over our opponents. More Death Race than Herbie goes bananas. We've displayed enough refined grit in the past couple of seasons to allow for further evolution.

I love the line: counterattack in a very aggressive way

Love the word 'aggressive'. Aggressive hints at 'ruthless' and 'punishing' football to complement the flair and fancy stuff. Have we been aggressive in recent years? On occasions sure, and in terms of individualistic mannerisms (i.e. Bale), yes (when not lost roaming through the middle) but aggressive can hardly be used as a signature to our weekly performances and it's not been evident when we've failed to penetrate deep defending from the opposition (although guile is the prefered choice when breaking down a team that parks the bus - you can hardly counter attack a wall that doesn't move). We are definitely more bullish than we've ever been. We just need an edge to our game, that extra dimension which has yet to be fully tapped. Always felt our counter-attacking style specifically is better described (by myself with ample dramatics) as fast fluid elegance that can pack a punch rather than sheer brutality in finish. We need to be aggressive in tempo as well as the counter.

Brings me nicely onto the next blog article about intensity.



AVB and the Spurs striker

AVB: Okay, this is what I want you to do. I want you to go out there and ghost into the channels and pressure their full-back, when you see our attacking player-maker shift towards the penalty area, swap with the left sided midfielder and attack the space directly in front of the attacking midfielder but look at the movement of the left sided midfielder if he attacks the same space as you, cut across the pen area and move at an angle towards the space just outside the six yard box. But not if the right-winger is occupying the same space. If he is, hold back on the edge of the box then move parallel to where the ball is travelling into the box from. Okay?

Spurs striker: <silence>

AVB: Okay?

Spurs striker: Whaaa?

AVB: F*****g run around a bit and kick the ball.

Spurs striker: Yes boss. Gotcha. The ball is the round thing that moves yeah?



This given Sunday

Spurs 3 Swansea 1

Any given Sunday? Not for Spurs in recent weeks. We haven’t won since early February until this particular Sunday just gone, but we finally did so with focused discipline and tenacious execution. We won because we fought for every inch in what is possibly my favourite victory at the Lane this season. I’ve bestowed this particular accolade to it because of the test the opposition gave us and the astuteness of our tactics in our response. We were patient and structured, our football was slick and our players spirited.

There was no parking of the bus from the Swans. They turned up to play their possession football, to have us chase them. But Harry Redknapp set us up to combat this with Parker and Sandro in the middle. A case of containment and closing down perfectly illustrated by both players that led by example, challenging the opposition higher up the pitch with the aim to win the ball back as early as possible. Give them no time to pass and run and break up any pattern to their play. You could question why we’ve given them so much respect as to line-up with the aim to nullify their rhythm. Why not? It was intelligent play, making sure that Swansea did not get a stranglehold on the game and allowed us to display strength in body and concentration and more importantly, still be able to play ‘our game’ when in offensive positions. It proves as a unit we are functioning, as a collective we can do what’s necessary to frustrate the opposition and carve out opportunities at the other end.

It also proves we placed the nessisity of winning above all else. Chess game football. Okay, so it was Redknapp, so it's probably more Backgammon.

First twenty minutes or so Swansea dominated possession (60/40) without dominating the match in terms of sustained pressure. We defended resolutely, our midfield showing industry in chasing down every ball/player. We took the lead with a quick attack (four passes for the ball to find its self at the feet of Bale) with Luka releasing Gareth. The cross for Adebayor was intercepted, finding itself in the path of van der Vaart who finished with supreme pomp, passing the ball into the net. Our first shot on target. A proper punch, no sign of playful slapping. Once chance, one goal. Clinical.

Defend. Chase. Recycle possession with pace. Attack.

The tactic was all about tempo. Don’t let them play, win the ball back, release the ball as quickly as possible to force an attack. It was working, be it to the detriment of the player’s physical state (retaining this pace for 90 minutes is unlikely in any scenario). But then the plan was not to ‘contain’ Swansea for the entire duration of the game. The hope was to hit them on the counter/break a couple of times to put it beyond them.

Bale was in his far more traditional left-flank role, waiting for the pass, looking for the pass but still capable of moving inside if necessary. He worked himself into decent positions. Wasn’t the only one that looked hungry for it. Adebayor worked as hard as we know he’s capable of in his lone forward role, except it’s not really lone with the support he’s able to facilitate with his movement. vdV busy and sublime, Modric always seeking to play the killer ball. Something he forgot to do when he took a shot rather than slip Adebayor in for what could have been 2-0.

The pressing game was a success. Swansea, for all their endeavour could not penetrate. Gallas made you forget King. Kaboul was a rock. Walker pulsated and BAE made me LOL when he struck Parker in the back with the ball from a free kick (best moment of the game).

What followed in the second half was the true test of whether we had turned that corner and rediscovered our belief. The tempo was now at a slower pace (in terms of easing down on the closing down) which meant they would see more of the ball. But as with most games the balance would mean we would be able to express ourselves equally so rather than remain confined to the exclusively to containment instructions.

Brad saved brilliantly with fingertips from Sigurdsson. Ominous. In the 58th minute Routlege lays the ball off to Sigurdsson who this time kicks his shot into the ground which bounced up and in for the 1-1. Open space, open game. But if you believe you have better quality in attack then it’s to our advantage. Pound for pound it should be our advantage. The test was whether we buckled or remained patient and pushed for it.

The latter.

Bale to vdV, header, saved. We continued to push for it, building up sustained possession and pressure in the final third towards the 70th minute mark. Lennon made a welcomed return (on for Sandro) giving us the option to truly stretch the game with width on both flanks. An open game, further opened with the emphasis now on Swansea to do the chasing and closing down. The home team now dictating the rhythm, the opposing team dancing to our tune.

More good work from Bale saw his cross cut out by Williams with Adebayor in waiting. Corner, delivered, Bale header off Graham for another corner. This was like watching a team getting the basics right from dead ball positions. If that felt surreal what followed was akin to a twist in a David Lynch movie. vdV with a peach of cross, as simple as it gets, into the box for Adebayor to jump between Williams and Monk to head in for 2-1. A goal directly from a corner. Insanity.

