The Blog that's not always wrong.

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

The dream is over: long live the dream

Due to circumstances entirely under our control

The dream is over: long live the dream. Harry is perfectly correct; if we don't get into the Champions' League this season we can always try again next season. No arguing with that. But as a mission statement it is somewhat lacking in the inspirational department; a bit deficient in the excitement category.; wanting in the stimulation division.

Now we will all go on hoping until it is mathematically impossible for us to get 4th, reworking the figures as each game showers disappointment and frustration on our heads. But we all know, don't we, that we are fighting for fifth now and praying that Man.City win the Cup Final or even the Europa nights might be snatched from us.

If the Europa experience were to be denied us of course we will argue that the Europa is more nuisance than it's worth and that without it we will be free to mount a real challenge for the title. How we do that without Modric, Van der Vaart and Bale who will have gone elsewhere seeking higher rewards I am not quite sure. 

Without the lure of Europe our ability to hold on to our best players or to lure top class players to sign for us will diminish. And there is no guarantee that forgoing Europe will ensure a top four finish.We would have less opportunities to deploy the full squad too. Although this is not really a consideration under Harry.
'Play 'em till they drop and then play'em some more' is Harry's motto.

This week we have had a draw that seemed like a win against Arsenal and a draw that feels like a loss against West Brom. We conceded early again and lost Ekotto possibly for the rest of the season. We got back on terms and then went ahead when, amazingly, both our strikers scored and then conceded a late goal to make an almost impossible job, impossible.

Defoe scored his 100th Premiership goal and Tottenham's 1000th but did very little else. He didn't get to take his shirt off because his mum had insisted on putting his special celebration tee shirt in the wash because he's been wearing it for so long. In fact I don't think he touched the ball for the first 20minutes. Pavluchenko did more and scored the first but was subbed for Crouch in the 84th minute. I'm not quite sure why.

Disappointment and confusion vied with each other at the final whistle over Harry's tactics and substitutions. Lennon and Bale on the left hand side at the same time? Bale starting at all when he is clearly knackered and needs a rest? Jenas or Piennar or someone for Defoe and/or Van Der Vaart to close the game down at 2-1? Curiouser and curiouser. Everyone,Harry included ,seemed to be suffering from end of seasonitis.

Modric once again had me purring with delight at almost every touch but apart from some nice inter-passing in the first half with Bale and Van we failed to dominate the game. 11 corners and half a dozen free kicks in dangerous positions all came to nothing and it's back to the training ground on that one. You sometimes wonder what they do all day except check their investments, tweet,twitter and phone their agents.

Kaboul failed to live up to his growing reputation with a laboured performance; Sandro improved on his. He not only tackles and breaks from defence well, he can also pass. Unfortunately he has not yet mastered the art of shooting. Lennon might be the first to leave at the end of the season as he might just be getting tired of not starting and then playing on his weaker side.

So all you devoted followers of this blog waiting to hear something to cheer you up then I'm afraid you are going to be disappointed. The good news is that there is no more bad news as far as I know apart from City beating Blackburn by courtesy of Dzeko's first Premiership goal; and the bad news is that there is no more good news.

Unless you count Arsenal blowing a gasket on the final run in. Frankly I don't give a flying fig about Arsenal but no doubt some Spurs fans will be amused on the grounds that it makes our pain easier to bear. I can't see it myself.

Liverpool who have squandered the Torres millions on a couple of strikers, re-appointed a favourite son as manager and stuck some youngsters on, are bearing down on us like a train and though I am praying for leaves on the line, or even the wrong sort of snow, you can't help but admire their spirit. If it wasn't going to be at our expense you might almost wish them well. Almost.

It wouldn't surprise Tottenham fans if we beat Chelsea on Saturday and coaxed some flickering flames from the dying embers of our season. Nothing surprises Tottenham fans but it would only prolong the agony and our chances of success this season are in the hands of others.

But we have no-one to blame but ourselves. However it will give us another chance to weigh up Drogba who is about the only 33yr old for whom I would make an exception in the transfer market.  A striker that scores goals, there's a novelty.

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Friday, 22 April 2011

The Greg Meyer column: 'Easter Eggstra, read all about it.'

Greg is back. He's not putting all his eggs in one basket, nor counting his rabbits before they're 'hutched'. He's breathless from the NLD on Wednesday but eerily relaxed before the West Brom clash on Saturday. He focuses on keepers, speedsters and managers. An original view from Kent available almost nowhere else. Accept no substitutes.

