The Blog that's not always wrong.

Monday, 22 November 2010

We've played better and lost

It's only a game lads, only a game. 
Get used to it. The Spurs are coming

We've played better and lost. Why don't we play the second half first? There's nothing in the rules to prevent it. It would make life a lot easier for us long suffering fans. That’s the eighth time we've gone a goal down and yet we've recovered 4 times to win and once to draw. The win against Arsenal away from home has been a long time coming but when it came it chose its moment with care and delivered multiple simultaneous orgasms. The whole Spurs community is suffering severe post coital deflation.

After the high fives, the hugging,, and the spilling of beer after the Kaboul goal I felt a flash of anger as I thought, 'About bloody time'. Our failure to beat a 'Top Four side away from home for so long has just been ridiculous and honestly inexplicable. The Emirates was just the place to break the hoodoo. Now for Old Trafford.

The win was satisfying on a number of levels: it stopped Arsenal from going top: it anointed captain for the day Gallas in some style, and what a psychological master stroke by Harry to give him the job on his first league return to the Arsenal; it was a timely boost for our own Premier League aspirations and keeps us well in touch with 4th place; it gives us impetus for Wednesday's game against Werder Bremen which could seal our entry to the next round of the Champions' League; and it makes an old man very happy. But that's another story.

Apart from that it was just another game. Harry's cunning plan to go two goals behind, lull them into a false sense of security and then, when they thought it was all over, whack em with three goals was brilliantly executed. Van de Vaart, who didn't have a great game apart from two assists and a goal, has made the difference this season.

Firstly for his goals but mainly for his attitude. He has inspired his team-mates, particularly Bale but also Modric and Jenas to up their game. He clearly doesn't like losing and won't accept defeatism in the other players. He leads by example and his will to win is infectious. His work rate even when carrying an injury is phenomenal. What we were calling 'mental strength' last season is embodied in him and it has spread throughout the team.

He must have sat on Robbie's towel in the showers as he has unfortunately contracted 'Keanes Disease': a tendency to try to do everyone else's job and neglect his own. At one point he collected the ball on the edge of our penalty area level with Gallas and Kaboul and some 50yds from Pavlyuchenko who he was supposed to be supporting. However he was once again in the right place to collect Defoe's header on and set up Bale for the crucial comeback goal early in the second half. 'Very small striker out-jumps two very tall defenders to set up first goal shock'.

There is no doubt that we were much tighter in the second half, closed down Fabregas, and populated the midfield in a way that we hadn't done in the first half. Also there is no doubt that they relaxed and couldn't respond when we took up the initiative. Defoe,Van der Vaart, Modric and Bale no longer marooned on the wing took the game to Arsenal and they were forced to lump the ball forward which played into the hands of Kaboul who clearly gets off on heading the ball. Gallas had a good game for the second match running and was my MOM. His early tackle on Nasri set the tone for his performance.

Gomes has taken some stick for his hesitancy for the first goal but in view of his sending off against Inter he was probably wary of making a premature rush. He retreated when it looked as if Nasri would control the ball and too late when he realised that in fact his first touch was poor. His one handed save from Fabregas which would have given them a 3-2 lead was top class and balances the scales for me.

Nasri's childish gesture in not shaking hands with Gallas rebounded spectacularly as all such gestures are likely to do and though he scored a good goal early on: it's always better to have the last laugh than the first.

Bale coming off the wing again scored another goal from a central position and that's not counting his near post header from Van der Vaart's corner last week. People will start to talk if they get together as frequently in the future. He seems to be moving inside more to escape the double marking and because coming from there onto his left foot is an effective tactic. It also leaves space for Ekotto to overlap which he is willing and able to do.

So Harry, thinking on his feet, triumphs again. It wasn't working in the first half so he fixed it in the second. Lennon was replaced by Defoe, Jenas moved closer to Fabregas. Harry has said that he favours going for broke by attacking and it is something of a return to the Ossie Ardiles philosophy of scoring one more than the opposition. That certainly suits me.

