Hello. We’ve been off your screens for a few days now. I would blame it on the chronic gambling addiction I’ve developed but everyone knows nothing ever bad came of gambling. In the small amount of time it takes you to wish we’d stayed away a bit longer, then, let’s have a look what’s been going in the world of Hotspur since we last spoke. Who knows, it might be fun.*
*There will be precisely no fun had by anyone.
When scientists eventually find a way to delete precise chunks from a person’s memory, this might be ninety-minutes I’ll do away with. Indeed, it’s not yet possible to un-watch something that’s already happened; perhaps this game will encourage governments of the world to increase funding and get that memory expunger built. Must-Win was the understanding before kick-off. Must Not Bore to Death would’ve been a start. On the bright side, Gylfi Sigurdsson scored. Which after much discussion has been confirmed a nice thing to happen. Good on him.
This, a third successive away win for Spurs in the League, which propelled Andre Villas-Boas’ team to a rather handsome fourth spot. If this truly is the End of Days for our dear club it’s a lot less fire and brimstone than I’d imagined.
The first half was one of virile domination from Tottenham, signalled rather handily by the two-goal lead we took into the break. Lennon was bright and bubbly for large parts. Walker, off the back of a disappointing day against Chelsea last week, looked pretty good too. Appreciative, I’m sure, of the vast expanses of green he was allowed to gallop into at his leisure. Meanwhile, enjoyer of ladies, Jermain Defoe, could well have taken the match ball home at half-time. Had he not spent much of the afternoon trying to catapult said ball into the Channel.
The second half, well. Thank heavens for Sandro’s face, I say.
Again, by the sounds of it, Spurs had their assertive paws on this one but allowed Norwich back into it after Bale’s opener. Two late goals conceded through varying degrees of defensive cow-pattery. Limping out of the Cup is never fun- especially as some of the other big teams appear to be having such a hoot in the COC this year- and neither is missing a penalty. It’s all relative, though. Clint Dempsey should thank himself lucky he’s not Roy of the Rovers. I found out the other day that the fictional kickballer was forced to retire after injuries from a helicopter crash required him to have his BLOODY FOOT AMPUTATED!? You certainly can’t rap your way out of a missing foot. Also, most seem to agree that Iago Falque had an excellent game, so it swings in round-a-bouts.
Some thoughts on Wigan in due course. Just have to make a quick phone call.
Sometimes I do Twitters, too.
There’s no shame in losing to the Champions of Europe: that seems to be the party line to tow after last weekend’s anarchic ninety-minutes with Chelsea. You can pick through the carcass of the team selection, the individual errors, even Tom Huddlestone’s seriously-bro-this-isn’t-working afro: but when you boil down the football sauce until it’s a thick, gelatinous slew of football guck, an under-strength Spurs were bested by the League leaders who possess a staggeringly decent set of players. We feel bad for a bit; we move on.
And what better way to run away from our problems move on than fly a thousand miles to Eastern Europe to play some good ol’ timey Europa League kickball. No better way, is the correct answer.
Being a Professional Football Blogger ® (you heard) I can of course detail lots about our opponents tonight, from memory. For example, did you know that Nogometni Klub Maribor, commonly referred to as NK Maribor or simply Maribor, is a professional association football club based in the city of Maribor, Slovenia? It may also surprise you to learn that, founded on 12 December, 1960, Maribor is one of only three football clubs in the country who have never been relegated from Slovenian top flight. They are regarded as a symbol of Slovenian football, particularly in their home region of Styria in north-eastern Slovenia.
And there’s plenty more where that came from. On Wikipedia.
The big stories coming from our camp today are of who’s been left behind. New dad Gareth Bale hasn’t flown. Presumably he’s up to his eyeballs in vomit and talcum powder and decided the fun’s not about to stop anytime soon. Also among the grounded is one Emmanuel Adebayor, who perhaps has an inkling that if he were to exert himself too much in Slovenia, the chances of facing the Saints on Sunday will be even more remote than they are already. A well-timed niggle, you might say. Dembele’s hip injury has not been risked either, which appears very much a wise decision.
