So Deadline Day passed us by without major incident; instead of actually buying a new striker, Daniel Levy engineered the cunning plan to write a few names on a piece of paper, straighten his tie, then go for a nice dinner. If I’m honest it’s not the approach I would’ve gone for but the very fact that I’m not in charge of a football club can only be regarded as a good thing.
Will it prove to be a negligible oversight; to leave our strikeforce with so little meat on its bones? Perhaps, but as Villas-Boas made the point in the aftermath of Yellow Tickertape Thursday, there would be no use Spurs siphoning bundles of cash into Internacional’s coffers- a club by their own admission not desperate to sell- if the fallout sees us swimming in financial shark-infested-waters.
What’s more, let’s be honest, I’d wager the average kickball enthusiast hasn’t seen more than a few YouTube clips of Leandro Damião, and, up until just 2008, the lad was playing the Brazilian equivalent of Sunday League football. So, you know, he’s probably not that good anyway? Right? Huh, guys?
Moving quickly on…
As if aware that some disappointed Tottenham fans might need a quick antidote for those Deadline Day Blues, Lewis Holtby has wandered into our lives and made the bad stuff go away. Obviously we should all play it super cool as to not come across too keen BUT I AM TOTALLY GETTING THIS GUY’S NAME TATTOOED ON MY ARM and we certainly shouldn’t get carried away with one-hundred-odd minutes of delightful football. Definitely not.
Elsewhere, Bale’s getting the hang of this kicking the ball in the goal lark. Two games in a row now the Welshman has left defenders huffing on vapour trails before kerbusting it in the top/middle-ish corner. Amassing vital points in the process.
Even with Defoe sidelined, if there’s not enough goals between Bale, Holtby, Dempsey, Lennon, Dembele and Adebayor, then we really should have a good long look at ourselves in the mirror. And if you’re Lewis Holtby, well, that wouldn’t be too much of a chore, would it?
After hours of thoughtful discussion in the Great Halls of Footballing Gods, the divine creators have agreed that Tottenham Hotspur FC’s proposal to merely flounce into the Champions League spots with a pleasant, stress-free points buffer between themselves and the chasing droves, will been reconsidered. In its stead, an altogether different idea has been concocted- one, perhaps, more fitting with the history of modern Spurs. They’re going to have to do it the hard way.
The Gods have been quoted as suggesting we all ought to get a sense of adventure rather sharpish. Or, failing that, a sense of humour.
Mindful of the Gap.
This is all getting a bit tense for my liking. A third defeat on the bounce and Arsenal have come from nowhere with three wins in retort. From 10 to 7 to 4 and now a solitary, lonely point remains between us. It’s the last line of defence, tooled up with a bayonet and a stick of celery. Yes, those rotters have snuck up on us like a tired old mongrel whom just refuses to be abandoned. You leave him at the park, you set him free in the woods; and still he comes back, wagging his tail and smelling like a bin. Arsenal. What happened to you, man? I much preferred you as a slapstick comedy act. It was way cooler.
Chelsea aren’t ballsing it up nearly as much these days, either. Which is just not on. The sacking of AVB seems to have coaxed their senior guard into something resembling form. Not that he was a particularly bad manager, of course. Just the old tarts appear determined to show the Portugeezer that they were right all along and he, indeed, was the problem. Certainly it couldn’t be them and their incessant whining and general horridness.
Our dearly loved Tottenham have lost their way. Some of the gloss is beginning to wear off and now it’s a quest to find a second coat in the next handful of games and beyond. Much simpler typed than done, I hear you grumble. For many, a start would be relocating, where possible, our most effective midfielders, back to their original posts. When we were crushing all before us like Coke cans in a Blue Peter appeal, the front six picked itself and all appeared to know just what was expected of them. (Parker: break people. Bale, Lennon: stay wide and run as fast as you can) Now that just isn’t the case. What once made sense is now scary and confusing. I don’t profess to be an expert, but just why, for one, is Modric playing on the left-wing now? Is that a good idea? No, would appear to be the answer. No it isn’t.
The next two games, then, will decide the direction of our season. Beyond the stars or down the toilet. F.A Cup quarter-final against Bolton and home to Stoke in the League. We’re doing it the hard way. Don’t act surprised. You all knew it would end like this. In the words of Journey, don’t stop believing.
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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.
Back at Eastlands, then, where the mood is decidedly less ‘go forth and conquer’ as ‘try not to make too much of an ordeal of aiding the inevitable.’ City need a draw this evening to all but knock us out of the race- barring a cricket score against Birmingham- a result which, let’s face it, we’ve been pretty adept at offering in recent weeks. And against lesser opposition of that which we face tonight. Six of the last eight have been evenly spread affairs, if you were wondering. I’m not morbid enough to remind you of who they were against.
