The Blog that's not always wrong.

Thursday, 30 December 2010

What to do with a team like Tottenham?

 For shame sir, we spit upon your cards.

Our determination to do things the hard way continues. Following the reckless leap by Defoe against Villa we now have the loss of composure by Kaboul against Newcastle. Both resulted in red cards and three match bans. Neither affected our ability to win the game, in fact we only scored the second goal to make the game safe after the sending off. Curiouser and curiouser.

But imagine the scene in opposition team meetings or strategic pre-match operational logistics seminars as they are known these days.
'Lets outplay them, quick passsing, pressure them in midfield, double mark Bale, deny Modric space, oh and double mark Van der Vaart, and Lennon too just to be on the safe side, take the game to them, grab the first goal'
'You mean like Arsenal?
' Oh wait'

'Nah boss lets rough em up, kick 'em off the park, get Palacios or some hot head sent off, stop Modric playing, oh and double mark Bale, Van der Vaart and Lennon.'
'Like Newcastle you mean?
'Oh wait'
Solutions on a postcard to Tactical Logistic Solutions ASAP. Please.

The loss of Defoe could be seen as a one off moment of recklessness. It further reduces our striking options at a crucial time and seriously interrupts his return to match fitness after injury. It might force Levy's hand in providing funds for a striker in January.

At least the match provided vital evidence that Carroll is probably not that man. He has some raw energy but lacks the experience and skill to contribute a great deal to our line-up, although the presence of Lennon and Bale might offer him better service than he got yesterday. Without Nolan and with Barton too direct it made Dawson's job easier. He stood up to the rugged play of Carroll well and looked as if he was enjoying himself. Bassong was again an able stand-in for Kaboul after his red card.

Newcastle came to spoil and upset our game and they nearly succeeded. Palacios who has played so well recently, reverted to type and was determined to prove that he was as hard as the next man. He lost his composure and focus as a result of the aggressive tactics of Tiote, Smith and Barton. He was replaced at half time, to save him from himself, by Jenas who again linked well with Modric and didn't get distracted from his role.

Kaboul was a victim of the same tactics and in trying to assert his tough guy credentials was sent off for a meaningless, slow motion, head butt gesture. But he should know better. Moments before he had showed his footballing credentials with a fine run into midfield and the wide ball to Lennon that led to the goal. Harry was correctly scathing after the game about the lack of discipline and the failure to remain focused on the job in hand. Younis has at least had the grace to apologise.

We went further ahead with a copycat goal by Bale from the left. He too turned his fullback inside out before finding the corner of the net in a goal reminiscent of his hat-trick against Inter. Newcastle had little to show up front and there was little creativity from their midfield. They parked their tanks in an attempt to prevent the inevitable. A welcome clean sheet and our tenth game unbeaten saw us go into the top four at the expense of Chelsea: for 24hrs anyway.

We controlled the game although we went in scoreless at half time. Pavlyuchenko watched in disbelief when his header at the end of the first half was pushed onto the post and then rolled from post to post without crossing the line. It took us until 56 minutes to score but we did not allow the sending off to unsettle us. The real footballers stood up and treated Newcastle's rugged tactics with disdain. Modric continued to sparkle and our wingers showed that we had the skill and pace to outplay them.

On wider matters, there are no points to be gained in my view from pressurising the referee, though many fans believe that there is. Their belief is based on a common fallacy: all cats are animals: all dogs are animals; therefore all dogs are cats. Manchester United are a successful team: Manchester United confront the ref. Therefore confronting the ref makes you a successful team.

Manchester United are a successful team because they have world class players, under possibly the most experienced and canny manager in the world and play as if they expect to win and never give up.. Tottenham have achieved their current status by playing good football and have a fine squad under a manager who suits the Tottenham mind set. A manager whose instincts are for open, attacking football. Aggression can be counter productive as we saw against Newcastle.

Referee baiting is no part of this approach either and can have a small marginal effect at best, contrary to popular myth. It is not the right way to play and if some people would have us play this way in order to be successful then success is not worth having. Our success over the past 4/5 years has not been achieved by such tactics.

We are in the Champions' league final stages this year and challenging for the top four again this season. We have not compromised our values. What's to be gained? Very little. What's to be lost? The whole joy of supporting Spurs, by common consent the most entertaining team in the Premiership and at the moment one of the most successful. It's the football stupid.

Tuesday, 28 December 2010

One short man short.

Who needs 'em?

The Tottenham Circus swept through the Midlands yesterday in a special Xmas performance. Roll up, roll up: admire the skill of the juggling ball-players; thrill to the bravery of the tightrope walkers as they defy the odds; marvel at the last ditch defenders: tremble at the awesome speed of the cannon ball kids: tremble before Wilson the strong man, gasp at the man on stilts; wonder as the whole team go through their escapology routine. Apologies to our opponents who were hoping to see the clowns: they failed to show up.

The posters proclaimed  'We can beat them with one hand tied behind our backs'. Well the football equivalent anyway; playing with ten men for an hour. This is another to add to our list of achievements: we can come back from a goal down with ease; we can come back from two goals down if it's Arsenal; we can sail through the early rounds of the Champions' League; and beat the reigning champions on the way..And now in addition to all that: we can beat a Premiership team, away from home, with ten men.

This was the 'deja vu' game for the 'deja vu' Connoisseur Collection: the same scoreline, the same scorer for both Spurs goals, the same scorer for the Villa goal , and the same striker off before you could say Emile Heskey as in the previous Villa game.

The dismissal of Defoe was an unwelcome extra. The decision was harsh but Defoe certainly caught Collins in the face with his arm and in real time it probably looked like a red. Harry won't be appealing it as in his dignified way he probably prefers to keep his powder dry for a more obvious injustice. A wrongly disallowed goal by Kaboul and a good call for a penalty for Villa when Gomes and Heskey clashed made this a difficult game to sleep through..