Spurs, then, in keeping with this whole ‘taking the Europa League seriously’ shtick, are in must-win territory. And win they must. COYS.
Last season’s sixth highest placed team, Chelsea, come to North London tomorrow lunchtime; the family-run club who gave Andre Villas-Boas the bum’s rush after eight months for the heinous crime of naming Frank Lampard as a substitute. And, much worse than that: daring to say ‘I’m not sure that’s appropriate, John’ when Ol’ Lion Heart asked to do the team-talk.
If anything, AVB’s biggest wrongdoing was his naivety; unaware of how things worked at top organisations like the Chelsea, UNICEF or the United Colours of Benneton. Thankfully, now there’s now a simple adage that the young Portuguese coach (ney, all of us) can remember, should he/we ever be in doubt again. One which, in a stroke of serendipity, came to light at the recent Terry/Ferdinand race trial. Whatever the circumstance, whoever you are: you can’t talk to JT like that.
Of course, all this is just a sideshow. A curious plot-point to the whole sweeping narrative that is our season. While it would be certifiably ace for AVB to get one over on his maniac of a former-chairman and the players who were so evidently resistant to the ideas he was trying put across, the context is a much farther flung net:
“This game is not going to decide the future of both teams in the Premier League – after this game there will be 30 more games to play and both teams will have decisive matches in front of them.
“It counts as three points. It doesn’t win us a trophy.”
Quite so. And to the game.
The most significant threat coming from this Chelsea side is three-fold. Or as they’re often named: Mata, Hazard and Oscar. All this talk of Fernando Torres being rejuvenated his pure hokum- he’s as slow and ponderous as ever. Instead he appears to be the rather fortunate benefactor of a ridiculous midfield trio which could make Fred West look a halfway decent striker. Hell, Borini could score with this lot behind him. No word of lie, Borini.
The key is pressing. One of those words that is often put into sentences when talking about Villas-Boas and his sides. He likes his teams to press. He’s a presser. Pressing is his thing. Juventus and Arsenal notwithstanding, Chelsea have been afforded a pretty generous time of it so far, in that the opposition have all but stepped aside and given them the run of the show. Even Wenger’s lot were quite charitable for large spells. Norwich, in early-October, allowed the Blue’s midfield so much time and space, they could’ve thrown down a yoga mat.
Spurs, in contrast, then, need to be work their 97% nylon, latest-in-performance-technology socks off, and not give Chelsea’s creative talents room for any witch-craftery or hoodoo. The less time they have on the ball, or indeed are without the ball, very much the better (cheers, Captain Obvious). Midfield uber-athletes Sandro, Bale and Dembele have got the lungs for this one; they’re capable remaining tactically disciplined when Chelsea are in possession- pressing, harrying and whatnot- and terrifyingly effective when we’ve got the thing. Particularly this Bale chap they’ve been talking about on the radiogram. One to watch, they say.
A few hours in second place is the prize for a win. Blimey.
Follow WFRF on Twitter
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.
How could things get any worse, I hear you ask? Well I’ve dreamt of a bleak dystopian future whereby Spurs take fourth spot, only for Chelsea to win the Champions League and deliver us to another season of Euro-Conkers. John Terry is crowned unanswerable King of Football while Modric is sold for spare change in which to power the floodlights for aforementioned dismal nights of second-rate European football. Solomon Kalou is Spurs’ new number ‘9’ and Ashley Cole is dating your grandmother.
Yes, as bad as things feel right now, when Chelsea are involved, there’s always the likelihood of it getting a whole lot worse. A classic Blues versus Reds cup final on the horizon and I’m genuinely concerned for the prospects of the species. Suarez, Terry, Cole, Gerrard, Carroll, Adam, Drogba. You couldn’t cram that many nefarious characters onto an oblong of open space if you were a prison warden during recreation time. Never mind a tea-time kick-off, this is post-watershed.
