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Entries in Top 4 push (81)


Best. Spurs side. Ever. (well, since the 1980s)

Lilywhites 2 Aston Villa 0

I don't much care for the sound bites telling me that the visitors to the Lane lacked adventure and desire. Sure, it was an abject display if taken out of context. Any team that shapes up with four right-backs and seventeen centre-backs and then proceeds to park the bus will hardly be applauded for their (lack of) efforts. In context, Villa were not just playing away from home. They were playing against Tottenham Hotspur Football Club.

I know you know that, but if there was ever a more perfect illustration that an away team knew that too it was Monday evening in N17. They pretty much lost the game before the whistle was blown to kick off. It's good thing that a mid-table side comes to the Lane and shapes up to defend for a draw (at best), damage limitation all that's on their mind. They don't consider how they could perhaps win the game, rather how can they stop us from winning it. Sure, it's gutless. QPR at least gave it a go when they visited. But its still of no true significance to me. They're the opposition. We need to win. Whether they decide to turn up and fight or pull their body back into the ropes, that's their concern. Their tactic might have been to counter. Soak in the pressure, turn the midfield into a battleground, stop start play. Frustrate. They got TKO'ed in minutes.

The fact is simply this: It didn't really matter what Villa wanted to do and attempted to do, they never stood a chance. It reminds me of how so many teams in the past would travel to 'them lot down the road' and not even bother to attack, almost accepting the inevitable. Very few teams get lucky at the Lane these days. Hardly anyone turns up thinking they will win. It's something we've built up over the past few seasons and it will continue to strength this sides belief.

This was as comprehensive a 2-0 win you'll ever see. It's a shame it wasn't 5-0 or 6-0 but nobody will scoff at the 70% or so possession and the stunning statistics concerning the likes of Parker and Modric who both recycled possession and out-manoeuvred their counter-parts to oblivion with mid-90 percentages in completed passes. With Harry Redknapp back in the dugout, practically from the opening few minutes we bossed the game. I've been banging on about the necessity to dominate football matches, more so when we take the lead and especially at home where expectancy is always high. We did just that.

Tempo was controlled by the brilliant Luka Modric who gave us a sublime game of how to play make from deep, complimented by Scott Parker who at times appeared to be in three/four places at once. He's like that mutant from X-Men that can duplicate himself, he's practically guarding every blade of grass on the pitch. The level of his focus is something to behold. Honestly, hand on heart, was he this good at Chelsea/Newcastle/West Ham United? I know I had blinkers on and gladly accept that, but he's astonishing. If he's human (no evidence to suggest that currently) then I'd like to see Sandro deputise more, just so that he doesn't run out of fuel once we're into the second half of the season.

What was wonderful about this performance was this: Well, two things. The first, the line-up. You only have to think back to the years in mid table mediocrity wilderness during the 90s and early 00s then open them, glance at the line up and dance David Brent style as your brain bubbles with delight. We're strong. We have powerful pacey players. Creative ones, some more subtle than others. Pulsating marauders and dynamic destroyers. All over the pitch, this team, it works. Physically and creatively, we can compete. If we continue to press and pass in the manner we did last night against any one that shows up at the Lane then it's going to be a solid season.

I underplayed it there.

It's going to be a frigging amazing season. Again, so what if Villa were diabolical in spirit. We still have to dispose of them.

All this glorious rhetoric isn't just based on this one result. Sure, we are capable of switching off on occasions (like any other team out there, aside perhaps from the two Mancs). But when you can still pull it out the bag half switched off, something is right. More so if you can play against the opposing side without ever requiring a shift in gear. Ask Villa about that.

Adebayor should have scored more than the three he could have got. A brace in the end and although you might start listening to the whispers about his composure/concentration I'm hardly going to worry if he needs four or so chances before scoring because we're likely to give him ample opportunity to make amends quickly. Against stronger opposition, he'll have to be as strong in mind as he is in body.

Loved Kaboul. He's had shaky moments in the past but he's developing into a beast of a player. I still remember when we signed him and how the plan was not to throw him into the deep end (which we did). Another player with potential we almost ruined, so I'm thankful we re-signed him. It's an all-time great comeback and as long as he's involved and playing he'll continue to grow and claim a role as a key player. Interesting to see he was all about the surging forward with the tackling whilst King played the father figure standing guard, watching his apprentice take it by the scruff of the neck.

BAE (with afro is teh win) and Walker made up the back four and both we're comfortable in defending and running into forward positions. Benny, brilliant as an outlet for turning defence into attack with a single progressive pass. Walker, a nuisance to the visitors, a tidy reminder of what they're missing. I mentioned pace before, we have it in abundance on the flanks, at the back, in the middle and up top.

Luka and Scott, excelled. The perfect centre-mid pairing. One conducts and dictates the game, the other bites into anything not wearing Lilywhite with relentless energy allowing possession to be reclaimed and protected. Meaning more touches from Luka leading to more movement from the Spurs. We're slick and fluid. All parts fit, everything works.

Lennon, gradually, is looking every bit the player we need him to be. He's knocking the ball past full-backs and beating them. 'Terrorising' - it's a word I've missed tagging him with. When someone like Aaron is at full pelt, he's...drum roll...unplayable. I don't mind talking up our midfield as being damn near perfect (when firing on all cylinders) and the little man is all about the big impact if he has defenders running scared, not a clue which way he's going to twist and turn. Bale on the opposite side is most definitely back to consistent form, assisting twice and looking every bit like Godzilla on roller-skates. Unstoppable at times. Unless he was stopped with the fouling. Those pesky cheaters cheating us out of seeing a Bale goal.

With so much pace, it hardly matters that Rafa doesn't have any. Class positioning, movement and always in amongst it. Parker compliments Modric who in turn compliments Rafa. The most sexy of triangles you're ever likely to see. Ade up top with his non-stop work ethic, working the channels, in and around the box waiting for that delivery/cross/disguised pass. As I stated earlier, shame it wasn't 5-0.

Perhaps those of more analytical tactical astuteness can shed light on why our passing faded when the Dutch maestro was substituted? Perhaps it's easily explained when remembering we play with one up front and that Rafa links the midfield with the attack (Ade). A dimension is always lost when he's not involved. Hindrance they called him, how we laughed. When you possess players of his quality you play to his strengths as long as the team remains functional and balanced. Which it did against Villa. I'd say, come January, we look to sign a player that can play the 'Rafa-role'. One up top works for me just fine.

Not a clue of Friedel played. I blinked early on in the second half so can't confirm if he had a save to make. Ade took his two goals well. Freedom of the park for the first, tap in for the second. Soon, we'll be mass producing another 9-1 dvd. Some one is going 'to get it' when visiting the Lane in the not so distant future.

I spoke about the challenge of competing for the Top Four in my match preview for the Villa game. Top three is hardly an impossibility. A title push isn't either, although that's far more improbable. The big test is how we react to losing a game and if not how we behave with the more points accumulated. We have to remain grounded. Nothing wrong in confidence and bravado. A winning mentality has to contain a few arrogant strands. Complacency is the enemy as ever. The fixture list ahead is hardly daunting, but I guarantee it will be defining. WBA away next. That usually doesn't go well to us. Looking forward to the test.