It's getting hard not to count our cockerels before they hatch but this was a Spurs performance to savor. Is it only last year that the fan-sites were full of discussions about 'mental strength' and how we might get it.? By Jove I think we've got it. It wasn't the signing of Van der Vaart that brought it, we had already begun to acquire it, but he makes sure we don't leave it in the dressing room.

Add to that the return of the real Wilson Palacios who has been excellent for three of four games now; the emergence of Luka Modric who increasingly takes responsibility as the play-maker; the return to form of Lennon and the continuing presence of Bale and you have a heady brew producing intoxicating football. The defence can't keep a clean sheet but they are doing enough to give us a fighting chance in every game.

Harry got it right yesterday by keeping Bale and Lennon on as their potential threat prevented Aston Villa from being too adventurous in trying to press their advantage. As soon as they did on 67 minutes they were hit by a blizzard of pace and precision. A superb lay off by Van der Vaart, pace and power from Bale; vision by Lennon, the only man capable of keeping up, and Rafael arrived just in time to pass the ball into the goal for the crucial second. I expected to see Crouch on earlier for either of the two flying flankmen but when he came on it was another Redknapp first: the defensive striker.

The first goal from the pass of the game, season, decade even, from Modric into the wide open spaces behind the Villa defence for Hutton to get to the byline and to cut it back first time for, guess who? Yep the bargain of the year, season, decade? Mr. Rafael Van der Vaart. He injected his skill, workrate and commitment straight into the main arteries of the team.

To be fair, which as we won I can be, Villa dominated possession, shots, and corners and could have been a goal up early on. But it's not just about quantity here it's the quality that counts. We did more with less and gave a young and inexperienced Villa squad a frustrating evening. Bale, even when he is well marked and not at his best can still produce match winning moments which he did for the second goal.

Both full backs played very well and both Dawson and Kaboul show the determination which once again speaks to the 'mental strength ' agenda. Palacios patrolled the midfield in his usual threatening manner but with more control than before and his passing which had been letting him down lately was exemplary.

A necessary win to keep pace with the top teams but one that the team as well as the fans reveled in. The camaraderie at the end was heart cockle warming and gave us yet another day to be proud of. The last couple of seasons have produced a lot more positives than negatives and that's something I'm not used to in the last couple or three decades. But I'm slowly get ting used to it.

It's a long journey down from Newcastle and they won't be anticipating the fixture with pleasure after hearing of the exploits of our boys. With eleven men we might just be a real handful at the Lane although I know it doesn't always work out like that. They might hope for an element of tiredness but we have quality reserves who are all well rested and can help to spread the load.

So a rousing welcome to the Lilywhite Entertainers, now with added grit.

Friday, 24 December 2010

Greg Meyer plays Santa at a Kent Pub.

Just in case you couldn't get there in person Greg has thoughtfully provided a complete run-down of the Spurs Annual Awards evening at a Kent Pub. Lots of inside knowledge here and a new slant on the squad. Roman in a yellow Lamborghini and he looks such a quiet boy. No wonder Harry is wary of him.
I'm pleased that Ledley has won something this season. Your nominations are welcomed.
Christmas Eve 2010.
Annual Christmas Kent Pub Awards ... Pancho Villa Away On Ice ... A Boxing Day Surprise.
Hollywood has the Academy Awards, the BBC has the Sports Personality of the Year,our Pub host the Kent Pub Xmas Awards. Admittedly a low budget number. Catering aside that is. Well make that a total budget allocation to celebratory ales.
So who won what this year, who flopped after last year, who looks like doing better next year. Mine host indeed was a masterful and suave master of ceremonies. Great support from train drivers, accountants, medicos, lawyers, gardeners, you name it they all turned up.Even a banker from Geneva.Rumour suggests via an airborne Swiss sled. What else is flying at this time of year. To matters football ...
Annual Christmas Awards 2010.
On the subject of sleds( as opposed to your more leisurely sleigh) this proved to be a wide ranging category.
Fastest Sled Driver.
Nominations ranged from the obvious,a Mr. D. Bentley( rumoured to be parking at Liverpool shortly albeit a very tabloidal rumour), Mr. S. Claus ( slow ,steady and responsible springs to mind), Jermaine the body builder ( according to Les Ferdinand and it does seem so ... ergo the quality leap in the Arsenal game.) But surely mobile phones in motion is more his go. Not sure of his Spurs membership number but the taxi driver called by a certain Senor Maicon ( after the Gareth Bale Show at The Lane versus Inter) no doubt was party to a fast exit  and even faster nomination ...
but no, written on the back of a soggy envelope the winner is ...
Ledley King.
His ability to attain a casual 105mph speed has received official recognition from none other than the Sudbury Magistrates Court. Even better news this week is he may be able to haul himself out of Daniel Levy's pool and walk onto the hallowed turf of White Hart Lane in a game of football sooner rather than later. Milan in Febuary perhaps.
Prettiest Sled Driver.
The winner might not qualify as pretty ( the Russian nose lets him down) but his shiny yellow Lamborghini wins him a unanimous vote here. Well done Super Pav. Somewhat of a cult hero at our pub. Nice sled Roman.
Most Careful Sled Driver.
Harry drives up from Sandbanks most days. Our lawyer hopes that great driving record does not become relevant at a 2011 Sentence hearing at the Southwark Crown Court.
Not sure if Wilson has even got a licence, Moddle would have a baby capsule fitted  (hardly looks old enough to be a father, bless him says our gardener), but no surely the winner is ...
Carlo Cudicini .
After his bike riding experience taking on a small 4 door sedan and surviving, albeit 2 broken wrists etc, you cannot blame him can you. Bravo Carlo. An unsung hero reckons our pub medico. I wonder if he has got back on the bike yet says our Tranmere Accountant.Certainly back on the bench.
Kent Pub Most Loved.
Christmas Eve here at our little Spurs enclave, goodwill, lots of , in the air, christmas spirit, even more of lots of, going down many a happy patrons  hatch ... so who warmed the proverbial cockerals of heart most this last year.
Probably the most difficult decision since the inception of our famous awards. A quick sample ...
Our lawyer cannot go past Rafael VdV for sheer impact and class. Luka M. for sheer midfield artistry. No wonder a Chelsea devoid of midfield imagination cast an envious eye towards our Croatian family man of the year.Tabloids this week.
Our banker says Gallas has been vital given no Daws, no King, no Woodgate, then no Kaboul etc.
Our medico leans to comeback from injury. Without being all encompassing how can you overlook Lennon and Bale. Architects of probably the Premier Leagues most feared wing attack.
Mine host ever the sentimentalist has a soft spot for the very bilingual Super Roman( don't believe what you read about english lessons ... tosh!!) Mine was a striker before he started pumping fine English ale.
Look after gathering up scribblings on used menus, various coasters and almost indecipherible note pads     ( our medico presumably ... what doctor could write legibly) ..
the winner is ...
Harry Redknapp and, and name your own player ... we love them all. So did the judges.
So from a team of our amazing Spurs to the team not so amazing ...
At A Kent Pub.
The Title chase continues.  
Aston Villa possibly without the Youngs makes it easier. If Ashley does not play (in doubt) great for our chances. Obversely Spurs have all available except King, Gallas and Woodgate out. All three are off the stretcher and on the training track. That leaves Jamie O'Hara still recovering .An honest trier who has run his course at Spurs but will do well at Birmingham or some such. Good luck Jamie and thank you.
Like some of you we try and get out a bit and read who says what. Sorry but cannot fathom the Lawro prediction this week. Apparently we are going to have trouble against Villa because of our European travels. Lawro tips Villa. Champs League for Spurs starts mid Febuary. For Liverpool it doesn't start in Champions League despite our ex Pool player pundit's dreams.Sorry Lawro Spurs to beat Villa.
At the risk of tempting a banana skin surely wth Rafa , Younes, Jenas, and most available if Spurs are to push on then class will tell against an honest but lacking Villa team.
Merry Cheers  ... the magic of Christmas never fades here at our Kent village ... much like yours I am sure ... stay safe and happy ... Greg Meyer  coys.