If it’s good vibes you’re after then I apologise for being in short supply. Monday’s PFA nominations were interesting enough, I suppose. Modern-day hero Scott Parker made it onto the POTY sort-list while Kyle Walker and one Gareth Bale shimmied themselves into the Younglings category where the competition consist of Kun Aguero and an Arsenal winger who’s played 44 minutes in his last 10 games. Somebody check those facts, because I have absolutely no inclination to do so. Without my Hotspur hat on Vincent Kompany and Robin Van Handbags should be duelling it out for the main gong and, ooh I don’t know, Lee Sharpe should win the other one.
Harry Redknapp’s also on another short-list, that of Best Manager in Premier League History, as part of the twentieth anniversary celebrations of the birth of football. I’m a big fan of Harold, and all that he’s done for Spurs, but even I think that’s a barrel of premium-grade nonsense. As much as I deplore of Kenny Dalglish these days, he’s at least won a title and come close on another occasion. In the kindest possible way, Redknapp hasn’t.
Mr. Happy is in all week. Please tip your waitress. I’m also on Twitter.
Good morning, thrill-seekers and high-rollers. I hope yesterday’s National made grotesquely rich swines of the lot of you.
Not a vintage seven days in the history of Tottenham Hotspur Football Club, then. And that’s breaking it to you gently. A miserable stalemate at the Stadium of Light (far too much light for my bloody liking- it should’ve been played at the dead of night with the power cut at half-time) was followed promptly by defeat to Norfolk’s finest exponents of the world’s hottest yellow paste, in the words of Partridge.
Norwich, to their credit, had a simple enough game plan and as quick as the blood was sniffed out in our defensive backwaters, the gig was up. Ryan Nelsen, for all his burliness and thick-set features, does not an antidote for Grant Holt make. In fact I’m even not sure what he’s for.
Thank goodness for part-time rhyme-soldier, Clint Dempsey. More than just keep my Fantasy Football team afloat like a polystyrene raft, he spared us the ignominy of going into this evening’s tie with Bobby Di Matteo’s lot in the dust of their wake. League-wise, for now at least, it’s all still in our hands.
And so to the main event. We’re only in the bloody F.A Cup semi-final! If you’d so much as believe it.
While the best domestic cup up for grabs wasn’t flashing urgently on radar at the season’s start, the promise of watching the chaps in the sprawling cauldron of modernity that is Wembley stadium, has rather captured the attention. We’re but a two games away from bona-fide, tangible glory. Liverpool await in the final. Time to find some heroes.
Team news is a mixed bag of potatoes. Amongst all the healthy, eye-catching Maris Pipers there’s one giant rotten spud. That being the injury to Younes Kaboul. This, you imagine, is the type of game the Bull would’ve taken by the nether regions and body slammed into the bedrock. Now it’s over to two of Nelsen, Gallas and, fitness-permitting, King. Ropey.
My view is that we’ll just sneak it. With all the attacking know-how on both sides it’s likely to be a drab, low-scoring affair. In the current winds I’d settle for a Woodgate-esque face deflection in the dying minutes, if only for the prospect of seeing John Terry cry. Not very Tottenham, I know, but this is football and I’ve got bills to pay. The good lady reckons Scotty’s due a goal and I’m not going to argue. One-nil to the Spurs. COYS!
I sometimes do a Twitter.
Well, what a day in the old Anglais de Premiero that was. (Pretty sure that’s a flawless translation) Barely had we put on a pair of trousers that could be deemed fit for public display was Fernando Torres and his new chums doing a hilarious job of not beating Norwich at Carrow Road. Torres, of course, at the heart of the Lol-cano; spewing out Lol-ten hot lava for everyone to see. He’s all about the comedy. Then, it all got a bit weird when Robbie Keane started peeling the years back in the Midlands derby in early afternoon. Weird in the way that you might go to a nightclub with your dad. You know? You’d laugh if only it wasn’t so pathetic.
Oh, yeah. And then Liverpool lost to Bolton in the evening kick-off. Only they said it was Bolton. To me it looked suspiciously like Real Madrid. Nigel Reo-Kaka doing some lovely things in the white shirt of Los Blancos as Andy Carroll did some equally puzzling stuff in the rouge of Merseyside.