This is the best Spurs side I've seen since the 1980s. I'd be damned if I'm not going to strut down the street like Travolta. Can you imagine if Aston Villa were really really good and we still beat them 2-0? I'd be found stark naked running up and down outside the Emirates screaming 'you can't touch this'. Or something.

In conclusion. We smashed them two-nil. Rejoice. 3rd. Stunning form. Kudos to Harry. Believe.


Love the shirt.



Massive game. Please don't bottle it.

Considering how the results went over the weekend, plenty of people are suggesting this evenings game at home to Villa is a 'big one'. It's imperative we win, they say. It's the ilk of game that transcends the football played physically and reaches out to the psychological aspect that can sometimes be the difference between winning and losing when you're expected to get the points or if what's going on around you beckons it. Sometimes we can choke a little or find ourselves the victims of a 'shock result'. Football blips don't need a written invitation. They tend to gate-crash if you leave the front door unattended.

Regardless of who is beating who at the moment, I think everyone can agree that the likes of Chelsea, Liverpool and Arsenal are not anywhere near the standard they played at during the dominant Sky Sports Top Four era. They sat (along with Utd) in a league of their own. When looking back to those seasons, you can more or less nod (grudgingly) that they were a class above which makes that bitter pill easier to swallow. You can't compete with seasoned CL clubs. At least you couldn't back then. As much as you would have hoped and wished for.

It's all degraded over the past few seasons for them and the rest (some, one in particular) of the chasing pack have caught up (level pegging?) and to be honest, there is no apparent hierarchy of who is better than who at this moment in time. Blagging rights firmly placed aside. Arguably last season, this season and the next will go quite some way to defining a new potential 'top four' (either that, or 2/3 clubs will take it in turns to share CL with the Manc sides).

Don't mock me or abuse me, but I'm glad Arsenal have remained plucky (be it dependent on a certain forward) and continue to look back up towards the upper tier of the Prem. Even if the reality is they are not a patch on the past, sometimes that belief factor can aid you in the right direction even if you're punching above your weight. Chelsea have the look of a side that needs to be stripped of the legacy left behind by Jose and start afresh (more likely to sack and replace their coach rather than giving him an opportunity to rebuild). Liverpool are hardly spectacular. They resemble some of the hard working Everton sides of recent years that attempted to puncture the Top Four.

If everyone around us is in transition, we're the ones that have continued to progress, retaining our good looks with no need for re-constructive surgery. The pressure is on us. But expectancy should not be feared. It should be the fuel that rockets us into the heavens. Smile please Tottenham, let's see those brilliant white teeth.

All the aforementioned clubs can stake a claim for 3rd spot as their target for this season. Opposition fans can still go about pretending time has stood still and it's the mid-00s, but best left to leave them alone with their delusions. They will work through their stages of denial in time. But that doesn't mean they can't turn it all upside down by reclaiming some of that supposedly dead status quo ante.

Whether you believe we have the best squad or not, it wont matter much on paper if the results on the pitch are failing to match our aspirations. When you look back at 2010, we had to dig deep as underdogs. It's different today. We are contenders. Perhaps we need to still find that authoritative cutting edge to boss games and see games out without drama in our pen area. Just to make the ride that little bit more comfortable and thus ease the pressure. The Tottenham way is always the hard way. But if we are genuine contenders, then it shouldn't be half as difficult as we are capable of making it.

I think most would agree any which way this evening will do as long as we win. I still want us to lay down that marker we continue to grip in our hand. A lucky win or one that requires grit is the same three points as one that is fluid and controlled...but I much prefer the latter.


Love the shirt.


How to survive 90 minutes of football and win by Tottenham Hotspur

Hello. I’m Tottenham Hotspur. You might remember me from such classics as ‘Comolli doesn’t live here anymore’, ‘Tommy Huddlestone’s neck is missing’,  ‘The Crosstrabulous Flaptraption of Heurelho da Silva Gomes’ and ‘Dial R for Ramosnessness’.

Today I’m here to present to you how to win a game of football when attempting to do your very best to lose it. In order to produce this paradox you first need to set the foundations. Then build on it. Then take a step back to watch it crumble. But don't fret. It’s all just an illusion, an elaborate plan to trick. The Prestige being that the false sense of security is nothing but a trapdoor for the unsuspecting opposition.

Do not mistake this for anything less than it is; an art form.


Part I – The Classic away game performance (45 minute version)

A false sense of security

Away from home at a ground where league wins are rare (one since 2002), there is no shame in playing a game of containment. Onus is always on the home side to take the initiative. Start the game with assured confidence, movement and patience. Counter attack with intent and be clinical with chances presented.


With the possibility of claiming another win and thus 22 from 24 points, go into the break 2-0 up practically cementing continuation of good form. Do so with devastating elegance. For example:

1-0 Delicious cross field pass from a forward (Ade) in a deep position, into space for marauding right-back (Walker) to run onto, beat a player and cut back to a winger (Lennon) who then plays a tantalising ball across the penalty area to be smashed in (Bale) via a defenders body. Punishing.

2-0 Sublime flick from winger (Bale) to winger (Lennon) sharing flank and space, who proceeds to dazzle and dink into the penalty area finishing superbly. What a fantastic run.

Half-time positivity

Go into the interval with the knowledge that similar control of the second half in terms of patience and composed work ethic will head towards a killer third goal and potentially a comfortable win. If the home side step it up a notch, then a two goal cushion leans towards a tactical sacrifice and the possible substitution of Sandro on so that the midfield is armed and equipped to battle.

example footnotes:

Is that the much maligned wingers-swapping-wings ideology that Redknapp has been scorned for? Not quite. Inter-changing is altogether a different beast and it appears to have awakened the sleeping giant in the small frame of Aaron Lennon. He might spend parts of the game on the outside looking in, but when he comes alive he produces assists/goals. Ade, the non-scoring forward, an almost false position on the pitch, coming deep to collect the ball. Parker, the engine that continues to drive us forward. Luka effective in silent mode helping out offensively and defensively. Only downside is Rafa who left his magic boots at home.



Part II – Doing the exact opposite of what is required to preserve the lead

The ‘second-half lapse’ to avoid at all costs

Conceding an opposition goal just after the half re-starts or within 10 minutes must be avoided.

Opening 10 minutes of second-half

Opposition fail to score a goal early in the second half. We score it for them. i.e. With all the shot-stopping and defence splitting passes, when we do concede always make sure it’s a goal birthed from a mistake. The more untidy, the better.

Begin process of regression

The one trait missing from the THFC genetic make-up is bossing a game out. That’s either home or away, when the opposition are plucky or fired-up from a position of defeat. Retain possession, adapt in midfield to counter any problems that a renewed home side might present. Do not sit back and soak up pressure like a sponge the size of North London.


Soak up pressure like a sponge the size of North London.

