Challenge Spurs™ Series
Game 08 v (A) West Ham United
2-0 win, 3 pointsTotal points: 18Position: 15th
Julian Dicks, Tony Cottee, Billy Bonds, Frank Lampard Senior, Danny Dyer, Russell Brand, Ray Winstone, The Krays, Phil and Grant, Jellied Eels, Burberry, Lego castles, Knees up mother brown, Dick van Dyke, Nigel Winterburn, Scott Parker, Green Street, lasagne, Carlito Tevez, The Academy of Football, Frodo Baggins....can you hear me Frodo Baggins? Your boys took one hell of a beating! Your boys took one hell of a beating!
Not the greatest London Derby ever. Ranks somewhere between average and ordinary. But a win is a win is a win, right? New improved Spurs can lose a game, and then follow it up with an away win. Something all too difficult for so many transitional Lilywhite sides in the past 10 years. Not that this is the dawn of a new age or anything spectacular. Living simply in the present, survival (dramatic word right there) is still paramount. We know, and so does everyone else, that we will not get relegated because there are other teams with next to little hope of getting out of their current predicaments. Harry Redknapp is no longer available. But glad to see the likes of Woodgate still refer to a 'relegation battle'.
That type of self-awareness and respect for our current situation helps satisfy any questions about the mentality of the squad. They know its far from done and dusted and that type of attitude will see us fine. Christ knows what the attitude was when Ramos was in charge, although the blame could be split 50/50 with the players. Juande was today appointed the new Madrid boss (for anyone who has not been paying attention). Sideways step there for the Special Juan.
Nothing sideways about Spurs at Upton Park. At least by the end of the game there wasn't. Pretty non-descript first half. West Ham pretty in possession but fuck all else. Zola attempting to get his players to play Italian style. Someone needs a word in his ear that you need quality players to get away with that type of football.
Spurs with the better chances (Pav hitting the post being the closest we got). Second half, we were resolute and determined. And simply better in every way in comparison to the little team from Green Street. Aaron 'I really do have some end product' Lennon crossing for Ledley 'my knee is knackered but I'm still better than most' King who duly headed the ball downwards into the ground and over the despairing reach of Rob Green. The second goal came from a counter after Gomes brilliantly saved twice (first save was good, second was actually down to the ball being struck straight at him by DiMichele, but let's just reveal in the moment) and off down the other end of the pitch we went where O'Hara hit a sweet shot giving Green no chance for the second time in the game.
Average, ordinary game? Yes. Only one team ever likely to win it? Yes. Harry keeps up his 100% winning record when returning to West Ham. And we move up to 15th, above West Ham, who have spent the best part of this season laughing at our plight. That irony is a right bastard. Proper in-your-face c*nt.
Why so serious?
General observations from the game:
Pav. Played upfront on his own, didn't hold up the ball that well but you could argue that hoofing the ball to him isn't the cleverest of things tactically. He's a bit slow which became more than apparent when the pacey Bent came on. Much better suited in a 4-4-2 where he is more likely to cause a bit of havoc 'running around' alongside Darren.
Lennon and Corluka owning their side of the pitch. Some decent flank play from the pair of them. Lennon beginning to prove he ain't no one trick bling pony. And Corluka proving he was a very astute buy. Who bought him again? *blush*. Defence played very well and dealt with everything that Cole and Bellamy throw at them. Although I could deal with those two myself. Bellamy looks shot to pieces. Cole is all heart no skill.
When West Ham did manage to get a shot on target, reborn of confidence, Gomes, smiled and collected the ball. Comfortable. Talking of 'shot to pieces', Bentley is...shot to pieces. Here is a player who fancies himself a bit. There's nothing wrong in that. Beckham, in a very understated way, fancied himself. Ronaldo, in the most obvious way, fancies the fuck out of himself. But both have a right to because they are great players. Bentley is at best a very good player, but not the most consistent and definitely nowhere near being great. So what we have is a £16M player who is trying to play from memory of how a great player should be playing. Harry needs a blatant word in his ear. I'd personally slap him across the face and shave his head. He needs to start bringing it and starting with the basics (simple passing, set pieces that deliver) will do just fine for us.
