The international break has arrived at an ideal time for Spurs; although break is perhaps misleading as twelve of our senior players will be dispatched across the globe this weekend to turn out for their respective Motherlands- and, judging by the performance on Sunday, what some of these chaps need is a breather in its more traditional guises. One which involves being marooned on a floating lilo somewhere with a virgin pina-colada; rather than jetting off to Macedonia for a sticky World Cup qualifier. Alas, the struggles of the modern footballer.
The Big Fear at the moment is that it’s all just a little bit of history repeating itself for the Mighty Hotspur. Not without form in conceding supposedly unsurpassable leads, it was about this time last year that the ship’s wheel was beginning to twirl out of control while the Captain dreamt of England and a better life. Similar to last season, too- and it’s perhaps symptomatic of our very DNA- the minute someone from the outside world starts sounding the I-can’t-see-Spurs-finishing-outside-the-Top-Four klaxon, the underpants find their way atop the head and the inmates begin to panic. It’s happening again, boss!
While there might be a good deal of truth attached to this, you’d have to imagine the Fulham result was somewhat of an anomaly. A rotten day at the office. European hangover is a tired old chestnut but for the two-hours of aimless ball-chasing and slapstick defending in Milan on Thursday night, it can only have been a physically and mentally taxing experience for all involved. The effort it took to play that badly must have been tremendous. Indeed, Vertonghen and Dembélé looked exhausted against BMJ’s men and Scott Parker, at times, genuinely appeared to have turned to stone. But it’s not his fault he’s been required to play every game to its bitter end.
The question now is, whether you have faith in André Villas-Boas to ignore the hyperbole surrounding this mini-wobble and focus on the task in hand: sayin’ nu-uh to the haters and guiding us to the Champions League Party. Personally, I think AVB’s just the man for the job; a serious operator for whom focus and calm comes as naturally as a gravelled voice and a shiny, auburn pelt. If you remember all the Spurs in Turmoil tommyrot being pedalled in the media in August, it was Ol’ Twinkle Eyes who kept an aura of Fonzie cool around the club when the odd result went astray and the players duly responded. Even going to the trouble of beating United at Old Trafford just to prove things were under control. No big deal. There’s no denying that the run-in is a certifiable stinker but you get the impression that Villas-Boas and the players are more than up to it. So don’t despair just yet.
**To say ‘thank you’ to football fans’ amazing support throughout the Capital One Cup’s first season, Capital One is going to turn 1,000 fans into mini football figures check the app out here: http://bit.ly/Xlppk2
Good morning. Well, not exactly good as such, but at least you’ve made it past ten o ‘clock without bursting into tears. That’s something, right?
Huh, big guy?
Heavens above. I think SSG called it right: Chelsea are going to bloody win this thing, aren’t they? Are they? The inevitability seems almost organic; a spirit-crushing finale to a practical joke that has been shaping up for some months. The courting of Modric was the set-up, the semi-final shellacking the delivery. Now, the most convoluted method of denying us Champions League football will be the ultimate, gut-wrenching pay-off. Oh the comedy. The laughs.
Is Gary Neville in on it, too? I wonder. The excitable squeal which imparted from his gob on Tuesday evening, when Fernando skipped merrily beyond Victor Valdes, might as well have been the sound of the brakes of our season screeching to a halt. Or perhaps that’s the noise of our hopes plummeting down a rather deep well. Sqweeeeeeeeeelosh! I can’t quite decide.
Still the important thing is, Arry will be pleased that the Russians have made the final. Those brave, brave lions.
Of course, in truth, we’ve only got ourselves to blame for the muck in which we’re now entrenched. In an extensive line of second-rate results, the defeat to QPR at the weekend was, for a reluctance to over-elaborate, merely more pish to go with the other pish that went before. Adel Taraabt scored; an event surpassed only in the ‘well of course that was bound to happen’ stakes by our own proclivity to do the square route of eff-all once he’d kindly left the field. QPR down to ten-men? That’s unpossible.
It’s been said many times but our chaps looked ruddy exhausted. Physically barren. It’s no shock that we’re failing to dominate games when we can scarcely muster the energy to take a throw-in. Who’s fault is all this? Our esteemed leader probably, or whoever’s idea it was to allow so many international stars to go on loan when, on closer inspection, the squad is uneven at best; downright threadbare at worst.
Kyle Walker has been super, for the most part, and I was delighted to see him get his paws on the Youngling’s Gong; but he’s twenty-one and playing his first full-season of top-tier kickball. Corluka might run like a goat with rickets but at least he could’ve given the young man a breather once in a while. This appears to be just one of numerous accounts of cataclysmic short-sightedness. The actions, perhaps, of someone not in for the long game.
Whatever the case, we’ve got metaphorical bills to pay. And only four games in which to provide the skills to pay them. Time to sort this mess out, once and for all. Before it really is too late.
Twitter and junk.
If ever there was a time to put into practice ‘Arry’s supposed finest attribute as a manager- that of being a devilishly good motivator of men- then perhaps this weekend is that time. Spurs are in a rut. And with very few weeks left of the season remaining, the burden is now not to discover exactly what has gone wrong with a campaign that had promised so much, but to pull the chaps out of this power-sapping funk and back into the rather useful habit of winning football matches.
