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Entries in The Prem (43)


Solidification please

QPR. At home.

Is there really anything more to say than to find a happy medium between the dominant Reading performance and the cohesive one against Lazio and win in bullish, aggressive fashion? Anything more, aside from:

One holding midfielder, not two.

Score an early goal.

Then get another before half-time. At a push a third.

If not a third before half-time, score it within ten minutes of the second half starting.

Kill the game, kill it dead. If they park the bus, slap 'em with a parking ticket then hot wire the sonofabitch and clamp it on the touchlines. It's our back yard, don't allow them to dictate and force us to react in a way not becoming to our preparation. Control equates to tempo which results with initiative. They need to be adapting to us. Our home, our rules. Their struggle.

Take the sting out of the game if necessary in the latter stages. No need to witness the last 20 minutes consisting of nervous dispositional football. Solidification please.

Belief. On the pitch, in the stands.

Home win.

Positivity in blog comment sections and pubs the world over.


Get on it. COYS.


This should make good Reading

Reading (A)

I'm looking forward to the game. Hoping Dembele starts alongside Sandro and we get to see Clint Dempsey in midfield (if match fit) and Adebayor up front. Will also be keen to see us pass and move with urgency. We were lacklustre against Norwich and wasteful against WBA. Taking our chances early on is key. Reading haven't played a competitive match (Prem) since the 22nd August. Fresh but hardly match fit. That's not to say we've been setting the world on fire either, at times looking like we've not had much of a pre-season. This has got to be the game to ignite the spark that leads to the explosion. The spark being a convincing win against Reading today, the explosion a smashing of QPR at the Lane next week. We all know how it works. Momentum builds confidence in form and style. Perfectly illustrated by the past couple of seasons of rampant winning displays (when things were going well).

That urgency has to have traits of structure, players effective in their positions - yes Gareth, that means you. Having predicted that AVB will have a better handle on Bale we've yet to see him truly take a stranglehold on the left flank. Also, the controversial centre-pairing of Livermore and Sandro will have a few people biting their nails. Would prefer Sandro doing the Parker job of sweeping up trouble and laying the ball off to Dembele (our sort of Luka replacement in terms of creativity). Sandro can also pass the ball better than Parker so it can work. Dempsey or Sigurdsson can play further up-field behind the forward, in support and linking up play. Which will be two-fold with Adebayor being able to float into the channels.

We've yet to see the high-line implemented fully. Which tells us a lot about the patient 'rebuilding' of style rather than just asking players that haven't played it before to do so from the off (even though our fullbacks do enjoy a high line when wondering into forward positions). Talking of which Kyle Walker seems to be very positive about training and the coach. But don't shout about that, just whisper it. To yourself. As for the goal-keeper situation, only a matter of time when Lloris will settle in between the sticks. Brad knows, VB knows. We know. Lloris is a vital part of that fabled high line so it's essential. In time.

So there's a few things to look out for today. But not just formation and how it's implemented but also the attitude of the players. We would have been our way to sustaining some momentum had we buried those chances against WBA at the Lane. Such is football it can be cruel first to then be kind later. Which tells you that if you place the brain surgery of tactics aside a moment, we (the players on the pitch with ball to feet) have to be bang on their game and do the basics right in front of goal. Running around a lot still won't be enough, as witnessed the last two seasons when we run out of ideas. Villas-Boas has to pull us back towards that swagger and find a middle-ground where we strengthen mentally without letting go of the characteristics that made us such a joy to watch. It's in those games where we were not a joy to watch; it's in those games where we need to find a way through, have answers to all the questions being asked.

We seem to be stuck in that place at the moment. The inherited problems are not quite improving towards resolution and mixing in well with the new instructions meaning no immediate impact (although we've seen glimpses of it away to Newcastle and early on in our first home match). Would be easy for a new coach not to change a thing but then at what point would he be able to implement his own style? Better to struggle at first building the new and waving goodbye to the old than hang onto someone else's vision for the sake of short term pretence over longevity.

There's no need to panic, no need to struggle finding a way out. Find the door, walk through it.

Composure please Spurs. The self belief will blossom.