Still, at least we can rely on a cheery Harry Redknapp sound-byte to lift our sprits. It’ll all end in tears for those overpaid nancy boys, right? We’re going gung-ho for title next year, you say?
“I think they will win the Premier League in the next few years,” Redknapp told Sky Sports.
“I think they can be a real force next year. They’ve got a strong squad which is only going to get better now, because they’ve got unlimited funds to buy anybody they want, and they can pay the wages.
“They’ve got players there now earning £200,000 a week. I mean, it’s crazy, isn’t it? It’s another world really, isn’t it?”
“What can you do though?” he added. “I don’t know. We’ll have another go next year. We’ve got good players here. It’s hard but we are close this year.”
Um. Come on you Spurs?
The truth is we’ll probably win tonight. We just need it to be in a fashion so comprehensive, that it plunges City into a paralysed state of shock and self-doubt. One that questions them not only as footballers, but as people.
6-1 to Spurs it is, then.
And now for something completely different…
Esteemed contributor, SeattleSpursGuy, has kindly offered to throw a premium grade Seattle Sounders t-shirt into the prize pot for some lucky listener. All you have to do to win one of these most coveted of garments, is answer the following question:
Which Spurs manager, past or present, once played for Seattle Sounders?
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**Thank you to everyone who entered in for the ’61 Double Winners’ t-shirt, courtesy of Philosophy Football. You answered in your droves. Sadly, there could be only one winner. And that winner is a Mr. Derek Myatt. Well done, Derek!**
Ahoy there, land lubbers. I trust those of you joining us from the Small Isles enjoyed their bumber-sized weekends? Four days baked in unwavering sunshine and the distinctly sweet whiff of summer gushing up the nostrils like a mug of hot Ovaltine. Heavenly. Well, not quite, as it goes. The football’s been nothing short of a bloody nightmare and I’ve been stuck at work since last Wednesday. I swear to all that’s holy, if I see another ruddy-faced holidaymaker packing their boots with beach towels and instant barbecues, while I sit here looking out on the world like James Stewart in Rear Window, I’m going to climb out onto the rooftops and fire a gun into the sky like a certified lunatic. Thus declaring war on pleasant weather until I get a day off.
It’s just not on.
Talking of which, you could say the same thing about our chances of reaching fourth again. Tottenham’s recent adventures, a mixed bag, you could say? Sure. If the mix was one of regret, worn-down fingernails and despair. The midweek derby with Arsenal was suitably ding-donging enough; oohs, boos and aahs in all the right places. We even had the chance to add new lyrics to the ever-changing ditty of such and such and you messed it up. Three goals to our one being the deficit this time around from which Wenger’s lot proceeded to make a swine’s ear of it. We played our own part, too, of course. Van der Vaart being the absolute dog from open to close. My how we’ve missed that.
What was a credible fight-back in North London, though, was another comprehensive meltdown against supposed League dross on Saturday. Woy and his Brom leaving the Lane with a point and smiles aplenty. Did anyone else notice that Liam Gallagher foresaw this one on Football Focus? With the articulacy of a man who’d been given someone else’s mouth to look after for the afternoon- but had not yet become familiar with its settings- the former Britpopper-come-fashion-designer peered mystically into the distance and confirmed, I see goals in this one. Two-all. The slag was right and the sad truth is that he’s not the only one who could see it coming.
It’s become a key plot device for Tottenham’s season. Glaring opportunities to close the gap with City and Chelsea (who’re long gone now), but falling just an inch or two short when it really mattered. We can start counting the fixtures on our toes now; those in which three points seemed likely but rather less is what we were lumped with. Wigan, Wolves, West Ham, West Brom, Westlife. It’s seethingly farcical. To make matters worse, just when it looked like we might resolve the slight crisis we were having with our frontmen- Pav, Crouch and Defoe all finding the net in the last few weeks- it turns out we’re too porous at the back for it to matter anyway. And to really rub it in, just as Defoe was doing likewise against WBA, City’s twenty-seven million pound reserve striker, after a good long think, has remembered where he left his shooting boots, too. So that’s nice.
I suppose if anybody’s got a plan as to how we’re going to claw ourselves back into this thing with Madrid tomorrow night, now’s probably a good time to speak up. No? Anybody? Oh, well. Here’s an easier question, then. One in which the answer doesn’t centre around the idea of placing several highly-trained snipers in the East Stand Upper.
Who’s been your player of the year?
Bale and Van der Vaart are the names that immediately catapult to the front the mind. What with their PFA nominations and all. But how do the rest shape up? Modric’s been all shades of awesome for the most part this term- arguably on a more consistent basis than the other two starlets. Which horse are you backing, though?
