Spurs news, rants

Winning the Tottenham way: Man City 1 – 2 Spurs

That’s more like it. 2-1 up, with 20 mins to go, against a team reduced to nine men? Sew up the game and put the oppo out of sight? Do it the easy way? Tottenham? No chance.

After the 4-0 romp a couple of days ago, I felt a tad discombobulated. Wasn’t quite sure what was going on. Needed to sit down. Needed a stiff drink. I asked people not to confuse me with polysyllabic words – after all, I’d just seen my lot destroy a team and offer them not a sniff, at any stage. Forget that Obama chap – a clinical 4-0 win for Spurs was change like we’d never even dreamt of, seismic change that could create global chaos, raising a hind leg and peeing all over the centuries-old laws of physics, whilst chewing up and spitting out common sense for good measure.

But this was more like the Spurs I know. Rather than play keep-ball, toy with the oppo, score a simple third and silence the home crowd, we won it the Tottenham way. That is to say we sat back, got nowhere near their goal, invited pressure upon ourselves, let the oppo build a head of steam, let their players believe they could salvage something, gave their supporters plenty to roar about and then, just to ensure that no-one would get any silly ideas about a comfortable victory, we contrived to have one of our own players sent off with 5 mins remaining, making it 9 against 10.

I had to listen to the game rather than watch it, but my mind’s eye – well-trained on weekly drills since the 1987 FA Cup final – served me impeccably. Ah, if I close my eyes I can see it unfold again. I can see our central midfield trio deciding, ineffably but with perfect synchronisation, to slow down to an amble. Put in a tackle? You’re having a laugh! Why fight for possession when you can run around in circles, loosely following the direction of the ball a couple of seconds after it has moved on? Why gallop when you can lollop? Yes, I can see Jenas, Zokora and Huddlestone losing the 50-50 challenges. I can see mis-hit clearances and ricochets in our own penalty area. I can see players consider blasting the ball into orbit just to clear the danger, then remembering the crest on their shirt, the tradition to uphold, the Tottenham way – and deciding instead to shin the ball some seven or eight yards to the nearest Man City player, ready for the next barrage to arrive.

So, with heart-rates raised to indecent levels, nerves frayed and fingernails dentally assaulted, we collected the three points. It’s a third consecutive league game in which Lady Luck has intervened to get us out of jail – by all acounts, when it had been 11 vs 11 today we were second-best (and went one-nil down). As such the jury, chez Lacquiere, remains out on ‘Arry, but I’m quite satisfied to sit here and smugly write about another win. Lucky or not, it’s strangely gratifying to know that having had the oppo on the ropes, we didn’t win it clinically. Instead, we won it the Tottenham way.

Spurs news, rants

"Just f*****g run about" – Harry Redknapp, tactical genius

Man City away will be a good test of how far we’ve come in the five minutes or so since ‘Arry took over. Amidst the hype it’s been easy to get carried away by results, rather than analyse performances which have been decent (and lucky) rather than exceptional.

The win at home to Bolton was a decent result, particularly given what had preceded it, but can hardly be attributed to the new boss’s tactical nous, given that he took charge at half-time. The draw vs l’Arse was fun but lucky, ditto the win vs Liverpool. Zagreb was undeniably a strong performance, but the limitations of the oppo ought to be taken into account. So Man City away should prove a handy gauge. Away from home to a decent team, with some fantastic individuals, who aren’t having the greatest run of form – we should be looking for at least a draw.

As ever, happy to back ‘Arry, but not yet convinced of his tactical expertise. In particular, his instruction to Pavlyuchenko to “just f******g run about” at half-time vs Liverpool, while a nice soundbite from that loveable cockney rogue (helping to banish the memories of his surly foreign predecessor, who had the temerity to conduct his press conferences through an interpreter – wot a disgrace) hardly merits a £1.5 million salary, or whatever it is. It’s obviously still early days – won’t really be able to judge him until he’s had a full season, or calendar year at least – but after the drama of a North London derby and the visit of the league leaders, a trip to Eastlands will, for me, provide the first true test of our quality and ambitions for the season.

