The Blog that's not always wrong.

Sunday, 31 January 2016

Welcome to the Spurs family.

He's come a long way.
Let's hope he stops now.
The Greg Meyer Column.
   Friday 29 January .. W.C.Fields Birthday.

The Invisible Wife of a Very Visible Manager.

Supping on a quiet Spanish beer with some journalist mates, one topic much discussed was the comings and goings of a certain Spurs manager.
 Not those a la to and from Barcelona on the holiday camp nor the unfortunate backwards and forwards to el toilet.
 He fell ill for a day. Some cheeky rumours suggesting he should have forgone the Spanish ice in his evening Midori Sour. No the tabloidal outpourings this week were on his departure for Chelsea and Manchester United.

It even got to the stage that one prominent paper suggested the Press Conference scheduled on Thursday was deferred for negotiations with Chelsea to continue. You could not make it up if you tried.
Those rumours were quickly put to bed by Mauricio earlier today. Still given the rising profile of Spurs attributable to the efforts of their still young (but 43 years in) manager the questions about his increasingly impressive CV continue to grow.
One of our number at a recent Presser with Senor Pochettino came away with an impression of a strong family man with a definite hint of steel. What particularly intrigued us was who were the powers behind the throne and the members of that football family.
Whilst forthcoming on most fronts Mauricio was less forthcoming about Mrs Pochettino. The mother of 19 year old Sebastiano recently studying science at the University of Southampton and 13 year old Maurizio, both keen Spurs fans
Naturally Karina Pochettino is obviously  an important element of the Pochettino family both football and otherwise. His ability to engender both respect and football love for all in the Spurs family is there for all to see.

The Pochettino football family is no overnight sensation either although the way it's going Daniel Levy and Spurs fans galore will be keen to endorse that adjective and then some.
A journey that began in the village of Murphy, located not in Ireland but north east Argentina. After starring for Newell's Old Boys, yes that is a real club name, he moved to RCD Espanyol in 1994.
In 2006 after more than 300 appearances for Espanyol he retired as a player. "The Sheriff of Murphy" did not however holster his shin pads. No they were needed in the new coaching/ management career that beckoned.
At 36 after a brief stint coaching Espanyol's women's team he took the reins at his beloved "Los Periquitos", rather cutely translated in English as the" Budgies". It was at Espanyol that the close knit Pochettino team was developed and finalised.
Miguel D'Agostini, the present Spurs first team coach, met Pochettino as teenagers at the Newell Old Boy's academy in Rosario. He subsequently joined his friend at Espanyol. Jesus Perez,now assistant to head coach Mauriccio joined the "family" in 2010, initially as a football analyst at Espanyol.
Earlier the third member of his loyal and long serving backroom family, the Spurs goalkeeping coach, Toni Jiminez joined together with Mauriccio in 1994 also in Spain. All 3 lieutenants joined their boss when he became manager of Southampton in 2013. 
And of course when the Spurs dream began in May 2014 the Pochettino family in its entirety was there, ready winning and able.
Meanwhile at a Spanish Taberna.
Our Kent publican is on holiday in Spain. Some of us have joined him. Obviously if it's good enough for our Spurs squad to holiday in Barcelona then why not take the hint.
Back to earth at Colchester United on Saturday. Mostly known for some interesting castles but certainly not for its football history.Even with a third string team likely from the family man surely Spurs make a relatively rare progression past the fourth round of the FA Cup.
Back to our birthday boy. A man whose quotes adorn the walls of our Kent Pub men's toilet. Perhaps a gentle reminder to our players at Colchester to avoid a potential banana skin ...
" Never give a sucker an even break."
And one for a happy Spurs fan just about to depart from a celebratory pub ...
" I never worry about being driven to drink; I just worry about being driven home.
Salud ... no better time to be a Spurs fan ... Greg Meyer.             coys.
Jimmy's Video Spot. 
A stayer rather than a new signing but he seems to have recaptured the kind of form shown here. Welcome back the new Mousa Dembele. That's Mousa with one 's'.
The other  new Moussa Dembele, that's Moussa with two 's's' is still threatening to join us but no hard  news yet.

