Spurs travel to Blackburn today in high spirits, and that’s not just the after-effects of the Dublin Christmas party.After such a fine win against Manchester City, we need to maintain the mood, energy and skill in what is another winnable away fixture.
There’s not much to talk about with the team selection – same again, surely. Upfront, Keane might have a look-in, though. Redknapp has made changes to the striking partnership throughout the season based on his assessment of our opponents’ defensive weaknesses rather than our form in the previous match. Samba and Nelsen might be one of the few centre back partnerships to be relieved to face Crouch instead of the quicker, more mobile Keane, who has done well enough against Blackburn in the past.
At the back, Harry has a cautious attitude to change, and anyway we’ve only got two centre halves. Blackburn were horribly ordinary against Birmingham in the week, a series of high balls forward underlining their lack of creativity. If Daws and Bassong stay alert and mark assiduously then we should be able to resist. Palacios needs a rest but will probably play: he should be stationed permanently in front of our back four. It’s possible that Harry wants him to play his way through his bad patch but a break now might refresh him for the Christmas period. Word is that Redknapp is an admirer of Jenas but it’s questionable if he has faith that between them he and Huddlestone can provide enough of a defensive barrier. Hud should be willing to tuck in between the centre backs if we are defending in the air.
Once more we look to Lennon for the source of our goals. Chimbonda might be shifted to left back to handle him. I rated Chimbo, moody greedy git though he may be. His form with us dropped as soon as it entered his head that we might not deliver the success he sought, so from then on, he was off, first in his mind and then in reality. I’m certain he regrets leaving, discovering as many do that change somehow breaks up what is working, the things that are going right. Eh Robbie? Allardyce will have a better plan to nullify Lennon’s danger than one of his predecessors at Ewood Park did on Wednesday, so we must look to use the space double marking creates elsewhere on the field.
Off the pitch, the Spurs’ players determination to be branded drunks continues unabated. My initial reaction to the Dublin reports was disbelief but no one seems to want to deny it. If players want to let their hair down occasionally, I have no problem with that. Emphasis on the word ‘occasionally’ here. Young men having a good time is part of normal life and if it occasionally (again) eases the pressure and enables them relax as the rest of us do, then fine. There’s a huge difference between that and partying several nights a week or, worse, serious drinking, often in private, as a refuge from their fame and the consequent expectations.
So in worrying abut this episode, I’m not occupying the moral high ground. If we are to believe what is being said in the media, the club captain has organised a rebellion in direct confrontation with his manager’s instructions. Most of the squad have gone along with it. Keane’s position therefore is untenable, but more significantly, Redknapp’s authority has been totally undermined. He said no party and moreover has made a big splash about it in the papers. They partyed.
Except this is not quite what happened. Redknapp permitted a golfing trip. Spurs fans and the world of football have been presented with the concept that one of the most experienced and wily managers in the game happily accepted that an unchaperoned group of players would have a round, followed by a couple of lemonade and limes and tucked up in bed by 10.30. I kind of like the idea that they actually thought no one would find out. Ireland is indeed a land of green farmland, but my understanding is that these days it has telecommunication contact with the outside world.
Nobody comes out of this with any credit and the club look absurd. If the players were to have a party, let them. Never mind, it’s already spawned new urban slang. ‘Fancy a round of golf tonight? See you down the pub then’.