I write this with crumbs on my lips and a napkin gently dabbing around my mouth, having merrily lunched upon several large helpings of humble pie. As I clicked my heels all bonny, blithe and gay, and playfully pinched the cheeks of bewildered small children like a modern-day Scrooge (post-enlightenment), I also began the quest for an edible hat – for Mystic Meg I clearly ain’t:
Should a performance of similar quality [to the Carling Cup final] be produced against Boro tonight I’ll go buy a hat and eat it… 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…
– Me, yesterday.That screeching of tyres you hear is my credibility leaving the building and driving away at pace, never to return. Whilst pondering how best to digest a beenie I have taken time out to ponder how on earth was every other Spurs fan I know (and many I don’t) so sure that we’d follow up the Wembley performance with such an emphatic win? Admittedly it made a fair amount of logical sense – combining the confidence from an excellent display and the wrath of an unlucky penalty defeat, and taking that into a home game against one of the division’s more insipid outfits. But Spurs have never done it the logical way, and this season in particular we’ve failed to follow up strong performances against the top four with similar quality against the weaker sides.
It reminds me of a time about ten years ago when I sat watching l’Arse in a Uefa cup final, or perhaps semi, which had gone to pens. As Viera stepped up all the gooners in the room immediately flung up their hands in despair, conceded any hope of him scoring and assured us most confidently that he would hit the crossbar. A rather specific, and somewhat unlikely claim, I thought, as there were vast amounts of space into which to fire the ball – but sure enough he cracked it against the bar.
Yesterday, again, somehow everyone else knew. Most crucially, the players were also privy to this inside knowledge. Take that attitude, that fiery combination of smarting injustice and confidence in their ability, into the rest of their games and the relegation mix will be so far away we’ll be sending postcards and adjusting watches to a different time-zone.
It would be wonderfully typical of a Spurs supporter now to swing from the doleful pessimism of just 24 hours ago to a wildly over-optimistic assurance that seventh, and the Uefa (Europa? Whatever) cup is now within reach. I shall strive to resist quite such fantastical predictions, tempting though it is to get carried away after last night (allow me to indulge dreamily for just a moment though – did you see how many passes were strung together before the third goal? Champagne football, baby!)
Whilst mathematically possible, excited ramblings about European qualification probably ought to be stifled. We’re still a long way off, and while there is now clear evidence in black and white that consecutive league wins is good for your health, 8 points in 11 games is a big gap to close. Moreover, there’s no guarantee that we will avoid returning to the inconsistency of days recently gone by. To be honest though, I’m not sure how long I can keep my lips sealed on the issue of making Europe. The more I look at the league table…
For now I think we should all just be happy to bask in the glory of last night. A 4-0 without actually hitting our highest standard. Thirteenth in the table, consecutive league wins and a goal difference that is no longer negative. As Sarah Connor so concisely put it at the end of Terminator 2 – “The unknown future rolls toward us. I face it, for the first time, with a sense of hope…”
It was a bit of a return to the all-action-no-plot days of yore. Slightly shaky defence, but some lovely bits and pieces going forward, with Modric, Keane and Lennon to the fore. Palacios continues to improve the team. Three-Touch O’ Hara got a grand old ovation. All was right with the world. Plus, a special pat on the back too for ‘Arry, who, admirably, once again managed to slip his own personal catchphrase into the post-match interview – “We only ‘ad two points when I took over…”
Happy days. Humble pie has never tasted so good.