The Blog that's not always wrong.

Sunday, 31 January 2010

Yes we have no bananas

Anyone recognise these? Yep bananas. Know what they produce ? Yep banana skins. Know where most of them end up? Yep somewhere in the Spurs penalty box around the six yard area.

Just when you thought it was safe to stop just dreaming and actually check out the cost of flight and ticket packages to Madrid and Barcelona the dreaded curse of the extra time avenger strikes one of our defenders. At the beginning of the season sixth would have been fine: no problem. We had a near death experience last season and Harry ( God bless his Sacred Name ) came in and not only steadied the ship, but got the outboard motor going, the mainsail hoisted and the galley slaves rowing in roughly the same direction. Full steam ahead.

But now two last minute errors rob us firstly of easy progress in the Cup and leave a tricky tie at Leeds on Wednesday: secondly of any hint of clear water between us and our pursuers for the top four. We have been protected recently by other results but not yesterday. Liverpool won and are one point behind; Aston Villa won and are two points behind with a game in hand; City are one point behind and have two games in hand after beating Portsmouth.

In our last eight League games we have kept 6 clean sheets and only lost once. But 4 draws means that we haven't pushed our rivals hard enough. The team that can put a winning run together whether they are playing well or not will snatch the honours. We are playing well but not winning often enough. We're round Tattenham Corner into the home straight but the Stud Book says that we might not have the stamina for this distance.

We played well enough without creating and then missing a sackful of chances on this occasion. Modric surprisingly missed one and Crouch another when he got his right and left feet confused.. He played like the kid who no-one wants in their team in the playground until somebody says, ' You have him, we'll have kick off'. He contrived an assist from a ground level header to Defoe. Eidur must be anticipating on an early start especially if Robbie goes to Sunderland. He must think that he has more mates up there than on Tottenham High Road.

We had a rash of last minute losses a couple of seasons ago but now with the defence collecting clean sheets faster than a Hospital Matron during stocktaking and Gomes starring in 'The Clown who had the last laugh' show we thought we had put such things behind us. Bale and Dawson last week and Corluka this week are a nasty reminder that if you open too many cupboards a skeleton is bound to fall out eventually.

So now sixth is not good enough and seventh is worse than relegation to some. Expect calls for the sacking of Harry and the transfer of Corluka any time now. Bentley who was at one time not fit to wear the shirt is now a superstar even though he appears to be playing in a different time zone than the rest of the players on the pitch and when he gets the ball time stands still. Unfortunately opposition defenders do not. But he played well enough.

Ledley King played twice in five days, though I'm not sure why. Defoe scored, Bale was excellent for the fifth game running, and we controlled the game with relative ease. For 91 minutes we were well on the way to throwing down the gauntlet to our rivals with a rendition of the Dave Clarke Five's 1965 hit 'Catch us if you can'.

Then Corluka failed to track the ambling approach of Ridgewell, I hesitate to call it a run, who calmly robbed us of two points. Charlie may well get crucified for it but it was more a case of corporate manslaughter since Dawson, Ledley and Gomes were all culpable. Jenas who had been on the pitch for a full two minutes will probably get the blame in the end.

Leeds (Wednesday. On ITV) They are at home and will be up for it so we will probably beat them easily. Hutton, Jenas, Bassong and Kranjcar might well come in with Modric and Palacios on the bench and hopefully rested for the home game against Villa at the weekend. Another winnable game, at home, though I use the term loosely. 'Winnable' not 'game' that is.

For those that care. 'Yes we have no bananas' Broadway musical song from 1922. Popular during the 40's and early 50's when yes, we had no bananas. No really.

Thursday, 28 January 2010

Hoodoo. What Hoodoo?

Safe from relegation before the end of January. When did that last happen? And the hoodoo has been jinxed and the jinx has been hoodood. We finally won a Premiership game with Gareth Bale starting. Luka Modric was back to his best and the stand out player on the pitch. He combined with our flying full back to put Fulham to the sword. We competently put a moderate Fulham side away and apart from a brave save by Gomes early on without any alarms of excitement until the final minutes when Dawson in his zeal to protect Gomes who was injured nearly cocked it up again. His heart's in the right place.