Excellent  Friday 2011.
The Easter Bunny Goes To The North London Derby   ...  Eggs Galore.
A fiercely hit diagonal ball launched from deep in Spurs defensive half spears towards an already running white shirt. At full tilt a French born left foot reaches out and before the ball lands a cultured touch has it completely under soft and measured control. The owner of the elegant left foot accelerates past Theo Walcott. No mean feet(pun intended).
Racing on down our left flank he enters enemy territory at pace.A precise diagonal finds Peter Crouch. Sorry thats where the fairy tale ends albeit a respectable attempt on goal by the lanky one.
Earlier there had been yet another one of those fluid interceptions at the head of our penalty area. Poetry in motion took the ball out of danger weaving between 3 Arsenal players and into our midfield.Played a blinder from his first touch in the second minute.
The pass de resistance occured 69 minutes in. Again that cultured left peg was brought into play. A perfectly measured through ball allowing our little right wing rocket ( having a spell on the left) to make a fool of a certain Polish Arsenal goalkeeper. Wink. Wink. You know what we mean.
Benoit Assou-Ekotto better known at our pub as Disco Benny has been a cult favourite for yonks. The Cameroonian received the Kent Pub Man of Match award ahead of Moddle and a very brilliant Dutchman in an awesome North London derby. Pundits near and far proclaiming it one of if not, the best ever.
Perhaps it had something to do with the forthcoming festival of Easter. No easter eggs on the pitch but there were plenty of ...
Easter Bunny Moments As Viewed Through A Pub Window.
The moments of brilliant football were everywhere from both sides. So too were those moments when the proverbial rabbit was caught in the headlights and then some.
Wojciech Szczesny.
Apart from having the most unspellable name in Premier football our lawyer enjoyed his headlight moments. Tom Hoddlestone wiped the wink off his face very quickly after the "accidental" Bale collision.
More enjoyable was Aaron Lennon making a bunny out of him and winning the penalty. As much as we love the little bloke it was going to be hard to score going full tilt and veering left of goal. Thanks Wojciech. gets easier the more you write it.
Heurelho Gomes.
Easter in Brazil is a big event. The Spurs keeper avoided eggs on face twice . Firstly courtesy of a linesman's flag.Van Persie sinking his putt was ruled out. Secondly an error of club selection. If Van Persie had gone for a pitching wedge with a degree of oomph rather than a conventional nine iron his attempted chip would certainly have made a bunny of our Heurelho.
Anonymous Bunnies.
Did Andrei Arshavin and Nicholas Bendtner really come on at the 80 minute mark. Our pub agreed with the subs. It meant both Walcott and Nasri were off. The goal threat particularly from a pacey Walcott was extinguished. Tensions certainly settled after that. Andrei who. Nicholas who.
A Very French and Frustrated Bunny.
Watching Arsene Wenger is almost as entertaining as the fare on the pitch. Leave aside the hand wringing, the animated discourse with Pat Rice, there is always the gracelessness once the whistle goes. The conventional managerial handshake took a new turn. No longer the handshake. No now the gallic hand brush attended by a mandatory lack of any semblance of eye contact. Still when yet another trophyless season is falling down about ones prominant ears perhaps its understandable.
An awesome North London Derby made possible by both sides. All was not lost for Spurs in that race for fourth which meant  celebrations ...
At A Kent Pub.
Our mob are still enjoying and mulling over a great derby, Scintillating football from lots . Modric stood up again in a big match. Apologies to a certain French manager still ruminating on those too lightweight remarks of yore. Van returned to form and fitness. A full and wholehearted 90 minutes. A lot of excellent others and a lot of other positives says Mine host.
The standout for our lawyer. "You cannot teach pace". Ergo Aaron Lennon and Theo Walcott. Simply scintillating.Simply unforgettable.Enough to drive you to drink in celebration.
Hang on the new Spurs have a job still to do starting at the Lane tommorrow. No Bale. Our banker rather uncharitably says not missed. Agreed perhaps versus Brom but we are looking at big fish particularly next year.
Moddle says he'll stay. Bale is making loyal noises in between grimaces . Firstly lets lay waste to Brom and then the little matter of Chelsea. Fourth still very much on.
Cheers ... what a joy they are to follow ... still the greatest football team in the universe ...Greg Meyer.       coys.

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Great game for the neutrals

There is another way.

Welcome friends to the Inaugural Meeting of the Tottenham Hotspur International Neutrals Group (THING) Many of you will have been true devoted supporters of Tottenham Hotspur for many years but are finding the strain on your nerves too debilitating to endure. Despair not, for help is at hand.

Our organisation enables you to give the same devotion to the team and yet not put your health and sanity on the line. By joining you will be able to enjoy the performances without worrying about the result. Tottenham are clearly the 'neutrals' favourites and we aim to provide a haven for such people and at the same time provide a secure home for those whose mental balance is under threat.

Benefits include a weekly edited newsletter which does not refer in any way to league tables, or results and from which the name of Jenas has been redacted. Only positive reviews are included and a new feature is the monthly omission of the name of any player deemed to have played below par.
This month's non featured player is H.G****. Last month's was J******* D****.

In this first issue a free pair of rose coloured spectacles is included through which all Spurs games can be viewed. Next month ear defenders will be included to isolate you from fans at the ground or in the pub demanding more effort or evidence of 'mental strength' from individuals or groups.

Later soothing 'Whale songs' CD's will be available. In due course scented eye pads for those that become so unconcerned that they can't even be arsed to watch the games any more.

Thus you will be able to watch or even ignore Tottenham matches free from anxiety over the result and be able to contemplate the sheer artistry of P**** C***** and the breathtaking pace of V**** C******. You will become a supporter or even an ex-supporter rather than a fan(atic)

In the review of last night's game for example the fact that we were 3-1 down before half time will be tactfully ignored and the good news story that for the second time this season we gave Arsenal a 2 goal advantage and still took 4pts of them will feature prominently.

Emphasis will be laid not on the fact that we went a goal down within ten minutes once again but that we have the highest points tally in the Premiership after going behind.

The first half performance of Tom Huddlestone apart from his stunning goal will be omitted. The two brilliant saves of H. G**** will be featured and not his failure to save a shot from Nasri which seemed to pass into the middle of the goal from a central position. It will exaggerate the 'nick' that occurred as it went through Dawson's legs and a ball's eye view demonstrating that G**** was completely unsighted.