Whether today's convincing win does end up being a lucky one instead, the three points will be gladly celebrated regardless. The other two potential outcomes cannot be entertained. If anything because attempting to be explosive next weekend against QPR will be akin to setting off fireworks during a thunder storm.


Follow @Spooky23 on Twitter


Norwich at the Lane, the afternoon after the night before

The season starts here. There's nowhere else for it to hide now. Second home game of the season against beatable opposition (we've heard that before this season and last) and we need a win to compete a triple (to go alongside the loss and draw). Not that I'm counting points. Had we held on last weekend we'd still have posed the odd question about the side's overall performance and the strange substitutions - which illustrated the gaps that the transfer window filled in. Well, almost filled in. We have no João Moutinho. Not that he would have been signed in time for Norwich at the Lane. But clearly, based on the lack of obvious midfield creativity, we lack that spark. So no pressure Mousa Dembélé. Hope those shoulders are nice and strong. Welcome to the world famous home of the Spurs. We promise to smile, chant your name and get behind the team.

Chris Hughton is back with a Norwich team that were deserving of the win here last season. The same result today and those smiles and chants will take on a more sinister feel. If we play as well as we did against WBA in the first hour and take our chances, we'll be dancing a merry jig in the stands and on the touchline. Have to be ruthless in front of goal. That's it. There's no requirement for any major reshuffle tactically to the way we set out last week. The issues became apparent the longer the game went on allowing WBA to push forward more and trouble us with the physicality of Lukaku, who battered us every time he came forward. We have to be the ones that do the bullying and the punishing. Options will improve further when Clint Dempsey is available, but for now Dembélé and his dynamism and hopefully a fitter Adebayor will have to provide the punch and Bale and Lennon in improving supporting roles.

To tie all this in with Daniel Levy and the transfer window, utterly bored of this 'early points will cost us Champions League' argument which seems to bask in hindsight that some seem to enjoy citing. Dropping six points last season in the opening two games was unavoidable in some ways thanks to two yet to be signed players and Redknapp's selection with the way the midfield lined-up. The points that truly cost us came after the fact, later in the season, when form had been hit and defeat pulled us back down to earth with failure to recover. These very early games can be sacrificed to transition with the real tests coming when pressure to retain success on the pitch is prominent to all concerned. Still flexing those muscles.

Still, flexing or no flexing, points (in a bundle of three) on the board and a good solid performance will go a long way in settling things down and sending us on our way in the right direction. Outside pressures, we have no control of. But pressures from within can do far more long term damage. Three points and no booing.

The season starts here.


Lasagne > Fulop


Only Spurs can witness their season end only to have it extended to wait to see if fourth spot translates to Champions League football. No lasagne this time, just Martin Fulop. Would have preferred the lasagne in goal to be honest, stronger backbone.

Mission accomplished then with a top four finish but then not quite job done and not quite what we had planned when you go back to the hedonistic days that came before the month of February. At one point we flirted with a title push. It's been some season. In the end it feels like we've let ourselves down but only because of those standards set early doors. We should have achieved so much more than what we've been left with. What we've been left with ain't too shabby but in context, it's bitter sweet and hard to swallow. What we have is an agonising wait for another football match to play out before we look to book tickets for the continent.

At the very start of the season I'm not sure many believed a top four place was going to be easy to achieve. Remember the back end of last season? Most wanted Harry gone after our league form slumped. Thanks mainly to other teams faltering and us pelting it, you can now nod approvingly to the suggestion that we should have done better because of the position we found ourselves in. But then when you strip away all the hype and you admit to the defiances of the squad, the mismanagement of loaned players along with the variety of outside interference that hogged the headlines from riots to heart operations to court cases to the England job...we've done as good as a team managed by Harry Redknapp can do. He found himself in a position he's never been in before and he fluffed it. A little more bravery and astuteness here or there from the gaffer might have seen us capture the odd lucky point to secure that 3rd spot even with the blip playing out the way it did. The crux is, can he learn from his mistakes at such a grand stubborn age?