They had little bite in midfield and no edge up front. It allowed Palacios and Huddlestone the time to play well. So the choice seems to be between excitement and thrills ending with a loss or a draw or a routine, competent, possibly boring win. I think I know which most Spur's fans would go for, at the moment anyway.

Following the surprise appearance of Pavlyuchenko we had the even more surprising appearance of Bentley who knuckled down and curbed his more flamboyant side and was all the better for it. Modric reacted with style to Schwartzer's flap to set up Crouch and Bentley got a deflection off the wall to wrong foot the keeper again for the second. A little bit of luck going our way at last. Thankfully we didn't overdo the long ball.

Only Defoe struggled to influence the game and could perhaps do with a rest. He made little of his partnership with Crouch and the same when paired with Keane. Only he and Pavlyuchenko have shown any signs of an understanding. Ledley looked sound and mentored both Dawson and Bale. He kept his eye on the shop when Gareth popped out for one of his little trips.

If we are going to reap the benefits of having one the best young attacking fullbacks in the country then we need to provide cover for him and allow him to do his thing. We don't need to keep complaining that he makes the odd defensive error or hasn't mastered the black arts of defensive positional play. He's 20 for God's sake. Hoodoo sorted now let's relax and give the boy room to play.

Against Birmingham away we will have to step up. This is important in the same way that the Liverpool game was important. Anyone remember what happened there? We can promote our own cause and deal a potential rival a severe blow. Once again results are going our way, Wolves drawing with Liverpool; Aston Villa dropping points at home to Arsenal, Birmingham's unbeaten run ending at Chelsea. The great result fixer in the sky is certainly trying to give us a hand.. Now its up to us to help ourselves.

Birmingham have scored a measly 9 goals in their 11 home games and with our tight defensive record it looks like a low scoring game. With Chelsea putting paid to their 12 match unbeaten run in midweek it might be a good time to play them. They have a good record at home this season and against us. King won't be available after his appearance against Fulham. Doubts over the fitness of Gomes are a worry. If Kranjcar is still ill we might see the same midfield with Bentley preferred to Rose and Modric on the left. Up front probably Defoe and Crouch unless Pavlyuchenko has recovered

We seem to have players back or running into form, Modric, Palacios, Huddlestone and Bale so the result will depend on our ability to take our chances. I don't think they will score so a 2-0 win is my forecast.

An interesting sidelight against Fulham was that we played the game with 11 British players in the squad of 17 and had 6 English players on the pitch for most of the game. (Defoe,Couch, Dawson, Huddlestone, King and Bentley) and under an English manager. Is this a recent record? Does it signify anything? Does it matter? I don't know but in curious way I am pleased but not sure why.

With a Lithuanian grandfather; a mother who was half Irish; a stepfather from an Italian family; daughters who live and work abroad and grandchildren who are bi-lingual I don't think it is for racial or nationalistic reasons.

It is probably a futile nostalgia for the old days of one club players and a mutual loyalty between fans and players; not having to worry whether a richer or more successful club will seduce your best players; of bringing up your players in the traditions of the club; of having to succeed by recruiting, coaching and nurturing home grown talent and not just buying them from the ' Mercenary Force Catalogue of Overseas Players' who just want trophies and money and who will desert you if a better offer comes along.

Oh dear Jimmy you are really showing your age now. 'Time to go to bed now Jim. I said,  TIME TO GO TO BED NOW JIM'. Goodness knows what he'd have been like if his team had lost to Fulham. Bless him.

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Fulham Preview. Jermain to score again.

Number four on my list of games we need to win if we are going anywhere this season. By 'anywhere' I mean top class venues in Europe. We have not done well enough lately although we have only lost 2 in eight in the league and 2 in 10 in all games. We have kept six clean sheets in that time. The draw at Hull, the loss to Liverpool, the disappointment against Leeds have all contrived to take the wind out of our sails and left us just a little becalmed.

