The blog has moved. Just browse to


the fighting cock podcast
blog best viewed on

Firefox, Safari, Chrome and IE8+.

Powered by Squarespace

Entries in van der vaart (45)


More Hot Spurts


This is the best team you’ve ever played for

This is how things have panned out so far this summer. A player is linked. We’re then told by an assortment of sources that he’s about to sign, there’s a deafening silence whilst the same news sources repeat the same story but with different headlines, followed by another silent moment before he does actually sign . We then have to wait an extra few days for his medical meaning it’s still not actually official. Then an additional two days for Spurs to catch up and officially declare it’s done and dusted. Looks like we’re about to dance the same jig, to the tune that saw Sig and Vert skip into N17 gleefully...this time a not so old friend returning on a more permanent basis. Adebayor is set to sign. I think.  £5M / £6M fee and apparently a wage-structure busting pay packet (or perhaps a lump sum signing on fee), who knows? Levy does, whilst the rest of us continue to scratch chins waiting to find out how we’ve managed to pay him 100k + per week. Because even though we don’t know what is going on behind the scenes we’re still going to base our analysis on rumours.

I’ll stop dancing that jig if it turns out we’ve got a bottomless pit and can now afford to pay the tax on behalf of the players we pick out for preferential treatment. For now, I’m hoping the player can return and improve on his performances from last season which were more than decent. He scored a fair few, assisted marvellously and fitted into the style of play – a team player not an individual dependent on everyone else to carry him around. Okay, so he did mis-fire, was unlucky with disallowed goals and did not get half the support in the pen box he should have got. But all these tactical deficiencies we hope to see corrected in the next year. Now he’s on a permanent contract for us, he’ll have to excel. I don’t buy into the lazy dysfunctional version of Adebayor and I’m certain neither has our chairman. There’s no culture of comfort at Spurs these days. That counts for something and should not be undervalued.

Pie in the sky

So Everton are supposedly on the verge of resigning Stephen Pienaar. Told you so. Yeah, that’s right, I’m coming across all smug because the one time I decide to share some info it pans out exactly how I told it. What? What? Come at me bro, I can do ITK. Yeah, what? In fact anyone can. Especially black cab drivers in London who might say pick up a chairman of a football club and end up being told the dramatic story of how a player left a club for the riches on offer, desperate to do so only to then find himself wanting to escape from the hellish reality and return back to his former club. Bill Kenwright painted this exact picture months back, explaining that money rules the brains of footballers and there is simply no competition when it comes to the top four or five clubs signing the best the rest have. The irony with Pienaar, and it’s common knowledge based on just following Spurs last season, is that Harry didn’t want him and didn’t really know what to do with him. A Levy signing, and yet apparently we’re about to make a profit on him if we do sell him back (probably not really when you consider wages spent) but still...only Tottenham can make a mountain out of a mole hill and then build a rabbit hutch in it's place (that isn't meant to make any sense much like this transfer saga).

Midfield Merry-go-round

We’re still waiting to see which club wins the race for Luka. After Villas-Boas revealed its down to which the one that meets our valuation of the player, we can only wait and see if that club is Real Madrid and the fee is £35M - £40M. Because let’s face it, that’s the best possible scenario. Luka goes abroad, we get a massive wedge of cash to go loopy with. The suggestions continue to persist that he’s definitely on the way to La Liga so the questions are:

a)     Do Madrid have the money?

b)     Do they need to lighten their squad first to make room for him?

Yes and probably.

Once it’s done then we sign Joao Moutinho. Easy right?

Armada strikes

We are (according to the press over in Spain) interested and willing to meet the buyout clause for Atlético Madrid’s  Adrián López Álvarez whilst the ITK community persist with the dream of being rocked by Falcao. The latter is brilliant and prolific and possibly out of our league (in the kindest way possible, he will fancy himself as Champions League pedigree and will cost an absolute bomb to the tune of £40M). Adrián is a couple of years younger and will be considerable cheaper (at just under half the price). I think someone has gotten wind of our inclination to spend and are trying to drum up some business and hype for their clients. Those pesky footie agents. When Villas-Boas left Porto he was instantly linked with returning to his former club to steal Falcao away for an alleged £26M (release clause). Then the player was cited at £80M. An obvious reconnection the world of fantasy. I'm assuming he's got a new contract and a new release clause thesedays. So...Strurridge anyone?

Rafa isn’t going to take a bite out of the Hamburg

He’s leaving. He’s not. It’s because of his wife. Wife denies it on Twitter. Back and forth, it won’t go away. But yesterday the player said he is happy at Spurs and doesn’t want to leave. That’s not to say it’s completely his decision but I’m hoping we do keep him. If anything because he loves it against the Woolwich. VB wants to challenge on all fronts? If he’s serious we need depth and we need quality and Rafa is an outstanding player. He might suffer from bouts of inconsistency, fitness issues but the words ‘galvanise’ and ‘talismanic’ were made for him. Belief is such an important commodity and he has it in abundance.  

Fryers is hot property

Apparently he's left Man Utd and left Fergie fuming and is on his way to Spurs. Utd wanted £6M for him (supporters I've spoken to don't rate him at that price) and we'll end up paying considerably less. Hence the fuming. Although the fuming is more likely related to the mini-exodus of Utd yoof that have recently moved on from the club. Fryers is nineteen, plays left back and centre-back. Did I mention Fergie is fuming? Probably worth signing him just for that.

