The Blog that's not always wrong.

Monday, 29 April 2013

Spurs Hanging On

Oh no not again!

I know exactly what you're going to say: 'How can we beat the Champions one week and then struggle to even draw with a team facing relegation the next?'  Well the easy answer is because it's the Tottenham way. If your new to the club, and you must be to ask that question, get used to it.

We just don't do things the easy way. We're still in it but only hanging on by our fingertips now. If we had beaten Wigan we would have been safely on a ledge just below the summit, snug in our sleeping bags sipping Ovaltine and breaking out the chocolate Hobnobs.

It's not as if we were unlucky or that Wigan were brilliant. We were gifted such a silly, early goal that we played as if we were waiting for another. Our game plan was clearly to bore the them to death and hope that they would all fall asleep and we could walk the ball into the Wigan net at will.

The exception was Huddlestone who at least looked as if he had got ''Positive Thinking' out of the library even if he hadn't read it from cover to cover. Until he ran out of steam on the hour he sprayed the ball about mostly in the direction of the Wigan goal. He was our MOM by default. Nobody else came close.

Energy and enthusiasm were conspicuously absent, except from Holtby but then he can't help himself. He had the chance to make the difference but showed that he is probably better as an impact substitute for now. There are one or two others in that category but, in the absence of Ade, Defoe had to start. We're still waiting.

At times it was more like a slow motion replay of the game rather than the game itself. We didn't even pick up the pace much when they went ahead. We had them by the throat within ten minutes but failed to squeeze hard enough.

In the end we got a point through an own goal in a hectic last ten minutes and we might have pinched it on 90 minutes in a goal mouth scramble that saw shots from Defoe and Huddlestone blocked. Not that we deserved it.

If we had shown half of the desire that Arsenal showed against Man. Utd. we might be having a tentative chilled white wine and a bowl of olives in anticipation of the glories to come. As it is we are finding it tricky locating the corkscrew let alone opening the bottle dangling as we are from a twisting rope in a snowstorm.

In each of our last five games we have been a goal behind at some stage and have on every occasion recovered to draw or win. So the old 'mental strength' argument is more complicated than it at first appears. We may yet recover our momentum but the euphoria after City didn't even carry us as far as Wigan.

AVB must take some of the blame. Not for the first time he has selected Naughton out of position ahead of Benny and wasted a substitution in replacing him. He rightly selected Tom Huddlestone but didn't have the nerve to bring on Carroll when some creativity was required.

His attacking change was made too late and if we had nicked it at the end it would have papered over the cracks which need addressing. Lennon came on for Parker with less than 10 minutes left and he hardly had a touch. Bale was absent for large portions of the game and the partnering of Defoe and Dempsey was a rehearsal for 'The Invisible Man meets the Missing Link'.

Our weaknesses from set plays was once again exposed, Vertonghen losing Boyce and the ball finding the corner of the net where a defender should  have been. But the main weakness which is down to the manager was our lack of desire and urgency. We started cautiously and became positively tentative.

We look to be running on empty for the third season running, which is careless to say the least. We were nailed on for 3rd last year but ran out of fuel, came 4th and paid the consequences.  Mend the roof when the sun is shining: buy a striker while the window's open. 

The great 'if' moment of the season is with us. If we beat Chelsea and if they lose to Man.Utd.  and if we get three points against.....Stop, stop it's doing my head in. We can't afford to rely on others to slip up though they probably will. Win our last four games and it's sorted.

Gareth Bale.
Many congratulations to our Gareth. He has won both PFA awards, only the third person ever to do so. (Ronaldo 2007; Andy Gray 1977) This is not exactly flying beneath the radar but he is making all the right noises about staying. 

Whether it finally depends on us finishing 4th is not clear but I assume so. Some people are already spending the Bale dowry in expectation of us not making the CL. Not on Musings we're not. Not yet anyway.

As most people running football clubs will have noticed him I suppose the publicity won't hurt. There's only half a dozen clubs in the world that could afford him and one of them has just been relegated to the Championship.

Not even on the bench and there is some confusion whether or not he was injured. The annual wrangle as to whether he would move for a lower wage has begun. He is adamant that he won't. AVB apparently wants to get rid but that is looking unlikely. He can't be as ineffective next year surely.

 If he goes we will have to sign two new strikers and given our struggle to find the cash for one this could be a problem. That's where the Bale money might come in useful, but let's not give Mr. Levy ideas. In a year or two Daniel  he'll be worth twice as much.

Jimmy's Video Spot.
A fitting tribute to Scott Parker when he used to do exactly what it said on the tin. Since returning from injury he has played as more of a box to box player. It ain't working Andre. We want our defensive midfielder back. let Dembele and Huddlestone do the thinking.

Saturday, 27 April 2013

Gareth Bale: A Day in the Life of.

