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.
Before I had time to comprehend what had just happened, the ball found itself at the feet of Roberto Soldado. Watching on a stream that thankfully hadn’t stuttered in a few minutes I was convinced this was our break through, it wasn’t. Instead we had to endure another 30 minutes of tension and David Marshall making a name for himself.
In the long run the three points that Spurs collected and the team continuing to gel are more important than any individual performance. However, as the euphoria of watching the Spurs players bundle on top of Paulinho faded, a question came up that had me pondering Spurs fans, and in this of course I include myself.
If the game had finished 0-0 how would we have reacted to Soldado’s missed chances?
Look at this question from a different angle.
Had it had been Jermain Defoe who had squandered the chances what would have been the reaction?
To take this question even further.
What if it had been Emmanuel Adebayor?
For our last home game I sat in the Paxton end. It was the first time I was back there since our 2-1 win over QPR last season where I spent 90 minutes in the most negative atmosphere I have experienced at the Lane for some time. I vowed to steer clear of the Paxton, however, due to forgetting the on-sale date for the Norwich game, I took the only ticket under £40 left online and I found myself back there.
Whilst Spurs received widespread media coverage for the chants that were emanating from the Park Lane and Shelf, the comments that were springing up around me were far more offensive. As a man who is at home swearing or wandering the virtual streets of Los Santos, bad language doesn’t offend me, but what I found interesting was the context and the direction of it.
Why do some players attract abuse and others escape it?
On Sunday had Glyfi Sigurdsson’s shot that rebounded off the bar fell to Adebayor and the Togolese striker fluffed a golden opportunity, Twitter would have been in a meltdown. The abuse would have ranged from comic to borderline racism.
Had that miss occurred at White Hart Lane, what would have been the crowd reaction? The gentleman that spent most of the Norwich game, when he was at his seat, calling Andros Townsend “greedy female genitalia” would surely have suffered an embolism.
Adebayor is a £5 million signing from Man City, Soldado £26 million from Valencia. Why does Adebayor warrant abuse but Soldado doesn’t?
Benoit Assou-Ekotto is without doubt an entertaining straight talking footballer. Under Harry Redknapp he hit levels of performance that no one other than Damien Comolli thought he was capable of, yet under AVB he lost some of that form.
However, despite a catalogue of average performances and rumoured unprofessionalism, he never once had to face a fraction of the grief directed at the full-back on the opposite side.
Kyle Walker, Young Player of the Year 2011/12 has to deal with an unacceptable level of abuse. If BAE attempts to dribble out of a tight corner, people shake their heads and smirk: “Typical Benny.” Should Walker attempt the same, abuse rains down upon him. There is a clear level of tolerance within the crowd. Some players can make countless mistakes before they are attacked, others don’t have that luxury.
The former Sheffield United player has the ability to become our right-back for the next 10 years, yet we are treating him with disdain. Walker always gives 100% for the shirt and is determined to make it as a top class right back, yet still this isn’t enough.
I am not claiming this is a issue only in the Paxton end, this is a social media/SKY TV watching/home and away attending problem at Spurs.
Why abuse Walker yet honour BAE? Why allow Soldado off the hook? And why label Adebayor a mercenary but no one else?
As we have seen thanks to an FA Statement and a comedian attempting to reignite his failing career, crowd reaction is one of the few elements left in football that can’t be micro-managed. However as Spurs fans we should all be pushing in the same direction, supporting the players, the team and not treating individuals differently.
Spurs lose as a team and win as a team, it is never as clear cut as this or that players fault we lost or drew. We are not and never will be a one man team. At Tottenham we are witnessing the birth of a new team, we should take this as an opportunity to unite ourselves and build a support to match what is occurring on the field.
On Saturday Chelsea come to the Lane, the masters of division, homemade banners and hate. It’s time to start supporting every single player, regardless of history, current form or Twitter likability. Stop singling out certain individuals, stop the tutting and groaning epidemic and instead lift your voices in support.
Love the Shirt.
Madness it has been declared, dangerous says AVB, personally I think it’s brilliant. After a saga filled summer, tennis and some match involving a barbecued wicket and a wooden ball, three Spurs games in a week? Every Spurs fan will be delighted, especially if they are all as easy as the Tromso home game.
Next up for the Lilywhites is Cardiff away, one of those games that historically Spurs would struggle at, however, AVB has, Emirates apart, instilled a real strength to our team away from White Hart Lane. An away day doesn’t have the same connotations it used to have, in most instances, we actually perform better away from the Lane than we do at it. Perhaps it’s the release of pressure from a now continually expectant White Hart lane crowd, but more likely it’s the mentality of the opposition.
Most self respecting home teams will attempt to attack, or at least feint to attack. An away team’s 4-6-0 formation, without even a gesture at employing a false 9 has become as much a part of a home fixture at WHL as the Sunday kick-off. The side affect of this negativity has been slow patient football from Spurs, something that doesn’t sit well with how we were all brought up to watch football.
This weekend however, I expect a different game. Cardiff, Man City game apart, have had an average start to the season. Four points from four games is a decent return, but the feeling is growing that Cardiff really need to start picking up more than a point a game. The former Blue Birds need to benefit from Sunderland acclimatising to an influx of players, West Brom struggling to score goals and Crystal Palace’s tendency to implode.
They need points, not a point. Surely they will attack?
The opposition’s tendency to sit back and deny Spurs space behind them used to be a worry for me. Last season we saw West Brom, Southampton and Sunderland nullify us, only for the world’s most expensive player to bail us out. This year without him, the fear of being nullified again is non-existent. Where once we relied on pace and power, new Spurs is all about guile and intelligence.
Pace and power can only bloom given the right conditions, space, plenty of space. Football intelligence and creativity though can spring up in the smallest of gaps. A run off the shoulder, a delicate through ball, a quick shift of direction, seconds later the best laid defensive plans are in smithereens.
When Willian chose the Rouble, many of us despaired at our desperate search for a number 10. However, this may have been a blessing, instead Spurs snapped up the much cheaper and younger Christian Eriksen. Of course its still only early in his Spurs career, but last Saturday he operated behind Roberto Soldado and knitted the team together beautifully. Then last night in a short cameo he proved that he has that something extra many of his teammates lack. Glyfi Sigurdsson is good, Lewis Holtby is good, but Eriksen is special.
Last night we also got a good look at Eric Lamela. He may not have had the impact that Erisken had on his full debut but you have to remember that despite being the same age (Lamela is one month younger) they are coming from two very different backgrounds. Erisksen has been playing Champions League football and winning titles for years. The Dane has been to a World Cup and Euro Championships, he is much further down the road in terms of development, Lamela is still learning.
The Argentine I have no doubt will turn into a superstar, but he needs time. He came to Europe only because his boyhood club River Plate were surprisingly relegated from the Argentine top division. Arriving at Roma he then had to deal with four managers in two years, including the brilliantly erratic Zenek Zeman, and fit into a team boasting one or two small characters.
Added to this he doesn’t have the benefit of 30+ international caps to his name. Lamela is a young 21 year old and I get the feeling he will need to come to terms with life off the pitch at WHL before he can shine on it.
This is a testament to his development, many including myself had written him off, but Rose has knuckled down, came through a career defining loan move at Sunderland with glowing reports and made the left-back role his own.
Very few full-backs are born great, it’s a specialised role that needs time, dedication and maturity. Rose is giving the role the respect it deserves, hopefully his rise in form and ability can motivate Kyle Walker to step up his waning game.
Tromso done, Cardiff, Aston Villa and Chelsea to come. Fixture congestion? More like fixture glory. Give me more.
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!
Tottenham for once have signed the majority of their players before the deadline day, but after another loss at the Emirates, perhaps it wasn’t quick enough. Up against a team that hasn’t made any significant alterations for 12 months, Spurs were bereft of ideas, cohesion and understanding. A marked improvement is needed especially if we are going to challenge honours.
The Emirates bar two incredible turnarounds in recent years has never been a happy place for Spurs. Arsenal as usual in this fixture, or when the calendar turns to early spring, donned their “divine right win attitude” and new look Spurs had no answer to it. A cool finish by Oliver Giroud against the run of possession was all they needed to collect three points.
The moment they took the lead the script was there for all to see. They would sit deep and invite us on, before looking to hit us on the counter, had Arsenal’s finishing been better, or Hugo Lloris a lesser keeper, the result may well have been worse. The Frenchman pulled of a string of saves and kept us in the game, whilst as our wayward passing and poor crossing offered little hope of us getting back into it.
Our heralded midfield trio looked neat and tidy, but where was the drive and strength that three individuals of such physical stature should have?
Mousa Dembele continues to confuse me. As his form slumped in early 2013 many of us pointed to Scott Parker’s presence alongside him, yet even now with far better players next to him, he remains ineffective. For long periods of the derby Paulinho’s sole purpose was to sweep up behind the Belgian, his substitution was welcome when it finally arrived.