Walking tall

Loved Kyle Walker’s attitude, talking about the changes at Spurs and the ambition to improve as an individual and as a collective. Again I ask, where is the player revolt? Also loving Jan Vertonghen's comments on the 'perfect fit' in relation to Villas-Boas pressure and possession football and being at Tottenham. Nice feeling that, players wanting to play for the shirt.That's something that at times is undervalued by us. May as well enjoy it when we've got it.



The fizzy pop has gone flat

Spurs 1 Stoke 1: One point from twelve

I think we can start to panic. Not the screaming down the road pulling out your hair foaming incoherently panic. Just the quieter biting of the nails version. Perhaps some of you prefer the former rather than the somewhat hopeful latter. Plenty around me in block 34 opted for a third choice, which involved mostly of screaming obscenities at our best players informing them they are in fact nothing more than excrement. Oh how the fickle love to dance in the moonlight, howling with sadness. Excrement? I’d argue that’s a tad (no, I’m not going to do the obvious pun) unfair although it’s the perfect description to label our inherently poor set pieces which once more personified a night of frustration with perfect grimness.

I’m not sure where to start so I’ll just start moaning and whatever I type will have to do, so please don’t expect anything linear or in a traditional matchy reporty chronological order delivered with flair. I'm fragile at the moment.

Might as well start with the set pieces as they are fresh in mind. Expect the most obvious conclusion and you will witness it over and over and over again.

Ball fails to beat the first man.
Ball pings past everyone.
Short corner is not played because that would involve creativity.
No intelligence with free kicks, other than to have a go, might hit the target but probably won't.
Concede a goal from a free kick because that’s the expected result from a dead ball against a side that score a fair few from there.

Just after conceding I noted one or two players holding out their hands in a philosophical manner, pondering what had happened. Half expected them to reveal t-shirts proclaiming ‘Why always us?’. There is a fundamental brain fart that continues to linger in and around the heads of the players we posses regardless of how technically gifted they are. No one is capable of resolving this perplexing nightmare we never seem to wake up from. I'm still talking about the set-pieces here but also, the lack of want, the lack of stepping up and finding that relentless tempo from earlier in the season. When we dug deep on occasions, made our own luck, forced things to happen.

The Stoke goal, it did came against the run of play. And yet to be fair to them, at least they got something on target and by virtue of doing so scored and therefore deserved it. First half Luka had a couple of efforts. Bale's loop not dipping under the crossbar. There were one or two other sort of half promising moments either in the box or in the build up when attacking towards the box, but let’s be honest here. It was all ominous, that mocking apologetic football akin to knocking on a door you just need to get through hoping someone will answer when it would be far more apt to kick it down.

Sure, we had Bale on the left and Modric in the middle and one up front. I would, under normal circumstances, talk about how we are a side that is reliant on having our best players in their best positions and thus struggle if there is even one player missing. But this is a weak excuse. It’s still true in many ways as illustrated when the manager has tinkered to resolve problems with width. But in this instance it transcends selection. Adebayor has hardly been setting the world on fire recently and although his hold up play remains important this should not hold us back. And yet it did. If Adebayor isn’t setting the world on fire, Saha is attempting to do so by using a wet match.

Oh Saha, when you have the ball at feet, look up, look up. Pass it to a team mate. Alas no, the ball was persistently played to nobody or into space where an opposition player could thank and collect. There was one moment where he gave this look, with a swing of an arm, which was reminiscent of someone that couldn’t even be bothered to portray genuine care. Just wanted to look like he did. Oh golly gosh, the ball has been wasted. Darn it.

Is that harsh? Probably, but there was not enough about him. Defoe (on for Niko) gave us some direction when he was subbed on but it was hardly a tactical master-stroke. Gio came on for Saha. If that doesn’t tell you how desperate we are for something, anything to happen...

That's not to say simply having Saha up front ruined any chance of winning the game. The problem remains a collective one. No edge to our play at all. No fluency (thanks Harry for the confirmation).

King limped off. The logic here was probably, ‘Let’s play him in the must win home game because we’ll probably not win away to Chelsea’. Oops.

Scott Parker is now looking like the player I thought he was before we signed him. He’s completely out of form. Was always going to happen, him burning out like this. Hindsight will point out we should have roated more.

Much like the Everton game, we statistically battered them. In physical form the story was altogether a different one. A tale of woes and woefulness. We didn’t really carve out that many opportunities. We didn’t test their keeper enough. The football was flaccid, limp and lethargic. Now I know that a good solid side that has basked in consistency for the most part of the season and has also crowed loudly in acceptance to the plaudits given for the football played doesn’t turn rubbish over a game or four. But we might as well be because the results we’re producing are not inspiring or aspiring.

‘It’s all about the performance’, some would say, well yes okay, I get that. But the result matters more when you’re in a slump. Sure it’s not the good olde Spurs slump of old. We have not completely unequivocally surrendered. The effort is there, the execution isn’t. But we’re in danger of allowing this loss of confidence to destroy all that has been built. There’s a game, a moment that is meant to galvanise our team and allow us to once more attain momentum. But it’s not forthcoming. It’s all just a little too laborious in effort. There is no hunger, no ruthless 'win at any cost' desire. That mojo is not lost behind the sofa. It's fallen through the floorboards into the flat downstairs. And that door, we're still just knocking on it instead of knocking it the **** down.

I don’t know if it’s the England job. The court case. Redknapp or the lack of leadership on the pitch. What I do know is that nothing we’re doing at this moment in time is deserving of us retaining 3rd spot. Which is why we’ve lost it. If we want to reclaim it we’ll have stop feeling sorry for ourselves and grow that pair that appear to have gone from grapefruits to grapes to pomegranate seeds. Post-Chelsea, the fixture list is one we should seek to lap up. Should.

