I'm deeply philosophical about this. Belly full of rum. We go one up, we get a man sent off, we re-shape and somehow with it hold onto hope until we give it all away before half time. We re-shape again for the second half and once again look more than the sum of our parts, but its still too big a task for us.Read More
Like a hellmouth erupting in Sunnydale, it's all kicking off. Except there's no Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Just a bald headed bloke armed with a shrewd grin on his face and some pound notes stuffed in his pockets. Stakes are high. Everyone is holding their hands up to their beating hearts. It's not all done and dusted just yet.
Bassong to Norwich. Not unexpected. A player that cost us £8M and has gone for considerably less. Did not have the best of times at Spurs. Started well, faded, didn't really get a look in. Not a shocker his career in Lilywhite amounted to cameo appearance and grunts of frustration. Marginalised and now gone.
Dawson leaving for QPR (bid accepted) for £5.5M / £7.5M / £9M (depending on source) is one that leaves me with a heavy heart. I love big Daws. His smile, his endeavour. The way he played so majestically alongside Ledley King. Not so great alongside others. A confidence player that many of us wanted to see cement that centre-back position and armband. He came close.
The fact he was the make-weight in the deal that saw Andy Reid sign for us is wonderfully ironic. A great servant to the club, I know that's a cliché, but he was. Struggled with injuries, not the quickest player but one with heart and effort and a player that wore the shirt with pride and celebrated like a supporter when we won. I will miss the bloke dearly. He lives local to me. Last time I saw him in my local Boots I just gave him a knowing glance. Next time, I'll risk a restraining order and hug the big lug. Good luck Michael. Loyal to Spurs. Shame we're not as loyal to him as he has been to us. I guess with Vert, Kaboul and Caulker (and the experience of Gallas) along with the high line pacey tactic, he doesn't fit into the new system. Villas-Boas putting the team first, sacrificing sentimentality for progress. Which is a good thing, but equally a little sad. I said good luck already, I'll say it again. Let's hope we're covered then, what with 38 league games and Europa League and domestic cups. That good luck stretches to Villas-Boas also.
Adebayor finally signs. Yes, it's not a dream. It's happened. He even tweeted about it. Unless his account was hacked again. But no, it's done. For £5M. With City set to fork out the same amount in wages to the player. Modern football is very confusing and very expensive. For some. Levy seems to enjoy the game. It means we have strength up top for WBA on Saturday. Adebayor gave us assists and goals last season. We'll have to wait and see if VB was serious about having Harry Kane as his 3rd choice. If so, then we have our three strikers for the season. Except when you look at them, it still feels weak in depth. We need another forward. A striker, a more robust intelligent poacher. Okay, so now I might be dreaming.
As for midfielders, Huddlestone and Jenas linked with loan moves away although these persisted as rumours with no follow up after the 'stories' broke. Luka Modric mean while first made an appearance in Spanish football newspaper Marca, only to then be revealed as a three year old photograph that had been photo-shopped. Then an appearance on the Madrid official website, hidden away but discovered before being removed. Image below (courtesy of Sibs who was quick to screen-grab it):
We await for official confirmation. Then the only thing that matters. Movement for a replacement.
Good day for the chairman. Good window in fact if you add up the money so far which you hope goes back towards supporting the coach as an ample war chest - Corluka £5M, Niko £4M, Pienaar £4.5M, Bassong £6M, Daws £9M (tbc) and Modric, £35M with any luck.
A step forward for the club, moving closer to fixing up the squad but still plenty of question marks. All to be resolved, answered with time.
Ten days time. Tick tock.
I'm travelling, or will be shortly, so depending on whether I get drunk at the hotel bar and then decide to rant via iphone about our lack of apparent decisiveness with < insert complaint here > or perhaps not I probably won't blog anything of any real consequence until I'm back. There's hardly much newsworthy content doing the rounds at the minute. I guess I could make some up?
Not long to go before the start of the season, slightly longer till the closure of the transfer window. Seems it's shaping up to be a three-tier summer of activity. We got the new coach in early followed by two signings. That was tier one, giving us assurance and confidence. Villas-Boas has supposedly let players know if they have a place in his plans, the ones that don't will be sold (that's if anyone can match Levy's valuation of them). That was tier two, an assessment and clean-up. We all know long term dynamic changes in formation and methodology will come in the course of the season playing out. Villas-Boas has already, on a number of occasions, cited the fact that not too much will change initially. The most important aspect of all of this involves the work done on the training pitch and we won't know the level of impact until we visit Newcastle.
