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Battle Lost, War Far From Over

October 6, 2013 Leave a comment

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.

afc v spursThe 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.

Twitter spent the majority of the 90 minutes crying for a number 10, I can see the logic in this, but against an Arsenal team sitting deep and packing the central areas, I don’t believe this would have helped. What we needed was better passing from all 10 outfield players across the pitch, not just in the final third. Each time a promising move opened up especially wide, the passes or crosses into the front men were wayward.

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.

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.

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.

Don’t Squeeze the Deuce and the Myth of Mousa

April 9, 2013 Leave a comment

It was a game that Spurs needed to win, but even more importantly, they couldn’t afford to lose. West Bromwich Albion’s usual end of season surrender to Arsenal had amplified the tension in the ground, but for once Spurs didn’t crumble, they were merely unlucky. Everton arrived with a game plan, something along the lines of sitting back, focusing on set pieces and keeping their fingers crossed for a bit of luck, it nearly worked.

Everton

Tottenham dominated possession but as the game wore on two individuals kept catching my attention. Both were late summer signings, one I agreed with the other I didn’t and still don’t.

Don’t Squeeze the Deuce

It’s quite startling how many times Spurs have taken the plunge on players who for smaller clubs have blossomed, yet at White Hart Lane crumbled under the pressure and expectation.

At Fulham Clint “The Deuce” Dempsey was talismanic, a totem pole of an attacking midfielder/striker who inspired the small south-west London club to a succession of top half finishes and even an Europa League final. The American could score with his head, from close range or from distance, this influential figure has yet to demonstrate any of his Fulham qualities in North London.

The part-time rapper may have scored some crucial tap-ins this season, but for a team that has designs on the top tier positions, Dempsey needs to be contributing more. Part of the reason for his inability to shine for Tottenham has been the way in which the opposition continue to line up against his new team. The opposition, regardless of who they are arrive at White Hart Lane, or prepare for a home game, with the sole intention of stopping Spurs from playing.

Teams sit deep, pack the midfield and press the ball only when it comes into their own half. Very few teams that visit the Lane are brave/stupid enough to attempt to win the ball from our central defenders by playing a high line. The vast majority are happy to wait until it approaches their area. This is a new experience for the American and one he has failed to adapt to.

When playing for Fulham and the USA , Dempsey’s team have generally been the underdog, or when they have been viewed as top dogs, it has been against far weaker and less tactical opposition. In these games Dempsey was/is afforded the time and space his direct game thrives on, at Spurs he is hamstrung by having to work in ever reducing gaps between the midfield and defence. In tight positions, if your technique isn’t up to scratch you will be found out.

On Sunday Dempsey’s technique once again failed him. The American was unable to control the ball in tight situations and retain possession. When he did control the ball, he was slow to lift his head and pass the ball on at speed and from distance his shooting was nothing more than hit and hope.

Its unfair to compare him to Rafa Van der Vaart but there is no doubt in my mind, that the one time the Deuce had space for a shot, had that been the Dutchman we would have been celebrating. Of course we all have to move on, teams change, players leave etc, but the fundamental principle of quality doesn’t.

If you sell a good player, you must purchase an adequate replacement. There is no point in dumping Natalie Portman and then asking out Sonia from Eastenders.

Dempsey is fundamentally not good enough. This isn’t personal; it’s just a simple fact of football. His yellow card for simulation summed up his game perfectly; he is a player pretending to be something he isn’t.

The Myth of Mousa

When the fourth official signalled the end of Mousa’s game the majority of White Hart Lane questioned Andre Villas Boas tactics and managerial ability. Tom Huddlestone has hardly covered himself in glory in the last 18 months, but for me it was smart move.

I like Dembele, I love his confidence on the ball, the way he tackles back and his ability to glide through challenges, but without doubt he was continually slowing the game down on Sunday.

Unlike Parker whose multiple 360 spins visibly slow the teams progression up the field, Dembele’s reluctance to switch the play, especially on his right foot, forces him to duck back inside, re-take on an already beaten opponent before releasing the ball. Huddlestone is the opposite and his distribution was a key factor in the game swinging back Tottenham’s way.

