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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.

Spurs Fixture Pile-Up Glory

October 6, 2013 Leave a comment

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.

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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.

Last night against Tromso AVB’s reign was perfectly encapsulated in 90 minutes. Start at a high tempo, score a goal then nullify the opposition. If we score another goal it’s a bonus, if we don’t control the game and don’t concede. Its not the thrilling Charge of the Light Brigade football, instead its well communicated football science. It may not be to everyone’s taste, but you have to admire the structure and planning behind it.

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.

A quick shift out of his feet and then a rasping drive which dipped and spun straight into the top corner. A beautiful goal from a player who should not be compared to a former Croat, Welshman or Rafa Van der Vaart. Eriksen is his own man.

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.

 The only concern to come from last nights 3-0 win are the injuries to Danny Rose, Mousa Dembele and Younes Kaboul. At central defence and across the middle we have enough back-up, the most concerning issue is the injury to Danny Rose.

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.

Bale Has More To Do Before He Outgrows Spurs

July 31, 2013 Leave a comment

It has been one of those weekends; actually it’s been one of those summers. Everything to do with Spurs has been analysed, inspected and the rumours have been incessant. Roberto Soldado is set to join, Emmanuel Adebayor is off to Turkey, and predictably Gareth Bale is set to become the world’s most expensive player.

bale man cityThis article was first published on The Fighting Cock

For most of the summer I have allowed the rumours and the nonsense to wash over me. On my way home from work the BT Sport posters, the PS3 covers and various internet stories have failed to elicit a response, until today. Until David Hynter’s article headlined: Gareth Bale’s ability and ambition mean he has outgrown Tottenham appeared on my screen.

It was the straw that broke the camels back, that ridiculous sentence: He has outgrown Spurs….Bale needs to leave because he has outgrown us, really? Really?

I have had a strong affection for our former full-back, winger and now penetrative number 10 for years. I remember his debut, all hair, ears and speed. I remember the free kick he scored against Arsenal and I was at White Hart Lane when he broke his losing hoodoo against Burnley.

Two years ago after recounting countless tales of Bale to my girlfriend, I finally took her to the Lane to experience the man himself. Sat on the Shelf, mere metres away from him she passed an Alan Shearer like nugget of punditry gold: “Wow, he’s fast.” With his heart shape celebration reflecting in my eyes, I nodded in agreement.

As brilliant as Bale can be though, its very naive to claim he is the finished article. Therefore Mr Hynter I have a question for you:

How has Bale outgrown us when he is still growing?

This claim that he has outgrown us must be a side affect of the long warm summer. The past seems to have been forgotten, Bale despite his heroics in 2013, was largely anonymous for most of the calendar year of 2012.

As the reign of Harry Redknapp crumbled around him, Bale was non existent. There were no last minute wündergoals where manager and player embraced, instead Spurs stuttered to a doomed 4th place, Real Madrid scouts were at Spurs, but they were watching a Croat not a Welshman.

For the start of the following season Bale picked up where he had left off, immersed in mediocrity with brief glimpses of talent. He was a player who dipped in and out of games as Spurs struggled to find form and cohesion under AVB’s new system.

The Bale that now apparently commands an £80 million plus figure didn’t truly arrive until Boxing Day when a hat-trick against a poor Aston Villa side sent him into a goal scoring frenzy.

The Welshman was an unstoppable force from January 2013 until May 2013. That’s five months, less than half a year. For a player to have outgrown a club of Tottenham’s size in 20 weeks,  Bale must have undergone some rigorous genetically modified growing.

The truth of the matter is; Bale is a fantastically gifted player capable of doing things on a pitch that very few mortals presently can, however, does this put him on a level with Cristiano Ronaldo or Leo Messi?

These are the globes two standout individuals. Footballers who have operated at such sustained a level for half a decade that it wouldn’t be beyond reason to claim they have outgrown two of the biggest teams in the world.

Bale despite his meteoric rise in form in 2013 has yet to out grow the 4th/5th best team in England. The Guardian’s article is pure sensationalism that has made me take not only the bait, but the whole rod, fisherman’s arm and boat.

Before Bale can hope to usurp CR7 in Madrid he needs at least to help Spurs usurp Arsenal in North London. Great players make great teams and great players have a power to bend a team to their will and define an era.

So far Bale has defined half a season and what it takes to make up bad headlines and as Mr Hynter shows; create angles where previously there were none.