Not much footage of Mauricio in action I'm afraid.

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Vertonghen update. Comings and Goings.

One famous Belgian: can you name four more?
The JimmyG2 Column.
They say that writing about bad news and misery is easier than writing about good news and joy. In which case going behind, losing an ever present, and then winning at the death is a curious mixture of the two.

Supporting Spurs gets easier by the week: writing about them gets harder. Take Deli Alli: an hour of general apathy and slackness followed by a Gazzaesque wonder goal to put us ahead. Why he wasn't hooked earlier I have no idea.

How do you rate a performance like that? What insightful genius does Mauricio possess that he leaves someone playing poorly on rather than swapping him for Lamela or someone, or anyone.

So too with Chadli who hasn't done very much lately but is persevered with. He sets up Harry for the crucial equaliser then puts the angel on the top of the Xmas tree with a lovely strike himself. He's had a good week.

Was Mauricio Mystic Meg in another life? He certainly called it right from start to finish. Even the injury to Jan barely caused a ripple with Wimmer  ready to slot in beside yet another of our four famous Belgians.

The Trivial pursuit teaser ' Name five famous Belgians is a gift for Spurs supporters. Your starter for ten: Hercule Poirot. If we sign another we could even dispense with the services of our Agatha.

Dembele brought his current form and accustomed strength to the midfield alongside Dier who was leaden and rightly subbed. Dier and Dembele not the most creative and lively duo to be fair.

But Eriksen and Son certainly are. Though Christian is a bit subtle for some. A cushion header assist! You're a damn tough audience to please at times.  Son has yet to settle but he brings plenty of  fizz to the party.

Rose had his hands full with Zaha but more or less coped unassisted by the boy Alli or Eriksen  and almost scored himself. Trippier who I am beginning to like played well, forward and back, but once again the defence as a whole were not unduly pressured.

Except of course by Hugo whose passing is dreadful though his keeping is pretty sound. Whoever told him him he was good with the ball at his feet was clearly not a Spurs fan. Arsene Wenger, probably, at a Camembert and Beaujolais party.

Vertonghen achieved more than Crystal Palace could by scoring, following some desultory defending mainly by Jan himself though Eriksen got the blame. Why have a scapegoat and not tether him to a stake?

Outstanding goals; another outstanding team fightback; outstanding Head Coachship; helpful results elsewhere, a weekend to relish then.

There will be twists and turns in the coming weeks certainly but for the moment rejoice there's clear lilywhite water ahead.

The scoreline is just, but a little flattering. They hit the bar twice at 1-1 just before Alli and Chadli sealed the win. But Hennessey saved well from Danny Rose and Alli himself hit the bar with the keeper beaten before the end.

You don't always get what you deserve in this life, or possibly the next, but if you keep trying to play good passing, attacking football with good players you are more likely to succeed in the long run.

And this young squad given encouragement and trust by Mauricio are hopefully in for the long haul. Which is why any additions must be carefully chosen so as not to upset the balance or indeed the attitude of the current squad.

We have plenty of attitude within the ranks as it is: Alli, Vertonghen, Rose, Dier, Walker, Harry when roused, without importing other people's problem children. That's you Saido Barahino.

Though to be fair he´s been at W.Brom for half his 22 years and may feel that moving on is long overdue. But there are other ways to achieve your aims.

On the subject of Jan Vertonghen I am torn. He´s a persistent puller and tugger at set pieces and lives very dangerously at times. They had a purge on diving and should do the same on offences in the penalty area. It's spoiling the game.

Wickam will be rightly punished for the elbow but it came as a direct result of continuous holding by Jan. Everybody does it but he does it more than most though perhaps not as much as Smalling or Shawcross but certainly more than Toby.

I'm not saying he deserved it: it's a harsh payback on him and the team. But if you ask for trouble long enough you often end up getting it. Let's do things the right way or we won't be Tottenham any more.

Anyway he's on crutches in Barcelona with the squad on a training jolly and the best of luck to them all. He's likely to be out for  several weeks.They are saying 6/8 weeks with Knee ligament damage confirmed.

By Musings rule of thumb, double the number you first came up with, that means a minimum of  3 months. We may see him for the run in. Musings doesn't do the 'bright side of life', hope and all that.

Fazio is still with us, I think, and Davies can play central without having to go to the youngsters again though there's one or two that could play. Wimmer to slot in or Dier to go back and Bentaleb to come in?

I think Pochettino will go for the least disruption and continue with Wimmer in the back four. He's been solid so far although admittedly he's not Belgian.

Comings and Goings. (Well only Goings at the moment)
On the bright side Adebayor may be leaving us for Crystal Palace though we may still have to make a contribution to his wages. Fine player but a very poor attitude. The last thing Pochettino and his young team needs.
Andros Townsend.
Looks like moving to Newcastle tomorrow for a compromise £12 million as predicted on here last week. All the best to the boy treble wages and all. See you at the last game of the season. Cripes!

Jimmy's Video Spot.
Can't find any video testimony on Jan's injury but I'm sure you can stand the match highlights. We've got Deli Alli's goal in the Musing's archives anyway.

Thursday, 21 January 2016

Sorry. No signings this window by Spurs.

The JimmyG2 Column.

It took us four goes to beat them but we got there in the end. I think they were trying though it's a bit difficult to say the way Leicester play. Rainieri looked disappointed but he might have been bluffing.

'It's not a priority' he said. Well it's not now that's for sure They made a sort of effort in the second half so let's just say we didn't give them much space to play in and congratulate ourselves instead of casting aspersions about their motivation.

In this context new centre half pairing Dier and Wimmer looked comfortable especially on the ground,  Dier showed that playing at centre half, like riding a bike, is never forgotten.

Whether we would have preferred the three points in the league game last week will only be clear at the end of the season when we see how many points we are off the CL places. But there are plenty of twists and turns to come in the next 16 games.

Easy enough in the end with almost everyone playing well including Captain Walker, and Deputy Vorm but the star man was Son with a fine goal and a cunning assist for Chadli.

Carroll showed that he could indeed play with Eriksen and both played well. It was his early forward pass to Son that set up the opening goal. Bentaleb started and all is apparently forgiven.

In fact there were more changes than most people might have expected, with Bentaleb starting in midfield with Carroll instead of perhaps Dembele, and Son up front in a fluid delightful attacking line-up including Chadli.

Only Lamela was under par but it was good to see Onomah trusted to see us through for the last 20 minutes.  Mauricio's other substitutions were as puzzling as ever. Why risk Alli and Harry with the game completely under control.

As good a performance as we have seen all season: we scored twice without Harry; kept a clean sheet without Hugo, Vertonghen and Alderweireld and came up smelling of roses without Danny.

All roads now lead to Colchester who are undeniably the premier club in Essex and the continuation of a decent Cup run which will keep more of the squad off the streets for a bit longer.

Complaints were heard as to the negative qualities of Leicester but they are doing incredibly well given their resources. They struck gold with Jamie Vardy and Ranieri as we did with Harry Kane and Mauricio.

With N'Jie to return, Son catching fire and the fluidity that Lamela, Alli and Eriksen offer I don't think we will see any incomings this window unless we buy another youngster to keep.

On the broadcasting side JJ played a blinder; Pearce was clearly unfit; Ian Wright was uncomfortable in a Spurs supporting role and Lineker surprisingly uncertain in the central position.

Less than half the match was seen as the director and cameraman did more close-up fill ins than shots of the game. If I had actually paid a licence fee I would be lodging a protest.