Regression complete

Continue to allow home side to attack with little reply. Ask your forty year old goalkeeper to move about a bit between the sticks. Pray. Lose your composure and allow the home side to rain down on goal with shots on target. Surrender possession in the absence of blindfolds.

When making the first substitution do not bring on Sandro. When making the second substitution wait until the supporters have chewed through their nails and have bitten into their flesh and have teeth touch bone, then bring on Sandro.

Beckon the equaliser

Contentious handball incident + a goalmouth scramble, all good ways to ruin your day. But continue to defy the inevitable by having one of the smallest men on the pitch clear off the line.


Part III – Pull the panties off Lady Luck with your teeth, then give her a cheeky love bite

Winning by doing as little as possible to win, except score again and not concede which happens to be the two things you need to do to win

As Fulham perceiver with their attempted redemption having been out-thought in the first half by dominating the second, allow another example of this brave new Spurs world to shine through. Counter and score, but make sure it’s deflected in just for good ironic measure. A gentle reminder to the hosts that if you’re:

a)     Not going to take your chances
b)     Fail to capitalise on retaining pressure in the midfield (and suffocate us from regaining any foothold  in midfield)
c)     Make substitutions that were not required
d)     Have 31 shots on goal compared to nine

You’re going to get bitch slapped for your lack of bastardality. In addition, dry your eyes out if one of our players hugs the ball when earlier one of your players pushed one of ours to the ground.

Win the game 3-1 even with your manager not present to prove he can win games without even turning up. He might have hair but we don’t care, Harry Harry Redknapp.


Part IV – Post-match rhetoric and analysis



The cliché that the Spurs of old would have lost this should be mentioned, preferably a dozen times in conversation post-match per supporter. Spurs have moved on from that particular revision to one with a far more vibrant template for success. We still don’t boss games we should be bossing but winning ugly or when sustaining constant pressure...these are the ilk of games that other teams end up losing and only a few ever get to win. That Spurs team of old, for example would have been far more prone to a capitulation with a sorry air of familiarly and apologetic head shaking.

So when you add the deserved wins with the undeserved wins you continue to redefine the template to prove that if you win, regardless of the manner, you deserve it (unless you cheated). Lucky points equate to a knack of being able to survive when most expect to see you roll over and die. But then how lucky do you have to be to score three goals away from home? Lucky Efficient Tottenham.

It might not tell us much when it happens in isolation but if it forms part of a renewed attitude in the midst of a run of undefeated performances, then embrace it. Winners win even when they’re not meant to. Do it regularly and it becomes second nature. Dare I say you will the win towards your chest and out of the reach of the opposing side.

Allowing the opposition to pass the ball and pressure is just dandy when you are solid at the back but not so much when you are not and still continue to invite them forward time and time again. Shape might have been lost, questions relating to player conditioning (physically and mentally) and lack of deceive astuteness of required shrewd tactical changes still remain answered. But the momentum survives intact and belief further consolidated even if we rode our luck thanks to spirit and fortitude.

Roll with the punches.


I am Tottenham. Three league defeats since April.

I am Tottenham. Gritty.

I am Tottenham. The easy way is no fun.

I am Tottenham. I have gone through puberty. I’ve grown a forest of hair and have now shaved my balls and studded my cock.

Hard even when limp. You don’t want me in your face.


That's how to survive 90 minutes and come out on top. Remember, don’t try this at home. Unless you’re playing newly promoted sides and want to prove your fertility for point accumulation.



What does Scott Parker do exactly?

Spurs 3 QPR 1

There was talk pre-match that newly promoted QPR could be a potential headache what with past experience that has involved a no-show in such occasions and thus allowed frustration to plunge us into the abyss of disappointment.

I was hoping for something emphatic and convincing. In the first half that’s exactly what we got. Go on then, I’ll use my two favourite words in the English language; Swagger and swashbuckle. It was joyful to watch the passing and movement. Wide or narrow. Interchanging of wingers. A hard working forward that took up the right positions and held the ball up to allow others to attack the penalty area. A midfield that included an absolute peach of a box to box performance and another that illustrated the majesty of a winners mentality. The only downside at half time was that the game wasn’t being transferred to Blu-ray for the club shop to make available the next day. 2-0, should have been 4-0 or more.

This being Tottenham, the players failed to continue in the same vain (perhaps a little credit for QPR here) and the visitors had us under pressure resulting in a poorly defended goal. I say poorly because leading up to it we could have been far stronger as a defensive unit to clear it and push out. They hardly cut us open with slick football. It was untidy stuff.

But our reaction was not to capitulate. Why should we? We have the capacity these days to recover rather than switch off completely. We did react. Scored a third, could still have had more. Apart another moment of madness in injury time, overall, the performance was solid. Bread and butter games, the ones we lost/dropped points in last season are the very ones that cost us in the end.

So far so good this season. I know, I know...the smiling, the constant can hurt a little. But it's acceptable pain.

What we got in this game that is worth highlighting are examples of the character traits this team has when it simmers along at boiling point. There is no doubt we could still look to retain ambition in the transfer market and sign competition for the flanks. Talk about a more long term replacement (for the irreplaceable) Ledley King another talking point. But in terms of our form since the two Manchester defeats and our Goslingesque penetration when attacking the opposition on Sunday, we in fact do possess that much maligned balance. Be it one that still requires a little fine tuning.

Having a forward like Adebayor equates to a work ethic that will compliment the attacking midfielder that roams a few steps behind him, and vice versa. Ade spears the attack, the team work the ball into the box be it via the flanks, cutting in or through the middle. Options are interchangeable. Ade might not quite have that final touch in front of goal at this moment in time but you can’t fault him for much else. It’s impossible to do so because the unit works as a unit (rather than being dependent on one player). If he doesn't score. Someone else will.

van der Vaart is irrepressible, celebrating any goal scored like it’s against Arsenal. A midfielder with the instincts of a striker. Positioning and finishing a cut above. On paper he might as well be noted as the ‘1’ behind the ‘1’ in a 4411 formation but he’s more than a number. He’s a free man! A deep lying forward, call him what you want but labels aside – it works. It just works. He loves playing, he loves scoring and he loves winning. Wasn’t that long ago that we had to rely on lesser footballers to heighten expectancy and make consistency a reality. Heart broken so many times. He's not just about the goals either. Applause for his passing and intent.

Lennon is still searching for consistency, with confidence remaining the key. The two assists will have done him good, even if many appear to be split on how much impact he had in the game. He did look isolated at times.

Was that because he didn’t drop deeper to make himself available? Was distribution out to his flank not that great? Was his positioning the reason distribution was not forthcoming? Why does he not attempt to knock the ball forward past the defender and fizz past them? Has he lost the pace to his game? Is he simply not as effective because of the attacking qualities of Walker? Therefore, do we need to look for a different ilk of player for the right or do we keep the faith?

