Modric, O’ Hara & A Last-Minute Winner - The Long Weekend at Spurs
Well that’s why it’s called All Action, No Plot.Away for one little weekend break, in the land of Erik Edman (note to eligible bachelors the world over – do Stockholm. No ifs, no buts – do Stockholm) and 48 hours later I return to find that all hell seems to have broken loose at White Hart Lane.
Luka has broken a bone. Cancel everything. This is serious. No surgery needed – apparently he will be fixed by wearing a magic boot for the next six weeks - but anguished weeping and gnashing of teeth nevertheless echo around the walls of AANP Towers.
Only a couple of weeks ago I hastily cobbled together a ten-point wish-list for the season, and while most of the issues included were streams of consciousness rather than absolute ruddy imperatives, one point rather leapt from the page:
Look After Modric And Palacios Like Our Lives Depend On It
Our squad is looking impressive this season, with a couple of players competing in every position. However, Modric and Palacios are simply a class above, and as such are irreplaceable.,,, great lengths must be taken to avoid so much as a bee sting befalling them.
Not exactly rocket-science I admit, but I still wish extreme measures had been taken to preserve his fitness. Instead, rather than setting up an orb-shaped force-field around our Luka, some bright spark let him go near Lee Bowyer of all people.There is still plenty of creativity in the side – Lennon, Keane and the Hudd all contribute in their own special little ways – and we will still pick up points in his absence. There are also plenty of possible replacements out on the left – Keane, Giovani and Bentley spring to mind, and it’s possible that by the time you read this we might have yanked in Man City’s Petrov as an ad hoc replacement. So we will definitely take to the field with eleven players next time out, which is nice to know - but that’s not really the point.
Modric is that bit better than the alternatives and understudies, and most other players in the Premierhship. While he can still be slightly peripheral in that left-sided position, even though given carte blanche to wander infield, he is nevertheless always capable of sparking something every time he gets the ball. To be without him for the Man Utd and Chelski games is particularly galling. If something were now to happen to Palacios as well, I think those passing by AANP Towers will be treated to the undignified sight of a grown man openly weeping.
O’ Hara to Pompey
The move to Portsmouth was announced at just about the same moment as the lad penned a new contract keeping him at the Lane until 2013, so he evidently remains part of the longish-term set-up. I am inclined to think that he might therefore have instigated the loan move himself, just to keep the blood circulating until the new year.
It appears that the Hudd has won the fight for the central midfield spot alongside Sergeant Wilson, at least until Jenas returns to fitness. O’ Hara would therefore have spent most weeks at Spurs twiddling his thumbs on the bench, with only the odd ten-minute cameo here and there. And so on; to repeat, it makes sense for him. In theory quite like the idea.
However, in practice it now leaves us suddenly a touch light in midfield. With Modric now joining Jenas in sick-bay, and Zokora long-gone, one more injury and somebody somewhere will have to thump the red alert button. As the transfer window ticks down, I suspect the issue may have been pointed out to management at the Lane.
Kevin Prince-Boateng Also to Pompey
Spurs 2-1 Birmingham: Not A Match Report, I Didn’t See It
So amidst all the madness, there was also a football match. By all accounts the win was just about deserved on balance - apparently we made and missed more chances than they. I’m rather chuffed to hear that Birmingham set out to counter us with a nullify-and-frustrate 4-5-1. That’s the sort of treatment reserved for the big kids in the playground.
News of a ninety-fifth minute winner also prompted a cackle of satisfaction. Every game this season I have found myself harking back to the not-too-distant past, and remembering how Spurs teams of yore would have done so much worse than the current lot in an identical situation.
This week: Spurs teams of yore would have indeed undone the hard work of over an hour, by conceding an equalizer just minutes after taking the lead. However, previous Spurs sides would then probably have conceded a scrappy second in stoppage time. (Which we nearly did, admittedly). For us instead to go gamboling up the other end and pilfer the winnings ourselves suggests, yet again, that we’re getting the hang of this football lark.
It’s still early, but if at the end of the season we find ourselves challenging the top six or more, this is the sort of game at which we will all earnestly point as an example of how much steelier we are this year.
’Arry rarely needs an excuse to bang the Peter Crouch drum, and since Saturday he’s been making the quite valid point to Don Fabio Capello that the gangly one is a great option from the bench. Very fair point. He does indeed add something different, and one can well imagine how his arrival as a second half substitute must be greeted by tiring defenders who have spent all afternoon chasing the shadows of Keane and Defoe. As I noted when we signed him, his value as an impact-sub was perfectly illustrated in the fantastic England-Argentina friendly of late-2005:
With England trailing 2-1 Crouch was slung on for the last few minutes, and managed to make a sufficient nuisance of himself at crosses for Michael Owen to steal in with a couple of late goals.
Crouch as Plan B – no problem with that. However, there is a rumour gathering momentum that he is about to become Plan A. Not so sure about that.With Modric out, it may actually be forced upon us – Keane switching to left midfield would naturally open a door for Crouch. However, if it means we starting pinging long-balls into orbit from the off, I’d rather not.
The invitation is still open to share your memories of White Hart Lane legends, in anticipation of Spurs’ Cult Heroes, a forthcoming book that rather does what it says on the tin. Feel free to add your memories of Jimmy Greaves here, of Jurgen Klinsmann here and Clive Allen here…