Spurs news, rants

Mental Croats at The Lane: Spurs 4-0 Dinamo Zagreb over here. I have to admit that in all my years I’ve never been to a comfy 4-0 win against a second-rate team, and frankly, at The Lane last night I just didn’t know how to react. Admittedly I’ve only been to dozens rather than hundreds of games, but this was easily the biggest win I’ve seen. It’s different on tv, you have more opportunity for animated discussion with the unfortunate souls who have ended up around you. And no doubt it’s different in the stadium when you’re handing out a thrashing in a massive game, against half-decent opposition (I’m thinking 5-1 vs l’Arse, in case you hadn’t clocked). But 4-0 against some impotent Croats? If I tell you that Zokora and Huddlestone bossed the game you no doubt get the idea, Spurs aficionados that you are. (Nutshell summary of the salient points: Bent’s on form; Hutton and Bale were strangely below-par; foreign teams don’t realise that Lennon is one-footed; Modric again looked alright in the hole; nice to see a debut for wunder-kid Bostock, our youngest ever player, he seems to have a good touch)

Cruising at 2-0 after half an hour, without having to break sweat, there was only one thing for it – some good old-fashioned needle and jingoism between the sets of fans. Admittedly the language barrier threatened to douse the hostilities (for all we knew they might have been chanting tactical advice at their coach, or complimenting us on our shiny blue seats). However, that didn’t stop several thousand middle-aged men from Norf Landaaan reminding them of our nationality, chastising the quality of their support and offering hypotheses regarding their sexual preferences, in between the regular reminders of our own team’s identity. Credit to the Zagreb fans though – they just didn’t stop throughout the 90 mins. No doubt they’d made a day of it in London, and were probably fairly well-sauced by kick-off, but I do enjoy the slightly different, utterly enthusiastic and frankly mental atmosphere created by the away fans on these Uefa Cup nights, when they bring along songs we’ve never heard in languages we don’t understand. By setting off flares, although breaking stadium rules and causing panic for the stewards, the fans injected into the arena the sort of electricity that was beyond their players. By removing their shirts at three or four nil down they confirmed that they were enjoying their night out, irrespective of the imposters on the pitch masquerading as the Croatian league-leaders.

The pièce de résistance however, came as full-time approached. By that time we were in olé mode for each pass, and had lost the will to scream obscenities at our Croatian guests. Instead, in a surreal moment of mutual pacifism that conjures memories of the 1914 Christmas Truce, we joined in with their songs. To hell with the language barrier, the “clap-clap-clap-clap… MAD DANCE” number didn’t require words. That one lasted, again and again, for the last 5 mins of the game and a fair while in the stadium thereafter. I jest ye not, it was the sort of bizarre international camaraderie that Ban Ki-moon would kick his own granny to achieve. Do check it out on youtube or whatever ( For my part, while enjoying the mad Croats, I remained confused. We don’t win comfortably, it’s not the Tottenham way. We make heavy work of it, whoever the oppo and whatever the occasion. A 4-0 stroll just leaves me baffled.

Rants on the Beautiful Game

The games played by Wenger, Ferguson and East 17

Within the last 24 hours there have been bizarre rants from both Wenger and Ferguson, seemingly unprovoked, angry digs at imaginary deviants who have been laying into their innocent, virtuous, maltreated players. No-one takes these seriously, and the few who can be bothered to react do so by laughing at their blinkeredness (nb, surely there’s a better word?).

I guess I’ll never know with certainty what they’re thinking, but I’m pretty convinced that this – and indeed, every absurd whinge they’ve had over the past decade and more – is all part of a masterplan. As with East 17’s finest numbers, I trust that they’re not taking themselves seriously, and that what ostensibly appears to be sheer lunacy (ski hats as tall as top hats?) is just an ironic façade, designed to elicit mild hysteria amongst gormless punters who will take the bait and plaster them over the newspapers. Behind closed doors, I’m convinced that Arsene, Sir Alex and East 17 are all sniggering to themselves, whilst giving themselves pats on the back for the straight-faced manner in which they repeatedly deliver these performances.

In the cases of both Wenger and Ferguson, I can only presume that the repeated refusals to accept publicly that their own team and players are to blame for any setbacks are part of their winning mentality. In football it seems that nice guys come last. Wenger and Ferguson only want to win, and that typically means engendering a them-against-us mentality, attempting to pressurise officials and shielding their players from any external negativity. Within the privacy of the dressing-room I doubt that Wenger shrugged off the defeat against Stoke by advising his players that the naughty ruffians were being nasty. He probably went mad at them. Ferguson has probably had stern words with Rooney and possibly given him a slap just to reinforce the point that he’d damn well better not lose it with the refs any more. But in public, they trot out their whinges and rants, deflecting attention from the shortcomings of the players, all in the name of winning, winning, winning.

Mind you, if this isn’t the case, and Wenger, Ferguson and East 17 truly believe in the balderdash they spout, then I despair.

Spurs news, rants

Violating Lady Luck – Spurs 2- 1 Liverpool

“You know, I’m starting to think that the 4-4 draw with Arsenal was two points lost…” – Lac, Sunday 2 November, 4.20am.