Around the 90th minute mark I bid my farewells to the two staunch Spurs fans to my right (one of which made the quote of the night stating how the best ever Spurs side of recent years was still miles behind the worst Man Utd side of recent years...ooh snap) telling them I needed to visit the bog and that I would watch the final minutes of injury time on the tv screens below before departing. I’ve done this once before and we scored (Keane, 4-4 v Chelsea) so off I went. I found a cubicle with the least amount of puddle to swim through and watched my fluid elegant flow hit the basin. Best move I had witnessed all night. I then walked out of the bogs looked up at the screen and within seconds saw Bale cross for Rafa for the 1-1. How nice of us to finally make a breakthrough.

I shrugged and left for the Seven Sisters.

I shrugged because had we done that 10 minutes earlier we might have found the belief for a second and thus securing that galvanised ‘performance’ to aid with reconstructing our depleted confidence.

Instead, we now go to Chelsea off the back of 3 defeats and 1 draw. At least we can recycle ‘mind the gap’ for their attention although best use up your quota of gags before the weekend before the five point buffer gets cut down. Oh come on, we never win there, do we? Although if there was a game that could galvanise our season this would...ah, never mind. Let's just wait and see.

Oh the joys of football. It’s never easy. It’s always cruel. It always makes us feel alive. Because we are. Alive. There's no shallow grave dug yet. I can see the shovel but no digging. And yet in amongst all this depressive rhetoric I still fancy us. Is that delusion? I’ve looked in the mirror and I’m not foaming so I’m pretty sure there must be some logic in my belief. We took a point in a game where we never looked like taking one. If that is our fight back its hardly one of epicness. But it's a start. It's a point. It's not a defeat.

There is now no disputing what needs to be done to get the job done. Either stand up and be counted or sit back down, put your feet up and whistle the day away whilst you throw it all away.

We are still super Tottenham, just without the super bit. Just plain old Tottenham. Do what it takes. Sellotape the flipping super onto the Tottenham if you need to. Just get the job done.




Friday Night Football. Let's never speak of it again.

Watford 0 Spurs 1

If the game where Hoddle scored that wonderful wonderful chip was enthralling, this 2012 FA Cup match (from a Spurs perspective) was an abomination in comparison. Harsh, but a fair assessment. It really wasn't very good from start to finish. Watford, hardly Brazil but very unfortunate to have not scored. All things considered, a 1-0 win and progress into the next round is hardly scoffable. New Spurs, can play without edge and still claim victory, riding lady luck bareback...willing to take the risk.

We lined up with a strong side. On paper more than decent. The reality altogether a different experience. No true shape and absolutely no width. Thankfully Lennon was on the bench for the second half but before we got there we had to endure very little in the way of anything of substance. Midfield was unbalanced, Luka lost out on the left. Rafa in there somewhere doing something. I think. Actually I don't know. I kept having to check the starting line-up to confirm and then reconfirm the existence of some of the players out on the pitch. No fluidity, no smart, sharp movement and passing. There was no tempo other than chasing Watford back when they came forward. Rose and Walker under early pressure whilst we lacked direction.

Modric and Rafa struggled to gain influence. The two forwards (JD and Adebayor) waiting rather than gathering. There was no apparent system to our play that would have allowed the variety of in-team units to work together. Retaining possession, recycling possession, push and run. Nothing. It progressively got worse. That's until van der Vaart scored on 43 minutes from a counter attack (a Walker threaded ball) to the anonymous enigma who scorched the ball into the net from twenty-five yards. Although how anyone can notice how a player can be anonymous in amongst a sea of anonymity is beyond me. I was just happy to see someone attempt a shot on goal.

Second half, Luka off and Lennon on gave us width. Pace. Eased the pressure on the flank Rose was patrolling. Still, we continued to ride our luck with Murray clear on goal hitting the post and the rebound squandered by Deeney. Wakey wakey, right? Wrong. More coma-inducing football followed. We did carve out a chance or two (rose cross Walker header Loach save). Rafa was slightly more involved in the play, in that he got to touch the ball. Have to admit I found myself easily distracted by the want for Yorkshire tea. Also, had to call Sky up because my Sky box lost its signal (was watching the game on an internet feed on the pc). On the phone to Sky they asked me to unplug the box which I did. Then press the backup button, keeping my finger pressed down on it. Then I was asked to re-plug the box in. I kept my finger on the backup button, but could not reach the plug. I needed assistance to complete this so I called out for the missus. I then proceeded to turn into Alan Partridge.


I burst out laughing when she walked into the room. She had no idea why and gave me daggers for distracting her hair straightening until I explained the necessity for the Sky plug to find its way back into its socket. It fixed the problem. Highlight of the game that was. Not relevant to the football, but thankful for ye olde living room improvisation theatre rescuing me momentarily before the bleak return to the internet stream.

Rafa hit the crossbar. But Watford continued to press. Without being patronising either way, we played poorly with plenty of disinterest. Friday night football, obviously not our stage. But even with our lack of oomph, Watford for all their plucky resilience and belief still couldn't get past Cudicini and his heroic save when it looked a certain equaliser. 25 shots to 6, supposedly. That's 25 Watford efforts to our lazy half dozen.

I really did expect us to walk this when I saw the line-up but credit to Watford for at least turning up. Not sure if that was a City hangover being flushed out of our system or just one of very very (very) few below par performances we've witnessed this season. Perhaps evidence that a slightly weakened Spurs side is detrimental to momentum. Perhaps evidence that players did not wish to run around a lot and get injured. Sometimes we don't have much choice but to take that risk. Props to Livermore. I noticed you Jake. Either way, its done. We're into the hat and we can look at the far more important business of the league and Wigan at home.

