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Entries in Top Three (43)


Stating the bleeding obvious

Simply this: There is no more 'going for fourth spot'. It's of no relevance any more to target a position in the league that basically amounts to nothing. Sure, any other given season it equates to Champions League (with qualifiers standing in the way) but as witnessed this season that honour is vaporised by UEFA rules deeming its value to be nothing more than a sum of money form the Prem League for finishing in a lofty position. Fourth best club in the land is nothing to scoff at. But this isn't about the semantics of stature and that's what tends to blind us. We're fourth this season because that is what we deserve. It's a positive. But it's one with a devastating caveat. Any club with aspirations can no longer aim for fourth. It must aim higher. It will get congested up there. More so with every passing season, although it's up for debate until the summer is over in terms of which teams have truly strengthened and which teams have simply endeavoured to retain balance once more on the tightrope. As for us, we're going to need padding in our groin area so we're not kicked in the balls again.

RIP fourth, fourth is no more. Third is the new fourth.


Required: One centre-back, a midfield playmaker, a right-winger, two forwards.

This won't end well.



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.




Is this the bit where I'm meant to brick myself?

Here we go then. This might just be fun. Although if Woolwich are dicking WBA early on, attention will soley be on attaining 4th until we switch onto Champions League final night to discover our fate. A variety of permutations, a textbook Tottenham end to the season. Admit it, there is no other way with us. Get ready to have that heart ripped out of your chest once more. With any luck it will be thrown back in and patched up in time for a post-match drink and smile.

I remember 2006 very well. More than I care to. I was in the depths of my depression at the time and football was key to the pretence I kept up when in public, which was basically only to go to football games or work (before I was signed off for my 'sabbatical'). Something I have joked about since concerning that period of time was the fact that when I returned home from Upton Park having witnessed us puke away our chances of a top four place, I proceeded to eat (a pizza) and later that evening experienced one of the worst bouts of food poisoning I've ever had. Knocked me out for a day. Kick a man when he's down.

No pizza for me this weekend and no Lasagne for Spurs in yet another final day of explosive emotives. Bit different this time round. It's not in our hands like it was that fateful day in 2006. Mind the gap? The gap? We fell into it and even though our olde enemy has given us an unexpected lending hand to lift us back up, we've managed to slap it away more times than I care to mention. Yet they have persisted in attempting to drag us back up. No puke, plenty of choke all round. Everyone wants it, no one is taking it.

No matter how the table looks at full time across the country on Sunday, there has hardly been that much in it across the course of the season. Between all the clubs up there, each one has its own set of unique frailties and strong points. Everyone has work to do in the summer. There might have been a points gap but there is hardly one in terms of quality and application. If there is a single point in it at the very end, you'll wonder about all the disallowed goals and the dropped home points and the unexpected away defeats. But don't bother. Won't change a thing. I can only speak for us and it's been discussed a thousand times, but we've been wasteful aided by a numerous amount of reasons ranging from tactical to outside distractions. It's like any season, there will always be regrets. Much like our competitors will argue the very same thing. Some valuable lessons learnt, 2013 is another season.

For now, all I ask for is a strong Spurs performance and three points. If its meant to be it will be. The irony is not lost that it's Martin Jol returning to the Lane. A man in our hearts, a man with Tottenham in his heart. A man that probably wouldn't share a hug with our chairman any time soon. No Dempsey for them. In addition some very pro-Spurs comments pre-match from big Martin. We're also unbeaten at home for an age in London derby games, and so on. I hate all the build up, it screws with the head. I'll probably gorge on re-heated pizza if we managed to lose and Woolwich dropped points to WBA.

Onwards Spurs. I love you so much you crazy cockerel. Echo of glory please.

Christ, what a season it's been. More of the same next year please, just keep the blips to a minimum. Ta.




I've been without the pleasures of the internet since last Friday. I did manage a couple of Tweets over the weekend, but avoided delving into the depths of despair that appear to have destabilised everyone's emotions once more. I guess I can't put this off any longer, so head first in I go...