Dembele is a quality player, but he must alter his game. As with comparing Dempsey to VDV it is unfair to compare the Belgian with Luka Modric, but he could replicate what made the Croat such a key player for Spurs. Modric was naturally aware when to dribble, when to pass, when to hold, Dembele must start doing the same especially against teams predisposed to sit and hit on the counter like Everton.

The Belgian remains a class player and one who has a bright future at Spurs, but he must start delivering more than the odd piece of skill and shoulder barge.

Spurs v FC Basel: No Swiss Rollover

April 9, 2013 Leave a comment

Time slows down and you feel your subconscious picking up on the more subtle aspects of White Hart Lane. The blue seat flexing under you as you strain forward, the faint whiff of coffee off the chap next to you and then bang, you come speeding back to a painful reality from which there is no escape.

Casting your eyes across the stadium you realise this isn’t a dream or a head rush, it’s Gareth Bale slapping the turf in agony, that possible trip to Amsterdam evaporating and the prospect of Champions League football slipping away again. Looking up at the scoreboard you remember that Its 2-2 against FC Basel a Swiss team who were supposed to just roll over, you take a deep breath and sigh. This is real life and it never goes to plan, especially when you are a Spurs fan.

FC Basel as we saw on Thursday night, are no Euro Lightweights, domestically they are on course for a back-to-back double and on the continent they have been troubling Europe’s big spenders for a few years. This season they dispatched multi-billionaires Zenit St Petersburg and last year qualified from a Champions League group at the expense of Man United.

At White Hart Lane they demonstrated all this and more.

Comfortable in possession, organised in defence and lighting quick in attack, it was painful viewing for Spurs fans at the Lane and at home. It was watching a team play your style, but with more confidence, skill, ability and most importantly the right players for the right positions.

Murat Yakin the former Basel and Swiss international, who was appointed in October 2012, deserves a lot of credit for this Basel side, especially when you consider that like Spurs, the Swiss team lost key players last summer.

FC Basel lost two up-and-coming stars of the European game Granit Xhaka and Xherdan Shaqiri to the Bundesliga and stalwarts Scott Chipperfield and Benjamin Huggel to old age. This set back rather than start a downward spiral has only reinforced the clubs desire to rebuild, and in their number 22, Egyptian international Mohamed Salah, they have found the perfect player to replace the explosive left-foot of Shaqiri.

The Swiss Super League leaders were assisted in their dominance by Spurs offering up acres of space behind the back line, but their chances at goal were not all laid on by Spurs and the Titus Bramble Doppelganger William Gallas.

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The selection of the former French international in a competition which AVB continues to say is a priority is mystifying. Away in Milan his attempts at defending almost resulted in a 3-0 first leg advantage being overturned and last night never before has a player an injured player walked off a pitch to such silence. Hopefully this will be the last time he is seen at White Hart Lane.

Despite the faults in Gallas’ game, it would be unfair to lay the blame solely at his veteran feet. Spurs were sloppy in possession and as the game wore on certain players started to hide and move away from the man in possession.

Lewis Holtby a player in whom I have a great deal of hope battled hard and was a willing recipient of the ball, even in an unnatural wide right position, but his replacement on 63 minutes, Clint Dempsey was totally anonymous. Spurs were on top pushing for a third, but AVB’s change unbalanced the team and played perfectly into Swiss hands.The American continues to baffle, what exactly is he? A central midfielder, a winger or a striker?

The defining moment of the game however shall be that roll on that ankle.

Time was ticking away; a large portion of the crowd had left or were in the process of leaving, but when Bale picks up the ball and runs, White Hart Lane stops. As he ran round the outside of his opponent I hoped this would be the starting move of a glorious goal, I was wrong and I could do little but hope my eyes had deceived me and it wasn’t Bale…

The optimist in me believes this is a turning point. Its time for the rest of the team to stand up and prove they are more than just chorus parts in the Bale Extravaganza. Perhaps though now we will finally see Holtby or Glyfi Sigurðsson in their natural central positions, behind a striker who finally remembered how to score and on occasion head the ball.

