There are very few places happier than White Hart Lane when Spurs score a goal against their rivals. The sheer impact of noise and celebration sweeps across the stands pushing every single thought from your mind, even in some cases the name of the goal scorer.
You know something great has happened, you know its important but at that split second you can’t quite grab the magnitude of it. Its like an having the Theory of Relativity downloaded straight into your brain, its just a bit too big. As Glyfi Sigurdsson swept the ball home, bedlam erupted in White Hart Lane.
The gentleman a couple of seats down from me, turned around looking for his mate, when they finally made eye contact he pointed down towards his leg, his blue jeans had a massive rip down them, from groin to knee.
“How’d that happen?”
“I don’t know, I have no idea!!”
The thing about going one-nil up to Chelsea is that nagging feeling that tugs at you. You know we need a second goal, your whole body craves it, yet it doesn’t arrive. Ripped jeans man, euphoria slowly settling on him is left pondering how he going to get home with half his crotch exposed, the rest of us wonder where that second goal is coming from.
The killer second goal didn’t arrive, our dominance was converted into nothing more than a slender lead. With a defence apparently as impregnable as ours, this may have been enough, but against Chelsea, a team who bathe in luck, it was never going to be.
So why didn’t we ram home our superiority as a title challenging team would normally? Were we at our maximum? Are we only one goal better than Chelsea?
There has been an obsession amongst Spurs fans, since Dimitar Berbatov took his Café Crèmes north, for the perfect striker. This season it seemed that the quest for a 9 was ended when we signed a man bought for what was at the time a club record fee.
Roberto Soldado, is a Spanish international good enough to keep the face scratching Chelsea number 9 out of the national squad. His arrival was heralded as the sign of things to come, yet six games in he remains on two Premier League goals, two penalties.
It’s a worrying statistic and one that if it continues will soon become one to beat us and him with. The truth is Soldado needs to start scoring, for his confidence, for the team and because he is a £26 million investment, 100% of which was based on his ability to score.
I am not starting to question his talent, but if this run continues then it’s a question thatwill be asked. Proof that he is a class striker is the fact that he plays for a international team quite capable of operating without a number 9, I just wish he would start scoring for Spurs. Of course he needs time to adjust, but at 28 and a full international, how much time do we afford him?
Thankfully it was Soldado that helped create Siggy’s goal on Saturday, but bar that he was anonymous. Against Cardiff his chances were snatched, yes he did brilliantly to be at the right place at the right time, but there is no point being there if you aren’t tucking them away.
One player who’s absence was sorely missed on Saturday, was the much maligned Emmanuel Adebayor. I believe that Adebayor is the key to getting the best out of our Spanish striker.
Soldado has spent a career attempting to prove himself worthy, first to Real Madrid after they cast him off on loan to Osasuna then sold him to Getafe. When he arrived at Valencia, he then spent his time attempting to prove himself the best Spanish number 9.
At Spurs for the first time in his career Soldado is in a position of comfort as the clear first choice striker for both club and country. Adebayor can be the spark to ignite the Spaniard back to his most clinical form.
Whilst Defoe and Soldado are similar in their style, Adebyor offers the opposition a different conundrum. When AVB switched one small goal-getter for another, the pattern of anonymity continued.
When he regains full fitness, it will be his ability and different approach to being the focal striker that will drive Soldado to better performances and a goal scoring record.
On this day in 1882 a group of bible class students set in motion the forming of the club that we have come to love and occasionally loathe. Perhaps after a depressing weekend many of us don’t feel like celebrating, this however is the reason why we need to make a fuss of Spurs.
Today is a day of celebration, a day to salute those young men who created not only a club but a way of life for many of us. This is the perfect opportunity to take stock of what we have and wish Spurs a happy 131st.
Hugo, Jan, Paul and Bobby
There was a time when we would cast our eyes across the capital and covet what our neighbours had built. We had some great players, but we lacked a foundation, a solid base from where to begin. Tottenham were forever building from the top down, a classy winger, an attacking midfielder and occasionally a striker, but never the areas that mattered most, the centre of the team.
Today though as Spurs prepare to blow out 131 candles, we have a spine to our team that can challenge most of Europe.