What? Come on now, the FA Cup...its still an afterthought I'm afraid. The magic has yet to spark us into life. Perhaps in the next round.

Regardless, we win. Onwards we go.


Love the shirt.



Things I wanted to see (did they happen?)

A look back at the Norwich away match preview. I hoped for many things.


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

We won. 2-0. Resilience? Sure, yeah, why not. But you might have struggled to spot it what with all the oozing class getting right up in your face. My word.


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


Okay, so hardly ruthless in the first half. But there was something ominous about the possession % stats through-out the game. We'd make it count, you believed that when watching. Nice feeling not to be biting the nails and swearing. Second half, we did just that (made it count - no biting or bad language). Finding that next level might will be the difference between winning 2-0 and winning 5-0 in future. If greed is your vice. Or if you simply prefer to have stronger goal difference.

Luka Modric. In the middle.


What a middle it was. If Modric was a waist he'd be Kate Upton's waist. I'm going to be biased here. Best midfielder in the country. Absolutely essential to the way we play and completely irreplaceable so the Daily Mail and friends...jog on. The irony of how things have turned out has not been lost on me. Although cue 'Luka to Utd' rumours doing the rounds in the next few weeks regardless of what Luka (via agent) tells us in the Croatian press. If you prefer to stay clear of all the ITK...just Google Kate Upton. Should keep you busy for a month.

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


No nervous moments and dodgy displays. Spurs turned up, turned it on and turned away with all three points in back pocket. It's something we should sit back and lap up. We don't half win games these days. Our away form might be the difference between 4th and 3rd as long as we continue to retain the consistency at the Lane.

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


Quality display. Such is the man's vision and ability he seems wasted when stuck out on the flank (not that he ever seems to stay there). Worked for the team as part of the 'forward three' against Norwich with effect. Perhaps he slept on the sofa rather than his wife leading up to this game. No apparent hamstring concerns. When he plays with such freedom, you can see why we are better suited to having him rather than a more out and out striker. Although against more stern opposition, he might need to work twice as hard. But then, that's a given.

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


Thought pre-match Norwich might bully our centre-backs, but don't remember too many heart in mouth moments. No Ledley, but almost felt like he was playing as we appeared assured at the back. Swansea might be a little more tricky coming forward in the next game.

Benny's afro. Just because.


Braided has the better statistical record. BAE got a little rest with Rose replacing him. Still think he looks a touch jaded compared to the standard he generally plays at.

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


Not just with the width, Bale was devastating through the middle. We've heard so much in the past about how Gareth has been worked out and his league form has never matched his CL form, but the kid is developing and progressing with freighting pace (literally). The right wing experiement which then led to swapping flanks with Lennon (in prior games) has now shifted from left to right to the middle. Bale coming at you from all angles...scary stuff. He's scoring more goals and is making the type of impact we know he's capable of. We'll see how other sides manage to cope with him when he's allowed to free roam.

That bloody stupid dance.

We got a dance with added shouty stuff and the traditional heart celebration for good measure. I refuse to complain based on the more important thing that happens moments before said celebration(s).


Match report here.




Norwich 0 Spurs 2

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Love the shirt.


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

Spurs 1 Sunderland 0

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Love the shirt.



There continues to be much debate about the Rafa van der Vaart conundrum. He brings in-balance to the side. He can't last the full distance. He's a selfish egotist that places himself above others including the club. His lack of conforming to formational positioning can lead to goals conceded. He scores goals, but what else does he do? One trick pony they say.

Okay, so, I'm highlighting various arguments in isolation and if you wanted to be pedantic about it people who are overly pro-Rafa completely ignore his weaknesses and the strengths of others. Welcome to the headaches of football management. But get this...all players have weaknesses, imperfections.

Not everyone is complete in what they have to offer. Modric is good on the left wing, very good when he cuts in from the left wing. But place him in the middle and let him recycle possession with ample doses of Barcelonaesque push and run touches and he's great. But he doesn't get into goal scoring opportunities often enough and his shooting boots are not always polished. Yet he has been known to score a corker or two. Then again, why should he be expected to score a bundle when he's primary responsibility is to play make from deep? Still, get enough Spurs lads in a room and they will still argue and shout about the negatives rather than simply embrace the positives.

I'm not suggesting that Rafa doesn't have any negatives, just that perhaps all the hype around his role in the team tends to be lopsided towards the fact that we are supposedly better with two up front.

Jermain Defoe is in form, in that when he's played recently he looks zesty and has that burst of pace and shot that usually results with a goal. He blows hot and cold and there's a solid argument that when he
blows hot we should make sure we use him effectively before the icicles return and leave him frozen in a permanent state of offside.

Hindsight is the usual tool dusted off post-game to argue the merits of either players. Now you might want to perhaps look towards Harry Redknapp and question if he is strong enough to handle the personalities we have at the club and controlling tactics to the teams best interests rather than accommodating players for the sake of it. Harry might not be the most tactically astute. He might wing it from time to time. But his track record would either suggest he does know what he's doing or that the sheer abundance of quality we posses means we rarely get unstuck. More fine tuning and we might elevate ourselves further.

But removing the managerial element and simply looking at van der Vaart as a player - he is pretty much
undroppable. In my opinion, you cant drop a player in form (more so in form than Defoe) who can't stop scoring.

In fact, he's practically a forward with his ratio of goals scored. He's a born winner that wants to play, always wanting to play and always wanting to lead. Something we have lacked many times in the past. I've used the word 'galvanise' one thousand times before and I'll use it again because that's what he does.