Questions that won’t be answered for a few more games. Competition required for that wing will tell us if this particular conundrum has to do with attitude or not. Fact remains, when it mattered, he produced it. Nice work to set Bale up for the first. The second goal was ridiculously good. From the tippy-tappy footwork and close touch passing to the utterly sublime caress with power the ball travelled with when beating their keeper in goal. Goal of the month right there.

It’s also worth citing that Azza defended quite well. His awareness of when to drop deeper to cover a marauding Kaboul, for example should not be ignored. But then he's always been quite good at tracking back. Equally so the fact that his partnership down that wing with Walker is still fledgling. We still need him at his best (think of the counter attack and Lennon racing towards goal dinking right and left making the opposition defenders dizzy). We need that back.

In midfield, Luka again worked his socks off but by the standards he has set himself many expect a more obvious creative outlet rather than recycling possession (which is also vital to the mechanics of the team). But if you re-watch the first half and just make sure your eyes are constantly focused on him, you’ll see his worth to the side. Link up play and involvement in forward positions more than evident. Had he perhaps wrapped his foot around the ball rather than toe-poke it that would have been all the ‘in your face’ creative outlet required. Does look like he’ll get on the end of a few this season. Seems to drive into the pen area a lot more these days.

Bale was on form, not at full destroyer pelt by any means but he scored and got himself into positions to add more. Unlucky on two occasions not to do so. Again the opposition wasn't the best but this is all about confidence (when isn't it?) and he looked comfortable on and off the ball and flank-swapping. A busy Bale performance, one that he needs to carry into the next game and the one after that to recapture more of that lost spark.

King was in his throne as per usual. Kaboul wore the jesters hat when in possession at times. Perhaps with a more tentative approach he can still be the long term solution when Ledley abdicates his crown. Walker and BAE impressive (the latter more so). Kyle made to work by SWP once or twice. Benny and the free-kick was a personal favourite moment. He'll score one of them some day (if Rafa ever lets him get near a dead ball again).

As for Parker (saving the best for last), excuse me for a moment whilst I finish off my lightly salted hat with side salad and a glass of smooth and youthful Catena Alta Malbec.

I didn't quite rate Scott or think he was the player we needed at Spurs. On reflection, I must have allowed myself to be corrupted with contempt based on the players former rejections to join Spurs. That and the fact he was surrounded by abject woefulness at West Ham that even Chirpy with ball at feet would look good in their midfield. He always struck me as a player with an engine but nothing spectacular or special. Under-used at Chelsea. Can’t say I took much notice when he was at Newcastle. But at Spurs? Harry 1 Doubters 0.

He might well be a short term solution in that the boy Sandro will be a beast of a player and is the future but it sets the standard of performance level required in the middle of the park from a player that has the sole duty of allowing our more creative stars to shine. Parker is something we’ve been missing for an age. Dynamic, box to box and always involved. Jenas, bless him, had the lungs but not the direction or implementation to own the responsibility he was given and graft non-stop with such comfort and confidence.

Parker is not a leader of men in the same finger to lips shut your mouth type of way van der Vaart possess. Parkers influence is to win back possession and push us forward with players around him having to be alert to match his intensity with or without the ball so that we work efficiently and effectively as a defence into attack unit. He’s a constant irritation to the opposition. Be it one of physical elegance (even if he does look akward in movement, that hair style still wins me over every time).

Technically, in terms of getting stuck in with the tackle, he’s very very good. Much like Sandro is when he cameos. The difference is Parker is at his peak and is therefore the perfect role model for our Brazilian to fully appreciate the expectations Premier League football asks for a midfielder who has to defend, win the ball back and get drive towards goal.

Dave Mackay was the comparison made. Easy there fella.

Obviously Harry had to squeeze in a mention that he was after Parker all summer long (we get it mate, you rated him before we did). The Mackay comment was score-pointing for the masses, but I can guess at what he was attempting to convey with it.

Mackay was instrumental in so many ways for Spurs in both the tackle and creatively. Work ethic and ability legendary as was his leadership qualities. Broken legs, Bremner by the scruff of the neck, doubles and titles. He was a born winner, a born leader. Not just at Spurs either. The comparison is probably one aimed at how important and effective both player were/are to Tottenham’s midfield. There is no comparison really, Mackay is Top 2 material re: best Spurs player(s) ever. He was far more skilful too (dust off your old VHS copy of Terry Venables presenting a best ever Spurs eleven – there’s a wonderful story about Mackay in training that illustrates his genius) and his presence on the pitch more assertive.

They’re not alike at all if we’re honest about it, but if you take the game and the performance level that Scott produced you can appreciate Harry citing Mackay. Both players work(ed) their socks off for the good of the team. Both made impact. Both essential.

Parker was tremendous, but then he’s been so since he made his début. He functions to facilitate players that do have better ability when attacking. Where the ball goes in midfield, Scott goes and Scott only has eyes for the ball and said ball being at feet of a Lilywhite player and Scott does everything he can possibly do to make sure that's what happens.

What does Scott Parker do exactly? Everything we need him to do without complaint. What does Harry Redknapp do exactly? Quite a bit of you ignore his disassociations and soundbites and not so loveable personality. Box all that up, don't watch Sky Sports or listen to Talksport and you might just find yourself giving him a knowing nod of approval. Subtle nod though, let's not go overboard with it.

You want to talk about balance, look at the spine of the side. No need for a tap. We’ve left behind the taste of defeat inflicted on us by Manchester and we haven’t looked back since. We still await a more dominant display that sees no goal conceded and one or two more scored in our favour. Moon on a stick football is fine and dandy if you can get it at a premium but I’ll happily take the odd heart in mouth moment.

You simply feel far more alive when you get a slap in the face from reality but then dust off to knock it the f*** out.



Rafa refuses to dance to Samba beat

Rovers 1 Tottenham 2

I keep waiting for us to explode into rampant action with devastating consequences. The sort of performance that has our players swinging from the chandeliers holding bottles of champagne whilst the opposition sit in the corner, shaking, slowly moving backward and forwards foaming at mouth whispering to themselves...make it stop, make it stop, make it stop.

In my pre-match comments I eluded to the fact we are rather good. At least we should be rather good when up against a side like Blackburn that are struggling. We were good in patches and had enough quality to see the game through. Our luck will run out at some point if we don't resolve the centre-back injury crisis (by resolve, I guess all we can do is muddle through) and other key players don't re-discover their mojo. What is most definitely good is the fact that we continue to be capable of playing average football away from home and still come away with all the points. Luck or basic survival instincts, either way, we're 5th and our excellent run since the Manc spankings continues.

Due to the manner of the victory and the once more fragmented tempo to our game its tricky to delve too deep into whether we have learnt anything new from this performance. Have we? Go on then, you pushed me into it. Although I still don't think we've learnt anything new. Just echos of old. Taking observations made solely on Blackburn away I'd probably go with:

van der Vaart. Four opening goals in four games. Love him. The finish for the first goal was classy stuff and his second equally majestic and impossible to stop. You might sit there and debate what else he does on the pitch and how his wandering is detrimental to the side and whatever, shut your mouth and just look at the facts. He's a born winner and no matter the opposition he gets the job done. After years of complaining that we lacked true fighters, men who know how to win and have the desire to, now we finally have such a player we should just sit back light up a Cuban and enjoy. Top drawer. It's just dandy to have a player that can sometimes not play out of his skin and still score a brace and win us the three points.