Of course questions need to be addressed- most notably, how on earth we managed to exhaust a ten point lead and turn it into a five point deficit and why some of our best players appear to have been physically bankrupt through overuse- but this will have to wait for the warmer months. When, you get the sense, the winds of change will be a blowin’ riotously through the gates of White Hart Lane.
I am not going to cry.
Before that particular circus comes to town, however, there’s business afoot; Loftus Road, 5.30pm sharp. Be there or be… well, see if you can catch it on television or something?
QPR, a team who’ve irked out some memorable results in the last few weeks, appear to have been enlivened by those doomsayers who’d taken one look at their final run-in and insisted that it’d been an enjoyable ride while it had lasted and they’d certainly be sad to see them go. Now, home wins against Liverpool, Arsenal and Swansea and Mark Hughes has miraculously given Rangers a fighting chance. There are so-called experts who might suggest that the odds of survival would increase further, if they could keep eleven men on the field at all times. But I fail to see the fun in that.
For Tottenham it’s now very much everything or nothing. With Chelsea, Arsenal and Newcastle’s results all on the board before we’ve taken a whiff of the Spring evening air in West London, there’s every likelihood we could be trying to claw our way back from 6th. Which, when you say it out loud, is a rather miserable state of affairs.
So what’s the plan, then? I’m of the view that the idea of caution has become somewhat redundant. Home or away, with five games left, we ought to be trying to steam-roller this lot from the get-go, and all those that follow. You know, like the good old days. Off with the shackles, hope to god we’re not leaking like an old watering can at the back and release the bloody hounds, says this hopeful blogsworth. He’d also probably take a scrappy 0-1er but we shouldn’t get too bogged down with semantics. Five games, five wins. COYS!
Doing the Twitter-box like it’s going out of fashion. Which, by the time I get the hang of it, it almost certainly will be.
In the end, the more sympathetic brain-thinkers among you might say we did well to slug out a point against The Potters on Wednesday evening- a point’s better than squat under difficult circumstances and facing shall-we-say burlier than average opponents. Others, however, might argue that Tottenham are actually just making an enormous t*t of things and they ought to jolly well pull their Puma emblazoned socks up before it’s too late. The Champions League ship is pulling up anchor fast and preparing to leave port. I’m not sure which camp I’m pitching my tent in just yet. All I know is that it was a lot more fun when we were winning. Ho-hum.
I guess in the business it’s what they call, the thrill of the chase.
The crucial fact is that we stopped the rot- or, at least, swilled on a coat of second-hand emulsion that might cover up the smell of damp. We didn’t lose. Which would’ve seemed remarkable at ninety-odd minutes when all our ideas looked to have been dead-ended. Thankfully, some bright button had the thought of telling Gareth Bale to get on the left-wing and curl in a gem of a cross onto Van der Vaart’s beautifully formed brow. 1-1 and I’m relatively happy. It’s not vintage, it’s barely warm Cava with a shrivelled fag-butt floating in it. But it’s a start. Onward and upward as they say.
Well, actually a bit downwards but you get the idea.
I can also be found on Twitter. Quietly weeping.
First Paul Scholes and now bearded volleyball whizz, Terry Henry. Two mammoths of the game busting open the crypts of their Premiership careers for one last undignified waltz under the lights; with every possibility of coughing up something unsavoury into the laps of their adoring fans and making a mess of everything that was once good. So it got me thinking; perhaps there might be hope for us, too. Maybe there was some former Spurs hero out there; sat at home waiting for the Bat-Signal to zip through the night sky, (a cockerel in this case) waiting for that call from Redknapp to say: get your kit on, lad-we need you!
Then I realised Robbie Keane was at Villa and we’d rather been there before.
Everton at The Lane. That’s what the reports are telling me. Did anyone else feel a pang of sympathy for David Moyes yesterday after he spoke about his misery of watching Tottenham pull away from the Merseyside club? The Toffees have become unstuck from the teeth of the Champions League chasers in recent times and instead spiralled off into mid-table anonymity. Of course, a lack of bones was highlighted as the underlining cause for the club’s halted progress (there’s no denying the Scot operates with funds akin to that of a village hall’s pastry budget) but they struck me as words of a defeated man. I hope everything’s alright at home…
We’re not without our own problems, of course. Sure Tottenham are sitting high and handsomely as we speak but there’s definitely the whiff of crisis about our potential selection tonight. Sandro’s out, Parker’s almost certainly out. King, too, is buggered as is Gallas. Leaving us with a potential midfield pairing of Luka Modric and…erm. Well, let’s not dwell on the details, shall we?
Suffice to say, it doesn’t look good. I wonder if they’ll be any calls for some eccentric tinkering from ‘Arry tonight? Pushing Kaboul into midfield, perhaps, and slotting Bassong in beside Dawson? It’s risky- madness, some would say. But it’s exactly the kind of hair-brained genius that gets you noticed (not to mention the women). Alex Ferguson does this kind of stuff all the time. So, you know, it might just work.
In other news we drew Watford in the Cup. Not a bad little result, that. Not only did it see us miss some of the stickier trips of the round it’s also given me a tremendous scope with which to come up with some clever and more importantly hilarious headlines for the upcoming tie. Something about girls kicking hornet’s nests. It’ll need work but I’m pretty sure it’s a winner. Three points tonight, please.
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