The Blog that's not always wrong.

Sunday, 26 May 2019

Over the top on all fronts

 The Spurs squad waiting for the whistle.
The JimmyG2 Column.
So here we are waiting to go over the top when the whistle blows, sunk in our deep trenches of thought musing like me on our unexpected arrival at the borders of greatness. Only Liverpool between us and Glory.

But as Sir Billy Nick said. 'It is better to fail aiming high than to succeed aiming low. And we of Spurs have set our sights very high, so high in fact that even failure will have in it an echo of glory.'

So whatever happens at the Estadio Wanda Metropolitano on Saturday 1st June win or lose  even failure will have a hint of Glory in it. Next Saturday Europe: tomorrow the English Premiership.

And now I have to admit/ gloat  that I have got a ticket, courtesy of daughter Liz the Manager of the Irish Rover a step away from the Bernabeu. How? Is a story for another day but 'I feel the hand of history on my shoulders' and will represent all those that can't be there and report back.

It involves blackmail and tantrums; secret deals and bribery and the calling in of favours; industrial espionage and potential filicide. But you will have to wait until next week as I haven't actually got my hands on the ticket yet.

Some of the stories of fellow Spurs fans travel arrangements by car, bus, train, air and boat and the incredible costs are awe inspiring. I feel very privileged.

How did we get here?. By accident; late, very late strikes; luck; grit; technological intervention and as in the Premiership by the failure of others. No signings, injuries, rumours of departures, nothing could our spirit break.

But that was then and this is now. I think it will be close and may require some strong refereeing. I foresee multiple yellow cards and even a couple of red ones too. I think that we will give a good account of ourselves.

Can we win? 'Yeh defnitly' as Harry Kane would say. Will we win? A prediction well above my pay grade but we certainly can. Mauricio says,'Why not? and I will take this ringing endorsement into the Estadio Wanda Metropolitano on Saturday

First some Good News.
Mauricio Pochettino bored with mind (less) games is motivated to stay, in the best club, with the best facilities, in the best league, in the best city, in the world. Quoted admittedly in the Daily Mail but like me they are not always wrong.

Geoffrey thinks it's all a hoax but concedes that with both Utd. and Real blocked off it might just be true. He remains as always to be convinced of anything positive but Mauricio seems to have burnt his bridges with Real with a remark about using their training ground faculties overnight.

No me neither. They are still smarting from their all round failure this season but let them stew. They are still only my 'other' team.

Players linked and transfers

Plenty of players linked but the only one to tempt me so far for me is Dani Ceballo a 22 year old midfielder from Real Madrid who has excellent stats on pass completion and ball recovery. Seen him in the flesh and on TV several times and been impressed.

Inventive and a strong tackler he might be the potential midfield beast who can both tackle and pass we have been searching for since big Dave Mackay. He is a full Spanish International and 5 years younger than Christian but not rated by Zidane.

What am I saying it's all transfer nonsense but I have liked the boy since I first saw him last season. Tieleman is on the Gossip Rumours too. Transfer rumours really? That way madness lies Jimmy as well you know.

We have finished our short lived pursuit of Wilfred Zaha. Too old, too expensive and not really a Pochettino type team player. Stop it Jimmy, get a grip for goodness sake. It's like hay fever it's that time of the year.All well over the top speculation.

Christian and Toby are still with us, well we do have a Champions' league final coming up.
Can't see Real buying both their prime target Hazard and Eriksen frankly and I think they might both still be here next season.

Kieran Trippier is allegedly a target for Atleti so he might get a run out in his new stadium. If they want him; if we can do a deal; if he wants to go: so not exactly nailed on.

Reports that all our injured players will be fit. Harry Kane will play anyway on crutches and carrying a bed pan if necessary. Harry Winks is the most doubtful but reports are surfacing that he will be available. Jan is ready and rarin' to go; Davison likewise.

Jimmy's Video Spot:
Moura's second goal against Ajax is my vote for goal of the season.Not that there's anything wrong with the others.

Wednesday, 15 May 2019

Beginnng of the End for Mauricio.

Let's finish the end of the beginning in style.
The JimmyG2 Column.
We stumbled over the line at the last against 'in form' Everton. Not sure what 'in form' means in the context of Everton in this game. We were winning, we were losing, and in the end we drew.

Mostly 'Much Ado About Nothing' at the last. We could and should have won this at a brisk walk after Dier's very early goal. But until they went ahead we didn't seem to be bothered.

Not even to come third which was ours for the taking. Not that it makes any difference except to my prognostication record. An eight goal reversal to Arsenal was never on and our qualification was never in doubt.

Hence lethargy and complacency ruled. Although some of the tabloids and even the highbrow papers had this down as an entertaining match. Great game for the neutrals as they say.

JimmyG2 reading the Guardian so you don't have to. Your welcome.

Moura was cheered on arrival and though he did little was similarly cheered whenever he got near the ball. Dele went off at half time saving himself or being saved for something or other. Lamela showed some enterprise without unduly impressing.

Eriksen scored direct from a free kick for the 7th. time in his Spurs career though not recently to salvage our reputation. Sissoko who never plays in energy conservation mode was probably the MOM.

Oliver Skipp had a brief cameo and showed that he should have had more game time in our hours of midfield need since Xmas. He was lively, direct and positive. KWP dwells on the ball a bit but he's another (of our own) that could play more.

So despite the 'if only's' and 'but fors', we had our most successful season in most people's living memory: 4th consecutive top four finish, our best run in that the premier competition for nearly 50 years

Finalists in the Champions' League for the first time ever by some strange twists and turns, last minute recoveries, survivals against the odds and technological interventions  What's not to praise and admire.

Praise for the players for sticking it out despite injuries and the rest. Admiration for Mauricio vying with Pep and Jurgen for the highest honours with restrictions that would give them sleepless nights and eventually nightmares.

Could it have been better? Probably but we kept to the project and like Frank Sinatra did it 'our way'. We didn't buy any duds  or waste our money because we didn't buy anyone at all. We didn't upset the togetherness of the squad and reaped the reward.

Could we have played better? Certainly, but we did the best we could without Harry Kane, Harry Winks, Sonny, Lamela, Wanyama and many of the other players unavailable at times. It's been a long season and we just about made it over the line.

Others faltered too just as badly or slightly worse than we did. But we have the new stadium up and running having played nearly our fixtures away from home and a Champions' League final to look forward to.

Priority number one for me in the long run is to keep Mauricio, Christian Eriksen and Toby if possible. In the short run get Harry and Harry and Jan fit for the final which I think will be close. With any luck Liverpool will choke and bottle it.

I think Mauricio is on a wind-up press-wise talking about leaving even if he wins the CL. I am not without ambition for Spurs. We are well ahead of the curve and this is only the end of the beginning.

A story my Spurs supporting brother passes on: Stop me if you've heard it.
Breaking: Madrid police have raised concerns that Tottenham fans may take flares to the Stadium for the final on June1st.

 Because that's what they wore last time.

 Even Geoffrey smiled.

Jimmy's Video Spot.     
Now that's just plain greedy. I bet Sissoko ran him close and I can remember one incident quite recently when the smile disappeared. Well played and well deserved.

That blur for Son's goal against Chelsea was Luiz just passing through.

Friday, 10 May 2019

Mauricio Shakes It Up

You wait ages for a goal then three come along together.
The JimmyG2 Column.
Well here we are the day after, the day after the night before and I am speechless which is not a good look for a blogger. Of course if you don't give an opinion you can never be wrong. 'Musings' is famously not always wrong and by implication sometimes right.

Let's fess up here: I didn't think we would beat Ajax but that we would qualify for 3rd with ease. At 2-0 down (3-0 on aggregate) at half time it looked as if the my unusual negativity was on the money.

My positivity looked misplaced as we went down 1-0 away to Bournemouth. We have done everything in our power to mess up our top four challenge but everyone around us have done their best to foil our attempts at failure with some success.