Last summer we signed Hugo Lloris and Jan Vertonghen, two players whose standout performances were unfairly eclipsed by the Los Merengues badge kisser. This summer we have added strength to their number in the form of Brazilian Paulinho and Spanish striker Robert Soldado. Through the middle of our team we have four top international class players.
It is of course too early to judge his recruits, but the fact that Spurs moved quickly and decisively in the transfer market shows promise. The Director of Football in this country is a position that always creates confusion. Certain native managers refuse to work with them, whilst some sections of the press love to report on supposed fall-outs, or a clash of ideas. Franco Baldini this summer though, made the DoF the new must have in football.
As Man United and others spent the day, and pretty much all summer striking out in various transfer deals, Spurs and Baldini passed Transfer Deadline Day with their feet up enjoying the wide-spread panic. It has been a long time since the close of the transfer window has been so quiet for Tottenham fans.
#ILike Under Armour
When the players smashed through the polystyrene wall wearing the new kit many of us immediately cringed at the Americanisation of our club. The use of smoke machines, #IWill and veteran Brad Friedel all seemed wrong. Why couldn’t we just release our kit? Why did it need to be dropped? What’s with the #catchphrase?
We have our navy shorts and socks back, there’s no flappy collar and the shirt has some nice subtle details which make it stand out. The logo may be a different shade of blue, but at least its not a red, or a short term loan company.
The shirt also manages to look good whether painted on to a strapping Nacer Chadli, pulled over a 40 year olds beer belly in Park Lane concourse or worn seductively by a lady boasting a flattering figure. It is essentially a shirt for all occasions.
At Spurs we have had to endure a few dull and down right dreadful kits, but this one thankfully isn’t. Good work Under Armour, just please tone it down for next time.
AVB’s Blue and White Army
On this day of celebration we should be happy that we have a man of undoubted class at the helm. This is the decisive season of AVB’s managerial career, this is the first time he has started a second season at a club and the first time in England where a team has been built to his specifications.
AVB is under unbelievable pressure, added to this he has had the biggest transfer saga in the history of football playing out at Spurs. Where some managers might have cried, thrown a strop or charged out of the press conference, AVB handled himself impeccably all summer.
In comparison to last season we are currently +2 in points and +1000 in positivity. The boos and jeers that marred the end of our first few games have gone, in their place is a faith in our manager and his beliefs. AVB had overtures from PSG and Real Madrid this summer, but unlike some he turned them down because he believes in Spurs and wanted to finish what he started.
Happy 131st Birthday Tottenham! COYS!
Opening weekend of the season has never been a specialty for Spurs. When the Premier League fixture computer pitched Tottenham an opening fixture away from home to newly promoted Crystal Palace a banana skin had been laid. A London derby, a raucous Selhurst Park, the passionate Holmesdale supporters group, integrating four new players into our XI and minus one Welshman, what could go wrong? Thankfully, nothing.
It wasn’t the most impressive Tottenham display I have ever seen, but it was a very typical Andre Villas-Boas victory away from home. Had Jermain Defoe and Glyfi Sigurdsson been sharper in front of goal, the result would have had the score line the dominating performance deserved. After a record haul of points last season, it’s a comforting thought to know we are already at +3 for 2013/14.
It’s easy to forget amongst the cheerleaders, Jigsaw banners and a bird of prey winging its way from one goal to the other, that Spurs entered into this game with everything to lose. The narrative, once the Sky pundits, had stopped salivating over the return of the “Ousted by the Madrid Players One” was clear. Build Spurs up and hope that Palace claim a victory which can then lead into an even better narrative of “Spurs Without Welshman Crumble.”
Where some players may have bottled a penalty on their debut, especially one in such hostile settings, Soldado didn’t even blink. Stepping up the Spaniard slotted the ball coolly into the inner side netting, the trademark of all good spot kicks. We were unfortunately denied a goal from open play, but in his opening 80 minutes of competitive football as a Lilywhite, it is clear to see we have a class striker capable of leading us like RVP does for United. One issue that did concern me regarding Soldado though, was the quality of service to him.
The Spaniard is all about sharp movements off defenders, darting runs and near post flicks, to do this though he needs the right type of service. From wide areas Spurs must to better, and centrally Sigurdsson must offer more support. The Icelander playing in his preferred role was the only player who didn’t fill me with confidence. Should we lose a Welshman in the next two weeks its clear why we are being linked with Willian and Erik Lamela.
As the game wore on we also got to see more of our Belgian winger Nacer Chadli. Initially I was underwhelmed by the wide man, rather like Lennon on the opposite side, when he received the ball in advanced areas, he seemed determined to take as many touches as possible. Chadli also became rather predictable, opting to lay the ball off square, or attempt an optimistic strike.
At half-time however, someone must have spoken to him, he remained as disciplined in his defensive duties, but he offered more going forward. Where previously he kept checking back on his stronger foot, in the second half he had the confidence to cross and shoot with his left. It added an extra dimension to our play and showed that maybe we have a player of potential on our hands.
The final debutant for Spurs was French international Capoue. When he strode on for the excellent Mousa Dembele, it was as if Sandro had stepped onto the pitch. They both share the same build, looping run and squat and tackle technique. As Palace made their triple attacking substitution, Capoue’s entrance was well timed by AVB. The Frenchman added a new dimension to our defending and worked well in setting up counter-attacking opportunities.
Full judgement of the central midfielder will have to wait. His involvement in the game came at a stage where the fixture had opened up and spaces appeared where previously there were none. Capoue nevertheless though showed some nice touches, good reading of the game, a few forceful runs and enough to suggest he is a very decent acquisition.
The blinds had only been part way closed and the sun streaked across the office straight on to the face of Andre Villas-Boas. Behind his mahogany desk, Daniel Levy smiled as he pushed a plastic cup of water towards his manager. It was the oldest tactic in the book, divert sunshine into a mans face and they would be yours. Even though he had deployed this to great affect recently, he couldn’t help but shudder recalling that time in Blackburn it had been done to him.
“It will be £16.5 million for the next Beckham.”
“Could you please close the blinds?”
“Ah northern sunshine, crisp day eh? Here’s the pen, let me close that for you, sign it first though.”
From that moment Levy had vowed to learn from his experiences, to take what ever happens to him and use it to his advantage. This morning he had intended to break the news to AVB that JD and Emmanuel Adebayor were class strikers to drive the club forwards, but he couldn’t form the words and there was something about AVB this morning that didn’t quite add up.
The Portuguese man had an air of confidence around him; despite sitting in a chair with one leg shorter than the rest, the light across his face and the slight change in air temperature. His posture exuded belief, a posture very few could master in a chair that didn’t balance and he looked cool and totally unperturbed, a far cry from the boy who had arrived 12 months earlier.
It seemed to Levy that AVB thought of himself as a man in power. A feeling three weeks ago in that very office, Levy had once had.
Three weeks ago
The Spurs chairman’s phone was alive. The LED’s were flashing uncontrollably, his inbox was full and his spam filter dealing with any agent from Internacional was creaking. It was a good day if only he had some hair so he could stand there and run his hand through it.
Being follically challenged he instead opted to show his power by summoning his son into his office. Wrapping his arm round the boys frame, Levy put on his best Mufasa like impression as she showed his young cub the territory.
“Look how they flock to me, look at my importance; this is the dawn of the new Spurs.”
That day though had proved to be a mere one off. Since then his phone had not rung, his secretary had been sent home and White Hart Lane was deathly quiet.
The strikers, agents and offers had all gone, the watering hole that was Tottenham had dried up. Paris, Manchester, Madrid, Monaco, Turin and pretty much every European city had sucked up all the players previously desperate to sign. From a position of power, Spurs were looking at a rather troubling end to the close season.
Levy consoled himself with a sip of water and the thought of the interest £25 million nestled safely in the bank would generate. The drink though didn’t help in the way he expected. His throat seemed even drier, so he poured himself another glass and drank it in one go. The liquid did little to sate his thirst, so he downed two more.
The water was cool and Levy enjoyed the sensation it gave him, but still he felt peculiar, his thoughts turned towards competing in the Premier League. Surely JD and Adebayor wouldn’t be as bad as last season again? So the squad number 9 would have no takers again, Madrid haven’t had a number 11 in two years. That thought stopped him in his tracks.