Tier three is where we find ourselves right this second. Ideally, the club will bring in two more players before the start of the season. Adebayor being the most likely one, the other also a forward. Basically nothing has changed from last week and the week before that. Everyone is waiting for something to happen. I've sat back and enjoyed the Olympics, not something I expected to do as I was quite cynical with it all beforehand. Not even sure why I was like that, perhaps the whole Stratford bid clouded my patriotism in the build up to it. I've always been a big fan of track and field, so happy this summer has included a fair amount of distraction. No such entertainment elsewhere. Tabloids, Twitter and ITK twits continue to regurgitate the same rumours with their suggestive cryptic clues. It's not that I'm bored, just anxious to see the season kick start.
As for Luka Modric, the longer the saga drags on the more concerned I become. I've blogged about this before, that there has to be a cut off date with this. If we can only buy certain transfer targets off the back of selling Modric to Madrid then there has to be a point in the summer, in the next couple of weeks where Levy's stance is final; "Bid 'today' or else the player stays". We can't sell him days before the deadline then expect to sign a replacement - unless there's a very definite domino effect waiting to play out. The easiest way to handle all this, as a fan, is to admit we (as fans) know nothing about what is transpiring behind closed doors. All we can do is have faith that the type of players we think we need are the very same type the chairman and coach are targeting. I think we can agree that is definitely the case. Otherwise we're doomed to the indignity of 5th spot :trollface:
The Fighting Cock podcast is also back this week, so look out for episode one of season two on Thursday/Friday. I won't be on it, but there's a guaranteed wealth of drunken philosophy that will cater for your listening needs. I have to wait until next week before I rejoin the glory hole of Spurs. Not forgetting the return of the 'Ultras' (to be renamed), following the Spurs youth team on their travels. We took 200 to Charlton last season for a FA Youth Cup game. More of the same this season including the NextGen series, including Barcelona at the Lane (although I'll hazard a guess the Spurs training ground fixtures are behind closed doors) - we'll keep you posted on the details.
Calm before the storm then. I guess we best enjoy it. It's going to go mental once the Kraken is released.
(Kraken is a metaphor and not a £20M striker)
DML Supa Liga
Fantasy Football and me, do not go hand in hand. Full of confidence on day one, by Christmas I'm out of the race like a much maligned Spurs side of the 1990s. I blame other distractions such as Football Manager but the reality is, I lose focus faster than Harry Redknapp in the midst of flirting with England. However, you lot appear to want this back again, so knock yourselves out:
Code to join the DML Supa Liga is: 195141-56816 (via Fantasy Premier League 2012/13)
May the most obsessed geek win.
This is the best team you’ve ever played for
This is how things have panned out so far this summer. A player is linked. We’re then told by an assortment of sources that he’s about to sign, there’s a deafening silence whilst the same news sources repeat the same story but with different headlines, followed by another silent moment before he does actually sign . We then have to wait an extra few days for his medical meaning it’s still not actually official. Then an additional two days for Spurs to catch up and officially declare it’s done and dusted. Looks like we’re about to dance the same jig, to the tune that saw Sig and Vert skip into N17 gleefully...this time a not so old friend returning on a more permanent basis. Adebayor is set to sign. I think. £5M / £6M fee and apparently a wage-structure busting pay packet (or perhaps a lump sum signing on fee), who knows? Levy does, whilst the rest of us continue to scratch chins waiting to find out how we’ve managed to pay him 100k + per week. Because even though we don’t know what is going on behind the scenes we’re still going to base our analysis on rumours.
I’ll stop dancing that jig if it turns out we’ve got a bottomless pit and can now afford to pay the tax on behalf of the players we pick out for preferential treatment. For now, I’m hoping the player can return and improve on his performances from last season which were more than decent. He scored a fair few, assisted marvellously and fitted into the style of play – a team player not an individual dependent on everyone else to carry him around. Okay, so he did mis-fire, was unlucky with disallowed goals and did not get half the support in the pen box he should have got. But all these tactical deficiencies we hope to see corrected in the next year. Now he’s on a permanent contract for us, he’ll have to excel. I don’t buy into the lazy dysfunctional version of Adebayor and I’m certain neither has our chairman. There’s no culture of comfort at Spurs these days. That counts for something and should not be undervalued.
