Spurs haven’t beaten Manchester United since…oh wait, hang on. I’m reading last year’s notes. Zing-a-ding-ding. To be honest I’d given up putting any thought into previewing these fixtures a long time ago; some would argue that’s not necessarily exclusive to games involving United and, you know, perhaps they’re on to something.
How many times can one beat the MAYBE THIS TIME! drum before you break through the goatskin and do your hand a mischief. After years of disappointment after tragic, often hilarious disappointment, the sentiment had become a reflex; a defence mechanism. A cry for the hopeless.
I’m aware they dickbag us every year but maybe this time it’ll be different? Pa-thetic.
Anyway it’s all change since André Villas-Boas masterminded a barnstorming victory at Old Trafford in late-September. After a big dinner and several gin and tonics I could’ve cried the evening we finally toppled Sir Alex’s men. Getting dragged through the ringer as a Spurs fan is almost habitual, but this game more than most got the old soul stirring. Boy howdy. Vertonghen’s early goal: oh, god- we’ve scored too early. Bale gets the second: good, but I’ll still take a draw. They score: it’s all over. Dempsey scores immediately after: we’re only prolonging the inevitable. They score again: told you, all over. And, then *deep breath*
Pretty much forty minutes of bracing against a perpetual red tide: plugging holes with underpants, sellotaping the cracks with desperate enthusiasm: whatever it took to hold on. Heroic stuff. A famous victory.
Tomorrow’s game at the Lane is marred by the confirmation that Sandro will miss the rest of the season. Anyone but him, appears to be the general mood on the internet superhighway since hearing the news. Bale’s a game-changer and Adebayor’s international duties by proxy make Defoe indispensible. But the Brazilian’s been our heartbeat for some time now and we shan’t function the same without him. As replacements go, however, Scotty Parker comes highly recommended. In fact, put your house* on him to score the winner.
He’d do that just to show you.
We’re having a few technical issues in the WFRF bunker at the moment and it appears to be a little more complicated than the usual someone’s-spilled-Merlot-on-the-router type scenario that your average work-a-day blogger is confronted with from time to time. Terms such as severely compromised and no, seriously you’ve broken it keep appearing with rather more regularity than I’d hope for.
Still, enough about my problems- we’ll muddle through.
Tottenham Hotspur, now there’s the horse to back. A festive period of immense dimensions. And points, too. Ten of them from twelve, if you want details. Seven wins from the last nine and third spot preserved until at least after the F.A Cup weekend following Harry Redknapp’s improbable triumph over Chelsea at The Bridge on Wednesday. It’s nice to know he still cares, eh? Add to that the return of Scott Parker- with his reliable haircut and unusually exotic red footwear- and we start the year in none too bad a shape. Andre Villas-Bonus.
As the year gets into full swing, then, so does our old demented friend, The January Transfer Window. With only a month to saturate the airwaves with as much gossip, rumour and downright non-truths as possible, the going can often get weird in the condensed Winter market. The hokum comes thick and fast. Sneijder, Villa and Ken Barlow have already been linked with Spurs, all with their own challenges. Wages, age, not being a real person etc..
We have seen some furtive movement in the waters, of course. Zeki Fryers was announced as very much on-board yesterday afternoon. You’d be pardoned for encountering a boding sense of déjà-vu about this one but I can assure you he isn’t Frazier Campbell. Despite the United connections and dubious ‘Z’ in his handle. He can play at left-back and centre-back it says here. Also his full name is an anagram of Refreeze Silky and you can’t say fairer than that.
Welcome one and all. Apologies for the dearth of excitement spilling from the pages of this site in recent days. If it’s any comfort I’ve returned to the keyboard only a shade darker of ghost-white and with a bank balance that I shall cautiously describe as uninspiring. Still, Barcelona is a splendid city and I can only imagine the locals were astounded by my capacity to burble dos cerveza, por favour like one of their own.
But enough about my pathetic attempts to blend in with the human race. The big news this weekend is that Tottenham Hotspur are back™. The encouraging impasse at the Bridge last week was far from a fiasco- neither, too, was progression to an F.A Cup semi- but points in multiples of thrice was the priority yesterday- and boy jiminy were the heroes in Lilywhite determined to get them.