We still continued to push. Bale beasting his way through defenders into the box, laying it off for Modric who had his shot blocked. Then Livermore (on for vdV)  makes up for a misplaced pass by winning it back and giving it to Modric who then swapped the ball with Bale a couple of times before releasing the Welsh wonder who run full pelt through the middle before reshaping to cut in ever so slightly to shoot with his left. Ball found itself saved and landing at the feet of Lennon who took it out to the wing, then teased and turned to cross beautifully for Adebayor who once more got between two players to head in for the 3-1. Rose came on for BAE late late on,  Swansea had some half chances towards the end, but in the end we claimed all three points with a top drawer professional performance spiced up with some delicious football – a testament to both manager and players for turning that corner and setting us up nicely for the final seven games.

We never lost our focus at the task at hand. We remained completely committed to claiming the three points.

Redknapp out thought Rodgers, so credit to him for drilling the players into the perfect mindset and a formation that asked a lot from the players but never neglected the style we adore to watch. Credit also to Swansea for having the balls to play the way they did. As for Rodgers as a prospective Spurs boss, I'd like to see how he handles a second season with Swansea at the Prem first. Having drawn our last two league games it was important for us to finally consolidate our momentum with a win. Work rate evident was ample proof that this team has woken up and has no desire to fall back to sleep.


More on Bale and Adebayor in a separate article.



It's time the cockerel sharpened its spur

Everton 1 Tottenham 0

If the Woolwich game was a choke and the Utd game a clinical mugging, Saturday evenings defeat at Goodison Park was...a disappointment. Three successive defeats, a taste we've not acquired since the hedonistic days of Juande Ramos. I'm not about to knee-jerk. Not yet. Even if the three defeats are the result of our form degrading since the new year. That gap of points we had? That's proved to be a safety net. A buffer. Once its gone there is no margin for error. Fall and it won't be pretty. Unless we end up falling on top of others who aspire to get ahead of us.

The science is simple. Stoke in our next league match where we truly find out whether our balls are the size of grape-fruits or nothing more than shrivelled grapes. If the slide persists it will fuel the belief in others whilst distinguishing our own. An exceptional season turns to disaster. From humble beginnings ("we'll do well to battle hard for 4th") to giddy heights ("we're contending at the top") this was all our own doing. Much like the unravelling is our undoing at this present moment.

For the sake of positivity (I'll hazard a guess this is one commodity that is currently lost in in the depths of our thoughts consumed by its arch nemesis) we are still masters of our own destiny. We have not been punching above our weight. Other rival clubs have not suddenly reclaimed past form. We haven't had a blip all season long whereas others have had several. We've had all of ours in three successive league games. That gap was an illusion of circumstance.

The panic button is present in the same room that we stand in but our finger is not hovering above it even though we are staring directly at it. It's crossed our mind to run across to it and thump it with anger. That's the easy way out. We all know, Tottenham never takes the easy way. It's always, unequivocally the hard way. We're apologetic at the moment. From manager to players, there is no mental strength and assured focus. No responsibility. There has to be more than hollow excuses about it being one of those days. Sure, one of those days one week but three times in succession?

It wouldn't be entertaining if we navigated our most crucial period of the season with skilled professionalism, digging deep to retain some reminisce of momentum. Using the same pragmatism that our rivals are proclaiming, from inconsistent under achievement to tenacious spirit, there is nothing to suggest we can't turn this around. The same way its been turned around by those that have spent the season chasing and falling. We've spent the majority of the season looking forwards not back. As perplexing as it all is at the moment, this is not a self-fulfilling prophecy tinged with expected failure. It's not a throwback to that side we once knew, lacking spine, bones brittle like crisps. What we are is dangerously close to reflecting that persona. The difference is we all know what we are capable of when we fire on all cylinders. That's our real persona. Even if its not one that is seasoned in close season pressure chasing a top spot (whereas both Woolwich and Chelsea have experience in doing so). It's still one capable of achievement.

Confidence can be drained out of you but it can also be won back. Just takes one game. How can I as a supporter give up on that one game when that game has yet to be played? That game has to be the next one (Stoke) by virtue of losing this one (Everton) and the one before. After that, if we're in the same predicament, I'll start walking slowly towards the panic button expecting the inevitable self-destruct.

We are out of form. Individually and as a collective. Tactically a mess. The irony? The game looked like a 0-0. Could have so easily been a 0-0. Could have also seen us win it (based on 2nd half). Moyes men, unattractive and defensive. Spurs misfiring all of the pitch. A mistake leading to the goal that would give the points to the hosts. Could have been, wasn't, was 1-0 to them.

How? Why?

"How to lose games and influence people to start calling you limited now that we're not winning" by Harry Redknapp.

  • Don't play the best formation based on the players available
  • Don't start players in their strongest positions, including your two best players
  • Stick Bale on the right (lose the chance for genuine width and dynamism)
  • Stick Modric on the left (lose creativity and guile)
  • Start a striker based on recent form, but add him to the line-up to accompany your other striker instead of dropping him to have just the one up front. Probably because deep down you know that having Defoe up front on his own will be detrimental to that particular system, but you start him anyway
  • 442 doesn't work so persist with it
  • This in turn will leave the midfield outfought due to being pressed/out numbered by the oppositions midfield with lack of drop-back by forwards to support

It was a bit like that island out of Lost. Strange happenings all the time with no explanation and you never quite work out what's going on. If you took a step back from it all, as bad (in comparison to good) as we appear to be playing - it's still not catastrophic. No big explosion. We just need a slice of time travel and a chorus of a grand old team to put this right.

The goal was a gift (more so than a mistake), Kaboul completely falling asleep after leaving his position to then lapse again and allowing Osman to square the ball to Jelavic to score. We continued to struggle with retaining the ball, our passing lacked fluidity. No inspiration, no perspiration. No mojo. No luck.

Why does the simple ethos of playing your best players in their best positions and not accommodating anyone who doesn't fit in not cry out for the attention it deserves?

Modric was heavily marked and unproductive out on the left. A position that is not unlike imprisonment. Bale equally ineffectual until he shifted across to the left for the last 10 minutes. Our set pieces personified our performance. Erratic and without intelligence and direction.

If we were not so limp up front we could have still carved something out of the game. In the second half, we almost did.

No immediate changes to the side but the tempo was more driven and there was urgency. Nothing special and most definitely deflated in comparison to our more bullish performances from our sparklingly back catalogue before the implosion (although arguably we have actually degraded away from home over a longer period of time if you wish to recategorise certain below par wins away from home from 'dogged' to fit into our current demoralised state of mind).

