Not sure where to begin. But I will endeavour.
I edited the game highlights into a condensed goals only package, with the four conceded and our second-half redemption. Then wirelessly streamed it from pc to TV via ps3. I proceeded to ask the missus to strap me into the specially made chair facing said television and then fit the contraption onto my face, forcing and pulling my eyelids back. Lights off, roll footage. Missus was happy. She went to bed.
The next eight hours was spent watching the 4-0 down, 4-3 finish in continuous loop whilst Chas'n'Dave played loudly in my ears.
It was the only way to cleanse my giddiness, for surely defeat should not make me feel this good? As I sat motionless in chair, wrists and ankles aching, it allowed me ample time to contemplate and consume the various intricacies of the game witnessed in the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza , some of which were hardly delicate and subtle but rather massive jackhammer body blows that would crush ribs do dust.
Spurs, once more, ripping up the script and replacing it with a demented David Lynch re-write. There is absolutely no doubting our ability, the teams ability, to take us through the mire and make us feel completely alive, bungee jumping off the edge of oblivion. This is Tottenham. Manic, ridiculous, expected and unexpected.
I made a comment pre-match on Twitter that the opening ten minutes would be most telling. I was expecting to base this on possession, movement, tenacity and other mundane run of the mill bread and butter ingredients. Instead I choked on a slice of football pie that was positively brimming with maggots and pubic hair.
In all honesty, why even eat the pie when you know it's only going to give you grief, picking out the pubic hair from your teeth, or translated into pure footballing terms; picking the ball out of the back of the net. The wrong net. Four times.
This was live on ITV (which made it doubly worse thanks to their contractual obligation to really drill home the horrific truths with continuous anti-Tottenham lol's, mostly unavoidable to be fair). Champions League proper, our first true test against a genuine giant. The reigning champions of course. And what do we do? We do exactly what the haters predicted/wanted us to do.
We pull a grenade out of our back pocket, remove the pin, then swallow the grenade, turning to the camera and playful winking.
"It's Tottenham Hotspur. What do you f**king expect? You want bland and boring, switch over to the United game"
Delightful entertainment for the neutrals and the haters. Abject misery for the rest of us.
Now I do appreciate that if you remove the rhetoric shared by the ilk of non-Spurs supporters who magically forget about various humiliations and lessons learnt by their own teams in debut and early years Champions League, and one particular result from as recent as last season where the then reigning champions handed the nal it's arse back…you could almost hear the collective groan and head shaking of Lilywhites across the planet coming to terms with what was looking like the start of the mother of all decimations. Regardless of other lessons learnt, this one, the one that matters to us, was beyond the threshold for standard N17 regulated pain.
68 seconds. Might be a decent night for most overly eager young men, getting a tad excitable with the occasion at hand but this is not Switzerland. Or Germany. It's Italy. And it's Rafa's inherited Serie A topping Inter. Let's not bend over. At the very least, use the lube.
Sixty three year old Zanetti, 12 yards, 68 sodding seconds. The defending, abysmal, non-existent. Okay, perhaps that's not fair. It was sloppy. And at this level, everything is magnified, slowed-down and punished - relentlessly punished. You could see the goal before it happened. It was simple. And it was rammed down our throats. I could hear the cheers in Islington from my sofa.
Okay, so its 1-0. Let's. Not. Panic. Get hold of the ball, stand strong and tall. Leaders on the pitch. Where are the leaders? Captains armband? Huddlestone man, don't let heads drop man. No, wait…what are you doing? Why the hell do you carry a grenade in your back pocket. Now what? Why have you given it to Gallas man? He's polishing it? A grenade and he's polishing it? What the... he's kissing the frigging thing, he's kissing it! Oh Christ, what next? No, no, not Gomes, don't give it to Gomes. Of all the people, not Gomes! For the love of God, he's pulled the pin off it. He's juggling the thing on his head. And there we have it. He's swallowed it. He's gone and swallowed the grenade. Heimlich manoeuvre someone please! Anyone?
Kaboom. Not of the Younes variety.
Red card. Carlo on, Modric off. Eto'o from the spot. 2-0. Was Biabiany the last man? Was he denied a certain goal-scoring opportunity? Does it even matter when your keeper implodes in the path of an opposition player?
Before I had time to tie the knot in the noose, it was 3-0. Stankovic, showing off, with a shot from just outside the pen area. The fourth goal (Eto'o again) more or less had every sofa in a Spurs supporting household engulfing it's occupier. Without fight. The away fans in the San Siro still coming to terms with the rude interruption of their rendition of 'oh when the Spurs' from the opening seconds. Not quite finding their stride and song again until the second half.
How dare Inter put us in our place. Us, an infant in this top tier competition, lost in the playground, surrounded by older bigger kids, snatching our dinner money and slapping us across the back of the neck. I want my mamma.
4 fragging 0. Blogs and forums on fire. Text messages and photo-shopped specials in the making.
Down to ten men. Against the Champions of Europe. In their own back yard. The difference in class positively puked out in superlatives by ITV during half-time. It's going to finish 6-0 perhaps 7-0, probably 8-0. No way Inter won't be scoring again in the second forty-five. Better to forfeit the game and take a three goal deficit.
Oh ye of little faith.
It's frustrating, it is. Had we left that grenade back home. Had we held our nerves for that opening ten minutes. Not being overwhelmed with the occasion, if that was in fact the reason for our lethargic in legs lethargic in brains performance. Not to suggest it was all down to our embarrassing defending. Inter ravaged us with beautiful decisive football. It was like being gently beaten up with a feather made out of Adamantium.
Coutinho looks a player. Our lot looked like pretenders. Did Harry get it wrong? We didn’t have time to find out. You can argue about the ethics of sacrificing Modric, but it was damage limitation after the first minute of the game. And with hindsight, it's how we reacted second half that would speak volumes. 451or otherwise, its about application and focus first, formation and tactics are secondary if the players feet turn to jelly.
Pride at stake, what with it being super-glued back together during the break and handed out with (I assume) implicit instructions to get a f**king grip of ourselves.
Okay, so they shifted down a gear or two in the second half. But that is no concern for me. 4-0 down, forty-five minutes to avoid potentially devastating dejection at the final whistle which might well have detrimental long term trembling of knees (the bad kind).
And then it happened.
Hello Europe. My name is Gareth Bale. You can call me the beast. Just make sure you ask me for permission first.
Click here for Part II.