Was it just me or did Friedel look a little unconvincing at times? Even so, if this was an off day for the big man, then I'm happy. Didn't cost us but could have. But didn't. Just seemed to notice a lot more in this game that he does love to stay on his line more often than not, which means the onus is on the centre-backs to attack the ball. Have a word Harry please. With the physios. Bassong struggled here (high balls) because that's a weakness to his game. Still, some very decent saves from Brad when called upon.

The problem with not having King available is that we don't have King in the side and can therefore spend large portions of the game looking like we've got the Queen playing at the heart of our defence with a corgi by her side. Was no surprise that Rovers pressured us with high balls and physicality. Samba was a handful. A brute (and given the freedom of the pen area) which led to their equaliser. We don't look convincing at the back but then what team would if they had three seasoned centre-backs 'watching' from the sidelines? Samba does love to make us dance around at the back.

Kaboul was vocal. I like that in a player. But much like Bassong he struggled with the aerial assaults Blackburn bombarded us with. You almost felt like Rovers could have scored more because we slacked way too much. The pressure we were sometimes placed under mostly down to the lack of a telling partnership with Bassong and Kaboul (who seemed to struggle when in possession).

If Sandro is not fully fit, then I look forward to when he is because (as cited pre-match) a midfield with Sandro and Parker in the middle would allow the South American to dominate and boss, cleaning up and chasing down whilst Parker can slot back into his more accustomed role of box to box football. Scott is hardly built like a Brazilian Bane and can be out-fought in the middle of the park. No amount of 1950s hair flicking is going to scare the opposition. It's difficult to lead on the pitch if you're being consumed by a couple of heavy duty responsibilities. He needed more help in the middle. He can handle himself, he can get stuck in but he needs a partner in the thick of it.

Don't be too harsh on Lennon. He needs game time and he needs more of it. Tracked back okay on occasions.

Love Walker. There was me thinking he'd be providing cover for Corluka this season. His effort and determination going forward is an inspiration. If he was a boxer he'd bring it to you, punching relentlessly, always looking for the haymaker. Brilliant run for the opener which deserved the goal.

Adebayor still looks like he's playing with that hamstring worry. Subdued. Did drop deep a lot, fairly frustrated I would imagine. Still, he was involved rather than disinterested. I hope.

Modric looks like he's worked out how to shoot at goal with menace. Decent game, bit more bounce in his play this week but not the best circumstances to dictate.

Bale. His form continues to bubble along at luke warm temperatures. He's a left-winger, pulsating at best when released down the flanks...but something, that edge that spark, it's not quite there. Harry has to take some responsibility here to get Bale back to his best. Man management is fine, but tactically out on the pitch Harry has to perhaps focus on how best we utilise him to get him back up to boiling point. A bit of freedom perhaps? Instructions to cut inside (ala Modric back in the days when he stood out on the left)? He's not exactly been woeful. The standards he has set himself is what magnifies his lack of impact. He'll get back to it, no doubt. I guess Harry has to ask himself, how best to galvanise Bale? At the moment its all very bog standard.

Overall, its time this 'luck', this scraping through a game and surviving to hold on is brushed off and we start to brush off our opponents with more pomp and splendour. Not just Bale that needs galvanising.



We've got 99 problems but the pitch ain't one

We're missing a few centre-backs.There's continued debate about whether Defoe should start ahead of van der Vaart. 442 or 4411? Is Rafa (in his head) bigger than Spurs? Is Harry scared to drop him? Why shouldn't we accommodate a match-winner into the side even if he can only last 70 minutes? Does the team have more structure and understanding with a traditional top two up front?

There's more.

A question mark post-Newcastle as to whether we still struggle to sometimes truly lay down authority with a mixture of silk and slaughter and boss and win games we're expected too. Is Adebayor fully fit? Do we miss Lennon? Do we need Lennon? Why does Bassong have some fans choking on their hearts? Can Kaboul command the back four? Harry's left-field selection on the right for Bale - why persist with this failed experiment to provide balance? Or is it an unavoidable consequence of the right-handed quirk we possess what with no natural cover for Aaron?

Questions. All to be answered soon, you would hope. Technically speaking, none of the above should be classed as problematic. Tag them as conundrums and they are all mostly birthed from positive (be it sometimes heated) discussions. We're hardly spending the aftermath of a weekend game dissecting an obituary of a result. These are good days. Not quite hedonistic but there is continued tangible progress (that's in terms of what we expect from 'this' season). Although for some that's another arguable point; The wealth of talent in our squad. Some say a more tactically astute manager would produce more powerful performances. Perhaps we do need Redknapp to be more head strong and consistent. It's not impossible for this team to fail, but failure would be unacceptable no matter how glorious.

We have a beastly spine sprinkled with glam midfield players. Dynamic and demon. But sometimes frustrating and fruitless. What we need is that extra spark to ignite something bullish and brutal. You sense its not that far off. Injuries aside, one or two of our 'stars' are enigmatic, erratic. Still, five games unbeaten. That's good going for a team with plenty of imperfections.

Blackburn is a chicken piece in a bucket.
The fighting cockerel is nothing if it does not fight then crow.

Sandro, Parker in midfield bossing it. Modric, vdV and Bale dictating, leading and marauding. Adebayor flying. Sounds great in writing. With all the problems and conundrums we supposedly have the one place we should not be concerned with them is out on the pitch at Ewood Park. Even if most of the problems are lost in formation.

Let's try it again. Sandro. Parker. Modric. vdV. Bale. Adebayor. Hairs on back of neck should be standing.

Complacency and underachieving? No thank you. Swagger and belief? Yes please. From the players foremost. Don't leave us red faced Spurs. Never red.

I get that the media emphasis is on Blackburn and their manager and that can usually inspire in their favour against the odds. Our centre-back pairing is not our first choice. We might be put under pressure, both physically and aerially. Smash the cliché to pieces. What about the pressure we should be placing them under with ball being pushed around on the pitch, with fluid confidence?

Get the job done Tottenham. These ilk of games are equally as important as any top tier clash.

Cock a doodle doo.


Sexy beast

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

I welcome it.

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

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

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

In conclusion we are prone to the odd off day.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Play with a smile, be it one that bites.


Love the shirt.



Favourites v Underdogs

I've seen quite a few of us referencing the fact we are being perceived as favourites in the North London Derby. That's both the media and the fans believing Spurs have it done and dusted on paper and that it should easily translate on the field of play. I'd agree that our midfield is superior to theirs. I'd also cite the fact their defence plays out to the tune of the Keystone Cops.

They still possess quality (RvP) of the match-winning ilk. But so do we, in abundance, and we are on a roll (three wins on the trot). And we're at home. But then the self-doubt (it never goes away) gently reminds us that we don't tend to do well when expected to do well. We do better when we have less pressure weighing us down. Also, in a NLD, form goes out the window and effort can sometimes match the stronger opposition. Although in our case, that still meant no win against the old enemy for many years. Until recently.

