And we're back. Back to the football once more. Sort of.
We've got a game that will no doubt be dominated by the vocals of the home support singing the name of Harry Redknapp. It would have been all about the not guilty verdict but it's shifted a little thanks to that little matter of the England job and it's availability. In today's press conference Harry handled himself very well. The media present lapped it all up (the joke about losing the England job before he's even got it went down a storm). That's Harry. Entertaining. Gives them the sound-bites they demand. Whether he can keep everyone onside a year or two into looking after the national side is up for debate. The press, they will always turn on you. Even a favourite will be built up because the sound of the thud made when he falls is too much for them not to crave. Perhaps Harry is the chosen one the media will worship no matter what.
Other footnotes from the conference include safe and respectful answers to questions relating to England and that other thing, whatisface...oh yeah, Tottenham Hotspur. The club he's currently contracted with. It's hard to work out exactly what Harry might do next. You would expect him to want the national job but he hinted its something he'd have to consider with his family (managing England can seriously damage your health). He's focused on Spurs he says. Which is what we expect from him until circumstances change. Hopefully if the FA ask for permission then they along with Redknapp agree its best to wait until the summer to make anything official. That way, everyone is content.
We've still got plenty of work to do this season. It would help if something happens quickly either way. I can't be alone in being completely bored of all the (rival) managers and players and their constant approvals for Redknapp for England. This is also quite beneficial to our 'opponents'. Bless their concerned hearts. We need more Chelsea/Utd/City players telling us what the FA should do. I do know they get asked the question by journalists so they are obliged to comment on it. Would still like to see a memo fired out to the ones that frequent Twitter stating they should stick to discussing Nandos than stating the bleeding obvious. Shock horror <insert name of English footballer here> would like Harry as the next manager. Really? How unexpected. Shame no one dared to be more original, if anything just to cause a nice distraction to the mundane. Warnock for England trending would have made my day.
But then that's the nature of the game. Tabloids and Sky will make sure they ask a dozen people for their opinions to continue generating the hype to fuel their 24 hour coverage of an hours worth of news.
I know people say it's akin to tapping up. It's not (not really) but its still amusing how dismissive everyone appears to be of Spurs in all this whilst we are told by various ex-pros and pundits along with current Top Four opponents that the FA just have to give him the job. Don't ever believe that the media perceive us the darlings of the Prem. It's Harry they adore. We just lucked out. The patronising is grating but we're big and bad enough to ignore it, right? We've had to deal with a lot worse down the years.
So, to the football then. Newcastle United at the Lane. No van der Vaart which means no deep moving link-up play with the midfield. This could result with one up front with that one looking more like a zero, all alone and isolated. Perhaps not as extreme as what we witnessed away to Liverpool. However, this being a home game we'll more likely to move the ball with better fluidity and create chances even with a single body working the box. Then we have the return of Aaron Lennon and his probable inclusion giving us complete width from the right to the left. Would be rude to dismiss the shift Niko put in last Monday, so he's in with a shout to retain his place if Harry prefers to introduce Lennon off the bench.
One up front? You've got to fancy a more traditional 442 for this one. We got away with it at Liverpool because of the restraints on selection. We can dare to achieve a little more at the Lane.
It's Newcastle United. They're going to give it a go and they'll be sparky up front, not afraid to attack. So best we look to dominate as the home side should do and keep them busy at the back. Something that will work better if we start with two forwards. Radical stuff.
Defoe is back. So Adebayor will have a partner unless JD isn't quite 100% and Saha is preferred. King should be available (to partner Dawson) but Sandro and Kaboul are doubts. Shame about Sandro as we could do with being very competitive in the midfield (although his inclusion would not quite fit into a 442 - and there's always Livermore for backup). Control the middle and you'll control the game. The onus is on us so we simply can't afford to be bullied.
Effective possession. Something the likes of our two key players are more than capable of doing. Parker patrolling the park and Modric making magic. Got to be confident with that. They've got to be equally pumped up when White Hart Lane will be positively bouncing with energy and noise. I also hate to see Alan Pardew smile.
It's another big game for us. When do we ever involve ourselves with anything less? It's a good time to be Spurs. Harry has done a grand job for us. I remember the start of this season well. The despondency based on the back end of last season and the suggestions that he had taken the side as far as he could. Proved everyone wrong again. He makes a habit of surprising people. If he moves on we'll remain a fantastic proposition for the next man to come in and take the helm. That's still neither here or there for the moment.
All that matters is the next game. Anfield was a test, one that had us display a master-class of grit and defending in containment. On Saturday we have to defend our proud home record by attacking. The lucky ones going will sing their hearts out and we'll endeavour to go marching on.
Love the shirt.