So, like a pair of butcher’s sausages, the resplendent fortune-hunters of Hotspur have managed to string together two wins against teams who’ve spent a good portion of their season encamped in the bottom three. In Sunderland’s case, one so long stationed in the relegation zone, they might soon be required to pay rent.
While it’s doubtful beating Fulham and the League’s absolute worst will convince the cynics (or fans of Glenn Hoddle: Football Manager) that the ship is at least facing the right way; it does count as some kind of start. By the power of almighty greyskull, it’s a start.
The arse of Twitter came awfully close to falling through in the minutes before kick-off on Saturday, as many Tottenham fans looked upon AVB’s line-up and decided it was bad. He’s gone insane, was the cry. Throw him in the river, said others. This all before remembering that, as well as having to countenance one or two key injuries, the Spurs coach was in the helpful position of having seen his players in training all week and perhaps the savvier judge.
Hey, I’m not going to sit here and say that I glanced at that team selection and thought wow, we are looking sharp tonight, Matthew but I don’t get to choose. And that, demonstrably, is a good thing.
Elsewhere some shoestring outfit called Arsenal were drawn in the F.A Cup third round.
Thirty-five is more his territory. As if personally affronted by the idea that Spurs were incapable of scoring from open play, Sandro discharged the mother of all projectiles this weekend, rumbling a live one off his right-foot with enough force and precision that you’d be genuinely concerned for the wellbeing of David de Gea had he attempted to waft one of his delicate wrists at it.
If the young Spaniard has ever Googled the phrase ‘de-gloving’ (which he certainly shouldn’t) or heard the alarming tale of an airport engineer getting their hand caught in the mechanism of a luggage carousel (again, I wouldn’t advise doing any research) then he might feel the safest place for something travelling at that speed was nestled in the top-corner and out of harm’s way.
It was only the Brazilian’s third goal in Spurs colours and the third which started life way outside the box’s orbit. Mark Schwarzer was between the sticks for Sandro’s last monstrous effort, a year ago on Sunday, and he’s since ended up at Chelsea. Which is a lesson for all of us.
The Big News as far as Tottenham are concerned is that drawing two-each with the Champions is much better than getting pumped 6-0. Hey, it’s difficult to get your head around but those are just facts. What’s perhaps more encouraging, than being a single point better off than last week, is that Spurs looked like a team who hadn’t just met in reception. There was a cohesive look about the side, that, far from being missing all season, (keep this on the hush-hush but we’ve not been terrible in most of our games) was unquestionably absent in the mauling at Eastlands. Which, as a contest, was like watching a whole team of spooked goats waddle into the T-Rex enclosure at Jurassic Park.
Soldado at times, while still not blazing any great trails, linked well with the more advanced Paulinho. There was a moment in the first half which Professional Football Experts would label as a microcosm of his season when the former Valencia striker’s, quite frankly, indecent back-heeled lay-off was followed shortly by a skewed shot into the stands. Improvement and flurries of genius aside, he could run a bit more, no?
Fulham up next.
There’s something reassuringly old-fashioned about Scott Parker as a footballer; the unflappable side-parting, the perma-grass-stained knees, the affection for bone-shuddering challenges. If you want a midfielder to fight tooth and nail for the cause; want them to exude a plucky wartime spirit that’ll mean they’ll bomb eighty-yards to prevent a throw-in or just put the whizzers up some Young Harry Flash, then Private Parker is without question your man…
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.
A week’s a long time in football, the old saying goes. Or is that politics? Or prison? Hmm, well either way the point remains that seven days is a considerable stretch. Not long long like a year or anything (or even a month) just, you know, lengthy. Turn back them hands of time to last Sunday morning, for example, when Spurs were nine points worse off and that clinking you could hear was the sound of a shotgun barrel knocking against your teeth. I’ll bloody end it all if we lose to West Ham, I swear to god!
A week on from beating the Hammers plus victories against Liverpool and Fulham and suddenly there’s a warm glow on our faces and everything smells like banana flavoured Angel Delight again. The more things change, eh?
Back into 4th and level on points with Chelsea.
It was nice to see Sandro among the goals; his only other attack of the net-ruffles coming in similarly booming fashion against the abovementioned Russians, some twenty months ago. Schwarzer perhaps could’ve delayed its route to goal with a sturdier wrist but it was hit true and steady like an almighty b*stard, so there was no real shame in conceding. Here’re the words our man Andre used when asked about the Rhino from Riachinho.
“He’s such a good player. In a performance like this, it’s difficult to single out individuals, but Sandro has been amazing for us.”
Amazing’s the word. Now all we need is The Boy Parker back in action if only to allow Sandro a minute or two’s breather. There’s a case to made in playing them both in order to get Dembele further up upfield, but that’s for another day.
I’ll leave you happy souls with a video of hollow-legged calorie-vacuum, Adam Richman, presenter of Man vs. Food and bonafide Spurs aficionado. To anyone disputing whether this club can possibly mean as much to someone living thousands of miles away in Foreignland, take note of Adam’s reaction when given a chance to take a private tour of The Lane.
I like the guy.