For Bale, the dream has always been Real.

He spoke warmly of the club before he faced them at the Bernabéu with Tottenham in the 2011 Champions League quarter-final, first-leg and it was a sound-bite from that interview which has resonated.

“I’m not afraid to leave the country,” Bale said. “I left home at 15 [to join Southampton’s academy]. If I leave the Premier League, I’ll learn another language … I will grow as a person.”

It’s a mark of how far Bale has come that vague comments from 2011 can be used as evidence for his love of Madrid and create headlines.

Before Bale can wear the crown of the world’s most expensive footballer, he has to earn it. The media, Twitter or his agent clamouring for this title means nothing, until he earns it.  The first step on this path is to remain White Hart Lane until he proves himself, leaving with a few PFA awards counts for nothing.

If he guides Spurs to a title tilt or a cup then perhaps he has outgrown us, but only then.

At Spurs we have regularly sold our best players, its part of what comes with failing to achieve. In my Spurs lifetime we have seen Chris Waddle, Paul Gascoigne, Dimitar Berbatov and Luka Modric all depart. However there is a clear distinction between these players and Bale.

They were players at their peak, at a club unable to sustain them or their ambitions any longer. Tottenham and Bale aren’t currently in that position. We can offer Bale the platform, we have the squad to accommodate and help him flourish, the only thing we lack is Champions League football, but that will come.

Bale is a class player but in a team that features the French captain, a Confederations cup winning midfielder who put Xavi and Iniesta in his pocket, and a couple of wondrous Belgian talents, Bale clearly has some more growing to do before he needs re-potting.

The pressure is on Bale this season, he has to perform, should he lead Spurs to some glory this season, I like a million other Spurs fans will not begrudge him a move, but first he needs to give us more than five months of brilliance.

The Spurs man needs to keep his head down, focus on the forth coming season and rather like me, avoid the nonsense spouted by Mr Hynter and the rest of the worlds sporting media.

Madrid will still be there in 2014.

He hasn’t outgrown us yet, not by a long way.

For The Sake of English Football Bale Must Stay

June 14, 2013 Leave a comment

There is this rumour doing the rounds, you might have seen it at some point. In case you have been lucky enough to miss it, or you have opted to spend the summer in a lead lined fridge avoiding the nuclear fallout from limited live football, here it is: Gareth Bale may depart for mainland Europe. According to many sources teams that have been bankrolled by the black stuff are stuffing multiple suitcases with cash.

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This article first appeared on The Fighting Cock

It’s hardly the most surprising rumour ever. The best player in England currently on holiday with his partner, AVB-ette and granny, is being linked to clubs who have a history of more money than sense. It’s the kind of news that makes the summer unbearable.

Phil McNulty noted angrily on Twitter that journalists hate being called lazy. In honour to a man I follow and enjoy reading, I therefore will opt for slothful. These headlines and quote lacking pieces are entirely sloth-like and show that journalists like many of us, are in desperate need of column inches.

Editor: We have a page to fill!!
Journo: Hmm Bale to Monaco and or Madrid?
Editor: Brilliant! England has been knocked out of the Euro Under 21’s we have a page to fill tomorrow?
Journo: What about AVB to Paris?
Editor: Isn’t she currently with Bale? Fantastic!! PSG swoop in on father and daughter.

This summer scrolling through general Twitter nonsense the possible departure of Bale has grown in its significance. Should the Welshman depart, it wont only be Spurs be left reeling, but the whole of our domestic game.

The general perception of the English game will be irrevocably damaged; SKY, BT and thousands of billboard poster-sticker-uppers will be affected. There is also the small matter of the 36,000 or so that squeeze into White Hart Lane, who will be left with a Bale sized gap to fill.

This season watching Bale fire in howitzers from all angles has been one of my most enjoyable Spurs experiences.

I have come to terms that we won’t be trotting out to Tony Britton’s masterful adaptation of Handel’s, Zadok the Priest, I have even accepted that we won’t sign Edinson Cavani or any other player of similar ilk. Fate has been accepted, rather like the £47 quid that whizzed its way from my account straight into Joe Lewis’ wallet.

What I can’t accept though on a purely selfish reason is the prospect of losing Bale. He may not really have been born to play for Spurs, but there is no denying that his style suits the ethos of our club and has made us globally recognisable.