Dropping Rafa to make room for Defoe doesn't equate to logic. Perhaps sometimes he goes missing and he might not defend as brightly (if at all) compared to other players. But check this out: He's a flipping attacking midfielder, he attacks. He attacks the penalty area, he attacks space, he looks for assists and looks to get on the end of assists. He's a forward focused machine, be it one that runs out of gas and needs to be parked up but then having to make a substitution late on in a game is not a strong enough reason to leave him on the bench to start with.

He does cover a fair bit of ground too. Drops deep. This is where you might question how much influence Harry has over Rafa and if he is instructed to go on a wander or if he does so because that's what Rafa likes to do. If played out on the wing, much like Modric, he probably doesn't fit in as effectively. Imperfections. Maybe Rafa does defend more and work harder than we give him credit for. A forward focused attacking midfielder who drops back into deeper positions. If he didn't drop back so often he might not be as effective.

There is valid reason for us to sometimes start with two forwards up top. Long season, plenty of games,
players need to be rotated to retain freshness. With Rafa, at the minute, I'd sacrifice that to allow him to continue to puncture games with his brilliance because when we're not performing all that well, to have such a player in the team that is capable of winning it for us can not be ignored. There's never any guarantee that two players up top will make a bigger impact. Strikers have been known to offer nothing but a goal from time to time. It's about getting the job done, and he does just that.

Having a free-scoring midfielder that turns up no matter the opposition, home or away, big or small - it's something that should be celebrated. You have to love Spurs. We have problems scoring one season and then have problems making room for goal scorers the next.

So just stick a smile on your face.


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.



Sexy beast, not so sexy

Newcastle 2 Tottenham 2

It's almost like the footballing Gods read my preview for the game then worked the proceeding ninety or so minutes to play out like a tapestry of mockingness with canned laughter playing at critical moments. In this case both times Newcastle scored. I highlighted (in the preview) that we don't tend to do well up at St James Park. We switch off. It can be calamitous. That wasn't the case on Sunday.

Wasn't so much calamitous. More cataleptic. Yard off the pace for practically the entirety of the first half. The odd moment of progressive movement but mostly on the back foot. In fact no, not on the back foot rather both feet up on the sofa. We didn't get going. Not so much Sexy beast. More sleepy beast.

The intent, well, it can't be constituted as genuine intent if its powder-puff.

The formation, the lacked. Sat thinking we need a goal here. A Newcastle goal. What I got (mockingly bitter-sweet from the Gods) was a penalty for Spurs. Rejoice, yeah? 1-0 at half-time. My head is then full of rhetoric about how 'big teams, they create their own luck, they don't need to play well to win games'.

I then start to think back on the stale first forty-five and wonder why we haven't quite woken up to the concept of perhaps perceiving the game as must-win. But then psychology of this ilk is redundant. You have to be physically losing one nil for the team to wake up. In this case we we're winning one nil by sleeping. Seriously, HELLO? WHAT IS THIS MADNESS?

Before I came to a comforting conclusion, it was 1-1. What now? Pretend like we're losing? Take nothing away from their build up play other than taking it all away. We should have defended far better than that. The word 'casual' popped into my head and I finally had a tag to label that first forty-five with. In that crazy unexplainable fashion that only professional footballers and managers understand we suddenly take shape (pretend like we're losing <-- oh yeah, psychology 101) and poke Newcastle a couple of times in their belly-button, almost flicking out that coloured fluff that lives there. Alas, not quite.

At least the second forty-five had some tempo to it.

What is going on then? Is this Newcastle, a team that's 'okay' nothing special but obviously doing something right and playing well...playing well against us, Spurs...a side that hasn't quite found the pace of the game easy to run alongside too. Or is that harsh? Do we expect too much from our ourselves? Is this simply an off-day? And if an off-day is drawing 2-2 away to an unbeaten that not a good day? Or should the Toon take more credit?

Oh yeah, 2-2. That was the final score. King, we had lost. Walker over-worked. Bale wasn't playing (he wasn't playing right?) and Defoe replaced van der Vaart and promptly scored a belter.


Oh, hindsight, you wonderful thing you, with your frilly knickers and red lipstick. Let's be honest here. We were collectively on a low ebb first half. The intelligent play I expect from Rafa and Ade was all half-arsed and casual (there's that tag again, it's not gone to waste). Perhaps both players were not quite 100%? Although with Rafa I should rephrase; Was Rafa perhaps not 70%?

Possibly being unfair to Newcastle United and their midfield. Might lack obvious quality and depth but they got the job done against us. That's job done enough to stop us from taking it by the scruff of the neck. But then onus on home side. We can't have it all our own way when we play away from the Lane when we expect it.

Also probably unfair on Ade. He looks a class above in terms of movement and possession. I think we might still be two or three games away from actually clicking. We need to cut out the schoolboy thinking when attacking and look for the more measured pass. More often. Happened today a couple of times second half (Parker and Modric). Clickety click soon hopefully.

As for bringing JD on, a player who wanted to prove a point...well that happens all the time. Why didn't he start? Because he wasn't selected. I know, ground-breaking. Would have been lovely to have had Parker and Sandro in the middle also but you just have to deal with it. The formation wasn't great. But nobody would be saying that if Rafa played in Ade and he scored. One match proves nothing. Didn't work on Sunday. Let's just be grateful the substitution did.

What a belter. Then Defoe displayed the more frustrating aspect to his game. Lay the ball off son, lay it off and we'll score again. Selfish strikers, what do they know?

Then another sub breaks our hearts. 2-2, 86 minutes.

