The promised land. It took us years of wandering around in circles, lost and confused, before we found it and now having done so we've just gone ahead and stuck a massive flag in the centre, opened a deck-chair and sat puffing out smoke nonchalantly from a massive joint.
“Is it cause I’m Tottenham?”
No matter our faults, no matter the naivety displayed in prior CL games, no one can take away the fact that we are born entertainers, refreshing and rampant. Ladies and gentlemen. We’ve clicked. In the pulsating atmosphere in N17, we stepped up a gear and went from learning curve virgins to master-class sex gods.
Stunning, staggering, immense, epic...the superlatives won’t drown you - you’ll be floating on top of them, out-stretched, hands behind head basking in the glorious sun thanks to the glory glory night where boys became men became giants. And so be it if it was just for the one night only.
Someone said to me that I would have trouble writing up a concise report on the game. And to be honest, I've struggled. Mainly because I was going to report on the game much like most other reports and just found myself repeating most of those aforementioned glittering superlatives that the Tottenham nation are today rejoicing in. You’d think only Bale was on the pitch with the coverage our young cyclone stud is getting. Coverage he deserves for destroying Inter over three halves of football. But everyone at the game, in pubs, watching at home, abroad in the early hours - will have witnessed the rather magnificent bravado and confidence of the other men in Lilywhite who defended and counter attacked as part of the devastation.
Even when the Italian club pinged the ball about in possession, reminding us of their quality (Eto’o with a stunning sway and shot and goal too), we didn’t fold under pressure and neither did we betray our traditions. 2-1? Sit back? Nah guv, let’s get the ball down their end again. Notch a third. End them.
Special night, outstanding in so many ways (not least the noise made inside the ground). And the noise made by everyone's reaction to the manner of their dismantlement. I have no time for anyone who dares suggest this was Inter not paying us due respect and being tormented for it. They didn’t underestimate our quality pre-match regardless of the first half back in the San Siro. They simply couldn’t live with a Spurs side that dared to do and dictate. They had a few players missing, didn’t they? Well, so did we.
The movement, the focus and determination. The relentless work ethic and self-belief. Harry and his bullish soldiers defending home soil and banishing the invaders back across the waters. Taxis no doubt parked outside in waiting, no tips, other than next time perhaps assign Leonidas King of Sparta and 300 Spartans to man-mark Bale.
If you place the 'modest down to earth with out of this world ability' Gareth to one side re: Man of the Match there are several candidates you could otherwise award it to. Testament to everyone at the club. The perfect shift. Because without that team unity and desire, giving the ball to Bale would have accounted for very little if we were bypassed in midfield and leaking goals at the back.
So yes, struggling I am to write a concise report. Think most of us are still living it. Instead I’m going to take a look back at a few things from the match preview for the Inter game (a tidy letter to Daniel Levy) addressing one or two statements made.
> We lack that bit of extra something with regards to testicular fortitude.
We choked against Young Boys then dug deep, momentarily collapsed away to Bremen and then froze like rabbits in headlights before we recovered in the Giuseppe Meazza stadium. We’ve been waiting for this Spurs side to click not just in structure and backbone but in strategy and professionalism. Sure, it’s refreshing the way we go about learning our lessons in our debut season and we’re entertainers. The miseries on The Sunday Supplement said we were just having ‘fun’. No more. Now we are deadly serious. Mature and fearless in a game we were not expected to win. Testicular fortitude? Oh yes. Hopefully we’ve got some spare for Saturdays game against Bolton.
> We are what, 30%, 20% away from it clicking into place and working. The players we do possess for selection at the time of writing are more than capable of waking up and shaking themselves into the mentally powerful frame of mind - as seen last term in the push for fourth. We have it in us which is what's so frustrating. I don't buy all this 'Spurs over-extended themselves last season' nonsense. We fought for it. We need some of that fight back in abundance. And goals. Plenty of goals.
Two points here. We proved – even with missing injured players and with the apparent need to add two or three brand new players to the squad – we can find the resolve to compete against the very top top side in Europe (ignoring its Rafa deficiency). And it’s now time for the players to find this type of ethic every week, regardless of the opposition. van der Vaart said in his post-game interview ‘it’s only a game, it’s only three points’ or words to similar effect. That’s the right attitude. Let us – the fans – dance naked in the streets whilst they go back to work and do it all again next time round. Are we over-extending again? Or are we making the gradual step up to that next level? The latter. Obviously.
> We have to reclaim the swagger. Not give a f*ck about the opposition in terms of respect. Turn the tempo up.
It wasn’t outlandish swagger, more controlled and respectful. I guess showing no respect to Inter could have proved to be suicidal. But we cared not to weigh up the opposition and wait for them to settle. We took the game to them and scored a gem of an opener. I can still see Luka with his key, unlocking the door, and sending Rafael gate-crashing through. Don’t underestimate the quality of that goal. It was brilliant. Tempo duly turned up. Pace of the game not full throttle EPL thunder, but a notch up from the usual slow-paced CL football.
> Don't be afraid. Don't hold back. Play emotive sweeping football and play too our strengths. Retain possession, do not concede early, hassle them in midfield and please for the love of all things Lilywhite - be clinical in and around the box. The home crowd will have to play their part in all this too.
