In one of my last postings I asked the question 'How far can we go?'
The answer after Blackburn is 'not quite as far as some of us dreamers were hoping' But 'twas ever thus at Tottenham. Well since I was a boy anyway.
The Blackburn game repeated many of the sins of earlier in the season, bad habits that we thought we had banished. We dominated but we only created one good chance in the whole game. We were gifted a doubtful penalty and even though we knew Blackburn's game plan we still managed to concede twice in the last eight minutes with some sloppy defending by two of our most reliable players.
Palacios was sent off unfairly and the red card may well be rescinded. But that doesn't help us now but it may against West Ham. He showed, with the attacking run and through ball to Bent to set up our chance, his more positive side and I hope that Harry stresses this role to him. Otherwise he falls into the trap of thinking he is just the muscle in midfield who allows Jenas or Modric to play. Essien and Ballack are tough guys but play a positive role too. But 12 yellows and now a red are too many and he will get more now that he has a reputation.
The dreamers' hopes of 7th and European qualification have taken quite a psychological knock even though the situation has not actually changed much. With West Ham to play we can undo the damage in one go. But will we? Just when we thought we were swimming ashore safely a nasty creature from the depths floats up and bites us on the bum.
Late goals conceded, poor defending at a set piece, failure to score the second goal, lack of pressure to pick up the second ball, aimless kicking out of defence, poor decisions in the final third. The whole cast of this familiar horror movie script were there with our old friend Red Card to undermine our efforts at the crucial time. I've already used 'Deja vu' and Ground hog day' as titles and as my current title attests I have had to move into higher philosophical realms to do justice to our mentality as a team and a club.
In amongst this we played some good controlled football and were a class above Blackburn. But they have the three points and we have none. Just a blip, put it behind us, the show is still on the road and glory beckons. Well maybe, but our good run has ended, we have some tricky games to come and the thought must be in Harry's mind, the team's minds, the fans' minds that there is still work to be done. Not now to avoid relegation, but to snatch victory out of the jaws of defeat.
This squad can make progress, we need to explore its scope. Its probably not good enough for a sustained Premiership tilt but taking short cuts was our undoing with Martin Jol. Now I'm not entirely sure how the late 19th century Spanish philosopher poet George Santayana foresaw the fatal Tottenham flaw in his observation that 'Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it'. But he got our weakness spot on.
The wires are buzzing with the talent we might sign, could sign, will sign in our effort to bridge the gap between where we are now, just out of the excrement, and where we want to be, on cloud nine in Europe.
Well we've needed a left sided player for ages; we should upgrade Bent and the jury is still out on Pavlyuchenko; we're short of cover at left back; uncertainty over Ledley's fitness makes another experienced centre half a must have. And so, once again, we clamber aboard the transfer merry-go round.
West Ham won their game yesterday with two teenage youth players, both of whom scored, and so did one at Man.Utd. It should give us at least a pause for thought before we burn another £15 million on the bonfire of high hopes. Liverpool and Man.Utd both won their games with late winners showing resolution and belief. Is this the real gap between us?
With seven games to go instead of fretting over 7th place we should give some pitch time to a number of the present squad ( Bentley, Chimbonda, Bale, Dawson, Zokora, Hutton) and any others with a claim to first team status plus any of the youth players not out on loan. Not all at the same time obviously.
Seven games to go and two points needed for safety, as Harry is still pointing out. Seven games, two points; has a familiar ring but I can't just put my finger on it. Will History repeat itself? Or are we heeding Santayana's warning and learning the lessons of our previous failures?
The patient is sitting up and taking a little nourishment ( Harry's 2points in eight games linctus), a few faltering steps have been safely negotiated.(Getting ourselves out of relegation danger). Trying to leap the gap or even run now might just see us fall flat on our faces again.