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Spurs and Soldado Need Adebayor

October 6, 2013 Leave a comment

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.

RobertoSoldado

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.

Paulinho sprints into the area, beats Petr Cech at his near post but the post deflects behind. From the Park Lane lower crouched and poised to erupt into more celebration it looked like the Brazilian shanked it, TV later reveals we were inches from more ecstasy. The game, unbeknown to everyone turned at that very point.

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?

The biggest fear I had when we switched tact from Christian Benteke to Soldado was the fact that if he doesn’t score what does the  former Valencia man do?

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.

Never before had I hoped that Adebayor would come smiling down the tunnel saying he was fit to play. His goal in the away fixture of this game last year, is a lasting memory that whatever his faults, Ade offers something totally different and game changing to our other strikers.

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.

Happy 131st Birthday Spurs

October 6, 2013 Leave a comment

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.

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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.

Take a minute to ponder the spine that Spurs currently boast, even when we had the little Croatian, the Welsh winger and Rafa Van der Vaart, the core of our team was never this strong.

Franco Baldini

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.

 On this day we should be happy that we have Franco Baldini, and praising every God in existence that he isn’t Joe Kinnear.

#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?

As time passed though and the event slowly faded from our minds, we were left with a kit, something ironically that had been forgotten in all the razzmatazz. A kit that in all honesty, is pretty nice.

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.

There is no doubt that the transfer saga had an affect on the Spurs team, but AVB to his credit never allowed the fallout to affect the clubs preseason preparations. Sunday’s result aside, Spurs have integrated seven new players, a new system and the loss of a focal point remarkably well.

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!

Palace v Spurs: Doing What Was Expected

August 26, 2013 Leave a comment

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.”

 It never happened and honestly it didn’t even come close to happening. During the summer there has been a clear brief sent through to Technical Director Franco Baldini regarding what kind of players to sign. In Paulinho, Étienne  Capoue and Roberto Soldado we have signed not only physically impressive specimens, but mentally strong also.

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.

 Further back Paulinho was a controlled and measured presence. This has been such a good signing that his performance didn’t startle me in the slightest. I expected him to be good and he was. Busy, effective, disciplined and deceptively strong, he moved across the central midfield area at Selhurst Park as if it was his own back yard. Sky co-commentator genius Niall Quinn, awarded him Man-of-the-Match simply for playing at his regular level. Make no mistake; this is a significant signing in the history of Tottenham Hotspur.

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.

 Spurs were in a no win situation against Palace, they were expected to arrive in South London and collect the three points which is exactly what they did. Bigger tests await, such as long trip to play Dinamo Tbilisi and Swansea at home on Sunday, but should Spurs do exactly what is expected of them for the rest of the season, then a very good 2013/14 looks on the cards.

Levy Learning The Hard Way

July 25, 2013 Leave a comment

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.

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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.”

#IWill #WeWill #YouWill Not Panic

July 15, 2013 Leave a comment

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.

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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.

Wigan v Spurs: AVB’s Conundrums

April 26, 2013 Leave a comment

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.

AVB Cyborg

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.

Spurs Stand Up and Get Counted

April 22, 2013 Leave a comment

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.

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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!!

Tottenham Hotspur Cocktails

April 2, 2013 Leave a comment

Late on Saturday night as a barman performed his party trick and set fire to my rum cocktail, I struggled to ignore the price I was paying for this slice of theatre. Rather like football tickets, the price of drinks in the trendy areas of London has gone through the roof. Their similarities do not end there though, after an evening perched at the bar or standing/sitting at White Hart Lane, both will have you muttering:“I am never doing that again.”

Towards the end of what was a promising season Tottenham Hotspur can even come to resemble a Shoreditch cocktail. Take a tall glass of hope add too much ice/hype, throw in an average mixer or two, smother with a foreign or local overpriced spirit and serve with a giant slice of disappointment. Spurs just like the bottle juggler behind the bar will nevertheless demand your money and even expect a tip.