The Villa Game

Shades of 2006 with a reverse twist and the added spice of Martin Jol once more being involved on a last day heart stopper. You couldn't make it up. Because it's such the bleeding obvious. At the start of the season I'm sure plenty of you cited the fixture list and laughed about the potentiality of us having to beat Fulham to qualify for the Champions League. We shouldn't laugh, we should take it for granted that this beautiful beloved club we support will never do things the easy way. Once more our chest is sliced open and our heart pulled out and kicked around because pain is Tottenham and Tottenham is pain and pain is love masquerading as pain.

First of all the logistics of processing the Villa game. I've already been told had Arsenal beaten Norwich we'd have beaten Villa comfortably and the fact we didn't constitutes a choke. Well, no, it doesn't. Firstly Arsenal have been choking all season. They've been choking for several seasons now. Their choking (this season) simply creates an illusion that we keep losing the initiative or surrendering the chance to recapture it. It's an illusion because no matter the form of Arsenal or anyone else for that matter we will continue to produce erratic displays within the constraints of 90 minutes and across several games that illustrate key missing ingredients to the pot as we stew.

The issues are ones discussed more times than I care to mention. You know them well. Rotation (lack of), tactical ineptitude, squad depth and management of players. When we're good, we are good, when we're not we don't usually have a way of working out how to be good again. It's partly to do with the lack of decisiveness in the manager amongst other long standing transfer market issues. See? More times than I care to mention.

This latest spike in 'form' is thanks to Hodgson and the FA (science of football proclaims this). We're playing like a team again, be it one that is still making for heart out of chest dramatics. I can only be philosophical about the 1-1 draw with Villa. Deflected goal aside and perhaps one or two other moments, the hosts didn't really have any aspirations to win the game. That deflected goal against the run of play was almost a gentle slap in our faces from the footballing Gods.  

'This is what you get if you're going to make hard work of it you lowly mortals you'

Danny Rose getting sent off, yet with ten men, after regrouping, we looked the most likely to win it. But then that's far too obvious a story arc. It doesn't fit into the Tottenham mantra. We have no necessity for the easy way. Not a chance that we would make it comfortable for ourselves. Then again, last time we had it in our hands we puked it out of our mouths all over the Upton Park pitch. The eternal underdogs we shall remain. Always seeking to 'get there'. The chase is better than the catch.

Redknapp dithered with the substitution. Does he go for broke and risk a 2-1 loss? Was a 2-1 loss even conceivable against a Villa side content with surviving the draw? Would Defoe have made a difference? Bill Nicholson would have gone for glory but then Redknapp isn't Nicholson and Nicholson had Jimmy Greaves along with one or two other not so shabby players. But we're hardly weak either in selection. Harry however preferring to  protect what he's got even if what we've got might allow us to take 4th spot and then lose it thanks to the final Chelsea have to play in Munich. No echo of glory here. The Rose red card will be key in how we plan to line-up against Fulham. Does he go with Bale back in the back four? Wing-back system? Is King fit to play allowing Gallas to slot into left-back? Please don't be sticking Luka anywhere near that flank. Can we risk changing the balance of the side now that we are at least picking up points?

To aid with recovering from this (1-1) disappointment its best to not dwell on the game as a singularity. We've had plenty of lost moments that offered consolidation. Many of them are practically repeat showings. A ton of possession, crossing, corners but imbalance with player positioning and offensiveness. Defending set pieces, attacking set pieces. Tweaks in coaching that could have been made prior to the game in preparation or during it failed to materialise. Across the entirety of the season there are a number of disapproving shakes of head and shrugs.

Had we managed a second goal at Villa Park, all of this would probably be of no consequence as we drown ourselves with superlatives about spirit and guile and lose sight of some of the serious deficiencies we have in our set-up. Make no mistake, we have high end calibre and we're easily one of the best sides in the country. But cutting edge and that killer instinct in the dugout still teases us from afar.