“What if Bale goes? What if Ade doesn’t play again, JD is 30; can I pick up a Dempsey this year?”
Levy’s stomach had dropped, sweat formed across his brow, his pulse rate quickened, the room seemed to stand still and his peripheral vision blurred. The images of legendary Spurs figures, hung so proudly on his egg-shell white walls stared at him intently.
“What’s happening to me?” He gasped.
He moved painfully slow to his Hewlett Packard laptop, hit the on button and waited an age for it to power up. Finally he opened IE and googled his symptoms.
“Panic. The sudden uncontrollable fear or anxiety, often causing wildly unthinking behavior. “
As his breath continued to get shorter and the sweat beaded on his dome shaped head, before sliding down into his eyes, he sensed movement. He peered towards the door, but the salt from his sweat, combined with his continual eye wiping, blurred his vision. The pain stung and briefly broke him free of his panic, before he was thrown back in.
Cold air then swept across the office; falling to floor he crawled towards it, seeking its respite.
“Daniel, you have wronged many believers. You mocked the Gods of football, you had your opportunities to claim a success through many different phases, but instead you chose greed.”
Lifting his head towards the sound he could only make out a figure robed in white. The light around the figure was beautiful, yet terrifying and enchanting at the same time, his heart lifted at the sight, but dread was still his overriding emotion.
“What is this?”
“I am here to inform you that you must seek alternate methods in which to lead this club, you can no longer keep crossing your palm with client’s silver without returning gifts.
“You continue to sell assets and fail to replace them. Modric, VDV and Berbatov, think of how we could send others into downward spirals with them, but instead you sell to mercenaries to feed your own and your bosses coffers. This must stop.”
“But I give back, Stub Hub, shiny cards and free Spurs TV…..”
“Daniel, do not mock me. They want North London for years, not an afternoon. They want European Glory, they want their pride back. They need a striker.”
The feeling of nausea continued and his heart beat so ferociously that he was afraid it would burst from his chest. He wanted to move, to do something, but the slightest turning of his head made him feel uncomfortable.
“I understand, I will try.”
“Do or do not Daniel. There is no try.”
“Ok I will.”
“Excellent, now drink plenty of water.”
As the figure backed away and the light dimmed, Levy began to feel slightly better. Down the hall he heard murmurings, but he was unable to focus on the words, with his head resting on the lush carpet sleep crept upon him.
Back to the present
“So Andre, I have been thinking, perhaps we could do with a striker.”
“That’s uncanny, both Franco and I have had the same thought.”
“Good, I am glad to see we are thinking alike. Now I have something to show you, where is it?”
Levy starts searching through various pieces of paper on his desk, when a yellow invoice catches his eye.
“Oh look yours and Franco’s first expense report. Industrial fans, pharmaceuticals, lighting and a voice magnifier.”
“Franco’s idea, he done something similar at Roma. Worked a treat there, seems to be having some affect here also. I’ll let you get on with your work.”
With that AVB stood and walked out, from down the corridor Levy could make out some familiar murmurings, but as he felt the sweat starting to form on his head again, he picked up the phone.
“Shelia, get me Valencia.”
The message as the Spurs models burst through the wall was dramatic, even if a little cheesy. What exactly Under Armour wants us to do though remains opaque. #IWILL what? Pull my greying hair out and scream? Or hope that Spurs know what they are doing and enjoy the rest of summer. Either way, #IWAS happy to finally see a new kit.
This articel first appeared on The Fighting Cock Website
However, as quickly as Spurs giveth, they taketh away. With the euphoria still bubbling away, the news that World Cup winning David Villa wasn’t the next through the Styrofoam wall broke.
El Guaje (The Kid) had gone and signed for Atletico Madrid, prompting thousands on Twitter to report the first signs of the end of the world. If a 31 year old striker opting to remain in his home country for £150k a week, signifies forth coming destruction, then please someone strap Will Smith into fighter plane and point him at a the nearest invading UFO.
What exactly is the significance of Villa opting not to sign? Thousands of other players have and will continue to choose another team other than Spurs. Was his decision based on not having Champions League? Perhaps, but most probably it was down to not being bothered to uproot a young family, removing the hassle of learning a new language, and of course money.