Ok, so maybe at that point I was started to get a bit carried away, but can you blame me? It’s worth remembering that only seven days ago we were in freefall – eight games, two points, bottom of the league. However, seven days, seven points, two big nights on the lash and not much sleep later, and in the early hours of this morning I finally started to get carried away.

However, as a Spurs fan it is in my essence to be pessimistic – so here’s the bad news.

Against l’arse, and far more so yesterday against Liverpool, we were completely outplayed. Never more so than in the Alamo-style siege of our goal in the ten minutes after half-time yesterday. How on earth we escaped from that with only a one-goal deficit I’m not sure. (The barrage also neatly encapsulated in a microcosm the best and worst of Gomes – outstanding in his acrobatic finger-tip save of Gerrard’s deflected shot, and plain mad in his back-pass that allowed Gerrard another chance just moments later.)

However, once that barrage had ended, I and several sage souls knowingly agreed that Spurs were likly to nick something from the game. As with l’arse three days earlier, any team that completely dominates Spurs, running rings around us and creating several billion chances, but failing to put ball in net, is asking for trouble. Having survived three woodwork interventions we then continued to violate Lady Luck by benefiting from an own goal (Carragher’s third for us in his career!) before stealing it at the death. There will be days when we outplay teams and don’t get the win we feel we deserve, so I’ll happily take this.

I’m still not convinced about this “fighting spirit, never-say-die” mantra the press are bleating on about. All the spirit in the world wouldn’t have saved us had l’arse and L’pool screwed in their shooting studs. We’ve amassed four points from these games primarily because of lucky breaks. However, unlike most teams who find themselves in the relegation zone, we do also have bundles of talent. A core made of marshmellow, but some exceptionally skilful players. Modric, while not yet bossing games, is beginning to show glimpses of class. Bentley’s confidence is providng an outlet for his inventiveness. THud’s eye for a defence-splitting pass is beginning to emerge. Lennon’s trickery and pace is beginning to open up oppo defences. Bent and Pav are scoring. What the two most recent games tell me is that we’re not in the same class as the top four. However, should we be lucky enough to remain within sight of such teams after they’ve had their spells of dominance, we have enough skilled players in our ranks to score goals, whoever the opposition. And with our talented players beginning to show confidence in their abilities, I expect that we’ll certainly turn over a few of the Premiership’s lesser teams in the next few months.

An abridged version of this badboy was also posted on the letters page of,17033,8744_4448091,00.html

Spurs news, rants

Spurs’ "fighting spirit"? Are you sure?

I keep hearing about Spurs’ new-found “fighting spirit”. Let’s clear this up pronto – the comeback on Weds night was nowt to do with fighting spirit. The players had given up after 80 mins and accepted a 4-2 defeat. The only reason we got back into the game was a stroke of luck – Clichy slipping and presenting Jenas with a route to goal (nb credit to Jenas, there was still plenty of work for him to do when he picked up the ball, he took the goal exceptionally well). Thereafter, for the four mins of injury-time, we showed some desire, but broadly, that comeback was not achieved because of our fighting spirit.

Veering off on a tangent – why the hell doesn’t every professional footballer show fighting spirit, every damned minute he’s on the pitch? Our acceptance of a two-goal defeat after 80 mins on Weds made my blood boil. I remember feeling the same way when England were 2-0 down in Croatia with 10 mins to go. It only takes, say, 20 seconds to orchestrate and score a goal. Moreover, they’re paid in excess of a thirty grand every week, to give a 90 minute (plus injury time) performance. So don’t give up after 80.

The mentality could probably be attributed to the fact that they’re picked up at 14 (or younger), completely pampered by their club and have never done a proper day’s (9 to 5 or longer) work in their lives. For them, two hours training per day is hard work.


Rant over.

Spurs news, rants

More technically…

To be honest, until Clichy slipped in the 89th minute at 4-2, we didn’t look like getting back into the game. After 80 minutes we seemed to accept defeat. Arry’s substitutions seemed daft – chasing the game he took off our most attacking left-sided outlet, Bale. Presumably the idea was to give Lennon’s pace a crack, but still, he could have removed Assou-Ekotto and dropped Bale back into defence, n’est ce pas? Then swapping Bent for Pavluychenko? Two goals behind I’d have thought it would make more sense to increase the number of strikers (we ended up shoving Woodgate into the centre-forward role in injury-time).