You will be free to dwell on the fine performances of Ekotto, Van Der Vaart, and Modric rather than the deficiencies of W****** G*****. The fact that our strikers failed to score once again will be omitted from the reports which will highlight the fact that all three goals came from mid-fielders.

Bales injury will be ignored and the fact that Van Der Vaart completed a second full game and scored twice will be the main thrust of the reports.

So, dedicated fans, seize this new approach. Adopt the neutral position and start to enjoy the games.
Who cares about coming 4th and getting back into the Champions League? Who is concerned whether we beat Arsenal? Who is bothered whether W.Ham get relegated and R***** K**** comes back to us?

As the old song has it
'You gotta accentuate the positive
Eliminate the negative
Latch on to the affirmative.....

Take this case study as an example:
Jimmy, broken down by sex and age is an elderly, male Spurs fan. For many years he really cared and suffered terribly because of it. His wife took to wearing shin pads in bed so accustomed was she to being subjected to late tackles and being awoken by shouts of 'Goal' and ' For F**** sake Harry!'

Then one day she saw an advert for THING in her copy of 'Heat' magazine and bought Jimmy a membership for his birthday. Now Jimmy doesn't give a damn and enjoys every game. He loves Harry and his wife's sleep is undisturbed. Harry himself is our patron and declared even today that he doesn't care if we make 4th, as there's always next year.

These are just two examples of the tranquillity and objectivity that can be yours for less than a packet of chewing gum a day. Sir Alex please note. Arsene Wenger is a sad example of what can happen if you persist in thinking that the result really matters. That man should never be let near a water bottle again.

So join today and live in peace and harmony with yourself. Relax and enjoy the game. When you see the headline 'Great game for the neutrals' rejoice because it's to you that they are referring.

W.Brom?  We will play beautifully and win easily, whatever happens.

Friday, 15 April 2011

Fantasy football

That one day.

'Capacity crowd here at White Hart Lane, Harry. Can Tottenham overcome a 4 goal deficit from the first leg ?'

'Yes, for sure. We've got a triffic bunch of lads here and some top top players. We only know one way to play and we're gonna give it a go. It's what the fans want, considering where we were when I came; they haven't had any nights like this for years.

' And Jose how are you going to approach the game?'

Well Harry is my friend and I talk nothing about my friend. The game is a match and it will be a good match and a good game. We are here to win the match and the game.That is all.

'Thanks Harry and Jose. All set for a magic European night. Perhaps the last at this level at White Hart Lane for some time given the score-line.

`Well Spurs have weathered the early attacks by Real and are settling into the game nicely.
Gareth Bale cuts back into the area and goes over, it's in the area but the referee isn't interested.He's having a night off. First scare for Real there.

Now Modric draws a tackle from Alonso and this time it's given. Van Der Vaart puts the ball high into the net to Casillas right. Less than ten minutes and the early goal for Spurs. 13 minutes in and Pavlyuchenko is brought down in the area and Van der Vaart makes no mistake again from the spot.. Game well and truly on.Two penalties in 5 minutes. It's just unbelievable.

25minutes and Pavlyuchenko scores from the edge of the area after a brilliant run and pull back from Lennon. 3-0 and Madrid are reeling.Within minutes Huddlestone turns from a narrow angle following a long throw by Bale and beats Casillas at his near post. 4-0 this could be done and dusted by half time.

Approaching half time and a brilliant nod back from Modric and Bale sticks the ball away. Real are appealing for offside but nothing is given.The linesman's gone walkabout. All square and everything to play for. In the second half on 50 minutes Ronaldo tried his luck from range but it's a routine save for Gomes. Imagine trying to beat the Brazilian ace from there.

And now Van Der Vaart and Pavlyuchenko combine for the crucial goal. Rafael chips the ball across from the right and Roman heads powerfully into the net.The fans are delirious but Tottenham haven't finished yet. Defoe comes on for Lennon and scores within minutes with a fierce shot to Casillas' right which he can only push despairingly into the corner of the goal.Harry's faith in the diminuative striker is rewarded. A clean sheet and its all over.

Real are desperate now and Kaka comes on for Ronaldo whose been battered from the start by Ekotto. But it's too late and it's a thrashing for our distinguished Spanish visitors. Spurs turn around a 4 goal deficit and win 6-0, history has been made and Spurs go marching on to Barcelona in the semi finals of the Champions' League. It's a dream come true

'Jimmy,Jimmy, wake up. your tea's gone cold love and you haven't even started your blog'.

'Bugger! I thought I'd  finished it'.

So in real life it all ended as we knew it would. We dreamt that we could beat Real Madrid 5-0 at home but we didn't really believe it and we were right. The tie was all over following Lennon's illness, conceding the early goal and having Crouch sent off within 15 minutes at the Bernabeu a week ago

We whistled in the dark and kept our spirits up magnificently, but it didn't prevent the inevitable. Even after Gomes mistake I was still looking at the clock and hoping. With ten minutes to go and 7 to get I finally gave it up.

The team and the crowd did us proud and it was all so good that our one and only priority now is to qualify again. Clear outs, new signings and new stadiums can all go on the back burner until the season has ended. Qualification again for the Champions' League which will affect our signing power and our ability to hold on to our best players in any case, is a must.

