As long as they don't moor it in their goalmouth,
Victory should be ours!
In the great debate over whether this season has been a success; a huge disappointment; a disaster, or a step on the road to Glory, Glory, Sunday is the first of seven or hopefully eight games that will help us establish exactly where we are on the great Spurs Happiness Matrix.
Lose to Portsmouth and the doom sayers will be out in force excitedly predicting the downfall of Harry (notgoodenoughfor thenextlevel) Redknapp and his merry band of ex-pro's, lifelong media chums, goal scoring wife and all. Not that it's likely given the state of Pompey who seem to be constantly in a new state of crisis.. However beware of wounded wild animals and enumerating chickens before they emerge from the shell.
The fact that we have to play three of the 'Top Four' means that we haven't played them twice already. This might be why we are still breathing down City's neck in fifth. I think we need to get three points from these games, somewhere or somehow and beating Arsenal would be the most enjoyable way of doing it. Beating Bolton at home, Burnley away and drawing at Man.City would give us ten points and a total of 68. Liverpool would have to win all five of their games to beat this and since they have to play Chelsea this is unlikely. Man City have to play us and United and on the magic predictor I make them fall one point short of our likely total.
So it's still on: 4th and a Cup Final. We need to get some of our absent friends back, Lennon, Dawson and Huddlestone would be nice. We need to play well in all our remaining matches to achieve undeniable success but even if we fall at the last hurdle in the Cup and miss out on top four by a point or two this has been a hugely enjoyable season and for me progress along the Glory Glory trail.
Does this make me defeatist? A loser? Lacking in ambition? A bottler? A typical Spurs supporter lacking in mental strength like our team? Obviously I think not. First of all achieving either of these goals through fouling and kicking our opponents, by moaning after the match and trying to intimidate the ref during it invalidates for me the joy of any success. On the whole we have not taken this route and have played good football in the right Tottenham spirit and tradition .If we can't achieve it the right way then the prize is worthless.
Sir Alec moaning after Man.Utd's elimination from the Champions' League about the Bayern players clamouring for young Raphael to be sent off brings to mind pots and kettles. Where were the templates for such behaviour fashioned if not at Chelsea and Manchester? And Arsene Whinger and his inability to see his own team's shortcomings is an example that I am pleased to see that Harry avoids. I am a big admirer of Wenger but, like Harry, he is not perfect and though I blame league regulations for allowing Arsene to field a team and a bench without one native player at times his one eyed take on matters Arsenal makes him look ridiculous: loyal but ridiculous.
So the first step on our campaign for glory is against a Portsmouth side laid low by financial incompetence, or worse , which has affected their ability to field a team worthy of the occasion. O'Hara, probably their best player, is again ineligible and several are injured. We should win by two or three goals again, whoever from our depleted squad manages to limp onto the pitch. The folly of bringing back players before they are fully fit was well illustrated by Ferguson playing Rooney, probably just to get up Capello's nose, and I hope that Harry is not tempted to do so. We shouldn't need to resort to desperate measures against Portsmouth.
Apparently Modric and Lennon have only played five times together this season. Tellingly we won all five . But all teams get injuries and all teams win games that they are not expected to and lose those that they seem certain to win. At the end of the 38 games wherever we finish will be our just deserts and I won't be looking back wistfully at Wolves, Stoke or Sunderland to find out where we blew it, if indeed we do.
I hope that Modric seizes the Wembley occasion to showcase his abilities and establish himself as not only our best player but a contender in the World Class stakes. He has suffered this season firstly because of our injuries he has been sacrificed for the sake of the team. He is not playing in his best position, linking with Bale on the left. He has been forced to play as a central midfielder which limits his creative talents and cramps his style. He flourishes when given a free role but circumstances have ruled this out .
Secondly he has taken longer to recover from his injuries than we hoped and has not been at his best at all times. Lennon is our only other nominee for 'world class' status but he too has had his season disrupted by injury and we need to see if he makes as much progress when he returns as he made prior to it. Bale will be another potential contender as he matures and we will do well to hold onto these three if we don't quite make the Champions' League.
Such is the apparent spirit within the club, Ekotto's and Corluka's little tiff not withstanding, and the panache of some of our play makes me reasonably sure that we won't lose any of our best players whatever happens. We can make more sure by winning in style on Sunday and I am confident that we will. Ekotto may play at right back as Kaboul and Walker are cup tied and Corluka is not expected to return for another week. Ledley might be back for this although if Dawson is fit he might also be saved for the Arsenal game. Up front Harry might revert to Crouch and Defoe but I hope not. Five players are on late fitness tests so the defence and midfield in front of 'el pulpo' is anyone's guess really.
Time then to get serious. Eight games to define the season.. They say that, 'It's better to travel hopefully than to arrive'; 'the journey is the reward' but that depends on how you travel. Personally I'm enjoying the ride and it's not quite over yet.