Monday, 20 December 2010

It's a (Xmas) cracker

 It's the way I tell 'em

What do the following players and Harry have in common? Jermaine Defoe, Peter Crouch, and Assou Ekotto. They all want to see out their days at Tottenham. All are decent players, at or just over their peak, on good wages, at a going places club. It's clearly a reverse of the 'Come and get me plea' headline. More of a, 'Please ignore me I'm doing quite nicely where I am thankyou' plea.

.Didn't one famous Spurs legend , a Mr.R Keane say the same once, before he popped out for a moment and then popped back in again? But this smells to me like a conspiracy, as if Daniel is being 'nudged' into the profitable geriatric care home field. Now I'm all for stability but this is getting ridiculous.

Harry is different. His advisors have clearly warned him that he is touting for the England job too openly. He needs to play harder to get. Don't take the bra off all in one go H. One strap at a time, a little more coy and turn your back on them when you finally remove it. I knew all those hours spent in seedy, half lit Soho cellars with drinks at 10 shillings a pint, I am going back a bit here, wouldn't be wasted. I know an artful striptease when I see one.
' England Managership? Oh go on then'

What other scraps are there for the frustated football blogger to examine?. Andy Carroll was being touted at £20million on Saturday with at least three Spurs players thrown in, plus cash. Perhaps this is what our lads are worried about. Of those that have hidden in the wardrobe only Crouchy was mentioned.

By today it's gone up to £25million and six players. (I made the six players bit up; blogger's licence) I make that £45 million by January 1st. So if you want him Harry don't leave it too long. Ashley clearly has a death wish if he's thinking of selling local hero Carroll. You would imagine that Pardew would have made keeping his key players a condition of his contract.

He is a risky buy but certainly offers us what we are lacking: a centre forward in the classic mould that attacks the ball in a way that our current quartet don't. But the inexperience, one season wonder, syndrome might count against him as well as the 'bright lights of London' aspect which might throw him off the goal scent.. The lights in Newcastle are not that dim though. We might have to buy Nolan as well in order to maintain his bail conditions. He could always lodge with Ledley King our Club Captain.

Eleswhere I read that Pavlyuchenko is being advised to get an English tutor as according to his agent, although he can understand you have to speak slowly to him.

This reminds me of Rob.Wilton's line about writing a letter to his mother which begins:

Dear Mother.
I am writing this slowly as I know you can't read very fast'

Who advised him to improve his English is not clear. Might it be Harry by some delicious irony?. I think this is about 9 on the bullshit scale and is about a year out of date in any case.
'ostrov' from Spurs Community informs me that Запоздалая хуйня.' is Russian for 'out of date bullshit' and with a name like that I'm sure it's kosher info.

Editor's note:
Rob Wilton : Music Hall and wireless comedian around the time of the Second World War.

Writing: very slow, manual, black and white email service.A sort of pre-digital texting. Now largely extinct.

Second World War: International conflict,.... oh ask your grandad.

The postponement of the Blackpool game was probably to our advantage as it gives our wounded some rest and recreation before Boxing Day where we visit a struggling Aston Villa, weather, gritting and de-icing permitting. I expect us to win everything these days but this is certainly one of a run of winnable games, before we begin again in what was viewed when we kicked off the season as an 'easy' start. 'No easy games' and all that.

I expect you expect me to endorse the ' Thank God we drew AC Milan in the Champions' League' line but to be honest I would willingly swap with Chelsea and Man.Utd. I don't go along with the 'We might as well face them early as later; we can beat anyone at the Lane; playing the best is what it's all about attitude'. Save the best until last, all in good time, is my attitude. Arsene tried to sidetrack his demons by predicting that they would get Barcelona. You got that one right Mr. Wenger. You're very welcome to them.