All is not lost for Spurs, three points on Sunday against Everton will go a long way to prove that we are what we say we are, more than a one man team.

After all it wasn’t that long ago when we couldn’t buy a win with him in the team.

That’s Inter-taiment

March 13, 2013 Leave a comment

The feel good factor that has been building around White Hart Lane over the past few months exploded in a glorious footballing display. Italian giants and 2010 Champions League winners FC Internazionale Milano were swatted aside as Tottenham cruised to a 3-0 win.

Siggy Inter

This article first appeared on The Fighting Cock

From the moment I stepped off the train at Northumberland Park, the feeling of optimism was infectious. We were playing a team that at the height of their powers in 2011 we took apart, now with a starting line up lacking the household names, the result was surely going to be the same? It turns out that the modern day Spurs fan is right to be optimistic.

When Tottenham fans look back over the reign of our previous manager, the key stock phrases are: exhilarating, free flowing and exciting. We tend to gloss over the inefficiencies of that team and instead remember the 100mph football and lung bursting dashes, last night we were treated to something different. Andre Villas-Boas’ team gave us all of the above but added the one element that has been missing from Spurs for a generation: tactical nous.

Last night we played beautiful football, but it was more than just allowing the players to go out there and do their thing. The beauty was that Gareth Bale, Mousa Dembele, Aaron Lennon and Glyfi Sigurdsson were performing to a tempo and style orchestrated from the sidelines. Like an Academy Award winning director, AVB has managed to imprint his vision on to his cast. They believe and have faith is his directing, meaning we as Tottenham fans are getting to sit back and enjoy the show.

Over the last few weeks the level in performance among certain individuals has improved markedly. Sigurdsson is one of the main benefactors, but last night it was another maligned figure of late 2012 that caught my eye, Kyle Walker.

The promising right back has been suffering that from a phantom psychological condition called “Second Season Syndrome” which apparently affects a player who has had a break out first season. Personally I would call it a loss of form or the weight of expectation affecting him. Due to this dip in form Walker has added aggression to his game, which has only led him to become too eager. Over the course of this season we have seen him attempt to win the ball in areas where doesn’t need to, resulting in countless cheap free-kicks to the opposition, from some of which we have been punished.

Last night though, Walker picked up from where he left off against West Ham and Woolwich. He is finding that balance between defence/attack, getting close and standing off, and with Lennon in tandem he is re-launching one of the most fearsome right sides in the Premier League.

Up front Jermain Defoe started his first game since limping off against West Brom and instantly reminded us what we’ve been missing. His movement and goal threat in 90 minutes was far greater than Emmanuel Adebayor has managed in a month. The Tologese man remains the arguably the better of the two, but if you could inject Defoe’s determination, first touch and all round application into Adebyaor’s game you would have a hell of a striker.

Over the last few weeks it’s been impossible to comment on Spurs without mentioning our on-fire Welshman. Esteban Cambiasso, one of the decade’s finest defensive midfielders, was given the task of controlling Bale, but rather like Maicon two years ago, the task was beyond him. Culpable for the first goal, the Argentine, one deft through-ball apart, drifted meekly like the rest of his team out of the game and in affect the tie.

The one dark mark on Bale’s evening was his yellow card for alleged simulation, from the Park Lane Lower it seemed a stone wall penalty, but TV replays have shown it to be less clear-cut. Personally I am quite relieved that Bale will sit out the second leg, and hopefully start the quarter-final fist leg with a clean slate. Perhaps it was a tactical booking?

One issue over which there can be no ambiguity though was the atmosphere at White Hart Lane. If the first game against Lyon was a love-in, then this was a full double dropped on oysters and asparagus orgy. When The Fighting Cock talk about Sing for the Shirt and the 1882 movement, last night was an example of how a positive vibe can have and incredible effect on a team and the other more restrained supporters.

