Man. Utd: Tottenham: Hearts
We look down on them but we look up to them
So now we are down in the relegation places and bottom of the league purely on merit. The team we played last night is top and the team we play on Sunday are second: so the heat is on. Two games played and some light shed on the shape of our season. Although with the transfer window staying open a week into the season for some reason known only to administrative nerds it's probably too early for any accurate assessments.
But we seem to have some guidelines. We are much better than the third best team in Scotland. (stand by for this to be confirmed on Thursday night.) But not nearly as good as the best team in England. Quite a space between them I admit and we will just have to find our level in there somewhere. But at least we know our place, more or less.
We certainly missed the ball retaining skills of Modric in Manchester. But all this 'his head is not right' stuff is bollocks, if you will excuse the expression.. The whole situation is positively 'Berbatovian' and we all remember how that ended. If he is fit he should have played on Monday. If he can't cope with the situation he should be sold immediately and the money re-invested before it's too late. Even at this late stage there must be some bargains left in the shops.
And I'm not talking about Adebayor who I wouldn't touch with a bargepole.( We interrupt this broadcast to report that a deal has been struck for the loan of Mr. Adebayor late of the City of Manchester. So we will see) He is in the same category to me as Bellamy or Joey Barton. Decent footballers who bring so much baggage that the extra luggage charges are more then the cost of the flight.
Even the modest hardworking ones can cause you terminal headaches as little Luka has shown These players perform for themselves and only incidentally for the team and Adebayor will have little regard for our tradition and history. If he scores 15 or more goals this season I will publicly recant and welcome him as a sinner repented.
The euphoria after Hearts has rapidly dissolved. 'Hot Spurs break Hearts in five star Europa qualifier performance.' was my headline for the match review, which incidentally easily triumphed in the 'Worst headline' in a Spurs Blog weekly Award. Actually I entered it for the 'Snappy Title' category but the Committee felt otherwise.
But titles apart that was how I like my Tottenham: ball to feet; one touch ensemble play orchestrated by Van Der Vaart who took upon himself the role of conductor in the absence of whatsisname.
As good a 45 minutes as I have seen by our boys in a long time.
All this without King, Gallas, Palacios, Sandro, and Corluka; all stalwarts of yester year. True we had a ten minute nightmare when they came out fired up after half time and forced three corners in quick succession. But that was about it. Barring miracles qualification is a cinch.
Van Der Vaart showing for the ball and with Defoe pressing high up the pitch, coaxed excellent performances from Kranjcar, Livermore, Defoe and Lennon. Kranjcar was a revelation in centre midfield. None of the three youngsters, Townsend, Walker and Livermore, who were 'Europa' bloodied looked out of place.
Defoe looked confident again, took his goal well after excellent work from Van Der Vaart and Lennon. Then he showed down the left hand channel and was brilliantly sent away by Townsend and set up Lennon for a tap-in. Tom Huddlestone chipped a classic trade mark ball over the top for Gareth Bale to round the keeper and score another.
Now Modric may 'no like chicken badge' (Thanks Harry Hotspur) but I like it when Spurs strut and preen just a little. What was supposed to be an intimidating venue and a tricky first leg was all but over before the half hour mark with Spurs 3-0 up. Still I accept it was only Hearts, but if we can put away the 'poorer' teams like that we will do better than last season.
But that was last Thursday and this is Wednesday of the following week.. We contained Man.Utd for an hour but did little more. After the first goal what had seemed very likely became inevitable and they ran out easy winners. In fact Friedel made several key saves and it could have been worse.
Gomes reward for keeping a clean sheet at Hearts was to sit on the bench and Friedel is clearly Harry's Premiership choice. Hardly the future, is it. Apart from an effort by Defoe which struck the post we found De Gea every time or blasted the ball high and wide. Either the boy's positional sense is uncanny or we need to aim for the corners more.
The team work of the Hearts game went missing as did our centre halves in the last half hour. Wrong choices and mistakes were the hallmark of our play and Van Der Vaart's reaction to Lennon's failure top cut the ball back to him 10yds out was indicative that he is used to playing at a higher level. What was Aaron thinking?
Rooney, Nani and the boy Cleverly found the gap between the lines and Kranjcar and Livermore didn't have the space and time of the previous game, though both played well especially in the first hour.
Selling Modric and Bale is perhaps our only way of generating income. Harry thinks he can buy four decent players with that but as Greg will tell you they will be 'old' bangers rather than limousines. Sell on and rebuild is our only way forward in the present financial circumstances and it might be a good time for Luka to put his head on somebody else's block.
So Old Trafford yielded its usual result but we will always have Edinburgh. It might have to be enough for now. By Sunday night we might know better.
The NDP is on again as Spurs drop their legal challenges to W.Ham taking on the OS.
A deal has beent struck with Boris.Get it in writing Daniel as our mentor Sam Goldwyn opines that
'A verbal contract is not worth the paper it's printed on'
Stand by for Dan the Man to claim that the OS escapade was a diversionary tactic and that he personally started the riots to get the politicians' attention.