The Vampire sizes up another victim.
That's much too close Gareth.
April 27 2013 .. Spurs Great Turns Sixty Seven.
 A Day In The Life Of Gareth Bale ... No Bananas At Wigan.

 Those religious evangelical saviours have nothing on Andre Boas after the triumph over City. Of course one of his main disciples was back and how.

 Prior to the teams gathering in the tunnel all Roberto Mancini and Brian Kidd wanted to know. Is he playing? And of course on he trotted with most thinking as well, is he really fit. An emphatic answer to that question was delivered around the 74 minute mark and confirmed further in the next 7 minutes thereafter. 
With five cup finals to go our pub got to pondering on that Bale performance and was it a seven minute flash in the pan. Is he really back?
 Ninety Three Minutes In The Life Of Gareth.

 He moved from the modest flat near Tottenham some time ago and now travels in from Essex. Emma Rhys-Jones and AVB ( little Alba) still reside in Cardiff apparently. Makes for a focused mind and he will need it today. So at 1:30 Sunday April 21 he lines up in the tunnel and to rapturous and excited adulation emerges onto White Hart Lane.
 His first touch in the first minute is with Vincent Kompany. The attempted testing Kompany krunch misses. Ankle okay then? He has been assigned a sort of false nine position and for the first thirty minutes it is utilitarian, unsuccessful flicks, and then when he has a chance to forge through referee Mason pulls it up ( 36 minutes) . 
Foul on Parker who was involved in a potential one/two.. The resultant Bale set piece probably sums up events to date. Tevez turns his back in the wall, ball onto hand and it fizzles out. Maybe, if. A little later another break on down the wing but a trigger happy ref pulls it up.
First half, no room, lots of maybes and still the ankle seems fine.
 A formation change sees Bale pushed wider. Some useful touches and then the tailor made free kick. Oops, a balloon into the North Stand Upper. Near our clan actually.
Next there is that dodgy offside. Clichy's hand/arm played him on( TV replay) but the lino is on another channel. No Welsh expletives just a very clear "No way !." Still you sense it's getting closer. Minutes later a trademark run from Moussa, some fine Bale play but the cut back to Holtby fizzles. Getting ever so much closer. A Bale header over the bar(67m). Hmm.
Substitutions from the new Billy Graham are working. Pressure mounting. Minute 74 a Welsh spear arrows across the area, it strikes an American Indian who deftly turns it into the City onion bag. That ankle is no longer fine , its fabulous.
 Spurs score again through Defoe after a sublime German through ball. Back to Gareth. Disco Benny ( who in our pubs view had a good game) slips it to Gareth. He's off with space to burn. No stopping him now and its dinks very much over England's number one. Another attempt at the impossible on minute 84 inside the City box. Seems as though the ankle is standing up well.
Yep he's back. What a tonic for our next five cup finals. No one man team but its one big reason why I go to the Lane. You can have your Modrics.
Gareth Bale in full flight is athletic poetry and motion at its finest.
A Bubbly Kent Pub.
 And why not break out the sparkling. Made the week at work a whole lot more manageable.
Wigan. Why not. We are having no bananas.
Martin Chivers turns 67 today, same birthday week as our Dutch superstar Jan Vertonghen. He was 26 on Thursday.
 Back to Gareth Frank, he has 18 League goals thus far. "Not bad for a midfielder" says Clive Allen. Maybe we should switch Adebayour to midfield. He has three.
 Cheers ... "It was a woman who drove me to drink and I never had the courtesy to thank her for it ... Greg Meyer.    coys.  WC Fields actually.
 Jimmy's Video Spot; Martin Chivers 1968/76
Another Big Martin in the Spurs story. Since it's his birthday here playing for England with some distinction. A Spurs great that always seemed to have plenty of time on the ball. Still around WHL on matchdays.
118 goals for Spurs in 278 appearances: 13/24 for England. 

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Beating City; Buying Suarez; Selling Walker.

There's a lot of Snakes on this last stretch Andre.
That's Chelsea on 99.
The JimmyG2 Column.
What a difference 15 minutes can make. A goal down for over an hour we virtually turned our season round with a healthy tactical shove from AVB and some shrewd and effective substitutions. Such are the wafer thin margins between success and catastrophe.

All our efforts over a traumatic post Modric and Harry season were on the point of unravelling when Andre threw the 70 page manual still in the filing cabinet into the mix and shocked and awed Man. City into submission.

 Bale awoke from a deep sleep to give Dempsey a tap in for the equaliser on 75 mins.; Holtby full of running invited Defoe to work his magic on 79; Huddlestone cunningly released Bale and it was all over on 82mins with 10 minutes to spare.. The quality of the assists were almost as satisfying as the goals themselves.

 Mancini could only look on, admire and fume. The usual reliable Kompany was responsible for two of them. He allowed Defoe to shift and shoot on his right and failed to cut out the cross for the Dempsey goal. Not even England's number one could keep out a Defoe special from a wide angle.