However, more positively, Modric now appears to have a definite role. He looks like he knows what is being asked of him – off the ball as well as on it (I noted that he was generally designated to close down l’arse’s deep-lying midfielders). He does look lightweight, but picks a great pass (two essential criteria for a true Tottenham boy) and seems to have some nous playing in between midfield and attack. He and Pav are not yet on the same wavelength, but that will presumably come in time.

Gomes. At what point does a ‘keeper go from having a poor run of form to being a liability? MoTD (yep, got home and watched it) highlighted that having come for and missed the first two corners, he tried again, missed again, and the ball almost embarassedly bobbed into the net. His mistakes occur every match, and are hardly offset by the occasional acrobatic save.

Set-piece defending generally was atrocious, which is perplexing, as we’ve got some big lads back there now.

We seemed to care last night, which could be a wonderful sign that we’ve turned a corner, but is likelier due to the combo of playing under a new manager (can we change our manager ever, say six weeks?) and being psyched for a game against our biggest rivals.

And Arsenal. Ah, my heart bleeds for them, it really does. How could one fail to sympathise after the ostentatious arrogance of their celebrations for their third and fourth goals, finishing one dance routine then beginning another, celebrating not out of joy but out of a desire to be seen, to be noticed, to be photographed. Thierry Henry’s spirit lives long. Yep, heart bleeding over here. A few words of advice – don’t keep trying to score the perfect goal every single time you obtain possession.

It’s been said, both to me personally and on various websites and in various publications today, that Arsenal played much better than us. Just to qualify that – they looked technically superiour and more dangerous when in possession, no doubt, but that misses a fairly crucial element of the concept of “playing football well”. It’s not ballet – you don’t get gold stars for looking pretty. Put the ball in the net guys. Then you’ve played well.

Spurs news, rants


Bloody hell.

Blinking heck.

Only yesterday I wrote that I didn’t know what to expect, and duly listed a bunch of possibilities – a thrashing, a surprise win, a tough draw (thinking more along the saner lines of 1-1 etc). A 2-1 defeat seemed likeliest.

Somehow, though I had readied myself for the unexpected, never in a million years could I have imagined that. I ought to have done – we had enough of those 4-4 draws last season. But still. A forty-yard screamer to get the ball rolling? Yet another ‘mare from our keeper? (Actually, I think we all expected that part). 4-2 down after 89 minutes? Jermaine Jenas – Jermaine Jenas – to deliver one of the goals of the season? And a 94th minute equaliser, to make it 4-4, against our biggest rivals, on their ground?

I’ve tried before – almost ruining my Master’s degree in the process – to articulate the unique magnetism of football. It seems churlish to try again, but what the hell. With one bizarre and completely gripping twist and turn following another, last night’s game had to be experienced live to be fully appreciated – and maybe there’s the rub? It is unscripted and spontaneous. And when Spurs are involved it generally stretches the boundaries of credulity, in a way which would detract from scripted drama. Maybe that’s why there never has been a particuarly good film about football – it’s unscriptedness is its essence.

Even if the above is true, there is undoubtedly far more to it than that – no doubt some bright spark would want to witter on about human involvement, and aesthetics, and other such stuff. However, the unscripted, spontaneous element definitely has something to do with it.

I’ll maintain until my dying day (and my death shall be incurred by over-excitement at a Spurs/Englang match) – football is like women. What’s that? No logic to either of them? I didn’t say that, how dare you. Wash your mouth out and apologise. No, football and women both drive you mad, day after day, week after week, absolutely relentlessly and almost, it seems, deliberately… And then, once or twice a year you get that moment, like Bentley’s lob or Lennon’s equaliser, which makes everything seem worthwhile. It isn’t, but for a few sweet moments you forget and convince yourself it is.

Back to the game. I’ll remember for a long old time my spontaneous leap of amazement that greeted the sight of Bentley’s lob (forty yards!!!) dipping into the net, and good grief I’ll remember the spontaneous, unrestrained multiple air-punch that greeted Lennon’s equaliser. (Equally memorable was the sight and sound of a supposedly neutral colleague gradually warming to Spurs until he too celebrated Lennon’s goal).

Coca-Cola once ran a bunch of posters, showing grown men who ought to know better getting rather carried away at football matches. The line was something along the lines of “One day you will see a goal so beautiful you will want to marry it, move to a small island and live there with it forever.” That’s Bentley’s goal, that is. I want to marry it and have lots of baby wonder-goals with it.

Spurs news, rants

A post that was to be entitled "I don’t know what to expect", but which had lapsed into the traditional Spurs fan’s pessimism by the closing line…

It’s a bit of a cop-out, but awaiting tonight’s North London derby at the Emirates I just don’t know what to expect.