Is it possible to be becalmed and irate at the same time? The players' attitude against Liverpool was depressing and the game against Leeds was a roller coaster of both delight and despair. Or possibly a bungee jump between delight and despair. Or perhaps a ghost train ride between delight and despair. Or the Big Dipper...but I think you've got the general drift here. Life's a fairground.

Fulham have a poor record at White Hart Lane although results at home and away are usually close.
The hero against Leeds, Pavlyuchenko has a thigh strain and will probably not be available. Just as he was going to make his breakthrough. Maybe. If you don't train properly and only play 20mins. every 6months what do you expect. Well that's what Harry says.

Huddlestone and King are doubtful, Lennon is out . I am not expecting any surprise selections. Rose is worth another run out and Jenas, Palacios and Modric will start. Up front we are back to Defoe and Crouch unless Keane is given a start alongside Crouch, or Defoe. Clearly I haven't a clue here. Gio and O'Hara are unlikely starters but may be on the bench, although the rumour is that Gio is going out on loan to somewhere warm. Corluka, Dawson, Bassong and Bale will take their positions ahead of Gomes, our hero in this fixture at The Cottage.

Making chances has not been a problem lately, but taking them has and an early goal would be welcome. We've only scored in the first ten minutes once in the last 11 games since Wigan. I'm down to the cuticles but it stops you biting your nails. Leeds was the first game since Man.Utd when we haven't gone on to win after scoring the first goal.

Fulham have some injury problems but Bobby Zamora might be fit for this one. Kamara and Davies are also in line for comebacks having both been named among the substitutes for the Cottagers' FA Cup fourth-round tie at Accrington on Saturday. Andy Johnson was ruled out of that match with a knee problem and faces a late fitness test, while Etuhu is still on African Nations Cup duty with Nigeria. Dempsey, Konchesky and Pantsil are all still out.

I can't say I've got a good feeling about this because Tottenham seem to have lost their way a little. On overall form we must be favourites and we need to win it if we are to maintain any pressure on those around us. We have tougher games to come, starting at Birmingham on Saturday.

If Defoe does score, and its about time, it won't be from a penalty according to Harry following the revelation that Jermain has missed six of his last ten penalties, a story that I have yet to confirm. Typically Harry announced this to the media but is going to tell him when he gets around to it. Just as he starts his run up I should think. Modric is proposed as a possible taker but I think he missed his last one for Croatia.

I predict a narrow home win. (2-1). But please don't put your housekeeping or pension money on it as I will not be able to carry both the guilt of your financial ruin and the the strain of supporting Spurs.

Sunday, 24 January 2010

And the Spurs go stumbling on

And the Spurs go stumbling on. A missed penalty and a rash, unnecessary challenge prevented us winning but we did go one better than United and managed not to lose. If I were a neutral I would have enjoyed this exciting cup tie but fans on the whole would take a boring win over an exciting draw any day.

It should have been all over within the first 20mins. But once again determined defending and inspired goalkeeping plus Defoe's fourth missed penalty in a row contrived to keep it level. There was no doubt who were the Premiership side at this point and I would gladly buy the video with the penalty edited out of the first half hour. Eventually a brilliant run by Bale, the first of several, set up Kranjcar for a first time shot which the goalkeeper stopped with his feet and Crouch gratefully scored our first from the rebound. Defoe was denied a very reasonable penalty shout but the referee knew that we would probably have missed it anyway.

They equalised soon after the break after some lethargic defending, mainly by Jenas, from a corner. It was that man Beckford, obviously, that scooped the ball over the line from a sitting position. After that Leeds rivaled us for passing and movement and it was not clear now which team were said to be challenging for Champions' league.

Harry finally took some decisive steps just to prove that he can. Rose who was making his first 1st team start was subbed for Palacios brought in to help Jenas out in midfield. It was good to see Rose given the chance. He looked quick and industrious but made little impact. Bale beat the full back more often than he did.