We had cleverly lulled City into believing that the game was theirs and then hit them three times in 7 minutes to claim the game and keep a firm hold on the Top Four. Liverpool snatched two points back from Chelsea in the 97th minute courtesy of Suarez to complete our weekend.

We were behind from the fifth minute when three players out on the far right touchline (Vertonghen, Parker and Benny)  failed to get to grips with Tevez. He slipped in Milner who cut back to Nasri and Walker who had been marking him couldn't prevent his volley going into the corner.

City failed to really press their advantage. Previous  4 goal hero Dzeko was anonymous for which Dawson must take a lot of credit but we struggled without any real inspiration and without reward until the 75th minute when AVB turned it round. He 'got by with a little help from his friends' as Joe Cocker famously sang.

The first half was fairly inconsequential after the goal. Their passing was crisper and their movement was better than ours, but very few chances were created at either end. The second half meandered along. We closed them down better and were sharper into the tackle but nothing suggested the fireworks to come.

Huddlestone made a difference with some crisp passing, both long and short. WHL came alive and so did Gareth who had been feeling his way into the game.When Lescott comes on in the 90th minute as a centre forward you just know its going to be your day.

In the afterglow of such a turnaround I realised I'd quite enjoyed the game. We matched them for possession and shots and although I was quite resigned after five minutes to our season petering out it seems to me that we were always in touch though I was not expecting so great an explosion.

The re-emergence of Tom Huddlestone reignites the old debate as to how effective in the Spurs squad he could be. He certainly suits AVB's preferred 433 formation and next season with Sandro to do the heavy lifting he might be a cheap and effective option as our playmaker.

We declare an interest on Musings admitting that we once employed the phrase 'Hoddlesque'. He has patented the chipped ball with backspin and although others such as Benny, Walker, and Dawson can play the long ball, Hud can play it more incisively forward and not just crossfield.

He plays with elegance and economy not a charge to be levelled at either Scotty or Moussa. A 'head up' breed of player as all the best ones are. If they ever introduce points for style he will be a key factor in us qualifying for the Champions' League on artistic merit. He is the second of the old gang, Dawson is the other, to be retrieved from the transfer scrap heap.

So we've beaten the Champions elect and the reigning Champions taken 7 points out of 12 off them and everything in the garden is.....No well you know it's not. Just as we are capable of climbing the City ladder  we are capable of sliding back down the Wigan snake.

Not that I think we will. With the confidence that beating City will give us I think we will overwhelm a struggling Wigan and win by at least two clear goals.
Musings prediction: Spurs 2-0

How desperate would you have to be to sign Suarez?
Even before the latest incident when he put the bite on Ivanovic we have on several occasions rejected any idea of signing him, as good as he is. He is a constant nightmare for the PR department and an embarrassment to his colleagues, owners and fans.

Musings don't do 'desperate'; we prefer style and integrity. But Liverpool are not in a position having sold their best players, the club and their souls, whatever brave face they might put on it. They have always had a thuggish element to their play masquerading as mental strength.

Golden boy Gerrard's leap into the back of Bale recently for which he should have been sent off is not untypical. Suarez should not be allowed back on the pitch at all in my view. Banned 'sine die' which in the old days of Hull Sunday League was thought to be a lifetime exclusion. Technically though it allows for a return at an unspecified date.

In the Amateur Leagues those banned who had facial hair used to shave it off and those without used to grow some. They then signed for another team under an assumed name and slipped as unobtrusively as possible onto the pitch at kick off. At one time an urban myth circulated in the city  that reckoned there were more lifetime banned players actually turning out on a Sunday than legitimate performers.

Anyway I wouldn't want Suarez at Spurs, he carries more baggage than an Arrivals Hall carousel at Heathrow. In truth nor do Liverpool but money will have the last word. They will bluff it out unless they can get somewhere near his market value. £40 million is quoted.

Purely on merit it would be a difficult choice between him and Aguero. but it's not a choice we have to make as we can't afford either. So relax all you 'in a heartbeat' people. There's more to football than football.

Verdict: Pretty desperate. Not for Spurs under any circumstances. Bargepole anyone?

Is it time to cash in on Kyle Walker?
Young and still possibly coachable but he makes at least one calamitous error per game. He has improved going forward into the space vacated by Lennon recently and usually retrieves most of his errors.

He hasn't trained on effectively since his glory days last year. Liverpool still gives me recurring nightmares. However his decision to desert his marking duties on Nasri led directly to the goal against City. We have a lot invested emotionally in the boy and you can't help but like him but a steadier more experienced player might fit the bill better. The other Kyle is always an option.

Verdict: Stick with him for now but put him on calamity watch. 

Jimmy's Video Spot:(1)
Anyway to be fair to the boy here's some of his best bits. ( so far )
(2) All the goals against City as a bonus for good behaviour.