Happy with the point when we could have been happy with all the points but then also could have quite easily gone home with nothing more than a souvenir bra from the night out in Newcastle on Saturday.

If this type of performance happens two or three more times, then we can start discussing whether Harry still can't get to grips with having certain players playing in certain positions. I'm sure some of you will point to the right hand side and the fact we have conceded a few via the make-shift flank we have there (get fit Azza).

For now, may as well put this down to a sleepy day at the office and just about getting away with doing as little work as possible without being found out. That cut-throat beastly slap we need to be smacking down on opponents in games is still something we haven't quite worked out. Would have been perfect had we nicked it at 2-1. Had we, this match review would have been a universe apart when in reality, there is very little in comparison. Well, apart from two points.

Onwards. Five games unbeaten. Game in hand. This show IS on the road. Even if we have nine players out injured, and two not fully fit...Shh quiet, hush.

COYS. Love the shirt.



Benny, the weight of the world is on your shoulders son

It's been, what, a week since I last blogged? Hardly a sabbatical but still, sorry about the Lord Lucan. Blame International Break. Not forgetting the fact that transfer deadline day left me emotionally drained. I've struggled ever since to regain any form with keyboard and fingers. But is that the smell of a Premier League game making my nostril hair dance a merry jig?

We're back baby.

So, hands up if this season still doesn't feel like it's kicked off proper for us? Hopefully I won't be asking that question come the first week of October. But it still feels like we've somehow been cheated out of watching Spurs. Our Spurs. The crowing cockerel. The fighting cock. All we've had is the limp chicken with hardly a cluck to write home about.

I guess we now enter that point in the season (LOL - 3 games in, ridiculous) where there is nothing anchoring us back. No excuses primed and ready to be spat out. And why is that? Deadline day, done and dusted. New players for key areas willing and able to wear the Lilywhite. There is surely no reason to blame lack of minutes and only a passable nod at injuries.

Parker will bring that work ethic, that much need industry and perhaps even that missing quality of leadership we seem to crave for. Adebayor has that ilk of arrogance to lash the ball in from all angles. He can move about a bit. In and around the box, meaning he is not someone to be used as a target but someone who can actually play football on the turf. That isn't a dig at Crouch by the way. Crouch is Crouch, it's not his fault he's limited. But even at his limited level he still produced for us, on occasions. The reality is, much like Darren Bent can do a job for a team that sets itself up to support his strengths. It was time for us to admit that Crouch simply doesn't fit into the Tottenham template (that and Levy needed to cut the wage bill).

I'll attempt not to go on a tangent here, but the fact Harry Redknapp probably wanted to retain Peters services suggest that he would have persevered with a formation that was/is fundamentally flawed. For the time being at least, he can embrace back to basics and start with a 442. Defoe, I would hope, will be galvanised by playing along side Bad Ade. Same with our flankers. Will be staggered if Harry has not taken both Bale and Lennon aside and instructed them that standing isolated and apologetic on the wings waiting for a ball is hardly showing signs of hunger and desire. Cut in or cross it. We have a player up front now that will slide all over the place to make a point and allow us to earn some.

It's time for the team, collectively, to stand up and get a grip of the situation. We have class in abundance. We'd like to see that again please. Starting at Wolverhampton.

Going back to the 442, Rafa out is the reason we'll be blessed with this more traditional set-up. I don't feel the need to bury myself in the depths of discussion on this, but dance around it for a moment. Some people (that's some of you lot) should consider it isn't van der Vaart that is the issue in terms of having to accommodate him in the team and thus causing strategic issues. World class players, you don't accommodate them. You bloody well play them and you make sure they give the side that air of authority that's required and expected. Perhaps when he's back it will be easier to play Ade up top on his own, but not so much on his own with Rafa playing just behind him. Such a partnership will probably hold up more than the good olde ball in the air knock down to feet tactic that worked in pockets for the Dutchman and Crouch.

Only concerns around Rafa remain fitness (looks to have improved) and not being rushed back from injury (six weeks out is now apparently only two).

Back that Prem game. We've struggled at clubs like Wolves in recent seasons. Professionalism please Tottenham. Three points will be all the evidence I need that we have regained some self-belief. Two or three one in our favour too cheeky to ask for?

Back to the international break...

Parker looked good for England. England, relatively average in both games. There was a point in time that I actually got a buzz out of International games on the same level as I do with Spurs. It's been a decade I reckon since I could last state that as fact. Now I watch and hope we don't lose players to knocks. There is something overwhelmingly unexciting about it all. Guess that will change once Harry takes over. You'll wake up in the morning and he'll be sat next to you in bed giving you an update on training and how he plans to sign a couple of solid African players to bolster up the Three Lions midfield.

Should also mention Sandro. He's signed a new 5 year contract (having spoken up about a potential future move to Italy and cited Roma and they're alleged summer time interest). Cue several jokes about gentleman's agreements and the fallacy of loyalty. Not that we needed it, but we obviously did...the Luka Modric was a wake up call. Contracts now exist as a means of insurance for the club to be able to sell at a high valuation price. Although some might suggest the club has a habit of rewarding players with new contracts based on performance (but that still doesn't mean its not to safe guard our investment).

