Spursy Wipe 2.
A look back at another riveting week in the life of Tottenham Hotspur.
Cardiff at the Lane
Another win for Spurs with yet another nondescript performance, patchy with quality and hardly the most convincing in the character stakes either. A post-Europa League headache just about avoided and you could almost forgive the boredom thanks to a goal from open play by the much maligned Roberto Soldado. Nice movement from Adebayor, solid run from RS and a confident piece of control with measured finish. He celebrated like he had blasted the ball over, such was the emotional drain of the monkey clutching onto his back sucking the very soul from his body, he emotionally collapsed with shock when he slotted it home.
I'm not setting out to be pessimistic or down-hearted but each passing game reminds me of the promise we all had at the seasons start and how jaded we all look (on the pitch and in the stands) at this current juncture. Ahead of us we face Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool with Benfica home and away (and Southampton squeezed in for good measure). The March madness is almost upon us. Will our lack of cohesiveness and vanished swagger be our downfall when facing clubs that have their style fixed and focused on the run-in?
No one (around us and above us) have truly impressed this season but some (more than others) are beginning to turn it on. We're still looking for the switch. In fact, we can't even locate the room the switch is in. It's hardly pitch dark but we have to stop bumping into walls if we wish to light it up.
The first half was OK. The second wasn't. Not pretty or functional. Injuries meant the likes of Kyle Walker and Christian Eriksen missed out. The ones playing could have been injured for all I know, such was the lack of zest with our tempo.
We don't control possession any more. A trait that Andre Villas-Boas mastered. What he failed to do is spark life in our attacks which meant we sometimes just about crawled over the line for the three points. Under Tim Sherwood, the attacking intent is more evident in how we work the ball from wide areas and through the middle however there is no set fluidity to it. Once again, I have to cite the lack of identity.
It's unavoidable right, considering the coaching upheaval we've experienced this season? Sack a manager mid-season, you're not going to get a brand new blueprint for a footballing ethos until the next season. We're not even certain who our coach will be.
Without looking ahead, at this very moment the midfield fails to ignite because there isn't a rhythm that is driven by either Mousa Dembele and Paulinho. Both players arguably wasted and equally lost. The lack of a playmaker or creative force (Eriksen) means we're flat with no scintillating highs.
We did dominate the possession, mostly thanks to how poor Cardiff were. Poor yet always in with a chance thanks to the continued lack of shape at the back.
Still, here I am, positively excited (or insane with fear) for our upcoming fixtures. I guess you don't feel more alive as a football supporter when you refuse to let go of your dreams.
Six defining games on the way. Six defining wins? Heart on sleeve for me. Hope the players feel the same. I'm still struggling to see the evidence for it. With the right blueprint, with the returning players fit and able, I see nothing to stop us from having a proper go next time round (always next time). I guess there's no evidence for this either (as we always manage to fudge it up) but when I look at the players we signed and the quality they do posses and will display (at some point) then this season will serve as a reminder to never go out bulk shopping again. Got a few ifs and buts to work through first.
Eriksen's fall from grace
Christian Eriksen's recent exclusion from the Tottenham side has surprised his national coach Morten Olsen, who has backed the Dane to become one of the best players in the Premier League.
A fall from grace is what one of the papers called it. I'm so dismissive of this season and our lacklustre chronicles that every single one of our signings will be deemed brand new once we get through this one and look ahead to the next. Eriksen is an undoubted talent but still very young and a player who sometimes struggled to impose himself with consistency at Ajax. Not to suggest he'll never be able to dominate games in the final third. But if you look back at his short time at Spurs he's hardly had time to settle (the story of most players season). Injuries also puncturing any hope for that consistency.
Andre Villas-Boas didn't quite find a role for Eriksen. Sherwood did until dropping him. He now starts on the left, cutting central. Much like a certain Luka Modric once did. I personally still think Spurs can do with a Luka in the middle, deeper in position and catering for the pace and tempo of our possession with Eriksen central behind the striker in more of a van der Vaart style of role.
What is certain, and what Olsen is right about is - Eriksen (considering he's our only natural creative force) should really be a key starter for us rather than pushed out for other more one dimensional players.
Louis van Gaal
Perpetually linked. He has the credentials and a big enough presence to command respect and attract prospective transfer targets. Tim Sherwood might struggle to do the latter. Still, hardly a long term appointment if it went through. You get the distinct feeling that gone are the days of longevity with any given coach or manager. Hence the director of football role that is meant to facilitate continuity when one coach leaves and is replaced with another. That hasn't actually ever worked out. Do we go with experience and hope that the man in charge can take advantage of the wealth of talent we have at our disposal leading to another adventure in the Champions League or perhaps even a piece of silverware? Longevity it would seem is theoretical fantasy, the desire to see us build towards something that is sustainable at the very top of the league. When in reality winning something and finishing in the top four ASAP is the only way this can be achieved - even if it ends up being shared what with so many clubs being reactively close to each other in form.
The point being, there appears to be no excuse for under-achieving - even though we have bundles of excuses for this years failure. van Gaal would give us a quick smack of rejuvanted injection perfect for the impatient culture of football we exist in. Someone like Frank de Boer would not fit into that requirement but would fit into anything associated with that maligned longevity 'project'. In other words, we'd have to perhaps be patient as we re-build. Something we don't seem to ever have a handle on.
To go back to van Gaal - if a manager of his ilk turned us into a CL side quickly then if he was to leave within 2/3 years we would attract the type of managers that only prefer to take over a clubs that are challengers rather than clubs in a constant flux of transition.
Any other manager (of current Prem sides) would be dismissed out of hand as 'not being good enough for Spurs'. You know, like Roberto Martinez, Brendan Rogers and David Moyes. All three (before their moves to their new clubs) were rejected by the great majority of our fanbase. Nothing or nobody is ever quite good enough for us leaving Spurs not quite good enough for our high aspirations.
