The Blog that's not always wrong.

Sunday, 29 September 2019

Spurs Ride Out the Storm

 Bus Parkers Beware: Anything you can do....
The JimmyG2 Column
Yes it's a funny old game and a funny old world come to think of it. I avoid the epithet 'Spursy' for many reasons: it's a stick to beat us with; it's meaningless and ridiculous.; I abhor and reject it and never ever use it.

But this week has definitely been 'Spursy'. We go out of the Carabao Cup to a 4th. Division side with barely a whimper and then give a Premiership team a goal and a man advantage for an hour and come back with a bang and the three points.

If Mauricio had lost the dressing room lately I think he rediscovered  it again on Saturday. This was not the performance of an unsettled squad; it was a heart-warming demonstration of pride and togetherness.

I watched with growing disbelief as we not only held out, but won it. All that practice against teams that park the bus has paid off and we are just as good at it as anybody else when we have to be.

Everybody dug in and stepped up. Winks relished the challenge; Sissoko proved himself in multiple positions; Harry Kane marshalled the troops and scored the winner in admirable style. Not exactly our finest hour but close. 'We never surrendered. All did their duty'

We fought them in the penalty area and under duress offered 'blood, toil, tears and sweat' and no little skill in the breakaways. I was prepared after half an hour for 'hard and heavy tidings'. And we made our way 'through disaster and through grief to the ultimate defeat of our enemies'
(From the speech in 'our darkest hour in 1940 by Winston Churchill, another secret Spurs fan. It was played in the Home dressing room at half-time so I hear.)

I would like to think that this is a turning point in what has been a worrying season though not as bad as some have painted it.. Even Eriksen turned up and once again ran further than anyone else on the pitch cutting off the supply lines.

Lamela fit and on form again was another that thrived in this situation and Danny Rose too because they both love a fight whether in 'fields or on streets'.  Playing with ten men seems to work. A bit nerve shredding though for all concerned and not recommended viewing every week.

Hugo redeemed himself for his error with several good saves and Mauricio took the blame saying that playing out from the back was at his insistence. If so we need a new keeper because Hugo is not very good at it. Old dogs and new tricks.

Toby and Jan filled the holes and plugged the gaps and kept surprisingly cool, Ndombele is getting there and scored another goal. Dier was solid and unspectacular which was just what we needed. Son was involved in both goals.

Auriers 'taking one for the team' got him sent off because his short term memory is poor. He forgot he'd been booked less than five minutes before. I'm afraid his recent performance and goal raised false hopes.

'Professional fouls' are cynical anti-football and unprofessional and he was rightly sent off for a second yellow. His downside is a lot bigger than his upside. Sissoko deputised with aplomb. So an hour to play and a man missing in action.

 "Never was so much owed by so many  (fans) to so few (players)"

Mauricios reaction.

 ''I feel proud, I am happy, so happy because of the players, because of the fans and the staff, because they deserve to be in a different situation to the one we've been living in during the past few weeks."

Amen to that. have a week off and relax. Oh sorry it's Bayern Munich on Tuesday in the Champions' League. 'Idle hands are the devil's workshop'. Keep busy and safe  Mauricio.

Jimmy's Video Spot
Many people claim to have heard this live from the House of Commons but no live recording was actually made. This is a reconstruction several years later.

'False memory' syndrome. Millions will claim to have been at the Lane for this famous victory. Our Kennedy assassination moment. 'All did their duty'

Thursday, 26 September 2019

The last straw reports.

Relax. It's just a couple of punctures on the Project bus.
The Jimmy G2 Column.
Having been Cheerleader and Happy Clapper Commander in Chief, twice mentioned in dispatches, Stadium Tour and  bar, Champions' League Final Defeat Apologist par excellence, I find myself confronting the Colchester debacle.

'Debacle' and I choose my words carefully, defined as an event or attempt that is a complete failure from the French 'breakup' or 'overthrow' of which more later. Also a wonderful novel on the folly of war by Emile Zola. 

Shhh I'm getting there. Colchester, just clearing my throat and my head. This is a very tough gig for a long, long term Spurs supporter anticipating even better things under Mauricio Pochettino after 5 years of progress.

Oh yes we have. But we haven't won anything yet. I hear you. I am usually of the  'In a month's time we will look back and laugh' persuasion but it's getting harder. Ah! Colchester in the Barbacao Cup. One of possible targets for Trophy Glory.

Put that one in the 'out' tray friends. Colchester. I was going to pretend I didn't see it, Urgent brain surgery or something but Geoffrey would have spilt the beans. 'Our worst performance this century' in his opinion.

Actually Geoff. that's not that long but let it go. Unfortunately I did see it in all its tedious entirety. A brainless and heartless performance. All the more disappointing because we had some Academicians playing and they didn't really step up. 

Tanganga was OK but untested; Skipp was busy but careless; KWP was better in the second half; Parrott was disappointing though we were not set up to provide him with many real opportunities 

Of the Seniors only Dier stood out until Lamela and Son came on. Dele has lost his magic and Moura was in head down mode. Davies is just plain dull and Sanchez more than a little haphazard. Wanyama is a shadow of his former self.  Gazzaniga was barely tested.

So is this game a one off blip, a series of blips, a lengthening trend. I am finding it hard to deny as the evidence collects that something is amiss, and not just on the field though one may clearly affect the other.

Mauricio clearly isn't happy but we don't know why, though many are prepared to guess: players attitude very possibly, lost the dressing room and all that but again we don't really know why or if it's even remotely true.

But clearly all is not well generally. Unsettled players or players that have been made unsettled by contract problems, Eriksen is not the  only one. Mauricio has always been a bit wayward on team selection, tactical formations, in game management and substitutions.

When you're winning it can be papered over. But recently his composure has slipped and his weaknesses more exposed. A lot of this is media drivel and I don't do Twitter or the Newsnow clickbait nonsense.

Although as a blogger I know the pressure to generate 'hits'. Talking to yourself or shouting in the wilderness is a soul destroying exercise. But I try to avoid 'clickbait' headings, most of the time.

So rumours of Boardroom and Dressing room splits are of little interest. The thing that counts is the on-field attitude and quality and Colchester was a true shock to the system. It was horrifying to watch.

We were so out of it that we seemed to be watching ourselves in our own nightmare. Spurs Zombie eleven facing their demons. Colchester had one or two good players and the rest played above their usual level as is to be expected in these fixtures.

What should have been a chance not only for Harry to have a rest but for the team to recapture the Spirit of Crystal Palace, make progress in a winnable cup and recreate some harmony and enthusiasm, crashed and burned.

The very opposite occurred and generated some horrifying stories; the imminent departure of Mauricio and the arrival at Xmas of Jose, several players exiting before the New Year and turmoil behind the scenes.

Colchester the last strawfor all concerned.

The ITK 'insiders' follow the tabloids and the tabloid chase the ITK's round and round in ever decreasing circles until they disappear up their own fundaments. There's smoke but who lit the fire?

For what it's worth, thank you Geoffrey, Mauricio won't leave or be sacked until we are on an more even keel and will stay until the end of the season, Eriksen? Does anybody care? Toby drowning in the current tsunami of bad news.

We've had a multiple tyre burst  and are parked on the hard shoulder at the moment with no jack. Keep calm the wheels haven't actually completely fallen off. The Project needs a service and this crisis might turn out to be a good thing.

If Pochettino goes before Xmas and we are fighting relegation I will apologise profusely and might tender my resignation and follow Mauricio down to the Labour Exchange.

And take Geoffrey with me.

Next Up. 
Home to Southampton on Saturday 28th. at 15:00. This will tell us something but I'm not sure what. COYS

Jimmy's Video Spot.
Give yourselves a break. here is a couple of hours of chill-out ambient music and beautiful nature scenes to get you in the mood for Southampton. It's worked before. The alternative was the highlights of the Colchester game.

You're welcome.

Monday, 23 September 2019

Reports of Spurs demise greatly exaggerated.

