Not sure where to begin. There is so much to take in, I can hardly concentrate on matters concerning in-depth analysis. I know I sound like a broken record, but I always knew we'd do it. I've banged on about it for ages now. I think most of us could see it but could hardly even consider embracing the idea, because in our heads, that would be as close to jinxing it as we could possibly come. This quote from AANP sums it up:
"As a long-time Spurs-supporting chum put it to me yesterday, we’re not built for this sort of thing. Let-downs and heartbreaks we can deal with, but this business of every single blasted game coming loaded with significance is just too much to take"
And when the stakes are high, the faster the heart beats and the more intense and unbearable things are. Which is why a defeat here or there had some of the faithful, knee-jerking. It's a defensive inbuilt psychological mechanism that aids us, protects us from the disappointments. Same old Tottenham we say. And when disaster strikes, we shrug knowingly and then look forward to next season.
The semi-final and the 3-1 up at Sunderland have proved to be in some ways inspirational to the team.
9 wins out of 11 games to secure glory. That's just fantastic. Unquestionably fantastic.
What we've gone and done has made every single miserable moment worth it because this win, this historic moment, is all the better for the pain suffered in the past. Next season? I can't wait for it. Is it small time to celebrate this achievement? Of course not. Considering how bastard hard it's been in the past decade to get anywhere near the Top 4.
So, I'm now going to attempt a match review. This is gonna be messy.
I can't say I enjoyed the match. The experience made me sick. Even with my continued confidence since Christmas, it all appeared to desert me just before kick-off. I found myself shifting uncomfortably, almost not wanting to watch, preferring if possible to lose myself in a trance for 90 minutes and awake to find we've won. No such luck. I had to endure it, and for the first time this season I was actually incapable of retaining any form of composure. I found myself dismantling every nano-second of the game, micro-analysing it to the nth degree. It all played out in slow-mo.
21 wins in 28 games for City at home. But we hardly ever lose up there. The stats being churned out just made me dizzy. This was the £30M/£40M/£50M match they said. Cash Wednesday (seriously, only Sky could call it that). The play-off.
Bricking it big time.
First half, was okay. Not amazing. Something lacked, at least that's how I was seeing it. Lennon and Bale not so much in the game thanks to the constant hoofing of the ball up to Crouch. Our play seemed rushed at times. All a bit too much too soon too little. No retention of the ball. City were having a go. We were just a tad too passive. But with hindsight I guess we were measuring up the opposition. Slowly slowly getting a grip of the game. Patiently waiting for the tempo to change in our favour. Which it did in the second half.
However, the nerves obviously blinded me because a neutral would have pointed out that the game could have been 2-0 either way. 0-0 was good, for us. Just needed to test Fulop more. Crouch unlucky with his effort off the woodwork. King scored. Should have counted. Tevez a menace for City.
I found myself thinking 'this is f*cking bollocks Spurs. Get stuck in, and smash these over-rated ****'s out of their own ground'. Wanted to see a bit of that dare to do dance from the boys in Lilywhite.
Second half. Lennon on a run across the middle, doesn't pass to Bale, shoots, wasted. 55 minutes in, first shot on target that Fulop was made to save. Decent effort from JD. Hudd stamps. Lucky with the yellow. Still need to be brave. Modric showing great spirit and fight in the middle of the park. More action. Moddle getting crowded out in the box. Lennon cross, defended well. Then a cross and Defoe and Crouch stretching…almost, almost. Agonising.
Then the word ominous appeared in front of me in the form of a footballing God, all smug and arrogant, asking me how things were going, before disappearing with a cheeky wink. The git.
I was emotionally dead at this point. And although I could not see it at the time, we were bossing it. Creating chances. And City's flirtatious first half of attacks was becoming a distant memory.
Lennon off, Bentley on. Heart stopped for a brief moment when Gomes allowed the ball to go under his foot. Then we had a mazy mazy Crouchie run. My heart. My poor poor heart.
In the midst of all this, when City did have a moment, we had Ledley King. You know him right? He's the one that isn't human. Phenomenal player. The block from Tevez, just amazing. You shall not pass indeed.
Just before that, Fulop pulls off a stupendous save. Or just saves a weak Crouch header. Depends how badly you knee-jerked at the time. I held my head in my hands.
