I've been without the pleasures of the internet since last Friday. I did manage a couple of Tweets over the weekend, but avoided delving into the depths of despair that appear to have destabilised everyone's emotions once more. I guess I can't put this off any longer, so head first in I go...
The Villa Game
Shades of 2006 with a reverse twist and the added spice of Martin Jol once more being involved on a last day heart stopper. You couldn't make it up. Because it's such the bleeding obvious. At the start of the season I'm sure plenty of you cited the fixture list and laughed about the potentiality of us having to beat Fulham to qualify for the Champions League. We shouldn't laugh, we should take it for granted that this beautiful beloved club we support will never do things the easy way. Once more our chest is sliced open and our heart pulled out and kicked around because pain is Tottenham and Tottenham is pain and pain is love masquerading as pain.
First of all the logistics of processing the Villa game. I've already been told had Arsenal beaten Norwich we'd have beaten Villa comfortably and the fact we didn't constitutes a choke. Well, no, it doesn't. Firstly Arsenal have been choking all season. They've been choking for several seasons now. Their choking (this season) simply creates an illusion that we keep losing the initiative or surrendering the chance to recapture it. It's an illusion because no matter the form of Arsenal or anyone else for that matter we will continue to produce erratic displays within the constraints of 90 minutes and across several games that illustrate key missing ingredients to the pot as we stew.
The issues are ones discussed more times than I care to mention. You know them well. Rotation (lack of), tactical ineptitude, squad depth and management of players. When we're good, we are good, when we're not we don't usually have a way of working out how to be good again. It's partly to do with the lack of decisiveness in the manager amongst other long standing transfer market issues. See? More times than I care to mention.
This latest spike in 'form' is thanks to Hodgson and the FA (science of football proclaims this). We're playing like a team again, be it one that is still making for heart out of chest dramatics. I can only be philosophical about the 1-1 draw with Villa. Deflected goal aside and perhaps one or two other moments, the hosts didn't really have any aspirations to win the game. That deflected goal against the run of play was almost a gentle slap in our faces from the footballing Gods.
'This is what you get if you're going to make hard work of it you lowly mortals you'
Danny Rose getting sent off, yet with ten men, after regrouping, we looked the most likely to win it. But then that's far too obvious a story arc. It doesn't fit into the Tottenham mantra. We have no necessity for the easy way. Not a chance that we would make it comfortable for ourselves. Then again, last time we had it in our hands we puked it out of our mouths all over the Upton Park pitch. The eternal underdogs we shall remain. Always seeking to 'get there'. The chase is better than the catch.
Redknapp dithered with the substitution. Does he go for broke and risk a 2-1 loss? Was a 2-1 loss even conceivable against a Villa side content with surviving the draw? Would Defoe have made a difference? Bill Nicholson would have gone for glory but then Redknapp isn't Nicholson and Nicholson had Jimmy Greaves along with one or two other not so shabby players. But we're hardly weak either in selection. Harry however preferring to protect what he's got even if what we've got might allow us to take 4th spot and then lose it thanks to the final Chelsea have to play in Munich. No echo of glory here. The Rose red card will be key in how we plan to line-up against Fulham. Does he go with Bale back in the back four? Wing-back system? Is King fit to play allowing Gallas to slot into left-back? Please don't be sticking Luka anywhere near that flank. Can we risk changing the balance of the side now that we are at least picking up points?
To aid with recovering from this (1-1) disappointment its best to not dwell on the game as a singularity. We've had plenty of lost moments that offered consolidation. Many of them are practically repeat showings. A ton of possession, crossing, corners but imbalance with player positioning and offensiveness. Defending set pieces, attacking set pieces. Tweaks in coaching that could have been made prior to the game in preparation or during it failed to materialise. Across the entirety of the season there are a number of disapproving shakes of head and shrugs.
Had we managed a second goal at Villa Park, all of this would probably be of no consequence as we drown ourselves with superlatives about spirit and guile and lose sight of some of the serious deficiencies we have in our set-up. Make no mistake, we have high end calibre and we're easily one of the best sides in the country. But cutting edge and that killer instinct in the dugout still teases us from afar.
Harry Redknapp is a decent 'manager' but you can't win all your games in the hope that your best players in their best positions (or roaming around) will be able to do enough. That's where the most telling guile is missing. If we fail to finish 3rd or 4th it's because we still can't be b*stards when it matters most.
We, the manager and the chairman, have to aspire to always be better to always want for more. If you prefer to take it one game at a time and wish to review it as a singularity then perhaps what we got at Villa is as good as it gets. Twenty or so chances and one goal, from a penalty. You could say we were unlucky or failed to create our own luck. Doesn't matter, that singularity ceases to be one if it keeps repeating itself.
I don't want the season to end on a soundbite. To dare is to do, daring is achieving...this is not being embraced enough. I'll be shot down by some for the romantic notions and dancing emotively again, but traditions are there for a reason.
I'd rather this club is glorious in defeat rather than whimpering out like a soft sneeze.