The Blog that's not always wrong.

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

An excellent week

Two points off 'The Zone' again and a proverbial six pointer against Middlesbrough on Wednesday. How will Spurs react to the Carling Cup loss on Sunday? Last year we won it and switched off: this year we lost it and if we repeat last year's run in we will be in the Championship.

Now everyone from Alan Hanson to my mum knows it can't happen but we all know actually that it could. Not because we are not good enough, because we are; not because we don't have the players to win matches, because we clearly do; but because we don't regard ordinary, everyday matches in obscure places north of Watford or against obscure teams from north of Watford at The Lane, worthy of our high flown opinion of ourselves.

But lets take the positives. This has been an excellent week for the club. Some will scoff and say 'yeah right' a win against a team that's in free-fall after a impressive start; a miserable two legged fixture which we could have won if we had taken it seriously; a loss in a vital fixture for our European future that we didn't ultimately have the bottle to win.

I hear you, but can clearly discern the green shoots of recovery at Tottenham. Can you clutch at seedlings? Hull was an improvement in the sense that we competed up North. and though Hull were worth a point they didn't get it. We infected them with the 'last 10 minute virus' and won the game.

The Uefa was a disappointment but we went down to two late goals and Harry's strategy nearly came off. At home the second eleven played extremely well and with a little more composure and experience in front of goal in the first half could have been well placed to win it. This against an experienced, tough and skilful Champions' League team.

At Wembley we lost on a technicality. We actually drew the game and extra time in a team display of graft and no little skill against the leading club side in the world. No-one except Pavlyuchenko let themselves down and there were performances throughout the side to put in the bank, or perhaps under the mattress in the present circumstances, to bring out later.

All the often maligned players turned up: Ekotto, Jenas, Zokora, Gomes and even Bale. There was a vintage display by Ledley and an outstanding one by Dawson to wipe out his disappointment of last year. Modric and Lennon were our outstanding players and Bent ran himself ragged and even managed two shots on target. There was much to admire all over the pitch and after the first 20 minutes we matched them in every department. They didn't have their strongest team out but neither did we.

But for me the week was a pointer on the road to recovery. Now I understand that you are only as good as your next game but the realisation that this awful season is almost over should concentrate their minds for the final push.

We started the final countdown with the run of the ball at Hull and though Liverpool were surprised by Middlesbrough on Saturday I think that we will take a renewed determination into the match . Fortunately its at home and the goodwill from the supporters generated by the performance at Wembley should feed into the players' psyches for the match.

Team selection could be a problem if Woodgate is still unfit and Ledley not able to make it. Dawson and Lennon could be doubtful. But as we proved against Shakhtar there are plenty of bright second stringers eager to step up and that's not including Palacios, Keane, Chimbonda and Huddleston whose qualities are not in doubt.

So if you think that the club are in disarray because Harry has disrespected our European tradition, or that the team bottled it on Sunday then this could be the beginning of something bleak.However having been borderline despondent for most of the season I'm getting that feeling that the bad times are behind us and looking forward to next season. But as a Spurs fan and supporter I would say that wouldn't I?

The details you may disagree with but its the underlying feeling that I'm trying to get at. For some reason, and it may not be rational, I think that the performance on Sunday could be, and should be the turning point. Now 'Spurs fan' and 'rational shouldn't really be in the same sentence. If we were rational we'd all be doing something else on a Saturday, something that gave us peace of mind, or made us money. But I am getting optimistic stirrings from the performances and attitudes this week.

I'm not accepting second best and belittling our great tradition and past, a subject on which I can bore for England and do regularly on SC threads. This season has been a disaster even if we stay up, and we need to salvage something from it, if not in terms of results, then in terms of team outlook and belief. This could be more important in the long run.

Just the little matter of avoiding the drop and playing out the season in style now. If we can keep hold of Lennon and Modric and stick with the manager for a year or two we might just have the basis for something good at White Hart Lane. And it all started this week.

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