It's almost role reversal this. Arsenal are Tottenham in red and white, whilst Tottenham are the Tottenham we have worked so had to become after 15 years in the wilderness. But still prone to the odd lapse. Major differences? We strengthened in the summer and retained our top players. They lost their top players and signed less than glamorous replacements. You can see why they are regarded as underdogs. They choke more than we do.

Still, there's hardly anything between both sides these days, except perhaps for Wenger and his experience at the very top level and the fact his side have always been at that level, even when others have suggested a 'crisis' or transition.

On paper? We should win. On the field of play? Honestly? I'll be very shocked if Arsenal can show their past seasoned focus and intensity (and desire) considering their form and their fragmented team, punctured with the ordinary and average in amongst the class. I'll be disappointed if we are the ones to choke and allow them to best us. We have the more settled side. They're the ones who stand before us depleted. And yet the positivity is still not embraced.

Teams can always punch above their weight. We've done it many times in the past. Not to dismiss or write off Arsenal, but a pulsating powerful show of strength and unity in our midfield will consume theirs and allow our front-line to punish their back four. My only concern is RvP. Take him out of the equation and it will be the first time in my life-time that my heart will not dance to the beat of nerves. He'll play, which means there are no underdogs or favourites in this game. Not matter how you choose to use paper to prove a point.

There's simply a team that wants it more than the other. I'm obviously going to claim that team is the team in Lilywhite. I hope the players wearing the shirt believe in the shirt as much as we do.

Embrace the positivity. Prove we're the favourites, prove we're the top dogs and let them bask in the indignity as the plucky underdog that tries ever so hard and gets nothing. Life is harsh. We've been at the end of it so many times in the past. It's time to give some of it back.



Winners of John Crace's 'Vertigo' (original article here): Matt and @betambeau88 - congrats. Email me (use the contact form) your name and address.



Midfield majesty from magical Modric

Spurs 4 Liverpool 0

What a fantastic performance. I'm of course referring to club chairman Daniel Levy retaining wantaway Luka Modric (who should perhaps take note of Fernando Torres and his diminishing stature) who held firm with his summer transfer stance. If you wanted evidence that the Croatian deep-lying Worzel Gummidge had finally stuck his head on the right way, then our spanking of Kenny's ordinary boys is the perfect illustration of how important it was to say 'no' and laugh off the derisory bids. Attempting to imagine a Spurs side without Modric is admittance of languishing outside a top four challenge. Such is the importance of his forward-thinking industry and inter-play. He remains paramount to us contending for CL qualification, in a season that will perhaps end with defining conclusion in how we set-up to enter the summer period before the 2013 campaign.

Wasn't just Luka who majestically roamed the midfield with supreme confidence. Scott Parker worked to perfection alongside him in the middle to break up play and dig deep doing the less glamorous work required for us to dominate possession and thus create in the final third.

You can cite Liverpool's lack of quality, their inability to place us under any pressure and their implosion as further reasons for the comfortable win but then it was a win that was never in doubt. They lacked shape and ideas and only excelled in petulance and off-field delusion. Work in progress for sure.

In my match preview I asked Spurs to 'Release the Kraken'. Wasn't quite a Kraken. More of a baby Godzilla learning it's trade in the Tokyo suburbs before heading towards the skyscrapers. From the opening exchanges, we placed down a clear marker stating 'we're going to win'. This alone made me gleeful. We looked hungry, we played with urgency and the only frustration (be it one we all clearly lived with without complaint) was that it remained 1-0 for so long. Unlike in other games (oh so many) I had no ominous feeling we'd be dragged back to 1-1 at any given point during proceedings.

When we took the lead early on with the scorching effort from Modric, I lost myself momentarily in his celebration. That wasn't a fake smile or pretend joy from the little man.  He looked genuinely happy and wanted to share it with the fans. Stopped short of kissing the badge (thank God). And that's all it takes. A moment. Just a single moment. In this case a superb goal and an equally imperious performance to lay to rest all the disgruntlement in a bed of fickle and apology. We sort of forgot about the Chelsea saga in the seconds that followed the goal and will give him the benefit of the doubt that he will kick on from here and give us the ilk of loyalty that screams 104 passes, 92% pass completion.

As mentioned, never felt Liverpool threatened us. We oozed belief and determination. Bale gave Skrtel a torrid time. Parker (as mentioned) worked his socks off and Adebayor led the line in the manner that was desperately missing so many times last season. Walker was admirable going forward. Kaboul made up for some lacklustre early season disasters. Who was in goal for us? I don't remember him having much to do. As for the four-four-two formation - it won the day heaping embarrassment on the Anfield club. Worth mentioning two on the trot for Ledley, who was impressive. Let's make sure that knee is willing and able for the NLD.

Without wishing to get too carried away, feet firmly on the ground.

Liverpool fans will argue they were woeful. I'd still argue we simply never gave them a chance to get any type of grip on the game. The two red cards (be it claims of inconsistency from the ref) pretty much summed them up. Untidy and frustrating. What's important is we looked up for it, wanted to win and won. It's always strange how we manage to look better when up against eleven men but we persevered in the end to give the score-line a dominant feel to it (and claw back some of that negative goal difference). Ade displaying simplicity in front of goal with great technique and link up play. And a brace. JD with a lovely finish. Can I use my favourite word about the side being galvanised? Confidence really does breed success.

Criticisms? Set-pieces still in desperate need for a re-boot.

It's just one game, just three points. But its testament to the fact that unlike the visitors we are not in the midst of a rebuild. We stagnated last season and now need to reclaim that guile we are capable of and push on from there. It's hardly implausible to aim for 4th or even 3rd. You have to believe, otherwise just call it a day.

Lennon. Huddlestone. Sandro. Gallas...all still to return. Rafa already back (he's always back earlier than he should be). Sandro and Gallas might be available to start against Stoke in the cup. Bit of positivity makes everything looks so much brighter, doesn't it?

Well done Spurs.



dml: You can also stream or download it here (make sure you have a Quicktime plug-in installed).

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twitter: @lovetheshirt @tehTrunk @Flav_Bateman @RickyTFC @chicago_dan_TFC @TheloniousFilth @Spooky23

Love the shirt.


Smash 'em up

Battle for fourth? Unlike say in the season when we actually captured that position, this year its pretty much a certainty that anyone who dares to show some consistency and hunger for it will romp home. Utd, City and Chelsea will finish in the top three placements. Us, Arsenal and Liverpool will be fighting it out for fourth. Hardly rocket science but what remains a mystery is just how much of a fight it will turn out to be.

Take our neighbours up the Seven Sisters road. Still with the pretty football but with plenty of Keystone  defending making them a red and white version of a variety of Spurs sides from recent seasons that flattered to deceive and always made sure they heaped misery on their fans. State of flux, wobble, crisis - whatever you wish to tag that particular mess with, they are very much vulnerable and weak in key areas although still pack a punch but one that is unlikely to knock you out.