Some cup games due to the splitting up of certain sections can have a negative affect on the singing, but last night there were some tremendous renditions of Oh When then Spurs, Glory Glory Hallelujah, It’s a Grand Old Team to Play For and even the Nicola Berti Song got some airtime. It was one of the best nights this season so far……Long may the glory continue!

A Dempsey Induced Euphoria

January 21, 2013 1 comment

With time running out and Tottenham Hotspur fruitlessly pressing and probing at the Manchester United defence, it was all too familiar for some at White Hart Lane. This was a script we had seen many times before, and one that never improves with time. Man Utd are the epitome of the term: “Play bad but get three points.” A gentleman who had sat next to me silently for most of the game, suddenly perked up on 80 minutes:

“Jason!!”

He shouted to the chap three rows in front.

“See ya mate, I’m off maybe see you next time?”

“You off mate?”

“Yeah, aint gonna miss nothing. See you soon. They always get the rub of the green.”

“No worries, I am off in a bit as well.”

Three minutes later Jason went.

Ten minutes later with four seats to my left unoccupied I had what some might declare a euphoric black out. I remember the ball being crossed in, coming back, then being hit goalwards. As I was in the Park Lane upper, the opposite end, I wasn’t even sure if it had gone in, but I believed with all my heart it had. Then there was…

St Peter at the gates of heaven wearing the 1991 Holsten Kit, sat behind him were all the Spurs greats who have passed away. The Saint stretched out a arm and pointed to my penthouse apartment packed with angels ready to do my bidding and all the latest technology…

I was then back at White Hart Lane pumping my fists in time with a song that some say we shouldn’t sing. Meanwhile the sight of Wayne Rooney and Robin Van Persie heads dropped waiting in the centre circle for the Spurs players to untangle themselves, brought on uncontrollable laughter.

Dempsey

It wasn’t a classic game, it wasn’t even three points, but the significance? Insurmountable.

There has been much talk regarding the mental strength and belief of Tottenham, not only as a team but as a club. Do we have the ability to believe in ourselves?

We have the talent in places, but those players need to be backed up by something that no AVB dossier or PowerPoint can deliver. As fans we should be helping, we should be willing with all our might that the ball goes in.

At Old Trafford the United fans believe that their team can come back from anything, do they leave with 10 minutes plus injury time still to go?

We were dominating the game, pressing the Champions elect back into their own area, if we didn’t get the goal, then the XI on the pitch were going to break themselves trying. Those fans that are fortunate to be able to attend the Category A Spurs game, should show their respect to the team by at least staying to the end.

This wasn’t Wigan or Stoke we were bombarding, but two time Champions League winners and the most dominate force in Premier League history.

The equalising goal deserved to be scored by Clint Dempsey. When he arrived in the summer he was immediately tagged with the panic buy label. However, as the season has progressed he has shown himself to be a more than capable Number 10 type of player. In November to December he was arguably one of our best players, and yesterday what he lacked in craft or technique, he made up with determination.

The team still has some issues that need resolving. Kyle Walker and Michael Dawson continue to be wasteful in possession and Gareth Bale for the second time in a row found his role within the team marginalised. However the extra attention afforded to Bale allowed Aaron Lennon to blossom. Whilst the Welshman had two to three markers, Lennon was able to expose Patrice Evra in one-on-one situations throughout the game.

Jermain Defoe meanwhile remains a decent striker, but just lacks that little extra needed to lead a club to the top. At the other end RVP showed what it takes, one chance one goal. Having a class striker is the difference between decent teams and good teams. Defoe has his qualities, but he falls just short in being the class striker we so desperately need in tight games.

Daniel Levy and Andre Villas-Boas both know what we need to move to the next level, now we as fans need to realise our responsibilities to the team. The next few weeks will define our season, especially with away trips to West Brom and Norwich, two teams desperate to put their seasons back on track.

At the start of the season draws at home to these two caused some to question AVB, the Portuguese man now finds himself in a whole new place. Tottenham are starting to believe.