 Shame on you BBC the one time home of football. And everything else come to think of it.

Jimmy's Video Spot.
Watch as the most expensive Asian player ever (a snip at 22million) takes on Leicester seemingly all on his own. Virtually everyone's MOM and here's why. Young, quick and lively. Just what Pochettino ordered. If only he can stay fit.

Monday, 18 January 2016

Welcome relief for Mrs Pochettino.

 Don't worry Mrs P, it's Sunderland up next.
The JimmyG2 Column.
It's a well known fact, or is it just a rumour, that you can play well and lose and play poorly and win. In addition if you play poorly and win it's the sign of a good team.

Now what this astute analysis omits is the quality of the opposition. In mid-week we played the team that are top and who all the pundits predict will implode at any moment  but for now have a game plan and the players and the Manager to implement it.

We played pretty well, more possession, more shots more passes, usual stuff. and fell to a set piece again, by Huth scoring his first goal this century or some such from a  header from a corner while our defenders were falling over or out among themselves.

The famous dictum that Spurs are fitter and stronger than the opposition and don´t fall to late goals came back to bite us but really the game should have been wrapped up well before the 80th minute. But Leicester are not above us by accident.

Not sure that ´parking the bus quite covers it. I will have to invent a brand new cliche. More like an ants´ nest which sends out soldier ants if you don´t completely destroy it with the first kettle of boiling water. Still needs a bit of work.

We had the better chances but that Evil Witch Notyorday decreed that Lamela and Alli should fluff their chances when well placed and that Schmeichel should somehow turn a Harry Kane shot down onto the ground and then up onto the bar.

The other highlight occurred when Lloris bailed out Walker by saving from Vardy when Walker mishit a back pass. 'Mishit a back pass' is putting it kindly but it´s his first brain freeze for a little while.

Dembele came on for Carroll and made little impact. We were not losing when Tom went off.  Davies and Lamela played well and the rest were all a bit ´meh´. We didn´t deserve to lose but didn´t do enough to win.

And so on to our encounter with Sunderland and Jermain Defoe, relegation candidates certainly but on the back of two straight wins not to be taken too lightly. Their goal, with Hugo surprisingly beaten at the near post just before half time raised all sorts of ugly spectres.

Firstly, the end of this year's dreams and hopes, though with 16 games to go this would have been been a somewhat premature knee jerk reaction. But Spurs fans definitely have that in their locker.

Secondly the vision of Mrs. Pochettino and all the little ones huddled outside Daniel Levy's house pleading in the snow. But again surely we've outgrown that type of immature managerial over reaction. Surely.

Defoe was odds on to score after our experience with Aaron Lennon but he had no service or support except for one breakaway which came to nothing.

Anyway Eriksen to the rescue with a couple of somewhat fortunate strikes. The first within 2 mínutes of their goal when Cattermole couldn't quite decide with which part of his anatomy to divert his shot off the line and ended up helping it in.

His Kyle Walker moment if you will. The second when a spinning deflection took his shot out of the reach of debutante keeper Pickford who had saved well on several occasions. The Evil Witch relents and the panic is over: the Dream continues.

All square at half time and for some reason Allardyce changed it all around and we ran riot. Well minor disturbance at least. Quit when you're ahead Sam or at least drawing away from home.

Between Christian's goals Dembele scored and played well. Danny Rose secured a penalty and Harry thumped it home. A just reward for another non-stop 90 minutes of effort on his part.

We controlled and dominated the game with 26 shots, 11 of them on target to maintain our place in Europe's elite. (See last week's blog) The defence though not unduly pressed played well especially Vertonghen who was more positive.

Curiously Manchester Utd who are having such a terrible season are within two points of us following their 1-0 win over Liverpool. We're on cloud nine and they are toying with sending poor Mrs Van Gaal out in the snow with the bairns.