Saha replaced Adebayor. For all of the time Defoe spent in offside positions he was far more alert and more likely to craft a chance than his team mate although he remains completely selfish and suffers from lack of spacial awareness when it comes to understanding his team mates and their movement. Our set pieces continued to degrade further (so many levels of bad are conquered here). Chances presented themselves but were dismissed with disguised disdain like a heavily knitted cardigan given to you by granny at Christmas.

The flanks remained broken. If Karl Marx played for us, he'd be stuck out on the right. The gaffer would probably tell us nobody would expect him to be there, he'd say its "a bit left field" to do that and that's why it might work but it's not really left field, is it? It's right. But not actually the right thing to do because he's left.


Welcome to Tottenham Hotspur tactics 101.

Was Bale on the right because of what Everton had achieved against us and more specifically him,  nullifying Gareth forcing him onto the right to escape their attention in a prior encounter? Why not simply play to our strengths than concern ourselves with what Everton might be able to do? Square pegs, round holes. 

I've mentioned that the second half was far superior to the first half showing. It was. Everton continued to be reactive to us pushing forward, the home crowd no doubt saving their voice for the derby rather than waste it on the cockneys. Bale dived (because it's what he has to do from time to time - I'll blog about this separately but some of you really have to start supporting the player and stop constantly hating on him). Saha hit the woodwork. Another (genuine) highlight of the second half was the introduction of van der Vaart. Even though at times I couldn't quite work out where he was meant to be playing. Still, next time you (some of you, not all of you) complain about the luxury of the Dutchman, try changing your straitjacket to something a little tighter. Extra padding to your cell might also help you out with the banging of head on wall. In our blatant hour of need, we need our talisman out there because someone has to take the responsibility to drag us up from the floor.

Did we 'batter them' in that half? Yeah, sort of. Like I said earlier, we could have carved something out. Alas, there was no structure or style to our endeavours. Throwing everything at the Everton goal with no patient build up or plan. Don't pretend you didn't see it playing out like this when the line-up was announced. We appear to be accepting defeat rather than utterly despising it. It's all very much fragmented.

So what now?

Another cup game punctures the fixture list before we face Stoke. Two successive home games before we go to Chelsea which will allow players and supporters to unite as one again. Two games which need to be used as a catalyst. As a club we need to embrace the challenge ahead without the anxiety we've displayed in recent games and to do that we have to be at full strength. One hymn sheet, countless choruses of Glory.

If we believed the hype when we played and won games consistently then we can so easily believe the hype that tells us we've bottled it. That's the danger. This is where we need to grow a pair. At some point soon there wont be enough games left on the calender for us to rally the troops and spit out battle cries with myself thumping the keyboard manically demanding swashbuckle. Winning ways need to be reclaimed. I'd say any which way possible but I know this side is capable of winning with swagger. Whilst said swagger is MIA, any which way possible is a good place to start.

As bad as things seem at the moment, it will only take a couple of results to change everyone's perspective again. Next two are pivotal. The ones that follow might be a blessing.

So grape-fruit or grape? Get a grip of it Spurs. That includes you Harry. That includes every single one of you wearing the shirt. Every single one of you singing for the shirt. Do or die or dare. Shouldn't that be inspiration enough?

Stand up, be brave.

It's time the cockerel sharpened its spur.



The spur of the cockerel needs to be sharpened

Swansea 1 Spurs 1

Not the best of days. Jaded, fragmented and lacked shaped, more so when Harry changed it up with the two substitutions in the second half which only served to invite more pressure from the home side. Two points dropped? Well no, not really. It was a point gained considering how much of the possession we gave up in the second half. The hosts were the better team.

The thing with mentality is our players should ask themselves why it failed today, why were we not at the races? Ask then put right next game and next time we’re away to a tricky side that might cause us a few problems. What I mean is, if there was a casual aspect to our play and if we held back in the early exchanges then there has to be a collective reason for it. Don't think it was anything more than the aforementioned jadedness.

Personally, I don’t buy into complacency or believing our own hype. Doubt very much we went there believing we’d just need to turn up to win. We just lacked that spark and all things considered, if we’re going to have an off day away from home then a point might as well be acceptable. Swansea had all the right in the world to attack us. Sadly we could only produce pockets of possession and could not get a handle on the midfield. Don’t underplay the fact that it only takes one or two players in the team to be just a little off balance in terms of performance level for that to have a knock-on effect.

Lack of rotation? Sure, that’s a reason, an obvious one. Perhaps because we haven’t quite defined our plan b we rely too much on a particular style of play which means rotation can have a detrimental effect on the side thanks to a lack of like-to-like replacements in the squad. We’ve played and won without key players before, but perhaps we’ve over-stretched a little and it’s caught up on us.

Still, if its fatigue we have an opportunity to be clever with selections in January (in our home matches) and capitalise on what looks to be an inviting fixture list. Also, it points towards the necessity for activity in the transfer window because we’ve still got a fair few games to get through and there is nothing more frustrating than losing out on something because we lack cover and then having to cite that as an excuse. When we were down to the bare bones last time, we somehow managed to finish fourth. It’s different today because we’re in a better position as a team and expectancy is on us to keep up the positive results.

One worrying aspect that remains concerns the players we do have, the fringe players, and which will perhaps (finally) be sold on as there is little chance of us signing someone when we’re not shifting others out. When you start looking at the semantics, it can turn into a nervous game of patience with varying arcs dependent on other clubs and the business they seek to do.

In the past this usually means nothing happens until the final week or day (if that). As I said back in the summer we need to be decisive. We don’t need a massive overhaul. Just consolidation in key areas. If the politics of management and other off the field dramatics play a part in Levy’s decision making, then it gets messy. The side and its immediate future has to take precedence. Long term questions can be answered in the summer of 2012 (i.e. new goalkeeper). The messy bit for Levy is the decision that might need to be made regarding a new forward. Not just the element of risk if Adebayor gets injured. It’s the conundrum of whether we need to look to bring someone in this January and how that might affect the potential signing of the Man City loanee.

Considering we didn’t splash out £20M+ for a La Liga or South American player and opted for a loan deal you might find yourself agreeing that Levy is playing a waiting game.

As for the game; It was high tempo – end to end at times. Very ominous towards the end. You just knew they would equalise and it was deserved even if I would have accepted the 1-0 in our favour (obviously). Perhaps better goal-keeping would have seen us steal all three points. I guess it’s a thin line. Hold on and win and we’d have lauded the performance of grit when not playing too well. We drew and thus, we’re disappointed in the two points dropped from a winning position. But in each case, the performance is identical. Just an instinctive reaction or reflex (or lack of) makes the difference. Either way, we did not lose the game. Consistency and work ethic is part of that mentality we’ve built up, which means the old skool capitulation disorder is no more. We know how to compete.