Pie in the sky
So Everton are supposedly on the verge of resigning Stephen Pienaar. Told you so. Yeah, that’s right, I’m coming across all smug because the one time I decide to share some info it pans out exactly how I told it. What? What? Come at me bro, I can do ITK. Yeah, what? In fact anyone can. Especially black cab drivers in London who might say pick up a chairman of a football club and end up being told the dramatic story of how a player left a club for the riches on offer, desperate to do so only to then find himself wanting to escape from the hellish reality and return back to his former club. Bill Kenwright painted this exact picture months back, explaining that money rules the brains of footballers and there is simply no competition when it comes to the top four or five clubs signing the best the rest have. The irony with Pienaar, and it’s common knowledge based on just following Spurs last season, is that Harry didn’t want him and didn’t really know what to do with him. A Levy signing, and yet apparently we’re about to make a profit on him if we do sell him back (probably not really when you consider wages spent) but still...only Tottenham can make a mountain out of a mole hill and then build a rabbit hutch in it's place (that isn't meant to make any sense much like this transfer saga).
We’re still waiting to see which club wins the race for Luka. After Villas-Boas revealed its down to which the one that meets our valuation of the player, we can only wait and see if that club is Real Madrid and the fee is £35M - £40M. Because let’s face it, that’s the best possible scenario. Luka goes abroad, we get a massive wedge of cash to go loopy with. The suggestions continue to persist that he’s definitely on the way to La Liga so the questions are:
a) Do Madrid have the money?
b) Do they need to lighten their squad first to make room for him?
Yes and probably.
Once it’s done then we sign Joao Moutinho. Easy right?
We are (according to the press over in Spain) interested and willing to meet the buyout clause for Atlético Madrid’s Adrián López Álvarez whilst the ITK community persist with the dream of being rocked by Falcao. The latter is brilliant and prolific and possibly out of our league (in the kindest way possible, he will fancy himself as Champions League pedigree and will cost an absolute bomb to the tune of £40M). Adrián is a couple of years younger and will be considerable cheaper (at just under half the price). I think someone has gotten wind of our inclination to spend and are trying to drum up some business and hype for their clients. Those pesky footie agents. When Villas-Boas left Porto he was instantly linked with returning to his former club to steal Falcao away for an alleged £26M (release clause). Then the player was cited at £80M. An obvious reconnection then...in the world of fantasy. I'm assuming he's got a new contract and a new release clause thesedays. So...Strurridge anyone?
Rafa isn’t going to take a bite out of the Hamburg
He’s leaving. He’s not. It’s because of his wife. Wife denies it on Twitter. Back and forth, it won’t go away. But yesterday the player said he is happy at Spurs and doesn’t want to leave. That’s not to say it’s completely his decision but I’m hoping we do keep him. If anything because he loves it against the Woolwich. VB wants to challenge on all fronts? If he’s serious we need depth and we need quality and Rafa is an outstanding player. He might suffer from bouts of inconsistency, fitness issues but the words ‘galvanise’ and ‘talismanic’ were made for him. Belief is such an important commodity and he has it in abundance.
Fryers is hot property
Apparently he's left Man Utd and left Fergie fuming and is on his way to Spurs. Utd wanted £6M for him (supporters I've spoken to don't rate him at that price) and we'll end up paying considerably less. Hence the fuming. Although the fuming is more likely related to the mini-exodus of Utd yoof that have recently moved on from the club. Fryers is nineteen, plays left back and centre-back. Did I mention Fergie is fuming? Probably worth signing him just for that.
Loved Kyle Walker’s attitude, talking about the changes at Spurs and the ambition to improve as an individual and as a collective. Again I ask, where is the player revolt? Also loving Jan Vertonghen's comments on the 'perfect fit' in relation to Villas-Boas pressure and possession football and being at Tottenham. Nice feeling that, players wanting to play for the shirt.That's something that at times is undervalued by us. May as well enjoy it when we've got it.