Harry neatly summarises why we won't get Scott Parker in January:
"I like Parker, but he belongs to West Ham. He will be 31 next birthday and they will want £15million.
"Daniel (Levy, chairman) wouldn't buy players of that age, on big wages with no sell-on."

This makes me think that serious discussions have been held. If we could get him for £10 million and the six players that don't fancy the North East it's probably a goer. We'll see.

If Aston Villa is cancelled expect another round up of gossip, rumour, rubbish (in and out of date) and tittle-tattle.I might even do a run-down of the best Xmas Cracker jokes.

Merry Xmas to all

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

The 'Glass More Than Half Full Society'

Tempting Fate? Spurs supporter on Blackpool Beach

Your response to the Chelsea game will partly depend on your temperament. Are you a half empty sort of supporter or a half full type of fan? Depending on your answer you will either be lamenting two points lost by inept defending or thankfully accepting a single point snatched out of the jaws of imminent defeat by a dramatic extra time penalty save.

This was an enthralling game in which a growing fear that we might not hold on to a slender lead was dramatically proved correct after a blunder by Gomes. But in the end sheer relief prevailed as he committed another one to give away a penalty and then saved it to preserve the draw. Another classic performance by Spurs then. Unlucky not to win, lucky not to lose, relieved to get a draw in the end.

A clean sheet and it was ours but there's little chance of that this season. Firstly though 'welcome back Wilson Palacios'. His passing was excellent ,his discipline with Modric in midfield was commendable and the two of them though tactically outnumbered played excellently especially for the first half. The Chelsea change to 442 was not matched by Harry and the substitution of Defoe for Crouch pointless, as was the introduction of the old warhorse Robbie Keane. He gave his usual impression of a blue-bottle trapped under an upturned jam-jar and I am not certain that he actually touched the ball in his fifteen minutes of fame.

With Sandro, Kaboul, Corluka and Giovani on the bench there were more logical and interesting moves to bolster the midfield and having a striker whose main use is defensive headers from set pieces is intriguing to say the least. But Gomes was the main cause of our downfall although his save from, er Palacios, was brilliant.

Pavlyuchenko delighted his supporters with a classic striker's goal from an assist from Defoe which is in itself a rarity. He made a yard on three defenders by dropping off, then a beautiful take, turn and drive into the corner for the goal. He is top scorer ( 7 with Bale) and leading scorer in terms of goals scored/minutes played. (1/123 mins.) Mathematicians amongst you can easily calculate that in a 60 game season that is 40 goals.

So the question is: Why doesn' he get more starts? He doesn't do assists it is true but neither does Defoe. One of life's great mysteries. I like Peter Crouch but not as a striker for Spurs.

But we took on the current champions and played as if we thought we could win. I like my Spurs cocky and overall we were a good match for them. We maintained our unbeaten run against the current top five so far this season, except for Manchester United of course and I'm working on my voodoo doll for the return fixture. We asserted our right to be considered as one of the elite. Moreover we are being crowned as the most entertaining team to watch on a weekly basis, the neutrals' favourite club. Outside of London apparently all clubs have a 'Stand up if you love Spurs' chant.

We are still in touch with the Champions' League places despite our injury list and the bare bones once again dragged themselves from their coffins in the crypt to delight those who agree with Danny Blanchflower that '"The great fallacy is that the game is first and last about winning. It is nothing of the kind. The game is about glory, it is about doing things in style and with a flourish, about going out and beating the other lot, not waiting for them to die of boredom." Don't step back Danny I'm right behind you.

I like Harry too but this match demonstrated both his strengths and weaknesses. He put out a decent team and deployed his restricted choices well. He sent them out ready, confident, and 'up for it'. Players who have been lacklustre or injured were primed to go: Dawson,Palacios, Lennon, Defoe. Former rejects like Hutton and Bale are regulars if not stars now; the recently overlooked, like Bassong, all turned up and they played like a team. All this is tribute to the restorative powers of whatever is in Harry's Special Tonic.

But in the substitutions and tactics department Harry either needs a crash course or to get some better advisers. He doesn't respond quickly or creatively enough. But then as Mrs JimmyG2 is always pointing out to me, 'Nobody's perfect'. I notice with a detached half smile she seems to exclude herself from this judgment.

On the good news front, I think, Harry seems to have become the frontrunner in a field of one for the England Managership which even Harry himself realises is a poisoned chalice. Roy's inability to inspire Liverpool and Sam's second sacking in two years leaves our man only needing to complete the course to win.

There are one or two hurdles ahead but Harry could win this at a canter, hands down. Perhaps it should have been declared a walkover from the start. Unless a dark horse looms up on the rails in the final furlong or Harry stumbles and has to be humanely shot then it's job done.

Anyway like Nelson at the Battle of Copenhagen I am putting the telescope to my blind eye and only looking as far ahead as Sunday. With a full week to prepare, recover and rest we might just tear into Blackpool before we do the same to our Christmas turkey, content that we have negotiated the first half of the season with some distinction. Blackpool at home under Ian Holloway will be open and attacking.

That will make two of us but we have more quality weapons to play with and should outgun them by a distance, subject to no more casualties. Actually they've run out of beds in the sick bay and they are lining them up in the corridor. Joe Jordan is holding their hands and Kevin Bond is taking their temperatures hourly.

As the official toastmaster of 'The Glass More Than Half Full Society' I feel that we can face the second half of the season with a smile on our faces.Firstly because of the way we are playing; secondly because our injury list cannot be as long in the new year; thirdly because confidence comes from success and what does success mean? Prizes: exactly.