Real Madrid had done the hard work at the Bernabeu. We gifted them a couple there and another at home so it could have been closer but overall they were the better team and in all honesty losing Crouch and Lennon only made the inevitable even more inevitable. They controlled the game at WHL and needed to risk little.

We were beaten but not disgraced and showed the world once again that Tottenham are a force on the International scene. We all enjoyed the ride and I will be surprised if any of the key members of the squad leave even if we don't make 4th such is the enthusiasm and team spirit at the club under Harry.

On another night with a different ref who knows, but let's not torture ourselves. I have a dream that one day, quite soon, we will be on this road again.Enough of the fantasy football the reality begins again on Wednesday when we welcome Arsenal to WHL.

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Men on a mission by guest columnist Greg Meyer.

Just in time for the deadline our ace columnist returns with hope in his heart for tonight. With tales of International conspiracies, Kentish wisdom, landlords buying rounds, nothing is what it seems and football is clearly not just a game..
Go Spurs go!

Wednesday 13 April 2011.
Mission Improbable  ...  Mission Impossible ... Let The Good Times Rock And  Roll At The Lane.
" Your mission should you choose to accept it is without complication. Your target the assassination of a certain Spanish terror organisation. The enclosed photos of men dressed in all white may appear innocent, sporting even. Do not be fooled by the facade of smug confidence. Millionaires all. Loosely titled "The Madristas." Their headquarters a shopfront in Madrid. Actually a megastore at a venue cleverly disguised as a football stadium. The Estadio Santiago Bernebeu.
Pay close attention to the photos of their leader. Nothing special there you might say. El Mourinho. A masterful plotter. To be underestimated at your peril. Simply a matter of five unanswered goals. The killing field. Great cover provided by 36,000 locals at a seedy downtown North London grassy knoll. N17, High Road,Tottenham.
Hardly a mission impossible. Just completely improbable. This tape will self destruct in 5 seconds.If not Peter Crouch will be called in to demonstrate his recently displayed expertise."
Our pub are certainly fans of the well known tv series and even with Tom Cruise in them we like the movies. We liked what we saw last Saturday as well. Our Spurs came back home and how...
The Good Times Rolled... The Lane Rocked.
And the sunshine came flooding back . Thank you Stoke.
After murder in Madrid, in part suicide, it was nice not have to resist the temptation to turn off, depart and pretend you had something better to do at about the 70 minute mark(in Spain). 
The football was full of sunshine,full of verve,vision, and energy. Redemption abounded,fluid movement was every where.Qualities hitherto never seen were unveiled. And yes the whole day had mystery lurking not far away.
And all this just in the first half. After that there was a touch of deja vu hanging on. Got there comfortably says our gardener. No wonder he sticks to gardening.  Not sure about his analysis skills.Stating the obvious in the nicest possible way.
The verve was Modric and Rafael Van der Vart. The vision a returning Tom Hoddlestone.Great to see the perceptive and penetrating passing that has gone missing in recent times.
The redemption was Peter Crouch scoring two powerful headed goals.No lollipops on display. Great stuff. As if that was not enough Rafael VDV was seen tackling opposition players with telling effect. Ergo the foundation for the third goal.
Gomes was tidy . Fantastic to see Kaboul back. A closing word on a Kent pub favourite. Those English lessons are certainly helping. Two assists and a good all round game seemed to suggest he is mastering english,at least on the field. Pav well done. Oh yes that mystery. I guess little Aaron was really crook. Get well sooner.
Marvellous what goals do to our pub spirits. particularly when there are more for us than them. Spirits and hopes are certainly high ...
At A Kent Pub.
Some of our number are off to the Lane tonight. Realistically a win but not quite there is our expectation.
The great thing is for once we will enjoy it from the outset. With nothing to lose then if Gareth and Aaron put on a display two taxis might be needed. Our pub have not looked forward to a game so much. Buggar Spain. This is at our beloved Lane with absolutely nothing expected and nothing to lose.
Real have arrived with an almost full strength team, son of father who operates elephant washing franchises included.Benzema too unfortunately.
Part of our lawyers relaxed approach is due to a certain Mersey over Manchester win. Fourth is back on the agenda. It is within our own hands now.No wonder Mine host shouted a round on Monday night. I kid you not morale is climbing here in Kent.
And guess who is at the Lane after Real. You know who next wednesday.
"You wouldn't be dead for quids." ... Bill Shankley ... well he did opine about the juxtaposition between football and death.
Cheers ... Guy Fawkes has a birthday today ... fireworks at the Lane tonight ... Greg Meyer.          coys.

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

As flies to wanton boys.

Who rattled his cage? 

'What's that tall dreamy thing down there?'

'Peter Crouch O Zeus. But he's a footballer'.

'Yes he'll do. I'm bored'

'But you said you'd finished with footballers after the success of the episode with Wayne and the Sky camera''

'Yes well, I gave golf a go with young Rory but he just shrugged off self destructing at the Masters. Not half as much fun as footballers.
I'm working on Italian football managers in England at the moment after my earlier success with Benitez.
I'm going for a treble with Ancelloti,Capello and Mancini.
I got good odds on all three to be sacked within three months.
Send Hermes down the betting shop for a saver on Balotelli to have a stand up fight with Mancini before the end of the season'.

But don't go too far with Crouchy O Mighty One, Aphrodite reports that he's getting married soon'.

'Well blame that Harry Redknapp. 2 points from 8 games. He's doing my head in'.