No matter our ambitions before the start of the season, we've under achieved when you take into account how much the top tier of the Prem has opened up and invited us in to attack it. We've played some fantastic stuff but we have proved to be a side that only truly works when everyone is available and fit to play. Redknapp struggled too often with the pressures of rotation and tweaking strategy and catering for growth (Bale and the left flank and roaming the perfect example of losing control). Other clubs might complain they had their fair share of injuries and lack of depth issues with squad. Fact is, Harry and the players lacked the guile at vital moments that have proved to be costly. We had a 13 point lead at one point, that's Harry's doing. I'm not ignoring that. But it's also his doing that we lost that lead. I'm also not going to ignore the fact that a few seasons back we finished mid-table below West Ham United. We now compete season in and season out but that cutting edge is still required to make it all a little less nervy. I'm sure we wouldn't be complaining too much about a 4th place finish had Barca had beaten Chelsea in the semi-final. If WBA had a better keeper between the sticks would you have forgiven Harry for all the fluffs? Probably not, right? Because if we had finished in 3rd one point ahead it still doesn't change the fact that we slumped post-Feb. Either way, it's been harder than it should have been. We also lost ownership of a hashtag. The shame.

Still, little old Spurs with their 36k stadium and wage cap are once more sitting in one of the CL places (caveat: German club that needs to do us a favour). Next season we have to be prepared to build on this season's platform keeping in mind that one or two clubs that might believe themselves to have under achieved might come back with less of a brittle spine for the 2013 season. But even if they improve, if we do so to, they'll be worried as much about us as we would be about them.

We need to fix up in key areas during the summer months. Early business and not last minute. Redknapp also has to drop the 'it's as good as we've ever had it' defeatism. Although that's unlikely. He thinks and lives in the short term. Would be nice for him to tell us it's disappointing we've not finished higher and that next season we'll aim to do so. Not likely. But that's the crux of the problem I have with him and his lack of consistency with us. Nobody cares that we sat in mid-table below West Ham four or so seasons back. It's the here and now that matters, the present day. The past is the past and we need to be led into the future with relentless hunger to better ourselves. Aim high. Always aim high.

To do so, little Spurs have to play big. Since our last top four finish we've spent £16M compared to Arsenal (£64.7M), United (£80.3M), Liverpool (£132.9M), Chelsea (£160.4M) and City (£212.7M). Impressive yeah? But we need to do more than just survive in their company. We need to be able to bully them. Get on it Levy.

I'm repeating myself now. Lucky I completed my end of season review ('The regression of Harry Redknapp's Tottenham') already. Everything I've got to say is in there.

I can now look forward to all the ITK nonsense that is about to explode in our faces. I didn't give them much stick last couple of windows so I might need to allow the therapy to consume me as the alternative is to follow England in the Euro's and that is one ugly alternative.

The end of season finale (ep 43) of The Fighting Cock podcast will be recorded on Wed, out Friday.




Tottenham need to be united

Just because we've had a consistent season where you can count the amount of disappointing performances on one had and spent the bulk of it in the top four (third) doesn't mean we can all take it for granted that the games left will follow a similar pattern. An odd blip here or there but nothing to derail us. I shared some stats earlier in the week, more theoretical than stone cold mathematical that suggested we've got little too worry about. I ignored the variables. Have we got a little too carried away? Add the variables into the equation and you might end up pulling out your hair and making paper aeroplanes out of the note paper as you give up scribbling the countless connotations of what might play out based on what might happen elsewhere.

I still refuse to look elsewhere and worry about it. We all know everyone vying to be in the top four will hit purple patches and muscle their way closer inwards. We can only attempt to guide our own destiny and possibly dent one or two others in the process between now and the end of the season. Even if it means mudding it with dirty hands. It's time to get back to basics, get gritty and re-ignite the fire in our belly. I don't just want to hear a battle cry, I want it to bleed out my ears.

One good result doesn't define a season. So one bad one should not do the same. Shame on us if it's a catalyst for a free-fall. As much as Ferguson has a point about Harry and the effect of the England job unsettling the team, that's most part textbook kidology in the build up to Sunday's game. The players owe it to us and themselves to display the desire and hunger that got us into the position in the first place. That position I'm talking about is the position of challenging at the top of the Prem and forging that winners mentality. 3rd place is a consequence of the work ethic we've stuck in.

Okay, so we still have issues with taking points against the very top sides. Historically, we've struggled. But this has been a season where everyone has landed a knock-out punch on each other. A season of contenders, with no apparent champion elect (bored of The Project).