When I went to Colombia in 2008 and football came up in conversation it was rather like this:

Him: Who do you support?
Me: Tottenham (said Tot-nham)
Him: Who?
Me: Tott-ing-ham, you know,  Ledley King? Ossie Ardiles?
Him: Are they close to Chelsea?

In 2011

Another Him: Who do you support?
A Wiser Me: Tot-ing-ham
AH: Ahh!!! Bale!! What a player!!
AWM: I love him.

It was a common theme. Despite being the first club to do this or that, Glory Glory Hallelujah and other things we take so much pride in, the truth is, it’s the Welshman that has given us a profile. Bale is that type of player that you can feel proud of, he is that good and he is still getting better. He along with help from Modric, VDV, Hugo Lloris and Jan Vertonghen have increased the profile of our club.

Of course Spurs existed before Bale, and we will exist after he has swaggered off to somewhere thousands of miles from his granny, but there is no denying he puts us on today’s global football map. Football as we see by the astronomic rise in TV revenue is now a global game and personally I like having a player good enough that even in a remote part of Indonesia, a nippy 7 year old with big ears being inspired.

The possible departure of Bale would have a serious affect on the credibility of not only Spurs but also the Premier League.

So far this summer we have seen some of Europe’s best players avoid the PL. Colombians, Portuguese midfield generals, rising German stars and Neymar have opted against a move to our shores.

Is this down to money? Surely Man City and Chelsea would not allow a newly promoted AS Monaco out bid them? Why then are the English paying public missing out on the best players?

The truth is these stars chose something else other than money to not come to the Premier League. These snubs coupled by the fact that the rest of the worlds best players are all abroad only serves to make the tag: The Best League in the World, seem more outlandish than ever. As the Americans do with baseball, we should just give in and call it the Premier World Series League.

The PL is left with only a handful of stars: Bale, Luis Suarez, a 30 year old Robin Van Persie and an overhyped/inflated Wayne Rooney.

Suarez can be found currently using his mouth in more ways than one to orchestrate a move away from Liverpool, whilst Rooney heralded in 2004 as the new global star of football would be happy to move anywhere willing to pay him.  This would leave only Bale and RV-OAP.

There are some clubs attempting to stop the flow of talent heading off to Europe. Chelsea has powered up a DeLorean to 88mph in order to recapture past glories, but even that reeks of decline. Pep Guardiola the man who Roman Abramovich has a major man-crush on left him hanging, with no other option he returned to his ex-ex3 manager Jose Mourinho.

Up north Man City have lit a small beacon of hope and splashed of £50 million on Jesus Navas, a 27 year old who suffers from homesickness, and 28 year old Fernandinho, who in one of the worst Seleção pools in recent years, has been unable to collect more than five caps for Brazil. That noise you hear in the distance isn’t the rest of Europe quaking in fear, but the sound of sniggers being muffled.

There is a vast difference in the business being done here and what is going on in France, Germany, Spain and even cash strapped Italy.

The greatest league in the world? Perhaps briefly once, but not anymore.

The Premier League is on the wane and the national teams are wobbling, attendances are down and it’s imperative for SKY and BT that the Premier League keeps hold of at least one global asset.

They need Bale to stay as much as we want him to stay. If Bale left this year, not only would Spurs lose a fantastic and vital component, but it would signify the end of the Premier League as a force.

The best players will all be elsewhere, the fantasy and style that signifies a truly class act wont be on show at White Hart Lane, Old Trafford or Wonga Village. England, the Premier League, football fans and Spurs supporters all need Bale to stay.

Kriss Kross, Spurs and 90′s Disco Pop

It may not be a “where were you when you heard” moment, but the death of Chris Kelly, one half of Kris Kross still resonates. When I look back to my youth, I remember fondly attempting to dance and rap to “Jump” at my first year 7 disco, it was a song perfect for that time. Unfortunately, most of the 90′s wasn’t that great for the Spurs.

With Kelly now chilling alongside other great rappers such as 2Pac, Biggie and Scatman John, perhaps its time to reflect how the music from the 90’s related to the Spurs of that time?

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This article first appeared on The Fighting Cock

2 Unlimited – No Limit – January 1993

The glory years of the mid 80’s early 90’s may have  gone, but the signing of Teddy Sheringham and the emergence of Nick Barmby offered some hope to Spurs. Perhaps we were building something great, this hope though was crushed when we lost a FA Cup semi to Arsenal at Wembley.