Saturday, 11 December 2010

Greg Meyer Guest Column: Strictly Dancing to the Title Waltz

You can't keep a good Aussie down. Is he downhearted? No he is not, and at a Kent Pub they  are keeping their spirits up with hot mince pies, mulled wine and 'Strictly Come Dancing'  before theChelsea game. The way he tells it Xmas is going to come early. Like me he's not always wrong.
Over to you Mr.Meyer.
  Saturday 11 December 2010.
 Strictly Dancing In The Title Waltz ... Spurs And Chelsea At A White Hart Ballroom.
 Realistic Title aspirations for Spurs. Surely not. No we are not having a laugh.Beat Chelsea and the margin is but one point.If Manchester United beat Arsenal on Monday Spurs are three points from Arsenal. Manchester City beat West Ham and stay a game in front of us.Liverpool are a little further back.
Our pub are not sure if the old bloke in the red coat has come early. What a time to follow Spurs. Is that it was like in 1961.Before some serious beer drinking and resulting thoughts on the Chelsea visit on Sunday, a quick look back to ...
Spurs Air ... Flying High In The Champs League Stratosphere.
Inter or was that Bremen made it rather more relaxed. Top spot in Group was achieved. Next door could not say the same.
Air Marshall Redknapp manoeuvred his squadron with little thought to concentrated defence.The wing commanders had useful games. Bale started and Lennon took off after Jenas suffered engine failure . I thought calves were old men's injuries. Quantas and others do engine failure.
The other Jermaine did what he does best in a dogfight. Scored two. Nice to be able to say that about our little poacher. All in all our bank manager thought it had the air of a glorified training run. No disrespect to some quality dutch opposition. Again the Luftwaffe 3 : Inter 0 scoreline helped settle nerves. Played at Inter too.
Coming back to earth, yes you are not dreaming, Hotspur Airlines takes on Aeroflot Abramovich in a crucial near top of the table clash at our beloved Lane in the ...
Late, Late Show Sunday ... Chelsea.
Despite consistent rounds of many a fine English ale, bringing forth some accompanying animated discussion, our pub clan still say ...
                    ...  We are a big chance on Sunday ...
Forget recent history .. Chelsea have not beaten Spurs since prior 2006 .
Forget recent Chelsea poor form ... one win in their last six in the League.
Remember Spurs propensity to buggar these ones up. Thats the old Spurs says our lawyer. Is he right. Perhaps a look at each squad helps.
Down Back and Front.
Terry, Cole  and Ivanovich are quality. Ferreria will be tested by the boy Bale. Will Pav and Defoe have enough. Help from the midfield will be needed.
 With Spurs Gallas, Kaboul(?) and Benny are useful. Hutton is getting better. Drogba and Anelka, particularly the former are dangerous. So far Chelsea have let in eleven goals. Spurs twenty one. Hmm!!
In The Middle.
This is where our pub thinks we can win it. The firepower of Bale and Lennon supplied by our Croatian watercarrier can prevail. More goals there than Essien, Mikel and Malouda.
Yep a genuine Title challenge. Still seems a little surreal to be writing that even when its from deep in the leafy glades ...
At A Kent Pub.
No apologies really on offer here in Kent.We will take any chance to place a foot on the rung to our first Premier title, however unsteady. There's lots of those here of course.
Early Christmas emails to Pole North here are a Chelsea win and lots of points from Blackpool, Villa and Newcastle coming up. All winnable.
No Class der Vart is matched by no Lampard for them. Perhaps the old player/captain returns could provide a fairytale goal. It is that time of year. Mine host will be happy if William Gallas just keeps them out.
An early christmas cracker in the Title chase.
Christmas Cheers ... a win over Chelsea and the throng of believers will swell  ... we might start believing in a certain Mr. Claus all over again .. Greg Meyer.     coys.
A Column written to the sounds of Jimmy Buffett ... Come Monday ... where will we be.

Friday, 10 December 2010

I don't like Harry

Am I getting obsessive about 'Arry? While the team are 'Walking the Walk' these days it's definitely Harry who is 'Talking the Talk'. Mrs JG2 says that everything according to me nowadays is 'top, top' and if I say 'for sure' once more she's tearing up my bus pass. She says that I've even developed a facial tic. Mind you she is not a reliable witness and to suggest that I snuggled up in bed the other night and whispered 'Arry, Arry' let's try 443 for a change' is just going too far. She is to be treated as a hostile witness from now on.

Harry has hoodwinked the media, the players, the fans and clearly me into thinking that there is more to himself than meets the eye. So when he says 'We are going to attack, co's that's all we know' opponents, managers and pundits tap their noses and observe that Harry won't be fooling them. They get ready for a 451 formation and are shocked when we play with two strikers, four attacking midfielders, two overlapping full-backs and a 'fly' goalkeeper.

So why have I been so slow to join the 'Harry Redknapp Love In'? Remember them? Great group. Well firstly I am clearly a soccer snob. I grew up in London and went to school with a playground full of miniature 'Arrys' and had my dinner money frequently charmed or threatened out of my pocket for some dubious venture.

I am not given to taking things at face value. In my view there's always more to everything than meets the eye. I am particularly wary of the 'What you see is what you get' facade. But Harry would like us to believe that really that's all there is. In this complex world is honesty the new black? Is transparency the new opaque? Is an arm round the shoulder as technical as it gets? It's a con and I'm not falling for it. Will the real Harry Redknapp please stand up.

To tell you the truth I really want my manager to eat Guardian chalkboards for breakfast and Pro-zone lightly sprinkled with back copies of shredded Zonal Markings for lunch. I want complexity; I want strategy; I want tactical substitution; I want analysis and depth. I don't want, 'Just go on and f****** run about a bit'. I want Mourinho with all the trimmings: ice, lemon and little umbrellas that open; I want the manager, like Billy Nick to be more famous than the team: Tottenham HarrySpurs it is then . I don't want empty clipboards. Mind you poor old Chris Hughton, the man who did more for office supplies than Ricky Gervaise, has just been sacked so perhaps Harry is on to something

Harry never writes anything down; or looks anything up; he rarely gets out of his seat except when he gets the cramp; he spends most of the training sessions wandering about enjoying the scenery; old fashioned fool that he is he loves 442; plays the same players until they break a leg and even then is loathe to substitute them until the 91st minute. Harry doesn't tinker, or do short term micro management in business speak, like Benitez who is doing so well at Inter Milan. Oh wait.