I shall refrain from referring to the Villa issue as a failure. Failure isn’t the inability to sign a player who was never really available. We didn’t fail to sign Juan Mata or Eden Hazard, they merely opted for the Russian Ruble and Champions League football. We failed to sign Luis Suarez (apparently too similar to VDV according to the word of Harry), Demba Ba (countless occasions) and Gary Cahill (August 2011,) we didn’t fail to sign Villa.
The Villa issue is closed. It got us excited, gave newspapers something to write about and allowed certain individuals to tap their nose and say: “It’s a done deal” but its time for a new victim. We now have to move on and start the damned circle of nonsense once again.
One person on Twitter now in line for a medal from SKY for sheer dedication to their blinkered betting based sports coverage stated: “Who is there to sign? There are no more strikers.” Does this individual have a point? Is there really no one else out there for us?
Are Spurs in such a state that a 31 year old recovering from a broken leg is the best its going to get?
Of course not. Spurs lest you forget have just signed one of the stars of the well received Confederations Cup 2013. A man who scored the goal that took Brazil to the final, before obliterating a famed midfield trio in a crushing 3-0 victory over Spain. Added to this achievement is that fact that in December he led Corinthians to the World Club Cup beating the “we know what we are lot” from Fulham 1-0.
Paulinho is a player on the cusp of becoming a leading central midfielder on the global stage, yet he chose Spurs just like Hugo Lloris, Jan Vertonghen and Lewis Holtby all have done in the past year. The signings Spurs are making are a clear indication of where the club is heading, a move for Villa no matter how impressive or nostalgic it may have been, wouldn’t have felt right.
The options being spoken about regarding a new striker now seem to feature Roberto Soldado and Christian Benteke, two players I like and wouldn’t mind seeing in our new kit. Despite the fact that Soldado is an established striker who has scored goals for many seasons in La Liga, I would still opt for the younger more physically imposing Benteke.
The Aston Villa striker has pace, strength, PL experience and the arrogance, if not quite the geography skills to go with the price tag. When he plays he is like a genetic splicing of Emmanuel Adebayor and Jermain Defoe, he has the strengths of both, and less of the faults. Basically he can head, run, chest the ball and uses his left for more than standing on.
If we are ever going to sign him, it needs to be this season. Another successful year at Villa Park will see him go beyond our wage structure and transfer kitty.
There are some reservations regarding Benteke and rightly so. He has only played one full season, he is still learning the game and is very expensive. I have even heard some people say: “Michael Ricketts had one good season” the difference between the two though, apart from talent are the clubs looking to sign him.
Ricketts and his one cap went to Middlesborough, hardly famed for their in-depth scouting: Alfonso Alves, Massimo Maccarone, Carlos “the next Maradona” Marinelli and Emerson (not the Roma, Juve, WC runner-up one.) Where as Benteke has been linked with clubs of deeper pedigree, Spurs, Borussia Dortmund et al.
Also seeing as the Rickett’s name has come up, was he really as impressive as Benteke has been during his few months (15 goals by Feb, 15 goals by May) of success? So he played for England, so has Booby Zamora, Kevin Davies and Francis Jeffers. Playing 45 minutes for England in a friendly is meaningless.
Benteke has represented Belgium from youth to full international level and last season broke the Aston Villa record of most goals in a Premier League season. The Belgian along with Brad Guzan basically kept the Villans in the PL, no mean feet when you think back to where they were as Gareth Bale tore them a new one on Boxing Day.
This young man shouldered responsibility way beyond his years last season. Not only did Benteke score crucial goals and inspire his team mates, he did all this with the shadow of Darren Bent hanging over him and Gabby Abonglahor as a strike partner. It may have just been one season, but you can only judge on a man on what he has done, not what he hasn’t had the chance to do yet.
Perhaps £25 Million is too much, but I am sure that Daniel Levy, with a part exchange or clever loan here or there can get it down. If Franco Baldini and AVB have seen something in the young Belgian then I hope we sign him, but should we not #IWILL not be panicking.
The summer is long; winter may be coming, but not quite yet.