Having to face Manchester United in our next game is the fixture lists way of laughing at us. But it will ease up soon enough and it's important we stay true to what we've built up this season in terms of momentum. Not get side tracked by outside interference and not allow the glamour of the FA Cup to blind us as we stand perilously unbalanced on this ladder that's being shaken from below. I said it will ease up. Shame on you if you believe that to be the case. Every single game should be seen as do or die. Spirit of 2010. Not the gut wrenching collapse of 2006.

Wayne Rooney has recovered from a throat infection. I'm more focused on making sure we're the ones that don't choke. Hopefully someone has redrafted the over-used script that gets acted out time and time again when we clash with United. Could do with a new twist in amongst the expected drama with confidence and bullish determination in the leading roles. Preferable Lilywhite than Mancunian red.

Get on it Spurs. Get at them. Play with width and play with style. No unnecessary tweaking or undisciplined selections. Team unity over individualism. This won't be easy. We all know Ferguson's men can always dig out a result when they need one. The pressure is on them, equally compared to the pressure on us. They are chasing their noisy neighbours who appear to be quietly edging towards the title. We have to shift on from the anomaly of last weekend and rebuild the foundation for further momentum.

Play out of your skin Spurs. Sing your hearts out in the stands. Tottenham need to be united.

Tottenham need to beat United.



This is Tottenham



Followed by:


A magnificent seven games in what will be a defining seven weeks of football. This is not quite the run-in but it qualifies as the business end of the season (the business end being every game until we cement Champions League). We might have to dig deep, get lucky but the emphasis as ever has to be on retaining momentum. Suggestions the court case is affecting the teams focus. Opinion that we are so finely tuned that a key player missing here or there weakens us with far greater impact because of how much we rely on a very specific style of play. It’s a testing period, every game massive. Every point vital. If we trip and fall, I have no qualms about our ability to stand up, dust off and continue the march.

I’m buzzing. This pressure and at times anxiety is what football at the top is all about. There’s an edge to it because of what’s at stake. But I’m still managing to maintain some dignity and haven’t quite begun to feast on my nails. You know you’re doing something right when you go into every game echoing its importance.

Defeat isn’t something I’m entertaining in any of the above matches although the odds suggest it’s probable. But considering we’ve yet to truly disappoint in defeat this season (excluding the opening two games) I’m confident that the team can fight and perform well. It resonates, the belief. We’re going to need to be exceptional across the next four games and if we are then we might no longer feel the need to look behind (if you’re that way inclined - some prefer to still look upwards).

If you work out the points ratio to games and the fact that everybody is still prone to slipping up, we only have to continue our form (points accumulation) to retain our position. I’d rather not though. I’d rather play like we need to make up a ten point gap. I’d rather we continue to chase the impossible dream, if only to hold onto a standard that will practically guarantee a top three finish. Can’t settle with what we have, we need to always be better than our last game.

Forgetting all future fixtures, the only one that matters at the moment is Liverpool away. Two morale boosting wins against the two Manchester clubs (one over two legs) but their home form is still erratic. Traditionally a tough place to visit, much like last season when we travelled north and faced a resurgent home side to then return home with all three points. Mental strength in abundance these days and we’ll need it on Monday evening. They won’t have forgotten the spanking we dished out at the Lane. The indignity (for them) more so in the fact we could have scored double the goals we got had we not ease off and slowed the pace down to simply possession play. They’re going to want to put that right. As you would expect.

I’m not going to dwell on the past too much. It’s easy to remember their dominant cycle during the 70s and 80s and more recently their consistency in finishing top four and winning cup competitions. There’s no doubting their pedigree. But they’re in transition. They’re going to cite the past to aid in fuelling their motion forward to reclaim those past glories; it counts for very little until they’ve actually achieved it. Much like the position we’re in. For both clubs it’s wise to remember that football owes us nothing. Liverpool are still in transition. We’re several steps ahead of them. The onus is on us to prove that. Both clubs have to fulfil their immediate ambitions. For us, it’s finishing as high as possible in the league and to qualify for the CL. For them?  Consistency to lay claim towards challenging for a top place finish again.

