4 wins. 99 years.
Spurs win at Anfield. Arsenal lose again. 10,000 travelling claret and blue fans watch West Ham United get relegated. Oh and what’s this? Jessica Alba naked in my bedroom, seductively requesting I join her for frivolous antics between the bed sheets. What a sensational weekend. Almost makes you want to daydream about the performance against City with an alternative ending. What if, what if. Such a fine line between loving/hating the gaffer these days. But at least we've got ourselves a pocket of pride after a painful run that's lacked it in abundance.
From a CL play-off to a Europa League variant at the home of the best tannoy system in the land (not working on Sunday, hence the lack of home support vocals). Post-match Harry has admitted scaring the team to victory, reminding them the passage into Europe via Fair Play would mean a very early start to pre-season. Shame a similar ploy wasn't used pro-actively during the past couple of months to inspire avoidance of the far from sexy Europa League. You live and learn.
Immaculate performances of beastly awesomeness from the likes of Sandro, Modric and Rose. And Ledley King. Seven months out and he basically owned the pitch. Such was the comfort of his display. Okay, perhaps he wasn’t 100% slick and styled but seven months people...seven months! He has not right, surely?
Of course he has the right. He's the King, he can do whatever he likes.
There’s no doubting the fact that if Ledley did not suffer from the degradation of his knee he would be one of the world’s best. He’s still one of the world’s best if you wish to take note of his performance by games played ratio.
He hardly plays. When he does, he oozes unparalleled ability. Little surprise then that he also brings the best out of Dawson (to the right of King in central defence). The man is a colossus. And a conundrum. We don’t know what’s going on behind closed doors and whether he’s finally been advised to consider retirement. King himself is looking forward with positivity, as ever. He never wants to give into his reoccuring plight. What his performance does illustrate is the importance of having some of his quality at the back throughout the season.
Stats tell us that we’ve conceded 66 goals in the 44 games that Ledley has not been present. That equates to an average of 1.5 goals conceded per game. Compared to the six conceded in the eight games he’s started, which is an average of 0.75 per game.
As much as we all bang on about needing a forward we equally need to do some hefty work to sign someone of similar ilk to King. Not an easy task. I’m thinking long term here (Gallas has another season with us at the very least and wont be ever present next term through-out all comps). Steven Caulker might be the answer. We’ll know more post-summer transfer window (that’s a hope rather than a prediction).
So, what of the game?
I was surprised Liverpool were so limp in terms of offensive pressure. Granted, they had chances. Wasted ones. Carroll doing his best to appease my disappointment we didn't sign anyone back in Jan. And any of the pre-match hullabaloo about not signing Suarez was washed away thanks to a rather inept performance by the player who spent most of the game reminding us of those other qualities. The ones Howard Webb preferred to ignore. I bet if that was Daws kicking Suarez, the Uruguayan would still be rolling around now with Daws reflecting on a red card. Suarez probably would have rolled all the way to Albert Docks. Regardless, Dawson had him comfortably set to ineffectual. All that was left for him and his mate Maxi was to periodically dive their way through the ninety minutes.
Webb’s inconsistency did however award us a rather soft penalty. Not sure, are we allowed to accept such generosity in the back garden of one of the original Sky Sports Top 4 clubs? Feels dirty. The penalty made it 2-0. The first goal was a wonderful effort (aided by deflection) by van der Vaart who kissed his badge in celebration. A sure sign he’s had a contract offer delivered via Old Trafford. Good solid performance from the Dutchman before going off injured.
Rose, again impressive in another left-back cover-role. Kid might have a future as BAE's understudy. Based on three games. No, no. I'm certain we're onto something here and we are not an over-excitable bunch of fans who will not turn on him when he eventually does make a mistake. Which he will. Human, after all.
We didn’t create too much else in clear cut chances (Crouch and Defoe up front). We didn’t over-power Liverpool. We simply contained them and played out the game in relative comfort. Clean sheet people, clean sheet.
Sandro (got a yellow when others in red shirts deserved them more but got away with it) proving our scouts can get it right. The perfect partner for Modric in the middle, who continues to make us tick (70 out of 74 passes completed, that’s 95% accuracy - destroy all carrier-pigeons leaving Manchester and heading towards N17).
For those taking notes, that’s also another hoodoo beaten by Redknapp (Old Trafford and Stamford Bridge the only two battle fields left to conquer). First win there for 18 years. First double over Liverpool since ’87. But then I’m sure you’ll counter it by reminding everyone that Liverpool are still in a state of flux (be it in a good state currently), requiring additional new blood to improve to even consider competing for a top four place. Our away form continues to impress. Our home form is where we’ve stuttered. I'd still be looking up at City and the rest rather than looking down at Liverpool and...nobody else.
Liverpool finishing below us might hinder them in the transfer window or it might not. Europa football not as appealing as that other competition. Guess it comes down to whether we are far more decisive in the transfer window than Comolli is who will no doubt spearhead the project at hand (the enticement of history on their side, see Joe Cole for example).
It's a fine line, regardless of what you might think of Harry and his mouth and the other issues of potential transfer targets (please no West Ham rejects please) – we’re still in good health. I’m right, am I not?
For all his contradictions and his relentless protection of his ego and the half-truths, his record still remains impressive. Just not as impressive as it could have been. And he knows it. And he's not doing a good job managing the fallout. Although it will no doubt be forgotten about with the summer almost upon us and Harry will want to prove the doubters wrong with yet another positive twist. Perhaps top four and a cup. Come on, it's hardly the moon on a stick.
Will be interesting to see if we start next season as the underdogs or he comes out and states clearly and without confusion: Top 4 is the target. Aim high Tottenham.
Talking of the summer, Harry according to Harry, has already started to scout (he was recently in France). I'm sure you'll all be inspired by this gem in reference to strikers: "It's very difficult finding better than what you've already got"
Oh crap, Jessica’s head is morphing into Harry’s ala Aphex Twin ‘Windowlicker’ video. I knew this was too good to be true.
One game left. 5th spot, in our hands to lose. Much like 4th spot was. Onwards. To dare is to get three points at home in the final game of the season and continue the 'run' into the 2012 season.