We have gone 17 games without a clean sheet and the old days of tight defence have been replaced by a more buccaneering attitude. Perhaps things will change when we get our regular centre halves back and that includes Woodgate by all accounts. Where are we going to put them all? Harry has taught us this season that when everything looks lost it's not necessarily so. That whatever it is, we can do it. That records are there to be broken no matter how many years or games they go back.

Our recent revival pre-dates Harry; two fifth placed finishes under Jol, the Carling Cup under Ramos; The home wins against Arsenal and Chelsea in the run in last season; qualifying for the Champions'League qualifyers; beating Inter Milan; winning away at the Emirates from 2-0 down are all markers on the upward graph of the Mighty Spurs and Harry has been instrumental in accelerating this ascent.

On Wednesday at the Lane we have the chance to qualify for the next stage of the Champions' League at the first time of asking. Harry has done us proud and is a good fit for the club. He is experienced, down to earth, good with players and has created an effective force out of a good squad. He is not perfect but neither are you or I and today is not the day to dwell on negativity. A big 'thankyou' to Harry and the boys.

Carling Cup Mr.Wenger? It's all yours.


alwyn said...

great post, Jimmy. we're all still wiping our eyes and shaking our heads over here. it's a dream and we're loving it.

i've only been a fan for about 5 years and the only time i recall us coming back from 2 goals down to win is agaainst Charlton and West Ham (during the Jol and Berba days, I think).

but this is just incredible. like most Spurs fans over here, i turned off the screen at 2-0 and didn't envy the White supporters sitting in the Emirates spurs-only section. but then i sneaked a peek at the match Tracker and when it was 2-2 i told myself: even if we lose, it was a good fight.

to then WIN it is...holy shit...*crying again* :)


Anonymous said...

Another wonderful write up.


Macker said...

Very good post, Jimmy. Only one to comment in detail on Gomes' pulling back from going for the ball when that ugly little shite Nasri was bearing down on goal. He obviously feared a re-run of Inter away. Just imagine if that had happened. We're one man down again after ten minutes, they go one up with the pen and score any number of goals from then on with only a few late heroics from Bale and VDV to save some face. So, oddly enough, by gifting them the first goal in that way, we eventually won the match. Of course, Gomes could still have tried to come out and make a legal save, but the chances are he wouldn't have and Fat Phil would have blown for the pen and the scenario above would have come to pass.

Tony said...

Excellent post Jimmy I think you covered it all.
Alwyn I have been a fan for 50 years. I was on the verge of turning the game off but a gut feeling stopped me from saving my electricity, and boy was I delighted that I didn't.
Seeing Arsene Winger smashing his water bottle to the ground was a sight that will stay with me for many years to come.
I think it was a master stroke of Harry to appoint Gallas as captain. I believe that after his excellent performance and leadership he should retain the armband.
We need consistancy and although I am and have been a great admirer of Ledley due to his injuries we can no longer rely on his talents and must look to the future.

elwehbi@ibleedhotspur said...

Great piece JimmyG2!!!

VDV's "never say die" attitude is truly respectable. He has the ability to pump everyone on the field up and I love him for that. The flip side is when he was frustrated, as he was in the first half, it clearly showed and was rubbing off on the other players. Thankfully, Harry gave them all a lashing at the half, brought in high-flying (still can't get over that newfound leap of his) Defoe, and tactically changed the pace of our game.

Man of the Match: Harry Redknapp.

Bring on Bremen!!!!! COYS!!!!

Anonymous said...

Good article. One thing I don't agree with though. The Carling Cup is not Wengers, he'll finish up with bugger all as usual.

Sam-I-Am said...

Good post, JG2. Some time back you rightly wrote about assigning credit to Harry for success and but also blame for failure. Well, praise when it is due: A heartfelt thanks, Harry. That was a great result. Whatever you said (or not) during halftime worked a bloody treat!!! COYS!

