Looking forward to this. I like Zola, I like him a lot. Wouldn't rub his back in a hot tub with a James Morrison cd playing and scented candles burning, but I do hope he succeeds as a manager. Although there's a good chance he might be a future Chelsea boss, so I guess I should change my tact and just say I hope he has success anywhere other than with them lot. Ironically never thought he had the look of a manager when he started out and it may well be Steve Clarke who has aided him (and West Ham) but regardless, good bloke, the honest kind and obviously likes football to be played the right way. Probably lacking the right amount of quality players at the minute to push on further, but showed enough intent last season that WH might just compete thanks to this dear old Prem league being as open as Katie Price on any given weekend.
And regardless of all the usual 'it's your cup final/we aint your rivals/pikeys/yids' banter nonsense that plights this London derby between us and the Hammers - one thing we do share common ground with is our rich tradition for flair players and playing football the way it's meant to be played - on the deck, attractive, swashbuckling and bloody gorgeous to watch. At least we try.
Not certain of what’s happening behind the scenes at Upton Park relating to the board and the apparent stories about pressure on Zola to accept he has to part with some of his star players. It’s been denied. But there’s trouble brewing as the stories just won’t go away. Regardless of that, they aint too shabby on their day – as Utd, Arsenal and Liverpool have found out in the past. They do like beating the big clubs. They just struggle a little with the medium-big clubs like us. I'm just messing people. Big is in the eye of the beholder, and apparently (so they say) it's not the size that matters, it's what you do with it. And recently we've been dicking them. Still, doesn't mean it's a given. Mainly because something usually has to give way.
I reckon the game will be won tactically tomorrow. King of the understatements I am. What I mean is, if we go at each other and play football we’ll edge it. Just think we have that much more to offer – pound for pound. But if Zola and Clarke work out a way to nullify Huddlestone which may well leave Palacios isolated – we might just come unstuck. And if we do this will serve us, in a twisted ironic way, going forward as it will highlight a weakess that other teams may well take advantage of. Not saying Hudd is the weak link, but he's obviously a player we are all looking at and hoping he can continue to impress.
I’ll guarantee this – it won’t be as poor of a game as the last visit (2-0 win) to Upton park.
Dismantling Hull is one thing, but coming up against a far better side in WH is altogether a different kettle of fish. If we flop and they win comfortable, then that old question about ‘mentality’ will rear its ugly head. If we lose a ding-dong game full of drama and excitement, all you can do is shrug and churn out a philosophical excuse about how it was not meant to be. What we need to do is come away with all three points, even if we mug them in the final minute or brush them aside across ninety breaktaking minutes.
This isn’t about the Top 4 and striving to be part of it. No delusions. Just another step towards banishing all the issues we've had that have remained constant through-out the past decade (apart from those two great Jol years, the first year especially, when things ticked wonderfully well). And all this isn't just about passing a test at Upton Park. What I'm refering to counts for every other game that follows until it all levels out and we can see exactly how well we will do across the season. I guess after 15 games we'll know.
It’s about consistency. Brummies at home after this one, so potentially we could be looking at four straight wins. Consistency = confidence. The teams progress results in growth of statue rather than a apologetic whimper and blaming tiredness or bad luck or whatever. Winning mentalities are birthed from accepting that defeats are unacceptable. Losing should hurt and hurt badly and the want to win should be above and beyond anything else. We've sat in a comfort zone for so long that it's no surprise that prior managers have come in and made assumptions relating to players and ambitions. Drunk on hype is a common occurance, however the majority of fans in the stands wised up to this years and years back. Glad Levy finally has to, and Redknapps appointment is proving to be a clever one even if all he's doing is the obvious - which is something that's been criminally overlooked for a long time.
There are some teams out there have have given a ton more effort than some previous Spurs sides have given, but the reason they don't compete over a season is because they don't have quality players or depth in squad. They have the organisation and work ethic, but can't out play 'better' teams who match them and then play them off the park. The frustrations with our team(s) has been that the players have been present but the committment has been lacking, along with a key player or two missing.
Finally, there is some form of balance. Way off being perfect, but it's there. As for the Sunday game:
King back in defence, Corulka out to the right-hand side. Cudicini in for the injured Gomes. I guess the question is, will Keano partner Defoe again. At a guess, probably. Unless Harry decides to implement a little squad rotation and bench Keane and stick Crouch up front. Personally, I wouldn’t change it. Keane and Defoe works. Both in form. Why break it up now? Wait for Birmingham at the Lane to perhaps rest one of them. As for Modric – let’s make sure he’s in the game and has plenty of the ball.
Do hope it’s an open game. All eyes on Cole and Noble for them, who can definitely hurt us. So that brand spanking new work ethic has to continue so that there is further evidence that times are changing. And by changing I mean more Mars bar than Milky Way.