It’s a long way to Sunderland and this was one match too far for Spurs’ injury-depleted squad. For the first time really, through an increasingly dodgy stream, I longed for the might-have-beens who spend (I hope) 24 hours a day tethered to a treatment table. In reality, several of them, like Woodgate, are so used to this, they sit around moping, and also dreaming of what might have been. He’s been jetting off to Europe, the States and Australia, as if his parents had bought him a round the world ticket for his gap year. But I’d wager the two Cadbury’s Twirl eggs that are sitting on the table in front of me right now, that I might actually have for breakfast and be done with them, that he would have preferred that drag up north in the rain. Soft beach sand or slimy slide-tackle mud under his backside? He’s aching for the latter.
No complaints on the day. Sunderland deserved their victory, although bless ’em, we Spurs salute their heroic efforts in trying to throw it all away, with the misses, the penalties. And Anton, thanks for that, that’s Strictly Come Dancing that I would pay money to see, but in a comedy club…that wasn’t what you meant it, was it? TOMM has nothing against Bent, as regular readers will know. In fact, we have complained about that nasty nasty man with a twitch who said those horrible things about you. And you have nothing against the club, or so you said in the MOTD interview. But that’s a bit of a porky, eh Darren, come on now. I knew you were keen to move on but never comprehended the bitterness that lay just below the surface, masked by that wide nervous grin. Let it all out, son, let it out, find your inner child and return to the days of comfort in the womb. I’m pleased that we could be a small part of your therapeutic catharsis, but actually I’ve been at the Lane for over 40 years and I know about players getting stick, and you didn’t. Polite grumbling was about the size of it. Just so you know.
We never got going, never held possession for long enough. Puzzled expressions and fatalistic shrugs were the order of the day. If JD had been fully fit then I would have played him for the whole match, but I suspect he isn’t. Crouch and Pav would have kept the Sunderland back four occupied and made them defend 5 yards deeper, then we would have had more room. Those long arms and legs kept us going, so thank you Gomes, again. Just like Twizzle. One for the kids there.
Ultimately, we paid the price for the injuries. Fact is, we have done wonders to survive this far and so healthily with the best part of a team out of action. Of Saturday’s back four, all are decent players who I am delighted to have at the club. None are currently first choice for their position. Kaboul is our 5th choice centre half, playing alongside the guy who is fourth in line and on the other side is a boy making his second start. He’s a fine prospect, but you probably read his comments on the official site earlier this week about until recently, the closest he got to Crouch and Defoe was on Football Manager. We can’t expect too much, perhaps we have been spoiled until now. Young men who haven’t played together before. Is this the time to mention that an international defender was in the stands? He may not have made the difference, but once again I’m banging on about what was the point, in this season of all of them.
Above all, there was no experienced head at the back to guide, encourage, abuse, whatever it takes to get them in the right place at the right time. The absentee Michael Dawson’s reputation grew even larger. He’s been playing extremely well but his efforts as leader and motivator were truly evident in their absence on Saturday. Those of us privileged to see close up in the flesh his fierce concentration and total commitment to the cause needed little reminding of what he has brought to the team since his return, but my goodness me how we missed him. Please get better for Sunday, Daws.
Still a time for optimism. No gloom with a semi-final ahead of us this week, time to enjoy being a Spurs fan despite Saturday’s result. Deep down, you knew we would come a cropper one day, eh? The thing is, we’ve done so well to be where we are with a team or so in the physio’s room. That talent and determination was not there at the start of the season. We’re doing OK.