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.