Now, of course, it’s Spurs’ chance to benefit while others have stumbled. Whatever joy there was to be extracted from the results yesterday, it’ll count for the equal sum of bugger all if nothing’s taken from Manchester in the cold light of the here and now. Thems the breaks, kiddo.
So what are we to expect? Well, one thing I will guess. If there’s any of that pretend card waving nonsense in the technical area, I’d imagine it wouldn’t be too long before a rather angry Joe Jordan made it his personal business to reduce the number of limbs Roberto Mancini was able to use for such skulduggery, down to zero. Nothing says ‘keep a lid on it, son’ like an arm dislocated at the elbow and shoved up one’s nether regions. Shocking stuff from the silver- plumed Italian in recent weeks. And doesn’t his voice sound like a zip? Yes. Yes it does.
On the pitch it’s likely to be even more exciting. There’s every indication that there won’t be a repeat of the August fiasco, and that can only be a good thing. Both teams are missing key men. Suspension and The Africa Cup of Nations claiming two of City’s finest- while so-called ‘contractual obligations’ leave our most potent striker in the stands. The colossal Ledley King is a doubt, too.
Much, then, rests on the shoulders of one Jermain Defoe and his capacity to operate as a lone-striker. The force is strong in this one but so far in his career there’s been little to suggest this is entirely his bag. A terrific finisher with oodles of raw, explosive talent but he’s more of a ‘cover me, boys- I’m going it alone’ type of player and his greatest gift is perhaps is his greatest weakness. Selfishness. Harry, though, seems to have little doubt that he’s up to the task and that’s more than enough for this humble onlooker. So there. Bring on the City, says I.
If everyone can stop doing racisms for just one minute! Phew. Glad we got that sorted. Rightio, ahead of tonight’s big game with Chelsea, I’ve roped in one of the chaps behind the fabulous movie trailer review site, Trailer Trash. It’s Harry Thompson and he just happens to have the grave misfortune of being a Blues fan. Poor lamb. Anyway, it’s all clean fun. Read on…
WFRF: Hello! Let’s get the big one out of the way first, shall we? There’s only Juan Mata, that much is obvious. But Chelsea also made some pretty big moves to sign Luka Modric in the summer. What do you think you were playing at there, sonny lad?
HT: Good day. I seem to remember Modric wanting to move to Chelsea more than anything: handing transfer requests, refusing to play, that kind of thing. It was all a bit finger-bang and no %£!* in the end, wasn’t it? Mind you, we’d probably be in a better league position (i.e. above Tottenham) had we acquired Modric in the summer. We’ll have to see what Father Christmas brings in the New Year.
WFRF: Steady. John Terry is a terrible human being. No need for any debate there. But is there a direct correlation between how much the rest of football despises him and how much Chelsea fans love him? Or is it physically impossible to love John Terry?
HT: I used to really love John Terry. He was an exemplary defender and captain, really one of a kind. Note the use of past tense there, because I now see him as a symbol of everything that is wrong with Chelsea, and to a lesser extent – football/society. Still, given the choice between having JT on the pitch or not…I think the old dog still has something to give. Just not in any civil rights debates.
WFRF: What’s up with the boy Torres? He used to be good. Now, you know, he’s not. To me it looks as if he’s gone and done a Michael Owen and lost his entire game with the loss of a few yards of pace. Which is a shame as I thought his composition as a player was more than just p*ss-whippet speed and great finishing. Or is this just confidence thing? His touch of late has been like a trampoline.
HT: I am not the least bit surprised you brought this up. I’m no psychiatrist, and I don’t know what’s wrong with the overpaid, Spanish diva. But if you think about it, he’s getting paid monstrously well to do very little, that to me, is a form of success. It seemed like he was having a good spell a month back or so and now can’t even get a cameo in the final minutes. I guess we’ll see what happens for the African Cup of Nations, when AVB has no choice but to bring him on.