West Ham's new academy players did little to impress
As for Jenas. The enigma is just that. Did he play well? Did he play ok? Did he play poorly? What does he do? What does he bring to the team? I don't know anymore. No matter what, if fit, he seems to play. Do we miss something the manager(s) sees? Much like Carrick, Jenas has qualities that some of us fail to appreciate from the stands. The donkey work and unsexy running around. And the qualities he does have (bursting from midfield, box-to-box energy) is not always on show. He goes missing. Sometimes he shows up. Sometimes he tackles. Sometimes he's invisible. Nobody has come close to taking this young man and instilling arrogant confidence and awareness in his abilities.
Redknapp has a lot of work to sort out both Jermaine and David. The luxury of another £16M Comolli signing to dull over the pain will not be forthcoming.Talking of Comolli signings...Zokora. Shocking, utterly shocking. He played reasonably well. Even gave us one of his trademark runs and shots, this time hitting the shot on target.Yeah, I know, it happened because I saw it and there were cameras there and it was on tv, so screw you if you think I'm making this up. I'll keep you posted on any random drug tests that may have been conducted after the game. Because seriously, bizarro world or what? His pace is staggering at times and if its somehow possible to improve his decisio making a little, his performances may even continue to improve. Smile on his face, heart on sleeve, Didier is enjoying his football and has a willingness that others have (and some still) lack. But before you get a tattoo of his face on your back, let's remember that his passing ability is poor and is one-footed.
Carlton...Cole....I can't look away.....help me...
And then we have Modric. I predicted we would win if he played. Minute or so in, and he should have scored. Bit rusty, didn't strike his shot with any venom or placement. Tame effort at the keeper. But no problem. He was different class to anyone out on the pitch (yes, we know that's probably not saying much). Luka is a quality player who has taken a while to adjust to life in the Prem, which was always going to be the case. He's poor form in the early part of the season was mainly due to the disaster of a start we had. Now the team is winning games (9 out of 12) and he has some protection and team-mates who work as a cohesive unit, he is free to roam and playmake. He has yet to score for us, but his vision, touch and movement is just as important. Without him, we can't keep hold of the ball. With him? Possessions nine tenths of the law. He is our new Berbatov. Smaller, no floppy hair and moody face. No goals, but enough creative spark to see us have a possible 'world class' player to fill the void left by the Bulgarian. Give him another 3-4 months and with Pav hopefully settled to London life - we'll have more than enough to smile about.
King was his majestic self. Cameo performances seem to be what we are limited to nowadays. Harry after the game spoke about how Ledders is a great lad and its shame about his knee. It was a little bit of a downer. Almost felt like Harry was telling us that Ledley will never recover from his knee problems so over time (another season or two?) he might play fewer and fewer games and retirement will be the only option. Where do you find another King from? Uncertain about his availability for Saturday. Fingers crossed.
As for our opponents. Toothless. Lacked any passion, much like the atmosphere in parts. For all their hype about how important this game is for their fans ("Everyone in the dressing room is now raring to go against Tottenham on Monday night. It is the biggest match of the season for our fans and we all know what it means for us to get a result over our London rivals. We will be going all out to try and achieve that" - Lucas Neill) they hardly showed any of that spirit in the 90 minutes that matter the most. Their midfield was poor. One win in ten? Oh well. Being below us is their rightful place, no? That way when they do go above us, they can pop the champers again and celebrate like its 1999.
West Ham's norty mob, in their manner
If any Spurs fan wants to mass-email the league table along with a quote or three from any number of messages received about 4 weeks back - including photos of road signs and jokes about triangles, please feel free to do so. It's a give and take world we live in. So make sure you fucking well give it.
Challenge Spurs™ - Stats Update
4 games left in the Challenge Spurs™ Dirty Dozen series. When I started this, the challenge was as follows:
- 30 points minimum by January 1st
- 12 games
- 6 at home
- 6 away
- 36 possible points
If we win the final four games, we'll have 28 points in total from these 12 games, plus the two points we started with, giving us 30 points. At the time, based on our position and what was happening around us, it was very much a do or die (where have I heard that before?) conundrum. 30 points from 36 is European-challenging form, so it was a huge ask. If we write off Saturdays game against Utd, and say we win the final 3 games, that will give us 25 points from the series, and a total of 27. And with the table the way it is, that should see us with plenty of breathing space (not mathematically impossible to get dragged back into it, but far more of a comfort zone for us).
For now, tilt the head ever so slight upwards to stop the nosebleed.