Well we had better get cracking with the inquest then. The slew of instant reactions I have overheard in the couple of hours since meltdown have included “Sack Harry”; “Sell Crouch”; “Recall Keane”; and even “Get Jenas back in the team”. Okay, I made up that last one, but some of the opinions ventured do seem possibly to have been delivered a tad hastily. Over at AANP Towers the mood is bizarrely philosophical - indeed, the primary question being ruminated upon around these parts is whether we lost because we were unlucky or generally quite bobbins.Luck (Or Lack Thereof)
Might as well fly through these first, for administrative purposes:
Disallowed Goal – If there was a push on David James it was by his own defender (Rocha). Well might the goalkeeper have grinned afterwards, the offensively-attired rotter.
Penalty – Sergeant Wilson got the ball, dagnabbit.
First Pompey Goal – Curses upon the Wembley groundstaff, Michael Dawson’s stud manufacturers and the Gods of Soil and Turf.
And as an added bonus, ITV’s wonky-nosed analyst Andy Townsend later highlighted that the free-kick which led to the first goal was given against Dawson for the gentlest caress on the back of a Pompey forward.
On top of these there were spells when we laid siege to the Pompey net, racked up a blinking great big stack of corners, had efforts cleared off the line and saw several of our better chances fall to Corluka - a likeable enough trooper, but not one to whom the epithet “predatory finisher” is normally applied.
Nope, not much luck around these parts.
But Not Exactly Vintage Spurs Either…
Our play would have benefited enormously from taking the lead and thereby finding some space behind Pompey, but it was not to be, and instead every foray into the Portsmouth penalty area was welcomed by a good half-dozen defenders. They came out elbows flying, and duly defended for their lives throughout. (Whatever happened to the real Ricardo Rocha is anyone’s guess, but his doppelganger, barely recognisable from the blighter who once wore lilywhite, put in a near-faultless shift). By sitting deep our conquerors denied us the space to get beyond them, and our passing game never really materialised.
They may have made it difficult for us, but a general lack of invention, coupled with the determination of our lot to avoid one-touch football, did not help the cause, and it seemed we might have played all ruddy night and not scored. Perhaps, then, this one will be filed in the AANP the folder entitled “Simultaneously Unlucky And Actually Pretty Woeful” (next to the 2001 Carling Cup Final defeat to Blackburn).
A Couple of Points of Note Regarding Personnel
“FA Cup Semi-Final” can be added to the ever-growing number of key games in which Hudd has failed to impose himself. He might not have been match-fit, and he did pick a couple of decent passes - and one delicious, controlled shot - but boss the affair he most certainly did not.
Inevitably then, we looked out left for inspiration. The threat of Bale was largely countered by Portsmouth’s deep-lying approach, but while perhaps not as effective as in previous weeks he still seemed our most creative outlet. The hour of Lennon’s return approacheth, which if nothing else will give Bale a chance to catch his breath between gallops.
Poor old Sergeant Wilson is pretty much exonerated from blame. Understandably enough he played throughout like a man already on one yellow card, and while this denied us the sight of any bone-crunching challenges he still bustled around pretty effectively (and energetically too, in a game in which I do declare I saw a Pompey player cramp up as early as the first half). It seemed pretty cruel that after all that effort he was then unjustly booked and we lost anyway. The guy must have been pure evil in his previous life, because karma seems to have it in for him.
The replacement by Krancjar of Bentley also prompted a raised eyebrow at AANP Towers. He may not have been setting the world alight, but Bentley was whipping in the occasional cross from the right, which seemed a reasonable tactic with Crouch and Pav ambling around ahead. Instead, he exited stage left, while Hudd continued to crawl around in the centre.
11th April 2010: A Pretty Rubbish Day
If the players mope around feeling sorry for themselves like we fans are doing the Premiership push will also be up in smoke this time next week. The evidence of today suggests that over the remainder of the season we will once again choke – but how nice would it be to see our lot pick themselves up and go hell for leather for fourth spot over the next few weeks?
Gary Mabbutt will be signing copies of AANP book Spurs’ Cult Heroes for the masses on the following dates: