Audere est Facere? Tonight it’s Aut Vincere Aut Mori – kill or be killed. Do or die. Damn well strain every sinew on pitch, while we scream ourselves hoarse in the stands, and keep it going until we’re in the Champions League group stages.
The rabbit-in-headlights approach of the first leg was vaguely understandable, but as every other game we play these days seems to be the biggest in our recent history, there should be no stage-fright this time. No dodgy surface either. Tonight, instead, we’ve got the pristine White Hart Lane carpet, floodlights, the Champions League theme tune and a 36,000-strong choir singing the slow “Oh when the Spurs…”.
For all the time I spent patiently trying to explain the permutations to my female colleagues last week in the aftermath of the first leg, the nub of the matter is that just about any win will do. Admittedly we are the sort of team uniquely capable of winning 4-3 and thereby knocking ourselves out, but broadly speaking victory will suffice. And while the complete disintegration of order, game-plan and sanity in the first 30 minutes last week was a tad difficult to stomach, I’m secretly actually happier knowing that our lot have to go out there and attack, rather than, say, try to protect a one-goal lead for 90 minutes. Remember ye the 5-1 thrashing of l’Arse, when we went into the game facing a 2-1 deficit, psyched ourselves appropriately, scored after 2 minutes and didn’t let up thereafter.
’Arry’s seems to have the right idea. Castigated in some quarters for an over-adventurous mentality in the first leg, there is no point in sitting back this time, so his tag-line tonight is the rather exciting “Swarm all over them”. The absence of Modders does not exactly aid the cause, while my admittedly sparse medical knowledge has me querying the wisdom of sanctioning Defoe’s involvement when he is apparently in need of groin surgery. Nevertheless, we should have plenty at our disposal. Ye gods be praised for the return of Ledley at the back, while we look like scoring every time Bale touches the ball, and Pav demonstrated last week the value at this level of a striker with a touch of class, even on an off-day. Add to that the return from injury of Keane and Giovani, the fact that Lennon makes his CL debut and an already promising start to the season from Hudd, and we have ourselves an impressive cast-list. I fret a little that the absence of Modders may mean that Sergeant Wilson starts, but given the need for goals I suspect ‘Arry will look elsewhere – to Kranjcar perhaps, or maybe even Jenas (if it came to it I think I would prefer an immobile Modric to a fully-fit Jenas, but it’s ‘Arry’s call).
So how are your nerves? I presume I’m in a minority of approximately one, but in all honesty I’ve rarely felt as confident about a Spurs game. We’ve spent the last 12 months playing some fantastic football, particularly at home: do it again tonight and we will be fine. Admittedly the colour will drain from my face if we go into the final 15 with a 2-1 lead, but things really are set up frightfully well for us. Young Boys had a glorious opportunity to put us out of sight last week and blew it; while it is scarcely conceivable that our mob could play as badly. As mentioned above, even the one goal deficit at kick-off ought to work in our favour, in terms of our mentality.
Just the thought of hearing the Champions League theme tune five minutes before kick-off has me in goosebumps. I know it’s almost a legal requirement at this stage to be practically paralytic with nerves, but I can’t wait for this, potentially a real glory glory night at the Lane.