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Tables turned for Spurs.

Sit down love: Everton and Arsenal drew 0-0.
We'll tell you when.
The JimmyG2 Column
 And so Monsieur Wenger ze tables 'av turned. We 'av you by ze throat mon ami just as you had a firm 'old on notra tonsils before. 'Ow you like zem pommes?  Hugo says 'l'homme qui laughs le derniers, laughs  les plus longer'. You will notice that his Franglais is much improved.

The fat lady has requested a chair to take the weight of her plates and some throat pastels as this could run and run. Well for another half a dozen games anyway. Arsenal are now two points ahead but we have a game in hand. It's back in our control even if they beat Fulham on Saturday. Theoretically anyway.

Odd how the gods have chosen Fulham and ex Spur Martin Jol to be very much centre stage in our destiny this season. Having beaten us at the Lane with a goal from ex Spur Berbatov they play Chelsea tonight, Arsenal on Saturday and Everton next week. We love Martin Jol but does he still love us?

They've reached 40 points but they won't relax, will they? And he won't be still carrying a grudge for his scandalous sacking all those years ago. He laid the foundations for our recent success and could give us a big hand towards the next phase. Go on Martin you know you want to.

The hysterical musing, on Musings for a start, that Arsenal could be 7 points ahead before the Man. City game is revealed as ...well hysterical musing. Get your panic in early I always say. As a Tottenham fan I never waste a good crisis. But once again it's not over yet. For goodness sake take off your breastplates and sit down woman.

Everton did us a favour last night though they were struggling at the end. Arsenal were the better team but couldn't finish. Must be catching. The 0-0 draw at the Emirates is a good result for us. It gives us back the edge over Arsenal and gives Everton a slightly higher mountain to climb. Not quite Everest but Mont Blanc at least.

We've got Chelsea to play so that is also in our own hands. This means we have no-one to blame but ourselves, apart from the usual suspects: referees, linepersons managers, owners, fans, luck, fate, injuries, the weather and Jermaine Jenas. Which is the only reason Harry bought him.

The news that Kaboul has tweaked something is neither here nor there to be honest. Centre half is one of the few positions we have fully covered and I wasn't expecting him to make much of a contribution this season. Get well for next season Younis is all we ask.

So where do we think it will all end. If you think I'm going to jinx us by predicting a top four finish then you are mistaken. I fervently hope and would pray if I thought it would do any good that we finish above Arsenal in 4th. Well if I'm hoping then make that above Chelsea too in 3rd.

Arsenal are vulnerable at the front, see Giroud last night and Gervinho at any time. At centre half and goalkeeper they are fragile at best. Chelsea have a car crash of a fixture pile up but a deep squad to compensate.

Our run in is possibly the most difficult and we are more vulnerable to The Law of Murphy and/or Sod. 'What can go wrong; will go wrong'. We have demonstrated this over many decades and in the next month there is so much that can go wrong.

We seem emotionally more vulnerable to set backs but on the other hand Chelsea have Benitez to contend with and Terry and Lampard muttering disruptively in the background. Arsenal have ended their little unbeaten (winning) run and it took some 'fortunate' decisions to get them through the Norwich game at home.

AVB has done well but is the least experienced of the three managers. Perhaps under the extreme pressure of trying to finish in the Champions League places this will tell. I have done the BBC predictor thingy several times and in my heart of hearts cannot see us finishing anywhere else but 5th.

I was cagey at the beginning of the season and predicted that we would threaten a top four finish if we didn't get relegated. I welcomed AVB and thought he would lay down a template for the future which he has. So fifth it is and please don't shoot the messenger.

I am more than open to be proved incorrect but Musings is not always wrong which implies that sometimes it is. I hope that this is one such occasion. Updates and hopefully apologies after the weekend. We need a win against City but without Bale it's unlikely. You didn't think he would be fit to play did you? Sod's law strikes again.

Jimmy's Video Spot.
Tom Huddlestone, a Musings favourite, could just make the difference in the run in if he's fully recovered and AVB has taken note his two recent appearances. Here's some of his best stuff including the screamer against Man. City. He used to score more often in those days, you can tell by the hair cut.

Saturday, 13 April 2013

Adebayor makes his excuses but stays.

I warned you son about missing it.
Now  explain it to me again starting with the run-up.
The JimmyG2 Column
'For this relief much thanks. ' Tis bitter cold and I am sick at heart'.
 Two Spurs supporters on guard at Elsinore Castle in Denmark after another abortive penalty shoot out on a cold night in Switzerland. Denmark? Switzerland? Whatever. We know exactly how they feel.

They now have ten days respite from the mental turmoil, hope and heartbreak that is the lot of the supporters Tottenham Hotspur Football Club. Ten days in which to get their crossbows re-calibrated; their pikestaffs sharpened; and the battlements swept. Watch out for the Ghost of Sir Harry Redknapp though boys.