But even the Gods realised that they had gone too far at the Bernabeu. I mean, was their intervention really necessary? Couldn't they have just left it to home advantage and top class opposition? Zeus tired of winding up Ian Holloway, and driving Fernando Torres to despair had turned his attention to Peter Crouch visible even from the top of Mount Olympus.

So against Stoke they relented and let normal service resume. They turned their attention back to W.Ham for the weekend and left us to our own devices.They even compensated us for the torment of Crouch and allowed him to score two goals thus doubling his Premiership tally at a stroke, or two. That Zeus eh, soft hearted or what?

We took full advantage of this leniency and played some of the best football seen this year. Modric was buzzing; Pavlyuchenko assisted Crouch and Modric to goals, had a goal disallowed himself and ran about a bit to good effect. Huddlestone returned and set up Crouchy's second. Bale exploded once or twice and only Lennon was missing. Defoe looked on gloomily.

It was not all positive though. We were sloppy in allowing Stoke to get back at us, not once but twice. Stand up Bale Dawson and Huddlestone. Jones ran Dawson and Kaboul ragged and scored a scorcher. But generally it was the tonic we needed after Madrid and the calmness of Tom and the strength of Raging Kaboul were welcome returns.

So 4th is back on though we need to play better than we have of late. The run in looks fierce but paradoxically given Spurs attitude to 'easy' games this might work to our advantage. Players returning from injury and to form will help. We have been helped by other challengers doing not much better than us and our return over the last five matches of 6 points from15 should have been too few and seen us dead and buried by now as far as the Champions' League is concerned.

But even as I type Liverpool are beating Man.City in some style. Suarez and Caroll both look worth the money and City are ragged and dispirited. Or is that just me looking through my Spurs tinted spectacles? With Tevez injured and Da Silva being saved for the weekend they looked pedestrian. So everything to play for as they say and plenty of positives to take from the Stoke game into the coming week. But in the end it's all in the lap of the gods. Zeus can you hear me?

And what a week it is with Real Madrid and Arsenal both at home. Four goals down to Real we can go out and have a go because we don't have any other choice. We intended to play both Lennon and Bale in Madrid and I can't see Harry adopting any other strategy on Wednesday. Even with Arsenal to come in a crucial Premiership clash the fans will expect nothing less than an early and full bloodied assault on the visitors.

Sandro might start and Kaboul partner Dawson to enable Huddlestone and Gallas extra recovery time for the weekend. We find ourselves in a hopeless position but we will be judged on our style, attitude and approach rather than the result. Mourinho will not need to attack and I fully expect us to win the game but lose the tie. As long as Zeus is distracted by something else.

The Real Madrid game raised the spectre of the racist chants controversy again this time in connection with Adebeyor. If we had a striker of his quality we might be closer to qualifying for the Champions' League than we are. The argument that it is designed to put the player off his game looks a little silly as he scored twice even as he was being abused.

Harry's revelation that he tried to sign Rio Ferdinand as an experienced 'winner' is disturbing. He is too old now at nearly 33 and injury prone and we need to be signing the next generation of 'winners' not the last. Imagine our treatment room with Gallas, Woodgate, Ledley, and Ferdinand, Without doubt what would have been the finest collection of injured 'winners' in the country.

It's like the old Generals who are always fighting the last war rather than the next. It's the same story with Parker, a decent player having a good season but again he's the wrong side of 30. A blend of talent and experience is necessary of course. We have a wealth of players around the 26/27 mark, Modric. Dawson and Van der Vaart for a start. We will end up with too many chiefs planning the campaign and not enough Indians to do the work.

There is nothing magic about the age of 30. Me and Harry have been there twice and Zeus many many times.

''As flies to wanton boys are we to the Gods. They kill us for their sport''. (King Lear)

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Duel in the sun

Oh come on it can't be just a cock up,
there must be more to it than that

Of course we were unlucky to lose Lennon before the game even began; and Crouchy was very unfortunate to be sent off; Real Madrid kidded the ref. big time there; and they didn't really dominate because we gifted them three goals; and we held them to 1-0 until.....

Nope, it's not working; I can't even convince myself with this line of argument let alone anybody else. They chased and harried and closed down Modric and Bale, our potential match winners, from the start. They were patient and totally dominated the game. They were better than us in every department and Casillas didn't have to make a save for the whole match. Even if Crouch hadn't been sent off they would almost certainly have won.

It's a curious coincidence that there was a Conspiracy Theorists Convention in Madrid on the day after the match and they were able to use some of the issues arising from the game as material for the Wednesday morning session. I reproduce below the programme of papers presented to the assembled delegates

9.15  Coffee and croissants and welcome address

9.30  Opening session: Why didn't Harry Redknapp realise 
         that Lennon wouldn't be able to play until they were level 
         with the grassy knoll 
        (Sorry, in the tunnel) prior to the game?

10.30  Why was Jenas, good engine but not great at marking and heading, 
          delegated to mark Adebeyor an Internationally renowned deadly finisher? 
          Were the coach's notes tampered with?

11.30  What substance was Peter Crouch on to turn him from
           an easygoing, smiling robotic dancing dude into a
           snarling taller version of Joey Barton? 
           Were his and Lennon's medication switched.?
12.30  Was Gareth Bale the victim of a right wing coup at the beginning of the match?
1.30    Lunch and free time to whisper about the other delegates behind their backs.

As soon as the summary papers are published I will return present their findings.