Liverpool are in the midst of rejuvenation and are thus being re-built. Okay so its all a little excitable and exaggerated because it's Liverpool and its Dalglish and the media seem to be sacrificing credibility to beckon the Phoenix from the flames. There's no doubt, as much of the ordinary and average soundbites you wish to chuck their way, they are better for it since the summer. Hardly perfect but they retain a busy work ethic and have players that can produce effectively. They also have a player up front that many still believe could have worked a treat in Lilywhite but somebody apparently didn't fancy taking the chance.

The question is not so much 'how good are Liverpool?' or 'how good can Liverpool be?'. It's more the case of 'how good to you need to be to claim that fourth spot?'. Looking around, with so many unanswered questions you'd probably agree that you don't need to be all that special. So its a dangerous game to discount this Liverpool side just because they are hardly fitting of older variants in comparison. Same with with Arsenal.

Apart from the near spectacular starts to the season the two Manc sides have displayed you could argue that not even Chelsea have impressed (but let's not get carried away here, they should still comfortably find enough of what's required to compete for 2nd spot with City).

So what of THFC? How much fight do we have in us? We'll find out when we face up to the scousers. It's still very early in the season but its pretty vital we start to rock and roll over opponents because the form of our competitors is completely out of our control other than when we play them. Defeating Liverpool then Arsenal (Wigan in-between) would create momentum and with that comes confidence and renewed belief and all the other hype that manager and players seem to feed off. Adds focus to their deficiencies also. Defeat, and the emphasis is back on us.

If anything should be taken from last season is that every regrettable dropped point will come back to haunt you.

At the moment, we don't seem to have any urgency and appear comfortably numb in posture. We showed some authority away at Wolves and plenty of industry thanks to our new signings. Need a little more from other quarters.

This season. It's simply too much of a good opportunity to pass by. Champions League qualification is a tangible target. We need to crow. We need to fight. We need to use our spur and leave the competition bloody on the floor.

It's going to be a tough game if Liverpool play as good as they can. If they don't then that's their problem and our prerogative to take advantage. Failing to turn up tomorrow will just leave that culture of underachievement festering in the psyche of the players meaning we then move onto the next game seeking redemption. Beating Wolves was a start. Beating Liverpool needs to be a necessity.

Release the Kraken Tottenham.


I've checked and Perseus doesn't play for Liverpool and the next best thing to the Medusa is Karren Brady and she will most definitely not be present.




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twitter: @lovetheshirt @tehTrunk @Flav_Bateman @RickyTFC @chicago_dan_TFC @TheloniousFilth @Spooky23

Love the shirt.


The want for more

The fact that I'm sat here trying to work out whether I'm pumped up for the Europa League probably tells you that there is something wrong. It's a big tradition at Spurs, is Europe. Bill Nicholson had one or two things to say about it. More so the fact that once upon a time we were tagged as Cup Kings. The 1980s seem a distant memory these days, in this not so brave but bloated rich modern era.

Undoubtedly, everything outside the Champions League and Champions League qualification has been devalued. FA Cup romance has been stood up more often than not. The League Cup dumped by most, only becoming important if you somehow stumble your way into the semi-final. Although most would desire to win the former, you sort of make do with the latter because it's still silverware and it's at Wembley. Both have taken the mantle of simply being bits on the side for the Sky Sports era 'Top Four' and plucky teams that punch out of the industrial strength paper bag that covers them.

That doesn't mean our 2008 victory should ever be dismissed, probably because of that semi-final against the red scum followed by that wonderful day out against the blue scum. We were winning games we were not meant to be winning. Dismiss it, no way. Footnotes in history are exactly that, forever captured in our honours list and in memory. But still, its an afterthought for most, a third prize for the truly ambitious. For everyone else it's an echo from the past.

Football, at its highest level, is geared up to make the strong stronger. If you're truly ambitious then winning the title has to be the ultimate goal. If you're in a position to do so then by default you'll have enough ammunition to gun down other targets (like the domestic cup competitions). Which is why if you consider the long term, top four should be the priority.

I want us, at some point, to win the title. It's a ridiculous statement, much like wanting us to qualify for the CL once was. I'm not asking for ten years of dominance here. Wouldn't be able to live with the glory hunting. Just one grand old push, anything comparable to the 60s will do, then back down to earth again.

Okay, so, here's where I start to walk and sink through quicksand. I can never give a definitive answer to the question that asks 'Silverware or Top Four?' mainly because I have been somewhat corrupted by the prestige of the Champions League. I'll do my best to fight through the relentless hypocrisy and contradictory statements. But expect my explanation to be one consumed with struggle.

I love Tottenham. Unequivocally. There's probably a deep rooted fear of success, festering in my subconscious, that doesn't quite want me to want the club to turn from eternal pretenders to seasoned champions. In a perverse way I like the fact that with each passing decade we win something, be it a domestic cup or a European one. We might not have been blessed with an empire or a dynasty but what we've achieved in our past playing the football we've played with the players we've had - it has been and remains magnificent. We're a big club in terms of our fanbase. We're a big club in terms of the manner of some of our achievements. But still a small club with a big heart when compared to the true giants in football.

So you (and I) would never scoff at the question asked, 'Would you prefer silverware to a top four place?'. Shouldn't scoff. You don't ever say no to a good thing. Football is about moments, and moments made up of Cup final goals and dramatic winners are what makes supporting a club, any club, special. It's not just John Crace that fears success will reshape a clubs character and therefore its supporters. But Tottenham have yet to cement such stability flying in the heavens. We are once more looking up, attempting to take off.

The issue surrounds the effort required to attain said good thing. But the effort is just if the finale is Ricky mesmerising his way through the City defence, a winning penalty save in a European shoot-out or coming back from 1-0 down to win 2-1, be it in the FA Cup or League Cup.

Winning a domestic cup competition or the Europa League should always be the aim as the momentum will carry forward into the league games, and vice versa. Alas, the constraints of three competitions and the league with the additional interference of 'deemed to be more important' fixtures and injury issues means that we're only likely to strike lucky (in terms of a run) in perhaps just one of them. And if the club wants to progress to a point where top four is a given then league games will have to take the mantle of priority.

The buzz generated and then witnessed during our battle for fourth and then our début in amongst Europe's elite tells me that such an adventure - in modern football - is more fulfilling from one game to the next than a run in the League Cup. Even if the chances of winning such a competition (CL) are extreme.

So before I disappear under the quicksand, what is it I want exactly from the club, players, manager? Hand on heart...I want us to win every game. Reality is, we won't always be set-up to do so. And some of these group games in the Europa League will be sacrificed by blooding the youth in mixed up selections (perhaps stronger home tie line-ups will see us through comfortably). Once in the latter rounds, a buzz (of sorts) will generate enough momentum to see us grow hungry for more and everyone pull together for the greater good (that's the creation of history by way of winning something).

