With Tim Sherwood proclaiming himself Tottenham's greatest ever manager in the build up thanks to some creative statistical deflection (or should that be dementia?) I was hoping the talk would lead to entertaining action on the pitch away to Stoke City so I can continue my pretence that I care about these remaining fixtures. It would be good to have something to chat about that doesn't involve our next managerial mistake. What with the news that Louie van Gaal is bound for Old Trafford, this season truly has encapsulated the words 'one to forget'.
I still can't work out if Tim is churning out nonsensical soundbites on purpose with complete awareness or if the truth concerns his lack of media skills when attempting to articulate any given answer to a press question. I reckon he genuinely believes that feeding himself his own hyperbole will some how transcend into an awakening on the pitch. You can dress up the stats all you like to give the appearance of more substance but it would be utterly delusional to believe Spurs (and Sherwood) are anything above average. Still, the stats don't completely lie. We're winning games, picking up points. Has the term flat track bullies been cited yet? We're hardly even that thanks to the lack of concentrated conviction with our execution.
Sorry to make your ears bleed with the broken record klaxon, but this season has been done and dusted for a while in terms of mentality. So we, the fans, solider on and where better to do so than at the battlefield of Britannia Stadium. No surprise then that action is exactly what we got. The ugly frustrating ilk. It is Stoke after-all and they might have evolved a little with style under Mark Hughes but they're still missing a link with their fan-base.
There wasn't much creativity on display, par for the solitary goal that gave Tottenham a 1-0 away win - our 10th for the season but first since the start of the year. The clean sheet equally pleasing for Hugo Lloris that the players ahead of him didn't implode. That goal came by way of some silk from Emmanuel Adebayor's feet to cross for a bullet header from Danny Rose.
The game's lack of assured creativity meant little spark and cohesiveness, showcasing grit and determination instead. These games always favour physicality and if you wish to apply ample objectivity, better Spurs sides have came here and lost. This was never going to be a contender for top billing on Match of the Day (it was on last). Stoke were wasteful in the final third, occasional greed their downfall when running towards goal. Spurs faded from the first half into the second especially with productivity in front of goal, failing to take the initiative after the 'incident'.
No, not the one where Adebayor appears to elbow Ryan Shawcross in the face. Which the officials missed. I missed it in real time. The aftermath of this seemed to offer no controversy at the time until the replay gave us something to scratch our chins at. Any bruises or blood on Shawcross post-thump? No? Did Adebayor elbow? Yes. Did it do any damage? No. So Shawcross over-dramatised the moment? Probably. Still, Ade can consider himself lucky as if there's intent then it warrants punishment.
No, not the clash between Adebayor and Charlie Adam (as a substitute warming up) which was a limp much ado about nothing affair that included an expletive. Adam obviously losing his touch. The touch of a chainsaw mass murder.
The incident involved Ryan Shawcross with studs up aimed at Danny Rose. A second booking leading to a red. Cue Stoke home fans proceeding to boo and abuse Rose like he strategically fooled Shawcross into delivering the clumsy foul.
Yes, Rose attempted to avoid the challenge but if this was Shawcross on a clean slate and his first offence, he'd still have been booked. It is what it is. Untidy football, a seconds difference and it might have been a lot worse for Danny boy. The ref more alert to this one. More composure from Shawcross and he'd never had made that challenge. But he's hardly the most decisive of players.
With Stoke down to ten men, Spurs still struggled to score a second goal to wrap up the points beyond doubt. An infuriating experience because when you think eleven versus ten will lead to more space, more width and the chance to push forward on the counter as Stoke desperately seek an equaliser - you think wrong. This being Spurs, there wasn't any rejuvenated shape to our play. We sank deeper, Stoke amazingly in the ascendency and the more likely to grab a goal.
The home crowd continued to obsess themselves with the 'cheating Danny Rose', hounding him with a wall of noise until he retaliated, after a heavy and textbook cynical challenge from Geoff Cameron, with a two-handed push to the gut. Rose got a yellow for that and was subbed soon after to spare him a red. Paul Marriner could have easily dished one out instead of the yellow, but no love lost with the Neanderthals in the stands so anything that makes them bite into their faces is fine by me. Especially with the crap we've had to take from the boots of Adam in the past.
Continuing larfs and larks with the post-match reaction from the two-handed push when Stoke fans (and Mark Hughes) thought it warranted a sending off but didn't think the earlier studs up challenge deserved equal punishment? If the complaint is the way Rose reacted to the Shawcross kick - that doesn't alter the fact the challenge was made in the first place. Rose daft and hot headed played into Cameron's trap so I can only imagine Marriner felt sympathetic as no prior crimes were committed.
I'm chuffed we held on for the points without ever looking truly comfortable (less chuffed about this, but an all so common expectancy).
I still enjoy seeing us win if perhaps I don't enjoy our application when doing so. There's no pressure at the moment as there is nothing to play for but pride. We might end up with another record points tally (or thereabouts). A stat that will no doubt be distorted to mean more than it should. I find direct comparisons to the season to any given past one a redundant exercise. Celebrating this feat (if it happens) only stands as evidence of how wasteful we've been as a club from top to bottom. A potential 70+ points tally having spent the season under-achieving and fragmented from the board to the dugout to the stands.
Regarding our standard of football, stop expecting to see evolution. You're going to need a summers worth of months before you see that. In the mean time prep yourself for more Sherwood comedy stand-up. Then ready yourself for the punchline we get from Daniel Levy as he delivers the next victim of the Tottenham curse. The thing is, I'm not even sure I care who we appoint now. We've tried everyone and everything so the most unlikely or less favoured might actually achieve the unexpected. Flawed logic as one or two might wish Sherwood the chance to do just that.
van Gaal is a big name with big experience, probably United's saviour, which now means we are left looking at the next set of contenders (or should that be pretenders).
One to forget indeed.