Both ladies much relieved then.

Jimmy's Video Spot.
A few words on Andros Townsend who seems to be on his way to Newcastle or somewhere for £10  miliion or a little more*. Our nearly man and a key element in my All Academy dream team, one of our own and a local lad.

Plenty in this to suggest he could have made it and nearly did. Not sure descent into the Championship in a relegation scrap up in the North East is the best place for him. Too much night life may be his final undoing.

 We usually advise young players to get their heads down; with Andros it's the opposite. Good luck to him anyway, a very likeable boy, off the pitch. He's nearly too old for us at 24 anyway.

* ITK says we've turned down £10,500,00 and that £12 million will do it. ITK?. Pish. I fully expect him to sign a new contract with us by Wednesday in that case.

Tuesday, 12 January 2016

Critics silenced at Spurs.

The scapegoat's escaped!
Give Andros a game.

The JimmyG2 Column.

Any one who doubts the value of the Europa or the domestic cups should reflect on the opportunities offered by the  game against Leicester on Sunday.

They are  not close to the top of the league for nothing but lacked ambition. It's effective football but they have the players to do more although they might argue that riding so high in the league is more than enough.

I had to count on occasions how many players they had behind the ball fearing that mathematical malpractice had gone unnoticed by the officials. The handling by Dier was silly and was harshly punished. I've seen 'em not given.

Nerveless human robot Harry Kane sent Schmeichel the right way but still beat him for the his 50th Spurs goal and our ticket for the replay next week.( Wednesday 20th January at 19:45 on BBC1)

We missed the chance to establish psychological bragging rights for the league match on Wednesday but did enough to prove to ourselves at least that we can win the next two against them.

Now Musings is not only the blog that's not always wrong but one which likes to take the positives. Firstly Carroll was generally spoken of as the MOM for the second game running which seems to have changed the minds of most of the doubters.

He's unfairly criticised for not being Dembele, as Jenas was for not being Gerrard. Jamie Carragher who's clearly going a bit soft in his old age and other pundits  made him MOM against Everton. And they're not wrong. Not bad for a scapegoat. 

 Onomah, Wimmer and  Bentaleb all took their chance to stake a claim and Danny Rose was awarded the captaincy for long service and improvement. Congratulations to them all

Harry Kane, some fullbacks, a goalkeeper and Verts  got a rest and the sky did not fall, although there was low cloud for half an hour or more and the pathway to a replay was lost in the mist.

But without these kinds of fixtures the limits of the squad would remain untested. Mauricio clearly trusts Carroll hence his new contract, and he was taken off early as I am confident he will start on Wednesday.

Deli Alli has also been awarded a new long contract and this a just reward to both boys (although Tommy is 23 even if he looks 16) for their application as much as for their talent. Good to see. 

Tom is no Moussa Dembele but conversely Moussa is no Tom Carroll. His two passes early on inside the fullback to Danny Rose were a joy to behold and deserved a better fate than Danny could provide.

He lacks upper body strength certainly but that didn't stop us making a legend of Ardiles or an early hero of Tommy (that name again ) Harmer. 'Nine stone, dripping wet' as his manager Bill Nick would no doubt have put it.

Let us rejoice in what we have, both little and large, and not wish they were somebody else or even some kind of hybrid Frankenstein amalgamation of the best bits of several players.

I enjoyed the game in a grisly sort of way as you do when you're only two minutes away from going out of the cup and was prepared to shrug it off in a now we can concentrate on the league sort of way.

But now that we've drawn Colchester in the next round if we win, I'm happy to be still on the trail to the Twin Towers and the Wembley Way. Colchester are 23 in League 1 and Essex's senior club. A banana skin if ever I saw one.

We bossed the Leicester game, as we do  but struggled to turn possession into chances and goals. Apparently however we are the fifth highest team in the whole of Europe for shots on goal on target. Yes the whole of Europe. 