This article first appeared on The Fighting Cock Website

With Tottenham looking to build a new stadium, how long will it be until Daniel Levy attempts to increase the revenue by introducing these cocktails into a jazzy corporate drinks menu?

The Neapolitan:

Ice cream and booze. Tasty. Make that vanilla, chocolate and strawberry ice-cream and you get a modern cocktail that will wobble the knees of even the strongest willed lady. Inspired by Jermain Defoe, the man who packs a rampant Neapolitan appendage, this drink is more than a one trick pony.

Served in a not so tall glass, the luxurious ice cream is smothered in Baileys and decorated with cherries. It is truly the drink to woo your ex/current girlfriend, or that hairdresser down the street that does your misses hair.

The Bloody Hairy:

Big, bold and solid this cocktail is based on the once semi-mobile, now statuesque Tom Huddlestone. The key ingredient to this classic is Tomato Juice, but after his love affair with Ketchup was ended by Juande Ramos, the redesigned cocktail has been tinkered to include the Hudd’s favourite sauce.

Spurs will have to spend an awful lot of money on the naming rights to this cocktail, meaning Big Wigs are confident that there wont be a first-team goal inspired hair cut any time this decade. A common garnish to this cocktail is celery but in light of its inspiration, the drink will be served with a battered sausage.

The Virgin Carroll:

Fresh faced Tom Carroll has a lot of hopes pinned on his diminutive shoulders. After demonstrating that he can pass, run and tackle, putting him at an advantage over Scott Parker and Huddlestone already, he now has a signature drink. This refreshing cocktail has everything the Bloody Hair has, but is refined, lighter and more palatable.

This cocktail may not quite make the final list though as some at Spurs don’t think it is quite ready yet, despite a lot of us already being big fans.

Prince of Wales:

Created by Edward VII, not the current holder of this title, Spurs have decided to dedicate this drink to the Welsh former wing-now-central wizard Gareth Bale. Described as the perfect drink to dive right into, it will always leave you expecting more and more, sometimes beyond reason.

There is a commercial opportunity to Latino it up with some Spanish liqueur, but for now there are no plans to do so, thankfully.

Aggravation:

This cocktail is based on the White Russian, but made from whiskey to give it a whole new meaning. Originally based on Super Pav, this cocktail has been modified to suit current aggravation to many, Emmanuel Adebayor. Like the Russian he is on occasions capable of greatness, but these a few and immeasurably far between.

This cocktail has been know to delight after one or two sips, but after repeated drinking you will be left with a rather expensive drink that you can’t quite stomach anymore and doesn’t do much.

The Moon-Walker:

The first drink handed to the 1969 Lunar heroes as they stepped off the film set at a secret base somewhere in the Nevada Dessert. This is a Grand Marnier based drink that occasional goes missing and can seriously mess you up, especially if things are going to plan.

These are only a selection of cocktails, but for Legend Nights and testimonials expect some classics to wheeled out, how about one of these former Spur cocktails?

The Bobby Pimms? The Charlie Curacaoluka? Martini Jol?

What ever your tipple though, please drink responsibly.

Liverpool Delighted to Accept Tottenham’s Gifts

March 13, 2013 Leave a comment

There are very few things in football upset a Spurs fan more than a gloating Gooner, but on Sunday millions of Liverpool fans celebrating like it was the 1980′s came very close. A game which had been slipping out of their control from the moment Luis Suarez toe poked them in front, was handed to them on a silver platter as Spurs self-destructed to lose 3-2.

Suarez Liverpool Tottenham

This article first appeared on The Fighting Cock

A defeat at Anfield, despite being a habit we had grown out of, is not the end of the world. Our destiny remains in our own hands and thanks to victories against West Ham and Arsenal, we could afford a blip. Liverpool who now has finally beaten one of the Premier League’s big teams just happened to be in the right place at the right time.