The euphoria of the win against Man City has slowly ebbed away to be replaced with that usual touch of apprehension. Spurs travel to Wigan on Saturday a team who has become accustomed to wrecking dreams. The DW Stadium has laid many a title challenge and push for safety to bed, Spurs need to be at their best if they wish to avoid a similar fate.
This article first appeared on The Fighting Cock
Back in November I commented that Wigan Athletic, the team that no one really dislikes, has had a habit of defining us. These words came back to haunt me as Spurs then suffered a 1-0 defeat at White Hart Lane. The most memorable thing from that torrid experience was the free curry samples being served in the East Stand.
Thankfully since that fixture Spurs have avoided repeating such ineptitude. This season, a few set backs apart, has largely gone to plan. We are on course for a top four finish and our destiny is in our hands, once again we face Wigan at a crucial time, not just for us, but for them.
The last few seasons have taught us that when the weather warms up Wigan move up the table, but this years protracted winter means Spurs face a Latics team backed into a corner. Both teams can not afford to lose this game, it all points to a fascinating fixture.
Due to our failings from the penalty spot in Switzerland, Andre Villas-Boas has been able to give the squad a couple of days off. I may have wanted a glorious cup run to Amsterdam, but I am thankful for the respite our exit has offered us. Gareth Bale has had another six days of rest and Aaron Lennon according to reports, looks set to feature. The all important balance the diminutive winger gives us, should be back.
The return of Lennon brings with it a host of conundrums for AVB to ponder before Saturday’s kick off, the first is who plays up front?
Against not only City but a whole host of opponents this season, Emmanuel Adebayor has been ineffective. The movement, touch, understanding and finishing that made him such an asset last year have disappeared. He is a phantom of his former self, Jermain Defoe meanwhile, despite being sidelined through injury has seen a meteoric rise in his stock.
The England man before Sunday hadn’t scored a goal for Spurs in 4 four months, yet his return was seen as the second coming. Defoe remains a limited striker, but compared to Adebayor’s recent form, he is the love child of Gerd Muller and Paolo Rossi.
Regardless of Adebayor’s lack of form though, I would start him on Saturday against Wigan. It may be blind hope, but over 60 minutes he may tire the Wigan defence, then with the game hopefully stretched in our favour Defoe can be introduced. The former Pompey striker as he proved against City, is an impressive impact sub
The return of Lennon also means that one of Clint Dempsey or Glyfi Sigurðsson will miss out. Do we opt for the man who does nothing but score tap-ins, or someone who is gradually coming to terms with a place in a top tier Premier League team?
On Sunday as I watched Spurs fail to breach a resolute City for the best part of an hour, it was with Dempsey that most of my frustrations lay. The American is a footballing Rubik Cube, he has had me in delirium at certain points, but totally bamboozled as to his worth at others. Dempsey contributes very little to the team and its style of play, he is the most un-luxurious of luxury players.
Siggy meanwhile is without doubt the better all round player, but he lacks the self-confidence of “The Duece.” It is on this basis therefore I would opt for the American, with the season coming to its crescendo, you need players who believe 100% in their ability, regardless of how limited it is.
The last real conundrum for AVB is who to partner Mousa Dembele? Does he opt for the more mobile but limited in possession Scott Parker, or the occasional statuesque brilliance of Tom Huddlestone? Personally I would opt for the same Adebayor/Defoe formula. Start Parker and as the tempo of the game subsides, introduce Hudd and his masterful long passing game.
It is comforting to know that AVB has positive selection issues to ponder pre- game, but if we learnt one thing on Sunday, it’s that it’s even nicer to know we have a manager who can make the big decisions during a game. With players such as Lewis Holtby and Tom Carroll on the bench, we have game changers and a manager unafraid to use them.
Three points on Saturday, would put the pressure right back on on Arsenal who face the champions Man United on Sunday.
No team has done the double over Spurs this season; we need to ensure that Wigan isn’t the most unlikely of firsts.
It was a glorious seven minutes of pure unadulterated glory. White Hart Lane basked in sunshine; a sea of white and blue were bouncing across each stand. Grown men previously strangers embraced, ears rang with Spurs anthems and Man City wilted; it was a reminder of what it means to be Tottenham and what the old stadium still has to offer. This wasn’t as some media outlets portrayed Spurs snatching victory from defeat; it was Spurs believing that victory was theirs and finally realising all they had to do was reach out and grab it.