In his post-match interview Gareth Bale stated ‘confidence is building’. There is little argument from me that you can’t expect a team to snap out of bad form in a single game, at least not in our case when we’ve slumped to three losses on the trot followed by two draws. We’ve hardly been calamitous (bar one game in particular), but we’ve lacked fluidity and direction, usually just trying really hard without any essence of discipline. The court case and the England job have been influential (something I've preferred to avoid accepting) and the fact that up until this blip we had not actually suffered one beforehand (when losing previously, we’d bounce straight back). Trying to exorcise our demons was one of gradual progression, equalising late on against Stoke and then applying congested tactics away to Chelsea before growing in stature to almost nick the game. The Bolton cup game saw the return of our expressiveness and swagger with the players and team looking comfortable and instinctive in movement. And then it all worked itself out in the Swansea game.
As a collective, we’re rejuvenated. One or two in that collective have been pivotal at times this season and are now rediscovering their old form (mojo) just in time for the run in.
When Spurs struggled so did Gareth Bale. I’m a staunch defender of the player. I’m not going to patronise you and suggest that players should not be immune to criticism but at times there is no balance to some of the arguments put forward. Some love to love him when he's playing well but seem quick to shoot him down when he doesn’t, mostly to do with taglines such as ‘believing the hype’ and having an 'ego'. I guess the thinking is he does what he wants on the pitch to the detriment of the team. The reality is that he’s young and level-headed but is also ambitious and wants to be the best in the world. We've got a player who has the potential to be able to believe that without a laughing track accompanying him. If he’s encouraged or instructed to play on the right, swap wings or play centrally then he’s not going to say no to it. Harry Redknapp has to take responsibility here as there is no doubt that roaming/free-role play will make him a better player in the long run but he has to be managed correctly and not simply given the license to play inside every game regardless of opponent.
A confident Bale would still create and be effective centrally but one lacking assurity (from himself and when surrounded by subdued colleagues) is hardly going to set the world on fire no matter the position he takes. Hence why we’ve all been screaming for back to basics. Bale, on he left. One up front. Modric in the middle. Get them doing what they’re good at because at this moment in time the team is more important than any one player. But any one player can excel when he's playing in a team with equally confident team mates.
Bale mixed it up when the opportunity allowed him to against Swansea but the vast majority of his work was down the flank. Now perhaps against sterner opposition (as we’ve witnessed) the power and the glory is not always forthcoming (hence the central experiments). Again, this is down to coaching and making sure Bale is not overly impressionable off the back of the hype. When he's running low on confidence and attempts to run at goal all on his own that's not him pretending to be Ronaldo. That's him over-thinking, over-complicating matters because he's not quite in synch. It's a cheap shot to simply yell 'ego'.
Believing ones hype doesn’t necessarily mean they think they can do as they wish and thus do so with arrogance. There is no disputing his technical skills, physical presence and his pace. He should be attempting new things all the time but he shouldn’t be forgetting what he’s solid at. He should continue to believe in the hype because it's not really hype. It's belief. This is about the desire to be the best. I guess in some ways it is about ego. But he's not parading himself as anything other than Gareth Bale. The beast has to be leashed but there are moments when he has to be unleashed. The owner needs to know exactly when to restrain and when to let go.
The most complete forward in the league? I don’t care about anyone else, he’s the most complete forward at Spurs and that’s all that matters. We’ve been crying out for a player like him. Sure, perhaps the player in our fantasy dream world scores 30 goals per season but the reality is that such players are hard to come by and due to the system we play, we can only have one up top. Which means as important as goals are, being a team player is doubly important.
Sure, he can go missing and have off days. Because of his role (as forward) this is far more apparent but let’s not pretend he’s the only player that suffers from dips. Fact is, he assists. Fact is he allows others to come into offensive positions by virtue of his holding play and movement. If there’s a player out there who will cost the same and score more whilst being able to offer the same link-play as he does then I suggest we sign that player. Otherwise, we make sure we sign the one we’ve got on a permanent contract and concern ourselves more with our second and third strikers (for the long term).
