The Blog that's not always wrong.

Thursday, 30 September 2010

Oh What a Night

'Oh What a Night
Late September 2010
What a very special time for me
Cos I remember what a night'
Three penalties, is this a record? Cue old joke about a 12'' plastic disc with grooves in it. One of them missed; a sending off; five goals, four of them for us; pouring rain, packed WHL in superb voice; thrills and spills, first such occasion for 48 yrs.
'Singing in the Rain'
Cockeral Doo-dloo-doo-doo-doo
Just singing in the rain
What a glorious feelin'
I'm happy again '
Singing in the rain. What more do you want?
Ledley breezed back into town like the old time sheriff, and he and Bassong having won the shoot out for last man standing were at the heart of the defence. He slotted in as if he was never away lifting the performance of the whole defence and Bassong in particular as he does with Dawson.; Van de Vaart gave a master class of effort and skill, missed a penalty, scored a goal, got over excited, was sent off and we barely noticed he'd gone.
Young Gareth was outstanding, again. Huddlestone spurred on by the challenge of playing the Dutch champions with a man missing had a majestic second half. Gomes made the early save that kept us level; Modric overshadowed by this new and more boisterous arrival kept ticking away, retaining possession, prompting and probing; Wise to Rafael's Morecombe. Ice man Pavlyuchenko, don't you just love him, scored two penalties and was a different man with his tail up.
Praise to Harry, he said we would give it a go and we did. He threw on all the fit and in form players he could find lounging about in the dressing room with the sole instruction, 'Just do it' and was vindicated in his approach. He seems to do better when faced with limited options and especially defensively he had little room for manouevre. In form Hutton was retained, out of form Corluka, Palacios and Lennon were benched.
Keane in a five minute cameo demonstrated that his legs still function even if his mind has gone. Who wasn't surprised to see Crouch and Pavlyuchenko take the field for the first time this season, and after Harry's support for Aaron to see him left on the bench. Barefaced lying is Harry's version of mind games. The tactic of flinging it to the far post for Crouch, overdone especially by Bale in the first half, eventually paid off though it needs a player of Van de Vaart's quality to read the knock down.
The three penalties were all debateable in some way, but they were penalties undeniably because the referee said so. On another night we might not have got any of them. We had the run of the ball, the rub of the green, they couldn't finish but nothing can take away the glory of a fine team performance which may just kick start our season. The crucial thing was that we made the most of our opportunities.
Now we have to refocus our attention on the boring old Premiership; Aston Villa or some such inner city section of Birminham. And that friends is exactly the attitude we must eliminate from our mindset. Fc Twente is the jam: Aston Villa are our bread and butter. If we mean to enjoy more such European nights at the lane we cannot rely on winning the Champions' League final even if it is to be contested barely 20 miles away at Wembley.
Let this latest performance be the spur for a win on Saturday. Can we do it? Yes we can if we can 'screw our courage to the sticking place' as Lady Macbeth wisely advises her husband prior to the murder of King Duncan. No I've no idea what the hell she's on about either but it seemed to work as he did the deed. So if Villa are the King and Harry is Lady Macbeth then the advice is once again 'Just do it'. Go on boys you know you can.
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Monday, 27 September 2010

Its just another one of those days

Man using car stereo

Rattle? What rattle? Just turn the radio up Harry

I hope the attitude in the Tottenham dressing room was not as condescending as the attitude on Tottenham fan-sites. If it was it might go some way to explaining the inexplicable loss to West Ham.. For 'inexplicable ' read 'understandable'. They wanted it more, they moved the ball more quickly, they played to their strengths and but for Hutton and Cudocini facing down their critics it could have been a lot worse.

Of course as we all know this was their 'Cup Final'. Well don't look now but they're engraving their names on the trophy and tying on the claret and blue ribbons. They had more possession, more corners, more shots on and off target and we committed more fouls. We had our most creative midfield on display but moved the ball too slowly to break them down. Bale, our best attacker was at left back: the back four was another makeshift arrangement, Crouch was awful and Lennon was poor.

We can't keep playing Premiership games with one eye on the Champions' League. We've got injuries but then which team hasn't. If we go out of the CL before Xmas and are mid-table then this is going to be a long, long season. The worms will start to turn on Harry who has enough tactical and team selection errors on his record to provide a lengthy charge sheet. He sounded as if he was more pleased for his friend Avram after the game then he was sorry for Spurs and its fans.

Saving Ledley for midweek and having to play Corluka in his place was a mistake. By Wednesday Gallas, Kaboul, or Ledley himself might be available. Sacrificing our one effective winger and playing him at full back was a mistake. If we don't have cover for Ekotto we should have remedied this in the summer. Playing without a defensive midfielder was a mistake. Playing one up front when we don't have the player to do it was.... But you get the picture.

We have eight points from six games after what everyone agreed was an easyish opening. We have lost two games to the bottom team in the league at the time. Where is the swagger of yesteryear? All of you who filled in 12 or more points on your predictions chart, and you know who you are, need to break out the Tippex.

We seem to be stuck in first gear with the engine misfiring. We've played well in patches, a half here and 20 minutes there. Van de Vaart is a find and he and Modric stood out yesterday but we had very little out wide. Up front the ball seemed to disappear into a black hole whenever we approached their penalty area.

