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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.

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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.

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Franco Baldini: Do We Need Him?

June 11, 2013 Leave a comment

When it was announced that Franco Baldini had agreed to terminate his contract at AS Roma, optimism washed over Spurs supporters on Twitter and other social media platforms. He may not have been a striker, but at least we were about to sign someone, even if it is a Director of Football.

Franco-Baldini

However, with the initial excitement starting to settle its time to finally look at the man himself and ask is this what we really need now?

In English football the appointment of a Director of Football, has generally signaled that a chairman is about to sack a manager. From the North East to the South Coast of England, whether you are Jose Mourinho (at Chelsea), Kevin Keegan or Harry Redknapp, having a man put in place above you has caused discord.

At Chelsea, the appointment of Danish man Frank Arnesen, formerly Tottenham’s DoF, was one of the reasons why Mourinho’s successful reign came to an abrupt end. Relations became so strained that Mourinho, referred to the Dane as “The Dutchman.” For a manager used to the DoF system, something had gone very wrong.

At Spurs the falling out between Damien Comolli and Martin Jol, was cited as one of the reasons why Jol was ousted in favour of a Juande Ramos, a manager more attuned to working with a DoF. However, when Ramos led Spurs to their infamous two points from eight games start to the 2008/09 season, Levy pulled a Ned Stark not only on his manager but his DoF also.
Since then Spurs have operated reasonably well without one. Redknapp became, in league position terms, one of the most successful managers in our history and AVB despite losing key players and suffering unfortunate injuries, has managed to sustain an air of promise around the squad.

Therefore why are we moving towards this system once again?

What makes Daniel Levy think it will work?

The first guide we have that it’s the right move for Spurs is the positive reception from AVB. The former Porto boss said:

It is a position I am used to working with and ideally it is someone that will help us to move forward. Since the first day I told the club that it’s somebody who is extremely important in my view to the structure of the club.

However, we must remember that AVB has shown before a reluctance to rock the boat, or attempt force Levy’s hand. In January when Spurs obviously needed a striker the former Porto boss stated:

We have always believed in Dempsey as a striker. We have always thought that was an alternative. It is highly unlikely we will do anything.

For a team that were pushing for CL qualification and Europa League glory, it was a bizarre statement. It leads me to question some of the comments from AVB, does he really want a DoF, or is he just going along with it?

Regardless though of his wishes, its seems that Levy is ploughing on.

So who exactly is Baldini and what kind of experience in a DoF role does he have?

As a professional footballer, Baldini was mediocre at best. He enjoyed a short spell in Serie A with Bologna, before spending the rest of his career in Serie B. The highlight of his playing career was an un-capped call-up to the Italian Under 21 set-up in 1981.

After hanging up his boots he took up a role at Roma in 1998 and oversaw the signings of Gabriel Batistuta, Emerson and Walter Samuel. In 1999 when Fabio Capello joined the duo steered Roma to their first title in 18 years.

Capello however jumped ship when the financial wheels came off at Roma, and after two season with Juvents landed at Real Madrid in 2006. Baldini followed Capello across the Mediterranean and swapped the Italian capital for that of Spain. The duo enjoyed a successful season in Madrid, leading Los Merengues to the 2007 La Liga title. However as is the way in the Spanish capital, he was axed for failing to win in style.

This sacking coupled with England failing to qualify for Euro 2008 opened the way for the duo to lead England to the World Cup in 2010 and then secure passage to Euro 2012. Their time in England though ended thanks to the fallout from the John Terry captaincy/race row. The duo then went their separate ways, Capello to Russia, Baldini back to Rome.

The former Bologna man was once again appointed DoF, though this time by the clubs new owners who sought to install the “Barca Model” system.

However, despite promising beginnings and a great deal of positive PR, the wheels started to come off. You would be hard pressed to call Baldini’s return to Rome a success.