But the Ajax tie was something different. We lulled them into a false sense of security by letting them go ahead and as they sat back or were forced back by our exuberant second half the dyke was well and truly breached.

Moura, now officially a Spurs Legend, scored his second hat-trick in a month leaving the last goal until the 96th minute. Dele finding his form was instrumental and he assisted two of the goals

The mix up for his second following a corner was slapstick of the highest order. Llorente should have scored but the keeper Onana and a defender obstructed each other and Moura with lightening feet picked up the ball and dazzled it into the corner. 

Like London buses you wait ages for a goal and then three come along together. Ajax hit the post late on but Son had done the same when we pressed for a while in the first half.

Before Moura scored the decisive goal, Jan on 86 minutes had hit the bar from close in with a header and it seemed that our chance for glory had gone. But we had them on the ropes and Moura sniffing victory with Dele's help scored his third.

In the end we dominated possession (40/ 60) which is not bad away to Ajax and had  24 shots to their 16 with 7 on target to their four. Where the boys found the energy I am not sure or what on earth Mauricio said to them at half time.

Before the game and when we went three down I shrugged and thought, well there's always next year, after all we've already qualified.

As it all seemed to be slipping away I was resigned but I remonstrated with Dames Fate and Fortune pleading ' Don't do this to us and envisaged the 'Spurs Semi-Final Bottlers Again' headlines. Then the Gods blinked and we were through. 

We did even better than Liverpool, but all credit for their inspirational effort on the previous evening, but they were at home and had the whole game to overturn a three goal deficit to Barcelona. We were away and only gave ourselves half a game.

Messi cried at the end of the Liverpool game and every Spurs fan and every Spurs player led by Mauricio cried too but for a different reason. We are in the final of the Champions' League for the first time in our history. 

Spurs are only the second team in Champions' League history to lose the first leg of the semi-final at home and progress to the final - the other was appropriately enough Ajax in 1995-96 against Panathinaikos.

Moura's goal was the latest goal ever scored to decide a fixture in 90 minutes  in the Champions' League. Heroes all, every man-jack and let's leave it at that. That second half performance wipes out all the first half recriminations.

But that's the way we roll round here. We bottled it in the first half but Mauricio shook it up at half time, popped the cork and it all fizzed out nicely in the second half.  Llorente for Victor was a masterstroke. Again they couldn't handle him.

           Put another bottle on ice for the final.

What a week in football. Last night Arsenal and Chelsea went through to the final of the Europa Cup, Chelsea on penalties. So all-Premiership showdowns in both Europa and Champions' League and Spurs are in there with them.

Three London clubs and not a Manchester team in sight for the highest honours. Am I coming over as just a little boastful and cocky? Well I should bloody well think so.

All our other problems are put on hold for the time being: signings, sellings, injuries, although the world doesn't end on June 1st. We can beat Liverpool, and Everton too on Sunday: we have nothing to prove and nothing to fear.

Jimmy's Video Spot.

Forget the first half. Here are Lucas Moura's moments of glory in 30 beautiful seconds. The second goal is a gem.

Monday, 6 May 2019

Out Of The Stomach Of Defeat.

 From Armageddon to Paradise in a day.

 The JimmyG2 Column.
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.”

What more can I add to the opening lines of Charles Dickens 'Tale of Two Cities' or three this season: Liverpool, Manchester and London. It's been all those things in the Premiership this year.This month even.

You win some: you lose some and sometimes you lose the battle as we did at Bournemouth and win the Champions League qualification War for the fourth season in a row. 

We snatched Victory from the Jaws of Defeat, nay the very Stomach of Defeat. Usually we do the opposite. This season though Spurs have excelled at finding new ways to break all our hearts. Two sendings-off is unheard of even at Spurs.

The table doesn't lie is a generally accepted dictum of the sporting world in general and the Premiership in particular and I am happy to go along with that this weekend of all weekends.