Ten days for me to get greenhouse spring cleaned; the potatoes chitted and the grass cut without distraction. Ten whole days for the lads to practise their skills: penalty kicks; defending from corners and passing to their fellow team members. Time to get in some rest and recreation and an invaluable opportunity to take their blood for a quick spin.

Time too for us all to reflect on the events of the recent weeks and to pass interim judgement on Andre Villas Boas, Daniel Levy and Emmanuel Adebayor amongst others. Our path is now clear: it is Champions' League or bust. The two pronged focus is now resolved courtesy of yet another penalty shoot out too far.

We showed some guts and determination in Basel but overall they were the better team and deservedly went through to the semi-finals. Their timid tactics helped our cause but in the end individual errors by Dembele and Vertonghen and injuries to Bale and Lennon undermined our efforts.

In the shoot-out they were focused and clinical scoring all of their goals in some style. Huddlestone's opening kick was well saved and Adebayor's a joke in bad taste given the circumstances. A sad but predictable end, given our shoot-out history, to our latest European adventure.

Some say we should have concentrated on the Premiership and qualification for the Champions' League and that playing on Thursdays and Sundays has weakened our chances. For the life of me I can't see the difference in playing on Wednesdays and Saturdays against better teams although I concede that the games are fewer and the rewards and status are bigger in CL.

It's been a rocky and dramatic journey with some distinctly average performances in the early stages and some late tie winners against Lyon and Inter. Finally our luck ran out even though the pundits insisted against all the evidence that our name was on the cup.

Some things are established beyond doubt, though I realise that that is a provocative thing to suggest on a public blog with a comments facility. Gallas and Friedel have hopefully played their last games for the club, barring catastrophic injuries. Take the gold watch boys, thanks and good luck.

Lloris wouldn't have saved any of the penalties but he might have got down more quickly to the toe poked first goal and probably wouldn't have tamely patted the ball out for the second. AVB kept faith with Brad for the Europa which somewhat undermines his avowed intention to take the competition seriously.

With the return of Sandro next season Parker's opportunities will be limited. Huddlestone has until the end of the season to stake a claim for next year after two encouraging appearances this week. Carroll has done enough this season to establish himself as a more active member of the squad and I hope to see him start a game before the Summer Recess.

AVB emerges with his reputation enhanced whatever happens in the last seven games unless we lose them all by huge margins which is unlikely. He has handled himself, the team and the Press very well which is a relief after the Redknapp era. He has certainly given us some belief and instilled some discipline at the expense perhaps of 'sexy' football.

Some of his substitutions and occasionally his formations have been eccentric but most of us will be greatly let down if he decamps to Madrid which Musings dismisses as pure press blather based on their usual random associations. Mourinho used to work with AVB. Mourinho might be leaving Real Madrid ergo AVB is going to Madrid. Pathetic.

Levy will be the main scapegoat for any failures this season for not providing us with more powerful attacking options especially if Bale leaves because we don't make Champions' League. But he did take a chance on AVB which has undoubtedly paid off. He now needs to back him whatever position we finish in.

Players out: Friedel, Gallas, Naughton, Benny. Defoe.

On death row pending appeal. Huddlestone Parker, Livermore. Adebayor.

Jimmy's Video Spot.
Vertonghen,  hero and villain. Can't imagine what he thought he was doing. All four goals were cock ups in one way or another. That Dempsey eh. Bit like Defoe just when you think he's had it, he scores a couple. We had five players at the near post for the corner and it still went in. I think Adebayor's smile was one of embarrassment rather than delight.
 He says  the wet pitch, exhaustion and tension are the reasons he missed it. I think Defoe will move on before he does. He fits AVB's tactics and vision better.

Thursday, 11 April 2013

The Crunch that was seen around the World

  FA to impose tighter gun control at all grounds.
The Greg Meyer Column .
 Top Day Top Birthday 11 April 2013.

 The Crunch That Was Seen Around The World.
It certainly came at a crunch time in the life of Gareth Bale, Andre Boas and most Spurs fans worldwide.