Like the Arsenal game we could have pinched it, Huddlestone should at least have played Crouch in or scored himself. Greene's save from Modric was, ironically, England class but in truth we wouldn't have deserved it. We couldn't break them down, Noble and Parker bossed the midfield and we were reduced to shots from outside the area. More than this though this performance and others have been spiritless and what does that say for Harry's motivational skills.

Time to press the 'panic' button? No but we might be nervously fingering the 'beginning to get a little concerned' button. We have high quality factory fitted components in place with the addition of Van de Vaart, Sandro and Gallas. With the return of Jenas and Hutton from the workshop Pletikosa as back up in goal and to make up a fourth for bridge in the Croatian section of the team bus, we are undoubtedly a stronger squad. This is offset by the loss of form of Lennon and Palacios, and the probable retirement of Woodgate but Harry has plenty of available resources to cope on the three fronts left.

On Wednesday we have our first home Champions' League fixture against FC Twente. Reports that neither Ledley nor Gallas are fit and with Caulker out on loan at Bristol, which seems a curious decision, we are likely to see Bassong and Corluka fill in again at centre back. Ekotto and Gomes are expected to return. Hopefully we will see our executive limousine move smoothly through the gears and run all over them in style.. They were beaten in the Europa Cup last year by Werder Bremen. We need to drain any complacency from the tank and fill up with high octane commitment. Once again a win will wipe out any feelings of despondency and set us up for the weekend game against Aston Villa. Although I seem to remember saying that about the W. Ham game after Arsenal.

Now for all you signed up 'Harry can do no wrong, in Harry we trust`.members I have not called for Harry's head and I think changing managers would be counter productive: it nearly always is. But he needs to get a grip and address the problems as they appear before whatever momentum we have is wasted and we end up with Harry, Kevin and Joe pushing a broken down vehicle off the motorway onto the hard shoulder.

The old 'if you hear a rattle just turn the car radio up' just won't work at this level; or any level for that matter. So: don't start with Lennon, play people in their best positions, play players in form, concentrate on one match at a time, adapt the formation to the game and the players available, give Palacios or Sandro some pitch time and Harry don't take the praise when it's going well and duck the blame when it isn't. Bad workmen and all that.

How many 'blips' and 'just one of those days' make a crisis? From years of experience as a Spurs fan I know that it is never too early to have a anxiety attack.

Friday, 24 September 2010

Dutch Master Class

I am delighted to welcome back, by popular demand, the esteemed columnist Mr.Greg Meyer who muses on recent events and peers warily into the future whilst clutching a pint at a Kent Pub.

Take it from me folks this is quality. Better yet, read it for yourself.

White Vaart Lane ... Home Of A Dutch Maestro ... Another Roller Coaster Week ...Ahead Away At Lasagne Park.
The past week has seen Spurs at their most typical. Wolves joy followed by the shipwreck that was the North London Cup derby.
Then of course there was the compelling emergence of typical Spurs class with the continuing master class from Rafael Van der Claass himself..
The Manager Who Cried Wolf..
No not Monsieur Wenger, that was later in the week, but Mick McArthy. To be fair he really didn't have much to complain about and he didn't. His popularity rating at our Pub has soared. Nothing to do with us and not them getting the three points this time of course. Mick's mob did collect three yellow cards.
Magic moments galore particularly after seventy seven minutes. There is nothing better than heading home after the live show and watching a replay knowing all three are safely tucked away. Certainly makes for enjoyable drinks and viewing on the big screen at our Pub.
The decline of the Irish empire continued. Keane's sharpness is fading. Albeit a goal later in the week. The rise of the Roman empire meant Pav finishing with precision. Yes says our medico hardly strikes one as if we are out of the woods yet on the striker connundrum.
Disco Benny is a cult figure at our pub. Loved his competitive drop ball stuff on the hour mark. As well he is very skilled and usually is a productive outlet rather than a defensive hoof. His contribution to Bale's success cannot be underated.
Loved the Spurs fans giving Marcus Hahnemann advice as to how to slow things down very late on. Their hand signals went unheeded. Marcus's previous time wasting policy had started to go out the door at the 77 minute mark. The horse and policy had well and truly bolted after Pav's finish at the 87 minute mark. Great fan humour. 
However what stirred our pub 's replay viewing was the display provided by our Dutch midfield maestro. A home debut goal and some exciting midfield play. Our banker is still shaking his head in disbelief. We have signed a superstar at 4 o'clock on deadline day . He still has nightmares about the deadline day signing of Grzegorz Rasiak by Martin Jol. So do we all. The signing of the year. Rafael not Grzegorz.
Not quite a nightmare but perhaps a bad dream. The Arsenal visit on Tuesday.
Cup Derby Reflections.
Redknapp made 10 changes and produced a second string side which almost snatched it. Robbie Keane missed the unmissable late on in normal time. Thereafter a combination of high marks given by Diving Judge Probert to contestant Nasri and some naive defending by new boy Caulker saw the game go north.
A home debut by Sandro was impressive. His six feet two inches figure  looks like becoming regular later this year. Perhaps it will provide incentive for a generally out of sorts Wilson Palacios to return to form sooner rather than later.
Another look at Sebastien Bassong proved insightful. Generally a good game . Indeed his chase and capture of Nasri second half showed very demonstrable pace.
Our pub think Harry got it wrong. A stronger team should have started. Mine host understands Harry's motives but a loss to that mob always makes it a bitter pill to swallow.  Talking of swallow ...
At A Kent Pub.
The September hoodoo of not winning was broken. We were fourth at 5 o'clock Saturday. Our pub has a new hero. And his wife is a looker as well.
Yes a glorified training run on Tuesday went sour. Still if we stay away from dodgy food this weekend surely a win at the Lasagne Cafe on Saturday.
Harry has some welcome selection dilemmas with Moddle back. Corluka and Hutton are available as well. Perhaps Van Der Vaart and Huddle start. Jenas too. Add a dash of Welsh and you can see why we are smiling at our pub. 
No real dilemmas up front unfortunately. Where is that striker from Redcar Boys when you need him. Started as a full back and then one momentous saturday the normal striker was stuck down a Yorkshire mine. The rest is history. From Yorkshire to Spurs and goals galore.
Cheers .... the legendary Bobby Smith rip of course ... Greg Meyer.                  coys.