Despite all these failings the team is in the knockout stages of the Champions' League; still in touch at the top of the Premier League; he is tipped to take over from Ivor Capello when he and Mr. Berlusconi are sleeping with the fishes; we are playing football 'Tottenham style', happy just to score more more than the opposition; and all this despite the fact that our injured players make The Lodge look like a field hospital dressing station in the Great War.

On Tuesday we were in Holland against an FC.Twente a team that were slicker and faster than I remember them from White Hart Lane. We beat them at home 4-1 with Van der Vaart sent off for a second bookable offense and a couple of Pavlyuchenko penalties. That was an open game too. On Tuesday they scored three but it was never going to be enough.

We qualified with ease for top, top spot in our division thus avoiding the Big Beasts in the next round. Even Harry admitted we could do without drawing Barcelona in the next round. I like a man that knows his limitations.

They gave us a bizarre Robinsonesque goal but while we were still laughing we gave them one back via a harsh penalty from which they eventually scored. The first was dis-allowed because Gallas was ahead of Landzaart before he even took it. Defoe got his first Champions' League goals, one from a clever Lennon assist and the other a tap in after Palacios had skinned, gutted and jugged a defender. Wilson's shot was pushed into the path of Defoe. Two for him then and technical KO. for Wilson.

They scored from an excellent free-kick and a superb cross and header. But three is never enough against Spurs at this level (18 goals in 6 games) and despite Kranjcar and Jenas being injured we went home in high spirits.

Now we face a somewhat down at heel Chelsea at White Hart Lane and having failed to collect three points against Birmingham this would be the ideal time to put Harry's philosophy into action. Something along the lines of 'attack, attack, attack.' the motto incidentally of the US 34th . Infantry Division. Sounds about right. In their last 6 games they have recorded just one win and three losses and were beaten on Wednesday in the Champions' League. We are unbeaten in six at home at the Lane. Chelsea as underdogs, whatever next.

I'm always wary of the 'Good time to play' theory because Spurs seem to do better when we are not expected to do the business. Or rather we used to be. All the things we couldn't, wouldn't, or shouldn't do we seem to have done lately, including a new one for the list, topping our Champions' League group.

We might make the top four again and get through to the last 16 of the Champions' League. Or we just might do better than that. Harry has no doubts and if you listen to him, we most certainly will and who's to say him nay?

So as 10cc nearly put it in 'Dreadlock Holiday' in the 70's

'I don't like Harry, oh no: I love him.'

Monday, 6 December 2010

Cry, 'Harry for England'

That's Harry on the left, on the Lilywhite horse.

Harry for England' is a frequently heard refrain lately given a timely boost by the FA chief Executive, Alex Horn, saying that he could well be on the not very long, long list. Personally I think it's unlikely. He's too outspoken in a Brian Clough sort of way. Not really ' one of us' as Mrs Thatcher used to say. I notice too that the verbal pledge that the next England manager would be English wasn't worth the paper it wasn't written on and is 'still under consideration'.

In fact if Harry gets the job I will eat this blog. Too much unfinished business lurking in the shadows I'm afraid and legal stuff has a nasty habit of dragging on and, like fish, leaving a smell in the dustbin even when it's been emptied. It is a moot point (edit) in in any case whether Harry has saved our bacon or whether the team has preserved his.

His limitations were shown again on Saturday. Alex McLeish changed it round in good time and got the draw they didn't really deserve on the first half performance. Zigic was brought on after 60 minutes and proved instrumental in their late goal. Harry neither changed the attacking focus nor bolstered the defensive options until it was too late. Crossing your fingers is not a tactic. Sandro and Dawson were available for the defensive options and Kranjcar and Pavlyuchenko for the attacking ones.

In fairness, on Saturday we went away from home and got a point from a team that has only lost once in 27 home games or something silly but we came away feeling as if we've been robbed of 2 points. Is that just a Tottenham fan's arrogance, a failure to take the longer view, or a fair assessment of the match? We totally dominated the first half, went ahead in the 19th minute, out paced and outhought them with some clever inter passing and were only pegged back by a late equaliser.

The three points were ours for the taking but early Xmas generosity, and an attack of politeness in front of goal meant that we lost ground on City and and missed the chance to go two points behind Chelsea before we play them next week. This became a tale of two very tall strikers as ironically they 'Out Crouched' us for the equaliser. A long cross field ball beyond the far post headed firmly back across the goal by 6'8'' Zigic for Gardner to make a brave run from the edge of the area through the massed ranks of Spurs defenders to head firmly down into the corner.

Even our goal was the result of an error by Foster who pushed a Bale free-kick back into the danger zone where Bassong had plenty of time to knock the ball down and volley into the net. I hope Crouch took note of this expertise, both the firm header by Zigic and the calm finish by Bassong as he seems incapable of both.

With a decent, on form, striker we could be challenging for top spot this season. Lennon and Bale created enough chances for an even half decent front man to put the match beyond Birmingham's reach. Defoe is still re-acclimatising himself and played poorly; Pavlyuchenko was again offered a few crumbs of comfort in a ten minute cameo at the end. Keane has disappeared off the radar. Curiously we only had six subs on the bench two of which were keepers.

Bale was not quite as dominant as usual but was harshly described as a 'flop' in some reports. I suppose he was by his astronomical standards. A clean sheet eluded us once again but generally the defence were sound and little troubled overall. Once again the strikers failed to register which leads me to think we need a new name for them; non strikers should cover

I think that we should go for a striker in the January window even if they are already cup tied for the Champions' League because the Premiership must be our priority now. Unless Pavlyuchenko is given more time we urgently need someone who can put the ball in the back of the net without taking several touches and setting off in the wrong direction like Crouch; or having to shift everything onto his right foot like Defoe.

