A routine win. Routine and lovely and ordinary and superb and standard and welcome and oh-so-average and brilliant.
Routine. Let it roll around around the tongue. Roooo-tine. Roo-teeeeeeene. Savour the word, luxuriate in each syllable, rejoice in the concept, because nothing is ever routine at Spurs so this was such a relief. Enjoy every moment because the rest of this fantastic season is a white knuckle ride into the unknown. We won a game we were supposed to win, in the end at a canter. We didn’t play well, but well enough. It’s not usually as straightforward as this, but nothing went wrong, no mishaps or calamities, plenty in reserve. I’ll never get used to this sort of thing at Spurs.
We had a go a few times. Gomes saved well close in, once in each half, a tangle of long arms and legs and the ball bounced to safety. Excellent work, he gets down so quickly for a man able to touch the crossbar with his armpit. And Pompey helped. When you’re down, you’re down. Last man standing as the vultures with the stretcher had their best afternoon of the season. As ever, I was plutzing whenever they had possession, at least until the last few minutes. Maybe the air disturbance caused by three pigeons taking off at the Park Lane at the just the wrong moment could subtly alter the ball’s trajectory as it flies towards Gomes…
I’ll always be like this, it’s too late to do anything about it. There was, however, real potential when Portsmouth went 4-3-3 and it is as well that Huddlestone, diligently dropping back, was more alert to the danger than the crowd. The huge cheer that went up when Birmingham equalised (I assume, as apparently I was the only one looking at the ball not the screen) could have choked in the throats of a good many spectators as it coincided precisely with one of Portsmouth’s rare forays into the box. Nothing came of it but it’s not as if I want to spend £40 to watch Soccer Saturday. The Pompey fans’ quip about ‘is there a fire drill?’ greeted a deafening rumble of seats thwacking back in unison. It was funny and I wish them well for their loyalty and continued enthusiasm under impossible duress. From April 12th onwards. Until then, keep those injuries coming.
Spurs went through the motions but the spark was missing. Hud and Luka were quiet for the most part, Hud’s perfectly timed left footer aside, but the big boned one’s value is in more than just the spectacular. He works with energy and growing intelligence, particularly in the way he makes himself available for team-mates. Nice touch in the first half. Lumbering forward to join an attack, as he ran he turned and told Luka to stay back. Only one forward at a time, the right decision and more importantly he took charge of that moment.
Perhaps not the game to judge too harshly, but Bentley’s second half performance illustrated one of the faults in his game. If he does not release it fairly quickly, he tends to take it too far, right into the clutches of the opposing defenders. He doesn’t have the pace to beat them and usually not the skills either. What he does so well is whip the ball, but to do so you don’t have to beat your defender. Rather, you can push it a yard ahead and away from your man, he can’t reach it but you can wrap your foot around and curl it in. That needs to be drummed into him. Maybe he’s better in games with more edge and pace. Also, he did not link well with Walker, although that can be excused as this was presumably their first outing together. My first look at Walker in a Spurs shirt. He had a promising debut, holds himself in a well-balanced manner so he can move well and shift balance if he has to turn or move in for the tackle, tackles firmly and is decisive. Sometimes that meant that he made the wrong decision but overall I’d rather see a young man have faith in his own ability that hesitate for fear of making a mistake. His run to set up the second goal was a fine piece of play, showing also his awareness of first the space and then of better-placed team-mates as he pulled it back.
Our Saviour was another on cruise control when he came on but Superboy has only two settings, off and maximum. That move he’s working on, where he brings down a pass and leaves the ball a yard or two in front so he can run onto it. that’s real skill because some of those crossfield passes from Hud and Daws are fairly fizzing in towards him. He was absolutely terrific again, thrilling on the ball.
As relaxing an afternoon as it ever will be at the Lane and now close your eyes and dream of the glory ahead. Whatever happens at Sunderland, week beginning April 11th is the stuff of magic and mystery. It’s why we go through the rubbish and the pain, for moments like these.
But for now, Spurs stopped playing towards the end and so this column will just
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