Talking of Moyes, Utd have been linked with van Gaal and de Boer. Get set for another messy summer.
1882 at Dnipro
Tom Van Haaren, a Spurs fan, part of the 1882 movement and listener of the The Fighting Cock podcast, had his life cut short at 23-years-old by cancer. His father and friends were in attendance at the Dnipro game.
A lovely touch with the applause for a minute on the twenty-third minute and the 'For Tom' banner.
He can't talk about Emmanuel Adebayor because of contractual reasons. Regardless of the details, the fact remains, if you lose the faith of the players and if there is a fragmented dressing room - you lose no matter that you stood your ground in the first place. Player power is where it's at. If the coach is respected or feared then such incidents would probably not arise. AVB, in the end, not strong enough to command. I feel for him in some ways because if he didn't stand his ground surely the player would have mugged him off successfully and got away with it thus weakening the coach and his authority. If so, then any chance of respect or fear becomes unattainable. He did stand his ground and the same result followed.
Tim Sherwood reaping the good fortune of Adebayor and getting through the games much like AVB did with Bale.
Gareth Bale and Luka Modric and Jermain Defoe
I guess we laud the likes of Bale and Modric and yet slate the likes of Defoe when perhaps it should actually be the other way round if you dare to entertain the semantics of loyalty. Or maybe the better players deserve the continued praise even after they've moved on?
No they don't - according to the Twitter Police that deem it an unacceptable offence to take an interest in two brilliant footballers ripping it up in La Liga, both of which were superb when wearing the Lilywhite of Spurs. Yeah, let's pretend that never happened. Shame on me for wanting to appreciate class and beauty. Best I stick to slagging off our current batch of players with ample self-loathing, which let's face it, is what we excel at.
As for JD, he isn't on the same level of Bale and Modric but has also given a good riddance message by some supports.
Loyalty? No wonder it hardly ever exists.
Ruud Gullit spilled the beans on Tim Sherwood and Les Ferdinand scouting Luis Suarez and the two Spurs men asking for Ruud's opinion on a potential bid. He told them not to think twice. We didn't think at all. Which is a shame because Daniel Levy would have sold him to Real Madrid by now and we'd have enough money to build another supermarket next to the tumbleweed between the current one and WHL.
Sherwood and Ferdinand regretting their mistake and then admitting to it being a mistake. I'm certain Suarez wasn't considered a feasible target by Harry Redknapp either. The rumour at the time was Levy wanted to sign him. Obviously. Supermarket potential. Still, he's hardly the most endearing of characters and not quite someone that would fit into Tottenham in the same way Liverpool FC have taken to him, all apologetic and t-shirt wearing with their deflection.
I'm thinking if Levy really fancied Suarez he'd have signed him much like he did with Steven Pienaar - without any express desire from the coach.
Lamela Balotelli swap
I'm voting this as the best transfer rumour of the post-January window. Let's cut our losses with a player that was clearly a top talent for Roma because he's struggled to settle and has been out injured and replace him with the destructive personality of a talented player who is so erratic it's nigh impossible to know what type of player he'll be on any given match-day. Hold up.
Did I say destructive? Hmm. He might just about fit into our club.
The John Terry and Ferdinand brothers affair (non-sexual, Terry hasn't attempted to bed either) would add some credence to the suggestion that there is a form of favouritism within the FA setup. Whether that's intrinsically racist or not is both controversial and libellous. It's also completely irrelevant which is the perfect ammunition that Sol Campbell likes to load his gun with, aiming for targets and instead shooting off his foot.
I don't want to de-construct his reasoning mainly because I don't particularly want to walk down the road towards questioning mental health. His reluctance to deflect and make-up false narratives suggests either Campbell is the single most arrogant and deluded footballer this country has ever produced or he simply wants to make some pound notes from selling books.
Don't care about the England captaincy. Maybe his character and his personality wasn't deemed strong enough regardless of his undoubted ability as a defender. Tagging it with the simplicity of it being just about the colour of a players skin is insulting.
Judas will remain forever the personification of Arsenal football club. When they moved to North London, local supporters frequented both White Hart Lane and Highbury with some eventually remaining red and white. A fanbase birthed from fairweathers and plastics. Basically, Spurs fans that decided to visit the new club in North London and not travel up the Seven Sisters to the club that has always sat there.
Everything from their franchised inspired move for money from financial ruin to bribery and renaming Gillsepe Road stinks of the same stench that owned the area around their original Plumstead home. Judas lied and lied and then lied some more for the sole purpose of money (contract run-down) before making the switch. Yet he has never once accepted this. On his return he claimed the abuse he got from Spurs was race-driven. He's never let go of this. Never. That's some grand delusion he embraces even today. That's why he's hated.
Captain for ten years? More like a **** for a life-time.
The Tottenham Surfer Flag
It's tiny. Blink and you'd have missed it making its way down the block. Don't go blaming the Trust or anyone else that stood underneath it. Blame the comical bureaucracy of the English game and the obsessive nature of health and safety that stops us from any form of organic colour in the stands. The flag can now sit proudly beside the ban on confetti/ripped up newspaper cuttings (fire hazard) and the removal of the drum. Not at Spurs which is y-word related, but at a youth game at Charlton a couple of years ago when the head steward informed us the home fans had not been pre-warned of the percussion piece and its arrival and that they would have needed to be told in advance to prepare them for the noise.
I kid you not.
It's not about being against modern football it's all about laughing your backside off staring at its comical stupid face.
Perhaps next time when a suggestion is made and accepted, we rejected the terms out of hand as they don't meet our criteria. You know, the mugs that money to watch the football.