Up and down the better half of North London the deluded are insisting that our Carling Cup performance will prove something of a turning-point for the rest of our season. Earnestly they point out that we matched, and at times outdid the European Champions, or some version thereof – for 120 minutes no less. Replicate this and we’ll storm up the table. Times are a-changing. It’s even been mentioned, by the clinically insane, that we’re only eight points off a Uefa cup spot.Tut tut, come now – you ought to know better. Of course we played well on Sunday. We always play well in such games, that’s part of our infuriating, ingrained way. It’s the Tottenham way. Raising our game for a cup final, or a game against Man Utd, has never been our problem – so raising our game for a cup final against Man Utd was absolutely guaranteed to unleash the full fury of Jenas’ one good game of the season. Zokora and Ass-Ek similarly read the script and each made a jolly good fist of it too.
Should a performance of similar quality be produced against Boro tonight I’ll go buy a hat and eat it. Boro are the most soulless, unexciting and bland team I’ve ever known. It’s not that they’re outstandingly bad, dirty, comical or anything else. They’re none of the above. That’s their problem – there is simply nothing noteworthy in their identity. Their manager is soulless, unexciting and bland, they have no history and their star-player is One-Trick Downing for goodness sake. They’re not even offensive or in any way loathe-worthy. They incite no passion of any sort. They just subsist to make up the numbers and throw up the occasional completely incongruous result, like beating Liverpool at the weekend.
As such, they’re exactly the sort of team to whom we’ve been capitulating all season. In fact, we duly did precisely this in the very first game of the season, a standard which we’ve maintained throughout. Except when we play the top four of course, at which point capes are donned and crime prepares to be vanquished, as the entire team suddenly become superheroes and play out of their skin.
While it would be lovely to see us produce one of those opening-20-minute-blitzes which occur at the Lane every few months, a dour, scrappy affair strikes me as far likelier, and would be the perfect antidote to the optimism engendered by the spirited performance of Sunday. The game will also mark one of the last times this season that ‘Arry gets to moan about congestion caused by cup games. Sad times indeed. The laboured crawl away from the relegation zone continues.