Pavlyuchenko, too,made an entrance with 20mins. to go and it took him 4mins. and 11 secs to score. So that makes Harry either a genius or an idiot for not playing him more often. You choose. Keane came on at the same time and once again looked interested and effective. I groaned at the sight of Keane and cheered at the glimpse of Pavlyuchenko. If there were any footballing justice Crouch would never again be preferred to our Russian misfit. It probably won't arise because he is rumoured to be on his way. I am not so sure about this myself. We had a goal ruled offside on a very marginal call and everything came down to the final five minutes of extra time.

Keep the ball and run down the clock is the usual advice on this. Not at Tottenham clearly. We went for broke and glory and eventually ceded possession. Cue Dawson's rush of blood bringing that man Beckford down on the byline in a non-threatening position. He got up and thrashed the penalty into the roof of the net. The replay is on February 2nd. Bale played well for the third game running and was credited with the Man of the Match award.

Dawson and Bassong however played as if they had never met and Dawson headed almost everything straight back to their midfield. Had Leeds been as ruthless in front of our goal as they were in front of theirs they might, but for Gomes, have had a couple of goals in the first half. They are a good, strong team but we should have won this by keeping our heads. Jenas was lethargic and didn't give Modric who played well in his unfussy way enough support in midfield and should have scored after an enterprising run.

We are in a bit of a sticky patch with poor decisions by the players and the officials going against us. But we are still in the cup and 4th in the league. Harry has given a young player a go and there was that rare sighting of Pavlychenko. Keane is no longer first choice, Bale has more than delivered on my expectations. We didn't even lump the ball up to Crouch that often.

If we beat Fulham on Tuesday my cup will be at least more than half full even if it does not not quite runneth over. Liverpool game? What Liverpool game? That's buried deep in the memory to be dredged out when they beat us for the 4th. Champion' League spot.

Friday, 22 January 2010

The beginning of the end

News item
Lancashire police have denied that they assisted in the high-jacking of the Tottenham team coach on Wednesday evening and accompanied the coach to Anfield. Liverpool University students completed the fixture in look-alike masks.
Barry Catflap who stood in for the Tottenham manager said,'I thought I'd blown it when I replaced two defenders with, er defenders and brought on Robbie Keane but it looked as if Spurs might be getting back into the game at the time'
The FA will not investigate as it was all for charity and Tottenham have been at the forefront of charity over the years.

Where are you on the 'suicide / couldn't give a shit, knew we wouldn't get fourth anyway' matrix today?
Or for that matter the 'Harry is our saviour and should not be criticised / Nah small time and will never get us to the next level' index?
Is this the beginning of the end, or the end of the beginning? With 16 matches to go statistically there is still all to play for but that's not how it feels. Liverpool, with our help, are back on the road and it looks as if the top four cartel will continue. The fact that Arsenal are top of the league having come back from 2-0 down to Bolton and might win it playing the kind of football we can only aspire to only adds to the trauma.

We didn't play badly at Anfield. Actually we didn't really play at all. We had plenty of possession, for passages of the game we dominated but we never really threatened. We lost not to a better team but to a more organised and determined one.

Key players like Modric and Kranjcar performed poorly but if you consistently punt the ball 60yds. over their heads how can they contribute? When we got the ball down Palacios, Jenas, and Modric almost contrived a goal. Time and time again the pattern of play was: Gomes to Dawson; Dawson long punt to Crouch; Crouch poor header; Liverpool get possession. Not once but nearly twenty times until I lost count. It's not good football and it didn't work .

I suggested at the time that the signing of Crouch would be a retrograde step and was assured by Harry fans that the route one method was not in his plans. Crouch's height was a useful tactic to be used sparingly. It hasn't worked out that way very often and it certainly didn't last night. Defoe is a moody striker who needs a scoring partner to fill in the gaps. Even our disgruntled Russian is worth a try.

