The Blog that's not always wrong.

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Relegation: its behind you.

I'm not sure how I got cast as Scrooge in the Tottenham panto and I take no pleasure in it, but I still feel the need to ask the question 'Are we making any progress under Harry?' In terms of league position a little but every time we have the opportunity to climb out of danger we slip up and slide back down again. Who asked Santa for 'Snakes and Ladders' for Christmas?
At Fulham we were very poor and at home to Everton we were merely poor and perhaps a little unlucky with their goal. In the meantime we avoided a banana skin dressed up as Watford, in what could be portrayed as a patient, professional performance but which looked a scrappy affair in the cold light of day.
Away from home on a cold night, on a hard pitch, 1-0 down, it had all the makings of an upset but Spurs are more resilient under Harry and show more belief and in the end our better quality ground them down.
Without Jenas and Modric while Huddleston is playing poorly or being crowded out in a five man opposition mid-field we are short of attacking guile and dependent on the trusty boot of Bent and solid defensive performances. Lennon is the star on the top of the Xmas tree at the moment in attack.
It cannot be denied that we have more spirit and the expectancy levels under Harry are considerably raised in both players and fans. We have certainly benefited generally by the largess of the Fairy Godmother and a better run of the ball, apart from the Everton goal, but in part that was our own fault for switching off the fairy lights before the party was over.
We beat Liverpool, but no-one can really explain how, and the comeback against Arsenal was equally inexplicable by the known laws of nature. I think they posted their Charity cards well in time for Christmas. However I cannot deny that the players showed tenacity and resolution and many of those other qualities that usually get missed off Tottenham's Christmas list.
But we have given ourselves a chance in the League, when we arguably had none and should make the next round of Uefa cup and the finals of the Carling Cup assuming we beat Burnley. No doubt Fulham, Chelsea and Arsenal thought the same. I think that this will be one London scalp too many for them.
This all makes tonight's game at W.Ham even more important than usual. A win takes us above the Hammers in 15th place. A draw or a loss ,with Man. U at the weekend, leaves us possibly in the bottom three again in the run up to Xmas. Not a festive place to be. I have written to Santa , and provisionally booked the wishbone on Xmas day so as to cover all the angles but Tottenham in the bottom three at Xmas is not the novelty item I want to find in my cracker.

However we won! W.Ham were short on ideas and although they held their own in the first half, only Bellamy was a threat. Actually he was more of a nuisance than a threat. Actually he was more of an obnoxious irritation than a threat. We cleared the ball aimlessly out of defence at times and allowed W.Ham to put us under pressure. We also persisted with the long ball down the middle which was ineffective against Everton and similarly so tonight. It usually concedes possession and puts us immediately on the defensive. If we are going to play with two wingers then we need to work the ball out to them more consistently.
Even so Modric had a good chance after a couple of minutes and Pavlyuchenko was unlucky just before half time when he hit the post at full stretch from a driven Lennon cross , one of several chances that he created. We could have easily gone in at half-time 2-0 up.
Then Ledley scored his first goal in three years with a coaching manual downward header from a Lennon cross and Gomes preserved the lead with two excellent saves before O'Hara finished it off with a fine shot from 25 yds. We played out time in style.
In truth W.Ham were poor and we improved as the game went on. Jenas was better in the second half and there were good performances from Zokora and Corluka. Bentley gave an improved performance but is not quite there. He spends too much on flashy wrapping paper at the expense of the gift.
It was a toss up for man of the match between Lennon and Modric, who though out for several games returned to play a central role. In the first half he was forced too deep and was unable to give Pavlyuchenko the support he needed. Our second half performance in which we passed with more precision and kept the ball well was a glimpse of what the Ghost of Xmas Future might look like with Jenas and Modric playing well.
I am slowly undergoing the change from a miserable 'Humbugger' to a relaxed, benign and contented white whiskered old gentleman on my way to Bob Cratchitt's with a turkey in one hand and a 'get out of relegation free card' in the other. The answer to my original question as to whether we are making progress under Harry is a qualified 'definitely'.So I hope that relegation is well behind us and not still just behind us.
So thank you Santa for the early Christmas present. Any chance of another one on Saturday?

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