Swiftly into our stride against Peterborough, Spurs banished any thoughts of giantkilling with an afternoon of smooth attacking football, four goals being scant reward for our dominance.
It was an inauspicious start as a pigeon had unloaded on my seat. A quick search revealed the sole toilet that actually had some paper towels but frantic pre-match scrubbing was only partly successful, as clearly a major proportion of the refuse had been baked on in an industrial oven. I’ve seen some crap at the Lane over the years but never before sat in it.
Defoe responded in kind, with an early astonishing miss from under the crossbar, not quite as shocking as the legendary Acimovic effort against Fulham but seen by many around me as an omen. Cue solemn muttering about, “it’s going to be one of those days”.
It became one of those days that we are seeing more frequently, thank goodness, where we played some delightful football. Once we realised Lennon’s absence and stopped looking to feed the ball down the right (it took a few minutes), Modric and Kranjcar asserted their midfield authority and were irrepressible. They cut in alternately from the flanks to find space in front of the Boro’ box and directed a steady flow of passes into the channels or out wide, where they found Bale in particular a willing ally.
Just as the excellence of their keeper Lewis provided more ammunition for the glum ‘one of those days’ theorists, Modric’s sweeping cross field pass allowed his mate to cut in and slam a sizzling curling shot into the far corner. I leapt up to salute a superb goal but the reaction was out of keeping with the eerily muted atmosphere. Only Peterborough I know but I can’t recall such a lack of response to a Spurs goal at the Lane, given that it was the first and was of such high quality.
Spurs’ onward march was temporarily hampered by an outbreak of flickiness, sometimes seen when we get too big for our multi-coloured, individually signed and ludicrously expensive boots. Suddenly it was all back-heels and one-touches over the head with the outside of the foot. However, complacency did not take hold. Learning lessons from other games this season, we kept the tempo high and continued to make chances throughout. Harry became anxious at 2-0 when our opponents forced a couple of corners, rising from seat to offer a few well-chosen words, but there was little to worry about as we set about achieving Cliff Jones’ half-time prediction of 4-0.
Without wishing to kick someone when they are down, I haven’t seen a side who defended in depth with five in midfield and who worked as hard as Boro to so little effect. There was space all over the pitch. Their superb keeper kept them in the game. I suggested that here was the second keeper that our squad needs (see my preview), then the Park Lane took up the cry of ‘Tottenham’s number two’.
Bale had a fine game, raiding down the left with determination and pace and delivering regular crosses at full tilt, setting up our second and third with classic precise pull-backs for Niko and JD (impudently with the outside of his foot) to touch home. Sterner tests will provide solid evidence of his suspect defensive qualities but he couldn’t have done more today. He was certainly not short of confidence. A great talent that needs to be nurtured.
Rose came on for a nice cameo. The only time I have seen him play was for the Under 21s when he had a more central role. On the left he was well-balanced and lightning fast, schooled to move and deliver a quick ball. He and Lenny have been working together, clearly. Naughton joined him. On first sight he too is upright and confident on the ball but he saw little action, although he could have conceded a penalty before Rose whizzed up the other end to be brought down for our fourth.
In my preview I suggested that the non-appearance of Pav and Hutton would most likely signal their imminent departure but on second thoughts league position is the target for any club thinking of buying.
Defoe went off early and may have a hamstring problem, the only bad news on a cold but pleasant day as thoughts move to the clash against Liverpool next weekend.