Harry Redknapp is a decent 'manager' but you can't win all your games in the hope that your best players in their best positions (or roaming around) will be able to do enough. That's where the most telling guile is missing. If we fail to finish 3rd or 4th it's because we still can't be b*stards when it matters most.

We, the manager and the chairman, have to aspire to always be better to always want for more. If you prefer to take it one game at a time and wish to review it as a singularity then perhaps what we got at Villa is as good as it gets. Twenty or so chances and one goal, from a penalty. You could say we were unlucky or  failed to create our own luck. Doesn't matter, that singularity ceases to be one if it keeps repeating itself.

I don't want the season to end on a soundbite. To dare is to do, daring is achieving...this is not being embraced enough. I'll be shot down by some for the romantic notions and dancing emotively again, but traditions are there for a reason.

I'd rather this club is glorious in defeat rather than whimpering out like a soft sneeze.



Oh my days, we won a game at Bolton.

Bolton 1 Spurs 4

An away win, the first since December and our first at Bolton since Sky Sports invented modern football. Okay, so sure, Bolton are awful compared to the bullish physical side that has always made sure we get nothing up there but having comfortably beaten Blackburn at the Lane without having to dig too deep it was good to see us do the same here. Our hosts displayed fight, unlike Rovers. We had a wobble early doors second half, but came through it. A flurry of punches from them failing to do any damage. Three quick uppercuts our response. Floored. I hope they pick themselves up and avoid survive the count.

Emotional stuff before the kick-off with Fabrice walking out onto the pitch. The Spurs Drum was apparently smuggled into the ground, then confiscated after 30 minutes. Spurs won't be too impressed after their explicit instructions that no drum is allowed (home and away). That and the fact the 'Y' rhythm was played. Tut tut. Got next to no chance of ever seeing it return to the Lane.

Our defending is still not that great but going forward we appear to have rediscovered the simple things that can be so effective. Spacial awareness, wingers on the flanks crossing the ball for players attacking the box. Quick precise counters. Smart and tidy one touch from midfield to attack that sees the players instinctively run into space to pass the ball onwards with intent.

A similar confident display (excluding the opening six or so minutes in the second half) away to Villa and it's all smiles with a hearty farewell to that almighty blip that almost killed our season. It still hangs in the balance, but this is a far better position to be in than a month back.

The goal from Luka (from a corner no less) was sublime. Is there a way to fit him into a system so that he isn't anchored too deep? He doesn't score many but when he does he leaves you thinking how many he could score if he played more offensively. Then again, he wouldn't dictate the tempo as much if he found himself lurking outside the box. Perhaps when Spurs are bossing he can sacrifice himself to the giddy heights of the area around the penalty box.

He did make one mistake in the game, leaving Reo-Coker free early in the second half for the equaliser but he made up for it with a brilliant assist releasing Lennon on the opposite flank to cross for Adebayor (3-1). In amongst the goals, a van der Vaart textbook pass into the net (2-1) and another Adebayor close finish from a Bale cross (4-1). Bang, bang bang. All over in the space of nine minutes. Clinical Spurs of the Fall, how I've missed you.

Sandro was again a beast this time without vomit. Adebayor, the paradox, scores and assists across the season (in patches) and has a first touch that has me pulling the hair out of other people (because I have no hair left on my head to pull). But still more effective than anything we've had since the last time we went out and signed a quality forward.

Lennon got better as the game progressed. Bale roamed and swapped but showed how important staying out left can be when the players around him are equally hungry but disciplined positionally. There might not be enough time left in the season to truly capture the rapturous solid full pelt flow of pre-blip, but this might just do. One journalist made a joke on Twitter when Spurs were 1-1 and on the ropes that it was because Harry was being linked to the England job, before the joke cut away with irony (what with Harry no longer linked as the job is gone). Further irony then that Spurs finally woke up which means it must be because there is no possibility of Three Lions, just the one cockerel dusting its self off. No follow up joke from the journo to balance out the comedy digs.

