Well this is awkward. Somehow this week I find myself in the unusual, and to be honest, plain uncomfortable position of having to raise everyone else’s spirits. This is foreign territory. Generally more at ease as a pessimistic misanthrope.However, a curious role-reversal now sees me rather looking forward to the season finale. Meanwhile Spurs fans all around me have been sighing melancholy sighs and eyeing steep cliffs over which they might hurl themselves.
The reason seems to be one bad match – in fact, one bad ten-minute spell. Seems strange to me, but the ten-minute meltdown against Blackburn has got Spurs fans tripping over themselves to write off our season and slap the wrists of anyone who cheerfully drops the phrase “European qualification” into conversation.
Curious this, as it’s usually the reverse – i.e. it’s normally one good ten-minute spell, which has us all screeching away about Champions League qualification. For whatever reason though, it’s been sackcloth and ashes this week rather than deluded optimism. The defeat to Blackburn has deflated the masses.
Reasons To Be Cheerful
Galling though it was, the Blackburn defeat did not strike me as a return to the bad old (not so old, really) days of widespread sloppiness and a marshmellow-soft spine. I honestly think that if we keep playing like we did against Blackburn we’ll do fairly well in the last few games. Beginning on Saturday at home to West Ham, who currently occupy the seventh spot we should be eyeing.
Admittedly, should we lose on Saturday we’ll be nine points off the pace with six to play – it will be game over. Win it though, and we’ll be three points off Europe with six to play. Game on, n’est-ce pas?
The Blackburn finale aside, our recent league form has been mighty impressive – four wins, two draws and good performances. Add to that 70 or so good minutes against Blackburn, and we actually remain one of the form teams in the division.
Moreover, our competitors for seventh are hardly the giants of contemporary European football – Wigan, Fulham and Man City, as well as West Ham. Achieving seventh would not mean punching particularly high above our weight, if at all, as this motley crew are all liable to stumble a couple of times en route to the finish line. This is more of a scrap to be less bad than several other harmless mid-table drifters – seventh is a fairly realistic aim, particularly if we can win on Saturday.
So I’m therefore quite perky about the prospect of this end-of-season run-in, even if every time I say as much the music stops and tumbleweed rolls by.
Reasons To Be Depressed
Mind you, it hardly takes much effort to slip back into pessimistic mode. For a start, as well as costing us three points last weekend, that wretched second yellow card for Palacios means he’s suspended for this Saturday. Replacing him would be like trying to replace Mr T as B.A. – there just isn’t anyone else cut out for the role. With no B.A around, Face Man (Modders) will find it a lot harder to pull, if you don’t mind me wandering a little off-course with the analogy.
Presumably do-do-do Dider will take the place of Palacios, but although they start the game on roughly the same patch of turf, Zokora and Palacios are vastly different beasts. We should therefore not expect too much midfield enforcing from the Ivorian, who rather prefers a long meandering gallop to a raw-leg dinner in the centre . I guess it will be a useful exercise, as Palacios’ penchant for a tasty challenge is likely to bring him his fair share of cautions, and therefore suspensions, in the future. There will be more days like this. Gives some food for thought as the summer transfer window creeps up.
Not quite sure how West Ham have found themselves in seventh. Last time I bothered to check they were in a bit of a mess down the rear-end of the division, with Zola’s beaming pearly whites firmly locked behind a worried frown. Now they’re in pole position for the last European spot. Madness, I tell you.
As mentioned, win this one and we’ll be right back in the hunt for Europe. Plenty to play for.