Quite what an experienced player was doing making that kind of challenge in the opponents' half I am not sure. Which bit of, ' Stay on your feet, break up their play, keep the ball, hit them on the break, and stay calm' does he not understand? He gave the referee no option whatsoever.

Crouch went off to a chorus of 'tonto, tonto, tonto' which is a kid's playground word in Spain which means 'stupid'. This just about sums it up. Unless there are deeper forces at work..It was only Crouchy's second tackle of the season I hear. Throwing yourself at Sergio Ramos is not advised in any case at any time.

Actually I am not one for conspiracies: more a 'cock up' man myself and this was a right royal one. Appropriate you might think at Real Madrid. But that incident certainly sealed our fate. From then on it was one way traffic and Real showed their quality and professionalism by probing patiently until errors were made. Dawson was a hero once again but cut a lonely and dejected figure at the end.

Of course it's statistically possible for us to overturn this result but I'm not holding my breathe or betting the house, or even the garden shed, on it. We weren't humiliated by Real, not quite. We humiliated ourselves. We panicked from the start after the loss of Lennon. Time and time again we hoofed the ball back to Real or were pressed into giving the ball away.

And so the dream has ended and hopefully things will not deteriorate into a nightmare of anger and recrimination and calls for clear-outs of players and manager. Most fans after the game were sad and disappointed at the way things had panned out but conceded that we didn't deserve to win; hat we were beaten by a better team; better players; better manager and better tactics. Conceding an early goal and going down to ten men in the first 15 minutes just made it inevitable.

It's been an exciting ride and in some senses we have over-achieved. We have tried to self destruct a couple of times in this competition already but tried it once too often at the Bernabeu. The tactic of lulling the opposition into a false sense of security by appearing to disintegrate didn't fool Real. They know easy pickings when they see them.

On Saturday it's back to earth with a resounding thump. Stoke at home, Delap and all. Will Lennon recover? Will Bale, Gallas and Corluka be fit? Will Crouch start? Will Van Der Vaart play or be having a hissy fit in the dressing room? Will Harry notice Pavlyuchenko and give him a run out?
Will we score for the first time in 7 games? Will we win for, well quite a while?

All we do know is that the Spurs faithful will pack the ground and sing their hearts out, as they did in the Plaza Mayor and almost all will be forgiven if not forgotten if we win. If we don't, the recriminations and whispers will continue to grow.How many cock ups make a conspiracy?

Finally a big 'thankyou' to all the fans that visited the 'Irish Rover' in Madrid from daughter Liz. You are all welcome to return at any time as she says you were the best fans she has had at the bar. I bet she says that to all visiting fans. She thinks that the singing could do with a bit more practice and it was a bit loud for an upmarket Madrid location but, as she didn't have a hope in hell of stopping it, she let it go.

Apparently the takings for the day were excellent and more than covered the additional cleaning cost in the toilets. You know who you are. Well perhaps in the circumstances you don't. Anyway, thank you again.

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Alternative routes to Wembley

Here we go, here we go, here we go.
We're on our way to Wembley.

And so our season hangs by a thread. Two threads actually and the second one is tonight in Spain. The first thread is stretched to breaking point by the draw with Wigan. Not the most attractive place for your hopes to be buried.

We are lying lie flat on our backs on a narrow ledge and listening hopefully for the rescue helicopter. We aren't going to be able to climb back up and complete the difficult ascent but at least we still have a plan B to get us back to where we belong..

Three points from four games as we approach the final run-in is just not enough. Manchester City romped home in some style against Sunderland to move into third and although the results of Chelsea and Arsenal didn't punish us the omens are not good for a second season in the Champions' League by the usual route.

We played out a lacklustre, uninspiring 90 minutes at Wigan where Gomes kept a clean sheet for the third week in a row and we failed to score, for the third week in a row. Sandro had another good game and Modric made an effort. Dawson was sound but as you can tell I'm struggling for positives. You would have been hard pushed to say which team was bottom of the League on this performance.

Were we saving ourselves for Real? Perhaps, but I question whether that was wise. The helicopter might have trouble effecting a rescue. Harry has to take some of the blame. We played with two 'strikers' but without any width. We were without Bale or Lennon and played with Modric and Van Der Vaart supposedly 'wide'. We had no attacking fullbacks so everything went through the middle and disappeared into the Black Hole around the Wigan penalty area like Spurs fans in Madrid through the swing doors of the 'Irish Rover'.

Harry's answer was not to bring Lennon on but Crouch, which is his fall back solution to the meaning of Life, the Universe and Everything. Kranjcar was given the last five minutes to snatch the points but unfortunately failed. If only he had been given another minute or two. Lennon had to be brought on eventually but sooner would have been better than later. Fortunately for us our Brazilian contingent stood up and stood out.

And so on to Madrid where our season stands or falls. Would a 5th place finish and going out to Real in the Quarter Finals be a disaster? Obviously not if you have followed Spurs for more than the last five years. But the Xpectation factor comes into play. Hopes have been raised for future foreign ventures; fears are raised about our best players leaving if we don't maintain our current status; concerns too about our ability to lure the finest players to the club.

Can we beat Madrid over the two legs? Of course and with Real losing at home on Saturday perhaps we have a psychological advantage. But we don't need to beat them in Madrid, just bring them back to WHL on more or less equal terms. Not that making it through to the Semi Final, probably against Barcelona, makes a lot of difference. Our reputation is already made and we have nothing much more to prove.