 Crash time 2155 hrs  last Thursday evening at the Lane. Eighty minutes in and a Basel player was to become famous for at least 24 hours.
 David Degan is not a name that readily springs to the lips of your average Spurs follower. The tackle was more a desperate coming together.Hardly malicious and certainly not criminally liable. More of the determined enthusiastic variety. The " I'll make sure he knows I was there variety." Ergo a stamp, careless at best, reckless at worst upon the Welsh wonder ankle. No yellow and not sure if even a foul given. Perhaps that was forgotten in the anxious and anguished minutes that followed. Bale departed courtesy of four men and a sabot shaped stretcher. 
 Crunch! The sound of dropping Tottenham hearts and hopes for season 2013. Earlier a secondary crunch was the early exit (20 minutes) of Bale's partner in pace. Aaron Lennon succumbed to a bruised knee. 
 The better news is thanks to techniques invented round a Togolese witchdoctors campfire both may be back sooner. Those doctors were not only spinning yarns but blood as well. Legal too.
 Crunch Consequences.
 The Spurs performance against Everton was serviceable, workmanlike even.The emerging AVB spirit was again evident. A loss rescued from the jaws of Champions League oblivion. Creativity rarely sighted. Still Everton did beat City. All we ask is a performance next Tuesday against Arsenal.
 The sometime elephant in the dressing room certainly woke from recent somnolent displays. Emmanuel Adebayor put in an energetic shift. He scored one and set up the other off the post. It's prompted Manager Boas to talk him up as our talisman. Hmm.
 An Unintended Consequence.
 If Spurs fail to progress past Switzerland in the Europa then it does simplify the fixture list. Chelsea on the other hand will be fighting on three fronts. Whilst they arguably have a deeper squad than Spurs they loom as our biggest threat for the top four.
  Arsenal, also fighting on one front only, do have an easier run in on paper than either Spurs or Chelsea. All of which is on paper. Football is played on grass. Some twists and step-overs galore before season's end.

At A Kent Pub.

 Apologies but our pub are pretty blase about the Basel game. I guess in part down to our anxiety over finishing top four. Particularly after getting so close thus far.  Ideally yes Europa Cup and fourth. We would plump for fourth only, if pressed.
 Can we find top gear again for the run in. The break is a ghodsend surely. Bale and the littlest one back. Jermain too. Oh and just for the record Jeremy Clarkson turns 53 today. Thought he was older.
 Zoe Lucker, a Footballer's Wife, 39. Seemed older to us. Maybe it's the stress of our finishing run.
   Cheers ... hope AVB doesn't know the meaning of the word crunch ... Greg Meyer .    A certainty, Black Caviar goes 25 straight on Saturday. coys.
Jimmy's Video Spot.
 Here it is: 'Le Crunch' in full technicolor and slow motion. Minimal contact and self inflicted for me but never argue in public with your co-blogger. Get well soon Gareth and give our best wishes to Jermain on the 'blood spinning' circuit. If you both keep going round in circles on your return we'll know why.


Tuesday, 9 April 2013

They think it's all over.

There's people on the pitch; they think it's all over.
Not at Spurs we don't.
The JimmyG2 Column
The crowd gasp as one of the favourites for a place in the big race clips a fence and stumbles but fortunately doesn't fall. With several fences to go anything can happen but at least one of the leading bunch of six appears to be tiring whilst the others are running on strongly.

Not the Grand National as you will have realised but an appropriate metaphor on Grand National weekend. Pursuing our dreams on two fronts has been severely hampered by injuries and the strain might just be starting to show. Recent history shows that we have been more suited to the shorter sprints than the long distance tests.

The equine experts say that you should never attempt to ride two horses at the same time but these days it's a four horse problem with the three cups and the Premiership. We are only focused on two but with key players out and the trainer not fully trusting the yearlings the effort may be starting to tell.

Good to report though that a horse previously reported as having done a Shergar has not only been found alive but clearly fit and raring to go. Adebayor out of Togo by Contract Secured has now scored in two of his last outings and might make the difference in the latter stages.

We jumped off from the tapes in startling style on Sunday and were ahead before the first minute had elapsed. But the old war horse Everton are known for their as stayers and well before the mile marker were level and eventually pulled ahead.

Tottenham rallied to make a late run and it was called as a dead heat. The plodders had nullified the stylish efforts of the thoroughbreds who failed to take advantage of their early lead. But awards in the Parade Ring have to be justified out on the course.

Some of the young colts in the side showed improved form on the gallops: Holtby bred in Germany out of Anglo German stock looked lively again; Sigurdsson a rare Icelandic pure bred made his mark and seems to have settled; the young prospect Kyle Walker, who can be a skittish, difficult ride and whose temperament is still suspect settled to turn in a performance that reminded his backers of his earlier promise.

Classy French import Lloris was unsettled in the early stages and uncharacteristically missed an opportunity to make headway. Some of Dempsey's backers have recommend him for gelding in view of his no show this weekend, a harsh judgement, but opinion is split as to whether this will improve his performance.

The half full faction will be chanting, 'Unbeaten in three in all competitions after a three outings losing run'. Whilst the glass half empty people will be chorusing 'One win in six'. Both statements are true of course. It probably depends on how long you've been following Tottenham which one you tend towards.

All eyes turn to the European circuit on Thursday and as there is a blank day at the weekend we can focus all our efforts on improving on our last outing. We misread the form card at the previous meeting and were fortunate not to have been left at the post.

We have shown better from away from home this season and this may be down to hostile crowds disappointed at our failure to make their accumulator bets, struck in the heady promise of mid season, bear fruit.