We are still fourth but can be overtaken by Villa and Man.City. We are not on the edge of a precipice here, perhaps just a grassy knoll. There has been a gradual decline in our points per game ratio and scoring tally. In the first seven games we scored 17 goals in the league and got 15pts. In the last eight we scored 10 goals and got 11 pts. But now is when the physical and psychological pressure begins and last night's game suggests that we may not be up for it.

I think Harry got the tactics wrong and for large parts of the game excluded our key players. He also got his substitutions wrong although I assume Ledley's was for injury reasons rather than tactical ones which would have made no sense. Bassong and Dawson could have quite happily continued for me, they have done well. Swapping right backs is at best a hopeful gesture as is bringing on Robbie Keane on his present form.

If you are going to change the game you need game changing manoeuvres. Bring on players who might make a difference: Gio, Pavlyuchenko or Rose, or change the formation: put Modric or Kranjcar closer to the front men, swap wings, but play more football and cut out the long ball.
Play to our strengths. We could have matched them by going 451, that would have been better for all the good that Crouch was. O'hara might have been a good starter for this one. I'm not even sure I want to win playing the way we did last night.

Am I calling for Harry to be sacked? I am not. Do we need a new job lot of players? We do not. Constant change and the search for messiahs and saviours has been our downfall for too long.
Am I a bit over the top after a defeat in a game that had Defoe's wrongly disallowed goal been allowed to stand the result might have been different? Probably. Do I think we will finish mid table? No. I think we are likely to miss out on Champions' league but should finish 6th. which at the beginning of the season was what I had hoped for.

A little more flexibility from Harry over players, substitutions and tactics and we can beat Leeds at the weekend and Fulham next week and we will all feel a little better. But although poor performances may be forgiven they can never be forgotten. Otherwise how will we learn from them? Leeds at the Lane should be a foregone conclusion if we play football. 'Should be' and 'if' show how confident I am.

This game was an unpleasant reminder of the Spurs that always seems to lurk just around the corner and which we thought, or hoped, had been quietly buried this season. The skeletons fell out of the cupboard with some clatter at Anfield. Everton, Stoke, Wolves and Hull and the performances against the top four in general are post it notes on the Tottenham fridge reminding us of the Spurs that promises so much and delivers so little when it really matters.

This was the game that will very likely define our season. The game when we could have put so much history behind us and the chance to deal a real blow to one of our main rivals. And we didn't take it.

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

B is for Boaz,Buses,Barcelona and Bale.

Once again I got this one nearly right. They didn't score, as I correctly predicted, but I forgot to factor in that they might not only bring a goalkeeper with them but one who was destined to have the best afternoon of his life. Step forward Boaz Myhill. You can't blame Harry for this one whatever alterations you might make in starting line up and substitutions. We created more than enough chances to win it (11 shots on target to their none) and totally dominated the whole game.(63% possession: 14 corners to 1) Gomes was arrested after the game for loitering without intent. In fact I question whether we need a keeper.Can't we play 11 outfield players?

I watched the Barcelona/Seville game on Saturday night to compensate for the disappointment and was struck by the differences. Now I admit that Messi is the finest player on the planet and Barcelona our earthly representatives in the Inter- Galaxy Cup. I am not expecting us to turn into Barcelona overnight but there must be lessons to be learned. They played with such speed of thought; such awareness of space and of the movement of team-mates; such quickness of feet and pace on the ball; such instant control; such calmness in front of goal; such restrained use of the long ball. Now these are comparisons with a team at the highest level but if we hope to compete in this manner, which I think we do, then we need to start improving our flair, skill and attitude to the game.

We have a settled squad of good players who should be responding to each other with greater awareness. We play so few clever one twos in and around the box. We are good individually but have not yet forged the vital understandings between pairs and groups of players. Without Lennon we are one paced and one dimensional. We are skilful but somewhat pedestrian in our approach. The build up is patient but lacks that sudden injection of pace on the ball that confuses and unsettles teams. We seem to go head on at packed defences.