Former Barca and Spanish international Luis Enrique was appointed as manager, then sacked after one season. Roma then tried to bring back the glory days of Zemanlandia by reappointing Zdeněk Zeman. The Czech manager this time however, couldn’t repeat the success of his first stint at the club and after a run of bad defeats, he too was fired.

Two managers in a season and a half, for a man who was appointed to help introduce a Barca system, Roma had gone all Madridista.

There have been some bright moments in his second spell at Roma. There has been the emergence of Erik Lamela, Fabio Borini being sold at a profit, Mattia Destro maturing and the purchase of Michael Bradley, however the rest his signings have yet to shine. Baldini clearly puts a lot of emphasis on youth and youth development, but Roma have yet to reap the rewards of his philosophy.

The Giallorossi with Baldini in place as DoF have finished 7th and 8th, and have only a Copa Italia runners up medal to their name. Unlike Man City’s new DoF, Txiki Begiristain, the man who helped implement the real Barca system, Baldini isn’t arriving with a résumé bursting with silverware.

There is no doubting that Begiristain was Levy’s first choice, but nevertheless Baldini may prove to be clever acquisition. @WindyCOYS stated on Twitter recently: It’s what AVB has wanted all along; bridges the gap between training pitch & boardroom, takes burden off AVB.

The role of Baldini is clear, however does he have the aptitude for it? He has proved himself at England and Madrid to be a competent assistant but what about a DoF?

His signings at Roma in the cash flush late 90’s of Serie A are hardly the unearthing of gems. Batigol, Emerson, Christian Chivu et al were all pretty established stars. Roma rode the money train to the title, before it derailed spectacularly. As a DoF he arrives at White Hart with very little to boast about.

His appointment reeks of settling for second best after we failed to employ Bergiristain.

Time will of course tell, but I doubt even 1000 Baldini’s will loosen Levy’s grip on the purse strings. We can only hope that appointing Baldini is the right move, but one thing he must be given, is that precious commodity…time.

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!!

Only One Team in North London

March 7, 2013 1 comment

When you collect three points from your nearest rivals it’s always a wonderful feeling, but on Sunday it was even sweeter thanks to the manner of our victory. Tottenham Hotspur exposed every thing that is wrong with the toothless, spineless and totally out of touch modern day Arsenal team. As Spurs fans we have endured many days where those adjectives could have applied to us, but no more. North London is ours and an automatic Champions League place, ours to lose.

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This article first appeared on the Fighting Cock

In recent times when Spurs have entered the derby with the favourites tag, it has been start of an emphatic implosion. The last two have seen us throw away leads, concede 10 goals and have two players sent off, we may have claimed to be the best but until Sunday evening we had yet to prove it.

The North London derby, which as far as I am concerned, is the London derby started at an incredible speed. The Gunners attempted to blow us away with pace and movement, but they no longer possess the firepower to implement this. The players they used to rely on have departed or are now bronze statues. Modern day Arsenal is an epicentre for Euro trash and mediocre British players who are better at sound bites than actually playing. Spurs gave Arsenal a painful demonstration at White Hart Lane that they don’t just have outstanding attackers, but they have the rearguard to match.

As the team news broke many Spurs fans felt the sidelining of Steven Caulker was harsh, but AVB is proving time and again, that he picks a team to perform a job not to meet the sentimentality of the crowd. Yes Caulker played well against West Ham, but against an allegedly more dynamic strike force in Oliver Giroud and Theo Walcott, the Belgian Jan Vertonghen would be more suited.

AVB was proven to be correct as Vertonghen delivered a faultless performance; it was like watching what Ledley King could have been if he had been bestowed knees and a team. Throughout the 96 minutes Vertonghen made countless interceptions, last minute challenges and alongside Michael Dawson, made a mockery of the £20million plus combination at the heart of the Arsenal defence.

