Just another standard Tottenham game then. There ought to be some sort of internet tool or iPhone app that takes regular football phenomena and instantly turns them into the all-action-no-plot, Tottenham Hotspur equivalent. Take a dour goalless draw in Italy (à la Liverpool against Napoli last night), give it the Tottenham treatment and hey presto – you have yourself a mental 4-3 defeat.
To go three goals down in the blink of an eye on one occasion may be considered unfortunate, but twice is just plain careless. Having failed to learn the lesson of Young Boys, we dug an even bigger hole for ourselves against the Considerably Older, Wiser and More Technically Adept Boys of Inter.
Maybe our heroes just like a challenge. Over-awed and over-respectful, the poor lambs seemed unsure whether they needed permission to approach the European champions, who understandably enough between them made the executive decision to tear us to pieces.
Even by our madcap standards, four-nil and a man down at half-time, to the European champions, was a bit excessive. The barrage of text message abuse from gleeful chums was to be expected, but when Ray Winstone popped up in his gambling advert at half-time to bark that the latest odds were appearing on my screen, the sight of a 7-0 Inter win at 12/1 really did have me fearing the worst. I’m not sure I have ever felt so aghast and helpless as when watching that first half carnage unfold.
A degree of credit then to our lot, for bucking themselves up a tad in the second half. Although Inter undoubtedly took their foot off the gas, we nevertheless showed attacking intent in the second half, committing men forward rather than looking solely for damage limitation options. The goals were admittedly were the product of individual genius rather than any orchestrated team effort, but the second half attitude was nevertheless vaguely comforting, particularly with just the ten men (and bereft of our entire spine too – Gomes, Ledley, Daws, Modders, VDV and Defoe all absent for one reason or another for most of the game).
Man of the Match Contenders
Lennon looked lively. Cudicini made a couple of decent saves.
Living tissue over metal endoskeleton. Having quite possibly warmed up by destroying an entire police force on his own, he then carried out the most single-handed dismantling of a team I have ever witnessed. Only a cybernetic organism would race the length of the pitch, against the European champions, hit the bottom corner, spin round, show no emotion and sprint back to halfway – then do exactly the same thing again. I’m just glad he’s been sent here to protect us, rather than kill us.
If we need any further incentive to make the top four again it’s Bale. The secret is well and truly out now – the entire blinking continent knows about him. Iif he does not play Champions League football regularly he won’t hang around in our lovely little corner of North London. I expect that at 21 (sickening, isn’t it?), a seeming good egg and having just signed a new contract, he will stay next season, just to see how we toddle along. However, failure to push on from our current position and he’ll be out the N17 exits faster than you can say “By jove he’s just decimated the European Cup-holders single-handedly – again”.
Elsewhere On The Pitch
Neither Bassong nor Gallas looked quite up to the challenge – but then pairing these two against Inter Milan at the San Siro was not really the plan. At the start of the season we wouild have pencilled Ledley and Dawson for nights like this, with Gallas and Bassong to help out as required against Blackpool and the like. Much though we love audacious attacking talent here at AANP Towers, we have to admit that the need for a top-notch defensive type is becoming increasingly pressing. As is the need for a 4-5-1 forward. ‘Twas not Crouch’s finest hour.
Jenas is an odd little fish. At fault in the very first minute for stopping to examine his nails while Zanetti went charging into the area unmarked to score, I howled with anguish when he remained on pitch and Modders was withdrawn, after the red card. Thereafter however, the Lord of All Things Sideways and Backwards showed the type of attacking intent we have been screaming at him to produce for nigh-on ten seasons. He did not by any means boss the game, but more often than not (at least in the second half) he looked to push forward and create something. It is the sort of thing he only ever normally does against l’Arse. And now he’s done it against Inter Milan too. Perplexing.
Not for the first time BAE deserved a slap on the wrist. While it is hardly appropriate to single out any particular individual for the first half debacle, his snoozing effectively cost us a red card and a goal, and that carelessness occurs far too often for my liking sonny.
On the bright side however, the second half performance far exceeded anything for which we might have hoped. Indeed, the draw between Bremen and Twente leaves us mightily well-placed, which I don’t think was a conclusion anyone was nearing at half-time. Defeat at the San Siro was to be expected (albeit not in quite such mind-boggling fashion); but with 10 points the target and three games left, two of which are at the Lane, progression looks eminently attainable.