A win for us would be demoralising for a fair few clubs inside that top seven. It really is a strong position to be in. One we are still becoming accustomed to. Several steps ahead but still on that learning curve and still earning that experience. You look at how Utd came back against Chelsea. This being a Utd side that might lack the depth of quality of previous revisions but still retain that sense of all-consuming belief, that never-say-die attitude that only Champions can possesses. We’re in there, we continue to compete, contend. We’ve got to really want it and show that desire in games like this.

As for Liverpool, their style. I can never shake off the feeling that they are quite workman like, nothing overly fancy but still well drilled with a caveat to being susceptible to lethargic performances. Their form is much like the form of older Spurs teams. Bit all over the place. Dare I say they are similar to us when we began to rebuild (for the umpteenth time), trying hard to find a cohesive pattern. Things can change quickly, so it’s best we do our utmost to widen that gap further.

Do they have players that can hurt us? For sure. I still worry about defending set-pieces (that’s if Downing manages to get a cross in successfully). A certain returning player from a lengthy ban might be making a comeback appearance. So all eyes (and lip-reading) on him. Do we have players that can hurt them? Let me think about that one. Yeah, one or two. You do get the impression that Dalglish’s men will try to take us on, bring the game to us and attack. Which should suit us fine (hoping we’ve learnt lessons re: Stoke and Swansea away). An open game means if we keep it controlled and composed at the back then we’ll have plenty of opportunity to go forward with intent.

How do we win? We win by owning the midfield. Might be an idea to play Sandro and Parker, match their work rate ethic (which  is far more one dimensional than ours) and get Modric on the ball as often as possible. Width key (as ever). Bale should do his best to stretch them to the left and only look to cut inside if the passage of play invites him to do so. Structure and discipline essential. I do hope for once Adebayor does more than bring others into play. Needs to start scoring again. Would be perfect timing if he rediscovered his touch in front of goal and went on a little run of games. Would accept arrogant, bullish displays of ruthlessness. Alternatively, Saha might have to do. Defoe (along with Lennon) not available (if you refer to official team news updates). That’s hardly been his trademark for a while. Would prance around like a character out of Glee if he was to rediscover that instinct one chance one goal state of mind. Hoping we are careful with where we give away free-kicks. They have players who can do damage by way of a dead ball.

As ever, Tottenham need to keep it Tottenham in terms of approach. We are hardly the most tactically astute side and that tends to benefit us when we go out and look to retain possession and attack/counter-attack. We play the Tottenham way, we swashbuckle but with a spine and strength that isn’t too dissimilar to Liverpool sides of yesteryear.

If we play like the second half at Eastlands or in fact if we match our almost destructive nature from the White Hart Lane 4-0, then when thinking of Anfield, you’ll most like to reply...'This is three points'. Couldn’t care less for comparisons of silverware and history. Very few clubs can come out looking better than Liverpool in terms of titles and cups. All I care about is the present and living in it. With any luck, enjoying it too.


Love the shirt.



What we all really want on deadline transfer day...

While the insanity and arguments continue over the transfer window and the targets we are linked with along with its imminent closure, there is far more pressing matters to be had. Matters that concern three points from a convincing home performance which then kick-starts momentum after two disappointing results. Wigan, at the Lane, under the floodlights, in the freezing cold. Thirteen points clear off 5th spot by this late evening if all goes according to plan. The plan being simply this: turn up, turn it on.

Wigan are woeful, generally, more so on their travels. I have no desire to entertain a 'plucky park of the bus' away performance, frustrating the home side. We expected (hoped) that the Wolves game would be one of much glory and panache and instead got shocked with the single point shared at the final whistle. We then almost won, could have drawn but managed to lose the game at the Eastlands. Irony time: Wigan one of only two teams to have won at WHL in the past two seasons. Ooh.

A draw and a loss - this is the new age crisis at the Lane. We need redemption, we need to be professional and ruthless. This is the type of football match where I would instruct the players to kill off the opposition in the opening 30 minutes and then contain them with comfort and counter to build on the lead admirable into the second half.

Lessons learnt; we still need the players to look back and remember what Wolves achieved against us. We need to appreciate and respect this league is not always black and white and the shades of grey can leave many confused and irritable. We have to work hard and retain focus. In doing so we might then take it by the scruff of the neck and dominate, and thus not allow Wigan to get any sort of anchor in the game. When all said and done...