Taking the long view, given our lengthy injury list we are still doing very well: still in touch with the top four and through to the knock-out rounds of the Champions' league. But games like yesterday where we could and should have put the game to bed in the first half hour raise the old doubts about our ability to finish the job particularly without better strikers and without Van der Vaart to cover their blushes.

Players are returning so things can know, whisper it quietly... get better. Gallas has grown in stature and first Kaboul and now Bassong have come on and played well. Tuesday sees us in Holland to play FC Twente in the final league section of the Champions' League in a game that we need to win or at least to match the Inter Milan result to ensure that we avoid the Big Boys in the next knock-out round.

On the 'Harry for England' front King Harry Vth's speech at Harfleur has so many Tottenham echoes as to be positively eerie So it might be a sign of something after all.

Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more;..(FCTwente)
Or close the wall up with our English dead.......(Clear reference to Spurs injury list)
In peace there's nothing so becomes a man
As modest stillness and humility:......................(Luka Modric)
But when the blast of war blows in our ears,
Then imitate the action of the tiger;................. (Wilson Palacios)
Stiffen the sinews, summon up the blood,
Disguise fair nature with hard-favour'd rage;....(Alan Hutton on Saturday)
Then lend the eye a terrible aspect; …............( William Gallas)

(There's a few lines here where the Bard loses his Hotspur focus, so we'll move on).

Swill'd with the wild and wasteful ocean...........(All our strikers)
Now set the teeth and stretch the nostril wide,
Hold hard the breath and bend up every spirit
To his full height. On, on, you noblest English....(Peter Crouch)

(And again Will Shakespeare gets side-tracked into Mighty 'Alexander' and stuff.)

And teach them how to war. And you, good yeoman,
Whose limbs were made in England, show us here.....(Michael Dawson)
The mettle of your pasture; let us swear
That you are worth your breeding; which I doubt not;
For there is none of you so mean and base,
That hath not noble lustre in your eyes............(Ledley King)
I see you stand like greyhounds in the slips,.... (Bale and Lennon)
Straining upon the start. The game's afoot:.......(FCTwente)
Follow your spirit, and upon this charge
Cry 'God for Harry, England, and Saint George!.(Harry Redknapp)

So there you have it. Who's right me or the boy from Stratford?
Stratford! Christ what have I started?

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Friday, 3 December 2010

Sleigh Ride to St. Andrews by Guest blogger Greg Meyer

 Well it's not a bad place to be snowed in I suppose. I offered to come and help dig them out but they turned me down. They've turned off the radio and television so as to concentrate on matters Tottenham. and to plot how they are going to get to Birmingham for 3o/c on Saturday.
It also prevents Greg from listening to the Test Match. It's only a game mate. Don't do anything non-reversible otherwise I'll be carrying the 'Spurs Musing' burden all on my own.

Anyway there's a fair amount of optimism about, so fingers crossed Greg and friends holed up in A Kent Pub and here's to 4th.  If we win, put a round on my tab. You never know I might turn up in person one day. 
Does Mine Host take Green Shield stamps?

Friday 3 December 2010.
 The Title Race ... A Spurs Sleigh Ride To St Andrews ... No Snow White Vote At World Cup.
Imagine you are just turning on the radio whether it's in the car or kitchen, perhaps it's the tv. Then along comes this ...
" We interrupt this programme ... breaking news ... a flash ... apparently official ... local time 6 pm, Sunday 22 May 2011."
Speaking from White Hart Lane an emotional Sir Henry "Harry" James Redknapp of Snowbanks, Sandhurst,paid a glowing tribute to his players. Sir Henry, recently so annointed in line with his elevation to Manager of the Three Lions, takes on the England job following the Champions League Wembly Final six days later.. His last game in charge of Spurs.
In buoyant mood following Spurs taking out their first Premier league title he was asked whether there was a turning moment. " Yes I think our win in the blizzard at St Andrews on Saturday December 4 was pivotal."
It's been a big week for the Sandhurst knight. He paid tribute to his legal team as well. The recent announcement at Southwark Crown Court whereby certain tax matters were discontinued cleared the way for his appointment to the England job.The knighthood quickly followed.
Speaking live from the nearby Emirates Stadium an apoplectic Arsene Wenger was still coming to terms with the passing of the baton in North London. Unable to mention the Spurs championship he preferred instead to concentrate on finally achieving a trophy after too many barren years." Ze Carling Cup. Beaucoup. Allez les good times roll."
The Arsenal Manager was a little more forthcoming when asked if he could point to any defining moment. " The day my water broke.( seemingly an oblique gallic reference to the Case of the Broken Water Bottle, Emirates,at a certain North London Derby.)
Elsewhere another knight of the football realm made a rare appearance. Sir Alex of Ferguson possibly appearing as the FA fines ,now past the 1.7 million pound mark, seemed to be starting to bite.
Yes he was present but not particularly garrulous. He declined to comment on the possible negative effect the relocation in January of a Mr. W. Rooney and family to the United States may have meant. He did concede that the continued long term absence of a Mr. D. Berbatov owing to a compound leg fracture suffered at the Man U Xmas party, was not very helpful.
Elsewhere crossing live from Stamford Bridge the recently installed Chelsea manager, Mr. Ray Wilkins congratulated Sir Henry and his Hotspurs. In passing as well Ray paid tribute to both people and player power. In the former case it was the famously successful "Bring Back Ray" T-shirt campaign plus some well timed assistance from a Mr. Julian Assange which saw Roman Abramavich give Ray the top job. The power of WikiLeaks in Russia is considerable. Being a player's favourite also helped.
Enough,enough. Perhaps all this snow is having an effect. Attendance at team meetings this week at our pub has been accentuated with a corresponding decrease in attendance at work. Plenty of early Christmas cheer this week ...
At A Kent Pub.
Back to the present . Our Spurs sled, some might say bandwagon,travels to Birmingham this Saturday. If we can improve on last seasons1-1 draw then it is another small step in the Title chase. Chesea indeed lost there earlier in the season.
We are stronger than then very obviously. Perhaps the centre half area maybe not so. Still if Bassong picks up from last week and our new captain continues his rich vein of form, we may be fourth Saturday evening.
Cheers ... only fitting that Franz Klammer, what a name , Austrian Gold medal Skier, turns 57 today ....  Greg Meyer.          coys.

