A regular feature on this blog has been a reoccurring series following a set of fixtures that are meant to provide the much needed impetus (and points) to finally steer us clear of the scary little mire that is the bottom three seats of the Premiership. A place best avoided much like a seedy back room in a pawn shop resembling a dungeon.
When Harry Redknapp joined, I gave him 12 games to get us out of trouble. Results were not too shabby. The 12 games in question made up the fabled Challenge Spurs™ (The Dirty Dozen) series. But when that ended, we failed to capitalise on the points tally acquired and managed to follow it up with a pretty awful run of results, followed by another mixed bag (as chronicled in the V for Victory™ series).
This meant we failed to pull ourselves away from the mix down at the bottom. So these run of fixtures never made a difference win, lose or draw with regards to climbing the table (obviously the points picked up have been all important, otherwise we'd be doomed by now). And the teams around us have also remained fairly constant with poor and inconsistent form. Not a lot has changed in the past few months.
We now find ourselves with the run-in and every game a must-win (not every game is winnable, but that's the attitude required. Deja vu, right?). Which ironically means, that if there was a time to scrutinise our fixture list and welcome back Challenge Spurs™, it’s now. Fail, and there's nothing but Championship fixtures to look forward to.
We have 13 games left - 6 at home and 7 away.
We've already driven the little Honda into Marcellus Wallace. Donuts and coffee hitting the pavement. And arguably, we’ve already stumbled our way into the Mason-Dixie pawn shop. So squeaky-bum time is potentially moments away. Zed will see to that. Get yourself caught up in the moment and you might find it more than just a bit tricky to get out. All tied up and gagged, praying for a miracle. Zed has us in his sights. Relegation. Relegation has us in its sights. The spider has caught itself a fly.
"Bring out The Gimp"
"I think The Gimp is sleepin'"
In this case, the Gimp is not Jermaine Jenas. And neither is it sleeping. The Gimp is the monkey on our back. Nope, not Gareth Bale (he's mostly on the bench nowadays). The Gimp is the persistent match-losing lack of concentration that has seen us defeat ourselves in the last four league away games - all in the final minutes.
It’s a mental block. Lack of concentration, belief. A fundamental lack of self-respect. Confidence, pride...lack of. Tag whatever you wish to it. Its a Spurs trait we always blame when you know what hits the fan.
Last time the Gimp persevered, it cost us Champions League (forget the last game and think back to the amount of points lost in the final minutes both home and away during the course of that season). For it to occur four times on the trot, all away from the Lane this season, is a sure sign that winning is sometimes a task too hard for some of our players. They welcome the Gimp and it's all too familiar hooded face of sadomasochistic defeatism. We need to punch the Gimp in the head several times.
We are at the point of no second chances now. If you sit down with your calculator or Prem Table predictor website tool, the possibility of us being unsafe and at risk on the final game is possible if you base our final set of games and likely outcomes on prior form. Especially on away form.
We are likely to pick up points at home. Although it’s ominous that we haven't done that amazingly well so far. But the home games are now imperative. No possible excuse could appease us if we don't prove successful at WHL. As for the away games, they can be grouped into two sections:
The 'No Chance in Hell' List
The 'Doubtful we'll win' List
Lose to Hull away, and the game against Boro at home turns into a Cup final, to follow on from that other Cup final we play out a few days earlier. Sunderland away has yet to be slotted into the schedule having been postponed. So where is the away win(s) going to happen? We have a good record at Everton, don't we?
I prefer to think that Spurs will do what they usually do in such desperate times. Instinctively react and do so positively. Almost nonchalantly. Bit like the goals that came at the end of the semi-final against Burnley. We waited until we were 3-0 down and (practically) out of the Cup before showing a bit of quality and pulling through. It's textbook Spurs. It's eternally frustrating. Back to the home games left to play:
The 'Must Not Drop Points' List
Apart from Chelsea (who might be rejuvenated a little by the time we play them) the other games in this list have to be victories in our favour. Without any disrespect, they are winnable. On paper. That's a fans perspective. The players have to be ruthless and fearless against the lot of them.Whether it's Chelsea or WBA.
The other clubs around us down at the bottom will no doubt struggle till the closing day of the season, but the desperation of needing them to lose to help us out is something I will not embrace.
It’s in our hands. Again. We can't be hoping other results go in our favour. We have to control our own destiny (cringe away).
We are in need for an inspired Butch with a Samurai sword moment to signal our intent for survival.
And we are equipped for it. Palacios, big and strong and inspiring. Keane will rediscover form and the back of the net. Dawson will continue to led in the absence of King. Lennon, who's energy this season has never faltered, will buzz around and torment. Modric possesses the quality that will help unlock a defence or two and allow Pav and Bent to get in amongst the goals. And Harry will make sure it all tick tocks clockwise.
How the Carling Cup final or the UEFA Cup games will affect squad moral is not something I wish to dwell on. It's not quite like last season where the players went to sleep after the 2-1 Wembley win and forgot how to win in the Prem. There's a clear distinction between one off games like the Final and the bread and butter of the Prem this term. And the latter is clearly of more importance in the long run.
Butch, driving into Marcellus, allowed destiny to take them to the pawn shop and perilously close to a humiliating death. The death part was avoided. The humiliation unavoidable. The will to survive saw them through it, bloody in victory and revenge.
Much like the two of them, its down to us that we are in this predicament. We've led ourselves here. Destiny playing its part with comparative ease. We've suffered the humiliation. We now need to stay clear of death. So here's to a quick sharp exit, riding off on a Chopper, with a happy ending.
‘Relegations dead, baby, Relegations dead’