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Am I bothered?

050911-N-5345W-065 U.S. Navy Sailors assigned to Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit Two, Detachment Two, pull divers from the water after completing dive operations from a mechanized landing craft in the well deck of the dock landing ship USS Tortuga (LSD 46) Sept. 11, 2005. Tortuga is currently moored at Naval Support Activity New Orleans, La., in support of Hurricane Katrina humanitarian assistance operations. (U.S. Navy photo by Photographer's Mate 3rd Class Kristopher Wilson) (Released) - 
Nasri and Chamakh undergo special training
Does it really matter? Am I bothered? Judging by my mood and that sinking feeling in my stomach, it certainly seems to matter this morning and yes I'm a bit bothered.. Set against the War in Afghanistan, World Poverty, Global Warming, Planning Permission for the New Stadium and one or two other pressing matters, probably not. Out of a Cup we didn't really want in the context of Champions' League what's the harm in giving a game to a few youngsters and one or two who need pitch time and going down to a very good, not so inexperienced Arsenal side.
At half time I muttered to no-one in particular and with a shake of the head, 'They're too good for us'. They gave a superb display of one touch attacking football and could easily have been two or three ahead. Gibbs was wrongly ruled offside and a penalty could have been given for a rash push by Ekotto.
At fulltime I thought ' Fair play to the lads they've hauled themselves back into this and if Lennon hadn't taken an extra touch we might have nicked it. Not that we deserved to. Extra time was a step too far. Two penalties, one rather harsh, the other fair enough saw us off. We fell asleep for the fourth from a free-kick but by then our heads had dropped and it was all over.We seemed drained by the effort of the second half and only Sandro gained in authority.
Keane's goal put us back in the game but he was offside when he took Naughton's pass and the keeper should have saved his weak shot, but he looked better than he did on Saturday. Palacios was shaded by his challenger and we gave the ball away with amazing frequency. Nothing new there though. So we battled back well but were basically outplayed. Wiltshire will be an able replacement for Fabregas if he leaves for Barcelona and was the stand out player. They beat us through superior skill and although we matched them for effort in the second half and can argue over diving and poor refereeing we cannot claim that we should have won, though we might have.
Did Nasri and Chamakh dive? Perhaps, but if you touch experienced or experienced enough players in the area they are going to go down. There is too much at stake particularly financially for cheating not to be an option in sport and although the referees are tasked with the job of policing it in the end it's down to the players themselves.
What did we learn? Livermore, Naughton and Caulker are promising young players. Sandro could be a force in a month or two's time. Pletikosa looks no better than Cudocini. Giovani is not a right winger and would have been better playing off Pavlyuchenko. Bentley may not be good enough. If you play Lennon he should be used more but he is not yet back to his best. Wenger balanced his team better than Harry who seems to have kept his promise to give a few players a chance but went about it in a somewhat 'gung ho' fashion.
So does it really matter? Am I bothered? Well it was Arsenal and it makes a difference. Of course if we beat West Ham on Saturday we can just plot it as another mark on the learning curve. We don't need the aggravation of a minor Cup; the Premiership and the Champions' League, in that order, are our priorities. But it was against Arsenal and Wenger's team showed how much more he wanted it.
So did what we learned outweigh the shame of such a defeat? In a sense nothing can compensate us for losing to Arsenal but it was 'only' the Carling Cup and Harry hopefully has a better idea of the depth of his squad; who might step up and who may never quite make it. There were ten changes from last Saturday and Modric, Van the Man, Gomes, Ledley, Hutton, Gallas, Crouch, Keane and Huddlestone might all be back for West Ham.
I believe that Harry was right to take a chance on this competition and have been arguing for some rotation and for younger players to be given a chance. This was the ideal opportunity. The inclusion of say Caulker or Sandro in a suitable Premiership game for 30 minutes in the near future might be a good idea but to include so many novices against Arsenal was perhaps a gesture too far. The score certainly flattered them and 3-2 would have been a fairer result.
So yes my heart says it does matter and I am botherd even if my head tells me that it doesn't and I shouldn't be. It will last a long time in the memory and will be recalled by Arsenal fans for some time. The only consolation is that they didn't score a fifth. We still have Ar5ena1.

Monday, 20 September 2010

Out of the woods?

