That’s more like it. 2-1 up, with 20 mins to go, against a team reduced to nine men? Sew up the game and put the oppo out of sight? Do it the easy way? Tottenham? No chance.
After the 4-0 romp a couple of days ago, I felt a tad discombobulated. Wasn’t quite sure what was going on. Needed to sit down. Needed a stiff drink. I asked people not to confuse me with polysyllabic words – after all, I’d just seen my lot destroy a team and offer them not a sniff, at any stage. Forget that Obama chap – a clinical 4-0 win for Spurs was change like we’d never even dreamt of, seismic change that could create global chaos, raising a hind leg and peeing all over the centuries-old laws of physics, whilst chewing up and spitting out common sense for good measure.
But this was more like the Spurs I know. Rather than play keep-ball, toy with the oppo, score a simple third and silence the home crowd, we won it the Tottenham way. That is to say we sat back, got nowhere near their goal, invited pressure upon ourselves, let the oppo build a head of steam, let their players believe they could salvage something, gave their supporters plenty to roar about and then, just to ensure that no-one would get any silly ideas about a comfortable victory, we contrived to have one of our own players sent off with 5 mins remaining, making it 9 against 10.
I had to listen to the game rather than watch it, but my mind’s eye – well-trained on weekly drills since the 1987 FA Cup final – served me impeccably. Ah, if I close my eyes I can see it unfold again. I can see our central midfield trio deciding, ineffably but with perfect synchronisation, to slow down to an amble. Put in a tackle? You’re having a laugh! Why fight for possession when you can run around in circles, loosely following the direction of the ball a couple of seconds after it has moved on? Why gallop when you can lollop? Yes, I can see Jenas, Zokora and Huddlestone losing the 50-50 challenges. I can see mis-hit clearances and ricochets in our own penalty area. I can see players consider blasting the ball into orbit just to clear the danger, then remembering the crest on their shirt, the tradition to uphold, the Tottenham way – and deciding instead to shin the ball some seven or eight yards to the nearest Man City player, ready for the next barrage to arrive.
So, with heart-rates raised to indecent levels, nerves frayed and fingernails dentally assaulted, we collected the three points. It’s a third consecutive league game in which Lady Luck has intervened to get us out of jail – by all acounts, when it had been 11 vs 11 today we were second-best (and went one-nil down). As such the jury, chez Lacquiere, remains out on ‘Arry, but I’m quite satisfied to sit here and smugly write about another win. Lucky or not, it’s strangely gratifying to know that having had the oppo on the ropes, we didn’t win it clinically. Instead, we won it the Tottenham way.