Anonymous said...

Jimmy, I just have to remind you that you were very negative when we signed Gallas. I notice that you didn't mention this in the write-up? Have you changed your views or do you still find it hard to accept him?

JimmyG2 said...

Anon 15:58

Re William Gallas:
Me, negative? Surely some mistake.
I have no difficulty with the fact that Gallas came from Arsenal (or Chelsea, or France for that matter) and once he signs he's a Spurs player and I adopt him as one of my own.
I said that like Bellamy he was a good player but had 'personality' problems.
There have been no signs of these although I wish he'd smile occasionally,and his performances have improved recently.

Yesterday he was excellent. He was captain the day we beat a 'Top Four' side away from home.

Alan said...

I've been a supporter for nearly 50 years and can honestly say that I've seen 2 of the best 10 Spurs games in the last month. Not necessarily for football skill reasons, but for sheer theatre. And for me that's 'it'! Gallas was brilliant - not once did I say 'that wouldn't have happened if ledley had been there'. Say it all!

JimmyG2 said...

Shame on you,keep the faith man.
I expect the DVD will be out soon.
Bale's goal is worth the cost alone.

That's two people reminding me of what I have said recently.
Bit worrying . I will have to be careful what I say if you're all going to quote it back at me.
Nah, perhaps not.
Remember the subtitle of this blog though
'The blog that's not always wrong'

galvin was god said...

jimmy- agree with all your positives. but this?

'His one handed save from Fabregas which would have given them a 3-2 lead was top class and balances the scales for me.'

no no no. we all know that gomes is a great shot stopper but by now it should be pretty evident he's not the complete package. just to be blessed with an ability to catch the ball would be a bonus, but the truth is that really great goalkeepers would instinctively know how to deal with the scenario presented to gomes for arsenal's first goal, or indeed that nightmare in milan. I'm sorry but I think he's thick as s**t in the neck of a bottle, and has to be replaced- immediately. two and a half seasons is a decent crack of the whip, and enough is enough. I cannot tell you how angry I was at the half hour mark. I get angry again just thinking about it. end of.

JimmyG2 said...

galvin was god

Nope disagree entirely.
Goalkeepers make errors, all of them, but some can save the game for you and Gomes has been a matchsaver on many occasions.
He's not at his best at the moment but his period in goal has coincided with our best period for a long long time.

galvin was god said...

Jimmy - fair enough , but I believe most of the current crop of premiership keepers would have least got fingers to the fabregas shot. it is true that on occasion he sticks out a tentacle and pulls off a save that might be beyond other goalkeepers, but pat jennings he ain't and I think time will prove me right. having said that, I actually hope he proves me wrong, you don't win silverware with a suspect goalkeeper and history shows us that.

alwyn said...

seriously, other than Wigan last season, has ANY TEAM (in recent memory?) come back from 2 goals behind arsenal to beat them? and at the Emirates??

IKnowAlanGilzean said...

So many big performances second half, but I'm so thrilled for JJ this season.

I'm not sure there are too many better keepers than Gomes around, not that we could hope to sign anyhow.

IKnowAlanGilzean said...

Harry does deserve a pat on the back for changing things round at half time, though he seems to put the team behind the 8 ball often and then have to go for it. Too passive early on again, though arsenal played very well first half.

I am very much a managers get too much of the blame when a team loses and too much of the praise when it wins sort of guy.

galvin was god said...

I knowalangilzean. no worries fella - he's sitting on the bench.

JimmyG2 said...

galvin was god.
'Sticks out a tentacle' like it.
Pat Jennings is a very high standard to judge any current keeper by.
We'll see.

Not sure whether Harry got it wrong or the players just didn't perform in the first half.
But once again they put it right between them.

You're probably right but to be honest I don't recall and haven't access to Arsenal stats. in the same way that I've got Spurs stats to hand.

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