I could not care less about other results. Let them worry about us rather than us rely on them slipping up.

It was untidy. The substitutions did not influence the game in our favour (they aided the opposition). The impact of losing both Rafa and Parker (who is in dire need of a rest) was pretty much as subtle as a brick in the face. We failed to adapt and appeared reactive to the play, with Sandro doing his best to defend everything. Reason enough to rest Parker and allow Sandro to fly solo. Kaboul also impressed again and Rafa (with the goal) worked hard for the team before going off.

When presented with opportunities we did not make the most of them. Adebayor not great with his first touch and only needs to be offside once more this season to equal Defoe's all-time record. Too many lethargic performances. Should work in our favour though. A reminder we have to work harder and Harry has to be careful as to avoid that rather obvious excuse in the making burn-out. In the grand scheme of things, our festive tally was a decent one what with the games played away from North London.

Special mention for Gareth. Stop it and cut it out of your game. As for his positioning, Harry should have instructed him to anchor himself a little to the flank rather than free-roam centrally where he appeared to have little impact. These things take time to work themselves out, so no need for a knee-jerk.

39 points from the last 48 points available. Third in the Prem. I’m content. I’m ecstatic to be honest. Sure, I’m hungry for more and we should not get into the habit of accepting second best but we still have to be realistic. We continue to evolve and the most vital aspect is to retain that consistency and momentum we’ve built up.

And if you are inclined to show interest in what is going on elsewhere, it’s apparent that everyone is beatable at the minute. Nobody is quite the same force they once was. The Prem continues to flux in its state of transition. I wouldn’t go as far as suggesting four or five teams are level-pegged – but the difference is hardly insurmountable.

We need to quickly nail down how best to rest/rotate and rejuvenate when we hit a lull and still retain our style of play or adapt accordingly for damage limitation.

It’s been a cracking season, one that I hardly imagined when we got tonked 5-1 at home and then lost (as per usual) up at Old Trafford. We’ve been exceptional without always being spectacular, but we’ve embraced our traditions and have continued to add new traits to our tenacity. We’re playing fantastic football at times and have players others envy. It’s hardly a shabby position to be in so do more than enjoy it. Wear your heart on your sleeve. Always.

We are Tottenham. All hail the arrival of 2012.

Love the shirt.




Norwich 0 Spurs 2

Sensational dominance away from home. Okay, so it was only the Canaries but the manner in which we styled our attacking intentions deserves applause. It was an emphatic display of confident football. The only negative? We scored (just) the two goals. If you want to nit-pick further, Friedel was uncertain on occasions when reaching for the ball and we lacked composure at times with the final pass/shot in the final third. Which is probably why it was only the two goals scored. But it’s Christmas and its best to retain a festive spirit.

First half, Norwich got the ball forward, but hardly threatened. We looked more than comfortable with Parker and Modric dictating the games tempo and Walker having plenty of the ball on the right-hand side, offensively and otherwise. The football, our brand of football was superb. Up until the point where you’re meant to stick it in the net. Cutting edge not evident, but then we’ve had a habit of creating a dozen chances before slotting one home in a few games this season.

An argument you’ll keep on hearing put forward is that surely against the likes of Norwich (no offence to them) we should start with two forwards. Not convinced that a more basic formational structure will make much of a difference when we have Pavlyuchenko as the only available option to partner Adebayor – because asking van der Vaart to play further forward is unlikely to be successful (it’s not in his nature to remain locked into a position without the license to drop deep and free role).

With Sandro also in the mix both Rafa and Bale were apparently told to free roam to their hearts content. Enough to give tacticians heart palpitations, but this is what Harry does so well. Give a player the freedom to express themselves knowing that the midfielders with more disciplined responsibilities can take care of defensive duties. You could hardly scoff at the movement of the front three as a result. Pulsating to watch, just a little untidy with the execution.

Defensively all good too. We still look vulnerable from set pieces and we still lack imagination and drilled in training offensive set-pieces (perhaps Harry is telling the players to just kick the ball and see what happens). I’d go as far as suggesting that if we were savvy from dead balls we’d score one or two every few games which would obviously bolster that winning margin. Think we’re quite wasteful at the moment where that’s concerned.

Second half we made the possession and our quality count. The opener was just a brilliant goal. Rafa’s pass to Adebayor (back to goal) who danced with the ball at his feet, mesmerising the collection of defenders watching as he protected the ball and then having the coolness and awareness to play it into Bale who shot under John Ruddy in goal.


The second was a showcase of brutal power and pace. Bale asking for the ball in central midfield then bursting forward through the middle all the way to the opposition’s pen area before complementing the savage speed with a cute controlled chip over Ruddy for his brace.


It was akin to Spurs slapping Norwich down with two outstanding moments of ruthlessness, a reminder also to themselves that there is no hype in belief.

This was a very decent away performance – one that outlines again that we’re a proper fully fledged side rather than another ill devised pretender. It’s not just about this one game, it’s the momentum built across this season. The reaction to the defeat at Stoke. We have far greater challenges in terms of the fixture list in the near future. Challenges that will also test the mental strength of the side and perhaps the depth of the squad which will no doubt once more take up hours of coverage on Sky Sports News in January.

Defence was solid. Walker a stand-out and Kaboul very comfortable and dominant. The midfield a powerhouse. Rafa at times sublime with his movement and his range of passing. Parker, perhaps disguised a little in terms of performance level, as you tend to focus on the more flamboyant – but he remains imperative as the heart of the side with Luka providing the beat. Re-watch the game and concentrate on his (Luka) work ethic and touch and the manner in which he seems to be involved in everything.

Sandro is getting game time and with Lennon out I would not complain to see him keep up appearances. Intelligent, completley focused yet beastly, you half expect him to disappear mid-match and travel back in time to kill Sarah Connor. Then there’s Bale, the free-roaming version. Two fantastic goals and most definitely turning it up a notch – which is what we need all our players to do. Adebayor also proving that footwork is as vital as clinical finishing, what with it being a team game.

Our midfield has been magnificent this season. I love the fact you can look at the Spurs side and just think "that aint too shabby at all".

You can tell this is a unit of players, one that loves playing football with such exuberance. Loved that eleven pass move with Bale almost giving it the finish it deserved. We have organically grown into this team over the past few seasons. I can remember so many times in the past twenty years where we would shift from one transition to another knowing the foundations had to be rebuilt.