Even Berbatov (one of the finest players we’ve had in recent years) was accused of being lazy. The imperfections are always there but it’s what they offer when they play to their best that matters and how they can still be influential when perhaps a goal is not forthcoming. Ideally, Adebayor should be scoring more. Questions will continue over his (sometimes) lacking first touch and his reluctance to bury the ball first time (didn’t have a problem on Sunday). But if you take a look around the Prem there are few if any potentially available players that could do the job for us, the job he's doing.
Adebayor is a piece that fits into the puzzle. There is nothing to say we can’t get ourselves a better puzzle, but we’ll have to lose a piece first for that to happen.
Tottenham 5 Newcastle United 0
If there was a performance that defined the word galvanised this was it. Harry’s court case, the England job, the White Hart Lane faithful, the players...everything fused together perfectly to drive forward an emotive and at times wonderfully majestic game of one-sided football that illustrated what is so good about this Spurs side.
Patience is not a virtue that is often allowed to settle in amongst all the hyperbole and drama at any given club. We all knee-jerk in some way. Sometimes more subtle than the next person, but we’re all guilty of it. It’s simply self-doubt in an opinion or in someone or something. You react to it without properly processing every eventuality. One of the common trends of complaint and concern this season has been our squad depth. This was under the microscope recently during the month of January, resulting in players leaving the club and a couple arriving. Replacements for back up players when we all craved top drawer signings.
We scoffed. Scratched our heads. Fickle and forgetful considering the last time we misbehaved like that was when Scott Parker was signed. It’s almost like we reset our pragmatism each time. We're actually a very decent side. We should revel in that far more than we do and have confidence in that fact. In Harry we trust, finally we trust him.
No van der Vaart so no 4411. Saha upfront with Adebayor in a traditional 442. Kranjcar retaining his place. Defoe and Lennon returning on the bench. The galvanised effortless movement and attacking prowess was beastly. Every player alive and hungry. We’ve questioned and debated the form of Adebayor, excusing his lack of goals because of the way he fits into the system we play but still we've shown concern for his quiet performances as of late. Isolated at times and with a despondent first touch. Yet against Newcastle he was electric. Unplayable. Four assists. Two for Saha one for BAE. Took the fifth goal for himself. Adebayor with eight assists for the season (edit: It's ten assists apparently). The option of playing two upfront when Rafa is unavailable is now enticing. Trust.
The new founded double act working tirelessly, running into space, into the channels looking for the ball, looking for each other. Saha, a wealth of experience knowing where to position himself. Along with every other Spurs player out there, they made a point. They made three points.
We showed everyone watching what Redknapp has crafted at Spurs when Spurs turn up at full pelt.
Benoit in the 4th, Saha in the 6th, Saha in the 20th, Kranjcar in the 34th. Saha's second a joy to behold in terms of team work. Over on the bench Harry was displaying pure emotion, releasing the stress of the court case with each goal scored celebrated like he was punching the bitter face of the HMRC.
The home crowd boisterous and proud singing their support for the manager. After the Wigan game (the support sang for Harry) this game finally witnessed a genuine embrace from the stands. A bear hug Martin Jol would have been proud of. One Harry fully appreciates. It’s almost surreal, hearing ‘We want you to stay’ when at times we’ve been quite withdrawn for vocal support for him by name. Mainly due to the fact that he has distanced himself from Tottenham (‘them’) and the fact that he has very much always prioritised his brand name above and beyond all. He probably still does but you can not detach yourself from a club completely without the consequence of forging an affiliation with its fans.
We know Harry, we know he’s about looking after number one but he’s let his guard down a little. Just enough for us to finally invite him in. It’s a very poignant moment this. And deserving for the successful restructure of a club that was a mess and massively under-performing when he first arrived.
Newcastle had an effort or two in the first half but nothing that looked like puncturing our defence successful. If there was a criticism to be aimed at us I would suggest we need to start looking at taking free kicks instinctively rather than attempting to craft some ilk of masterpiece from a set piece. But that’s been a long running issue with us. Corners included. At half time and at 4-0 the most telling stat belonged to the aforementioned Adebayor. Four assists, so lazy he couldn’t be arsed to score any himself. Until the second half.