WFRF: More of the same, I would guess. You had Scott Parker on your books under Mourinho. It’s fair to say Chelsea weren’t exactly short of central midfielders at the time- Makélelé, Lampard, Geremi, Tiago and whatnot- but what do you make of him as a player now? I remember him being brilliant at Charlton and obviously did well at the stinking lot across town, but he seems to have turned into a sensational footballer overnight. Do you think some of the other big teams might be regretting not going in for him? Man United, for example, crashed out of Europe with a 36 year old left-winger, a 19 year old centre-back and Ji-Sung Park in midfield.
HT: He’s a great player, and not just because he looks like a Thunderbird come-to-life. Bear in mind he’s 31 years of age now, it’s not like you’ll have him forever. Trust me, I learnt the hard way…I had this brilliant dog once, one of the best, but we got him old- too old some said. Anyway, one Christmas morning we came down and boom – dead dog. Exactly the same thing will happen with Parker, just enjoy him while you can. One day, he’ll be gone…not entirely sure if I’m talking about Scott Parker or my dog. Maybe both, maybe both…
WFRF: Are you saying someone’s going to shoot Scott Parker? Well that’s not on. So what do you make of AVB, then? Do you think his handsomeness covers up for his inexperience and tactical naivety? Or do you think he just needs more time to implement his ideas? I mean, it must be quite a task with all the- how to put this- c*nts you have in the dressing room.
HT: Yeah…managing Chelsea has become an impossible task. If you’re winning, but not winning beautifully you’ll be sacked. Having said that, I don’t like AVB, he’s arrogant, stubborn, and humourless. If I see one more highball loft over our back four because he insists on having the defence near the halfway line, I’ll go crazy. He’ll probably be sacked after Xmas anyway, so let’s not lose any sleep.
WFRF: Okay, let’s cut to the chase. Predictions for tonight?
HT: Erm…1-1 seeing as it’s Christmas!
If I can talk like a big-shot Hollywood scriptwriter for just a second: this sh*t’s about to get real. Chelsea at The Bridge this afternoon and we’re in the unenviable position of knowing that three points are less advisable as downright essential. If, that is, we’re to keep the flickering hope of re-entering The Big Show next season from vanishing out of sight like all those ex-boyfriends of Kate Middleton who couldn’t keep their bloody mouths shut. Or at least not shut enough for MI5’s particular liking.
’Is that wedding bells I hear? Oh no, my mistake. That’s the sound of my head being thwacked under a toilet seat.’
Torres is amongst the living again, so it seems, as are Chelsea. The Spaniard’s successful conversion against the Pikey patrol last week coming amidst a winning streak for the Blues which has seen them propelled into the position of United’s closest challengers. Which, in laymen’s terms, means they’re shoe-ins as runners-up. Oh, the shame. I’m not sure how they can bare it.
Good spirits you’ll find me in this morning, which’ll stretch as far as an optimistic prediction.
1-0 to the Spurs
Something different for you good folk this morning. A conversation with self-proclaimed gentlemen, rougue- with a penchant for bottoms, drinking, womanising and scandal- and occasional Chelsea fan, Lord Topper. He once ran a blog on OleOle.com, but was forced to leave because of the revelation of said hobbies. Also, as we both remarked at the time, there were too many bleedin’ Arsenal sites around. Anyway, here he is. As with anything of this nature on the internet, take it all with a pinch of salt. Better yet, a handful.
WFRF? Ahoy-hoy. First thing’s first. As a Champions League seasoner of recent years, what’ve you made of Tottenham’s exploits on the continent thus far? A breath of fresh air or do you wish it was like the good old days when the same familiar English clubs were knocking about the place?
Lord Topper: “I think it’s great Tottenham are in the Champions League, they’ve been really entertaining and – ahem, sorry, bit of puke in my mouth -where was I? No, in all honesty, gear yourself up for disappointment – take it from a Chelsea fan. You’ll see those bright lights, exotic away games, sponsors, packed stadiums…you’ll think ‘yeah, we’ve made it,’ and then BAM it’s all over. Dreams shattered, players crying, some mumbled apology from the coach, better luck next year you think. WRONG! Next year’s even worse, but this time you drown your sorrows, you wake up a week later with no trousers in the park, you lose your job, your girlfriend leaves, you can’t pay your bills or rent, so it’s the street, the cold and unforgiving streets, a guy approaches you on the corner, says you can make good money real quick, what else have you got to lose? Next thing you know you’re giving @%^&%!!! to a dog for cash. IS THAT WHAT YOU WANT? WELL IS IT?!”