Personnel-wise, the set-up was just about perfect. With Swansea resolved in the idea of not just dressing like Michels’ Dutch side of the seventies, Spurs were always going to be looking toward the triumvirate of Parker, Modric and Sandro to squeeze the space in which the Swans like to play their sex-brand of possession football. Blessed were we, then, that Scott Parker was an inexorable force of nature. Thundering into watertight challenges and generally giving the Welsh a horrid time of it. Sandro, too, was a giant. Full of smart, powerful running and iron-clad tackles. If he’s the future, then here’re my credit card details. I’m onboard.
Gareth Bale. Woof! A near-complete performance from the Cardiffian which lacked only a goal for himself. This was retrograde Bale; heaps of width, roasting full-backs like plump Sunday birds and the kind of delivery most strikers would be happy to receive once a month. With Lennon making a tentative but ultimately vital return this weekend, things could get a whole more awesomer in the weeks to come.
Back on the old Champions League chasing mule, then. The big-hitters are stoking the fires at just the right time and finding form when we need it most. Kaboul, Van der Vaart, Adebayor, Bale; even erstwhile sons have been chipping in for the cause. Disco Taarabt, better late than never, doing the business for Spurs at Loftus Road. Yes, it’s all getting a bit tasty at the top-ish. My advice, if I can offer any, is to try and avoid having a nervous breakdown between now and May. With seven games to go, however, and almost complete parity between ourselves and Arsenal- as well as a surmountable gap between 3rd and 5th- it appears the chances are very much on the thin side of slim.
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Any hopes we had of tiptoeing under the radar were swiftly punted into the Thames on Wednesday evening after every man and his lame dog in the days following declared Tottenham of Hotspur as genuine title contenders™. Alan Hansen, David Platt, S’ralex- even our own Heemskerk Howitzer, Rafael Van der Vaart, has pitched his tent in the side of ‘why the heck not’. It’s all making me jolly uncomfortable, if truth be told. And the quicker we can start ballsing it up like the good old days, the quicker we can all get on with our own pathetic, horrible lives.
What do you mean, speak for yourself? Well I’ve never heard such…
In all seriousness, though, just what have we become? And more importantly, is that thing we’ve become something that’s got a title challenge in…er…it? I honestly couldn’t tell you. But one thing’s for certain: it’s going to be ripping good fun to find out. Why the heck not, indeed.
Before we get ahead of ourselves, of course- and, frankly, it’s hard not to with every fibre of my being screaming LOOK AT THE BLOODY TABLE! LOOK! LOOK AT IT!- we’ve the small matter of entertaining Wolverhampton Wanderers at the Lane tomorrow afternoon. Yes, dear reader, the weekend is upon us and it’s served up a cold, uninspiring puck of Mick McCarthy gristle. I will really despair if he manages to do a number on us. Rather encouragingly, though, unlike last season, our record against the bottom sides has been exemplary; having beaten all of the teams south of 13th(including Wolves) and plenty more besides. In fact, only Swansea, from 9th downward have managed to get change out of us this term. We’re flat-track-bullying our way through the dross at an alarmingly proficient rate. And for consistency’s sake, I’d imagine tomorrow would be no different.
Smithers. Release the hounds!
**Note from the Ed. I’d like to think I’m an all-embracing sort and I know, for the most part, the regular readers of this cockamamie enterprise are, too. Thoroughly decent folk, I would say. Smart cookies, too. On the same hand, however, I’d also like to think that newcomers to the site- no matter how off party-line their views appear to be- could air such views in the comments box without being called a Gooner. To a point where they felt they couldn’t post on here without copping a load. Without wishing to come over all Paul McCartney- we’re all in this together, and, I’d imagine, all after the same thing. Success for Tottenham and playing with a bit of style along the way. But it’s no surprise that opinions on how we ought arrive there vary from person to person. In short, say what you want- and throw as much dung my way as you wish- but I won’t tolerate any posters getting flack for daring to have a view. Now let’s all forget this silliness and have a big group hug…Guys?**
I’m on Twitter like all the cool kids.