The second half was not as rampant and bullish as the first. But it was still one of comfort and joy. In the opening forty-five we dominated with concise effective possession. We were clinical and brutal in our approach. You can question Newcastle’s positioning but to take advantage you still have to endeavour to do so. Which we did with pace and tempo, relentless punishing tempo. Sometimes it just clicks altogether perfectly. Even with the players missing and the ones on the bench we did not look like weakened in any way. We welcomed back our manager and reminding him that there is more quality to work with in N17 than there is with the Three Lions. If he fancied staying put.
As for the second half not being rampant. Luka and Niko continued to work their socks off. Parker dominated Perch and Guthrie (mismatch) with his tenacity and commitment. Newcastle desperately missing Tiote and Cabaye. Even when we started to give the ball away a little, we never looked like a side that was concerned with the pace of the game slowing down. The fifth arrived on the 64th minute mark, Saha header with Adebayor hooking the volley into the net and then getting tickled for his effort in celebration whilst holding his knee on the ground. One or two other half chances here and there. The crowd continued to sing Harry’s name. Lennon and JD replaced Bale and Saha. Nelsen came on for King. There was even time for a superb reflex save from Friedel from Ba.
Perfect evening. Handshakes all round.
The back line was powerful. BAE brought the crazy. You almost forgot we had King and Dawson there. In control and composed. So good, you didn’t even notice them. Apart from Benny. He always makes sure you notice.
Parker and Modric the perfect middle two. With Livermore performing so admirably and Sandro an option, we look to be fit and ready for the battles we face in the coming weeks. Parker was back to his best, tackles and distribution. Luka is Luka. A gem, a wonderful rare gem, a thing of beauty and priceless.
Bale solid, hard working without the individualistic quirks.
Kranjcar equally solid continuing his form from the Liverpool game, defending/attacking. Team player.
Adebayor’s best performance in Lilywhite. A Godzillaesque impact on the game, smashing down the black and white skyscrapers that Alan Pardew has built.
Saha a revelation. Levy and Harry’s moneyball transfer tactic coming up trumps again. If he stays fit and performs with this level of movement/intelligence then we have the rejuvenated kick we’ll need to make this second half of the season as successful as the first half. Defoe looked lively when he came on, fitting into the style of play Saha left when he was replaced. All three should keep each other motivated enough to compete for a place up front.
At the final whistle, with Newcastle outclassed, and everyone Lilywhite gleeful, we could all look back at what was further proof that the progression of Harry Redknapp’s Tottenham continues to gather pace More than it's already gathered. Ambitious. Daring is achieving.
A team of brilliant individuals that play for each other and the unit. A team that plays for their manager. A team that can adapt formation when necessary. A team, on form, easing to victory over one that lacked any cohesive shape and simply failed to contain and compete sufficiently enough to make a fight of it. To bully a side like this is a requirement if you aspire for the progression to continue.
Suddenly, there is no knee-jerking looking at our squad. We have an option to play Niko who will retain possession well and link with Luka when discipline is required with a touch of cross-field vision. Lennon is now back if we wish to exploit space and stretch with width. With three forwards available we can rotate in a 442 and still have the option to play the 4411. With one defeat in 30 or so home games we have set the benchmark for ourselves to complement our possession by scoring goals and killing teams off. We’ve bossed many a game and not done that. It’s so much easier when you’re clinical because you can seek to push the game beyond the opposition in no time at all.
As for the gaffer, he wont be able to say no England. Its the pinnacle (for him). However, sometimes, an epiphany can change all that. Hoping he had one yesterday.
Harry Redknapp was wrong.
This season is the best we’ve ever had it. Last season was evolutionary as was the one before. It’s continued into this season without the slumps and loss of confidence. Just strength solidified from one game to the next, momentum held close to our pumped out chests as we crow at ear-bursting levels. Tottenham, a big club in a big league.
Fantastic players, freedom of expression, brilliant football. That’s as good as it can get for anyone.
You should love your club unequivocally no matter its stature or position. But you should never feel guilty if you lust for something more. Our tradition and our style, the Tottenham way...we’re oozing it at the moment. Not in cameos like so many seasons in the past but in sustained form. Long may that continue. Because when you strip away all the want for silverware and top four what truly matters at the end of it is the joy your team gives you. This team doesn't fail to disappoint and I can't smile without it.
Harry Redknapp was wrong but it still makes him right.
Love the shirt.