One point is now the monumental gap between us and third although only 4th spot is up for grabs. Woolwich won't drop points (hex). Chelsea look out of it (in terms of a league placing) after two ridiculous Cisse goals (apparently their announcer proclaimed pre-match that Chelsea would move into 4th spot when Spurs lose to Bolton...bless 'em). Pardew's men have the tricky remaining fixtures. I guess the shock would be them beating City on the weekend. Three points at Villa is now imperative. Let's just win the next two games because what happens elsewhere is beyond our control.

So where does this leave us, generally speaking?

Our away record across the past three seasons has been better than anything in the past 20 or so. As good as we've ever had it? Let's bury this fallacy once and for all. It's not as good as we've ever had it. Not when the 1990s and early 2000s were so abject. It's hardly difficult to call this Spurs side the best we've had in a long time when you look back to the ones we've had to endure sitting in mid-table going nowhere fast. We are simply playing to the standard that we've wanted to see since the 1980s left us forever. As good for some fans in their life time, perhaps, but that doesn't mean we gleefully accept and not want to push for more. Why should we be so defeatist ? This should never be about one man's ego but always about Tottenham and what we strive to be and play for. Glory.

It was as good as we've had in the past 20 years when pushing for 4th back in 2010. It's now better than it was that season but there is so much room for improvement, achievable improvement. Seems fairly obvious to me. Aim higher. Get better. Achieve more. Look how far off the top we are and yet we hardly took Europe and the League Cup seriously. Remove uncertainty and bulk the squad up rather than playing a game of cat and mouse nobody can decipher. That's a call to chairman and manager to take responsibility.

Harry is now focused on us having given up on England. Shocker. Although depending on the media, Hodgson and the England players there is no way you can discount another twist in a year or so. So if we are stuck with him, then it's back to accepting his strengths and his failings. Although he is not the most tactically astute or consistent with strategy (which means he might never have it in him to better 4th spot) we still compete. But you can't proclaim a title push one day and then admit we're lucky to be 4th the next. Harry will continue to be a short term custodian of team affairs, from one season to the next, reactive to whatever is happening at any given time. There might be no other manager out there that could do any better, but there might be one that could perhaps plan for the long term and allow this team to make that further step up.

If Levy believes in the gaffer and backs him, then so be it. I'll follow and support. We won't have a choice. Would be the more most prudent fiscal decision to make even if there are many that would prefer someone brand new to take the helm.

For now, I'll happily accept a smug Harry sound-bite on Champions League qualification, telling us all 'told you so'.

For now, all that matters is the next game.



I'm away until Tuesday, might log onto Twitter if I'm sober. Might log onto Twitter if I'm drunk.





Is there anyway to hope success for Roy Hodgson without England achieving it? No? Of course not. Everyone is doomed then. I hate the clique that is the tabloid media, with their pro-Redknapp obsession, already sharpening their knives as displayed with the usual bitter and stupid questions at Roy's first press conference. The nations favourite have rolled out a speech impediment joke so we can't be that far off from vegetable photo-shops.

Let's stop pretending to be surprised. We're all actually guilty of similar charges. They are meant to report the news. They are hardly unbiased and they will always push whatever agenda that's close to them. It's no different to any football forum or set of fans with a unified belief they relentlessly perpetuate. Well it is different in one way, tabloids have a far greater reach than any blog or message board or twitter time-line.

During the press conference, you could hear them squirm in their seats, unsatisfied and rejected for not having their chosen one to bestow safe questions to and catch the responding sound-bite like two lovers blowing kisses to each other. This summer will be a barrel of laughs.

Also worth noting the nations favourite hardly reports 'the news'.

Regardless of the FA only approaching the one man and also the fact that they are saying there was more than two people on the short list, it did feel rather ominous. When the new England boss cited Redknapp it was to say that Harry had left him an answer phone message to congratulate him. It almost appeared to be apologetic, like Roy was a little embrassed to find out Harry was being passed by. The FA wouldn't pay the compensation for Redknapp, a likely scenario.