Across midfield Mousa Dembele recaptured the early season drive and focus that makes him such a unique central midfielder. The Belgian has suffered of late due to Sandro’s injury and his own niggling hip concerns, but the way he glided past Jack Wilshere and co was thrilling. Thankfully the injury that forced him off looks to be minor; he should feature in our Europa League clash with Inter on Thursday.

Pre-game the talk had been of one man destroying Arsenal on his own, but Sunday was a prime example that we are anything but a one man team. Gareth Bale finished a beautiful team goal for the first, and then was a bystander for the second. His overall performance was good, but in terms of Man of the Match, he was quite rightly not a consideration.

One player who justifiably could have claimed this honour was Glyfi Sigurdsson. The Icelandic midfielder has had a difficult time at Spurs this season. Initially seen as the Rafa Van der Vaart replacement, he struggled with the expectations, but on Sunday he gave us something that VDV never could, 96 minutes of work, graft and defensive discipline.

Van der Vaart was undoubtedly a glorious player, capable of deft touches and beautiful goals, but there was always the feeling it was Rafa first the team second. When the Dutch man was called upon to sacrifice his legs for the team, he very rarely did.

In the corresponding fixture last year, it was VDV’s poor tracking that brought about Arsenal’s undeserved equaliser, yesterday Sigurdsson never lost his focus. The former Swansea midfielder created the first goal and was involved in the second; it was his challenge on Santi Carzola that set Spurs on the counter. Throughout the game he was comfortable helping out BAE, switching with Bale and dropping in alongside Scott Parker and Dembele when needed. After his performance against West Ham and now Arsenal, its clear that Sigurdsson has picked a great time of the year to find some form.

After the catastrophic end to last season, its too early to start using TFL’s famous warning annoucement, but one factor we can use to gloat is that there was only one team on show at White Hart Lane. Spurs have evolved into a team willing to fight and play for each other every single game, not just when they feel like it. As Tottenham fans we are used to the occasional player lifting our sprits, but never before on a consistent basis has the entire first team. Last season our end to 2011/start of 2012 was meant to be as good as it gets, but once again have been proven to be deluded Spurs fans, there is more to come.

AVB and his staff deserve a lot of credit, we are seven points clear of fifth, two behind second place and not once this season has our first choice XI played. Belief is growing and its showing both on and off the pitch.

Alternate Spurs Awards 2012

December 11, 2012 Leave a comment

The award season is upon us and the worlds finest are preparing for their moment in the spotlight. The tuxedos have been pressed, the speeches prepared and that tactical nipple slippage from an actress destined to be critically over-looked has been perfected.

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Tottenham Hotspur enters this season of back patting after yet another tumultuous calendar year. There have been gaps minded, ghost goals, a Kiwi centre back and the arrival of the rather dashing Andre Villas-Boas.

Despite all the upheaval though, there are situations and achievements which deserve to be celebrated. Therefore without further ado it is time to announce the nominees and winners of the:

“Get it While its Hot” Regurgitation Award: Sandro.

The sight of Sandro hurtling into a tackle and emerging with the ball has been one of the highlights of visiting White Hart Lane this season. The Brazilian enjoys the rough and tumble of the Premier League, something which goes completely against his Samba DNA. However it isn’t his strength, determination or Kung Fu skills that led him to win this award, it was his top class ability to regurgitate regardless of his surroundings or how many HD cameras are on him.

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The defensive midfielder has shown in 2012 that he isn’t afraid to let it all out. To my recollection and that of the Committee he has thrown up twice in 2012, but in his career, he has no racked up two vomits versus West Ham, a local doctor commented: “With the filth and bile emanating from the away stand, who can blame him?”

Nominees: Harry Redknapp Regurgitating the same quote, and various ITK’s for spouting nonsense all over every Spurs fan Twitter TL.

Heating a Seat via Gluteus Convection: Luka Modric

The little Croatian remains a wonderfully gifted footballer and one that Spurs miss terribly. When he does play watching him is like re-watching a sex tape of you and one of your ex-girlfriends, you don’t realise until you look back just how mind blowing it was.

