Monday night football for Tottenham. It felt like the forgotten fixture after an action packed Saturday and Sunday. I wasn't that bothered with it during the course of the day, disinterested with the anticipation of team selection. I found myself thinking more about the premier of Game of Thrones. Then started to consider which of the characters would lose their heads this season, by virtue of decapitation. Have them stuck on a spike as a warning to others. My day dream came full circle with images of an angry crowd with pitchforks baying for the blood of Levy and Sherwood. There's plenty of t*ts on show in Game of Thrones too, so you can see why there's a parallel to be had with Spurs.
After detaching myself from fantasy I came crashing down to a more harsher reality of a head to head between 6th place apologists and soon to be relegated fodder.
Sunderland, glued to the bottom in desperate need of inspiration and a miracle of biblical proportions whilst Spurs are all but out of the race for a Champions League spot unless you wish to flirt with the science of mathematics. Put away your calculator and behave. The only viable goal is to keep ahead of Manchester United so we can claim at least one success this season. Not sure if that constitutes an open bus parade or not.
If I was struggling to focus my anticipation for this match, it was all rejuvanted by the pre-game 'breaking news' that Gary Neville described as media terrorism later in the evening, doing so whilst fronting his punditry for said media outlet that broke the news and spiked interested in their betting outlet.
Tim Sherwood would not be at Spurs next season.
It's like nobody has ever thought this before.
Cue Neville digging out (indirectly without thinking about the irony) Sky Sports for being the guilty breakers of the unsubstantiated news.
So why or how is this any different to the obvious story arc playing out around us from one day to the next? Tim commented on it. Thus giving it some substance. He wasn't dismissive. He told us he was unable to say anything more at the moment. Either gagged by club or self aware enough to accept his fate without causing any more strife. It's hardly unexpected so he's hardly going to react with disdain.
We all knew there was never any intention for longevity with his appointment. What's interesting is that this unofficial (practically official save for a statement on the website) confirmation decided to wave its hellos several hours before we entertained a sorry Sunderland at the Lane. Bad timing? Yet another strategic power-play? The Tottenham way? For we are the club that likes to sack a manager at half-time.
Jamie Redknapp had some choice words to say. Literally. He's good mates with Sherwood and is overly protective of the clan. Suddenly the transparent journey the news took to find its way into the realms of social media and sports headlines flashes like a neon sign. Something has been said behind closed doors. It's then been leaked. Either directly or indirectly, it's got out and Sky have lapped it up.
It eases any pressure Sherwood might be perceived to be under so that when he leaves it doesn't carry any shock waves for him or anyone else related to the club. It also eases any potential for pitchforks and baying of blood.
Sherwood post-match was deflective and hardly antagonistic in biting the hand that feeds him. Diplomatic, if not articulate. I'm not sure breaking down his words to the point of de-constructing them for definitive meaning (i.e. past tense when referencing the Spurs job) is worth the bother. His chirpy sound-bites and pride in having coached us lends itself to the fact that he knows he'll be gone come the summer. Why is no news still news? Because there's no news worth reporting until something tangibly exciting happens.
Just to side step away from the Sherwood 'sacked' arc - it's interesting how he avoided discussing Eriksen and shifted the plaudits to Kane. You could say this was just clumsy media handling. If not, Tim isn't as dim as some would have you believe. He quite obviously thinks for himself and doesn't care that much for the consequences. Not a good mix, but a curious one (if he can master the art of playing the game rather than subconsciously hinting at his inner thoughts on players).
It's what we knew would happen, him leaving, and we get told this on Monday for no apparent reason other than to invertedly add further fuel to the bonfire of vanities that this experience has become.
If I was to tip my conspiracy hat towards a theory, I'd say this is almost passable as good news for those that are unhappy with the club, the chairman and the appointment of Tim. A nudge nudge wink wink that we have someone else lined up for the summer. A way to rally the troops with some spin to make sure that what they wish for will be granted. Don't worry your pretty little heads, go get your credit card ready to renew your season ticket with excitement. Cynical? Perhaps.
At least the football on the night, for once, was a solid distraction from the...er...other football we've had to endure recently.
Spurs were professional, if never fluid and cohesive. Still too strong for a Sunderland side that was plucky in pockets but never able to sustain any great threat and completely collapsed once Tottenham came from behind. We love to come from behind. This wasn't just a Lilywhite moneyshot, it was a bukkake.
Naturally we gifted the opening goal to them. One that is trademark and subsequently the personification of this campaign. A goal made of errors, teed up for Lee Cattermole to strike Sunderland ahead. Vlad Chiriches with a poor back pass to Hugo Lloris who returned the ball with an equal lack of conviction. Vlad then sent the ball across the field to Kaboul only for Cattermole to steal in and finish with precision past a despairing Lloris.
Not too worry. Poyet's men were diabolical at the back with more consistency on the night. We kept on going, kept on crafting in the rain. Even with a midfield that lacked the tenacity of a tackle, we looked far more solid in a game that didn't mean much to us when it should have meant so much more for Sunderland. They didn't quite spark the urgency needed if they wish to survive the fall out of the top flight.
Key highlight for the evening? The great Dane.
Christian Eriksen, out on the left, assisted twice (left foot, right foot - two wonderful deliveries) and scored with the aid of a subtle deflection. He's quality, that's why he's effective inverting and roaming into central positions from the flank. It's still not the ideal balance for the team as it leaves Danny Rose more exposed than a pervert without his rain-coat in Browns, Shoreditch. Eriksen will improve, get stronger and more consistent but this will happen when there is more astuteness to tactics/movement and a better quality of player(s) around him. Not to say some of his fellow summer arrivals won't blossom along with him. It's just not very tidy at the moment. There has to be structure and discipline with the freedom to express, if you have magic feet like Christian.
Emmanuel Adebayor notched a brace with the blood soaked Harry Kane and his work ethic earning him a first league goal. Ade's second could so easily have been Kane's goal (ball trickled towards the line and needed help to cross it). Gylfi Sigurdsson made it a scrappy five in injury time.
Sunderland were awful. Spurs punishing. Not turning my nose up at that. How often have we thrashed someone at the Lane this season? Good to see us score five rather than concede them.
Tim even found the time during the match to tell fans to encourage the players, to support them rather than bemoan them. Doesn't he know Spurs fans? We're nothing if we can't scapegoat. One fan informing him that he won't be at the Lane next season. Tim's reaction was to nod and laugh. I guess that 18 month contract termination will finance a holiday or three. I'd be happy too.
Another moment of hilarity was the Chris Ramsey/Sherwood salute to Adebayor. I don't know why I found it funny. It's like Ramsey photo-bombed the moment.
I laughed even harder having seen that one of the tabloids airbrushed Ramsey out of the photo altogether so they could tie it all in with their headline and 'Sherwood to go' narrative without a supporting cast. Poor old Chris, gatecrashing the exclusivity of the Adebayor celebration and duly erased from it.
It's nice that the result matched the expectation you should have when playing the team at the bottom of the table. For a Monday night afterthought, this wasn't too shabby. Game of Thrones was however still infinitely better than this. It had full frontal nudity so naturally it wins.
We played well and made sure that our class, as disjointed as it can be, made sure the difference on the night was as big as the gulf between both clubs in the table.
A 5-1 scoreline, not quite one with an everlasting shine thanks to the lack of polish we've become accustomed to this season. Still, let's celebrate a return to the pinnacle of having a zero goal difference. If I drink enough in the next week I might even dust out that calculator and take a butchers at the fixture list. You know, for a laugh. Football is so much better when it allows you to dream.
Salutes to one and all, we've got to do this five more times.