More and more bottom half teams desperate to retain their Premiership Status will play ugly, employ negative, anti football measures and park the bus. It is a tribute to our new status as a team to be respected of course but it needs to be dealt with at the individual skill level, at the team tactic level and at the club mentality level.

A gap has opened up between Birmingham in 8th on 33 pts and Fulham in 9th on 27 pts and anywhere below this there will be teams willing to do anything within and on the edge of the laws of the game to stay clear of the big drop.The spirit of the game as embodied in the Barcelona style is another matter. With the financial repercussions severe for failure for the club and the employment prospects grim for managers without continued success the concept of the beautiful game is difficult to sustain.

Of course if we had beaten Hull, or Stoke , or Wolves we could almost be top. If we had won every game as some fans expect, we would have almost won the league by now. We didn't, we haven't, move on. Nobody does and nobody will. Just think how Liverpool, Man.City and Aston Villa fans feel because they, like us, missed their chance to close the gap. Its happening this season and it will happen more and more.

At Liverpool on Wednesday we need to refocus. They are more desperate for points than us and are at home. No buses will be parked and we should do better in a more open game. We didn't get the expected bonus of the three points against Hull but we played well enough to go to Liverpool on a clean sheet roll and turn them over. They are without key players, low on morale and can be beaten. The hubcaps came off in the first game of the season and the wheels shortly after. What's left is propped up on bricks. With Alonso gone and Torres, Gerrard, and Benayoun out, the engine has been removed. Shortly they might well be advertising for a new driver.

The postponement worked to their disadvantage and I have upgraded my 1-1 draw prediction to a narrow away win (2-1). We can't miss as many chances two games running and last time I checked their goalkeeper was not Boaz Myhill. We might start with Defoe and Pavlyuchenko just to see if it works, and Jenas will come in for the injured Huddlestone. O'hara is available and might partner Palacios. The permutations are almost several. Lennon and probably King are still out.

Which brings me to the boy Bale. In my view he is one of the brightest prospects to be seen at The Lane for years unless he is driven out by mindless references to his appearance and ignorant rants about hexes, hoodoos and other superstitious claptrap. He has overcome a series of injuries with resilience, has an excellent attitude and displays the kind of flair, pace and skill that will make him a Spurs legend in the years to come.

Now it is a fact, an undeniable statistic that we have not won a game in the Premiership when Gareth has started the match. That doesn't make it his fault. We stopped burning witches some 300 yrs ago. He was possibly our best player on Saturday. How then can he be blamed because Keane, Defoe and Crouch missed good chances. If we are not careful we will not be in a position to get rid of him, he will have been snapped up by a more successful teams than us who realise his qualities. Barcelona perhaps?

So there you have it: Boaz, Buses, Bale and Barcelona. Next week its Crumpet, Crouch, Cavity walls and Cowdenbeath. What happened to the 'A's? I'm working on it.

Friday, 15 January 2010

Its people that lie not statistics

If statistics ever made a game a formality then Saturday's visit of Hull is the text book case. Currently 19th in the league without an away win and conceding close to 3 goals per game away from home they are a perfect choice of opponents for us to start the next phase of the season. They have gone 15 games without a win or a clean sheet. Considering that we beat them 5-1 away this should be as routine a win as you could predict.

We have scored 26 goals at home and Hull by a neat mathematical coincidence have conceded 26 goals away. A win would mean that we have achieved the safety of 40 points before the end of January. I am still researching the last time we did that. Only Man.Utd have scored more than once against us at home. Hull have the worst record in the Premiership for shots. What can possibly go wrong

Am I forgetting Wolves or Stoke? Or Hull last year at home? No, but the momentum is different for both teams this year and after our Winter break we should be raring to go for this one. A handsome victory will set us up for Liverpool on Wednesday and get the win that would hammer a nail or three into the Liverpool coffin. They might even be without a manager by then as they have a tricky tie against Stoke to come. A win against Hull would give us a real boost and the reversal of the two fixtures is certainly to our advantage.