'Friends Supporters and Spurs-fans
Spare me your tears
I come not to bury Tottenham
 but to praise and try to mount a reasoned defence 
difficult though it may seem in the circumstances'

The JimmyG2 Column.
Another day, another lead, another failure to clinch victory The bare statistics show that it's over ten years since we failed to win 3 consecutive games when leading at half time and that it is even longer since we had such a winless away run

We haven't won an away game since January 20th. when we beat Fulham. Records are being broken as we speak. But these glaring facts do not describe the game against Leicester, a tough team this season at a tough venue.

On the hour let the record show that VAR once again our friend early in the game turned traitor in the end and ruled out our second goal by Aurier with a extremely marginal decision for offside against Son in the build-up.

We played well in a hard fought game but Son pulled two good chances wide and Kane hit two shots straight at Schmeichel when well placed, apart from the goal that was ruled out. A game we could and should have won.

Son incidently has been directly involved in seven goals in his last six Premier League appearances versus Leicester (4 goals, 3 assists). But today was an off day in his lively start to the season.

Had we won all this doomsday crisis stuff would disappear. So as far as that goes after 6 games it is not deep-rooted or something that can't be turned round. The home defeat to Newcastle is a more worrying piece of evidence for Mauricio's front and backstabbers.

'Et tu Brute?' That's addressed to Spurs fans not the pundits and commentators of whom you don't expect anything better.

Our away form too is now more a trend  than a blip. But we did actually did well in our last three tricky away games, losing the last unluckily and drawing the previous two unfortunately. In all three we went ahead which is a positive.

On the Leicester game itself  Lamela was impressive especially in the first half. The absence of Hugo on new father duty did not materially affect the result. Gazzaniga was reprieved for his early spill by VAR and he made several good saves and catches.

In midfield Winks and Sissoko stood firm though Ndombele is not up to speed and the introduction of a labouring Wanyama rather than Skipp on 79 minutes was baffling. If you want dedicated effort then Winks and young Ollie should start the next game.

The introduction of substitutes Eriksen and Moura came too late once again. If Dier is not fit enough to contribute even as a sub. he should not be on the bench. Eriksen seems to have totally lost his focus.

Harry Kane scored a bizarre goal that pays tribute to his determination.  After being pushed in the back by Soyuncu on the edge of the area he scored virtually lying on the ground. But he and Son missed several chances between them.

As you might have predicted Maddison scored the winner with 5 minutes to go after Pereira had equalised soon after our 2nd. goal was ruled out.

Maddison is obnoxious but talented and finally scored with his 32nd. shot of the season. You know exactly what is going to happen when the commentators go on about his lack of goal scoring success.

We played with spirit and energy away to Arsenal and thrashed Palace. We came from behind to beat Villa. and got an away point at Olympiacos

Let's not do the pundits and rival fans dirty work for them by predicting the demise of Mauricio or the false tales of 'Trouble at Tottenham Mill'.

I have acknowledged the worrying trends but this early in the season nothing is decided or set in concrete, neither performances nor attitudes. As Mark Twain said after his obituary was printed while he was still alive in a newspaper:

 ''Reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated'.

We are currently down to 7th. but it would have been lower if we had not scored 4 against Palace. I usually caution against making dire or premature predictions until the 10th. game is reached. Or even expansive ones.

As Harper Lee said in 'To Kill a Mockingbird 'Things are never as bad as they seem'. Geoffrey says, 'Sometimes they are worse'.

My other team is Real Madrid and everyone agrees that Zidane was on the point of being sacked in favour of Mourinho. Except that they are currently joint top of the table after beating Seville 1-0 last night. Just saying.

Next Up
Colchester in the Carabao Cup 3rd Round on Tuesday 24th September at 19:45.
Banana skins we love 'em.

Premiership against Southampton on Saturday 28th. at 15:00.
Yet another chance to prove me right. Or not as the case may be.

Jimmy's Video Spot.

All the goals and the er..non goals.Son looked offside originally but the VAR decision was very marginal and raises all sorts of problems about the technology and judgements thereon: precisely when the frame shown was taken; which point of the body is being used.