What's done is done. Shame the ambiguity and the flirting has given us an excuse (and masked the real issue at hand) to surrender so many points but we've struggled since the start of the year and with just three games remaining, all that's left is for us to win them all to give ourselves the chance of redemption. Even if it still hangs in the balance, dependent on results in others games and a certain cup final.

We've not won away since December. We've got two away games up next. The final game of the season is at home against a former manager. Hardly inspiring when our recent win was against a side that had no desire. Tonight against Bolton we face a team fighting to stay up and they'll be more than up for it with Fabrice present. We haven't won there in the Premier League either.

If you had a spare ten quid, you'd keep it in your pocket.

Still, believe. It's a boring existence if you don't.



Today is the 5th anniversary of Dear Mr



Siege mentality and smelling salts

I'm looking forward to writing the season review for 2012. Regardless of the final five games and what they might bring, regardless of whether we secure top four or don't, it won't change the fact that we have some tweaking, rebuilding to do. Redknapp or no Redknapp.

Nothing major in terms of ripping out the foundations and starting afresh. Just key areas of the team need to be looked at (defence, strikers) and decisiveness on potential transfers out. Redknapp has always been short term in application. Something long term is required when the next managerial change occurs. Long term in both the vision for the new coach and player acquisitions. The transition is not going to be one that shakes us and leaves us crying in the corner rocking backwards and forwards. No foaming at mouth. No matter your opinion on Harry Redknapp, he's achieved stability. Compared to the past 10 or so years we've gone from one poor managerial appointment and clean up job to another. Stability equates to competing if the right level of quality is possessed. We've done just that this season. Although we've been let down when it matters most. The foundations are strong. The cracks can be easily repaired. Just hire a new builder. Might take a summer to have everything fixed up in time for the next stormy winter.

Redknapp has got us winning games across seasons consistently, away from home. And aside from a handful of losses, always looking strong at the Lane. Our recent end of season form matches to last season and the issues at hand concern Redknapp's inability to rotate with impact. We've burnt out and the lack of guidance and consistency with formation has compounded matters for the worse. But all this is for the summer. I’ll probably break up the review into about 10/15 different articles. It's been a meaty season, plenty to chew on, plenty to bite at. Some of it, no doubt, will be hard to swallow.

I was told recently that our current form is our actual form, that this is us performing to our expected level. What does that even mean? I asked the same thing to the idiot that goaded me and apparently 'you're only as good as your last game'. In other words the team he supports who have been relatively slack all season and have come into form towards the end of it are showing their real form whereas they were under performing before then. I guess, as opposed to them simply taking advantage of our slackness. Funny how we're not considered to be under performing now, rather over-achieving at the start and playing standard Tottenham football at present. The semantics of football confuse.

What does it matter? It doesn't. But the reality is, we've failed to retain that measured composure across the entirety of the season. Quite ironic that we have suffered for not suffering a blip of form in the early part, but instead have held it back until the very end and half-imploded.

Drama the Spurs way.

I just want to gently remind everyone of our form from that first part of the season. The energetic, confident swagger and swashbuckle Tottenham side that had no fear and fought as a unit. Take that same desire and mix it with the team ethic from 2010 which was battered, written off and bare bones that played out of their skin and arguably punched above their weight (what with the squad depletion) to claim 4th spot. We've seen plenty of 2010 tenacity from this team, but its AWOL currently.

I just want to gently remind everyone that we are still one of the very top sides in the country and regardless of the players we need to sign/replace/sell we're a club that has been on the up for the past four or so seasons. Yes, we are under achieving based on squad comparisons and based on prior form when taking into account everything and everyone. Yes, this learning curve might prove to be costly. Yes, we need to be far more shrewd and tactically astute. Yes, our manager failed to draw a line under the England job. Yes, we are on a downward spiral trying desperately to find a way to claw some momentum back with very few games left to do so.