Belief, desire,'s never going to come together with brute strength and Spurs swagger if we're under-strength, so it rests all with hope. Personally, I'm already thinking ahead to next season and a new man at the helm. Levy is probably doing the same thing. And for all this talk about Luka's head not being in the right place, our manager should perhaps consider his own state of mind. Or at least engage his brain when he opens us mouth.

Harry for England? All I know is Harry can talk for England, he's that good with soundbites. His way is to downplay everything. All we can do is hope it doesn't have a detrimental effect across the squad.

With the future in mind, stability is key. A top four place will mean the war chest (we do have one right?) will be of far greater power if we're in the CL next season compared to perhaps a return to the Europa. Even if we're not in the CL, perhaps the new gaffer will not dance around the wall he has built to protect his ego and instead speak for us, the fans, with complete transparency.

I hope we win a Cup. But I'd prefer us to reclaim that opportunity of further growth and progression to be stronger domestically and thus give us the base to challenge on more than one front and once more give us access to another adventure up in the heavens.

I guess this is me accepting the sacrifice for this season at least.

Moses parted the Red Sea, the big show-off, lived off that for a bit, probably even got a t-shit commemorating the event...then followed it up with wandering around lost, clueless with what direction to go in. Life as a Spurs fan might simply be to accept pockets of success punctured by barren and transitional seasons. I can live with that. But I'd prefer to feel the way I felt when we smashed Inter 3-1 at home or beat Milan 1-0 away.

We might not be perceived as a giant. But we can compete with them. We just have to start behaving like one - no matter the game, no matter the opposition and no matter the competition.

Easier said than done. Hence the sacrifices.

Now someone please reach out and grab my hand before I sink into the depths.


- <--- Launching this Friday

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The pear-shaped cockerel will crow again

I'm still sick. My immune system, as dependable as a Brazilian goalkeeper suffering from bouts of aphephobia on any given weekend. If it wasn't enough having Death sat in the corner of my bedroom reading Playboy and periodically tapping the face of his wrist-watch, my problems are compounded. The old girl has pneumonia and I'm having to reorganise time I don't have to fit in all the other pockets of bane in my life to avoid a complete meltdown. In addition to all this drama I'm now experiencing disturbing nightmares, terrorised in my subconscious by a returning Adel Taarabt ghosting around White Hart Lane, tricking and flicking himself to a brace of goals and as many assists. I wake up screaming every night.

These are difficult times.

There isn't a match report of the Chelsea debacle because I was lost in the depths of depression at the time with football hardly at the forefront of my mind and a television nowhere in sight. Not to say I want sympathy for my Easter break that had more cracks in it than a Cadburys egg. Retain your apologies and group hugs for our rather limp run-in which has seen us surrender any genuine chance of reclaiming a Champions League spot.

Is it overly dramatic to suggest that we've surrendered it? I don't think so. I do appreciate that there are certain dynamics to arguing and debating why it's all gone pear-shaped based around the lack of forward activity in the Jan transfer window, the inconsistency with formation and tactics and one or two other plausible post-mortems. In a nutshell, you could sum it all up by perhaps siding with the uncomfortable realisation that we - Tottenham Hotspur, players and manager - gave it all up by making  repeated fundamental mistakes.

This flaw in our grand design simply one that pertains to the fact we have defeated ourselves. Over and over again.

The reason the dynamics here are ambiguous is because, say for example; Arsenal could suggest if they had a decent goalkeeper and more cohesiveness at the back and perhaps took their chances they'd still be in the hunt for silverware. They are, according to their manager, so close.

Which is what we are. Had we a keeper who wasn't prone to making big mistakes at key moments. Had we a genuine world class striker. Had we retained more consistency and structure across our formation. Had we not allowed errors in officiating consume us psychologically. This isn't on the basis of our last game. Generalisation of hope lost.

So close, yet so far.

In both cases (us and the enemy), the problems might be apparent and obvious and almost feel like a final piece of the jigsaw only needs to be slotted in to complete it, but that final piece is somewhere under the sofa and nobody is bothering to push it aside and reach into the dustballs to find it.

We are close. But we are still some way off. Because signing a new keeper or a new forward and deciding on a set formation - these are missing pieces (rather than a single piece) to the puzzle and once it's complete there's no point leaving it on the table gathering dust until it's broken up and placed back into its box for someone else to solve.

Supeglue the sonofab*tch and frame it on the wall for everyone to admire. Because even with the right players and tactics, the glue that binds it altogether is still required for its final decisive completion.

Arsenal still have issues with choking and only when the pressure is off do they turn it on (see their 1-0 win over Utd). With us, perhaps it's complacency or attitude adjustment. It's all about the glue. Sellotape just wont do the job.

That extra spark of something has to be drilled into the players, that desire and hunger, that necessity to be better. Better than the rest.

Yes, it's quite disconcerting to see us drop down to 6th. Doesn't feel right does it? But then the past 15 years haven't exactly been kind to us. Not to say that just because we've had erratic progress and transitions upon transitions that it's okay for us to accept this seasons almost certain failure as one of those things and we'll be back and we'll be stronger for it.

Sure, look at the positives but it still has to be deemed an unacceptable resolution to 2011 because how else do you make sure the squad retain unity of belief and ambition and drive them forward?

We should still look to win all our remaining games. It's a lull, it's a poorly timed one (is there any ilk that's planned?) and its even one we might have got through just about okay had we not dropped all those points against 'weaker' opposition earlier in the season. But the reason we dropped those points is because we've not been good enough across several games domestically.

Not that I'll admit to defeat until its mathematically impossible. So looking ahead, what do we do?

The club has to retain its spine. The club, no matter the competition, needs to be in Europe.

We need to be decisive about the future of Woodgate and King. We have to clear out players who do not have a place as part of the squad and bring in the loaned out players that do. Sign a competitive alternative to Gomes to sharpen competition for the number one jersey. We need that forward. Dare I say we need two new forwards, with spare parts gone as part of the clear out.

Tactically, Redknapp - if stays for one more season - has to accommodate a change in his own agenda. Not a clue whether the England job is going to happen for him. No one is going to argue he looks after number one, has his own set of personal priorities and is very much a media PR manipulator and man-manager who perhaps does lack that killer killer instinct but has proved (to a certain extent) that he can also deliver. He might be self-centred, but it has still benefited us.

He has delivered, the hard way, rather than in any overly dominating fashion. Stats don't lie although they do disguise certain failings. Regardless, Harry has done a good job. What he needs to do is an outstanding one.

Very few, hand on heart, would disagree that we should have done, should be doing, far better than we are. At least that's the general consensus. But then this season has seen similar discussions with the other top tier clubs also wondering why they've not taken it by the scruff of the neck.

It's no easy task fighting for a top four place. There's a buzz about Spurs. Would be a shame to lose it. Long term, Levy should probably start working on that contingency plan. This club has to be in good nick when it's handed over to the next coach.

Perhaps our evolution does require another season of growing before we step up a further level. If there is to be no Champions League qualification this season then let there be a relentless fight for it next season. Because anything less will not be good enough.