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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It’s January, as you might’ve noticed; and if you hadn’t I’d suggest those New Year’s resolutions about not drinking anything that really ought to be kept on a shelf in the shed aren’t going all that well. For the rest of you, you know the score. It’s the beginning of the year and that can mean only one thing: the always-good-for-a-laugh-don’t-believe-everything-you hear-better-off-not-opening-any-tabloid-newspapers-or-football-websites-for-a-month-pick-any-name-out-of-a-hat…January Transfer Window. May lord have mercy on us all.
All quiet on the Western Front so far but our taciturn supremo has given us this little nugget:
“Unless someone very special came on the market, someone that could improve the team, I’ll stick with what I have”
Hmm. Is this some kind of sophisticated ruse from Redknapp? A large part of me hopes so. I’m sure we can all agree that it would only make sense to upgrade our stock if the right kind of player were to become available, but this seems to suggest that he’d only consider purchasing if improvements for the first team were up there for our grubby mitts to paw around; rather than the squad as whole.
As the excellent Sarah Winterburn opined on Football365 this week, although we posses a super first eleven (arguably a midfield without equal) there’re certain areas of our ranks where the quality doesn’t run all the way down. For one, there’s an awfully big gulf between that of Adebayor and Pavlyuchenko, and, likewise between Assou-Ekotto and Danny Rose. What happens, say, if Walker goes down with some hair-related malady? Is Corluka up to speed these days? I’m not so sure. It’s all very well saying Niko Kranjčar can slope into a Van der Vaart shaped hole if the Dutchman’s hamstrings start tightening up again- but the Croatian looked positively shattered after his brief cameo on Tuesday. I counted around thirty seconds before his brow was alarmingly sodden. That’s not the type of thing you build title-challenges on, that’s not even the sort of thing you build Lego on. Depth isn’t the only problem. While we have excellent centre-backs in King, Gallas, Kaboul and Dawson, we have tremendous difficulty keeping the b*ggers all fit.
Certainly, then, there’s fine-tuning that can be done in a few places. And fine tuning that should be done. Especially if our current broken list elongates further and we’re entirely serious about challenging for that big hunk of metal they give out in May. I’m fully behind Redknapp but now’s the time to consolidate, strengthen and take these swines on at their own game.
But who the Dickens should we be looking at?
**Follow me on Twitter and I’ll let the hostages go.**
Excuse me while I cough up an organ momentarily- I’ve just made the dreadful mistake of going on a post-New Year jog in weather I can only describe as ‘a bit blustery’. If I don’t crumple onto the keyboard before the day’s out it’ll be a minor miracleeeeeeeeertttttttttttttyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyhjjj…
Well, you can’t say I didn’t warn you.
So, everything just got a little bit more interesting up at the top. The Toon performing an unlikely demolition job on the league champions yesterday evening and the feline is firmly among the sky-rats. Without wishing to overstate our good position any more than is necessary, a win against Everton next week- our game in hand; the fallout from August’s Spazz Parade in the capital- and we pull ourselves level with United with only goal difference betwixt us. Lordy.
My advice, and this extends to the lunatic in the video, don’t bloody look down now…
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Merry tidings and whatnot. I trust you’re all in good spirits? If not then I suggest you vamoose down to your local retailer and get your hands on some as quickly as is humanly possible. If anything it’ll make reading this hogwash a darn sight easier.
To Carrow Road we head, then. A late evening kick-off with Norwich and the cold turkey leftovers of a hectic Christmas schedule in the old Premier League. Boxing Day has already thrown up one or two surprises (and I’m not talking about the contents of the punch bowl). Chelsea, Liverpool and Man City all fluffed their lines in unlikely company yesterday; each drawing against teams in the bottom half of la table. So apart from the rampant United there’s not much change in the points column of those around us. Spurs remain third with two games in hand.
So far, so good.
No side can be brilliant at everything, of course, and in this vein I would suggest we’ve looked a bit unsteady against aerially proficient teams this season. The first half of the Stoke game was ultimately a disaster, and, far from being a rugby union side, the Canaries have similar airborne potencies in their make-up. Not least of all because of the quality of their delivering midfielders (Patches O’ Hoolahan et al) and the effectiveness of Grant Holt’s forehead. A man who carried my fantasy football side this month when Sergio Aguero went off the boil.
I’m no tactics guru but a Kaboul start might not be a bad little idea if he’s fit and willing. 1-2 Spurs, says I.