 But you win some, you lose some.

Thursday, 19 September 2019

It's back: but it never really went away.

It's back scarier than ever.
The JimmG2 Column.

For the second time in three games we gave up a two goal lead away from home but made a draw. We improved in the second half here and just about held our own and got out alive.

We didn't win any of our group games last year and still made the final but this was a sloppy dispiriting performance especially after last Saturday's positivity fest. Only Harry Winks and Toby played to anything like their usual level.

Mauricio was not best pleased by our attitude and psychological approach. Conceding goals when ahead just before half time is obviously not part of the game plan.

We were warned that in the Olympiacus Athens' cauldron this would be a hard gig against an on-form side. We were surprised by their early pace and skill and might have gone down to a goal or two before we scored.

But courtesy of a Kane penalty and a fine Lucas Moura strike we went ahead against the run of play but conceded a goal just before half time again. Soon after the restart they in turn were awarded a penalty after a clumsy foul by Vertonghen.

We gained some control in the second half and it fizzled out as a 2-2 draw which is better than the away leg in 1972/3 when we lost 1-0.  Dele scored but was just offside and Lamela and Dele might both have set Harry up but chose to shoot.

We beat them in 72/73 4-0 at home so let History be our guide here.

I hate to resurrect the old  'Roller Coaster' cliche but there is no doubt that poor old Mauricio is clinging on for dear life up front: elated and excited after Palace and foaming at the mouth after last night.

But whose fault is it that? Sanchez failed his second audition for right back? (Don't phone us Davison) That an unfit Ndombele struggled from the start in midfield (thank God for Harry Winks).

That Lucas Moura goal apart did little to justify his start; that Ben Davies and Vertonghen look even slower than they actually are against quick opponents; that Davies interception apart made little contribution and went AWOL frequently.

Eriksen was awful and should have been subbed at half time; Dier might have made a contribution. If I was KWP I would be more than a little miffed if Aurier wasn't to be trusted twice running.

Dele in his first appearance should have been subbed for Son earlier and Lamela who certainly made a difference likewise for Moura. The Manager has a tendency to let things drift and all this affects the mentality of the team.

But this is of course the view from the outside. We didn't lose either of these tricky away games; some team changes were inevitable and we cannot fully know the reasons for the decisions made. We can only appraise what happened on the pitch.

We had the same number of shots on target as Olympiacos (5) but once again out-fouled our opponents. They have a good record at home against English clubs winning 5 out of 6 including 3 wins against Arsenal.

So let us not despair just yet. We drew when we could easily have lost or just as easily won which is what's irking the Manager:

“It’s disappointing because we are not talking about quality, we are talking about intensity, will and aggression''. ''Not respecting the plan' (Pochettino; ' Not learning from our mistakes?' (Kane)

Some, all or none  of the above; complacency; arrogance, bad day at the office; blip; too many changes (5) . Pick your own favourite. Anything but 'Spursy' which is banned as nonsensical on Musings.

Up Next.
Away to Leicester who currently lie 5th level with us on points in Saturday's early kick-off. Why so soon after a Wednesday Champion's League game you may well ask. 'He who pays the Piper' as they say.

Could be another tricky one. Though ain't they all but some are trickier than others.

Jimmy's Video Spot.

Straight from the Horse's mouth. Not a Happy Bunny but he must share some of the blame. Some of these faults are within his bailiwick.

Sunday, 15 September 2019

Tottenham Get Street-wise.

4-0 up at half time.
That's the Way to do it
 The JimmyG2 Column.
Don't you just hate it when Spurs go four nil up by half time? You know that the second half is going to be one big disappointment. But I'm with the Poch and Toby Show, it's definitely 'the way to do it'. Some disappointments are easier to take than others.

Out of the blocks like startled greyhounds, the ball played forward within 10 seconds and our first shot by Harry Winks, well wide but that's not the point, in the first minute. Exactly what Spurs fans have been demanding for months.

We were one up in ten minutes and three up  before the midway point of the first half. Two from an electric Son and an og. after an enterprising run by Aurier who kept most of his many critics quiet at least until his next game.