I just want to gently remind everyone to love the shirt. Supporters and players alike. Especially the players who need to be gently reminded that talking about it is no longer of consequence. Actions speak louder than words. You can't get more clichéd than that. Aside from the usual clichéd Spurs free fall.

5 games. 15 points.

These are the only words of consequence.

Stop being apologetic. Stop bemoaning. Stop worrying. Start believing. One last time, one last chance. This season, when done and dusted will be gone forever. Manager, players…you wont have another chance to relive these moments so how about you get a grip of yourselves and attempt to reclaim some of that lost pride you have so easily surrendered recently? You are not your wage packet. You are not a transfer request. You are not your agent. You are me. You should be me. Living and breathing Lilywhite. You are the thousands at the Lane. The thousands all around the world. You are the history and you are the traditions. If you can't get yourselves up for this then leave, there's no point in you wearing that Lilywhite shirt. My shirt. Our shirt.

Wake up before the slumber turns into a coma. Turn that faint whisper back into a noisy song.

What have you got to lose? Everything. Because everything is glory.



Echoing what you know already

It's times like this I was wish I was single because I can't see how I could explain hookers and coke away to the missus. THE DREAM IS OVER. MID-TABLE, PLEASE RETURN TO MY BOSOM cries out the voice in my head as it attempts to scratch its way out to escape from inside my skull.

Lacklustre, complacent, distracted and disjointed. No desire and no apparent attempt to grip the game by its neck and tighten our hands around it slapping it down and forcing it to abide by our rules. If we fail to turn up at Wembley next week I'm going to laugh. Proper laugh out loud with tears. Never ending tears. Of blood.

Credit to Norwich but this was gift wrapped for them. The ref did his best to aid us (two penalty appeals ignored for the visitors) but only time travel and a chalkboard for reference would have saved the day. Early season Spurs wherefore art thou Spurs? An Italian might have the answer to that particular conundrum along with an English man who failed to draw a definitive line under it.

Where (also) has the determined focus, drive and astuteness of the Swansea home game gone? Just when we thought our belief and swagger had returned, it's deserted us again. Just when our manager showed a glimpse of tactics and strategy it wasn't anywhere to be seen on Monday. Selecting eleven players and hoping they just happen to play well isn't good enough. From the boredom at the Stadium of Light to the White broken hearts of the Lane.

Momentum and mojo replaced with morbid misery. We had players for width and yet had no width. We had players of quality with no heart. We had very little of anything that deserved the three points so I really can't argue against it. Saha and Defoe don't work and yet there it was, both of them leading a 4-4-2 formation. Players rested but with Chelsea evident in the forefront of the manager and players.

Still, 442 or not, substitutions made or otherwise, we should be doing more than competing against the likes of Norwich. We should be beating them. We're now the team with the fragile inconsistent mindset. A shadow of what came before.

There is something far more fundamentally at fault here than the inability for professional players at the top end of one of the best leagues in Europe (supposedly) to fail to battle on two fronts. Psychologically we've displayed so much growth and maturity in the past with backbone and fortitude but we are still some what soft when it matters most. There's a failure of control. By manager and players. Both are accountable.

Here's some depressing stats copy and pasted off Twitter:

- Spurs form in last two years since January under Redknapp: Played 34, Won 12, Drawn 13, Lost 9, For 46, Against 40. Just 35% win percentage.

- Spurs before 8th February, the day Capello was sacked: 23 games, 50 points. Over 2 points per game. After: 9 games, 9 points. Two wins, three draws, four defeats. Relegation form.

- 24 - Spurs have gained just 6 points out of a possible 24 in their last 8 Premier League games. Dismal.

No point suggesting X manager at the helm would have had us sitting in 2nd spot. We haven't got X manager. We've got what we've got and until the season ends that isn't going to change. So what now? Don't know about you but I'll do the only thing I can do, the only thing within my power to do. Support. My hands are tied with the rest of it. If the players don't understand the importance of winning all the remaining games, if they don't grasp that reality like I do then there's very little I can do to motivate other than hope. The hard way is the Spurs way is the only way.