Let's not kid ourselves, there's a lot of pressure on this team. They don't appear to be showing any strains. Long may that continue.

Wonderful Xmas then. All the other results seemed to go in our favour which is always a bonus. Swansea next then we stay home for three home games (including that game in hand) before travelling up to City. January – it’s season defining.

Title contenders? I'd rather us focus on continuing to be the best footballing side in the country. If we pick up a CL spot and a cup along the way, I'll make sure to smile in approval.


Love the shirt.


Want it

Writing a match preview can be a tricky most of the time because you simply look to share an opinion on team selection and tactics and then dress it all up with statistics about recent form in the league and history against the opposition then wrap it up with a concluding expectancy of how the game will (hopefully) pan out. I prefer to delve into the analysis mostly in the match review post-result and stick to a battle cry in the lead up to it. Today is no different.

We are currently uncertain of the staring first eleven that will take to the pitch against Chelsea.

No Lennon, Defoe, King, Bale, Adebayor = bare bones, backs to wall, mission improbable. Any team would struggle if you remove that many key players.

Lennon is a non-starter for certain. Defoe, rumoured to be missing too. Then we have the usual kidology and ambiguity concerning King, Bale and Adebayor. We all know it takes several days for Ledley’s knee to return to normal (as normal gets) but can’t imagine us playing him against Sunderland and thus risking him for tonight’s game. Adebayor will also play. Mainly because I refuse to believe the footballing Gods would be so cruel as to unbalance what should be a good solid tight game by depleting us and handing over advantage before the whistle is blown. As for Bale. It’s just a hunch, but I think he’ll start too.

If I’m wrong on Gareth, then the second half against Sunderland is the reminder we need to look back on as to avoid playing so narrow and allow both Luka and Rafa to drift into central positions to be effective. We need to be astute tactically with covering space left open by such marauding and push from full backs to wings. Goes without say that the industry we have to display in the middle of the park, in the war zone, has to be relentless. Parker hasn’t been completely on top form recently but then his level of performance was bound to dip ever so slightly. Sandro might have a role to play.

I wouldn’t scoff at a more traditional 442, knowing full well that this will mean van der Vaart playing alongside Adebayor which means he’ll play behind him, which then means he’ll drop deep and wander meaning it will turn back to a 4411. Discipline is what will take precedence, or at least it’s what should take precedence. Discipline and focus. We need to get at them and retain concentration at the back (Sturridge for me is key to them having any success in advanced positions).

Fact is simply this. We can’t play our trademark game if we don’t have the pace down the flanks. So we have to adapt and do so with minimal sacrifice in terms of style and more importantly ambition. We have to look to win this game. Go for their jugular.

It’s vital we get it right through the middle and overlap to mix it up a little. Width is how we damage, how we counter. If Bale plays, we retain some of that style. If he doesn’t, we have to up the work ethic and aim for fluidity as a unit (players playing for each other).

Chelsea, unbelievably, are probably the ones tagged with the underdog label. Plucky and resourceful, they’ve pulled a few results out of the bag when one or two were expecting more implosions. They still slip up (as seen at Wigan). But they have more than enough quality to hurt anyone. This being the game that it is – a derby and one that comes with a possible festive divide within the top four, there is no way of ignoring that it’s going to be defined with more than just team selection and formations.

This game is worth several points in the mental strength stakes. The three points are what matter but equally so does the statement made when acquiring them.

All eyes on Terry (if he starts). He doesn't mind this ilk of game, he tends to thrive on it such is his self-importance and arrogance. All eyes on Luka too. A chance to dictate tempo and control the game, a gentle nod towards the opposition. You can look but you can't touch. I'll only consider the irony of a Spurs win post-game and what opinion his agent might have of it.

Our record against them lot at the Lane remains impressive in recent years. Our home support is more than capable of being the 12th man (as long as Howard Webb doesn’t take that mantle at any given moment in the game).

That buzz you’re feeling, tingling in your bones. It’s the type of buzz I want to be feeling week in week out from now until the end of the season. Points ratio suggests we’ll be in amongst it and if we keep up our strong home record then we’re going to be anchored to the very top tier. This game gives us another opportunity to show that there’s more than one way to skin a cat. Upright blue ones included.

Guile, tenacity and decisive quality please Tottenham. This won’t be easy. Sing your hearts out. As ever, aim high.

Love the shirt.


The name is Foy. Chris Foy. Licence to Kill.

Stoke 2 Spurs 1

A referee is not meant to influence a game with such defining persistent calamity. Perhaps one wrong decision (it happens). But Chris Foy is no ordinary referee. Not even average. Poor is the word best associated with him. One mistake swallowed and regurgitated in a constant loop over the ninety minutes played. If ineptness was an art form then his performance in the Stoke v Spurs game was a masterpiece.

The rather ironic saving grace after the whistle blew at full time and we finally lost a game of football in the league was that the players can take the bitterness and allow it to fuel their emotions for the next game (Sunderland at the Lane). Whilst the rest of us (those wanting to look beyond Foy) can feel a little aggrieved that Tottenham let us down in the first forty-five minutes. Because no matter what happened in the second forty-five, the game was lost before the ref and his assistants played their part in guaranteeing it. Still, there is no hiding from the fact that we did more than enough to save the points and our response is what this new-look Spurs is all about. In the end, we were ended by the man with the whistle and not the brutal brand of football our hosts play.

2-0 down, fully deserved. We allowed ourselves to be completely bullied from the off. The formation looked uncomfortable, the players (especially at the back) seemed confused and lost out to Stoke and their physicality (do they have anything else?). I guess this was frustrating for one reason only – what did we expect? Okay, so in the past we’ve had success there but considering our form they were hardly going to sit back and let us play tippy-tappy possession play. Their football is ugly. It can be effective.

I found myself hoping Harry would instruct someone to cello-tape a cardboard cut out of Ledley King onto the back of Scott Parker, for that much needed calming influence. Parker himself, off key, lacked that edge he’s had in his play since he joined our midfield. That leadership quality went missing. We allowed the anti-football to antagonise us.

You know what, it happens. Against Stoke, the obvious actually played out. We let them get to us. Now, for anyone playing around with the words ‘we’ve got out Tottenham back’, I know you’re only jesting. Because old Spurs, that inconsistent creature we hardly miss, would have got battered in the second half too. Not the case this time.