It is therefore a great shame but still rather entertaining to see him keeping the wonderfully padded benches at the Santiago Bernabeu nice and toasty.

Perhaps he will get fed up watching Real Madrid from the best seats in the stadium and Daniel Levy will buy him back at a 60% discount?

We can only hope, in the mean time he can keep his award next to him on his personalised bench.

Nominees: Heurelho Gomes for being a back up to the back ups back up and not complaining and David Bentley who despite crossing Europe is still finding himself on the bench.

The Clip to Watch on a Loop: Gareth Vs Rio

Has there been a better sight all year than watching Rio Ferdinand treading water versus Gareth Bale? The Welshman tore past the legendary centre back like he wasn’t even there. It was Road Runner against Nelly the Elephant. Watch it back in slow motion and you will see each sinew straining in Ferdinand as he attempts to catch Bale.

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There have been other clips that I could keep on watching from 2012 but given that this goal put us 2-0 up at Old Trafford, a lead we managed to hold on to, this is ranked number 1.

Nominees: AVB celebrating any goal, Defoe twisting up West Ham, Jenas departing for Nottingham Forest.

The Head Scratcher: Louis Saha Arrives at WHL

The January Transfer Window 2012, Spurs as usual need a striker, Harry Redknapp opens up his big book of scouting reports from 2004 and signs Saha, a player with a goal scoring record as bad as his injury record.

Why did we do this? Some Spurs fans I know very well claimed it was a master stroke:

“A 6 month loan, make him prove himself, sign a proper striker in the summer after we cruise to third place.”

Others like me were left scratching their heads in utter disbelief.

Nominees: Martin Atkinson awarding a goal that never was at Wembley, and when did Defoe become a 30 year old??

The Pat on the Back: Daniel Levy

This award is bestowed upon the person who has done the best piece of work in 2012. This year the award goes to our much maligned chairman thanks to one piece of transfer business, signing Hugo Lloris. Finally Tottenham Hotspur has secured the services of one of the best keepers in the world.

Daniel Levy

Despite many keepers during my life time capturing my imagination from Erik the Viking, Paul Robinson and Gomes, they have all shared one DNA strain, the-ability-to-chuck-it-in-their-own-net chromosome.

Lloris thankfully is a different species boasting a whole new genetic identity.

The Frenchman may look like Brad Pitt’s younger brother who gets shish kebabed on some barbed wire in Legends of a Fall, but he is one almighty keeper. I am proud to call him our number 1. For this I pat you on the back Levy. You may have missed out on various strikers and midfielders in the last 12 months, but you certainly fixed one position that needed it.

Nominees: Defoe proving he can play as a solo striker, Chirpy for coming through an extensive makeover and the cashier in the Park Lane who managed to serve more than 5 people at half time vs West Ham.

The Alternate Player of the Year 2012: Aaron Lennon

The right winger has been eclipsed in recent years by the wonderful Bale, but despite this he still remains one of the most important cogs in the Tottenham machine.

When Lennon scores Spurs don’t lose, this incredible stat may have more to do with his lack of goals than anything else, but it remains a comforting thought.

Lennon delivering

Whilst Bale has declared defending a task beyond him, Lennon works up and down his flank offering the recently off form Walker some much needed protection.

The England man has chipped in with some goals this season and some crucial assists and under AVB seems to have expanded his game. He is willing and able to run inside or outside his defender and is far more open to switching flanks mid game.

It has been a good 2012 for Lennon, he may not be our main attacking outlet but as an alternate to shake things up, he is the best in the Premier League.

Congratulations Lennon I wish you a prosperous 2013!

Nominees: Kyle walker for being great, then average and then great again, Defoe for proving me and many others wrong and Brad Friedel for accepting that he now is the time to move off his line and let Lloris in.