Etienne Capoue, before injury ended his derby was equally quiet. Up against lightweight opposition and a midfielder who hadn’t kicked a ball in anger since May; it was a poor performance from the trio.
It wasn’t much better for the rest of the outfield team, especially the wide men. Andros Townsend, barring a few trademark long range efforts was ineffective against a left back I believe he had the better of, and across field our Belgian winger had another average performance. Nacer Chadli for a wide man who stands at 6’2 and has a wonderful first touch, remains an anomaly. First impressions when we signed him were that he would be a decent squad player. He has done little to dispel these initial opinions.
As the game ticked away, even with the introduction of Eric Lamela, Spurs turning around the one goal deficit seemed unlikely. AVB so often an assured presence from the touchline, lost his pattern of thought, instead of re-jigging the attacking options he opted for the tired 442 formation, when perhaps removing Chaldi an introducing a more reliable passer in Glyfi Sigurdsson or Lewis Holtby would have been better.
In countless situations last season we saw AVB out think his managerial opponent and conjure up a substitution to change the course of the game, but at the Emirates rather like Spurs, AVB lost his way. The moment that perhaps encapsulated how lost AVB found himself was when he scampered down the touchline to pass on a message to Kyle Walker to chuck the ball long into the mixer. Hardly something you could imagine AVB having a dossier on.
When AVB walked into White Hart Lane he had a big job on his hands, but handling this new look Spurs squad and defining who plays where and how, will be what makes or breaks his Spurs career. With £110 million spent, regardless of Bale’s fee subsidising it, he is under pressure to deliver.
The benefits of having a Director of Football are clear to see in the calibre of the signings we have made, but the danger for AVB is that there will be a contingency plan in place. Should he fail to get the best from this squad, Franco Baldini will have a sheet of paper with managers names on it. A DoF is hired to ensure continuance in the plan, not continuance in the stewardship of the man in charge of the plan.
Of course these are just the over reactive emotions of a Spurs fan after a derby defeat. Spurs have some excellent players in their squad; time is now the only thing we need. Lamela and the other signings from the Friday’s transfer spectacular need time to settle and come to terms with not only Spurs but also living in a completely different country.
The result, despite what noise may be emanating from the red part of London, doesn’t mean a great deal. Just as when we beat them 2-1 at White Hart Lane, Champions League qualification and final Premier League positions are set in stone. We are only three games in. They may have celebrated like they won the war, but this was just the first skirmish. The battle goes to them, but the war goes on until May 2014.
As the curtain came down on the 2012/13 season, the overriding emotion was disappointment. We had missed out on lucrative European nights, by a single point. As the late spring developed into summer though it was the feeling that had it not been for Gareth Bale, those evenings under the floodlights would have been a pipe dream instead of an enticing smell coming from an open window just out of reach.
The thought of Bale disappearing was one that most of us didn’t even come close to contemplating. Finally he had thrown down the shackles of being an albatross, his ears had been pinned back, the hair restyled, the YouTube Channel created and the celebration trademarked, on there own they meant nothing but together they pointed to an exit, but surely not this summer. Bale had more to do before he was the complete brand, until of course FIFA, BT and NBC got hold of his image.
Suddenly Bale was the poster boy of anything to do with the round ball. His marketability although still miles off Cristiano Ronaldo, Leo Messi and the now retired David Beckham was growing. Real Madrid wanted this new phenomena and Daniel Levy was only to happy to secretly sell the dream.
As Spurs fans we have been here before. In my lifetime of Spurs supporting I remember Chris Waddle and Paul Gascoigne leaving and more recently the departures of Dimitar Berbatov and Luka Modric, star players sold but never replaced. The money recouped was and in fairness to the club, mostly reinvested, but it was spent by gentlemen out of touch with how to recreate and fill a void.
Across London whilst that team in Red proudly announced that they had, and still do have, £70 million to spend, at Spurs we remained quiet. Instead we haggled, bartered and delayed with various chairmen and agents across the globe. The narrative was the same for weeks, with Bale staying we didn’t have a war chest, we had to fight for the right price. Had Bale disappeared to Madrid in July, then effectively every player bar Roberto Soldado (we met his release clause) would have been more expensive.
Its quite incredible to think that whilst Spurs have been spending on credit, Real Madrid are about to sign the most expensive footballer that has ever existed and he hasn’t even had a pre-season. Pressure better be something Bale thrives on because if he thinks the media glare this summer was bad, he is walking into a city obsessed with football, boasting its own newspaper, dedicated radio shows and 80,000 fans who think nothing of burning a Ferrari or two.
Thankfully though Bale’s state of mind is something that we no longer need to contend with. Instead we need to focus on his legacy at Spurs.
In previous windows, especially those in the summer we have signed two, possibly three players who have taken us forward. Bale’s inflated price has enabled us to reconstructed our core. Add the names above to the those that are already at the club and is anything but our own pessimism holding us back from a title tilt?
Bale left the building seconds after the final whistle blew at Newcastle and the Geordies failed to win a £1 million bonus for their tea lady and other backroom staff. He wanted something he along with the rest of the squad were unable to give. Bale though has given us something we have waited a lifetime to see, an exciting, young and motivated squad with a manager at the helm we unanimously believe in.
I am going to miss Bale, as a player he was at times perhaps the finest I have ever seen. I wish we could have had Bale and the team he has enabled us to buy, but greed is a vice I try to steer clear of. Instead I will wish him well and I hope Madrid is everything he wants and needs. I along with every other Spurs fan now turn my attention to what has remained at White Hart Lane.
Tottenham is the club that Bill Nicholson built, but this is the team that Bale built. As it stands the greatest thing Bale has ever done for Spurs, is leave.
Tottenham have come a long way since Andre Villas-Boas sent his team out for their first home fixture in 2012. Back then the club was fragmented, fans split and opinions two a penny. Some lamented the way in which Harry Redknapp was sacked, others doubted a man who had been ousted by the changing room at Chelsea, twelve months though in football is a long time. This Sunday everything was different.
There is an undeniable sense of unity around the ground and surrounding area. A drink may be hard to come by with the Bell & Hare closing their outside bar and employing a skeleton staff inside, but even this failed to dampen spirits. Spurs fans have taken to AVB and believe in Daniel Levy’s negotiating and Franco Baldini’s eye for talent.
The build up to the game had been dominated once again by a Welshman having avacaciones en Madrid, but the team were anything but distracted. From the first minute Spurs were in control and the few moments Swansea mustered up an attempt at goal, Hugo Lloris was more than equal to it.
As the Welshman flies back to the UK, apparently frustrated at not being paraded on a temporary stage at the Santiago Bernabeu, he will do well to watch the highlights of our game. Tottenham have yet to miss him and in his absence have grown. Any hope Madrid had that his injury would destabilise us and force our hand, in order to focus our players have been quashed
During AVB’s reign Tottenham have often been rather lethargic at home, against Swansea though with a midfield trio of Etienne Capoue, Paulinho and Mousa Dembele, lethargic is a redundant term. The trio were an awesome sight, combining industry as well as skill. The Brazilian in particular impressed again, playing neat one touch football with Roberto Soldado, or driving at the heart of the Swansea defence. As the weeks pass, he grows more and more into our key midfield component.
Sandro who had a brief cameo towards the end of the game, will be hard pressed to break back into the team once he is fully fit. It is a measure of how well Spurs have conducted their transfer business that last season’s key midfielder, is no longer a guaranteed starter.
Of course, this wasn’t the perfect home display from Spurs. The same issues that troubled us last season against teams that sit back and defend deep remain. We are on occasions predictable and the final ball from Kyle Walker, Danny Rose and Nacer Chadli when is does beat the first man is often wayward. At half time Glenn Hoddle gave an interview and the consensus from those around me old enough to remember him was unanimous, with a player of his ilk operating in our team, we would be title contenders.
However great Baldini is though, strapping a flux capacitor to a Delorean seems well beyond him, so instead he has eight days to conjure up the player to add inventiveness to what has become a resolute starting XI.
With Chadli often dipping back inside and slowing the game, Townsend was the polar opposite on the right. His runs and ability to nick the loose ball won Spurs countless free-kicks and the crucial penalty. Townsend has still to develop the telepathic relationship with Walker that Lennon has, but the signs are there that given time a fruitful partnership could exist.
With Spurs currently lacking something different in offensive positions perhaps this is Townsend’s breakout year?
On the opposite flank, Rose is taking full advantage over the absence of Benoit Assou-Ekotto, who was in attendance with Emmanuel Adebayor. The former winger now turned fullback is finally getting the game time he has desired for years and is contributing well.
Rose has cut out the cheap free-kicks that littered his pre-season game with Espanyol, and kept former Spurs winger Wayne Routledge deathly quiet. This summer Spurs have released quite a few Englishmen, so to see four in the starting XI with another three on the bench was heartening. Amazing as it is to see wonderful continental talent on display, the sight of Englishman wearing the Lilywhite is the foundation of our great club.