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Anyone fancy a game? Spurs – Spartak Moscow preview

The build-up to tonight’s game with Spartak reminds me of our office 5-a-side team. We too would reach the day of the game with only four guaranteed players, from an initial pool of several dozen. And so it transpires that Darren Bent can’t play because he has a cold, Ledley and Woodgate are injured, Pav has a prior engagement with his missus, Corluka is helping a mate move into a new flat, Hutton is probably too hungover, Giovanni will no doubt have a deadline looming and can’t get out of the office in time, and as a result ‘Arry is going to have to phone around the players’ mates to try and find a couple of ringers.

As in fact he has already done – step forward Bostock and Parrett. I watched Bostock come off the bench to become our youngest ever player vs Dinamo Zagreb, he seemed to have a decent touch and was left-footed, which is pleasing, but he looks like he should be wearing a hoody and sitting at the back of the bus playing his music out loud. As for this Parrett chap –  I saw a photo of him in the paper and he looks about eight. Maybe the picture is actually 12 years old and he’s really 20, but this still annoys me. I’m not old, but people like him make me feel old. It seems like five minutes ago that I was a teenager, and dreamed of being the young kid thrown off the bench at Spurs. Admittedly I couldn’t even make the school starting XI, but still, I dreamt that dream because I was young enough. It was about the same era that Southgate and Ince were playing rather than managing.

And now? Now Southgate is a manager, Ince has just been sacked from his third managerial post and some damn eight year-old who hasn’t started shaving is going to play for Spurs tonight. How can someone born in the 90s be a better footballer than I am? How can someone still at school be better than I am? I’ve got over ten years on these kids – surely I must be fitter, and stronger, if not necessarily faster? Go back to Pokemon and recorder concerts Parrett, leave the football to grown men. That kid is going to get a right kicking tonight. I’d kick him if I were playing – even if I were his team-mate – just because no-one ought to be a better footballer than me if they’re not old enough to remember Thundercats. There’s a natural order of things here, sonny. Still, as long as Ryan Giggs continues to play, I’ll always feel young. He represents a whole era – my era. Don’t you ever dare to retire, Giggsy.

We only need a point to progress tonight. Fingers crossed for Bostock, Parrett and the rest of the High School Musical cast.

Time waits for no manager – Ince gets muscled off the ball

I feel a little sorry for Paul Ince. Admittedly the multi-millionaire side of things will probably soften the blow for him, but the guy was a legend for England, and the sort of midfielder I yearned for Spurs to buy. When England were at one of their best periods (Euro 96, le Tournoi 97, France 98) he was at the hub of it.

Still, there’s no escaping the fact that Blackburn were in freefall, and weren’t about to improve under him. It’s all very well to hear ex-pros say he should have been given more time – I think the Blackburn faithful would beg to differ. More time would have seen them exit the league. As Wendy Ramos – and indeed the wondrous Martin Jol – found out, time is a commodity a Premiership manager simply does not have. The Premiership doesn’t work like that. There’s so much money flying around that relegation is an absolute disaster – as is failure to qualify for the Champs League, if the team is that way inclined. This is no secret, so Ince really ought not to use that as an excuse. No Prem manager ought to – if he’s so dense that he thinks that his club will wait to be relegated, just to suit his personal career prospects, he ought not to have been hired in the first place. 

Time waits for no manager, but Heurelho Gomes might just have been saved by it. With no transfers until Jan, and no obvious replacement in goal, Gomes has had the chance to redeem himself and restore his reputation, and he’s fairly literally grabbed it with both hands. He’s certainly turned in some top-notch performances – his ability to pull off the spectacular saves has never really been in doubt, and he now looks a lot more assured coming for crosses, even if he does annoyingly tend to punch every time. However, it remains to be seen whether that will be enough to convince ‘Arry to stick with him until the season’s end.  Bless him, I fear that Gomes could have another 29 consecutive faultless games, but if number 30 features another clanger that’ll be the one we all remember. Call it David James syndrome.

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