It pains me to admit it, but l’arse might start this game as favourites. They might possibly live up to their billing and win it. In fact, I’m worried they might even spank us. Even aside from the fact that we’re still bottom of the league, there’s a case to be made for this.

Exhibit A – l’arse have been known, occasionally, to dabble in what some might call half-decent football. They’re a bunch of cheating deviants, with no sense of sportsmanship or grace, in victory or defeat, and hilariously rubbish, silent support – but occasionally they do come close to playing football the Tottenham way. Take this time last year. We were somewhere near the foot of the table, but not because we were playing particularly badly, as has been this case this year. Instead we were losing games due to a chronic inability to defend set-pieces, and to our then-goalkeeper’s similarly chronic inability to keep out long-range shots. For the first couple of months of the season I would take great pains to tell anyone who’d listen (and many who wouldn’t) that no team had actually cut us apart – we only losst, regularly, because of long-shots and set-pieces Unfortunately that changed at the Emirates of all places, when l’arse’s first goal cut us to ribbons. Can’t remember who poked it in, but Fabregas was involved. (nb we still should have won that day – Robbie Keane missed a pen at 1-1, we ended up losing 2-1).

I’ve drifted somewhat. The point is that it’s not beyond the realms of possibility that l’arse might stuff us tonight.

Alternatively, we might stuff them. After all, it’s been known to happen in the not-so-distant past 🙂

Can’t really see it happening though. We might “get a result” (idiotic phrase – as long as the game is completed we’ll get a result). A draw wouldn’t be bad in the circumstances; a win, naturally, would be particularly sweet. Given our current form, league position and the fact we haven’t beaten that lot away from home since ’93, this might be wishful thinking. However, there are some grounds for optimism. As I’ve noted elsewhere on these pages, I’m not ‘Arry’s biggest fan, but we are nevertheless enjoying the traditional new manager “bounce”, and there is a slight possibility that it may last beyond one game. Moreover, we always raise our game vs that lot. L’arse at home is usually our best performance of the season (5-1 anyone?), but even at their place we tend to look ok – a week before the 5-1 last year we came within ten mins of beating them at the Emirates; as already mentioned we had a glorious chance at 1-1 and a penalty in the league last year; and going back to 2006 we again came within 10 mins of beating them on their patch. We’ll raise our game, more than likely.

And yet, despite all these wild and fancy-free prognostications, I have a rather resigned feeling, deep down, that this will be a typical Spurs performance, not really looking like we’re going to win, and meekly subsding 2-1/3-1. It’s that same feeling that Andy Garcia’s character had in Black Rain, as he saw the gangster approaching him on a bike wielding a samurai sword, shortly before said sword lopped off his head. Despite what I wrote in my opening line, it’s that feeling of knowing exactly what to expect.

Spurs news, rants

One win is nothing to get excited about..

A home win against Bolton really should not be any cause for particular celebration for Spurs. Admittedly the mismanagement of the last 18 months has meant that the immediate priority is avoiding relegation, but frankly, finishing 17th would represent a woeful season for Spurs.
I am not suggesting that we have a divine right to make the Top Four, or that this will be “our year”, as is trumpeted each August. But at the start of each season, making Europe certainly is a realistic goal. On the back of three successive seasons of European qualification, one strong push for the Champions League and a trophy, European qualification – ie finishing 6/7 and/or winning a trophy – is a reasonable goal for the club.

Is Redknapp the man to achieve this? I’m not yet convinced. He’s definitely the man to lead us out of the relegation scrap, but that’s certainly not all we should be targeting. This season is likely to end in mid-table obscurity and failure to make Europe. Looking ahead however, is Redknapp ever going to get us into Europe, even after starting with the luxury of pre-season and his own transfers? His record overwhelmingly suggests he’s the man to haul a club into mid-table or top-half security, so as a short-term fix this is fine; but there’s far less to suggest he can meet Spurs’ fairly reasonable expectation of regular UEFA cup football.

Last year he won the FA Cup with Pompey, meeting or perhaps exceeding their expectations, and we’ll now see whether he can do the same and better with a club that is bigger in terms of fan-base, history and financial backing. The manner in which he put together a combination of English and foreign talent, youth and experience, at Pompey, bodes well for Spurs.

However, I’m not yet convinced that he’s the man to meet our goals. Aside from the top four, we should be aiming to beat every other team in the division at least once each season. A home win vs Bolton should not be a cause for oarticular celebration. Certainly next season, Redknapp will have to show that he can turn us back into a team that regularly makes the UEFA cup – and then, as under Jol, we can start to dream of bigger and better things.