A solid away win keeps Tottenham Hotspur in contention and more importantly perhaps, that’s two clean sheets in a row for the first time this season, as well as our first away victory for two months. Our passing game spluttered fitfully but we rose to the occasion in the second half when hard graft enabled us to maintain our hold on the lead offered by Crouch’s header late in the first period. Rising to the challenge in adversity is a talent we would do well to nurture.
I say ‘adversity’. Their strikers’ dangerous moments were outweighed by mediocrity in other areas of the pitch and despite their pressing, Blackburn never totally closed down the space in midfield. However, we’ve come unstuck against such opponents in the past, this match last season being one of those occasions. We were on a good run as Harry sprinkled magic dust over the team, then Palacios was unluckily sent off for a second bookable offence that wasn’t and we duly imploded, their winning goal coming from a particularly woeful piece of defending. It can’t be that easy for so many defenders to miss a cross and leave so much space in the six yard box.
Yesterday we were made of sterner stuff. Another good game from Dawson, ably supported by Bassong. Daws still got caught out by flying in, too high up the field. His nervousness that his lack of pace will be found out causes more problems than his speed. He needs more confidence in his ability. Stand tall, stay on your feet, don’t get pulled too far forward and trust that colleagues will cover.
Nothing much written in this blog about Gomes lately. He’s quietly getting on with the business of goalkeeping and yesterday made a couple of cracking saves. He gets down so well to low shots. The shambles of Blackburn’s winner last season as he was sucked unthinking onto the near post is not likely to be repeated too frequently.
The other difference with this win is that we made few chances but took a high proportion of those that arrived. Some classic centre forward play from Crouch. Determination in the first, smothering Nelsen’s brawn to head home firmly, and perfect chance-taking for the second, smoothly tucked away with poise and balance, two adjectives that I’m certain I haven’t used to describe him so far.
Huddlestone and Jenas combined well, JJ driving forward to come up with the second while Hud dropped back to defend.
Meanwhile, Harry’s fervent wish that his alleged financial indiscretions might disappear has not been granted, even though it is Christmas. I wrote about this in October: Harry v The Taxman – Battle of the Titans http://wp.me/pzmOo-40 and nothing has changed my view that he is in danger of being scapegoated to show that the massive Stevens inquiry has not been wasted. It appears that the sum in question is comparatively small beer at about £10k. I’ve been hamstrung this year by unpaid taxes (my employer’s fault in case you are wondering) running into the hundreds but Harry has in his words paid £10m in tax over the years. However, they need someone to be fronted up as a warning to those immersed in the murky world of football and a high profile guy like Redknapp fits the bill perfectly.
Spurs statement is supportive but maintains a degree of distance. It’s odd that they say it is ‘not related to football matters’ because surely it has something to do with his contract at Portsmouth. My understanding is that with such sums, a settlement is the usual option but this may turn on whether the Revenue pursues the fraud angle. Actually, it will turn on the skill of Harry’s hotshot lawyer who defended the Jockey Keiron Fallon recently. That garnered plenty of unwelcome publicity so it’s more negative attention for the club.