Spurs once again failed to let everybody down and the axeman was apparently caught up in traffic on the High Rd.
They said we wouldn't make 4th we made 4th. They said that we wouldn’t qualify: we qualified. They said we wouldn't make the knock-out stages: we made the knock-out stages. They say we won't win the Champions' League. We wo...... Steady Jimbo let's not get carried away.
But we qualified with a game to spare, with equal top scoring (15) after 5 games with Arsenal who haven't quite made it yet. . We may well win the group and be seeded and thus avoid the Real Madrids, Barcelonas and Chelsea's. We have already beaten the current holders, so there's nothing to fear except, you know. Curiously the pundits have all leapt off the tumbrils and climbed aboard the Tottenham open top bus. But I will be examining their tickets shortly to see if they are travelling legitimately or have mistaken it for a bandwagon.
We don't usually do calm, controlled and efficient but they're a useful set of strings for our bow. I would have preferred to see us maintain or up the pace after the opener but 'all's well that works out fine' as they say. Modric who was the architect of everything, dropping deep and jinking his way forward scored a Van Der Vaart special; Crouch knock-down, little dummy, volley to where the keeper isn't. Must be something they practise. Not however in a tactical way you understand. This came in injury time in the first half and settled my nerves and the match.
Lennon who made two goals and looked lively was seriously underused in the first half but didn't seem to mind. He always looks slightly miffed at the best of times so it was difficult to tell. His nutmeg and cutback for Crouch's goal was a thing of beauty. Crouch had a goal and an assist and, now that we seem to have stopped lumping the ball up to him, played well.
I normally prefer Pavlyuchenko on the grounds that strikers should be able to strike but he wasn't great on Wednesday night and his failure to step up and take the penalty won't have impressed Harry. It gave Harry the chance to have a little crack at Bale, on the grounds that missing the penalty proved that he was human after all. Something to disprove there Gareth. His cross that hit the bar and fell to Lennon led to the third goal. Clearly something that they had worked on in training. It's not exactly a tactic but still.
The Pavlyuchenko/ Crouch debate can't be settled by a single game and in truth will never be settled. 'I don't know much about football but I know who I like' as it were. In any case Keane's head is first on the chopping block if:
a) We can get someone to take him off our hands, perhaps on loan
b) If we can get someone to replace him at under £30 million or whatever the going rate is, who isn't cup tied.
Pavlyuchenko was unhappy to be subbed last night and he will even unhappier to be 4th choice striker again. I doubt that there will be any changes in January at the top level.
People are even saying that they were sorry to see JJ go off and that they hope that both he and Van der Vaart are fit for Liverpool on Sunday. I'll be inspecting their tickets too. They could be shedding crocodile tears and this is an open top bus not Noah's bloody Ark. Defoe looked fit and keen and ran about vigorously to no good effect but it's good to see him back and he will no doubt start on Sunday.
Palacios came on for Jenas after 18minutes and survived almost a whole match without getting a yellow card or doing very much else to be honest. Most of the time he roamed the jungle in search of prey but couldn't find much to feed on. He took up some good positions some of which he surrendered by his trade-mark slack passing but generally looked more composed. In fact half way through the first half there was a passage of play where Modric, Ekotto and Palacios had a private competition to see who could misplace the most passes. Ekotto took the honours, but only just.
Kranjcar made his first appearance of the season and found some good positions linking with Modric, but again achieved little. Kaboul and Gallas, officially confirmed as a 'Yiddo ,were little troubled even by the German Messi, Marin, although a ball inside Hutton early on gave a glimpse of what might have been but wasn't.
So another milestone reached. It all ran out tamely and was a little low key for Spurs: no early setbacks or thrilling recoveries. I could get to like it I suppose. Carried away now by the excitement of the big time and to be honest our surprising success the fear of the ignominy and shame which might ensue if we did an Everton seems to have disappeared. The effect on our Premiership chances still remains a real threat but has been pushed onto the back burner, for now, anyway.It could easily boil over if we don't make 4th or win the Champions 'League.
On Sunday we entertain Liverpool and and I hope that we beat them at the same time as entertaining them. It should be routine and as we are starting to do 'routine' I am confident of a win. Without Gerrard they are very average, although Torres is always a threat, their away record is poor so what could possibly go wrong.
One worrying factor is that Lawrenson tips us to win. He put the black spot on Arsenal last week and might well be trying to do the same to us. However as Carragher says that they can do it, and as he knows as much about football as Mrs JimmyG2 who knows nothing and would still make a better centre half for England, I am a little reassured.