Character. We have it in abundance and we did more than enough in the second half to prove we have spirit and guile. Harry mixed things up with a 3-5-2 formation and it worked. Well, it sort of worked but didn’t. This is where unfortunately the Foy Factor impacted proceedings. Now granted, he gave us a dubious penalty one that you might admit to being generous (and perhaps not wanting Luka to repeat). Although I’m willing to bet most would prefer to silently applaud Modric for it with whispers that certain other clubs have been doing it for years (win at any cost). Personally? Would prefer we win playing football, purely. If our players want to take that particular route of falling down easily, I’d prefer it to remain ambiguous enough for me to ignore.

The inconsistent and dire decision making however had already settled into the game during the first half and spread like the black plague in the second. Luka pen aside (slotted away by Adebayor), the rest were not in our favour. A detail the home support seemed to turn a blind eye too (insert Specsavers joke here).

Time wasting on throw-ins (I feel stupid complaining about the sewn in towel so I won’t)
Shawcross foul on Kaboul in the penalty area, no intent to play the ball, blatant
Shawcross clearing the ball off the line with his arm (straight red?)
Lost count now, there was another handball, right? Woodgate should have walked
A legitimate goal disallowed for offside when Adebayor was onside (assistant ref, anyone?)
The curious case of the corners given as goal-kicks when they were blatantly corners
Various suspect decisions on free-kicks not given, no consistency compared to free-kicks given to opposition

Most of the controversy was post-Modric penalty. Coincidence? Work it out.

He (Foy) influenced the second half. Like the final season of Lost, he had no idea how it would end, making it up as he went along. In the end, what with Kaboul adding to his yellow card for complaining with another yellow for a foul – regardless of the fact that he should have been more wise in both incidents, it almost felt like another kick in the teeth (at a point when I could see us over-running them). Wasn't really a foul worthy of a yellow, was it? Bit soft? If he only stated to the ref 'it was handball' for the first yellow, then you could start to argue that the ref really didn't have a clue how to handle it all and killed off the game completely with over zealous reactions and non-reactions.

Just how much was necessary to make amends for Luka falling over? Or was he also making amends for the Walters header from last season?

The officiating was bad. Our first half performance was bad. So to play well and not get anything after the second half, it’s gutting. But s*** happens. Our response is what I’m taking from this game and as mentioned, let the players feel aggrieved and robbed, let them take that attitude into the next match and take it out in the form of redemption. I’d be far more worried if we capitulated. We didn’t. What it proves is that we have to be far more accomplished from the off, especially when King isn’t playing. So take note chairman and manager, I’m sure they have. Activity certain in January.

This is the ilk of game we've been winning this season. We should have beaten Stoke. We didn't. Never get complacent.

To elaborate on the tactical switch, first half, too many players were isolated so the movement was ineffectual deeming Rafa and his deep deployment redundant and Adebayor without support. With Stoke being what they are we should have (easy with hindsight) started with two forwards, if anything to allow a more balanced shape to the side to deal with their style (lack of). Defoe didn’t deserve to be dropped but then I’m always keen to see Rafa start. In this case, we got it wrong. Harry who is sometimes maligned for not seeing things and changing them got it right when we returned from the dressing room. Foy got it wrong enough to make sure Stoke held on. Something they deserved based on their first half, fortunate to survive the second.

If there was one game in our fixture list that the footballing Gods marked down as the one where we would stumble, this was it.

Etherington for England
‘Unplayable’ Crouch (you just knew this would happen, right? Man of the Match, I'm laughing)
Woodgate and Palacios
The hoofing
No King equating to an Friedel uneasy
Gio's cameo

Still 3rd. Game in hand. Sunderland will get it next weekend. Live and learn. We lost thanks to that first half display. What the ref did in the second will mask that. Onwards, upwards Spurs. Down into the Championship for Foy, with any luck.

As for Stoke. Well done. You’re not pretty. You got the result, but I’d rather be relegated playing football on the park than survive playing whatever the f*** it is you lot do. I guess you'll cite Wigan as a reason why you don't play it on the park. You've done well against the bigger teams. I guess I should be grateful for my colours. It’s not easy down there. It’s just as hard up here.

As for us lot, this defeat, I don't like the taste of it. I've spat it out.




Their empire of dust needs to be swept under the carpet

There is no doubting that we need to finish above Arsenal to truly crow about the shift in power under the brooding North London sky. But you need to be insane (or own a red and white shirt) to disagree that one cycle is coming to its end and another continues to blossom.

One of the finest testaments to the Redknapp era at Spurs is the fact that in recent years we have the better record over our old enemy. In head to heads, we tend to best them. The fear, the crippling self-doubt...doesn’t exist any more. For too many years we lacked the quality and the authority to stamp Lilywhite across the NLD and sheer plucky effort was never enough as we were brushed aside time and time again. The dominance of the monopoly crumbled and everyone up top degraded a little. Arsenal have gone from super human to mere mortals whilst we have anchored ourselves to the upper tier without yet consolidating, but with every chance of doing so.

Wenger and his sorry lot are akin to Superman when he agrees to sacrifice his powers. Except you can’t see them getting their powers back (unlike in the movie), what with Arsene building a Fortress of Solitude out of Kryptonite. They’ve lost their best players. They tend to lose their best players almost by default these days. You expect them to replace the lost souls with new Gods but they dither and end up with decent players but of the ilk you expect seasoned top eight sides to sign. It’s a sign of the times, they’re in transition and they are struggling to adapt to morality. They look beatable. They look like they have mistakes and lapses of concentration in them all the time.

This is not an obituary. They still possess quality, but in a twisted way they are more alike to us in terms of how we shaped up a few seasons back. Couple of star players in amongst the ordinary, fancy football flattering to deceive. They show glimpses of belief and desire but it's almost at the expense of really having to push for it, rather than oozing with ease.

Our 2-1 win more or less paints the same picture as described above. Reactions from their support further illustrating how different things truly are at this moment in time. Did Arsenal play well at the Lane? Apparently so. They nicked possession by a couple of %. But if this was Arsenal playing well (bossing it) how come I hardly remember Friedel having to shot-stop? Szczesny on the other hand? More to the point, if this was Arsenal playing well, how can a Spurs side that hardly asserted themselves still be so comfortable in victory? You could point to Redknapp and claim he started the wrong midfield and that had we played three centrally to combat their three man midfield then Arsenal would not have enjoyed so much time on the ball.