The Tottenham Hotspur football team pose with the European Cup Winners Cup, 2nd August 1963. From left to right (back row): Cliff Jones, Ron Henry, Melvyn Hopkins, Maurice Norman, John Hollowbread, Bill Brown, Bobby Smith, John White, Jimmy Greaves, John Smith. (Front row): Frank Saul, Peter Baker, Dave Mackay, Danny Blanchflower, Tony Marchi, Les Allen, Terry Dyson, Clayton. (Photo by W. H. Alden/Evening Standard/Getty Images)
Bobby Smith and Greaves in the European Cup Winners team in 1963

Spurs losing at half time; winning at fulltime. Goods odds on that I should think. Not a bet that my nervous disposition would allow me to make though. But it adds an element of resilience to the list of qualities we have acquired lately. When was the last time we did that? I can remember a few occasions when the opposite occured, in spectacular fashion too.

Hutton came on for the hamstrung Kaboul and changed the game. That idle Russian loafer drifted about for 20 minutes and then scored the virtual winner, the first by a designated striker in the Premiership this season. This was his second major contribution in a month. Jenas had his third decent game in a row. What does it all mean?

Has the corner been turned, the compass set, the satnav re- calibrated? Can we see daylight ahead? Are we out of the woods? Is this the start of something good? A win at home at the third attempt against the team that took six points off us last season. A very satisfying and well timed revenge. We were briefly back in the top four and all achieved without Modric thanks to the new kid on the block Rafael Van de Vaart: penalty taker, midfield grafter, support striker, ink monitor and team bus driver too I shouldn't wonder. Take a closer look at the turnstile attandant the next time you go to White Hart Lane. That souvenir seller looks a bit familiar too. Harry reckons that he is not match fit. Watch out the Premiership, you have been warned.

Robbie Keane given a rare start demonstrated that he is playing purely from memory. His runs are not quite right, his passes obvious rather the subtle or penetrating, and his finishing poor. He is still a good player but not good enough, the team has moved on. Pavlyuchenko was once again in the right place at the right time and finished with what used to known as 'aplomb'. He hangs about in all the right places and only Hutton has a better goals/ minutes played record this season. Statistics eh!

Hahnemann complained about being booked for time wasting and for throwing the game away.
He played well but they were trying to run down the clock before they even scored and his booking was cumilative rather than specific. We had many more shots, more corners, committed less fouls, and although the last goal was fortunate we were the better team all over the pitch.

How the old order changeth: Palacios, Lennon and Corluka all reduced to the bench although Lennon came on and produced an effective cameo which recalled his former highlights. Modric, Gomes, Defoe and Dawson excused with sick notes. It was the old story of a dominated first half and missed chances but with a different, more fairy-tale, ending this time. We went in at half time a goal down after running the show and wound up 3-1 winners after a much more even second half. 'And we all lived happily after', until the next game that is.

Promises from Harry that on Tuesday the Carling Cup game against Arsenal will be manned by even more of the outer reaches of the squad,. Expect to see Hutton and Pavlyuchenko again, Bassong, Sandro, Kranjcar, Pletikosa, perhaps Giovani and Bentley and one or two other surprises. I can't say what they are or they won't be surprises will they? It sounds strong enough if Wenger plays the 'kids' as usual, but they could both be bluffing. I expect to see Modric given a run out in the name of match fitness. I am not sure what this game will prove, win or lose, but it will indicate Harry's priorities and may demonstrate the extent of our fabled strength in depth.

We needed to take advantage of our relatively easy start to take a firmer grip on a top four place. At this stage and it is much too early to make any firm predictions only Man. City and ourselves have succeeded in escaping the pack, but only just, and two of the bottom five comprise erstwhile challengers from Liverpool. The fickle finger of fortune could soon be pointing at David Moyes. However I think I'm right in saying that we only had two points from eight games two seasons ago and still came eigth. But then we had Harry Redknapp.

The death of Bobby Smith was announced on Sunday, a much underated striker whose record at club and International level indicated clearly his ability. He was strong and direct but as Emil Heskey proves you need more than that to clock up 176 goals in 271 League appearances and 13/15 at International level. He was second only to Jimmy Greaves in the club's goal scoring history.

There are many fulsome farewells on the Spurs websites so suffice to say here that he gave me much pleasure and applied the finish to many of the chances created by our greatest team ever (so far) and perhaps speaks down the years to a weakness now. Defoe is good but at 64/ 183 has a long way to go.

Friday, 17 September 2010

Guest Column by Mr. Greg Meyer

At great expense Spurs Musings are delighted to present to you a guest column by the distinguished columnist Mr.Greg Meyer. He has been stolen, or rather loaned, from right under the nose of Mr. Jim Duggan of 'Topspurs'.
Greg is one of the few Australians to have smuggled himself back on the same convict ship on which he arrived in the land of the marsupials and hides these days deep in the countryside at a Kent pub. One of many sensible decisions he has made.
Please extend to him a warm welcome and treat him with the same respect which you extend to myself.
No, don't do that, just try being nice to him.

Please note that the opinions expressed are those of Mr. Meyer and I may or may not be in agreement with them.
But hey, what's not to  like?

