Success for Defoe – This Time

Yes, there’s nothing like an England friendly to soothe the nerves. Time to doze contentedly. An oasis of calm in an overwhelmingly frenzied world. Just a few moments contemplating the utter pointlessness of it all and I’m away. Peter Drury helps enormously: as he drones on, I drift off.

My heavy eyelids flickered open just in time to see Our Brave Boys combine for England’s second goal. It must be a reflex after all these years. My subconscious filters out all the dross but instinctively sends a swift burst of energy through the cortex as soon as there is a mention of anything Tottenham.

Even when the fixtures are suspended for the international break, everything still goes right for Spurs. I am genuinely pleased for JD, especially as I have already nominated him as my key man if success at White Hart Lane is to be achieved this season. He looks very good. A confidence player, he’s playing regularly and his self-belief is sky high. For me, the best element of his demeanour is that he looks well-balanced on the ball and when on the move, created by improved upper body strength that centres his core muscles.

Churlish though it may be to criticise such a fine goal, it may not be as indicative of his progress as the pundits appear to believe. He had a fraction of space at the edge of the box and with two defenders in front of him chose to shoot. It worked, this time. The problem is, we Spurs fans are the ones who know, because we have seen him do exactly the same thing many, many times, and the ball hits the opponent and bounces away. If we are honest, too often Defoe tries angles, whether for shots or passes, that do not exist.

All strikers are arrogant. That in this context is a compliment. When the pressure is at its most severe, they have the task of focussing totally on one single movement, that of putting the ball in the back of the net. To do so consistently there is no room for even a scintilla of doubt. You have to be one hell of a cocky so and so, and JD is that, to be sure. In the long run, however, JD has to have more than one trick at his disposal. Against Birmingham he missed a couple of passes that could have set others up. Later in yesterday’s game, through on goal he hesitated in two minds and was too easily ushered to the safety of the corner of the box. Don’t keep blasting away, JD, there’s more than one way to be a hero.

Meanwhile, the provider of the goal is making excellent progress on the faults in his game. Aaron Lennon had a quiet match but was effective in everything that he did. He had plenty of space, more so than in the Premier League, but for Rooney’s chance he burst into the gap decisively and with the ball under control found his man, qualities similar to those he is displaying each week for Spurs.

He works back well too. No matter that he tackles with the force of Kate Moss applying blusher, he’s in the right place and opponents have to work to get past. If a player is good enough to beat him for skill or pace, fine, but I guarantee 99% of left midfielders won’t.

That was more than enough excitement for one day. My last glance at the screen before settling back into the comfort blanket of sofa and pint of Pedigree revealed Stuart Pearce earnestly giving instructions to Carlton Cole with the aid of big pictures in his loose leaf folder. I guess the players have trouble with words.

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