So wake the **** up and man up please Tottenham. You're better than this. So much better.



Stunning super show sees sensational Spurs smiling 

Spurs 5 Norwich 0

No need for a full strength side so soon after the away trip to Sunderland. Tottenham's resolve and focus on securing a Champions League spot was solid in selection and application in a scintillating display at White Hart Lane that saw the home side dispatch the visitors with bullish determination and high end quality football.

Spurs reverted back to the successful 442 which has seen much acclaim this season with Saha and Defoe rekindling their telepathic partnership. King lined up at the back alongside Kaboul and the midfield saw Bale and Lennon on the flanks with Livermore and Modric in the middle. With the Chelsea game at Wembley practically being played tomorrow (technically it's on Sunday evening), Spurs benched the likes of Adebayor and van der Vaart. Both spectators. Both lucky enough to have the best seats in the house, munching on popcorn as they watched the dismantling of Lambert's men as the hosts displayed guile, spirit and tenacity for the victory.

The first goal was majestic in its majesty. Bale, on the left cut inside and beat four men down the middle before running back 40 yards to then beat another four men again this time down the left hand flank before finally slotting the ball home for the 1-0. Because he could. Defoe was next when Saha played a beautiful dummy allowing the ball to land at JD's feet who scored with a deft touch, so good the referee awarded two goals for it much to the dismay of Paul Lambert.

3-0 at half time and more of the same followed in the second. Spurs continued to push forward with drive and astuteness, bullying Norwich, first to every ball and quick to lay it off and run into space to continue to carve and create more chances.

Saha, still standing in the same position he was in when he played the dummy in the first half, hit the post without having to move, instead preferring to use telekinesis. Then Modric almost scored directly from a corner, the bar this time getting in the way. Spurs fans were busy doing the Pozican (a Mexican Wave hybrid incorporating the Poznan) to concern themselves too much with the woodwork action. They knew it would only be a matter of time before another goal arrived.

The opposition continued to struggle with Spurs dominance in midfield, dictating play and tempo with Harry Redknapp dictating the tempo on the bench defeating Joe Jordan in a cheeky game of Mario Kart. Kevin Bond refused to be involved citing Just Dance as more his kind of thing. The Spurs defence had no tempo to concern themselves with having nothing to do other than tidy up the left-overs from the picnic they enjoyed whilst watching their team-mates in the far reaches of the pitch. Although the only complaint to be had was with Ledley King who didn't much like the cucumber and jam combo sandwiches although they all laughed about his hissy fit and then debated football boot colours over some glasses of Pimms.

Then it was 4-0 Spurs and game over. This time with a move that was started by that man Bale and finished by that man Bale. Bale in the middle played the ball out to the left where Bale picked it up and played a five touch one-two with Bale before a disguised pass gave Bale the chance to fire into the top corner. Bale gave the heart sign celebration to Bale and they passionately snogged for a few moments whilst others watched on. And touched themselves. Football bloggers in their armchairs already penning sonnets to the manager.

By now the Paxton was alight with flares and relentless singing whilst the West Stand bourgeoisie gave a nod of acceptance at the football below with a thumbs up.

There was time for a fifth, a wonderful wonderful set-piece. Benny taking the plaudits and taking advantage of an anomaly in the space time continuum to guide the ball into the net from around fifty yards out which saw the whole stadium erupt and stand up to applaud Tottenham reclaiming 3rd spot and that's when I dropped my crack pipe and realised I wasn't wearing any clothes.



Danny wouldn't be impressed

Sunderland 0 Spurs 0

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

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

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

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

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

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

One to forget.

Danny Blanchflower would have frowned at this.



Get it done

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

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

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

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

Bum <-- Squeaky time.



This given Sunday

Spurs 3 Swansea 1

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

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

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

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

Defend. Chase. Recycle possession with pace. Attack.

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

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

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

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

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

The latter.

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

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

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

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

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


More on Bale and Adebayor in a separate article.