They had efforts. They missed a sitter. They struggled to find cutting edge. We had less time on the ball, failed to dictate tempo but on the counter we were too good for their disorganised defence to handle. When Redknapp made the tactical switch and brought on Sandro it was game over. I’ll wager we’d have won easily if he had started. We’d have suffocated their trio and allowed the likes of Bale to run riot. From the heart of a defensive stronghold there would have been offensive riches to behold. Sandro and Parker in the middle means less of the running back for the more creative of our players.

In an ironic role-reversal, they matched us (we're meant to have the better players, right?) and at the start of the second half bettered us. And yet in the end our quality was superior. The likes of Parker, King and Walker excelling. Defoe worked his socks off. Okay, so Ade was subdued and Modric not as influentially. But Bale was menacing in the second half and Sandro consolidated.

A better Arsenal side with some of those long gone players strutting their stuff would have (might have) punished us. Speaks volumes that we can start the wrong formation and yet still work our way to three points. It’s not that we didn’t play well, it’s just that we should have been set up to be far stronger from the start. We have the depth now. We got away with it because they’re the ones now punching above their weight, trying to play a particular way when lacking the players to do so. We have that little bit more in the way of desire and belief than they do.

When Walker scored, I was obviously euphoric but there was a voice in my head that said, “Well that was expected, wasn’t it?”. What bizarro universe is this that I suddenly find myself living in?

New Spurs. Don’t have to play well to beat Arsenal. I like that.




Was it handball? Top of arm? Apex? I’m going to be completely biased and say it was majestically controlled and not blatantly ‘handball’ in the traditional way. This was hardly a Henry moment. Arsenal should have complained about it with more vigour but they don’t even seem to have that in them these days.


Talking of Rafa. He loves giving it to the scum. It's like having a Dutch version of Jenas.


Ade. Obviously had a Robbie Keane moment when one on one and thought too much about the moment rather than instinctively scoring then concerning himself about whether to celebrate or not.


As for Jack Wilshere and his tweets:

"Van der Vaart should be sent off! He celebrated with the fans? I'm sure that is a yellow?"

“Remember one thing.....Form is temporary and class is permanent!”

Let’s humour him. Rafa did not jump into the stands. If anything the fans moved towards the player. He then moved back. Absolutely nothing to see here other than someone passionately celebrating a goal in a massive game. If Jack was to ever score in a NLD, I look forward to him shaking hands with his team-mates and briskly walking back to the centre-circle.

As for his form/class comment? I’ll remember one thing Jack, your desperation.


The vile chanting. The way the media are banging on about it, anybody would think this only ever happens when Spurs play Arsenal.


Remember how most of us felt post-transfer window closure? We wanted more than what we got. What we’ve got is four wins out of four with Parker and Adebayor. Probably worthy of another article, so I'll just say sorry. I was (along with a few) proved wrong about Parker. I'm okay with that.


12 points. 6 games. Both Manc sides played along with Liverpool and Arsenal. Just Chelsea left. Next nine games look winnable. This being Tottenham it’s the games we should be winning where we end up dropping points. But retaining confidence and positivity...we’re accomplished these days away from home and our form at the Lane remains strong (we don’t lose too many). The season is about to kick off for us.


Clive Allen. Knight him.



Six reasons why the Parker pen has no ink in it

I’m struggling at the moment to think of anything relevant to write up for the blog. Not even inspired to go to town with a satirical spin on...whatever. See? I can’t even think of a target to aim at. I’ve landed so many body blows to the In the Know community, it’s almost become borderline obsessive. Such is my boredom I’ve began to study strange activity relating to people I follow on Twitter, fighting off random fits of paranoia. I’ll start worrying once the voices in my head subside. Or am I not meant to have voices in my head? I forget.

If we sign Scott Parker as back-up or as a replacement for Luka Modric I will kill myself. How’s that for a dramatic and a wholly unnecessary twist on attempting to light-up that missing fire in my blogging belly? By ‘kill myself’ I mean metaphorically speaking. I haven’t quite figured out the logistics yet. I was pretty much emotionless when I read the story at breakfast concerning how the Football Writers player of the year is holding out for a transfer to Tottenham. I spent the rest of the morning trying to hold in my breakfast.

Without access to Andy Gray’s interactive touch-screen technology (it’s probably sitting boxed up next to the Lost Ark of the Covenant in a warehouse) let me simplify it:

Modric. Sandro. Bale. van der Vaart. Huddlestone. Lennon.

That’s excluding bench warmers; Piennar, Kranjcar, Jenas, Palacios – amongst others.

Might as well elaborate.

So that’s six ‘first teamers’ that need to fit into either a four or five man midfield (depending on the main forward we have playing upfront with vdV just behind him if we opt for a 4-5-1 that actually works without glitches).

We’ve got a ton of games on the horizon. Rotation will play a part for sure (Rose and Walker cannot be loaned out and both can cover flank positions) and injuries will happen – it’s the hard unavoidable fact of life. We just have to hope it’s not to key players, but then when you have a side that is practically glistening with players you could tag as being vital and one or two that are beyond vital (they’ve got a skeleton key around their neck such is their importance of unlocking the opposition in offensive and closing the door shut back in defence) losing anyone will hurt.

However, Harry being Harry, you always get the feeling he quite can’t make up his mind. He spent a lot of time adjusting and changing last year where we lacked cohesiveness that meant fragmented consistency with the balance of the side. If you throw in another name, it’s going to lead to further tinkering.

That’s Parker or any other midfielder we’ve been linked with. How does one delegate priority if we signed him or Adam (Liverpool bound thank God) or <insert average player name here>?

Look at what we have.

Modric – Makes us tick, dinks and crafts and creates. Keeps the ball moving, recycles it with a touch of a Catalan.

Sandro/Huddlestone – One is better at defensive duties, breaking down play and chasing the ball with timely interceptions added for good measure. The other allows for another dimension to our play with disguised passes and cross-field fright for the opposing defenders. Both are swappable dependent on the opposition and the tactic for the game at hand.

Bale – Every so often we hear the quote ‘his future is at left-back’. Basically, the premise is that with a clever left-winger in front of him to allow for the over-lap, Bale is better suited in defence rampaging forward on said over-lap. I’d agree if Gareth was a better defender than he is a left-winger, which he isn’t. Which means sacrificing him to make way for some convoluted midfield selection is a no-go for me. BAE with Danny Rose covering left-back is the future. Three’s a crowd and all that.