Liverpool’s historic ground with its famous song, the Kop, the gate and the red nets is without doubt one of the symbols of English football. However unbeknown to most, it is also home to certain unwritten rules of football. I am not blaming the referee for Tottenham’s self inflicted defeat, but it became clear over the 93 minutes that certain football rules only exist at Anfield.

You don’t book a home player for diving in front of the Kop, Steven Gerrard is invulnerable to yellow cards and dissent isn’t dissent if it comes out of the mouth of a Uruguayan.

When Daniel Sturridge entered into the Spurs area shoulder to shoulder with Jan Vertonghen, there was only one thought on his mind, (other than get it on my left foot), if he touches me I going down.

Rules of physics being what they are, eventually Vertonghen and Sturridge did attempt to occupy the same space, this resulted in one of the worst dives I have seen, well since his last attempt away to Man City a few weeks ago. How he escaped a yellow card is a mystery up there alongside Lord Lucan and Loch Ness.

You didn’t need to be Mystic Meg to divine how this game would be decided.

Regardless though of how many times Gerrard left his boot/elbow in, or Suarez managed to wave his arms, scream and keep a bit of spittle perfectly balanced on his left cheek, Tottenham’s downfall can be attributed solely to their own mistakes. Liverpool did nothing other than collect the gifts so graciously offered up to them.

The two factors that ultimately decided this game were the two individual mistakes from Kyle Walker and Jermain Defoe. They were wonderfully supported by Hugo Lloris and Benoit Assou-Ekotto, but these two were just collateral damage from the England duo’s unforgivable rickets.

On Thursday I along with many others witnessed a return to form from Walker. The right back seemed to be back to his pre-PFA Young Player of the Year Award, but at Anfield the moment he hit that wayward back pass he visibly regressed. Hopefully he can emerge from this a stronger player, as he possesses all the physical attributes to be a class right-back.

Full back is a highly specialised position and players need time to learn, adapt and become accustomed to their role. Look across some of the greatest players in that position over the last few years and you will notice a trait. Very few reach the height of their powers until much later in their career (Fabio Grosso, Cafu, Phillipe Lahm, Roberto Carlos, Ashley Cole etc) and usually after making a few mistakes along the way. Paolo Maldini apart very few 22 year-old full-backs are the finished article.

Walker will learn from that error, just as he did from his mistake at Chelsea. It is his ability to do the unexpected that makes him a great right back. If we want a robotic, never beaten in the air defender, then why don’t we “do a Stoke” and play Michael Dawson there?

Jermain Defoe meanwhile, will avoid castigation due to the fact that he isn’t Emmanuel Adebayor. Had that been the Togolese man slipping Suarez through past Benni, then I would have feared for his safety. Defoe however will escape most of the criticism, not that it would affect him anyway, the striker has self-belief by the Neapolitan ice-cream tub loads.

As the game petered out on Sunday, there was one thought I couldn’t shake, especially having seen Andros Townsend’s Man of the Match performance for QPR on Saturday. Although he is gaining valuable experience on loan at Loftus Road, I can’t help but feel that with Glyfi Sigurdsson legs disappearing in the last 20 minutes, perhaps Townsends speed and directness would have been a useful asset?

Regardless though of who we should have kept or signed, the issue remains that Spurs suffered a first Premier League defeat of 2013. We can take some solace from the fact that it was out of character for this Spurs team and hopefully, with better concentration in the future avoid a repeat.

In the long run this may actually benefit Spurs; if Liverpool believe they are in the hunt for a Champions League place perhaps this will encourage them to take points off Chelsea and Everton in the next few weeks. Although the likelihood they will have such accommodating opponents again is unlikely.

Spurs meanwhile need to focus on Inter, Fulham and 3rd place, perhaps therefore its fitting for Big Brendan to have the last words:

“We lost the battle, but the war going forward will very much be won if we keep performing.”

