Before the Stoke game
Firstly let me start by saying that I do not think that we will be relegated. Let me say it again to avoid any misunderstanding. I do not think that we will be relegated. Again? No,I think that's clear.
However we might be and we are certainly in for a scrap in the bottom half of the league whatever we may achieve in the cups. I am eternally optimistic but cannot deny that results and some performances have not been of the highest order. We may get drawn into a 'relegation dogfight' as the tabloids love to say, in fact they already are. However for a dog fight you need more than one dog and at the moment we have the ring to ourselves.
Nobody is too good to go down but in my opinion we have too much quality in the squad to perform at this level for much longer. But there are other factors at work: confidence and luck are important; so are the improvements in other teams and the determination of the newly promoted teams. All this could work against an immediate and sustained revival.
But luck and confidence could change at any time, perhaps today against Stoke. A lucky goal, or a dodgy refereeing decision in our favour could be crucial in putting three points on the board and giving us something to build on.
Obviously it could go the other way but in general we have played better than our points tally suggests, against Hull for example. Nobody has beaten us by more than one goal and luck on the whole has not shone its warming rays upon us.
After the Stoke game.
Well it all went wrong at Stoke, but we have no-one to blame but ourselves. Bale was sent off for a clumsy last ditch tackle that followed from his failure to control the ball and Stoke were one up and we were a man down.
We then played our best 25mins of the season, Bent scored through the legs of the keeper, again, and Lady Luck ignored the fact that he was offside. Modric showed some control in midfield and Lennon again looked dangerous but we couldn't get the second goal.
The second half was a catalogue of errors with little continuous play which suited Stoke who played better than we did in every measurable way. Corluka was stretchered off to be briefly replaced by Dawson who made an unnecessary lunging tackle and though he got the ball followed through to the man and should know better. Woodgate conceded a second penalty, which hit both posts and the follow up by Delap hit the bar, and there were 11 minutes of injury time.
Stoke's winning goal came from a good cross along the edge of the six yard box that eluded everyone except Delap at the far post. In truth they could have gone further ahead and not just from the penalty. Pavlyuchenko came on to demonstrate that he can't play with Bent and the game fizzled out .They had more chances and corners than us. We were dire at set pieces and Bentley rightly subbed.
Now where do we go? I began this piece reflecting on relegation. I'm going to have to say it again,'I do not think we will get relegated'.
Nor do I think that this is a moral judgement on our treatment of Martin Jol, although the fact that he is top of the league with Hamburg may give some people pause for thought on this. Obviously the Gods would not have let us win the Carling Cup if they had it in mind to punish us.
It might be a judgement on the posturing of Levy and our failure to replace Keane and Berbatov. It might be just reward for our wholesale clearance of players and trying to bring in too many new faces at once. Put simply, we are not playing well as a team and too many individuals are not performing at their expected level.
Ramos doesn't know what's hit him and keeps looking at the cards he's been dealt like a poker player on a bad streak. He's hinting that the dealer is crooked and that the deck is stacked against him. He's waiting for a change of cards but the Head Croupier may have him ejected from the casino before then as he's nearly run out of chips and his lines of credit, from a foreign bank, are doubtful.
I do not expect relegation but nor do I fear it. Whatever division we are in we will still be Tottenham Hotspur a great club with a fine history and a tradition to be viewed with awe and which most clubs would die for. We have been relegated before, in 1976 under Keith Burkinshaw, who remained in post and took us straight back. Ardiles and Villa were recruited soon after and the next 5/6 years were some of the most exciting in our history. Ashes and Phoenixes and all that.
So despair not, support the team on the pitch, moan on the fan sites and look forward to better days. Ignore anyone at work, or in the pub who looks like an Arsenal or West Ham fan, don't read the papers and don't carry a gun.Nobody is safe ,not even yourself, in your current mood.
Did I mention that I don't think we will be relegated?