The Lane rocked. The midfield rocked with it. Really cannot say anything more than f**king brilliant re: our midfield. Huddlestone is vital to the side. Look up the stats, I’m certain we win more with him in the side than when he doesn’t play. Even when van der Vaart failed to appear in the second half, Jenas – of all players – was industrious. Matching the rest of his team-mates. Nobody was letting anyone down. Everyone with a job to do. Everyone with their fight face on.
> Momentum from this game if we win it could prove to be priceless. And you must agree, January will be easier to do business if we are heading towards the knock-out stages and sitting in 5th/4th.
As mentioned, we have to step it up in the Prem. I know that you don’t tend to play at the same level when facing the likes of West Ham or Wolves. But the quality of the opposing side shouldn’t matter if you do endeavour to push yourself to do your utmost to win. This attitude breeds winners. Few years back, had we beaten a top side, you’d say all this talk would be over-dramatic. But today? It’s part of the blueprint for the games ahead. We have it in us. We need to wave it about in everyone's face. Every week.
> Cudicini concentrate please. vdV might be back. Huddlestone also. Modric is on the verge of exploding into form. Bale has been contained in recent games so hopefully he'll adapt quickly with having to cope with fourteen men marking him. But if they do double up on him (or worse) then someone elsewhere on the pitch has an advantage if another someone else is quick enough to play that first someone in. Lennon continues to improve which is important.
> Concern about Kaboul in central defence who has that annoyance of switching off for a costly second far too often. Gallas still has to prove his worth to the side. Crouch will probably start, but call me crazy, I keep having visions of Pav doing very little other than being in the right place at the right time to plant the ball expertly into the net - something he can do. Does little else. But he has a habit of notching the goals.
Let's review. Player ratings, special mentions:
Cudicini - Corker of a save from the 'you're just a shit van der Vaart' free-kick. More confident in Gomes (even with his loopy meltdowns) but can't fault CC. Must feel great after the three he conceded in Italy. Far more assured.
Gallas – This is why he was signed. Commanding and in control aiding the defence at all times.
BAE – He plays football like it's an inconvenience that needs to be worked though so it's got out of his way. ‘Oh, I’m on a football pitch for 90 minutes, fine then, I’ll just run down the minutes by getting involved’. He never looks fazed. Uber-cool. Defended and pushed forward superbly.
Kaboul – Really didn’t expect this. He’s shown us signs before but has let himself down, but not this time. Great effort and discipline on the night. Prone to mistakes, hope he eradicates them from his game. Could turn out to be a monster.
Hutton – Got done on the goal, or is that too harsh of a criticism considering it was Eto’o? Still think he struggles positionally. And with Lennon ahead of him I'd still prefer to see Corluka there. However, time, it can heal. Just look at Gareth. Hutton has masses of potential.
Lennon – With each passing game, he reclaims some of that lost form. Thought he was excellent. Now imagine Azza at full pelt on one wing and whatshisface on the other.
Huddlestone – Did not look out of place. The questions we (as a collective) ask about his ability and whether he can stamp his authority on a game, once more answered. A tireless solid performance. Vital to us. Might not have played the quarter-back role he's accustomed too, but that just shows his versatility.
Jenas – Quite obviously followed the gaffers instructions to the letter. Didn’t stop with the lung-busting when he came on.
vdV –Yet another goal at the Lane. Loving it. World class performer who has galvanised the side. Supreme touch. No culture of comfort at Spurs no more.
Crouch – Another European goal. It works. Let’s have more faith. He worked his socks off for us.
Pav – I stand by my words. He doesn’t appear to do much, but score. I’m not complaining.
Modric – This is the Luka we know. Was involved in everything, buzzing all over the pitch – effective and instrumental in both offensive duties (the pass for the opener) and defensively (interceptions and mixing it up in the midfield battle). Wanted the ball at all times and retained and recycled possession expertly.
Bale – The media have gone a bit loopy, haven’t they? Broadsheet journos equally so. I can’t wait for James Richardson’s Football Weekly and the patronising thoughts of Barry Glendenning on whether he thinks Bale got lucky again. Ooh. Bale is a beast. We knew that. Everybody now knows it. He’s going to get better. Scary, eh? Looks a level headed polite lad. Gotta love him. Destroyed Maicon. Destroyed the Champions of Europe. It's pure fantasy right before our eyes.
Harry – And he’s meant to not have any tactical astuteness. Delegator come good. Or we can just give the credit to Joe Jordan and Kevin Bond.
> Let's remember what this club is all about in terms of its traditions. We might not have a massive haul of silverware but if you take any random Bill Nicholson quote you'll have your answer in terms of what it means to be a Spurs fan. Glory. Even if said glory is 90 minutes in length.
> I want a performance. I want a statement of intent and end product. I want the emotion. I want the swashbuckle.
> My spine is tingling. My head buzzing. Rediscover yourself Tottenham. Want it. Shout out that you want it. Then prove that you want it. Then don't let anyone stop you from taking it. You'll get more than a cuddly toy for your endeavours.
Job done. Haters? Stick it up your bollix. You’ll never understand what it means to be part of this club.
> I want a DVD.
No DVD to be released. Gutted. But I’ll deal with it. When I close my eyes, I can't re-open them for ninety minutes.