The intent was clear and whatever was said at these crisis meetings between Manager and Players this week  paid immediate dividends. A crossroads; moment of truth whatever, we won't know just yet but a corner seems to have been turned.

'Crisis what Crisis?' A week is a long time in football and a fortnight twice as long.

By the time that Lamela converted Harry Kane's first time cross just before half time Roy Hodgson's head was permanently stuck in his hands. And this game was talked up beforehand as a possible banana skin.

This was mainly due to Palace's away record against the top six not from their performances against us. We had won our last 8 Premier League (PL) games against Crystal Palace, conceding just 1 goal in that run.

We grabbed our destiny with both feet: quicker and longer passes; more movement especially Son; none of the interplay between Lloris and defenders inside the area at which frankly we are not very good at. Positivity flowed.

'And not before time' you say and I agree. Players who fancied a move or have been linked with a move have been told to shape up or sit on the sidelines. They all played on Saturday (Toby, Serge, Danny, Jan and Christian) and  played a full part especially Toby.

His direct raking passes to the wing where Aurier and Rose lurked caused panic and 'alarums' in the Palace defence. Just such a pass brilliantly controlled by Son opened the scoring. The press returned led enthusiastically as usual by Lamela. Harry Kane roamed with intent.

Winks and Sissoko dominated the midfield largely untroubled and all the defenders were busy except Hugo who made a couple of routine saves and was otherwise given the afternoon off.

We start Sunday in third place but are likely to be lower by Sunday night unless everyone draws. Did I mention that Norwich beat City. So anything, even everything, is possible. Last week's word was 'unsettled': this week's seems to be 'sorted'

Palace started the game in third place but I think they well have problems finishing in the top half. Sakho doesn't inspire confidence and Zaha is their only player of any class.

Professional fouls:
We committed nearly 20 fouls, twice as many as Palace and several on danger man Zaha which the commentators lovingly refer to as 'professional fouls' and positively encourage. They are not, they are profoundly unprofessional and are spoiling the game.

Some of them were close to the half way line and danger was remote. It earned Winks and Eriksen yellow cards. which are clearly not enough as teams rotate the fouls amongst themselves. Two yellows might cure it or 15 minutes sin bin and a yellow.

Some will argue that this is Spurs getting more street-wise and joining the 'big boys'. If you can't beat 'em, join 'em. We are already a big boy and we don't need it and nor does the game.

Next up.
Spurs travel to Olympiakos in their Champions League Group B opener on Wednesday 18 September (kick-off 17:55 BST)

Then it's Leicester City in the Premier League on Saturday, 21 September (12:30 BST).

Jimmy's Video Spot..
Let's not gloat, just a couple of minutes of our goals. Son and Aurier rampant early, Alderweireld magnificent, Lamela lively. Mauricio happy, me delighted, Geoffrey thinks we wasted the second half.

And all without Dele, I expect him to start on Wednesday.

Wednesday, 4 September 2019

Spurs Prospects Improve

That was last week: Don't Panic.
The JimmyG2 Column
The away leg of the NLD is always a test of more than football skills and coming after the awfulness  home to Newcastle I'm glad to see the back of it. But we passed on almost all fronts and can look forward with positivity not back with dismay

I agree with Harry that this was the ideal game to test our spirit and morale. 'Season defining' is a stretch too far Geoffrey but we came out smiling in the end. We don't exactly have momentum but sheer inertia has been avoided.

This was our 'do or die moment' or rather our 'dare to do or die moment and we did. We were the  brighter starters and should have won it from 2-0 up a minute before half time. In the end we were grateful for the draw as Arsenal came at us for almost the whole of the second half.

Even then Harry Kane struck the post and Son lost his way a couple of times when well placed Sissoko missed an easy and a more difficult chance though both shots hit the same spectator in Row Z. But if he could shoot he probably would not be playing for us.

Why he didn't leave it to Eriksen I'll never know. If ever Christian had a key moment to tackle this was it. Know your limitations is the key text to take from this game. That's Moussa and the full backs too.