This article was first published on The Fighting Cock Website

A Blunt Knife in a Gunfight

October 22, 2012 Leave a comment
White Hart Lane on Saturday made for uncomfortable viewing for any Spurs fan. Denied our best players, handicapped by individual mistakes and lacking the slices of luck that some teams can call on at will, our position within the Premier League became apparent.

This realisation didn’t occur when Chelsea and Daniel Sturridge celebrated their fourth goal, but 45 minutes before kick-off. Stood alone in the Paxton watching the Spurs keepers going through their warm up routine, the news that Mousa Dembele and Gareth Bale were missing set the alarm bells ringing.

(This article first appeared on www.thefightingcock.co.uk)

We boast a wonderful starting XI when all our players are uninjured or not attending births, but when fate or circumstance come swooping in, we are left exposed.

Any team attempting to play a game shorn of six first team players would struggle, but when you have to play the league leaders and free spending Chelsea, your weaknesses are magnified. I still believe, however, that measures could have been taken to ensure we didn’t concede four goals and capitulate again to a team the whole nation despises, no matter how they protest differently.

Andre Villas-Boas is a manager in whom I have a great respect and faith, but he must learn that if the shoe doesn’t fit, there is no point in pretending it does. His preferred formation relies on width and pace, and without Bale he was missing his most effective outlet. AVB either had to deploy Andros Townsend in the Welshman’s place or change tactics, because Clint Dempsey and Glyfi Sigurdsson are and never will be left wingers.

However, AVB is just working with the tools he has been given. Both Dempsey and Sigurdsson seem to have been signings made on his behalf not his bequest. Our lack of strength in depth was alarming and was clearly demonstrated by the two benches both teams named.

Our opponents had two young exciting fullbacks, a winger who kept Wigan in the Premier League last season, an England starting central midfielder and a capped striker, alongside a La Maisa graduate. Had Chelsea needed to change their style of play at any point they could have.

Spurs meanwhile don’t have the resources that Chelsea can delve into, should our Plan A fail then Plan B isn’t strong enough to match the oil rich south Londoners. This defeat was made even harder to bear by the knowledge that every Chelsea player who inflicted damage upon us, could have, if circumstances had allowed, been ours.

Gary Cahill, Oscar, Eden Hazard and Juan Mata were all at some point, heavily linked with coming to White Hart Lane, but finances and/or and inability to move swiftly in the market meant they all ended up plying their trade south of the river.

Oscar, the new number 10 for Brazil, arrived at Chelsea from Internacional in his home country, a club with whom we have a partnership. This understanding allows us to have first option on their talent, as long as we match the price of the highest bidder. Unfortunately for Spurs, we were unable or unwilling to match what Chelsea offered.

Tales of near misses and failed transfer deals are ones which we as Spurs fans have come to accept, but when your failings arrive at your own home and destroy your unbeaten run, it hurts. When Cahill swung his boot at a poor clearance by William Gallas, and fired the ball through Brad Friedel three of Tottenham’s errors were highlighted within seconds. A centre back who could have been playing for us, punishing one who shouldn’t, making a mug of a keeper who isnt better than one Spurs have sat on the bench.

In the grand scheme of the Premier League a defeat to Chelsea is not a disaster. They have taken maximum points away at Woolwich, and will probably do the same in Manchester and on Merseyside. We are too early into the AVB transition to contemplate a title challenge; instead we must refocus on 4th or possibly 3rd place.

The next two Premier League games are against Southampton and Wigan, two teams we must beat. In these games our talent should over power them, unfortunately we still have some way to go before we can do the same against Chelsea and the Russian Rouble.

We will meet them at Stamford Bridge in 2013 when hopefully Daniel Levy will have taken the steps to correct this summers errors, and our two veterans will be watching from the comfort of the bench/stand/their front room.