Spurs done a win; the other team didnae. That would by my conclusion of Sunday’s meeting with the floundering Wearsiders. And if that’s not enough woodbine for your mind-pipe then I don’t know if we can go on meeting like this.
But, it’s the festive season, I suppose, and I’m a generous sort. Here’re some more expert opinions. You heard. Expert. Do bear in mind, though, that I left my good glasses in the car, so plenty of what I tell you might not have happened exactly as I describe. And, in some cases, replace ‘exactly’ with ‘at all’.
Brad Friedel didn’t put a foot wrong. Or a hand, more importantly. Every ball that came in range of his massive paws- be it a cross, shot or hopeful hoof into the heavens- was either caught flawlessly or swatted away as comfortably as someone might brush off a cobweb. USA! USA! USA!
In the absence of Lennon and Bale, Kyle Walker was perhaps our most effective outlet on the break. Without the other two speedsters- and in a team which relies much on the blistering pace of its wingers- the England full-back’s attacking duties were effectively doubled. Or, at least, his responsibly to get forward was increased. Barring the odd wayward final ball, I thought he adjusted to the task well. Which is, you know, nice.
Sandro, after a somewhat unsteady opening forty-five, was colossal. Someone after the game commented that he began to feel sorry for one or two of the Sunderland chaps as he just wouldn’t leave them alone. In any other walk of life, this would be considered a problem. Arguably one that the courts might need to step in on. Talking of which…
The away fan’s brought the funny with their rendition of stand up if you pay your tax. Jail being all hilarious and all. The Bob Marley reworking was pretty good, too.
Pavlyuchenko stank the place up for a sizeable portion of his allotted time, then scored the winner. That’s so him, isn’t it? Isn’t that just so him? I mean, it’s really him all over. Expect him gone in January.
Nicklas Bendtner was awful.
We’re into third.
The world keeps on turning.
Put what’s left of your hand up if you enjoyed the fireworks last night. Oh that’s not so bad. I was expecting digits resembling overcooked Cumberlands. This blogsworth spent much of the evening simply trying to work out what noises were legitimate pyrotechnic action and what was just the boiler letting me know it could dispatch me to kingdom come at any moment it fancied. Tis a dangerous game to play, in all honesty.
And so, it would seem, is taking light the remarkable ascent of Newcastle United up the table. Someone should let them know that they’ve made their point now and can go back to being a wonky bunch of mid-tablers. I would myself but I’ve just eaten and not sure where the phone is. Where will it all end for the Magpies? That I can’t answer, but they certainly don’t look like they’re ready to come down just yet. The swines.
Now to West London and the return of Big Martin Jol and new employers, Fulham. You could likely count the enemies of the gregarious Dutchman on one hand. Arséne Wenger, Jermain Defoe, Kenny Logan, perhaps? And even those you’d have to concede are probably either terrified of him or secretly enamoured by his velvety European charm. I’ll leave you to decide which is which. For us mortal followers of Hotspur, though, Martin Jol was the embodiment of good humour and grace in his time at Spurs. Two qualities you’d think were inconceivable, given the shower of sh*t he was forced to stand under. The Director of Football nonsense, the half-time text scandal, and, of course, Dimitar Berbatov. Who I heard is well gay.
The applause Jol will almost certainly take delivery of this afternoon will be nothing short of fitting for the work he did in North London. Sterling, if not stellar; under challenging conditions and always with great humility.
His current side aren’t doing too badly, either. Say what you want about the Cottagers’ position in the table- and I intend to- but they’re still the only side to have taken points off the footballing behemoth that is City. Their present situation the fallout of a lethargic start to the campaign, which has become almost seasonally habitual. Like Everton, they don’t begin well. It took them seven games to get a win this time around and they’re only just pulling themselves out of the mire now. Luckily in Clint Dempsey, they’ve got a player doing likewise and finding something close to his usual form.
For us it’s that odd task of trying to avoid a repeat performance of midweek with a team who had nothing to do with the actual performing bit. There’s unlikely to be any survivors from the trip to Kazan- instead a reinstatement of the old guard that was so ruddy brilliant against QPR. Anything close to that line-up and I think we should be in for a treat. A slender win, says I. Parker to get his first goal for Tottenham with ‘Arry cheering from home in his pyjamas. That’ll do it.