How uniquely Tottenham. Could any other team in Christendom have managed to plough on with such determination towards ignominy, when offered quite so many opportunities for glory?The Tottenham Way
I’d like to think that when a player signs for Spurs, he is sat down and given a good thorough education on the club’s history. He is instructed in the tradition for playing football in a certain style – keeping the ball on the floor, moving it around slickly. The Blanchflower quote is drummed into him – “Glory… doing things in style… etc.” If the player in question is foreign, this quote is the first English he masters. He learns the names of every member of the ’51 Championship-winning push-and-run team, and dutifully sits through hours of black-and-white footage. He worships at the altar of the Bill Nick double-winners. He is sat down and forced to watch the one-touch extravagana that was Darren Anderton’s goal away to QPR in November 1993.
The reality? Probably money and nightclubs; but after games like today’s I wonder if the first thing they are taught on driving up through Bill Nicholson Way, with rigorous attention to every conceivable detail, is how to shoot themselves in the foot in any given situation. You are now a Tottenham player, and it is therefore your duty to explore every avenue for self-destruction, before ever proceeding to victory.
And for good measure, that kamikaze message is then presumably drummed home in the huddle before every game. If the FA were to decide retrospectively that the entire Everton squad took a bung for today’s game, and awarded the three points to us, some idiot in lilywhite would probably pipe up and suggest a rematch instead.
Ruthlessness: Not Welcome at White Hart Lane
A strange old game, because while enough to reduce grown men to tears of despair, it was by no means an awful performance. For so many of our lot, the laudable and the deplorable waltzed merrily hand-in-hand. If they were making lung-busting 20 yard runs to slide in and win a tackle one minute, you could blinking well guarantee that they’d be caught dawdling in possession the next. Adroit movement to create a clear goalscoring opportunity was duly matched by an inaccurate finish. It’s Tottenham in a microcosm. When we were good we were very good; when we were bad we were horrid. Ruthlessness had a look, but was firmly ushered away, and now seeks an abode elsewhere.
Sliver Lining. Honest.
Our heroes’ penchant for the mind-bogglingly infuriating has sunk to new depths, but I honestly believe that if we take time out from throttling the nearest small animal (I’m considering storing in my back garden a small pestilential rat, or rabid dog, or Thierry Henry, just so that I can come stomping back home after days like these and give the vile creature a damn good kicking) we can appreciate a few glass-half-full conclusions.
As mentioned, this was no awful performance. For the second away game in a week, we have done a jolly good impression of a home team. The notion of sitting back from kick-off, soaking up pressure and assessing the situation was given short shrift, as we dispensed with subtlety from the first whistle, and went at it hammer and tongs. Sure, Everton had their chances, and in the first half our defence conducted a couple of stringent examinations of precisely how the term “suicidal back-pass” ought to be defined, but we made one shooting chance after another. Against Wigan they all whistled just inside the post; this time, as with Villa last week, they all seemed to arrow a foot the other side.
Kranjcar’s cup continues to runneth over with new and ingenious ways of causing panic in opposition ranks, and Lennon really does seem to have mastered the art of the inviting cross. It’s not just a one-off, a hazy estimate suggest that four out of five were whipped into pleasingly dangerous areas.
I can think of games just this season (Stoke, first half vs Sunderland) in which we’ve had plenty of possession but struggled to create a genuine goalscoring chance. There has been a lack of movement off the ball, which has clotted our creative juices (notably of Hudd) and led to too much dependency upon the cursed long-ball game. By contrast, over the course of the last few games (and I even include the Man Utd match amongst these) there has been a distinctive buzz of movement in our ranks. Yes, we need to convert rather than rue our chances; and by golly we need to beg, steal or borrow the ability to wrap up a game when leading 2-0 going into the final 15 minutes; but on a broader front there is at least the sense that we have the capacity to create sackfuls of chances.
The counter-argument is that for all this approach-play loveliness WE STILL DIDN’T BLOODY WIN DID WE? Well, granted. When the time came to dig in and fight to the death, we were found wanting. And two points from what really ought to be six, will almost certainly come back to make rude gestures at us come mid-May. Fourth is still in our own hands, but if are to make it we seem determined to do so in the most excruciating manner possible. How uniquely Tottenham.
And as ever, all are most welcome to leave memories – and browse those of others – regarding some of the players to be featured in forthcoming book Spurs’ Cult Heroes: Danny Blanchflower here, Dave Mackay here, Cliff Jones here, Martin Chivers here, Alan Gilzean here, Pat Jennings here, Cyril Knowles here, Steve Perryman here, Glenn Hoddle here, Chris Waddle here, Ossie and Ricky here, Gary Mabbutt here, Graham Roberts here, Jimmy Greaves here, Clive Allen here, Jurgen Klinsmann here