Every picture tells a story
Good performance, shame about the result. That's the winner of the 'Write a gravestone inscription' competition for the Spurs post-mortem at the end of the season. Not that we'll be dead but we might not be living the high life as much as we all hoped. What more could we have done? Well, scored is the obvious answer against Villa,and on one or two other occasions, but you can only play well and see what happens. Visiting keepers are clearly on a banker's bonus when they come to WHL.
Harry got some stick for not changing it around with stalemate looming but I agree with him, which I don't always do. We could have scored at any time in the last 25mins and changing Crouch for Gudjohnsen might not have produced any more chances for us to miss than it did in any case. He has come unstuck more than once lately with substitutions and, as he did at Leeds, he left things alone. Another 12 corners without a goal says something about our training ground methods though.
We need to continue to play well and create chances and forget about where we might finish. It's largely out of our hands in any case. No forward misses chances on purpose, or runs offside deliberately. Villa defended well, which is what Villa do. Their quick counter attacks didn't really materialise and the only time they did Gomes made his usual early saves to keep us in the game.
Bale played well but Corluka was excellent. He not only proved that our decision to keep Bentley and not splurge another £15 million on the innocuous Downing was far-sighted. If he and Bentley ever reach some sort of understanding they will be a formidable combination. Lennon may well be back before then though. It's far too late for regrets for all those teams that declined to take our wayward winger off our hands. You had your chance.
We played well, always my first requirement; attractive attacking football against a team admittedly that didn't take us on. Ledley, playing his third game in 11 days, smoothly marshaled his back line,nearly scored twice and guarded the old homestead while young gad-fly Gareth set off on his escapades.
Now in the light of all this what will happen at Wolves? We will almost certainly out-class them and make several chances. We will probably, on the law of averages, score two or three and improve our clean sheet record. Arsenal will beat Liverpool; Manchester Utd will beat Villa and we will go back into the top four. Cue jubilation and regrets that we didn't beat Hull, Villa and all those other teams that we dominated.
If it all goes wrong we will be back in 7th. Cue even more regrets over lost points. Harry will be crucified for his substitutions or for his lack of substitutions. Not literally crucified of course: well probably not literally. My patented wrist slashing kits will sell like hot bagels again and revive the Stock Market almost single handedly. If we lose, and Birmingham beat W.Ham, which is not totally impossible, we will start to worry whether we will even make Europe.
OK,OK!: I'm just painting a worst case scenario and honestly don't care if I never sell another wrist kit again (available in three distinctive packs to match our home,away, and third kit colours at very reasonable prices). Defoe, like most strikers, scores in fits and starts and could probably do with a strike partner who fills in the gaps when he is in a lean spell. But at the moment we haven't got one unless Gudjohnsen proves to be a better buy than I think he is, so we can only sit back and enjoy the ride.
This is not complacency; like the graceful swan I am all elegant geniality on the surface and ferocious turmoil underneath. But it won't help the team convert chances into goals and its creating chances that matters. Even the places in the top four are a lottery and in the chasing pack with their inconsistencies even more so. Injuries, poor refereeing decisions, a missed chance, a brilliant save can all effect the final positions. We are in with a good chance and doing things the right way. I'm lovin it.
Talk of next levels and managers or players who may or may not get us there is an itch that is just out of reach. Like the toothache that disappears the moment you get an appointment, and like your teeth, it's all in your head. Take your mind off it, crack open a tinnie, and I'm talking lager here, not substances, and enjoy the game.