Friday 17 September 2010.
Blitzkrieg At Bremen ...  Spurs And The Proms .. an early critique ... Dancing With Wolves.
Having survived some worrying second half moments at West Bromich Albion last Saturday arvo, Commander Redknapp emerged from his pitchside bunker with Germany on his mind. Werder Bremen to be precise.
Das Spurs flew to the Wieserstadion with Britain saluting the seventieth anniversary of the London Blitz. Our return to the big time Champions League began in real blitzkrieg style. Forty three minutes of Spurs wunderfootball saw a two nil scoreline to us. No casualties at that stage either.
Unfortunately it was not to last. Neither the blitzkrieg nor the lack of casualties. As well at two all our Pub thought oh no not again. However in fine English spirit we halted the Bremen barrage mainly created by a Bosnian Serb, Marko Marin.Similar in stature to our own Luka Modric. Luka of course was on the casualty list.
The last half hour saw both teams have marvelous chances to win out. Spurs had lost a lot of invention after Rafael Van der Class had left the battlefield in the second half. His Irish replacement showed the gulf that exists. A class Dutch act who will be our player of the year says our lawyer. The other a shadow of what was once an energetic goal scorer. Surely our pub pessimism is misplaced. Nope!
Still an away draw, no broken legs, no buggared ankles, and an inspired performance from that showbiz duo  "The Crouching Bale" meant smiles even if slightly subdued, all round.  Indeed there are some real positives noted by our pub schoolteacher in ...
A Very Early Season Report Card.
Saturday last found some of our number at the final night of The Proms. Didn't see Jonathon Woodgate,Heurelho, Daws nor Jermaine the Goalscorer there. Probably not their cup of music. Some reference to a casualty list as well.
The Proms were sensational as usual.
As to Spurs no one quite fits that bill just yet this season. Mind our signing of the year from Real Madrid is getting close. Once he and Luka manage some on field time together the results could be awesome. Ergo their brief time together at West Brom before a stray snipers bullet struck our little Croation down. Fortunately only a flesh wound and no broken fibulas. 
The second coming of Younes Kaboul has Mine host humming a happy French ditty. His first coming was raw, awkward and blessed with the attention span of the South American gnat. Voila his performances this year ( and the back end of last) show a confident header, a player at ease on the ball and most of the time consistent concentration. Joe Jordan and Chris Bond take a bow.
Elsewhere Gareth of Bale surges towards superstar status. His hoped for partner in wing crime,a still young Aaron,is in a trough. Our banker knows troughs inside out. Aaron will surge back. Hand around the shoulder Harry will see to that.
On the worry front, Charlie is struggling and may make way to Kaboul at right back. Unfortunately the connundrum up front is not as easily fixable. No Defoe and although Crouch is obviously fertile (just ask Abbey) the lack of the marque striker signing looms large. Perhaps Rafael VDV will assist in the goals column. Certainly did in his time at Hamburg. A goalscoring midfielder. Ah the stuff of dreams.
And so to what last year turned out to be a nightmare. Twice.
Dances With Wolves.
In the 1990 film Lieutenant/Manager John Dunbar/Mick McArthy is exiled to a remote western football outpost.There he befriends wolves and local indians thereby making himself an intolerable aberration in the football world.
That Wiki (in part ) summary is eerily accurate as regards our Mick. Besiged on all sides after 2 weeks of seven bookings, etc,etc. It may be nothing to do with it but most of our pub don't like the man. Nothing to do with losing all six points to them last year .
With no Luka and no Rafael who is going to unlock the Wolves defence tommorrow. Jermaine Jenas. Hmm. Does he play two good ones in a row.
Our pub medico suggests Lennon steps up given all the opposition attention will be on Bale. Ah plan L. Surely our class and home desire will see us gather three points to ensure a happy Saturday night ...
At A Kent Pub.
Thick and fast. Not the Guinness but the games. After Wolves the little matter of a North London cup derby. Fascinating to see who turns out for us. And them.
Surely Harry will play a strong squad against the usual Wenger Cup kids which will include Fibreglass no doubt. Still he still is only 23 years old.
Blink and you miss a game at the moment. A thousand miles an hour but great fun.
Cheers ... talking of speedsters Stirling Moss turns eighty today ....  Greg Meyer.                    coys.

A game of three halves.

Polka dotted socks

                       I'd forgotten about these: let's give 'em a go.

I was thinking of fitting an electric touch pad at the bottom of the stairs which causes a tape of the Champions' League music to play very loudly in the Master Bedroom. I tentatively suggested this to Mrs.JimmyG2 and it is now fitted to the front gate and plays instead in the garage. I just can't get enough of that music. Her view was that like my team I often promise more than I can deliver. Anyway If we beat Arsenal in the Carling Cup discussions could be re-opened. So 'Come on you Spurs' just for Jimmy.

Werder Bremen: a game of three halves: the first to us; the second to them and the third in which either side could have pinched it, just about shared. We took to the Champions' League proper like WAGs to Chardonnet. They were two goals down before they realised that Harry had been bluffing when he said that he had learned his lesson and would approach the game more cagily away from home. If that's 'cagey' my budgie lives in a motor home.

Even Jenas by general acclaim had a good game. So all round a night to remember. We let it slip in the end but it was reminscent of the Young Boys game only in reverse. Just as we recovered after going down early so did Werder Bremen. In fact they proved to be a pretty accomplished attacking side, particularl Marin which highlights even more our performance in the first 40 minutes. We pulverised them: out-ran, out-fought, out-tackled, out-passed and generally out-everythinged them.

They scored just before half time indirectly from a rash attempted clearance by Ekotto who had otherwise played and linked with the Boy Gareth very well. His sliced kick led to a throw in, which led to a cross, which should have been cut out by Cudocini, which led to a goal. They levelled the scores within five minutes of the second half and it was game on.