(This article first appeared on www.thefightingcock.co.uk)

Tottenham Till Half Time

September 25, 2012 2 comments

The anger and disbelief that swept over me at the end of 45 minutes took me totally by surprise. I had just witnessed mass mediocrity, a gigantic void of intelligence, a cataclysmic lack of faith and the inability of individuals to stand together in moments of difficulty. It had been 45 minutes of pure unadulterated nonsense from those sat in the North Upper. Yes the team was bad, but the few hundred Spurs fans around me had been worse.

(The blog was originally posted on www.thefightingcock.co.uk)

The man to my right turned up seven minutes into the first half carrying a hotdog, bottle of coke and a packet of crisps, the two older gentlemen behind me were apparently founders of the Redknapp fan club, and directly below me, a man who obviously seeks comfort in food hurled abuse at Gareth Bale, Sandro, AVB and any Lillywhite player who dared to pause on the ball.

For a nano second the urge to walk out and leave these supporters to their self inflicted misery nearly won, but instead I cheered, clapped my hands and encouraged.

Nothing on the pitch convinced the people around me that they’re beliefs were incorrectly held, and as Bobby Zamora tucked the ball away the vitriol that cascaded down towards the pitch made me flinch. This isn’t Spurs; this isn’t White Hart Lane, what happened to the place that I could take my girlfriend to experience the Spurs vibe we are so proud of?

The team played like strangers, but a large portion of the support around me watched like complete strangers. Instead of suffering together and helping to pull the team out of the tactical quagmire they found themselves in, they bickered and shouted at each other. The Park Lane tried to lift the mood, but gloom was settling quickly at White Hart Lane.

As the half time whistle sounded a chorus of boos broke out around me. I couldn’t bring myself to look at these people; so instead I wandered off to the Ice Bar where I stood for 15 minutes without service. I felt a bit like Jermaine Defoe.

Thankfully the second half was better. The ball was moved quicker and Jan Vertoghen repositioned at left back changed the game. The Belgian is fast becoming a favourite of mine and with the freedom bestowed on our full backs he blossomed. Vertoghen was a major factor in Defoe’s goal and provided quality from deep on the left, reminiscent to Assou-Ekotto circa 2010. The former Ajax man linked well with Gareth Bale and Mousa Dembele, his quality on the ball for someone deemed a centre back is Gerard Pique-esque.

To claim that AVB’s emergency tactical adjustments solved all our problems, would be like stating Sandro had a 100% pass completion rate, but I take solace from the fact that he has the nous and the ability to change things before the 60th minute mark.

Fundamentally the issue at Spurs is that we still lack a central midfield metronome, a player who can control the tempo, the positioning of the team and from where we attack.

Dembele has many qualities, but in a deeper role his skills and comfort on the ball are wasted. The ease in which he drifts past players needs to be utilised further forward, committing players on the edge of the area, forcing them either to give away a foul or penalty or even better, getting out of the way completely.

Tottenham are also struggling to unleash the quality in Icelandic international Glyfi Sigurdsson. The former Reading man has a deft touch as well as power in his boots, but the first 45 minutes passed him by. He was sacrificed at half time for Steven Caulker and a tactical change, but in all honesty it could have been anyone.

The only option for Spurs to change the worrying lack of creativity in central positions is for AVB to use Tom Huddlestone alongside Sandro. The Thudd may lack the mobility that AVB craves in his central role, but he is the only one of our central midfield contingent that can orchestrate cohesive attacks. His vision and quality on the ball are of far greater use to Spurs than merely another set of legs.

Andre Villas Boas seems determined to continue with his preferred formation of using three central midfielders; therefore I would like to see a trio of Sandro, Huddlestone with Dembele at the point.

However, should AVB decide differently at the next home game against Aston Villa, I won’t castigate his decisions from the Shelf and boo the players (I will never sit in block where I sat on Sunday again.) I am Tottenham till I die, not just to half time.

This blog was first posted on www.thefightingcock.co.uk a top Spurs website for Podcasts, Articles and Forum Discussions