Tonk 'em, Tottenham.

No offence to the visitors but the forty or so fans who make the journey down won't complain too much if they watch another dvdesque destruction. Well, they would, but at least they can claim to have witnessed it.

Defoe and Lennon are doubtful. No Aaron probably a touch more influentially on how we line-up, but at least with Bale we'll have some width if he's instructed to retain some level of consistency down the flank and not spend too much time through the middle. At home, against such opposition, it's good to stretch them a little. Which I'm sure we'll do (because if we don't then there's something very wrong). Keep it structured, simple. No need for anything too fancy. Plenty of necessity however for tempo and movement. This isn't so much a tricky game in that I believe Wigan can beat us. I am however cautious that any game can have the potential to upset, and in this game we can beat ourselves which might allow the opposition to beat us.

I might wish for it to be over in 30 minutes, but if we have to be patient then the onus will be on us to display some level of intelligence to carve them open and create match-winning opportunities (I prefer not to dwell too much on players dwelling too much in front of goal. The less said about offsides the better).

I know the trend is for the opposing team to defend deep, all men behind the ball and play with physicality. I'm also aware of the question marks being raised that we don't always have the (aforementioned) intelligence to break well-drilled sides down. Our home record would suggest otherwise. We can and have done so in the past. On occasions, we fail but that sometimes has a lot to do with the way the opposing side played (credit is never given as we prefer to blame within and it's worth remembering similar games where we have lucked out and scored a winner when it looked unlikely). Wigan try to play football but it would be naive of them to attempt to do so this evening. Even so, I don't think they're quite as savvy as Wolves if they attempt the opposite. I reckon they'll end up parking the bus but leave the keys in the ignition.

We owe them after the 1-0 of last season, the most ironic of results that followed the 9-1 from the season before. They owed us but it's now our turn for revenge. It's football, we take turns, it's how the Gods like it. Won't have to worry about next season as they'll probably get relegated in this one.

Adebayor needs to score a couple as well. No pressure then Spurs. Christ, I can feel it, this is going to end up being an untidy game that we just about manage to score the winner late on *shudder*...

Three points please. Possibly more important than any signing we make in this window.


Daring is achieving. Love the shirt.



Another perspective

Something you might have seen already on a variety of Spurs forums (it's a Cann table).


The Prem.

48 - Man City
47 -
46 -
45 - Man Utd, Tottenham
44 -
43 -
42 -
41 -
40 -
39 -
38 -
37 - Chelsea
36 - Arsenal
35 -
34 - Liverpool
33 - Newcastle
32 -
31 -
30 -
29 - Stoke
28 -
27 -
26 -
25 - Norwich
24 - Sunderland, Everton
23 - Swansea, Aston Villa, Fulham
22 - West Brom
21 -
20 -
19 -
18 -
17 - Wolves, QPR
16 - Bolton
15 - Wigan
14 - Blackburn


If the game in hand was vital, today at Wolves is equally so, what with the the fixtures (mostly away) that await us after this weekend. Including the 'cup final' up at Eastlands.

This is an exciting time to be a Lilywhite.

I'm giddy.



Things I want to see today

In no particular order.


Three points. Absolutely no room for complacency and excuses. Look at the table. A win (and another against Swansea) going into the WBA home game sets up January to be the pivotal month of the season before the hard slog kicks in. Psychologically, this is big. Not Godzilla big. Dinosaur big. We simply cannot freeze, extinction is out of the question. Resilience please.

Ruthlessly clinical up front. None of this Andy Cole ‘its takes five chances to score one’ teaser football. Either pass the ball into the back of the net or smash it in. There’s no room left for pretenders now, only contenders. Otherwise, we'll left anchored, cannonball away from sinking.

Luka Modric. In the middle.

Unequivocal focus and professionalism. We have stunning quality. On paper we should be trouncing the likes of Norwich. Paper won’t fly unless you make an aeroplane out of it. So fly Tottenham, fly. The last thing I want is an origami canary, smug smile, staring at my despairing face.

Rafa van der Vaart to be effective for at least 80 minutes. What? It's still sort of Christmas, so let me wish for a miracle.