As for Los Blancos. It’s difficult to imagine a Mourinho team turning up and conceding four; much less likely a team with Ronaldo, Higuain and Adebayor in it turning up and not scoring at least one in reply. As close to as close can be: an impossible task. But, having said that. Having said that. Go in at half-time a couple of goals to the good, and, well, you never know. Stranger things have happened.
Now where did I put that telescopic lens polish?
Roberto Martinez’s Wigan, then. A team not so much nailed to the foot of the table as secured there with a length of ragged old Velcro; still favourites for the drop but by no means cut adrift. It’s tighter than Mickey Rourke’s face down there at the moment, with just a single three points enough to jettison the Latics into 13th or somewhere awfully close. And their form’s not what you’d paint as relegation, either; undefeated in three out of the last four and conquistadors of fellow strugglers Blackburn and Birmingham along the way. Yeah, that’s right. Stats coming at you like hot sauce.
For us it’s the conundrum of knowing that a win is vital in the hunt for 4th while keeping half a peeper on midweek’s impossibly glamorous trip to Madrid. To rest or not to rest. Not, is the answer. Señor Roberto might insist that any moth-eaten Tottenham side could show up tomorrow and cause considerable mischief, eagle-eyed viewers among you will have noticed that League exploits this season haven’t exactly been master classes in flat-track bullying. Wolves, Blackpool, West Ham, Wigan. All supposed cake walks, all made devilishly hard work of. Squad rotation is not quite a luxury we can yet employ, with regret, so it’s full-strength all the way. Kranjcar in for the injured Bale, Bassong in for the likewise Gallas; job’s a good ‘en. Worry about Los Blancos later. What say you?
Yes, yes. Real Madrid, Mourinho and the Bernabéu. That was all very exciting news for a Friday morning. What concerns me now is the rather mischievous asides that many of us were making about having to win the Champions League this year in order to make bloody certain we were in it next time around is looking less and less a harebrained scheme by the minute. The way the weekend panned out it almost seems like our best shot.
Simply outrageous scenes of wastefulness on Saturday lunchtime; of the like I haven’t seen since my Lithuanian neighbour flopped a perfectly good king-sized mattress out onto their front lawn last summer. Let me tell you, the things you can do with a Brillo pad and a daub of caustic soda. Boy howdy. Sadly for us there’s not a substance in the periodic table that will be able to expunge the memories of our final encounter with the ‘Ammers this season; of yet another day where spurned chances and limp forwards were court jesters and form goalkeepers and woodwork, king.
Defoe certainly wouldn’t have won over many of his critics. The commentary team mused quite early on about the prospect of Jermain having ‘one of those days’ in front of goal and from the second it was even suggested the script might as well been torched to cinders and swept into the balmy afternoon air; such was the game’s plot so obviously laid out. He could still be out there now and not yet have scored. While both of the really glaring chances were forgivable in their own way- in that the first required cosmos skipping reflexes and the second was well saved- one can’t help but feel at least one should’ve been made to stick. It’s a puzzler, that’s for sure.
But what does one say? Ho-hum? Better luck next time? I’m at a loss. I mean, we played some breathtaking football at times and the points always seemed within reach. It’s just yet again the hoards of chances coming our way were auspicious but for their lack of contact with the white netty-type stuff festooning the goal frame. Which I hear is rather important in this game.
Still, all to play for. Everything still in our hands. Who else has a feeling it’s going to be all about Eastlands again?
Ding dong. You may be vaguely aware that it’s the draw for the Champions League quarter-finals tomorrow. Now I don’t know what the procedure is at this late stage but one would hope that the event was enshrouded with a bit more glamour than usual. Something with a bit more pizzazz than the doddery old ex-pro emptying bingo balls out of a sack. Or god forbid, Tim Lovejoy. No. What we need is a spectacle fitting of the occasion. Something to inspire those of us sat at home in our underpants; gawking at the television set like bibbling morons. Golden pellets of unicorn dung instead of balls. Teams to be drawn out of a priceless Etruscan vase instead of a tumbler. The exhumed corpse of Al Capone as MC. That should just about do it.
One thing’s for sure, how ever they dress it up, Tottenham are in there with the best of them on Friday, chafing the proverbial shoulder with Euro gentry. Barcelona, Madrid, Inter, United. We’ve come to a point now where it’s good stuff as far as the eye can see and all the way down. No easy games. Even the likes of Shaktar Donetsk- with whom we have a fleeting history- look like a tidy outfit these days, and went as far as shellacking Roma off the park last week. Shalke, too, with mister Champions League himself spearheading the attack, are anything you’d be inclined to call duck soup. And that’s before we’ve even talked about Chelsea.
So, anyone brave enough to call it?