Merry everyone! I trust the festive period has handled you well? Upon hearing the rumours on Christmas Day that contract rebel Wesley Sneijder was about to join Spurs, the thought occurred to me that someone may have spiked the bread sauce with anti-freeze. Then the sobering but inevitable quotes from Camp Wesley immerged yesterday and the dream cough, spluttered and finally met its maker. There is nothing, absolutely nothing true about that, said one of his representatives, with what sounded like genuine contempt for the very idea. Ho-hum.
It was with flawless timing, then, that Gareth Bale and chums made us forget about Rivaldo/Kaka/Moutinho MK2/3/4 and be thankful for that which we already have- as is customary this time of year. A walloping fine win on Boxing Day was both the ticket and just what the doctor ordered.
The first half at Villa Park was an exercise in sterile domination; gluttonous amounts of possession and corners- lots and lots of corners- but very little in the way of actual chances fashioned. The set-pieces and minutes racked up and still Brad Guzan looked reasonably comfortable with what we were hurling at him. Defoe had a decent one-on-one scuppered, Bale pop-shotted on occasion but the breakthrough didnae come and every man, woman and child could see where this might be headed. As long as it remains 0-0, the dangerous watchwords of the hopeless.
And the Midlanders were hopeless for the most part. A spirited flurry just after the break was the best it got for them before JD and Gareth began sending out invites to the goal banquet. Naughton’s lip-smacking assist started things off; when Spurs were yelling out for a bit of final-ball smarts from the midfield, it was from a rather unexpected source that the lock was finally jimmied. It’s a bloody Christmas miracle!
Then it was all about Bale. His second hat-trick for Tottenham, first in the League. Pace, power, composure and precise finishing. The boy is no more a one-trick winger than I am an astronaut. So numerous are the components to his game that it would be no surprise to learn that he can do a nine dart check-out on demand and has a formidable badminton serve. Multi-talented, multi-layered and genuinely world class. Let’s not take him for granted, shall we?
Sunderland up next.
If you’ve ever seen that time-lapse bit in Lord of War when swarms of Ugandan villagers take apart Big Nic Cage’s cargo plane- every last bit is pilfered; from windscreen wipers to landing-gear- you’ll be somewhere close to imagining what kind of summer might lay ahead for our dear little club.
We’re royally sha-pooned, right?
Well perhaps not.
Fresh from the declaration of commitment (of sorts) by one Emmanuel Adebayor on Monday, reports suggest that young Gareth Bale might well be towing the party line, too.
From an ‘inside source’ (via The Sun) this morning:
“Gareth wants to stay for next season.
“To say he is happy at the club right now is a bit of an understatement.”
Yeah. Now I can feel feelings again!
I do more of this on Twitter.
Good Friday to you. And if you can’t manage good then how about no worse than usual? These are austere times we live in, after all.
A hectic Easter weekend of football ahead, then. First up this very Saturday lunchtime it’s Martin O’Neill’s rejuvenated Athletic Club Mackems. I’ve been harbouring somewhat of a soft spot for the former Villa man in recent times, since he was flown in to sort through the wreckage on Wearside. If nothing else, by hauling them out of the turd-festooned mire they were wading in- and even having the temerity to give the locals something to cheer about- he’s debunked the myth that Steve Bruce was in any way a capable football manager.
Sure enough, if buying ex-United players is a bankable attribute – or, for that matter, being a purveyor of turgid, meat and gravy-brand anti-football- then Master Bruce is up there with the best of ‘em. Here’s the Geordie Chancer, in typically humble mood this week:
“Martin O’Neill is currently getting the pats on the back for what he has achieved. He’s a good manager and he has undoubtedly motivated the players,”
”But what is now being seen is the players I brought in bedding down and proving how good they are.
“James McClean and Stephane Sessegnon are the headline stealers but we signed them, of course.”
Classy, classy stuff.