The Spurs squad at the time when this Dutch duo were blazing a trial across the European disco scene were full of journey men who should have known their own limits.

Thankfully at the end of the season we bid adieu to such luminaries such as Pat Van Den Hauwe and Gordon Durie, and began rebuilding by signing midfield supremo Jason Dozell.

No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No…there’s No limit. Techno.

Whigfield – Saturday Night – January 1994

Ibiza, booze, sun, sea and sex where things all beyond my reach as a 12 year old when this song burst on to the scene. Instead I had Spurs.

Faithful, depressing, not as pretty as the others but mine nevertheless. At least Ossie Ardiles returned to the club, as someone who had never seen him play and in the days without Youtube, I was informed this was a good thing.

It was to prove not to be, it was also personally defining as I learned not to equate wisdom with age. Ossie the saviour? Really?

Thankfully we had Teddy scoring goals, when fit and miraculously we even managed to win a penalty shoot-out. Most of my Saturday nights that season though were spent watching MOTD depressed.

Did Whigfield know what it was like to support Spurs? If she did she wouldn’t have been so excited about the weekend.

Boombastic – Shaggy- July 1995

The advert, the song, the jeans and even the man Shaggy himself were pretty cool. On the back of this Spurs had had a good season. It had started badly, we were threatened by point deductions and initially chucked out of the FA Cup, but boy did we have an exciting team.

I was taken to the Lane that year, by a friend and his dad, for our game against Sheffield Wednesday. I arrived at the stadium with a small crush on Jurgen Klinsmann and emerged totally besotted.

He was great on TV, but in real life he was extraordinary. That goal he scored remains one of the best goals I have seen live. That summer though as Boombastic played everywhere and my friends and I tried to decipher what Shaggy was talking about, our Beetle driving German was off.

It was a sad end to what had been a great season; well at least we now had Shaggy in the team/treatment room and one in the charts.

The Outhere Brothers- Boom Boom Boom – July 1995

Boom Boom Boom, let me here you say……..Mistake!!! Mistake!!!

Its amazing the snow ball effect one error of judgement can have on a club. The 1994-95 season had seen Spurs finish above Arsenal, the 1995-96 season should have seen us streak away from them with some astute signings. Dennis Bergkamp was lined up, but incredibly we opted to spend £4.5 million on Chris “Got the Munchies” Armstrong.

The Dutchman who refused B.A Baracus style not to fly went to Arsenal, where unfortunately he enjoyed a successful career, despite being a Spurs fan.

Armstrong meanwhile spent another seven years at Spurs doing very little, but he did manage to score a winner in a North London derby, so perhaps I am being harsh on our ganja smoking former striker.

Run DMC vs Jason Nevins – Its Like That – March 1998

Sometimes Spurs are like that and that’s the way it is.

The season 1997-98 wasn’t a good one, yes Gerry Francis’ reign of terror finally came to an end, but waiting in line was TFL ticket wielding Christian Gross. The omens weren’t great as we were stuffed back to back by Chelsea and the mighty Coventry in two of his first three games, but things did change, slightly.

When Run DMC hit number one, Spurs finally started to move away from the relegation zone, thanks largely down to the return of Klinsmann. My former hero along with current hero David Ginola added some much needed skill to the below average squad we had assembled.

Let us not forget either this was the period where Spurs actually became a good looking team by signing, Nicola “I look good in denim” Berti. Gorgeous.

Shanks and Bigfoot – Sweet Like Chocolate – May 1999

The season ended with Man United sweeping all aside bar the mighty Spurs. We were the only team to knock them out of a cup competition that year. We went on to win the Worthington Cup in a dull affair against Leicester, but who cares, a cup is a cup.

We may have had George Graham in charge, but after the dross of Gross and the Francis reign of dull, we had actually won something. As the Garage scene swept through my school and everyone claimed to either DJ or MC, us Spurs fans were happy to rank ourselves alongside all conquering Man United.

With the new millennium approaching Spurs fans were once again proclaiming the dawn of a new era. The following year we would be in Europe, we were about to sign Sergei Rebrov, the McCarntey to Shevchenko’s Lennon and most importantly we were finally getting rid of Pony and Hewlett-Packard.  Spurs would be wearing Adidas and Holsten come the new millenia.

A new dawn was on the horizon, the 2000’s we would reign North London

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!!

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.