Yes they're the ones we have to thank for our excellent goal difference, but this time its away, which might make a difference. Even the home side have complained about the state of the pitch. Without Lennon we're not quite the same team, having only won a single game since his departure in December and scored just 3 goals in the last six games.
The argument before Xmas was: we are doing very well so if it ain't broke, don't fix it.
But its not working very well at the moment so we might try some changes. With the going officially 'rough to ploughed' it looks as if Harry might have found a good reason not to play Pavlyuchenko again. His head's not right; he's not fit; other pairings are playing really well and now the pitch is unsuitable. The 'other pairings' argument won't wash as Defoe and Crouch are awful; Gudjohnsen isn't match fit as he recently demonstrated and Keane's fulfilling another of his boyhood dreams.
By process of elimination Roman should get a game but between him and his agent they seem to have seriously got up Harry's nose and I can't see it happening. Our game plan on a sub-standard pitch will be to keep it off the floor by playing cloud passes instead of wall passes to Crouch who will give it, one way or the other, back to Wigan. Modric in the meantime will wander about like Little Bo Peep in search of some sheep until he falls asleep under the haystack and gives way to Kranjcar. You've heard of mixed metaphors, well these are mixed nursery rhymes.
Why would an experienced manager whose career depends on results ignore a talented player? Because like you and me he is fallible and human. 'Harry not perfect shock' We all make mistakes and are distracted by personal feelings and I think that the assumption that Harry is acting irrationally is the most rational explanation. His approach to training doesn't fit in with Harry's old school approach which clearly doesn't help.
Pavlyuchenko came to us at a traumatic time and showed some spark amongst some lacklustre performances particularly when paired with Defoe. In 2008/09 he scored 14 goals and his goals to minutes played ( 1/150) was better than top scorer Darren Bent. This season his goals to minutes played (1/139)is better than that of Keane and Crouch and second only to Defoe. Statistics eh.You do the math.
I don't know whether he is the answer to all our current scoring problems but only that he should be given a go, with Crouch as the impact sub. I said last time that he should have started against Bolton and I think he should start against Wigan whatever the state of the pitch. The build up of games and the cup replay practically guarantees him a game in the coming weeks. We only have three front line strikers so Harry is going to have to mix it up even if we don't get injuries to Crouch and Defoe.
Perhaps the truth is that Harry doesn't rate Roman and his reported whingeing to the press just makes his return impossible. He keeps him on the bench purely as emergency back-up. He's like one of those kitchen fire extinguisher that you stick in the back of a cupboard somewhere but can't quite remember where. You know you're supposed to test them from time to time but never quite get round to it. Harry would quite probably be pleased to have sold him, whatever he says to the contrary, but Levy won't sanction the paper loss and an impasse has been reached.
Without Crouch we might at least get back to playing some decent football and give Modric a chance to influence the game. If Wigan can try to play football on it then so can we.. We are overdue a decent score and we might just get one on Sunday as they will be apprehensive whatever their motivation to avenge their crushing defeat
If Harry goes the other way we could even see Palacios and Kaboul patrolling the midfield up to their axles in mud and to hell with the football. Winning ugly I think they call it which is something apparently we've got to learn to do if we are to become a successful club. Funny sort of success it seems to me but I suspect I might just be in a minority. If he gets another chance I hope he takes it for Tottenham's sake, and for mine and Harry's too.