Despite that truth, some will say that we've been lucky, that we are only the best of the contending worst. But we luck out in spite of our poor 2019 darkness our 'winter of despair' because  of the previous efforts of the 'season of light'. 

Of course we could still finish third if we beat Everton and Chelsea lose  or draw with Leicester: or even fifth if we lose by 4 or 5 goals  and Arsenal beat Burnley by 4or 5 goals but the first is more likely than the second

Though what happens if we are level on points and on goal difference with Arsenal next weekend I have been unable to discover.

Update: Apparently according to a telegram just received from a reliable source, Arsenal (70) would progress because Spurs (65) as it depends on goals scored which is not the answer I wanted to hear. 

But it won't come to that will it. Though this season anything is possible. Anyway we can put that right next week by outscoring Arsenal by six goals.

In the last five matches, Arsenal, Man. Utd, Chelsea and Spurs have only won six matches out of 20 between them. It's been bit like a slow bicycle race if they still exist.

I haven't spoken to Geoffrey, winner of the 'Spurs most miserable fan 2018' award and a contender for 2019 too. But he left a post-it note on my computer in the 'Musings' office which simply said ' 'We're lucky bastards'

I'm taking that as an apology. As Gary Player once said 'the harder I practice, the luckier I get' although this quote has been variously attributed to many successful golfers and sportsmen. I'm with Tina Turner, ' Whats Luck got to do with it?' 

We will now go into Wednesday's Semi Final second leg in greater heart, safe in the knowledge that we are in it to win it next year again and can run riot with whatever resources we can muster for the last games of the season.
This might be the last time our two central defensive Belgians run out together and Christian might have booked his flight on Easyjet for Madrid. But maybe not. New Stadium and Champion's League what more can they possibly want.

We've been running on fumes and hope for a while which is not a recommended  diet and our recent form in the Premiership has been dreadful: 7 losses in our last 11 games and 6 consecutive away losses for the first time since 2004 under David Pleat.

But the form of our three Premiership rivals has been just as bad or worse which has provided an ongoing glimmer of hope, a chink in the curtains of misfortune, a foothold in the sheer cliff face of exhaustion, injury, stress, pressure loss of form, incompetence mismanagement and stupidity.

On Saturday against Bournemouth we lost two of our valiant band to red cards two minutes either side of halftime having dominated and created at least four good chances. Rookie keepers often play blinders on debut.

The most inoffensive of our players, Heung Min Son lost it in front of the referee after persistent provocation by Lerma who had 12 yellow cards prior to this so his role in the Bournemouth game plan is pretty obvious but not to the referee.

Son was stupid but it's been a long and fretful season for him and the team. He and Foyth will miss next week and the first two games of next season . Foyth is young and more than a little impetuous but I forgive them both in the circumstances.

Incidentally over the past 3 seasons, teams facing Bournemouth have had the most red cards given against them (18: 5 more than any other team).Wind up merchants par excellence. 

I don't hold it against them as we qualified anyway, they were doing what they had to do 

Foyth went in studs up after losing control of the ball within two minutes of coming on. The fastest substitute red card since Steven Gerrard departure in 2015 against Manchester Utd. after 38 seconds.
Such is the way reputations are made.

We played 42 minutes with nine men. Dier toyed with the idea of making it three red cards and we picked up five yellows. We went down after a spirited rearguard action to Bournemouth's 10th. corner a minute into extra time.

At this point it was 'Armageddon'' and 'great was the gnashing of teeth'. But Utd. and Arsenal failing to win turned this into the Peace and Harmony of Paradise out of the ashes of defeat our hopes were reborn.

I couldn't watch the Arsenal game after Brighton equalised. I went for a walk in the garden. But I've always loved Chris Hughton, oh yes I have, and by extension Brighton and Hove Albion. Glenn Murray is now a true Super Hero of mine.

When I returned after watering some plants the score remained 1-1 and Champions' League beckoned  once again.You couldn't make it up and another Hollywood sporting blockbuster is rejected after a script review labelled it 'too far fetched'.