WFRF?: Um…I’m not sure what I want anymore. Right. Moving on. Crisis is a word bandied about quite often these days in football. We hear it just about every week at Spurs. Are the wheels really falling off at Chelsea or is talk of your demise greatly exaggerated? The goals do seemed to have dried up a bit of late. And even Malouda’s remembered to be sh*t again.
Lord Topper: “I’m not sure if ‘crisis’ is the right word, we’re 3rd in the league at the time of writing, are topping our Champions League group, and still have the FA Cup. I’d say ‘pickle’ might suit us better. It seems our youth academy has been a monumental f*ck-up; we should just start a human trafficking ring picking gifted footballers off the streets like the Child Catcher in Chitty-Chitty Bang-Bang. On the subject of squads, what do you make of Tottenham’s this season? You seem to have talent in almost every position, but still that inconsistency…”
WFRF? Inconsistency? Moi? Well, yes, maybe a touch. Without wanting to make excuses… here’re some bloody good excuses. We’ve been playing most of the season without our first choice centre-back pairing, our third choice centre-back, our top scorer and countless others. Van der Vaart and Huddlestone are the latest to be struck. I’d wager most teams would wobble somewhat with that kind of drop in numbers. As you’d probably vouch for. Back to Chelsea- do you think Ancelotti’s regretting selling Ricky Carvalho? Particularly seeing as his hand was forced into playing Ferreira at CB against Sunderland a few weeks ago. And if you didn’t catch it, he was dreadful.
Lord Topper: “I had a feeling you might bring up Ferreira…It does seem strange that we were forced to rely on a player whose contributions have been limited to 90 second cameos at the end of games in a shameless attempt to run the clock down. I’ve never seen a Chelsea fan with ’19 Ferreira’ on the back of their shirt, which is telling. As for selling Carvalho? Well, he was amazing but he was – how to put this – old. Had Ancelotti decided to get rid of the oldest, (arguably) spent forces – Deco, Carvalho, Ballack etc – and replaced them, it would have been fine. But he didn’t. Anyway, enough about us – as a Tottenham fan do you ever worry that one day Ledley King will go in for a challenge and lose his leg at the knee? The camera will pan around to show his shin planted in the ground like the American flag on the moon…”
WFRF?: Steady now. This is the King of White Hart Lane you’re talking about. But, yes, I see your point. It does seem remarkable that a man can function as a top-level Premiership footballer without training during the week. Not so much of late, obviously- but last season he was almost ever-present. If his knee wasn’t held together with bits of blue-tac and Lego- he’d be one of the greatest defenders in the world. As it is, he’s just very good. His reading of the came is Moore-esque and his absence this year, in my opinion, has been the difference between us being 5th and lord knows how high. He likes a drink, too, which I dare say you’d appreciate. Rightio. Next question. If you could get shot of three of your players and replace them with three of our lot- who would they be? I’ve a feeling I could guess…
Lord Topper: “Easy. I would take Modric, Van der Vaart, and, this might surprise you, Peter Crouch. I think he can offer a lot to medical research. Only joking, he would be as good as a frolicking giraffe in the Chelsea squad. (I suggest Keane and Lord Topper goes silent for a good two-minutes, gazing off into the distance as if I’ve informed him of a death in the family) It would obviously be Bale. I’d offer in return, Salomon ‘miss-from-three-yards’ Kalou, Jon Obi ‘can’t-shoot-from-ten-yards-but-I’ll-try-from-forty’ Mikel, and Paulo ‘lion-heart’ Ferreira. You’ll probably want a receipt for those. Right, let’s talk tactics. Would you agree that Redknapp’s strengths aren’t so much tactical football, but excels as a man-manager and is shrewd in the transfer market? From an outside perspective it often seems that Tottenham adopt a temperamental approach to football, with occasional flashes of brilliance but often muddled and unsure. Is that a fair assessment – Tottenham as some sort of idiot-savant, who on the surface of things mutters and dribbles, but if you sit him next to a piano might play a Chopin concerto? ”
