Irony and football. It's majestic at times, more so when your team is the one blessed with it's touch.
Most were concerned and playfully joked about how he would return to haunt us. You could see it happening. Bent, sways past King to thrash the ball past a despairing Gomes as he sprints towards the Sunderland fans, Blackberry in hand, tweeting 'Sandra would never have scored that one'. Except football sometimes doesn't go according to the obvious script. It prefers instead to take care of the ones that are meant to be the bad guys. Us. Almost like poetry, Gomes saved a flaky penalty from Darren. I'm still undecided about the first penalty appeal in the first half, but the one that was given in the second was the type that no blame could be pinned on the ref for giving it. He doesn't have the luxury of action-replays. Bent allowed gravity to pull him down before Gomes went for the ball. It was a con. And such is life. That not only did Benty do a naughty thing but that he then proceeded to shag it all up. That's why we sold you indeed.
I thought were superb. And if there was any evidence that Tottenham's transfer policy is at times an embarrassment, look no further then Steed Malbranque. Class act that gives it 100%. I still can not fathom why we sold him. Andy Reid, who I can live without, was also impressive (lovely shot that had the woodwork saving us). Without sounding condescending, I don't think Sunderland can improve much more. They're a tidy outfit who will do well enough. What the game illustrated was that we can't afford to grind out results all the time - which is something we've done for a number of games since beating Hull 5-1 away. More on that in a second. First, Steve Bruce. Shut up with your complaining. All this 'Gomes would not have saved the penalty if he had been red-carded' ranting is just plain silly had Bent not forgotten to put on his anti-gravity boots. Fact is, penalty aside, they failed to get one past our enigma between the sticks. We on the other hand, as poor as we were, did. Twice.
Scrap it Harry. It simple doesn't work. And with Wilson Palacios still struggling with form, we can't keep on restricting ourselves in this manner because you persist in playing Robbie Keane. Four in midfield, two upfront. Let's get the basic foundation right for the 90 minutes ahead of us and changed it if we happen to be chasing a goal late on. We got over-run on Saturday. The change to a more traditional 442 and a late surge of confident play, saved us IMO.
Rumour going around is that he earned himself a cool £1M for Spurs not getting relegated (allegedly). If true, it's not his fault the club offered him the contract they did. If not, then it's further proof that people continue to be critical of him since his return by always bringing up his contract at every given moment. He's got a clause has Robbie. He can't be dropped if fit. You have to wonder whether we are missing something in his performance if he is selected based on form. In the past, I've stood up for him. He does get important goals and he does do a lot of work for the team that us common folk might not appreciate. But I'm hard pressed for examples at the moment.
Grinding our results
Someone over at a Spurs message board discussed how we are 'grinding out results' and that we are reliant on a flash of brilliance of a slice of good luck and that this is not the basis of a Top 4 challenge. I can't disagree in that we lack options when Modric and Lennon do not start and that Harry makes curious decisions at times with formation. There's no doubting that our bench is not as strong as we would have the likes of Keane make us believe. And if we continue to grind out the points our luck will eventually run out of steam. But then Modric is almost back. And this will galvanise the players and the fans. What Harry has to do is make sure we have not just cover (was Niko not meant for that?) but also the courage to play the best team for the occasion, even if it means sacrificing the unsacrificable. What's the point of Bentley exactly? Don't answer that.
Special mentions to Hudd, Woody and Jenas - who along with Gomes all looked decent and held us together when it mattered. Tommy's goal was a corker, layed off wonderfully well by the returning Defoe who was a little on the quiet side - although Gordon would beg to differ. Corluka remains his sleep self. And General Wilson is more army cadet at the moment. Which is a massive concern considering the season is due to get tasty in the coming months when the top 4 or 5 start to pull away from the chasing pack. Harry needs to turn on the man-management charm and fix this problem. Quickly.
Not been offered a contract yet. You wonder if there's a reason behind that. I think that it's easy to start banging on about the decline of the great man because he has been rusty in the last few games he's played, but let's remember - top players who do not have dodgy knees lose form now and again. King is obviously suffering at the moment. Might be his knee is finally bringing him down, or he's just not on top of his game - not so much because of the injury but simply just because. For some of our fans to start doubting him is just the type of typical knee-jerking that grates me (sorry about the pun there, purely coincidently).
Still, we do need to start thinking about a long term plan. King, Woodgate...we need to know who will come in as replacements. If King's form continues to go south then perhaps it's time for me to re-evaluate my opinion on the subject. A changing back four can't be helping matters with regards to consistency.
Won us all three points. Outstanding. Just outstanding. I love him. He can cock up once every 5 games if it means he plays like that for the rest (although I'd prefer if he didn't cock up at all).
Stoke survive an onslaught and nick all three points and are called magnificent. I don't expect us to be tagged with such superlatives, but let's look at the facts. We played poorly. We scored twice. We won. If that type of thing happens once it's luck - but if it happens more often then its a sign of a decent team. It's when it happens all the time that we can start to scratch our heads.
I'd say that sitting in 4th spot after 12 games on 22 points is pretty damn good considering. Harry has had us on the up since he joined. We've stuttered a few games recently but rather than just cave in and free-fall, we've dug in again. I guess I'm happy for everyone to continue to down play our chances and write us off. Now if only our players would stop talking us up off the pitch and start doing their talking on it - we might climb out of the small ditch we've found ourselves in and start running up that hill again.
The Games Ahead
We need to find that intent and purpose about our game again. We have to thanks to the fixture list. Wigan at home should not be a game taken for granted. Three points is imperative there but more so is a good performance. Because we then go into games against Villa (A), Man Utd (A) (CC) and Everton (A). Then we're back at home again entertaining Wolves and then Man City. Blackburn and Fulham away is then followed by West Ham at home. Some tricky games in there. We need to reclaim that early season buzz and see ourselves through to the new year still hanging around in the upper regions of the table.
Hate to place all the responsibility on the little shoulders of Modric, but it looks like he remains the key for us to reclaim that rampant balance we lost when he broke his bone.
Keep on grinding out the results when necessary, but I prefer to have a firm grip on our own destiny by being the ones asking all the questions.