I like Sandro. Has that BAE look about him in terms of becoming a hero. The worry is, if he turns into the beast of a player he's expected too, then his head will also turn if we fail to match his individual expectations. Alas - modern football bites back again. Players practically deemed more important than the club, as its the club that has to appease the individuals ambitions. Rather than the other way round. I'll leave you with this email from Tricky (regular reader and guest blogger) that inspired the whole hero aspect of this concluding rant, just to depress you that little bit more in preparation for the weekend:

Given the transient nature of footballers today, and the way footballers have become, perceivably, individually more important than the clubs they play for. Are there any more heroes in the game? A quick stat for you to throw into the mix as a comparison:

Ricky Villa - Appearances/goals: 124/18 (LG), 21/3 (FAC), 15/3 (LG CUP), 8/1 (EUR) Total 168 / 25

Jermaine Jenas - Appearances/goals: 155/21 (LG), 10/2 (FAC), 13/2 (LG CUP), 23/1 (EUR) Total 201/26

Comparable stats (frightening really) however, anyone arguing that Jenas has been a spurs Hero is clearly not, as the sight of JJ warming the touchline to my memory never made the crowd at WHL stand up in unison and sing his name.

Benny, the weight of the world is on your shoulders son. No pressure.




I did manage to sneak in a little interview over at Backpage Football during my lost week of blogs regarding our up and coming Europa League clashes with Shamrock Rovers, so take a look when you've got a second.




It's Episode Seven. No Spooky this week, Thelonious Filth deputises, gentle applause please. Part I kicks off with a colourful round-up of what the Fighting Cock team have been up to. It's massively off-topic, so deal with it. We've got tall tales and blatant cheek from engineer Al, the defending of the C-word and a transfer deadline review. We also ask; What does Rafa van der Vaart do exactly? Part II sees a surprising head to head finale in a game of killer. We've got feedback, including an email that asks the poignant question: At what point does glory and success meet? And there's a NextGen report (via WindyCOYS). If that isn't enough, TehTrunk provides comedy voices aplenty. We end with a Twitter re-tweet mission update (come on Tommy, you've been warned). Also THANK YOU to Case. Listen in.

Love the shirt.


Six reasons why the Parker pen has no ink in it

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

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

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

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

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

Might as well elaborate.

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

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

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

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

Look at what we have.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*See all of the above.

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

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




Midfield majesty

Continuing the season review from here.

It’s the midfield’s turn now.



Strange how things can turn out. One persons misfortune can lead to someone else coming to the forefront unexpectedly. Happened with Bale when BAE was injured. Happened with Sandro when Huddlestone was out. Might struggle to get back in now.

It’s been a mixed season for big Tom. A few seasons back, I discussed his merits and the fallacy of his immobility and his under-rated work ethic (he can occasionally boss games). His got the mad skillz with an array of volleys and thunderbolt shots and elegant passing that has a touch of the Hoddle about it. The dirty, darker side to his play needs to be policed as there’s nothing worse than seeing one of your own lash/kick out with studs.

Hudd offers something different to Sandro, but in a 442 (with vdV playing behind a lone striker) you would probably prefer the defensive qualities of the Brazilian to the offensive play Tommy has to offer. Mainly because he (Sandro) protects Modric who is then free to dink and dictate. What I do like, in terms of our squad, is that we have a rich variety of talent within our midfield pool – all players giving us something different.

The new conundrum (worth revisiting separately) is how best do we line-up to accommodate them?  2-6-2 anyone?

The bigger conundrum might actually belong to Hudd who might feel he needs to play week in and week out to truly maximise his potential.



I love Luka. So good you might not even notice him. His peers obviously didn’t. Although everyone else watching football from the stands or on television did. You can hardly miss his non-stop energetic coverage of every blade of the midfield grass. Always looking to play a pass or get on the end of one. Always recycling the ball with an almost Barcelonaesque presence. He is the control centre of the side, everything goes through him. The tempo, the possession. He’s imperative and quite simply irreplaceable. Because how would you go about replacing a world class player when perhaps signing one would prove to be a task of impossibility in this current climate of CL demands and ridiculous wages.

Luka spoke out recently, he’s an honest down to earth man. He’s happy at the club and isn’t looking to move on. We won’t sell him, we won’t look to sell him. Levy has already said this. Although money is money and if a bid came in for him that sat around the £35M-£40M and his agent whispered ‘150k per week’, an honest man wouldn’t lie to himself when questioning his loyalties to his own self being.

If you’re better than someone who is earning twice as much as you elsewhere, scratching your head you will.

I’m a romantic and with Spurs being in good nick with several top drawer players, I hope as a team they all have ambitions to stick together and achieve something at the club that works against what we’ve come to expect from history.

He might not score many goals but he’s magical with the ball at his feet. The fact everyone will be looking across to the Lane this summer speaks volumes about his quality. He would turn any midfield in this country into a better one.



This is what Tottenham is all about. Sign a young talented player, mishandle him through development and injury blips, almost destroy him and almost send him out on loan and then end up with one of the most iconic moments in our recent history: Bale, in the Champions League, destroying the reigning champions.

Okay, so yes there is plenty of style hype to run alongside the genuine substance. Gareth Bale is technically gifted, physically strong (or not – more later) and possesses great speed and agility. He’s also got an eye for goal. Unknown quantity in the CL meant he had a field day on occasions. Back home, one or two did their homework on the lad and nullified him. Although it’s hardly disparaging if you note how many times the opposition placed two men to mark him.

People who prefer to linger on the negatives are missing the point. There are no negatives. Just varying degrees of positives, some of which need nurturing to full bloom. He’s young. He’s learning. He’s had to deal with plenty, especially with regards to expectations and the extra attention after that hat trick.

‘Doesn’t do it in the league’ some have muttered. Well, sure, he’s not devastated opposing teams week in week out. But then his opta stats along with memorable moments might have been doubled had many of his brilliant crosses to head and across the six yard box found a forward. Not his fault movement from our frontline in and around the box let us down on numerous occasions.