He’s right in certain respects, of course. Stéphane Sessègnon is rather a menace for the Black Cats these days and, indeed, embezzles a headline or three. In truth he’s just one prong of a triple-threat which counts the very direct James McClean (zero appearances under Bruce) and the dependable right bat of Sebastian Larsson among its number. Nicklas Bendtner is enjoying a purple patch recently, too, by his standards, and may just feel he has something to prove on Saturday. Not least of all for the woeful offerings he dished up in the reverse fixture in December. I was almost hit square in the chops by the hilarious spliced volley he attempted in the second half.
Keeping the Black Cats under house arrest could be quite the task, then. In the last eight games at the Stadium of Light they’ve won six and beaten Man City, Swansea and Liverpool along the way. Yes they’ve beaten Swansea and Man City along the way.
For the mighty Tottenham it’s a case of steady as she goes, captain. A repeat performance of the type we saw against Swansea wouldn’t put us too far wrong. The full return of Lennon will certainly spice things up a notch; though if it’s at the cost of the extra protection and dynamism that Sandro offers, for a tough away fixture such as this, it mightn’t be the worst idea to keep the hot-heeled winger on the bench for emergencies only. Either way, I see us sneaking a win.
How do y’all see it?
Follow WFRF? on Twitter. Jesus would’ve wanted it that way.
I’ll give you a second to let that headline sink in. It’s strong, you can’t deny that. Where one might take issue, though, is in the folly behind stumping up twenty-odd million pounds for a winger, when the last we heard was that dross would very much need to be shipped out before we could start thinking about players coming in the other direction. Particularly when those in the frame are likely to twonk the living daylights out of our club transfer record and at the same time fill a position we’re not altogether short on. Did they not get the memo? Gareth Bale’s quite a handy left-winger these days and it’s a bloody striker we’re after. Holy highwires, Batman.
Still, the story made its way out there and you couldn’t deny the Spaniard’s got some serious game on his hands. Anyone who followed Valencia with any interest last year or happened to catch any of his stuff at the U21s tournament, would agree that he’s a player you’d be only too happy to have knocking about the place. The Guardian’s Guru on all things España, the excellent Sid Lowe, gave word of the chase yesterday:
“According to an agreement reached when Mata last renewed his contract, Valencia are obliged to sell to a foreign club that matches the €21m bar before Monday. Spurs have made an offer that exceeds that minimum fee in order to strengthen their hand.”
Interesting. In its own pointless, slightly depressing way. No doubt he’ll be an Arsenal player before the week’s through.
Welcome, all. A balmy 23 degrees in Madrid as I write this- so BBC Weather informs me- clear skies and cooler air on the way as the afternoon skips happily into early-evening. This, then, will be the backdrop of Tottenham’s biggest game for, well, ruddy ages, as it goes. No silverware or crystal vase awaits an encouraging result tonight. It’s no cup final or decisive League fixture; It’s possibly not even the most important leg of the tie. But as far as balls-to-the-wall thrills and pure magnetism goes, and as a method of embossing our club’s logo into the heart of mainland Europe like Bernard Matthews branding poultry, Real Madrid at the Bernabéu in a Champions League quarter-final doesn’t get much heftier. We’ve reached ourselves a giddy precipice, ladies and gentlemen, and it’s now time to figure out whether we march on or plummet limply into the abyss.
Team news, as I hear it, is consisted mainly of the auspicious reports that both Gareth Bale and William Gallas are available and the rather less so that Cristiano Ronaldo is, too. Mourinho with typical self-assurance deciding that so-called ‘doctor’s orders’ weren’t anything to be overly concerned about and duly pencilled him into his plans. Hamstring? PhD? Pfft. This boy’s playing tonight and you can stick your Hippocratic Oath up your trasero. He’s rumoured to start but I guess that depends on as much fitness as it does how anxious José feels about his attacking potency without him. With Ozil, Di Maria and Higuain- returning from back surgery at the weekend- one would imagine, not very. My heart says we’ll beat them; my brain that a score-draw or an away goal in any marginal result might not be all that disastrous. In fact it would be a minor miracle. 1-1 for me, then. Lennon to score. Cermonyouspuuuuuuurs.