With Werder in the ascendancy and gaps appearing especially down our right hand side we did well to regain control and both Crouch and Keane might have scored. They too had chances but the result away from home suited us more than them. Bale, Kaboul,Van de Vaart and Crouch's goal stood out. Lennon and Corluka did not. Hopefully Modric will be fit enough to replace Van the Man on Saturday who went off with a calf strain. We showed that last season was no fluke and that we can operate at this level and in some style.

The praise for Jenas is somewhat surprising. I am signed up JJ fan and acknowledge his consistent inconsistency. But to me this was a typical JJ performance: a little meh; a dash of brilliance; a smidgin of hard work; a drizzle of hesitancy; a yellow card to flavour and there you have it, a promising souffle that doesn't always rise to the occasion. However it was well out of the pan on Tuesday.

He's like a previously favourite pair of socks that somehow suddenly seem to clash with everything. One day, looking for something else, you find them and, forgetting why you discarded them in the first place, put them on and all of a sudden they are very much the thing. We suffer too much from the 'new toy' syndrome at Spurs and Jenas is a good case in point.

My Granny used to reply to requests for new items with the words 'Wear the old ones out first' and like me she wasn't always wrong. Make best use of what you have before you go hunting about on the High Street for stuff you don't really need. Van de Vaart was a Real Madrid cast off which still has plenty of wear in it and which was delivered to us almost by accident. Don't discard the old clothes: patch mend, launder and recycle them. Everything comes back into fashion eventually.

But now the question arises: how will it affect our match against Wolves on Saturday. Wolves, two games six points Wolves: remember them? Will we be uplifted or knackered by our little excursion to Germany? Inspired by our flight into the higher realms, or bored by this return to the mundane everydayness of the Premiership? Technically the correct Tottenham answer is: who knows?

With the competition for places growing and the lure of Champions' League for those that step up you would think that everyone that plays will be up for it. It didn't seem to work against Wigan and to an extent West Bromwhich where we played like a shadow of the team that performed so well in the first half on Tuesday. We are performing well in patches, in fits and starts and so far the Champions' League has brought out the best in us. If this season is to be more than a one off then we need to transfer some of our enthusiasm to the Premiership.

Underperforming players need to be given a shake as in the case of Palacios where there are viable alternatives and in most positions there are. If Corluka isn't cutting it then Kaboul could play at right back and Bassong, King and Gallas share the role of centre half. I would persevere with Lennon a little longer; he gives us width and a threat that cannot be ignored, but Bentley stepped up well last season.

At home to Wolves will see several changes from the game against Werder Bremen and in anticipation of the Arsenal game. It's a pity we have drawn them as we will feel the need to field a strong squad for what might have been a chance for players lower down the squad list to make their mark. Unless of course Harry does a Wenger and lets the kids loose.

Somehow I think not but the focus should be on fielding a strong squad to ensure the three points on Saturday. If we are not challenging for the top four this will be a very depressing season however well we do in the Champions' League, music and all. Unless we win it of course.

Monday, 13 September 2010

Dear Mr.Van de Vaart

England, London, Big Ben, clock face, low angle view

                      Synchronise watches men. This is the ´Big Time

Dear Mr.Van de Vaart,

Welcome to the Premiership and your new home at White Hart Lane. We quite like Dutchmen at Spurs; well some of them anyway, Edgar Davids and Martin Jol spring to mind. Others we are not so fond of, Denis Bergkamp and Robin Van Persie for a start. There's a link there but I expect Mr. Gallas who has crossed the same divide has already acquainted you with the background to all this .

We quite liked the sound of you from your CV. Most players that are good enough for Ajax, Hamburg, Real Madrid, and the Dutch national squad are usually good enough for us, particularly if they are closer to 25 than 30. More importantly we liked the look of you on yesterday's performance. We noted that you immediately made chums with little Luka and that in the first half hour you made our hearts sing.

Apologies for young Aaron missing the chance which you set up with that cheeky little back heel but he seems to have lost confidence this season. Any more of those little impurtenances and you will be half way to becoming a Spur's legend before Xmas. Perhaps on the training ground you could teach one or two others how to pass like you, Tom and Luka.

What we actually need is scorers and you might be able to help out in that department too. Yesterday was the type of performance you might have to get used to: dazzle for a third of the game, frustrate for a third, disappoint for third, and infuriate for a third. Like this analysis we do not always add up to the sum of our parts.

West Brom under a new young manager are desperately trying to cement their place in the Premiership having suffered from crumbling masonary in the past. I have to warn you that we have trouble beating easily the teams that we should easily beat . Most people predicted that we would win this by a couple of goals, including me. With Tottenham this is usually fatal and so it proved.

The manager Mr. Redknapp is a bit of a card and he will refer to you as a 'triffic signing for sure'. This that means that he likes you. Don't get confused between Sandra and Sandro: the former is his wife who is sometimes used as a stick to beat the boys with. This is not as sexy as it sounds. You may be puzzled by the number of old Tottenham players who are on the coaching staff. Ignore them and remember what you learned at Real Madrid. It will see you in good stead.

Our fans are unusual too. Sometimes referred to as 'fickle' their opinions can swing violently. Take Wilson Palacios who was widely regarded as the new Dave Mackay. ( See the chapter on 'Spurs Heroes ' in the book that accompanies this letter) and who was. at one time, beyond criticism as I found to my cost. Now he has been replaced in our hopes by a young Brazilian boy, the aformentioned Sandro, whom we have never seen and who isn't even in the Champions' League squad. Thought I would work that in because I correctly mentioned this last time and then incorrectly corrected myself.