As someone on Spurs Community pointed out, with the Chelsea game postponed by the time we play Man. City on the 21st, Arsenal will have played three times and in theory we could have two games in hand and be 7 points behind.

 But we should as club, players, Head Coach  and fans be mentally prepared for such a possibility.With all Chelsea's commitments despite their quality squad they are well fancied to finish fifth. The game against them could decide the whole Champions' League situation. At least it's in our own hands.

Them up the road may think that it's all over but even with our ability to come third in a two horse race we must not even begin to think so.To Dare is to Do. Let's dare and do it.

Jimmy's Video spot:
The good and the bad of Vertonghen. Ditto Lloris although this video only shows the bad. The irony is that Friedel might even have saved the first. Dempsey's moment of brilliance; not actually touching the ball, and a poor attempt by Parker to clip Miralllas. Not that we approve of such things.

Friday, 5 April 2013

Fat lady prepares to sing for Spurs.

Basel: A lovely place to visit
 if you don't have to win a football match.
(Although 3-3 would do)
 The JimmyG2 Column.
 The best you could say, until Bale injured himself, was that it could have been a lot worse. After that it couldn't possibly have been any worse. If he and Lennon are out for more than a couple of weeks then I think we might say farewell to a Top Four place this season.

 Not that he did much against Basel but he at least distracts the opponents' attention away from our other players. Of course we all fervently hope that these other players will step up but there are no imminent signs that anybody could. Holtby certainly played well and both Ade and Siggy scored but these are but straws to be clutched at in view of the tests to come.

Parker is looking shot, not literally, that's only for horses; Dembele is only playing well in patches; our main counter attackers are both injured; we are down one fit certified striker and we look vulnerable at full back on both sides. Even Vertonghen played poorly although he was carrying the faltering Gallas for most of the time.

Basel were better than us all over the pitch and it is hard to see any reverse of form in the away leg unless the 'stepping up' process is more of a leaping or pole vaulting nature than mere stepping. Siggy has improved over the weeks but it has been a painfully slow progress.

AVB is 'hopeful' that Bale will be back in a couple of weeks. Welcome to Spurs, Andres. 'It's the hope that kills you'. Gareth's Mum says that he has a very low pain threshold and that injuries are rarely as bad as they seem at the time. So I'm guessing, he'll be out for the rest of the season and most of next. 

We are awaiting confirmation at the time of writing. Pre-scan medical 'experts' predict a month at least. And where is our natural, home grown back-up for both flanks? Tearing up trees at QPR when he could have been planting seedlings at WHL.

Musings queried this decision from the start and we are not happy to have been proven right. He could have had plenty of opportunities at Spurs ahead of Dempsey and Sigurdsson on the wing in the Premiership and in the three cup competitions. We felt he had shown enough already to be part of the squad.

Due credit to the boys who fought back to retrieve a situation that looked beyond them. Basel were quicker in thought and movement and we were only ok for about 15 minutes at the start until they worked out that we were not all we were cracked up to be. They crowded out Bale and then set about us.

All the goals had an element of luck or misfortune about them. Naughton lost his man and Adebayor deserted his post for their second and the ball rebounded conveniently for their first though they probably should have scored anyway.

Adebayor missed his first attempt for our opener but persevered to reach the ball back in from Bale. His foot was high and I was waiting for the referee  to rule out the goal for dangerous play. Sigurdsson got a helpful deflection for the equaliser and for a while we pressed with some determination. But it didn't last and they might have had a couple more.

AVB's substitutions were strange. Dawson for Ekotto and Holtby off for Dempse. Dawson for Gallas and leaving Holtby on as he was having his best game yet would have made more sense.

By the end we were down to nine men.  Gallas took himself off although we had used up all our subs at the time. Friedel made some routine saves but it was their failure to capitalise on their lively attacking play that kept the score down in the main.

So we got away with it but need to keep a clean sheet and score more than them to make any further progress which is a big call against a very decent side away from home. Particularly without Bale and possibly Lennon although his chances of appearing against Everton are being talked up. But I doubt it.

Scan updates. (Friday. Official site)
Bale, Lennon and Gallas all underwent scans and should return to training within two weeks. So that's a minimum of four games: Everton, the away leg at Basel, Chelsea and Man. City. Then hopefully back for the last four games. It might be beyond our reach by then.

So we look like ending up where many forecast that we would at the start of the season in 5th or 6th. We have taken the sacking of Harry, the loss of our two best players and the appointment of a new manager sacked by Chelsea in our stride. We have suffered key injuries and have witnessed the decline of Parker.

Without playing particularly well we have made a good challenge for Champions' League. Of course it's not over until the fat lady sings but I think I've just spotted her her standing in the wings. Players might step up yet of course; we might get through against Basel and beat a weakened Everton on Sunday and maintain our momentum.