Liverpool have just been knocked out of the cup by Reading, and Torres, Benayoun and Gerrard have all sustained injuries which make them unlikely to figure next Wednesday. So much for those who cried conspiracy when they applied for the game to be postponed. It seems to have worked in our favour which was always a possibility. This might just be evidence of a fair and just God who suffers from a Tottenham bias. Or is it benefits?

King will probably be fit for the weekend and it is a good chance to extend our clean sheets to six in a row in all games. I'm still researching this one too.. Its 9yrs. since we kept clean sheets for five league games in a row. There is no news of Lennon at the moment but I think I would save him for Liverpool in any case and possibly King too. Jenas could give Modric or Kranjcar a rest for part of the game at least. Bale has his golden chance to start a winning Premiership fixture.

I lived in and around Hull for many years and both my daughters are eligible to play cricket for Yorkshire so I do have a softish spot for them. Cue local jokes about Spring Bank Cemetery and the East Park boating lake: if its still there.. However I will be more than happy for us to show them our inhospitable side and take the chance to give our goal difference a healthy boost. It might just be useful in the final reckoning.

There is never a formality in football, statistical or otherwise and especially with Spurs but why would anyone argue with these figures?
So the JG2 prediction is 4-0 to the mighty Spurs.

Transfer Window

No news is good news on the transfer front for me as one by one our alleged targets are going elsewhere or staying put. Most of them were figments of the football journalists imaginations anyway. Sandro is apparently down to mere details like the transfer the fee and a work permit. Mere details that shouldn't take Daniel Levy more than a couple of transfer windows to sort out. Remember Arshavin!

We are short of back-up for Palacios and Sandro may or may not be the answer but he certainly won't be until next season. O'Hara is a much better bet . He won't cost anything, his wages are reasonable and he won't take more than an hour to slot back in. Get him back Daniel you know it makes sense. If Pavlyuchenko stays until the summer he might just get a game. A loan to Birmingham looks the most likely eventuality because if we are hoping to get our money back on him we might waiting a long time. But whose fault is that?

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Transfer terms explained

Here are some explanations of a few of the terms currently used in transfer rumours in the press.

Ace _______Prolific striker who hasn't scored lately or he wouldn't be on the transfer list.
Battle_____ Agent and press attempt to raise interest in a player nobody wants.
Bid_______ An offer roughly half of what selling club are asking.
Bidding war:_____ Agents' fantasy over player who is difficult to shift.
Close in on:______ Rumoured transfer from last week but still not finalised.
Chase:_____No interest but agent attempts to stir some up.
Considering:______ Nothing happening on rumoured transfer
Coveted:___Player they would like but can't afford.
Flop:______Overpriced and no chance of getting their money back
Hit-man: ___ Striker but see 'ace'.
Launch:____First time rumour has been mentioned.
Leading the chase____The only club interested.
Linked:____Very vague rumour
Land:______Sign. Or as in 'hope to land' not signed.
Makeweight:_________Afterthought by journalist to make an unlikely deal even less likely.
Misfit:____Aging or young player who prefers local nightlife to training.
Offload:___Attempt to transfer 'misfit'.
Pounce:___ Sign player that's been hawked around for months who nobody wants
Pecking order:
(Slipped down)_______ Was a good player when signed but out of favour now.. See 'misfit'.
Race______ See 'chase' but even more agent hype.
Reportedly: __________No interest whatsoever.
Run the rule over:____Send brother in law to have a look as he lives close by.
Red hot form:_________Scored last week and the week before.
Star:______Midfield equivalent of 'Ace'
Shock Bid:_ See 'pounce'. But pay well over the odds.
swap:______Agents' wet dream scenario.
Slot in.___Target plays in the same position as injured player. See 'targeted'
Snub:______Offer ignored by player who had no desire to move in the first place.
Surplus to requirements:_ Replaced by player signed in the last window.
Splash out:__Pay well over the odds for player they don't really need.
Targeted:____Identify player and drop hints in interviews that you like him.
Tracked: ____Manager being pestered by an agent.
Thought to be interested in: ___Complete fabrication by journalist
Understood to be interested in:_Complete fabrication by a colleague of journalist.
Want away._Dropped and angling for a move without actually putting in a transfer request.