This article first appeared on The Fighting Cock Website
For the first 60 minutes of this fixture, Man City had had things their own way. Their expensively assembled squad were efficient, they closed down the spaces, forced (allowed) Spurs to play narrow and in the face of some laboured Tottenham possession, kept the home team at arms length.
It was all a little too comfortable for City, who then started to waste time; it was to prove their undoing. All their Stoke City-esque behaviour achieved was to incense the crowd and through injustice and un-sportsmanship, galvanize the Spurs XI. Karma came a calling when with 3 minutes left, Hugo Lloris took a goal kick ala Joe Hart.
Under Andre Villas-Boas, Tottenham have at points this season fluctuated wildly. We have tasted despair; lost games we should have won, yet still snatched draws and victories that perhaps weren’t deserved. On Sunday, AVB showed us once again that we have a manager capable of altering the course of a game for the better.
Against Everton he hauled off fans favourite Mousa Dembele and claimed a point, on Sunday he substituted pirouetting Scott Parker, for the more stationary figure of Tom Huddlestone, once again to great affect. The former West ham man had put it yet another spinning top performance, lots of energy and speed without really going anywhere.
Huddlestone though, just as he showed against Everton proved that if you make the ball work, you don’t have to. His passing range and accuracy changed the game; suddenly Spurs were able to counter attack.
Lewis Holtby and Jermain Defoe were introduced for Glyfi Siggurdsson and the anonymous Emmanuel Adebayor, and immediately we had a shape and a system. The German went wide but also offered energy and industry in the central positions. Defoe was a threat in behind City and Bale moved out to the right, instantly occupying both Gael Clichy and Aleksandar Kolarov, both of whom had previously been enjoying a care-free second half.
The glory of what was about to come wasn’t on the horizon until Clint Dempsey pulled off a Clint Special, a two yard finish, from a deft Bale cross.
If Adebayor didn’t exist then Dempsey would probably be public enemy number one. The American offers very little to Spurs, yet somehow continues to score big goals. It is perhaps one of the biggest conundrums at Spurs; can you afford to drop a man who achieves a great deal, by doing very little?
The goals which sealed the victory and City’s limp attempt at retaining their title were pure uncut glory though. Spurs winning the ball in midfield through cohesive and intense pressure, then two passes later, the net was rippling, the crowd jumping and the players and management all over each other.
Defoe showed that he may be a one trick pony, but when he is allowed the space to pull off that trick, he is deadly. Bale’s goal was typical of the Welshman, one touch, a second then an exquisite finish but we shouldn’t forget Huddlestone’s part in it. A tackle, a charge up-field then a perfectly weighted pass, simple, but beautiful.
What made the result even sweeter was the pessimism that surrounded the game pre kick-off. Pessimism that to be fair originated from BBC, SKY and other experts, for the most part White Hart Lane believed that Spurs could claim three important points, even after Samir Nasri had poked City into a 1-0 lead.
Over the past few months much has been made of Tottenham’s failure to sign a “World Class” striker, or even one who holds the ball up and occasionally scores, but City offered us food for thought on Sunday. With the game slipping away they didn’t pluck a proven striker, or a Hot Prospect from the bench to reinvigorate their pedestrian front line, instead threw Joleon Lescott upfront.
If City, despite their bottomless pit of money are hamstrung by a lack of available class strikers, then can you imagine where we are?
Thankfully though as Carlos Tevez and Edin Dzeko huffed and puffed for 90 minutes, we had Defoe to blow their house and title ambitions down. It may have been his first league goal since 2012, but its timing was impeccable.
Defoe is not the answer in the long term, but as short term impact sub, he remains priceless.
Wigan away for Spurs next, whilst Arsenal face Man United at home and Chelsea travel to Switzerland to face FC Basel then Swansea. Destiny is back in our own hands. If we can take the last 30 minutes from Sunday and turn it into five 90 minute performances, Champions League and possibly 3rd place will be ours.
There is always more glory to be had. Come on you Spurs!!