WFRF?: Perhaps ‘idiot-savant’ is a bit strong for a team who’ve just qualified for the last 16 of the Champions League at the first attempt while breaking numerous records along the way. You might have read about that? No? But it is true to say that ‘tactics’ are the stick with which Harry’s critics use most to beat him. He famously told Pavlyuchenko to ’round around a bit’ when coming on as a sub against Liverpool in Redknapp’s first season. Van der Vaart also recently admitted that the tactics board in the changing room was rarely, if ever, used. And much has been made of the ‘arm round the shoulder’ approach he’s used in coaxing form out of the seemingly finished. Which, in some cases, has been tantamount to raising the dead. Most notably of course with Bale. That said, I think it’s all a bit of a ruse, really. You simply don’t get a win ratio like that (better than Bill Nicholson, albeit in a much shorter period) without some kind of knowledge of the game or, so called, ‘tactics’. Anyway, what’s wrong with just facking kicking it inna goal? I think Acelotti could learn a lot from our ‘Arry. Here’s one. Another double or Champions League?
Lord Topper: “As Christina Aguilera once put it ‘my body’s saying ‘let’s go’, but my heart is saying ‘no”, I struggle to think of truer words in the English language. I think what I mean to say is, I’d be happy with any trophy this season, frankly. Talk of domestic doubles seems delusional given our current form, but as for the Champions League? You just have to watch Barcelona make mincemeat of their opposition on any given Saturday/Sunday afternoon to know that we don’t have the squad. If you look at Xavi, Iniesta, Messi, Villa, Alves, it would be hard to offer a parallel from our Chelsea squad. Not that I’m complaining. It’s just that we don’t have eight World Cup winners in ours. Or maybe Malouda will decide that’s he’s the new Pele and sort it out. ”
WFRF?: Barcelona have been a bit tasty of late. The recent El Classico was the best team performance I’ve seen since Spurs beat Hereford United 5-1 in an F.A Cup third-round replay in 1996. Yes. Replay. We couldn’t beat them at the first time of asking. But a Sheringham hat-trick showed them what was what in the return. Ah, the glory days. Where did they go? It’s strange that you say that about Chelsea, as one of the things they were said to have going for them this season was squad depth. Cole gets injured, Zhirkov come in etc. With a few key injuries, though, and the new boys not exactly hitting the ground running (Benayoun won’t be running anywhere for a while) suddenly it doesn’t looks so rosy. Ramires- who I had/have high hopes for- is playing like Didier Zokora with some of his vital brain tissue removed. Having said that, as you mention, you’re not exactly short on quality once Lampard, Essien et al get a wriggle on. So how do you see the game going on Sunday? We’ve got a pretty decent record against you at WHL.
Lord Topper: “Chelsea are due to shift back into the toppiest of gears, let’s hope this starts at White Hart Lane, which, as you say, has always been a ball-ache for us. Nevertheless, I’ll give a conservative match prediction of 0-3 to us. That’s a Ramires hat-trick by the way. I ran an analysis through the science machine (Xbox) and it generated a Chelsea 6-0 win, but as with any science, this can only be disproven. There’s rumours that Redknapp will be poached from Tottenham to man the sinking ship, HMS England. Do you think that will incite Daniel Levy to give Spurs fans what they really want? Paul Gascoigne as manager?”
WFRF? If Paul Gascoigne is the answer- then, quite frankly, I don’t even want to know what the question is. I’ll have to politely disagree with your forecast and plump for a well-fought 1-0 win for us. Ramires with an own-goal off his ear. Anyway thanks for your time, my liege. It’s been a pleasure. Where should I tell folk to direct their hate mail?
Oh, he’s gone.