But Harry and the fans are OK. Harry's English will improve no end in conversation with Luka, Pavlyuchenko and yourself and a lot of what he says are Harry's little jokes with the press and the fans; like saying he would make Gallas captain. A red rag to a bull as they say in Spain as you will know. He's what we call a' wind up merchant' which has nothing to do with clockwork toys or Big Ben.

The fans like skill but almost as much they admire commitment. I think you will score on both points. If you do score that might just make it three points.The hissing in imitation of the gas chambers which you will remember from your days at Ajax will make you feel right at home. The Ajax fans identified with the Jewish population wiped out by the Nazis in Amsterdam and were taunted as Tottenham are from time to time. When you hear the phrase 'Van de Vaart is a Yid' do not pack your bags or complain to your agent, it means that you have been accepted. It's what another of our Spurs heroes called 'getting your retaliation in first' (See enclosed book again)

Our defence is much better when under the surveillance of club captain Ledley King who doesn't play as often as we would like because of 'dodgy' knees, which means his knees swell up after games. Not to confused with 'dodgy' Harry which refers to tax dealings and a court case which is pending, or the Greek philosopher.

Our stand in captain Michael Dawson is out for three months, our one time captain Robbie Keane is out of favour and Big Tom, who you can't help but notice around the place, had the job yesterday. You may find yourself in line for the position quite soon. Incidently don't accept invitations by Mr. Keane for trips overseas for 'celebrations'. Harry doesn't approve of them.

I hope that this will help you to settle in very quickly. You have already put yourself about in the press and on the official site, saying all the right things about 'rejecting Liverpool', coming 'above Arsenal' and so on. But at Spurs we would prefer you to 'let your football do the talking'. It certainly looked quite eloquent yesterday.

Best of luck on Tuesday in the Champions' League where I am sure you will make your mark. Hopefully not in the Van Bommell World Cup sense though.Your new pal Luka, though not as badly injured as first thought, will probably not start in Germany but Harry says that you will get an hour at least probably as second striker to Crouchy, another team mate that you can't really miss. Let's hope it's enough. Synchronise watches men, ´this is the  'Big Time'.

In anticipation of great things to come,


Thursday, 9 September 2010

Meanwhile back in the Premiership

Hands Raised
                Ok,Ok.Just sit down. I only need eighteen for Saturday.

And so it's back to the important stuff again. Not the extremely important stuff, that's next Tuesday. Just the ordinarily important day to to day stuff. Premier League sort of stuff. Assuming that any of out players actually get back from the International sideshows in one piece Harry can play at being a proper football manager, choosing teams and deciding on substitutions and talking tactics and formations and dreaming of England. Instead of, you know, and say it softly, wheeler dealing. You will be relieved to know that there's very little of that with the England job Harry .

But for a moment look at it West Brom's way. Yes folks the Baggies are back. Now you see 'em: now you don't. This year you see 'em. Imagine Roberto Di Matteo's team talk this week. At home against one of the top four 'glamour' teams but a fixture neatly sandwiched between the International break and the first of our six Champions' League fixtures.

'Isa gooda tima to aplay the Tottingham Hotaspurs'. Actually Di Matteo speaks better English than I do so I'll leave you to supply the faux Italian accent. But that will be the basis of his message to his team. First of all injuries; second of all disruption to the training schedule; third of all new acquisitions especially Gallas and perhaps Van de Vaart and Sandro not yet bedded in; fourth of all they lost their last game to another team beginning with a 'W. The omens for West Brom are all good.

The signs for Spurs are all there for another upset. They have nothing to lose, this will not be penciled in on their predictor chart as any more than a single pointer and after our average start we really should be looking at three. But we will have one eye on the game against Werder Bremen, one eye on on the casualty list and one eye on the game in hand. So the 'eyes' have it. All three of them.

Their undoing might be that under their current manager they will try to play football and if teams take us on they usually lose. But the failure to finish off Man. City in the opening fixture; the shock of the first half hour at Young Boys; the loss at home to Wigan have seen the return of that sinking feeling in the stomach that we thought had gone for ever. Well not for ever precisely but for a few months anyway. There was that glorious feeling during our run in last season that we could beat anyone and win every game. No worries about late goals, no fear that we would choke at the last moment. We need to generate that feeling again. I liked it very much.

There is no doubt that we are a better team and have generated confidence from our success last season which completes the virtuous circle: success breeds confidence, which breeds further success, which breeds greater confidence, which.... but you get the picture. The signing of Rafael Van de Vaart gives some goal scoring dynamism to the midfield and Gallas will bring experience to the back line as stand in for Ledley who will be saved for the really serious stuff next week. Probably.

But whoever reports fit this is a formidable squad with quality back up in every position. And while Roberto may put the stress on the players who may be absent they may be advised not to look too closely or for too long at those who will actually be there. So it's clear I'm coming round to the opinion that we will win this fixture and set ourselves up nicely for what some may describe as the bigger game to come.

Who might actually play against West Brom is a bit of a lottery at the moment until the squad reassembles after the break and Harry takes both the next two games into consideration. With two regulars injured, Defoe and Dawson, we might be inclined to get our excuses in first but it won't wash with one of the best squads anywhere in the Premiership. It was strong last year and it's certainly stronger now.

