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Sherwood, Levy & All The Trimmings

“I hope you’re right. I really do.”

Thus spake surly space lady Ripley, in the Muppets-based whodunit Aliens, when informed by a cocksure chum that everything would turn out just tickety-boo (shortly before things actually went rather awry, when one examines things objectively). Her sentiment of mingled hope, trust and wariness might well be mumbled at the gleaming bonce of Master Levy, for as non sequiturs go this is one of the ilk to have me howling with frustration. Just a few weeks ago we were still contenders for the Top Four, and even now on Christmas Eve we are but four points off said land of milk and honey, but this whole bizarre episode seems to have achieved such a recalculating of aims and ambitions that Top Six is now seemingly the accepted target. What the dickens sort of masterplan is that?

Our all-seeing chairman may well deserve a stern word for letting the guillotine drop without giving much thought about how to dispose of disembodied heads. Ridding the Lane of AVB was not necessarily a bad call, given the style of play we had been sucked into, but it served little purpose if nobody adequate were lined up. Presumably the 18-month contract will be terminated six months in, with the accompanying Levy death-stare, should our heroes fail to progress to the heady heights of sixth by the season’s end, or should someone with but a modicum of experience become available, but it seems a strange approach to shrug shoulders, close eyes, jab a finger onto a 2002 squad poster and accordingly entrust a season and a half to Sherwood. Few top-half teams would appoint Tim Sherwood as Master of their Universe, so it frustrates the bally juices out of me that we have done so.

If ever there were a time to be a fly on a wall, it was during negotiations yesterday, notwithstanding the potentially fatal effects of cold weather upon the poor blighters’ life-cycles. If I understand correctly Sherwood  seems to have talked himself into an 18-month deal on the basis of one home defeat to West Ham, one madcap victory against a Southampton team whose defence and goalkeeper seemed to be playing the wrong sport, and through use of the bluff that he wanted it long-term or not at all. All of which suggests to me that Sherwood is one of the greatest orators of our time.  Should the walls come crashing down on this curious little experiment then a career as FBI negotiator-in-chief blinking well ought to beckon.

Thus concludes the diatribe however. Time to back the chap, and hope that things turn out better for us than for Ripley and her chums (spoiler alert – they didn’t make the Top Four, if you follow my gist). If the Southampton selection were a gamble based on the fact that he knew not whether it were his last game, his new longer-term contract might encourage him to indulge in a tad more circumspection, in the form of a more recognised holding midfielder. Playing two in attack has already born fruit, the squad is certainly strong enough to rub shoulders with the great and good, and with a festive fixture-list that could be more foreboding we are but one string of wins away from a media meltdown about 2014 in fact being a lilywhite year.

Fulham 1-2 Spurs: Well-Deserved Despite The Controversy

That’s more like it. Six points from two tricky fixtures and we now sit level on points with l’Arse and Man Utd. Admittely ours has been a fairly gentle fixture-list to date, but given our struggles to juggle Premiership and Champions League I’m quite grateful for what he have.

 

This Week’s VDV Magic

 

Having bossed games in recent weeks this was a relatively mundane showing from Van der Vaart, but when you hail from Amazingville then even your mundane showings are sprinkled with magnificence, and so it was that VDV’s quiet day still brought about the game’s best piece of skill and a game-changing moment. One-on-one with the ‘keeper from 12 yards out, most mere mortals would have closed their eyes and thumped the thing towards the corner. VDV, naturally, instead took the option marked “Genius” with a chip so impertinent it ought not to have been legal. Pav was a touch shameless in celebrating the goal that was all of VDV’s making, but credit to the Russian for being on his toes while the Fulham defenders were standing around picking their noses.

 

William Gallas – Not Bad For A Human

 

The Spurs-supporting chums with whom I watched the game spent much of the game earnestly peddling the theory that William Gallas has been sent here to destroy us, possibly by Arsene Wenger. Pointing to the fact that Gallas previously threatened to score an own-goal if Chelksi did not sell him, they now reckon that this if this mercenary with evil eyes ever does score for us he’ll rip off his Tottenham shirt to reveal an Arsenal one underneath. Grist to their mill was provided by Gallas’ decidedly average defending for the Fulham goal – diligently deciding to park himself in the middle of no-man’s land, leaving Kamara with an open goal from about six inches out. He then did his best to sabotage our winning goal too, but despite his best efforts the officials decided it would be more fun to allow it.He is actually doing a fine and dandy job for us, but my attitude towards him remains akin to that of Ripley towards Bishop in Aliens. Only when Gallas is ripped in half and then saves my life with his mangled torso will I be won round and my suspicion dissipate.

 

 

Alas, Poor Ledley

 

The price to pay for this week’s three points was the latest Ledley breakdown. It is tempting to chastise ‘Arry for selecting Ledley (personally I would have kept him aside for the Inter game) but it is hardly the fault of our glorious leader. Our captain’s groin is likely to twang every time he takes to the pitch, given that the poor blighter never trains. If it had not happened yesterday it might have happened in the opening minutes of Wednesday night instead.

 

Elsewhere On The Pitch

 

It is easy to forget that in the opening exchanges we almost scored one of the best goals ever. The move in question saw Hudd cheekily dink the ball into Bale, who first-time volleyed into the path of Pav, who took it on his chest and fired wide. Six inches from being a thing of majesty, it was instead a mere goal-kick. Shame that.

 

 

There were a couple of photogenic saves from Gomes; a couple of curiously inept touches from Modders; and a lively debut from Sandro. BAE’s hair looks stranger by the week, while it was lovely to see Aaron Lennon rediscovering his joie de vivre, suggesting that he may have an important role to play against Inter this week, even be it only as impact sub.For all the controversy of the winning goal, on balance of play we merited this win, 2-1 a result that reflected the balance of play. Problems remain – not least 4-5-1 without a striker who fits the system – but this was a fine afternoon’s work from our heroes.

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