In support of Jermaine Anthony Jenas
No - the blog has not been hacked.
Welcome to the JJ and Pav Appreciation Society. Membership is free.
You'll have noticed four things this past weekend. That's if you are straightforward with your honesty. I know I did, and it was echoed by others. A minority it would seem in parts - but I guess due to past crimes many of us struggle to come to terms when attempting to quantify then justify and compare one of the greatest of Spurs conundrums...and any supporting acts touring at the same time.
The rest shrugged and stated nothing has changed. And it probably hasn't. Because their perception of Jermaine Jenas has remained constant so it supports their opinion of the player, no matter what changes around him.
Now before you start accusing me of over-reacting or suddenly acquiring misty eyed delusions, I'm just pointing out that both Jermaine Jenas and Roman Pavlyuchenko (two of the most much maligned players we possess who sit on the bench of besmirch with Bentley, Keane and one or two others) played well. That's it. Not saying that for example JJ has suddenly achieved redemption and is owed respect and medals of honour or that Pav is the answer to our lack of cutting edge up front.
All this article wishes to state (in a traditional long-winded manner of therapeutic acceptance and apology) is that to balance out the Spursverse and stop the stars from falling from the skies, it's only fair we get into the habit of acknowledging those that deserve some praise, be it a gentle pat on the back or something more. The culture of knee-jerk, blame and favouritism remains and its easy to ignore anything that might contradict your opinion. We are guilty of it.
And sure, it was only Blackburn Rovers, but then it was only Sunderland, Bolton, Everton, West Ham, Wigan etc etc. We need players performing, no matter their apparent squad importance.
Both Jermaine and Roman deserve polite plaudits. I'm hoping this won't send some of you into cardiac arrest. So considering how quick we are to throw rotten fruit, it's only fair right? And equally so, my feet are firmly on the ground in terms of expectancy from both players. Because we've been here before, especially with JJ, who has flattered to deceive countless times. When he does play well its easy to confuse a standard performance for most other players with something sublime or superb thanks to it's rarity when he delivers the goods. And soon you come to the common conclusion that it's a blip, a positive spike of energy, and normality will resume. It's the ongoing soap opera we follow with Jenas, the same plot line repeated over and over again.
Not sure if its the smell of the NLD that has him looking sharp and focused, in time for a possible hopeful obligatory Tour de force cameo against the scum. Or if he has simply dug a little deeper with no spot-light on him. Arguably one of our best performers on Saturday against Rovers. What with rumours of Huddlestone crocked (now confirmed - 3 months), although both are completely different ilks of players, on form, Jenas isn't too shabby a player to have as a replacement. On form. Which is where the problem has always been. He's not always on form. Or to put a finer point on it - he's never the player we expect him to be. Which in some ways is the reason so many of us look on in despondency and always expect him to be below average. Even when he's not.
JJ is nondescript, say, in comparison to a Hudd or a Luka. You know the strengths and weakness of both of these players but with Jenas, he's just box-2-box but doesn't excel in one particular area other than his energy levels and his long-busting runs. When on form. With Hudd, it's his quarter-back stance and power-shots and vision and Luka is a crafter, a dinking magic man. JJ is always meant to be something, but we're never quite sure what that something is meant to be.
On Saturday he covered the pitch with intent and purpose, wanting it, playing balls to the flank for Bale, cross pitch marauding runs and some trademark box to boxing, driving forward (almost scored) eating up the space ahead of him. He's played decently a few times this season, but in comparison to the Bale and vdV hype, nobody tends to notice. Unless he plays sh*t, then we notice.
I know I've probably been guilty of ignoring him and grabbing the Kleenex for fast wrist action when watching Gareth destroy the left wing. Kleenex obviously required to wipe away the tears of joy from my eyes as my wrist struggles with the constant grabbing of the remote to rewind and replay.
This time though, I've found myself basking in Jenas tackling and battling on the field of play. Okay, basking is a touch too far. Pleasant. It was pleasant to see and with our injuries, it's fairly joyful to have a forgotten player reminding us that he can still offer his services to the side. Unlike Bentley who never appears likely to re-discover form he possessed prior to his move to Spurs.
I suppose you might still not be impressed and you might cite something I've always preached about Jenas. When he plays well, as aforementioned, it's a blip. Levy's original poster-boy for 'sell-on value'. He is the perpetual prince of potential, forever we await for him to grow out of footballing puberty and then grow some much needed balls. Belief, he lacks it. And the home support equally so lack belief in him. Hence the target on his back. We all want him to be the player he's expected to be.
He was never (going to be) a blood and thunder die hard mentally strong player we could build our midfield around. Whereas perhaps now, he can simply offer us some energy and directness, not as a Plan A, but as a Plan B.
We stand by the likes of Modric etc when they under perform because we know how well they can consistently play when on form. We hate on JJ because we expected him to be Gerrardesque in terms of stamping his authority on games. Perhaps not so much these days. Once upon a time when we lacked class in our midfield, he was our only hope. Hence the misguided faith and expectancy that weighed down on his fragile ickle mind. Now the landscape is one of riches so Jenas can - when given the opportunity - get on with doing the hard graft work whilst others swagger and silk.
He has played well this season, with a couple of poor performances thrown in. Much like many of our players have too. Considering how easily we excuse some of these players and look the other way and whistle.
So what four things did I notice on Saturday? Not rocket science this.
1) JJ played well
2) Pav played well
3) JJ still gets maligned via the 'Jenas is crap' reflex
4) Pav gets support from the crowd even when he's missing 'open goals'
Now the latter is great to see. Not the missing of open goals, but the support. Roman shots wide a glorious chance, then misses a penalty, but still we cheer him on and when he scores we lap it up. He always notches up a goal does Pav, even though most of the time he lacks much of anything else. But we seem to accept him. Did play very well against Blackburn and showed the type of movement we need from a forward whilst we wait for JD's return. And he showed strength to get on with it and stick the header away.
As for JJ, when the pressure isn't on, he turns it on. And we could go on talking about how a player who needs to be handled with care is not the right type of player for the club in the direction we wish to continue going. But it wouldn't be so much of a problem if we didn't treat him like he goes around bragging he's the best midfielder in the country.
Well done Jenas, I appreciate your efforts. You're not exceptional in any great way and your abilities are less special than say the likes of Modric and Huddlestone and company that offer those dinking runs and sublime passing but on this type of form, if we just accept you for what you are and can be (a solid squad player) then hopefully we'll see more of this from you. With the odd anomoly that has you playing out of your skin. And we promise not to expect from you every week.
Consistency, it's all we want.
JJ. Not reinventing bread just lightly toasting it. The Marmite is optional.
Support your team. Support your players*.
*if you play sh*t JJ, I will ruin you mate.
As for Pav, he needs a run in the team, otherwise we'll never know if he's just the right man in the right place when coming off the bench (Darren Bent anyone?) or a forward who can work as part of a cohesive fluid Spurs side.
As for the game itself. Good to have you back Spurs. Well, at 60%, but good enough. Disappointing to concede two late on, especially in the soft manner we did, but otherwise it's important to knowingly nod at the fact we scored four goals at home comfortably with two goals from forward players in a 4-4-2 formation (bastardised a tad to account for vdV's wondering into central positions).
Back to basics Tottenham and Harry. Huddlestone injury to be discussed later. NLD previews on the way.
A lot. At the minute. Hoping that minute turns into hours.