Trotters for lunch. Figuratively speaking for those on strict diets.
It's been building for a while starting with the Carling Cup win over Chelsea under Juande Ramos. We shot ourselves in the foot on that one but fortunately landed on top of Harry when we fell over. Then the feeling built up again in the run in last season to clinch 4th. The tremors could clearly be detected and in the Champions' League this season the volcano erupted, the avalanche finally struck. sweeping Inter Milan and a lot of pundits away. Tottenham always let you done, but only sometimes, Mr. Hansen.
I 've waited a very very long time for this and whatever happens next they can't take this away from me. They said we wouldn't make fourth; then that we wouldn't qualify; then that we wouldn't make the knockout stages, and of course in the end that we couldn't win it. Well don't look now but we are top of our group with two games to go. Of course they may well be right 'in the end' but in the meantime they have to admit that we are worthy representatives of English football standing shoulder to shoulder with the rest of the Top Four.
The going has been tough at times over the years, tedious and boring at others but our turn was bound to come round again and it certainly has. The rise and fall of teams is cyclical as Leeds , Nottingham. Forest and perhaps Liverpool fans will tell you but the Tottenham cream looks to be rising to the top again. We've done it the right way too without becoming a billionaire's vanity project or by recruiting mercenaries on silly money. We've assembled a talented team of artisans and artists, renovated a few rejects and blended a squad that I am delighted to see wearing the Tottenham shirt with something that looks like pride.
We might not qualify for the next knockout round: that would a misfortune. We might lose to Bolton at the weekend; that would be careless but we will always have Inter at the Lane. We weren't just good, we were better than the Champions' League Cup holders, and possibly not just on the night., They can't say they weren't warned. Benitez in general and Maicon in particular clearly have very short memory and attention spans.
Take out the first 15 minutes of the first game and overall we beat them 6-2. We started where we left off in Milan, Bale in particular and played like a proper team, disciplined in defence , inspired in midfield by Modric and Hudddlestone, the Little and Large of the Premiership, and lively from wing to wing in attack. We had Crouch up front but scored three goals without the ball leaving the ground. We did it in style too.
The first goal was a delight. It's all very well making making a run as Van der Vaart did but you need someone to react intelligently to it. Step up Luka Modric back to something like his sparkling best. A heady mixture of excitement and anticipation is coursing along the my veins thinking about what this team might be capable of. We took Inter on and beat them.
You have to highlight Bale, and Modric too was a delight. But everyone played their part and Gallas enjoyed his best game for us yet. Cudocini's save that allowed us to go in 1-0 up was crucial. Crouch's miss didn't matter after all. Pavlyuchenko doesn't do much else but score: you could say the same thing about Defoe and Eto but it's not a bad fault for a striker.
Lennon, almost back to form and Bale stretched them and Van der Vaart and Modric flowed through the breach dear friends. Crouch once again prospered from the lack of close attention that he gets at this level and for England and he was unlucky not to set up Van der Vaart again. He might be more effective in the Premiership if referees were to keep tighter control.
I'm calm and cool again now and that's the way to be. Too much excite ment and over-reaction makes it look as if we're not used to this kind of success.. I wasn't so on Tuesday. Bar stools apparently were raised above head level, though there was nobody sitting on them at the time. I have no memory of such an event but I'm sure they are right.
In fact where I was there was very little sitting at all. Punching the air and hugging was the order of the day. If anyone has bottled the atmosphere at the Lane it might fetch a fortune on e-Bay. I'd certainly bid for it. I'm surprised that Daniel hasn't though of that already.
Credit Harry again; the direct substitution of Jenas for Van der Vaart was unexpected but it worked because it left the defense and midfield intact. Harry accused by many, including me at times, for being tactically naive certainly put that slur firmly back in the box. He's the man of the moment for Spurs and the man for the moment. He said he was going to have a go because that's the only way this team can play and Benitez neglected to take him at his word. Harry doesn't speak with forked tongue all the time. The problem as Benitez discovered is that sometimes it's hard to sort the nonsense from from the rubbish.
He's having a good week, facing down the FA over interviews and after- match comments and Benitez on the pitch. The first won't have done his England chances much good but the second certainly will I'm afraid
. Now for Bolton. We struggle with the mundane, the routine, the everyday grind but if ever there was a time to surf to victory on a rip tide of adrenalin, confidence and success Saturday is the time to do it. Let's not make a dog's breakfast of it. We had Inter for supper, let's have Trotters for lunch. Figuratively speaking of course.