Actually we are tied fourth with Barcelona with 88. Bayern are top with 111: Real Madrid have 96 and PSG 91. Some company to keep. Man Utd are 50th with 51. But let's not laugh too soon.

Jimmy's Video Spot.
Highlights and goals from the cup game. Alderweireld loses his man from the corner. Quite difficult to lose a man as big as Wacilewski. Defence all at sea for the second goal following a poor clearance. But enterprising play from Leicester. Harry doesn't weigh up the justice of the decision, just thumps it home.

Tuesday, 5 January 2016

Spurs New Year Honours and transfer window update.

Fatted calf and all and that's the thanks you get.
The JimmyG2 Column.
Good points haul over the busy Xmas period, 10/12 and but for the curse of the returning ex player we might have had more. Aaron was never known for his goal-scoring talent but he did so in style against us on Sunday.

In ten years with us he made 267 appearance and scored 26 goals. That's less than one every 10 appearances and less than three a year. He hadn't scored for Everton this season either.

 But by the 21st. minute he'd already overstayed his welcome. The stage was obviously set for him to score against us. He did so with a cracking half-volley into the top corner from a difficult angle following a lay off by Lukaku. Neither did much else in the whole match.

I suspect that the curse of the returning player with a point to prove is the stuff of myth. Like gambling, you only remember the winning bets. But it was enough to allow Everton to share the points.

Vertonghen who played well was at fault for taking evasive action from Lennon's shot instead of taking one for the team. We could have told him that the shot was unlikely to cause him lasting damage. A bit of local knowledge goes a long way.

In a very one way first half we played some of the best football under Pochettino so far. We could easily have gone in at half-time 3-1 up. Harry and Ben Davies both hit the woodwork with Howard beaten.

Harry's drive from the edge of the area defied the Laws of Physics to stay out, hitting the right hand post and going out for a goal kick on the left hand side.

Our equaliser just before half time was a thing of beauty, strength, accuracy, vision and control. In the first place by Alderweireld for a cross field ball that Michael Dawson used to dream about.

And by Deli Alli in the second place who caught the Everton defence asleep on the job and scored with grace. dynamism and style. For goals that was it but the second half was a much more even contest.

Martinez shuffled his options before the hour was up and took the game back to us. Pochettino ignored the changes Martinez had made and did what looked like his pre-planned substitutions, Son for Eriksen who was playing well, Chadli and Onomah too late to make much difference.

Son and Chadli have yet to reward the Head Coaches faith. I think that Lamela should have been subbed earlier and Eriksen left on. Bentaleb was available but once again ignored for some reason or other.

 I applaud his selection of Carroll, our most consistent attacking player according to the stats and a number of independent observers and in leaving him on Mauricio seemed to agree.

The criticism that he doesn't think on his feet and make substitutions according to the state of the game seems a valid one and it might prove important as the season develops.  However this is a minor carp in the general scheme of things.

We are slowly cementing a top four position. We can't be caught in the next round of games even if we lose. Man.Utd would need to win by something like a ten goal margin, which seems unlikely.

Just the two losses in 20 games, level top with Man. City for goal difference. Here's to another vintage year in 2016. I know, I know we haven't won anything yet but we are better placed than we often are at the turn of the year.

Wouldn't be surprised to see nobody climb through the window and just Fazio leave. Oh and Adebayor if he can find his boots.  Clinton and Son (High Class Purveyors to the Gentry) have been designated strikers and DL will think that's more than enough.

New Years Honours.
Player of the Season: Toby Alderweireld.  Runner up; Deli Alli
Most Improved: Erik Lamela: Runner up. Kyle Walker.
Musings Favourite: Christian Eriksen.

Jimmy's Video Spot.
Deli Alli 'spectacularrrrr' as the Spanish commentary has it. English versions were very fuzzy.
On re-run I noticed how well Walker showed for the ball but was often ignored. Good game, good game and decent performances all round.