Both Son and Foyth are available for midweek and Jan and Toby. There is no need to rest anyone for the Everton game as we have already qualified. I repeat: we have already qualified, though 3rd. would be nice. 

Now that's just being greedy Jimmy.

Jimmy's Video Spot.
Spurs well on top with 11 men. Under the cosh with 9 but a very creditable second half performance. A much quicker start and at least 5 chances went begging.The inevitable happened in injury time. But it didn't matter anyway.

Thursday, 2 May 2019

Spurs Down But Not Out.

Prometheus escaped a dire fate, and so did we.
The jimmyG2 Column.
Prometheus and Andromeda were both chained to rocks and tortured daily in the Greek Myths. I won't go into details on a family blog. After ten minutes against Ajax on Tuesday these images flashed through my mind as they threatened us with Divine Retribution.

 Not sure for what. Daring to dream probably..

15 minutes in and they delivered the first blow as time stood still, the Universe: the Stadium and Hugo froze and Donny van de Beek feinted and then passed the ball into the corner. I fully expected the Wrath of the Gods to continue.

They had cut us to shreds with incisive passes, movement and player interchanges and we faced no actual centre forward with a 3 man back line with only flickering ghosts to mark.

We played initially like very tired people at the end of a very long shift with several crucial crew members off sick. Ajax were slick and polished, a team with  plan, a concept even and the players to carry it out.

Like Harry Kane watching from the stands Van de Beek is an Academy product. We have four ex Ajax players at the heart of our success now and in the future hopefully: Sanchez, Eriksen, Toby and Jan.

And we have a past relationship too: Van der Vart, Davids, Mido and Piennar all played for both clubs. Some of these are more memorable than others though even the Egyptian playboy Mido raises good memories for some.

But on Tuesday Fate inexplicably intervened whilst the Gods slumbered and caused a re-shape in defence and the introduction of Moussa Sissoko. 

Jan and Toby clashed with the Ajax keeper following a corner. Jan was badly gashed and looked quite out of it. He came back on but was clearly unfit and questions will be asked about his brief return.

The Referee was clearly concerned but that is for another day. From the half hour point we drew breath, closed them down better and got in the their faces.

They still dominated but by the end we had had more shots (12/10) but less on target (2/1). Lloris made a good save from the lively Van de Beek and late on Neres hit the post. Another moment when time stood still.

We got it together just in time and confronted them successfully. We escaped with a single away goal deficit. They couldn't cope with Llorente but we took little advantage from it. Sissoko led the charge.

Moura was in head down mode. Eriksen improved as the game went on but Dele stayed in Snoozeville for the duration. Trippier promised much but delivered little. Rose promised the same and delivered the same.

It's in the Lap of the Gods but we are definitely still in it despite upsetting someone up there.

In 'Prometheus Unbound' Percy Bysshe Shelley writes of Prometheus' dire situation :
''No change, no pause, no hope! Yet I endure''

We had no hope after 15 minutes but circumstances required a  change, so we endure and live to fight another day.

With Son returning for the second leg and with what Mauricio calls Sissoko's 'good energy' we can give a better account of ourselves although 0-1 is a result in itself given the first half hour when they were most of what we hope to be.

We still have hopes for the second leg. 2 goals and a clean sheet  and we are on our way to Madrid.
We certainly have a better chance now of going through than Liverpool. Just saying.

Like Jan we are not currently comatose, just a bit shaky. Nothing we can't shake off by next week.

We were in much better spirits by the end for the trip to Bournemouth where a win would settle the nerves of fans, players and Mauricio and ensure top four before the second leg against Ajax next Wednesday.

Jan update. 
Undergoing neurological tests, remains under observation but not available for Bournemouth or possibly the second leg. Common sense says he shouldn't play but I would be amazed if he doesn't

Jimmy's Video Spot.

Doesn't show just how good Ajax were from the kick off or how bemused we were for the first half hour. But it clearly shows that we had chances too. Toby, Llorente, Moura and Dele all could have done better.