Defending. Good old fashion defending without any lapses of concentration. Strength down the spin and at the heart of the back line. Unity. No Ledley today doesn’t mean we have to revert to displays with odd moments of calamity – i.e. losing spatial awareness. We're not kids, we're men. So get a grip and smack down any bullish behaviour from the hosts.

Benny's afro. Just because.

Width. Work the flank. Even if it means Bale swapping sides and having Sandro covering and full backs holding back to protect when he’s rampant in forward positions. Pace will destroy Norwich. Patience and possession the probable fuel to make it happen in pockets of play.

That bloody stupid dance.




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.


We eat Uruk-hai for breakfast

W.B.A away. It's hardly the Mines of Moria. You won't find Orcs but you'll probably stumble over Lilywhite skeletons of fallen soldiers. As for confronting a Balrog and falling into an abyss? No time for such improbable mourning. We've already lost and made our brilliant white return. Fleeing the Hawthorns however with grim faces will be no victory. Unless the precious points are gripped in our hand. It's going to be tricky. When is it ever anything less? Would hardly be an adventure if it was only made up of a skip and a song in a field. Dead Marshes aplenty up ahead for our Fellowship.

This journey was never going to be an easy one. We continue to fight against our insecurities and question whether we have the perseverance to last. Even with our good form, I ask myself what if we lose say one or two to injury? Or if we're beaten, how will we react? Same old same old? Defaulting to in-fighting and disarray? Bare bones, backs to wall, Helms Deep? Sometimes you need that reminder to dig that deeper and against the odds claim the win.

W.B.A away. It's not Helms Deep. It's more like The Shire with the odd scary firework display. No epic battle expected.

Still, we don't have the best of records there. If that isn't inspiration enough to turn up, turn on and turn them inside out I don't know what is. This is another test of our resolve. Of our patience. Every battle we face in the coming weeks, regardless of how comfortable it may look in the build up, should be faced with the same tenacity we'd show to a more powerful enemy. Regardless of the opposition, a win equates to a trilogy. Every battle should retain the same level of importance as the last. Even if some are more final than others. We've still got Mordor to contend with and their Army of the Dead. But that's still a while off.

For now, focus. No complacency. Take nothing for granted. Display desire.

There is no hiding place. You wont find any Eagles to hitch a ride with either.




I could have been a contender

White Hart Lane, newly promoted team, expected victory. The traditional ingredients for us to fall flat on our faces. Alas no, I'm not going to delve into the past and I'm neither going to bore you with proposed team formations and questions over player selections.

There is no easy game in the Premier League. You need to turn up and turn on to be in with a chance to plough through opposition. We're a better team to the one we had when we qualified for 4th in what was a far tighter season thanks to the lack of courage shared by so many of the challengers. I look around and all I see are teams in transition. Some have improved others have stagnated. That's not to say the quality has dropped substitutional but there's a healthy argument to be had that all of the supposed top tier sides are beatable and all susceptible. Their weaknesses evident. Including us.

We've had freak score-lines with punishing finishes and shady defending. It's almost like the Prem is a TV struggling with reception, being smacked on its side in vein for the picture to return whilst the reception flickers. You catch a moment of something colourful then it returns to frenzied interference. Normal service will be resumed soon, right? Perhaps expect a new channel or two to replace the old.

Talk of stature and expectancy is not that relevant. It's nobody's God given right to finish in the top four. You earn the right with results so regardless of how we shape up on paper and all the positives and superlatives we like to sound-bite - we still have to improve. We still need that cutting edge. We still need forceful authority to kill a game off. A point dropped here, a point dropped there...they add up if it turns into a habit.

There's not that much in it up top. Sounds like a cliché but it's a statement of fact. This state of flux, it's real and it remains an opportunity. Others might still believe in the strength of the old monopoly and that they will always persevere because that's just how things are. Maybe five years ago. Maybe even three years ago. Not now. Don't believe in it, do believe in us.

We've still got that marker in our back pocket we didn't use from last season. Prove a point. Convincingly, emphatically. This isn't about our opponent on Sunday. This is about getting the bread and butter eaten before we move onto the main course. This week, next week, any week.

There's a particular trait in our personality that we all still need to see.

Show me Tottenham. Let's see how big your balls are.


Love the shirt.