Ronaldo and Bale were ruled out at the end of last week but have been ruled back in again by today.
Mourinho at the end of an astonishing 9yr. home match undefeated run says that 0-0 would suit him fine. But he's not kidding JimmyG2. 0-0 as we all know would suit Harry a lot better and would give us the edge for the return home fixture.

Gallas is fit and will probably start with Dawson. Crouch and Van Der Vaart will reprise their double act with Lennon, Modric,Sandro and Bale in midfield. Corluka and Ekotto are our only fit full backs. Any draw will do but I would accept a narrow defeat if we can score an away goal.

So, let the mind(less) games cease and let the football begin. The Premiership thread is frayed and our grip is slipping. Our crampons have fallen off; our pitons have fallen out our ice pick has gone spinning into the abyss. But the Champions' League winner route is clear and I can hear the whirring of rotor blades.
'Stand by winch man the mighty Spurs are coming aboard. To Wembley via the Bernabeu and Barcelona, pilot, and don't look down boys.

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Greg Meyer looks ahead from a Kent Pub.

A welcome once again, a little belatedly for which I apologise, to Mr. Greg Meyer, International Playboy, family man and Spurs supporter. April Fools and April showers, which might both apply to our performance at Wigan, are his appropriate theme and he, like me, and obviously the team, are all holding their breaths for Tuesday. Apparently we're playing somebody or other in some cup or whatever.
If Sunderland do the right thing against Man. City  the weekend won't be a complete disaster. But, as the man once said 'April is the cruellest month' and he could well be right as far as Spurs are concerned.

April 2011  ... An Obvious Date Looms Given The Headline.
Real Madrid - 0 vs Tottenham Hotspur - 3  .... April Fools Day At A Kent Pub.
Back to the Bernabeau a little later but staying with the fantasy island headline theme , or maybe not. What's happening down at Spurs Lodge Hospital. If you believe club mutterings, probably recorded covertly by the limousine driver on that long commute into Chigwell from Sandbanks earlyish most mornings.
Our pub has no dispute with lengthy commutes although ours are usually train and tube where the grand old tradition of standing ( long outlawed by the FA) still endures obdurately. Surely says our medico, no Bale, no Gallas, no Ledley nor Woody (just when they had built our hopes up),no returning Kaboul, and a dodgy Lennon, is not just bad luck but carelessness bordering on a treatment room out of control.
Fear not news just in suggests that the medical ineptitude and mala suerte is not confined to North London. Ronaldo is out as well as Karim Benzema and full back Marcelo for Real against Spurs. Breaking Spanish news apparently. Believe it or not.
Our lawyer just orders another pint. The most difficult decision so far today. Is it the Rack of Lamb with boulangere potatoes or the Steak and Abbot ale pie for lunch. Far more real ( pun gastronomical intended) than the tabloidal injury rumours. Harry is playing mind games ahead of Wigan. Jose is doing likewise ahead of Spurs. A convenient injury to Gallas (no Wigan) means he can start versus Real. Not true entirely of course . Particularly the bit about Benzema and Marcel. One player that will start probably in both matches is the reason for the recent inaugural meeting here of ....
The Luka Modric Appreciation Society.
In full flow he jinks, he twists effortlessly, he shimmys left then right, and accelerates with the drop of a shoulder past a hopeful defender, left hopeless. Our Luka still a tender 25 years. Mine host says he still looks 20 years not quite. Surely the father of the year here at our pub. Player of the year is wrapped up.
Measures of those blessed with genius include "that" magic first touch. Like Berbatov, Modric certainly has that. Luka always seems to have time. Why? Our banker used to dealing in quick calculating movement says ... space creation is second nature to him hence an uncanny ability to weave sublimly through heavy traffic. Hips turn, head cocks and away he glides. Another expectant stopper left open mouthed ( pun intended) and confined to a disappearing spectator role as Luka motors away and ahead towards goal.
He signed for Tottenham Hotspur on April 26 2008. A Saturday. The detractors including those of a French persuasion based in North London said he was lightweight. He would not last. "Sacre bleu deed I not buggar zat one up!" A French manager who does to be fair get a lot right.
Dimitar Berbatov alone was reason to watch Spurs play. He left in acrimonius circumstances all round. Luka Modric has swept away all the Bulgarian baggage. Our pub enjoy our Croatian general and his great mates. Perhaps if fellow Bulgarian Petrov's mooted move to Spurs had occured the departure of Berbatov may have not occured so readily.
No that is pie in the sky stuff says our landscape gadener. He was always off. However surely with Corluka, Kranjcar, and goalkeeper Pletikosa, Luka has lots of countrymen to keep him happy. As to what language they all tweet in then it is debateable after the laughable goings on earlier this week at  ...  
The Football Language Appreciation Society.
Juande Ramos signed Luka Modric. Great stuff but hardly down to Juande's communication skills. Juande doesn't speak much English past hello, goal and goodbye.
Still he's not alone given that apparently Fabio Capello is only about 97 words ahead of him. Fabio was quizzed about his command of English regards his communications with the England team earlier this week. His response was only 100 words were needed. That provoked a barrage of press missiles , not all being friendly fire. Rio is still waiting for a phone call, Wayne is still thinking another yellow card is to come ... I am sure you gather my drift.
Curiously the question posed regards his English skills needed to be translated by his standby translator, one Christian Lattanzio. Christian also works for Signor Mancini. Source; The Independent earlier this week. Irony never left anyone wondering and many very much in stitches.
Luka Modric speaks fluent and deeply modulated English.Source: Appreciation handbook, chapter tri. As well a recent BBC interview.
Mind football may still be a universal language in itself. Roman Pavlyuchenko and his English lessons are the stuff of legend. Perhaps Russian fairy tale.Harry Redknapp's dulcet refined cockney tones though seem comfortable with the Spurs foreign legion. All sorts of accents, opinions and beers here ...
At A Kent Pub.
A good international break. Gareth of Bale signs an extension of contract and despite Welsh fragility should at least start in Spain.
Gallas does likewise and despite French fragility should start in Spain. All the more usefull given the confirmed long term fragilty of Ledley (how sad) and Woody.
Like you our journalist had his heart in mouth when they started saying Dawson was struggling with injury versus Wales. Seems just a knock. Look they all seem to have got back mainly safe and injury free. VDV did two games no less.
Hard not to leap ahead to Tuesday night but surely a Wigan away win is vital. Pool are coming up on the rails and we still can pass City. Hold our nerve like last year.
The business end of the season looms. No time for fooling about ... surely Spurs charge on in April.
Cheers ... next meeting of the Appreciation Society , 3 o'clock Saturday at Wigan ... go Luka ...  Greg Meyer.       coys.

