Friday Night Football. Let's never speak of it again.
Watford 0 Spurs 1
If the game where Hoddle scored that wonderful wonderful chip was enthralling, this 2012 FA Cup match (from a Spurs perspective) was an abomination in comparison. Harsh, but a fair assessment. It really wasn't very good from start to finish. Watford, hardly Brazil but very unfortunate to have not scored. All things considered, a 1-0 win and progress into the next round is hardly scoffable. New Spurs, can play without edge and still claim victory, riding lady luck bareback...willing to take the risk.
We lined up with a strong side. On paper more than decent. The reality altogether a different experience. No true shape and absolutely no width. Thankfully Lennon was on the bench for the second half but before we got there we had to endure very little in the way of anything of substance. Midfield was unbalanced, Luka lost out on the left. Rafa in there somewhere doing something. I think. Actually I don't know. I kept having to check the starting line-up to confirm and then reconfirm the existence of some of the players out on the pitch. No fluidity, no smart, sharp movement and passing. There was no tempo other than chasing Watford back when they came forward. Rose and Walker under early pressure whilst we lacked direction.
Modric and Rafa struggled to gain influence. The two forwards (JD and Adebayor) waiting rather than gathering. There was no apparent system to our play that would have allowed the variety of in-team units to work together. Retaining possession, recycling possession, push and run. Nothing. It progressively got worse. That's until van der Vaart scored on 43 minutes from a counter attack (a Walker threaded ball) to the anonymous enigma who scorched the ball into the net from twenty-five yards. Although how anyone can notice how a player can be anonymous in amongst a sea of anonymity is beyond me. I was just happy to see someone attempt a shot on goal.
Second half, Luka off and Lennon on gave us width. Pace. Eased the pressure on the flank Rose was patrolling. Still, we continued to ride our luck with Murray clear on goal hitting the post and the rebound squandered by Deeney. Wakey wakey, right? Wrong. More coma-inducing football followed. We did carve out a chance or two (rose cross Walker header Loach save). Rafa was slightly more involved in the play, in that he got to touch the ball. Have to admit I found myself easily distracted by the want for Yorkshire tea. Also, had to call Sky up because my Sky box lost its signal (was watching the game on an internet feed on the pc). On the phone to Sky they asked me to unplug the box which I did. Then press the backup button, keeping my finger pressed down on it. Then I was asked to re-plug the box in. I kept my finger on the backup button, but could not reach the plug. I needed assistance to complete this so I called out for the missus. I then proceeded to turn into Alan Partridge.
I burst out laughing when she walked into the room. She had no idea why and gave me daggers for distracting her hair straightening until I explained the necessity for the Sky plug to find its way back into its socket. It fixed the problem. Highlight of the game that was. Not relevant to the football, but thankful for ye olde living room improvisation theatre rescuing me momentarily before the bleak return to the internet stream.
Rafa hit the crossbar. But Watford continued to press. Without being patronising either way, we played poorly with plenty of disinterest. Friday night football, obviously not our stage. But even with our lack of oomph, Watford for all their plucky resilience and belief still couldn't get past Cudicini and his heroic save when it looked a certain equaliser. 25 shots to 6, supposedly. That's 25 Watford efforts to our lazy half dozen.
I really did expect us to walk this when I saw the line-up but credit to Watford for at least turning up. Not sure if that was a City hangover being flushed out of our system or just one of very very (very) few below par performances we've witnessed this season. Perhaps evidence that a slightly weakened Spurs side is detrimental to momentum. Perhaps evidence that players did not wish to run around a lot and get injured. Sometimes we don't have much choice but to take that risk. Props to Livermore. I noticed you Jake. Either way, its done. We're into the hat and we can look at the far more important business of the league and Wigan at home.
What? Come on now, the FA Cup...its still an afterthought I'm afraid. The magic has yet to spark us into life. Perhaps in the next round.
Regardless, we win. Onwards we go.
Love the shirt.