We Are Spurs, Not Bale Hotspur

March 1, 2013 Leave a comment

As Sam Allardyce faced the post match Sky Sports questions, the words: “We were beaten by Bale” slipped from his mouth. The West Ham boss had just seen his team lose 3-2 at home thanks to Gareth Bale’s two wonderful strikes sandwiching a Glyfi Sigurdsson bundled goal. Monday night whilst basking in the Glory of Bale I failed to register this sly dig by Big Sam, but in the cold light of day I have started to ponder this.

Are Spurs really a one man team?

White Hart Lane has undergone something of a transformation over the past seven months. During the late summer the crowd was fractured and rebellious, differing opinions wafted over the terraces. The only shared consensus was this isn’t how it was supposed to be. We all had an idea, we all had the solutions, but we had no harmony.

On the pitch things weren’t much better. Bale was now a number 11, Jermaine Defoe, last years super sub, now our sole goal scoring hope. Rafa Van der Vaart had played against Newcastle and lined up against West Brom, but his heart was elsewhere. Across Europe on a beach somewhere Luka Modric sat brooding, and a former captain had finally succumb to injury. We weren’t even a team, let alone a one man team.

As we trailed 1-0 to QPR at half time back in September, the abuse that rained down on the Lillywhites became unbearable. I am not some über fan, I haven’t travelled across Europe and due to my age, work reasons and finical issues I wasn’t there in the darkest of days at White Hart Lane, but that cold evening witnessing Spurs fans turn on each other, I feared for our future.

Something changed though, after half time we started to gel. We had touched the bottom and had only one way in which to go. Slowly a seed of confidence started to germinate. We beat Man United away, yes we lost to Woolwich and Chelsea but the manner of the defeats spoke volumes. The manager’s squad settled, players learnt their new roles and they started to rise to the levels we have always demanded of them.

Hugo Lloris one of the top six or seven goalkeepers in the world rightfully became our number one. Aaron Lennon became just as capable attacking inside as outside. Sandro took his nick-name to heart and added a further level of controlled ferocity to his game and even Defoe, learnt how to play as a solo number nine. We were a team.

Obviously in every team there is always the standout person. When you sit in a changing room before you play football, or you sit at your desk at work take a look around, there is always that one individual who makes a difference. Gordon Ramsey may have his name above the door, but with out the sous-chef, pot washer or waiters he would just be a wrinkled Scotsman failing to get a dish out on time.

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Football isn’t tennis, it isn’t one man versus another. If it was Diego Maradona would have three World Cup winners’ medals, Leo Messi even more records to his name and Liverpool would be second or third in the Premier League.

What makes Bale such an effective weapon in our armoury is the way in which our team trust him to deliver, and allows him the freedom in which to do so. With the seconds ticking away at Upton Park, Tom Carroll has the ball, the obvious pass is out wide, but he rolls it to Bale. Emmanuel Adebayor is shifting wide for the through ball, the centre-backs are distracted. He should pass, but he doesn’t, he uses the space, confidence and belief the team has bestowed upon him and he wins the game.

Bull fighting is an intriguing spectacle. For those of you yet to witness it, or those vegetarians amongst you, it’s a lot more than one chap with a cape and a sword. Before the killing blow is delivered Picadors on horse back armed with lances have their way, then the Tercio de Banderillas continue to wound the beast. This routine is designed to tire the bull before finally the Matador delivers the final stroke.

Without its support cast the Matador would be one man facing a beast four times his size and twice as fast. Yes he’s the star but without his team working hard to deliver him an surmountable obstacle, his job would be impossible.

Tottenham operate in a similar style these days. We have players designed to soak up pressure, move the ball quickly, create space, tire the opposition and then give Bale the chance to have the headlines. As Gary O’Neil laboured to catch Bale in those final few minutes, it was 89 minutes of chasing Lillywhites that had cooked him, not just a Welshman.

Bale just like Mousa Dembele, Lennon, Michael Dawson, Lloris, AVB, you and the person sat next to at White Hart Lane or in front of the TV set that are Spurs. We are Tottenham Hotspur, not Bale Hotspur. There is no such thing as a one man team.

On Sunday at White Hart Lane, Spurs will need all of us, not just one man.

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