My last post has been so well received, I’ve finally found the level of my audience – urine and toilets. So that’s the future for TOMM…
Back to football and our vital cup quarter final away to Fulham. Something new to preview this week, an injury crisis. One day you’re knee deep in midfielders (oh dear, straying too close to yesterday’s toilet gags), next you can’t find one for looking. This weekend we may be able to judge the degree of success achieved by the policy of farming out youngsters to the lower leagues, rather than nurturing them in the reserves, now non-existent. Jake Livermore has some experience and is muscular, eager and athletic enough to warrant serious consideration for the centre midfield berth left vacant as Hud rests and JJ recovers from his groin operation.
But it is a risk, away from home against a redoubtable Fulham team who have overcome a recent blip and won their last four matches, including a fine two leg victory over the Europa Cup holders, no mean achievement. Yet the alternatives carry some risk too. Modric and Kranjcar have both played in the middle. Modric looks most comfortable there; he likes to be involved and the team plays better when he’s on form and on the ball. However, his presence could leave us weak defensively. He showed last Sunday that he’s not afraid of hard work and can put his foot in when it matters but he could be over-run by Fulham’s industrious and canny midfield.
Everything revolves around this selection. Livermore could mean the Croatian duo can maintain their balance on the right and left and give Modric a fraction more room on the left. Disruption is minimal. Modric will mean experience and greater creativity. And that’s what I would go for. Luka can handle himself and WP must hang back to shield the back four. Just don’t move, Wilson.
Next problem: up front. Defoe is ‘doubtful’. By the strict meaning of the word, he’s unlikely to play but I suspect that in football speak it translates as – he has a bit of a knock but Harry thinks he’s fit enough. Or maybe it means nobody knows until tomorrow teatime. I think he’ll start, a feeling with no basis in evidence whatsoever. If he’s not fit, it’s tempting to consider Gudjohnsen. His game is to drop deeper and link the midfield and the frontmen, handy if we need some help further back. But he’s not on his game. At all. The ‘game’ passed him by completely on Sunday.
Meanwhile, just when I turned my back for a split second, Crouch has become a nailed on world cup certainty and in the top twenty all-time England scorers. I had to work late on Wednesday and now look what has happened. Never again. There must be a better big striker in England. What’s that? Oh, well, apparently there isn’t. So that’s that then. Pav obviously, and if no Defoe it’s Crouch for me. Pav’s renaissance began when he played off PC at Bolton. On condition that we don’t wang the ball forward. Deal?
Finally, that leaves left midfield. Bale is also doubtful, whatever it means, but if fit he could fill on the left with BAE behind him. This is what our big squad is for and we should be able to cope, but if Wilson gets booked, the resulting suspension could cost us dear next week. Worry about that after Saturday, because this match demands our full and complete attention. Fulham will be hard to beat but here is a golden chance to progress towards a cup final. We must be positive and take the game to our opponents. Whatever the personnel it’s what we do best. Spurs after a replay.