Well on the bright side they all looked like they wanted to play The Tottenham Way. Sugar and spice and all things nice, with pretty passing and a minimum of three dainty touches in possession. Delightful stuff. Unfortunately this was an occasion which demanded urgency, a determination to win at all costs, a bloody-minded refusal to accept defeat and generally all those other clichéd attributes which Spurs perennially lack, but which are prerequisites for top-four qualification. I guess the absence of these attributes is a further trademark of The Tottenham Way. The other lot decided to roll up their sleeves and scrap for it; our heroes duly looked horrified, appearing close to tears each time a swarm of those uncouth Liverpool rotters descended on them like a pack of dogs.It was all rounded off, and neatly summed up, by possibly the worst attempt ever recorded in the history of the game at throwing-everything-at-the-opposition-in-the-final-ten-minutes. Instead of being camped in their penalty area we somehow contrived to allow Liverpool half a dozen point-blank chances inside ours, repeatedly insisting that they try and try again, as well as standing back to let them indulge in a spot of keep-ball whenever they got the urge.
Should I ever get the opportunity to storm into the Tottenham dressing-room and damn well scream at the players to fight, tooth and nail and ‘til the bitter end, in search of victory, I imagine the players would simply look quizzically at each other, trying to wrap their precious minds around the baffling concepts of which I speak, before retiring to the training-ground to engage in some delightfully pretty and gently-paced passing routines. In some parallel universe where tackling is completely banned from the game, our lot are absolutely awesome.
Even aside from the generally lacklustre attitude, we might have fared better if we had dispensed with the multiple-touch approach and just zipped the ball around first time, to leave the scousers chasing shadows (incidentally, even in absentia, this ball-dwelling is a misdemeanour of which Hudd is too frequently guilty). The one time we actually managed a one-touch move this we created our clearest chance of the match. By and large however, Modric and Kranjcar looked like foreigners of excellent technique who just could not cope with the pace and feistiness of a high-octane Premiership game. Jenas gave the definitive Jenas performance – backwards; sideways; earnest; energetic; ineffective.
The Refereeing Decisions
The most generous interpretation that could be given is that this whole business of the offside rule and its “phases of play” is sufficiently obscure to be entirely subjective. At the whim of the officials, Defoe was ruled against, possibly for having strayed offside back on Saturday against Hull. AANP’s latest watertight theory is that God supports l’Arse, and His will be done.
As for the elongated one’s penalty shout – less of a complaint, given that pens are so rarely awarded for the countless little misdeeds at set-pieces. That said, I don’t know what the opposite of a force-field is, but Crouch has one around him at all times, ensuring that whatever the occasion and whatever he does, if he is in the opposition penalty area he will be penalised. It’s the law.
However, the creases across the AANP brow this morning were caused by the performances of those in lilywhite rather than black. Creative though the refereeing decisions may have been, it does not disguise the fact that we were mightily disappointing, in such a crunch game. Points lost against weakened rivals is galling enough, but seeing points surrendered quite so meekly is vaguely soul-destroying. As for the buoyant optimism and spring in the step of just 24 hours ago, we denizens of AANP Towers have been given a most severe reprimand for such wild and thoughtless misjudgements.
I Kid Ye Not – We’re Still Fourth
And yet, come May we may very well make fourth. Everyone around us seems to have a gun pointed at their own foot and an itchy trigger-finger, so it could yet happen. Easy to forget we still are fourth actually. No extra points are lost for a display of complete impotence, or for an attempt to fashion a team around Jermaine Jenas; nor would we have gained any more points for beating Liverpool away than we will do if we turn over Fulham at home next week. Bad day at the office, but there are plenty of points left to be gathered.
And as ever, all are most welcome to leave memories – and browse those of others – regarding some of the players to be featured in 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, Jürgen Klinsmann here, David Ginola here, Paul Gascoigne here