He will improve, he’ll learn new tricks and his manager has to continue to play a part in progressing him. He’s a target, as we all saw with the tackle from Adam. He goes down easily, probably because he wants to protect himself. You can hardly blame him, it’s not like he isn’t being fouled. He is. He just takes a moment’s pause to make sure he isn’t broken. Someone still needs to toughen him up as it’s all in the head.

Modric might be the trigger, but Bale is the bullet. And he needs to remain in our gun.



Whether it’s because of the bench warming or loss of form and focus, Lennon has not been at his best. Sacrificed by Harry, I get the feeling that Aaron is at times disillusioned. He’s shown glimpses of what he can do but as cited by Tom over at thfc1882, we’ve never seen the best of him at the same time as Bale and you wonder whether an opposition could live with all the questions fired at them if both our flankers were at full pelt together. I’m not suggesting one is detrimental to the other. It’s probably just bad luck and circumstance. But much like Bale needs development and a word in his ear, someone at the club has to drill home to Azza when best to cut in and when best to cross. He still possesses the pace. He’s a weapon that won’t do much damage loaded with blanks.

Harry has to stick him on the right and the coaching staff have to work on his decision making. At full pelt, it’s hairs on back of neck dancing time. We need him rejuvenated and not wasted, much like how Fabio managed to do within the England set-up.



If you remember his first few appearances, the main criticism would have related to Sandro’s lack of comfort with the pace of the English game. Understandable. Which is why Harry slowly introduced him, what with pressures of moving to a cold country and settling into our way of life. But what struck me was the kids apparent unfazed demeanour and the manner in which he went about his business on the pitch. He made mistakes, he picked himself up and he got on with it.

Mental strength in abundance and therefore not a concern in my mind that we had found ourselves a winner. A player who believed in his ability to succeed for us. It’s early days but there is nothing to suggest otherwise. He’s a gem. But then he hardly arrived to Spurs from a nothing club. He starred for Internacional in their 2010 Copa Libertadores win.

No more mistakes, no more mis-reading of the games tempo and no more clumsy tackles and yellow cards (well, almost). In the Champions League he was quite simply superb. The pick of the bunch his performance away to AC Milan. His general defensive awareness as good as we’ve had, probably since Carrick. He allows others to flourish forward as he sits back and protects.

I’m excited at the prospect of seeing him in the team from the start of next season.


van der vaart

Just when the transfer window was about to shut, we were gifted a world class player at a steal. You can hardly say no. What you can say is, ‘how best to fit him in?’

I’m uncertain whether we’ve figured that one out. With a more robust centre-forward up ahead of him, perhaps we’d have seen more goals in our favour. He creates, he assists and he scores and he isn’t/wasn’t even 100% at any given moment during the course of the season. I hope his summer and pre-season is a great one because if he returns at the top of his physical peak, it will feel like we’ve signed him all over again.

I must have used the word galvanised a thousand times this season. It’s what Rafa does. His self-belief has proved vital and he’s practically dragged us up from the ground screaming and shouting in games, scoring all important goals and leading from the front – even though he’s not playing up front and can sometimes lose himself in deep areas between the defence and midfield that would leave Robbie Keane blushing.

Fourteen goals in a season of tinkering. Again, if Harry works out how to accommodate our key players in a formation that befits their talents and ability you’d be hard pressed to find a more attractive, pulsating midfield in the country.


Not to end this part of the review on a downer...

Palacios/Pienaar /Kranjcar/Jenas

Palacios has never fully recovered from his lowest ebb. A destroyer in his first season, he’s lost that intensity and with the emergence of Sandro and the inclusion of vdV and Bale on the left wing with Modric in the middle makes it extremely difficult and unlikely that he can work his way back into the side. A crying shame at £14M. I like him. He’s a good hard working lad who has lost his way and has failed to reclaim his past form. Again, we’ve been here many times before with players who we have written off and they’ve come back stronger. Just have a feeling that won’t happen for him at Spurs. Especially if we do end up signing another midfielder in the summer. Which I hope we don’t (other than perhaps a right-winger to cover Lennon).

Pienaar has been subjected to countless shrugs of despondency since his arrival. I’ll just say this: He was Everton’s player of the season. He’s no mug. Squad players should not be dismissed and he can and will do a job for us. He’s been here 5 minutes, give him a chance. Yes, he’s South African, and I would be dismayed if he was signed simply as a commodity (Khumalo anyone?) to aid with our SA fanbase. Okay, I admit he hardly fitted into the criteria we needed – but then when do we ever sign the right type of player? Charlie Adam – where would he have fitted into the side had he arrived during Jan? I think Pienaar is essentially a ‘Harry’ signing. Nice and cheap (wages excluded) and doesn’t quite make sense but does when he can offer cover. I'm trying to remain upbeat on this one. I'm probably in denial.

Kranjcar. Last season so so vital. This season, marginalised. Don’t think Harry utilised him enough and can’t see him at the club next season. Beautiful footballer and not too bad with the skills (boom boom). Rotation could have been slicker from the gaffer and Niko should have played far more minutes. Can’t remember what game it was now, but he was awful (along with one or two others) when given a start...but you wonder how much of that was down to man-management on the training pitch and sheer frustration.

Jenas? Injured for the best part of the season other than one decent cameo spell. He seems to be the perpetual squad player, always in and around the first team. But this season we’ve hardly had time to make disparaging comments because he’s hardly had the time on the pitch to live up to our low expectations of him. It’s not quite fair to be honest to say anything negative about the lad. He’s not been at the races. Another player who might be on his way in the summer. Because I can’t see how he’ll fit into the team any time soon. It's either him or Pienaar.


Next up, the forwards (or lack of).