A slow news day

JimmyG2 rises to the challenge

Snow gently falling; skies grey and overcast; can't get the car out of the drive; garden and allotment frozen solid; Christmas cards done; no papers this morning. Thank God for Spurs Musings but there's not an awful lot to muse about at the moment. No midweek game. I knew there was something missing. But never let it be said that the Guild of Tottenham Bloggers can't be relied upon to come up with a readable blog even when there's not much to say. In fact most of us excel at it.

I filled in the time with a scouting mission on Channel 5 at Man. City. (City v Saltzburg)
Poor opposition but then it is only the Europa League full of 'almost made its' and throw outs from the Senior competition. City are in the former category and had too many players jostling with their hands raised shouting 'Me, me, Mr. Mancini, pick me. They made shooting fish in a barrel look quite difficult. Mancini might survive until New year but check the odds on his sacking before the end of the season.
They've got some decent players but are not yet a team. They will have some excellent results and an equal number of dire ones. If we can keep some consistency 4th or higher is ours.

Allegedly a transfer target but completely failed his audition: good player when he feels like it, dodgy temperament, ex Arsenal. Remind you of anyone? But, to be fair, the boy Gallas has done good. Let's quit while we're ahead on that one. Adebeyor is too expensive, not quite good enough for us to bother and City won't sell him to us anyway.

New Stadium

Northumberland Pk. Project- £450 million, 56,000 capacity
Too many problems, transport, cost, in the end not worth the effort though it satisfies the tradition, history and nostalgia lobby.

Stratford Olympic Stadium. £250 million, 80,00 capacity,
Transport and infrastructure sorted, not far from N17, in at least a year earlier

If David Levy isn't let off the hook by us not getting it in the first place he may have to make a very difficult decision. If he gets the chance on this one he will take it. Memories are short and we will quickly assimilate the new history into the old history. As I said last time 'its the economics stupid'
Why run the club as a business and then let sentiment prevail?

White Hart Lane Refurbish and redevelop Guesstimate £100 million. Capacity 45,000 + internet
Do it one tier per stand at a time. Nostalgia preserved. It has been suggested to me that greater use of the Internet could be the future. Not sure of the economics but selling a decent, legal feed from Sky through Spurs TV could be a money spinner, for home games at least.

I have already signed the petition but then I'm a silly old sod from way back. No money for players for several years is a big factor in giving me pause for thought .And in these tough economic times how long would it take to get off the ground. Sorry no pun intended. Well only slightly

New players
Usual bullshit. I don't see anything happening in the January transfer window. Anyone decent is cup tied, too expensive or no better than what we've got.

Outside possibility: Keane for Andy Carroll.
Based entirely on the Hughton Spurs link and the fact the Robbie has some leftover British Rail Vouchers which run out in January. It's too neat to come off though. Pity. As long as we billet him with Modric rather than Ledley. In fact we aught to billet Ledley with Modric

Transfers Out
As above. I think Harry will keep his powder dry until the summer. The annual dead wood clear-out which never ever happens in any case is once again postponed. Mind you some of the dead wood has already sprouted again (Hutton, Jenas, Kaboul for a start.) The same happened to some potato peelings in my compost bin.

Some serious Redknapp analysis and not a 'wheeler dealer', 'cheeky chappy' in sight. Not just in the Red Top rags rags either, but in the ones you have to fold over on the Tube. 'How far is his tactical ignorance a bluff?' asks the Guardian. 'Or is it all a double bluff 'asks 'Spurs Musings' We are finally forcing the pundits to take us seriously but it's all still a bit grudging.
Spurs always let you the end.(A. Hanson circa 2010) A bit like saying that at the end of the day we're all dead. Plenty to do and enjoy before 'the end' arrives.

Bread and butter. They will be elated and knackered by the win over Aston Villa and three points for us is vital and almost inevitable. Note the weasel 'almost' in there. Five wins in a row?
We've just about got enough players to put out a decent squad and despite new injuries to Kaboul, JJ and Van de Vaart we should have enough to take all three points.

Modric, Bale, Lennon and Defoe could probably win it on their own but out of respect to the Second City boys we don't have to rub it in and will probably throw on another half a dozen. Cocky? Moi?

Bassong will join the usual suspects at the back. Sandro might be given the Palacios role and Crouch and Defoe will start. Dropping Wilson though might have an even more detrimental effect on his confidence than giving him another chance. Dawson is on the bench so not quite down to the bare bones yet.

World Cup Bid
Prince William, Dave 'the schmooze' Cameron and the husband of Posh couldn't even muster one vote each. I hope it doesn't spoil his Prince ship’s nuptials. Talk about the three stooges.
Putin stayed behind to count the votes he'd bought and didn't bother to turn up until it was all over.
Serves them all right. 'It's the money in brown envelopes stupid'.

Two votes out of 22 and out in the first round. That sounds about right. One of those was our own rep. and we were probably lucky to get that.

Qatar sounds fun if you don't drink and like building sand castles.. Not for your average football fan then. Seven of the 12 stadiums will be dismantled after the event. Some 'legacy'.
See you in Antarctica for 2026.

There you see, I knew I'd find something to fill in the time before the weekend.

1-2 Spurs. Keep looking behind you Modders: remember last year.