But we have become dependent lately on Bale for goals so Sunday is the perfect opportunity to prove that we are not a one man team. One might be enough, Ade.
Spurs 1-0:

Jimmy's Video Spot:
Lovely through ball by Siggy for Holtby. The ball deflects back to Parker and he misses the chance for  his first goal for Spurs at a crucial moment. Parker fans will say it hits Holtby's boot and goes wide but I'm not so sure and I was never a fan of Scotty.

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Spurs double playing staff.

 Another nail-biter.

The Jimmy G2 Column

Didn't we have a lovely time the day we went to Swansea. Actually it was Bangor in the original song and this day out turned out to be a bit of a nail biter for those Spurs fans that still have the luxury of nails at this stage of the season.

We blitzed them early on with some good football and a couple of goals courtesy of our current star men Gareth and Jan once again. We are now officially designated a two man team, doubling the team wages at a stroke.Let's hope it doesn't give Daniel one.

Vertonghen showed more awareness of the space ahead of him in that one move for the opener than either of our strikers have shown since.. for ages. Not that Ade played badly but a glaring miss undermined his confidence once again.

Swansea didn't park the bus, they never do, but for the first part of this game they had clearly missed it. We were 2-0 up after 20 minutes and comfortable. Bale was on the score sheet again with a fine finish from the edge of the box.

 I'm not sure whether they finally turned up or we relaxed a little too much, gave them too much room and allowed them to play which they certainly can.

Michu pulled one back eventually, the third of his decent headed chances and Dawson was struggling to match his movement and strength in the air. Swansea probably deserved a draw for their persistence and Dyer should have scored with a header from less than 6yds which hit the bar and then struck him and rebounded clear.

So a necessary win away from home and a return to third at the expense of Chelsea who were the only team in the top seven not to get three points. We prevented a third consecutive Premiership loss for a second time  and gave ourselves a boost ahead of the Europa home leg against Basel on Thursday.

Friedel was safe enough but you had the feeling that one or two of the Swansea crosses might have been cut out had the injured Lloris been playing. Brad was thankfully more alert than his colleagues and made a good one handed save from Michu from a quickly taken free kick.

Hugo will probably be available for the home tie against Everton on Sunday. Kaboul is also rumoured to be close to a full recovery which will give us more strength in depth for the final games. We might even see four of our centre halves across the back before the end of the season with Kaboul on the right and Verts on the left if circumstances and the occasion demand.

Swansea were strong down our left hand side where Naughton was played out of position again. He was playing instead of the out of favour Ekotto. He had little support from Sigurdsson who tried a little too hard against his former colleagues. Walker on the right played no better but always has good protection from Lennon.

It was in midfield that we really struggled and Swansea took advantage of the lacklustre efforts of Parker who has never quite returned to his previous form and Dembele who looks to be carrying an injury. Swansea looked constantly on the verge of a breakthrough.

In the end it was more Manchester United away than the late collapses against Everton or Liverpool and we managed to protect our early lead. But it was not a performance to linger over apart from the opening third which sealed the result. The sort of win, common this season, you can only relish after the game has ended.

On Thursday I expect Caulker, Carroll, Holtby, Ekotto, Gallas and Livermore to start if only to allow the main squad regulars a breather ahead of the weekend. Naughton might switch to his normal right back position. Kaboul might even get a run out as a sub.

AVB says that our Europa run will not impact on Premiership performances but he will need to protect his squad a little more. We can't rely on any of our challengers slipping up and must get the job done by winning what Hugo calls our eight cup finals. One down, seven to go.

Perhaps the Europa run might be more of an inspiration than an impediment to the Champions' League and, if we make it, get ready  for more of the same. It certainly offers opportunities to the wider squad and could just help us on to greater things.

Injured or on his way out? Naughton is not a great left back so clearly something is up. Verts only plays there under protest.

Could be a good signing for us: mobile, intelligent, terrific in the air and good on the ground. Premiership ready and wouldn't be over expensive.

Great performances at every level. Townsend consistently good for QPR. Could be a bumper year for own grown youth next year. Kane, Rose, Townsend, Smith amongst others.

Gareth Bale.
Picked out by Zinedin Zidane, already in a coaching role at Real Madrid and tipped as a future manager, as 'immpressive'.
"He's unique. He makes things look easy, his pace is frightening, his acceleration is unbelievable because of his ability to go through the gears in very little space''.
So even if Mourinho goes there is still a powerful lobby for Gareth at Real Madrid. If we make CL though I think he will stay at least another year. One eyed optimist? Who me?

Jimmy's Video Spot.
My tip for another impact player next year alongside Little Tom. Andros Townsend. 21 yrs old, Local boy. He's been at Spurs since he was nine and loaned out to eight different clubs. Looks like the boy is ready to me. Fancies himself as an in the shower song leader too. Every dressing room needs one.