A better result than last week? Well, no, in a word. As a result, a draw away to Villa is ok on paper, but no reason to go popping corks and lighting Cubans. However, the performance, particularly in the second half, was without doubt one to warm the cockles. If last week was an all guns blazing Terminator 2, this was a well-constructed The Usual Suspects – different genre, but mightily impressive in its own right.
The nine-goal fest against thoroughly clueless opponents was a fun day out, but there was a nagging worry all week that we’d struggle against a team who did not politely stand aside and usher us through. Such fears appeared to transpire in the first half hour or so, when we were second-best to too many balls – as typified by the Villa goal.Typical Spurs, No Spine, No Fight…
Those who have Spurs down as a soft touch sat back and waited expectantly – only to be stunned by, of all things, a bloody-minded refusal to accept defeat. Towards half-time, and every moment thereafter, we displayed a character which I had not dared think the players had in them. There before our very disbelieving eyes, sleeves were rolled up and hands dirtied, as our lot hammered away until they got a goal. Then they carried on hammering for good measure, in search of a winner. And all this, recall, not against one of the division’s less potent spoilers, but against our closest challengers for fourth. Crikey.
Feet ought to remain grounded – we did not win, after all, and Villa were curiously negative – but that glorious refusal to go down without a fight ought really to have been played out to a stirring Thomas Arne soundtrack. Fittingly enough Michael Dawson was the hero, thumping in our equaliser before presumably riding home on horseback and in full armour, with a sword in one hand and the severed head of a barbarian in the other.
Kranjcar Fast Becoming An AANP Favourite
Kranjcar again was superb, making a mockery of those pointless efforts to shoe-horn Robbie Keane into the left-side role. In the first half the Croat seemed to be at the hub of all that was good, raising the notion that a few weeks down the line, ‘Arry might even be tempted to dabble in a Kranjcar-Modric-Palacios-Lennon midfield. I drool in anticipation. The energy Kranjcar injected gradually spread across the team, and before you could say “We-may-be-one-down-at-Vila-Park-after-half-an-hour-but-by-golly-I-think-we’re getting-on-top-here” they were all at it – movement, patient build-up and the occasional half-chance, hinting at what was to come.I had a rant yesterday about the common Away-Team mentality of sitting back and adopting a safety-first defend-and-nullify mindset. Happily however, anyone in Tottenham ranks who suggested this yesterday was taken out the back and shot, while on the pitch we seized the initiative and pounded relentlessly at the Villa door. Another brownie point can be distributed as appropriate for the fact that there was no panicked resort to a procession of long-balls, despite the presence of Crouch up top. Yes, we did occasionally take the aerial route from deep, but this was mixed up with crosses from the flanks, attempts to pass our way in and thumping long shots.
Encouraging Stuff From Hudd
Elsewhere on the Pitch
Lennon was generally shackled by two men throughout, only finding any space in the closing stages – but even when not producing the goods, his presence caused panic in opposition ranks.
Jenas, to his credit (yes, you read correctly) entered the fray with exactly the right attitude. Previously a man maligned for his willingness to pass backwards if his life depended on going forward, he showed attacking intent every time he received the ball, looking to press forward, either via a pass or dribble, at every opportunity.
In the aftermath of the goal celebrations, ‘Arry resisted any urge to alter the planned substitution, instead ploughing on with the replacement of Kranjcar by Keane, when others may well have paused and thrown on a more defensive player instead. It reminded me of a substitution made by Martin Jol (blessed be his name) many moons back, possibly in his first game in charge in fact, when having trailed 2-0 away to Charlton, we got back to 2-2, before Jol threw on another striker and was rewarded with three points. No three-point haul today, but immense credit to all involved, for the positive mentality adopted.
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And as ever, all are most welcome to leave memories – and browse those of others – regarding some of the players to be featured in forthcoming book Spurs’ Cult Heroes: Danny Blanchflower here, Dave Mackay here, Cliff Jones here, Martin Chivers here, Alan Gilzean here, Pat Jennings here, Cyril Knowles here, Steve Perryman here, Glenn Hoddle here, Chris Waddle here, Ossie and Ricky here, Gary Mabbutt here, Graham Roberts here, Jimmy Greaves here, Clive Allen here, Jurgen Klinsmann here