The Blog that's not always wrong.

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Let the rumour mill commence

Is it just me or is there a less frenzied and almost contented feeling around the place at the end of this season. The poem by BBLG and the entertaining summary by rez9000, riffing with the editor, seem to set the tone for a more relaxed attitude to the events of the 2008/2009 season.

Our performance on Sunday was poor but nobody seems to be really bothered. Much like the players in fact. There were very few posters on the match thread and there was nothing like the usual level of passion. Important players were missing it is true and perhaps the loss of Palacios in circumstances that put mere football into perspective have had an influence.

Perhaps underlying our attitudes is a feeling of relief that we did well enough not just to survive but to salvage some pride and to realise that maybe a season without Europe might play to our advantage. Perhaps the fate of Newcastle, where but for the Grace of God go Spurs, has given us a chastening taste of the horrors that we might well be enduring now.

Its seems to have been a long and in some ways harrowing season and it took until February for me to finally to feel safe. I know others were more relaxed, BBLG for one but as he says himself he has a reputation for being 'blindly optimistic'.

Is there a feeling that by and large we are happy with the squad and the manager, for the time being anyway. There has been a growing feeling that we don't want another year of upheaval and change, that we have a more than decent squad under a manager who not only steered us out of trouble but got the team performing more to their potential.

Of course its fun to join in the transfer rumour circus and to appraise the qualities of the dozens of players from all over the world who are reportedly on their way to the Lane. But we must know by now that the constant transfer activity has actually destabilised the club in the last decade.

Of course the squad could be improved but many of the names associated with us are barely upgrades on what we already have or are unlikely to come to us until we threaten the Champions' League positions.

Our first priority is to hold onto the gems in the squad, Modric and Lennon first of all and to build on the good feelings that our run in has produced, unlike last year when the poor performances after the Carling Cup should have alerted us to the disasters to come. We are facing the summer on a positive note and that has been reflected in the more cheerful outlook of posters on SC.

Most people are aware that we have had a narrow escape and this seems to have calmed us down. Not only do we not have a divine right to play in the Champions' League we don't even have the right to play in the Premiership. Newcastle have discovered like Leeds and Nottingham Forest that even the top names and the once top clubs can fall on hard times. I am grateful that we have not joined them.

Obviously some will draw the conclusion that this season proves the exact opposite: that even with a disastrous start, I think you all know the figures, the mighty Spurs will triumph over adversity and everything will come right in the end.

When it came to it we were too good to go down but for me it was a close run thing. The fight back probably started with the draw at Arsenal but a late equaliser at Sunderland and a late winner at Hull were the turning points and it could have all easily gone the other way. After an excellent performance in the Carling Cup we never looked back, although a 'blip' against Blackburn probably cost us the European place.

So let the rumour mill commence, I will do my best to ignore it and have vowed not to post on speculative transfer rumours in the hope that by ignoring them they will go away. I think this is known as the ostrich approach and I recommend it to all my fellow fans.

Written for Spurs Community fansite

Monday, 25 May 2009

Down to the wire and beyond

Well this incredible season fizzled out very tamely in the end. We played as if we didn't really want European football and gave Liverpool too much space to play in and played at too slow a tempo to stretch them. For the first 20 minutes we were completely outplayed. However Liverpool are a very good team and we should have had two goals from the ball over the top as they played a very high line. Its a pity we didn't try the tactic more often. Huddleston 'thou shouldst be living at this hour'.

The season went down to the wire as I forecast it would. However not with the threat of relegation which we shook off weeks ago but for European qualification. Funny old game and all that. I'm exhausted and judging by the slackening off of Topspur Columnist activity and the dwindling of contributions to one or two fan sites that I haunt in the early hours so are my fellow fans.

Taking into account our recent spate of injuries, Huddleston, Lennon, Dawson, Woodgate amongst others, it would seem that the players are too and I was not expecting great things at Liverpool despite our excellent record against them this year and other members of the Golden Four. So eighth it is then and what a fantastic effort and result that is.

In the end success went to the losers apart from us as Fulham lost and qualified for Europe; Sunderland and Hull lost and stayed up. I feel no hostility towards Newcastle as it so nearly could have been us. I hope we would have played with more spirit if we had needed to win to avoid relegation which was a possibility I wasdreading just after Xmas.

Harry may claim that we wanted the Europa but he didn't communicate this to the players and it smacks of PR correctness. Corluka especially seemed to be just going through the motions. Liverpool, playing for 'pride' alone, wanted the ball more than us and had a better idea of what to do with it when they got it. We need to work on this 'pride' aspect as its the foundation stone of any improvement next season.

Our performances starting at Hull in February have been, a couple of 'blips' excepted, a tribute to a settled defence and a team that has begun to play decent football in increasingly longer spells ( almost a full first half against Man. City). The impact of Palacios and the enthusiasm of Keane seems to have energised the squad.

Keane's performances unfortunately have failed to live up to the promise he showed against W.Brom but it is difficult to assess his influence behind the scenes. The goal today will have given him great satisfaction and with any luck draws a line under this season for him.

I hope that Harry is true to his word that he is only looking for a couple of quality upgrades and that he must sell before he can buy. The squad can obviously be improved: what squad couldn't? But I favour as little disruption as possible. Most of the people featured in the press are not upgrades at all and the rest fantasy football choices who won't come to us anyway. Cisse and Kenwynn Jones are in the first category and Barry in the second. Its going to be a long summer at the ITK rumour mill.

JimmyG2 awards for the Season

Worst decision. Excluding that refereeing decision at Man. Utd, Ledley's preferred leisure pursuits must rival the purchase of David Bentley and Pascal Chimbonda.
Top of my list however is making Robbie Keane captain and apparently undroppable and unsubbable.

Best decision Sacking Ramos and appointing Harry though I disputed both at the time, b you cant argue with the facts, two points from eight games and all.

Best Goal JJ's goal against Arsenal to get us back to 4-3. An example of the best of Jenas. A strong determined run and a fine finish.

Player of the Year Gomes and Ekotto deserve mention after being the butt of many fan Lennon's return to form is most welcome and yes he can cross. For me though
our one true world class player is Luka Modric and we must hold on to him.

Most abused player Darren Bent by a distance. Harry's missis could score some of those that he misses, but could she score the 17 that he has?
Honourable mention to Jenas who is criticised sometimes even when he doesn't play.

New Season hopes That Gareth Bale recaptures the confidence and form he has shown in the past.
That more of the fringe players are given the chance to step up especially Bostock,Obika,Taraabt,Giovani and Gunter.
That Huddleston is not allowed to leave.

Most fervent wish That we make a good start next season and are in the top six at Xmas. I don't want to be writing begging letters to Santa again this year. He was kind to me last year but I don't want to risk being put on his 'ignore' list.

Saturday, 9 May 2009

It doesn't add up Watson

I was sitting there at half time last week not quite sure whether to believe. We had stuck a foot in, nothing had fallen their way, Gomes was brilliant, we had ridden our luck and put our two chances away. What could go wrong?
Now this was not some shrewd analysis and tactical genius on my part. I always feel uncertain even though we had got that vital second goal . We kept it tight for fifteen minutes so that was another football adage ticked off and we had kept it tight for 120 minutes at Wembley so there was nothing to prepare us for the deluge to come.

But surely a dodgy penalty, or an iffy sending off shouldn't derail a team quite so badly.
But in the last blip against Blackburn the team and Harry were slow to react. There didn't appear to be a plan B. It might not have made any difference: taking Keane off and putting Zokora on for instance or substituting Corluka for Hutton but something needed to be done if only to prove to the team that there was some thinking going on in those fancy coaching seats and not just amateur dramatics.

I am not a subscriber to the 'blip' theory, the 'que sera sera' school of management. I want my manager and my captain to exert some influence on what is happening on the pitch. I want some analysis of what went wrong and how it can be prevented. Keane was all over the place and in truth hasn't played well for two or three games. Making him captain I predicted would be hostage to fortune and so it has transpired. But King was on the pitch, Jenas and Woodgate have all worn the armband this season but we played like tea strainers. Everything vital was allowed to pass through.

A good team, playing well, Europe glimpsed flirtatiously up an alleyway, five consecutive clean sheets at home, a possibility of an 89 yr old record of clean sheets at The Lane and we concede 5 goals in 30 minutes. Well of course it was at Old Trafford, and we do have form there and referees too. But I ask you. They are the world champion club side but we have matched them all the way this season but not for the final half hour on Saturday. It doesn't add up Watson.

It raises the old chestnut as to whether we are serial bottlers as this is not the first time we have given up a two or even a three goal league. Perhaps we lack something somewhere: another hatchet man in midfield; a sports psychologist on the touchline. But our current hard man was very fortunate to be still on the pitch after an aggressive two footed lunge at Ronaldo which fortunately didn't connect.

However we are at home this weekend against the bottom of the league, a footballing team that will offer us the opportunity to play but after last weeks collapse I am not as confident as I should be.

But in the event we had a stroll in the sun, kept a clean sheet again and won it with ease without actually exerting ourselves. We didn't play as if our thoughts were on Europe other than for our summer holidays.

Modric looked as if he was trying but the game was crying out for Huddleston to give us a bit of creativity and change the direction of the attack, and the pace of the game would have suited him. Keane was all over the place again and Lennon our most potent attacker. Gomes was brilliant and Ledley played with calm assurance in front of Capello. None of our England hopefuls did themselves any harm including Jenas.

Its a four way split for the 7th place Europa finish and with Liverpool and Everton to come, away, we might be pushed to make it. The Man City game is crucial but our goal difference is inferior to them and Fulham. But after the season we've had, two points in eight games in case you've forgotten, we've done well to be even thinking about it and from the lethargic way we played for most of the time today we look as if we've called time on this season.
We have this wonderful attitude and way of playing at times that endears me to Spurs. A sort of condescending arrogance. But after last week you sometimes wonder quite where it comes from and whether we deserve to employ it. I wouldn't have it any other way though