Then it happened.
Before kick-off, around 6pm or so, Chas (from Chas and Dave, obviously) was interviewed on a London news programme. He cited Crouch and said he felt he would be instrumental in the game. I sort of scoffed. This was before the sides were announced. Amazing In the Know knowledge from Chas. Even though he looked a bit dazed on the piano, he was on the money with his prediction.
Fulop, having palmed the ball instinctively away from a Kaboul cross, deflected off Bridge, finding Crouch and his beautiful beautiful head. Crouch making amends.
Kaboul dancing past Bellamy with ease thanks to a pathetic attempt by the Welshman to stop the pulsating Frenchman. Crouch getting the goal he deserved for his second half performance and the travelling Spurs fans along with every Spurs fan the world over going mental, just mental.
82 minutes. And the dream, the dream was not just alive and kicking but stripping off and about to run around naked, big willy flapping around all over the place. This was it. You could taste it now. Er…not the big willy, Champions League. Obviously.
The ominous feeling was gone, the footballing God appearing before me, no longer looking on smugly, but instead whistling the theme music to the Champions League.
This. Can't be. Happening. What are these emotions returning to my wrecked body?
Wilson on for the excellent Modric. Four minutes of injury time.
Then the final whistle. And years of hurt vanquished in the midst of celebrations. Bottle jobs? That fallacy has been buried 6 feet under. This Spurs squad has time and time again dug deep in the face of adversity and come through it. No dodgy lasagne in sight.
It wasn't just at Eastland's. This CL position was won against Arsenal and Chelsea at WHL. But obviously won across the 37 games played. Even with the hiccups. We have been consistent. Spurs. Consistent. Amazing.
King, so deserving of this. Kaboul was a monster. Dawson, Huddlestone - all of them, every single one of them have played a part. I even thought Jenas movement for the drenching of Harry in his post-match interview was superb. All the players deserve credit. Not just for this game, but through-out the season. And to think at any given moment we had a key player out injured. That's actually scary that. Sign a couple of top top drawer players in the summer and I can see us sustaining a Top 4 challenge again. Which is key to progress, because the next step would be to challenge for bigger things. But yeah, one step at a time...
This (CL qualification) might not be an FA Cup final. This might not be silverware. And history will only remember a 4th spot (3rd still a possibility, but let's not get too greedy), but the significance of this is far more important in the here and now.
We stopped City from getting CL football and possibly consolidating their position in the Top 4 for years to come. The pressure is back on them to go for it again, whilst we can prepare for retaining this position next season. Which I have no doubt we will do. The elite, the Sky Sports Top Four has been cracked. This is massively important, mainly for the purposes of belief and mental strength. A winning mentality. The players now have a benchmark to aim to better in 2011. This isn't a fluke or an upset. We deserve this. And can only build on it.
Qualifier obviously standing in the way of the group stages, but I'm sure we'll be just fine. We're edging ever closer to them lot across the road too.
I'll cut this short now (I know, it's been anything but short), as I could go on and on, but will instead blog more later in shorter parts. Like I said at the start, so much to cover.
I have plenty to say about Harry Redknapp (spot on selection and tactics) and of course Daniel Levy, the man who scrapped the DoF system and went back to basics. From bottom 4 to top 4. And yes, that includes a letter to the chairman. But will leave those thoughts for later on in the week. I'm also looking forward to seeing how the press and pundits react to our achievement. Yes, I'm referring to Hansen and Lawro and the mongs on Gillette Soccer Saturday.
Remember last season. 2 points, 8 games. Gillette Soccer Saturday playing a comedy video of a clown, ripping the piss out of Spurs with various stand-up jokes whilst the panel laughed away. Remember this season, after winning 4 straight games then coming unstuck against Chelsea and Arsenal and United. Back in our box, they said.
You might feel dirty for it, but gloat. Gloat to your hearts content.
What a f*cking season. We've actually gone and done that thing that everyone wanted and everyone else expected us not to do. We did it. And the club shop dvd of 2010 will no doubt be a best-seller.
I choked up at the end. Cried for the first time since Italia 90.
We dared. Congratulations.
I f*cking love football and I love this club. Bask in it. It's richly deserved. New chapter, new adventure.
I've gone all giddy.