I'm not going to try to second guess Harry but he will probably go with 442 and start with Crouch and Keane. I would like to see Pavlyuchenko up front supported by Giovani or Keane for a start with Van de Vaart on at some stage. But the combinations are endless and I am happy to wait and see. The Werder Bremen fixture obviously complicates the whole scene and Tom might be kept for Tuesday.

We need to finish in the Top Four again if this season is not just to be a one off but with such a wealth of talent we do not need to prioritise either competition. Sandro is not in the pre-Xmas Champions' League squad and may make an early appearance in the Premiership. Because of our little hiccup against Wigan the pundits seem to think we might just settle for a draw. But with renewed competition for places and Defoe's striking role up for grabs I think the boys will turn it on and run out winners by at least two clear goals.

It would be nice to stuff Roberto's words back down his throat even if I did write them for him.

Friday, 3 September 2010

Signed sealed delivered, he's ours.

Boy holding present

An oven ready, time served, Champions' League, International, top player arrived by special late delivery. A man who finished the recent World Cup Final on the losing side but with the Captain's armband; a man of impeccable credentials with a fine goalscoring record throughout his career at every level; a man that will bring distinction and quality and take a lot of pressure off Modric and Huddlestone and along with Sandro, if he is half the player his advance publicity leads us to believe, a midfield to savour.

Daniel was left counting his fingers as the transfer window 'slammed shut' at the 12th hour and counting. How we got him at that price and in what circumstances is a matter of dispute between Real Madrid.Interesting how the transfer window doesn't just close. It used to be that letters were lost in the post; then the Armstrad fax wasn't functioning; now the server is down. Soon it will be standard practise to teleport the transferred player to pitchside in full kit to confirm his transfer. If he doesn't appear check the other galaxies

Just a word of thanks to all those ITK's who gave us the head's up on this one. Not a very long list to be fair; in fact not a list at all. Never mind fellas not long until January. Close the coffin lids for a month or two. But even without their help this has been a vintage window, more a sort of Elizabethan mullioned classic than a common PVC replacement.

Sandro, whose fine reputation precedes him and who will be helped integrate by his Portugeuse speaking compatriot Gomes: Gallas who will want to prove his doubters wrong: Pletikosa as back up in goal;: a young striker from Honduras who may help Palacios to focus but at 17 is hardly likely to step up straight away. All positions that needed strengthening

The elephant in the room, or rather not in the room, is the failure to land a striker who gives us something different from those we already have. Crounch and Pavlyuchenko can't play the holding role up front whatever other qualities they have. Neither have the control or strength to give us the tactical flexibilty which might be useful away in the Premiership or in the Champions' League.

Keane prospers in a partnership and is better as a second striker. He lacks the tactical discipline to play on his own in any case. Defoe is not interested in the role; he likes to play on the shoulder and is concerned only to score, not to set others up or hold up play for the midfielders to get up in support. A commendable strikers attribute but it does not offer us the variety that Harry might prefer.

Now these four quality strikers, all proven International, would be coveted by most clubs but you need players who can fulfil the roles we need whilst pusuing four strands this year. We are going to play a lot of games under varying circumstances and pressures and only the lack of a strong holding striker might prove a weakness. Not that we didn't try. We were 'chasing', I use the term loosely, up to ten world class strikers from Fabiano to Ruud Van Nistelroy. However they all proved too elusive for us despite our new found status.

But the signing of Rafael Van de Vaart is perhaps the third bonus of this transfer window. The first is that we kept all our main players despite unwelcome attention from elsewhere particularly, alledgedly, on Bale. The second is that none of the players who might well be pushed to the margins by our new signings wanted to leave.Kranjcar welcomes the arrival of his new Dutch team-mate and he could well be one of those to suffer. The third is the signing of another world class player which might just give others pause for thought. We even kept one or two we didn't really want and I would imagine that the loan circus will swing into town soon.

Our real Achilles Heel however might be the limitations of Harry. Recent games indicate a rigidity of appraoich in team selection and tactics. 442 away against Young Boys was a surprise formation that unfortunately backfired. The team against Wigan could have done with a little freshening up.
Harry doesn't do rotation and is loathe to change a winning team which is one of those pearls of wisdom from the past best left in the oyster.

Now I am not ignoring our achievements under Harry or indeed our general improvement since the days of Martin Jol, with one or two blips , and at least one self inflicted wound notwithstanding.
Harry has done us proud and taken us to the inner ring of achievement, further than I and many others expected. But too hit the bull's eye we need to deploy our resources more cleverly and Ha rry is going to have to think more quickly on his feet.

If Van de Vaart is not the marquee signing we have been craving then I'm a tent peg. This has been a frustrating window but the window cleaner has been and the outlook is brighter and clearer and from where I am sitting on the window seat the peaks of the Champions' League are quite sharp in this new dawn.

Here in Madrid there is no gossip to suggest this was anything other than a good player surplus to requirements after the August signings of Ozil and others brought them to the new squad limits. And despite some doubters questioning whether we need another midfielder I just say, along with Marks and Spencers, 'this is not just another midfielder'. As Danny Blanchflower replied when the value of Glen Hoddle was questioned,
' Hoddle a luxury? It's the bad players that are a luxury'.