Lennon – Is probably due another good clean and crisp season without the dips and lulls. Perhaps Kyle Walker will deputise as a RM on occasions to aid with progression in his development that will allow him to ‘do a Bale’ unless it’s already decided he’s ‘the future’ at right back meaning he covers Corluka (and we work out where best to play Kaboul – note how we have plenty of quality at the back but can’t seem to work out the best line-up). Regardless, Lennon is our outlet on the right. But is probably the one that would be sacrificed in that theoretical convoluted middle (with the chap directly below replacing him on the flank to make way in the middle).

vdV – If he loses the extra pounds he was carrying across the entirety of last season and also focus without distraction at leading from just behind the front and just ahead of the midfield (rather than losing himself in the depths just ahead of the backline) then his galvanising force will be even more telling. As long as the player just ahead of him is as good as he is. Unless of course a fully fit 90 minute version of Rafa is a fallacy.

Add a new one into the above fold, one that expects to be first choice, and you’ll have a congested bloated feast that will leave you holding your gut in agonising pain.

In a world of complexities and elaboration, I’ll go back to simplifying it. Any midfielder we sign has to be a replacement for one that currently warms the bench because we will not be selling any of our key players. Scott Parker might have endearing battle cry qualities (debatable in terms of when these qualities are applied successfully - does it count when it's at West Ham?) but at Spurs, is he a viable option simply because of circumstance? And if so, at what cost*?

*See all of the above.

If he's happy to sit the bench, I won't complain.

Guess I’m not struggling after all. I gone and wrote me a blog article.




Mauling in Madrid

I woke up suddenly early this morning, around 3am. A little disoriented and for a brief few seconds no recollection of anything other than the dream I had just lost. Then it hit me like a truck running over a rabbit caught in its headlights. That other dream, my memory returning, also lost.  I did reach out to see if there was a white handkerchief I could use to wave despondently across my face to wipe away a tear. Instead I went back to burying my head under the pillow and asking myself...what if what if, as I lost consciousness (always with the losing) once more and fell back into what might as well have been a nightmare.

In all the match previews for our first leg visit to the Santiago Bernabéu, including mine, very few entertained the eventuality of what was witnessed on the night.

I cited we needed to stand tall, be strong. The usual pre-match battle cry dressed up with belief and desire with a dab of focus thrown in for good measure. It was always going to be about us finding out whether we could compete against a heavy weight side managed by heavy weight tactician.

Some quotes from my match preview:

“Jose knows his side won't be able to steam-roll us like the various assortments of Spanish fodder they dismantle week in week out”

That’s exactly what they did.

“We are not expected to win. We're not expected to beat them over the two games. So the pressure is on them. Leaving us to play without fear. Because to do otherwise would be regretful”

We found ourselves on the back foot before the game even kicked off with Lennon dropping out of the starting eleven due to, I’m not sure what. Illness according to Redknapp.

“I hope our defence retain unity.
I hope Bale has 'a game'.
I hope vdV galvanises his team mates on his return to his former club.
I hope Modric dictates.
I hope our players show resounding mental strength.
I hope Harry gets one over Jose”

Deliciously ironic if you’re a Madridista. The sudden change and resulting substitution that saw Jenas enter the field of play and then stupidity and lack of composure in the opening quarter of an hour was the catalyst for a nailed on defeat.

Apart from one of the goals, the rest were poorly defended. vdV sacrificed at half-time. Modric lost thanks to the constraints of seeing Crouch red-carded. Sure, we showed mental strength. Not so much in the way we knee-jerked and allowed us to be consumed by the occasion and subsequent reshaping. But the way we held it together, especially by going in at half-time at 1-0 was encouraging damage limitation.

I’m going to avoid any deep analytical break-downs regarding individual performances (some fought, others switched off, relentless pressure too much to handle) along with Harry’s tactical changes and the Peter Crouch kung-fu episodes. And not forgetting the forgotten fundamentals when failing to defend the two headed goals.

I'm going to avoid mainly because if you take a step back and remind yourself of the opposition and their quality and then admit they hardly shifted out of second gear – you’ll be grateful it was only the four goals conceded. There was no plan b. Madrid knew they would win, and picked us off patiently with all the time in the world to do just that. All things considered (36 Madrid shots on goal?) we might have escaped with a 2-0 or 3-0 which would still have had us dreaming. What with us being that way inclined.

Alas, back to harsh reality...

Ten men up against Real Madrid, away from home, having the absolute **** pressed out of us for practically the entirety of the match. These are not excuses; it’s just statement of fact. It’s horrible I know, to admit you’re being outclassed regardless of the way we surrendered any possibility of making a fight out of it. With eleven men, we might have scored an away goal. We’d have retained shape, cohesiveness. Instead we struggled to keep the ball with not a second allowed for us to catch our breath and try to salvage offensive movement rather than chasing shadows. Probably would have retained the ball, recycled possession effectively and had pockets of Lilywhite aggression. I guess, as one or two of you have already pointed out, it’s a nice to get-out clause to have.

That’s to be able to imagine that teasing ‘what if’ rather than say losing 4-0 with no caveats in sight. We worked hard because we had no other option to defend, we made mistakes, and we were duly punished for it. It’s happened to one or two teams in the past, taken to school. Lesson learnt. Then continued their progress next time round. Have to hope we won’t need to wait too long for that next time.

Let’s also respect the other perspective, the one we tend to ignore because we're so Spurscentric. As much as we’d have wanted to prolong the adventure, the other team – they had their own agenda. Fuelled by the fact they are second best to the best team in the world and finding themselves with the opportunity of meeting them in the next round what with personal redemption for all involved at Madrid and an obsession to avoid seasoned disappointment in the Champions League. It’s not always in our hands. As much as we’d like to believe it to be. Toe to toe, eleven against eleven might have been equally as painful.

Nothing to be ashamed of Spurs. But equally 'okay' for all of us to be disappointed as the return fixture is practically redundant what with the immediate (it’s been there all season tbh) urgency to reclaim a top four place with a handful of games left. Massive task for manager and players to react positively and not let the season fade away.

For the return game, do we rest our players or do we live for the moment once more? Home territory with the noise of the Lane in the stands, accompanied by a swan song of swagger out on the pitch? It would be rude not to oblige.

It’s been a majestic campaign in the only way we know how to journey through one. Ups, downs and shrugs. We were not meant to finish top of our group or knock out AC Milan. We did. And along the way created some cracking memories. There's room for one more, even if it's only a footnote.