Friday, 1 April 2011

Two games at a time

Oh no Harry, not Peter Crouch
Anyone but Crouchy

 I spent all last week in Madrid checking out the 'Irish Rover' for my fellow fans, No, don't thank me, it's a tough job but somebody's got to do it. In my spare time I investigated the ticket situation and posted on various sites how to go about getting one.. As far as I know nobody that wanted one has gone without although some seemed to have paid through the nose for the privilege.There seem to be plenty left for sale from 80 Euros

Real have certainly exploited the situation by not allocating enough tickets in the first place. But then what are fans for if not to be exploited? Except for me of course. I'm back in England on urgent family business and it doesn't look like I'm going to get back now to see the game live. However there are some things that are more important than football. That sentence doesn't sound quite right somehow especially on a football blog. What can possibly be more important than the Madrid game?

Well a surprising number of realistic Tottenham fans might say, 'The Wigan game'. We have more than exceeded expectations in the Champions' League and have nothing to prove, but if we can beat Wigan we might still have an outside chance of doing it all over again next year. A draw at Wigan will do neither team much good but a draw at the Bernabeu would suit us just fine.

Now it is commonly acknowledged that all roads lead to Rome, once it seemed as if they actually did. But to Spurs fans at the moment all roads lead to Madrid. The highways and byways of Italy have been successfully tramped. There is of course, before we wander the cailles and avenidas of Iberia, a small diversion along the road to Wigan Pier.

From the Road to Wigan Pier on Saturday to the Castellana on Tuesday night without breaking stride: from pies to paella; from black pudding to bacalao; from pigs' trotters to potatas bravas; from hot-pot to huevas rellones, in one easy step. The coming few days neatly encapsulates our season. Would anyone swap a win in Spain for one in the North West? Madrid has all the glamour and fulfills our destiny but a win at Wigan might help to ensure that this year is not just a one-off.

Can we beat Real Madrid? We are a better team now than we have recently been and Real are not quite what they once were. Mind games are prominent in the run up: Benzema,Ronaldo,Marcello, Bale,Lennon, and probably others are all described as 'struggling to be fit'. However it would be no surprise to see them all in place on Tuesday. A draw would be enough for us but they need to win the first leg.

They are trying to pull the old Brer Rabbit trick of pretending to fear most what they actually prefer. In Brer Rabbit's case he persuaded Brer Fox to throw him into the Briar Patch where unknown to his adversary he was born and raised. In Madrid's case that the person they claim to fear most is Peter Crouch when in Carvalho they have an experienced Premiership centre half that might well eat him for 'desayuno'.

Can we reproduce one of the the Milan scenarios and either score enough away goals or keep a clean sheet to make us favourites to go through? We haven't done a lot of defensive parsimony this season but Tuesday would be a good night to experiment with it.

Could we lose to bottom of the table Wigan who have conceded more goals at home than anyone else and allow them to become the first team this season to do the double over us? Now bottom of the table has an ominous ring to it but a win for Wigan could take them to the dizzy heights of 13h. so tight is the situation around the relegation zone this year. But it all sounds very unlikely.

I'm ignoring the usual advice to take it one game at a time because in Harry's and the players' minds the two games are inextricably linked. Some players might be kept back for the Madrid game. Bale, Crouch and Sandro might be earmarked for the Bernabeu. Pavlyuchenko and Jenas might be penciled in for Wigan.It looks as if Dawson and Bassong might figure in both as Gallas,Ledley, Woodgate and Kaboul are all 'struggling' as they say.

Harry might not be with us much beyond the end of the season and his mind might be focused on Champions' League glory and the England job but a win at Wigan might be the perfect set-up for the Spanish adventure. Two wins are unlikely but a win and then a draw would be more than enough to maintain all our hopes.

Anything less is unthinkable and I am confidently predicting a 2-0 win at Wigan and a 1-1 draw in Madrid. There are no easy games in the Premiership, as we all know, particularly at this time of the season and the easier the game appears then the more trouble it seems to cause us especially if our minds are not fully focused.