Any additions or new definitions welcome.I can't remember now why they introduced the January transfer window. It should be scrapped and the once a year window applied to managers as well.

Friday, 8 January 2010

Mersey beat? Probably not.

I am not quite certain how we lost our cherished banana skin outfit but its pretty clear that Man.Utd found it. There is no reward for its safe return. Keep it, you're welcome. We still have the casual wear Premiership 'blip' jacket but with any luck we will soon dispose of this too. By a peculiar irony we drew Leeds, at The Lane in the next round of the Cup. So far in the Carling and F.A.Cups against teams in the lower leagues (Doncaster, Preston and Peterborough ) we have won handsomely, scoring 14 goals against 2.

I am outside the UK at the moment and for the first time in months I couldn't get a stream or even a live commentary for the Peterborough game so had to make do with the Official Site live text. But I've now read enough blogs, fan sites, newspaper reports and watched the video highlights so many times that I feel as if I was actually there.

By all accounts we dominated the game; their goalkeeper was outstanding and just as we were beginning to think the worst Kranjcar popped up with a beauty to settle the nerves. As I had forecast we ran out more than comfortable winners and the boy Bale started a winning game again although not in the Premiership. He clocked up two assists and will have his chance to put the Premiership hoodoo behind him this week at Anfield. Gomes once again made a couple of fine saves later on when we got bored. Dawson and the Croatians were outstanding again: Keane was not

The fact that my forecasts are getting more accurate is not down to some mystical influence on my part, well not completely anyway, but because the team itself is playing more predictably. It is playing with more confidence in itself, the players with each other and reaping the rewards of a settled squad.

The Liverpool game is more of a 'mustn't lose' rather than a 'must win' as a draw would preserve the 4 point gap between us. However a win would deal a mortal blow to Liverpool's top four hopes. It would be better to watch and more effective if we took the game to them as we play better in attacking mode and even at Anfield they are vulnerable having lost twice already.

With 19 games left no single result is crucial in itself but in terms of confidence and relieving the pressure a draw would maintain our breathing space. But the double over Liverpool for the first time since 1986/7, I think, would at least launch us into the second half of the battle for the top four in style. It's 16yrs since we beat them at Anfield (1993/4: goals by Sheringham) but we only with drew with them at home that year.

Lennon, Ekotto and Woodgate are definitely out; but Jenas, Defoe and King could all be fit for Sunday. Will Harry rely on the fluidity of Kranjcar and Modric in midfield alongside Palacios and Huddlestone? Or away from home will he play more defensively and use Jenas to give us width and pace in midfield, on the opposite wing to Modric? Bale will need support when he gets forward so I would play Jenas there. It's a pity that O'Hara isn't back from Portsmouth.

Defoe will probably start with Crouch who is useful defensively at set pieces.. Torres though not quite at peak form is always dangerous as he proved against Aston Villa but I back King against him. Gerrard needs closing down quickly. Kyte is honest but lacks the pace to trouble our Gareth and with Johnson out we might make some profit down the left.

Liverpool will be looking to make a statement but they may have picked the wrong team to make it against. They will certainly be more nervous than us and have more to lose. The official JG2 forecast after all this is a draw (1-1 ) .The importance of winning might just get to us, although it didn't against Man.City, and home advantage might inspire Liverpool to play above their current level. My heart tells me that we could win it in a tight game but my head tells me that a draw is the likely result and not totally unacceptable to them ,us, me or Harry. But you could always upset the oracle boys by making it a double, I won't really mind.

I am studiously ignoring all newspaper transfer and ITK speculation until I read confirmed signings on the Official Site although this is a pledge I have ignored on several occasion when excitement, disbelief or sheer irritation overwhelms me.