So Arsenal brought out the better, if not the best, in us especially in the first half where Kane, Son, Eriksen and Lamela broke with freedom and pace. Eriksen started, which was surely a good sign for the rest of the season. (Now confirmed.)

Kane put Son away and he in turn sent Lamela clear and his early shot was spilled by Leno. Eriksen following up gleefully tapped the ball in for the first on 10 minutes. Luiz as he had done once before in a Chelsea game set off in the wrong direction.

Son was stupidly tackled about an hour after the game finished by Xhaka and Harry thrashed in the penalty like a man possessed. 2-0 up and half time imminent: dare to dream time.

 Sanchez roped in at right back and Rose in one of his more cavalier defensive moods  had other ideas. Both tried to dribble out when a more unfashionable hoof was called for. Danny has not had a good start to the season.

We survived the first error when Sanchez failed to clear but not the second  when Danny's attempted nutmeg failed and Lacazette eventually scored with power on the stroke of half time. Get well soon Ben, Sess and KWP.

Arsenal were back in it and they carried their momentum into the second half. Lloris was excellent with his hands, not so with his feet and we survived. They scored but once again VAR was our friend spotting an offside in the build up.

In another breakaway Kane was released by Dele but his cross missed out Eriksen, waving for the ball and unfortunately found Sissoko breaking just behind him with predictable consequencies. 

I would have taken a draw before the game at this critical moment in our season. Bu I am buoyed by the fact that we could have won it. It was an exciting but only moderately skillful game but certainly an improvement after last week.

So we can now settle down and into the season with that performance. We have twice neglected the opportunity to go above Arsenal but I don't think it will be long before we re-establish ourselves as top four contenders.

Premiership Odds
Top two looks like a repeat of last year but it's a funny old game as my hero once observed. City are odds on to win it for a third time running, Liverpool 2/1,and Tottenham at 14/1 ahead of all our other rivals. Chelsea and Utd are 20/1 and Arsenal 30/1 after signing Luiz.

Odds are constantly changing but in any event bet responsibly.

If David Luiz is the answer what on earth was the question. 

No News is......
Eriksen is still with us. If he departs for nothing at the end of this season we have more than had our money's worth from the boy. 6 Years for 11million is the bargain of the century.

Musings bet is that he signs a new contract on at least double the money and a buy out clause of 25 million+ .

He was the only one of the Magnificent Seven bought with the Bale money to be an unqualified success at Spurs though Lamela gets an honourable mention in Dispatches, on the grounds that at least he's still with us and playing regularly after a season out injured.

Incidentally  the Musings forecast that neither Christian nor Toby would leave is 100% correct. Geoffrey says that's a first But we only do statistics when they prove we were right.

I'm moderately elated: Geoffrey is moderately depressed. I expect my gentle readers are somewhere in between. Usual suspects excepted.

Once Ndombele and Lo Celso are fit and with Toby and Christian staying we have a formidable force to take the battle to City and Liverpool. Bring it on.

Next up.
Crystal Palace at home on Saturday 14th.Sept after the International break though almost all of the boys are on International duty.

Champions' league.
We are drawn in Group B with Bayern Munich, Red Star Belgrade (Crvena zvezda), and Olympiacos.
Our first game is on Wed. 18th. Sept. away to Olympiacos.

Carabao Cup.
We play Colchester Utd away on the Tues. 24th Sept at the enticingly named JobServe Stadium.

International break
All our uninjured senior players will be involved in a variety of International level games and  three or four young and fringe players too: (Skipp, Parrott, Roles and Georgiou). The last two for Cypus.

Harry Winks celebrates his return to the England squad and a good performance against Arsenal

Jimmy's Video Spot.
Eriksen's 50th. goal and does he not like that. Smart work up front by both teams. Pepe looks a find. Arsenal will hope that he scores more than Luiz concedes. 40 minutes and it's ours to lose. But we managed a positive draw.

Some hopeful attacking signs knit together by the Dane. Full backs vulnerable, but centre halves solid. Great game for the neutrals as they say.