Ledley’s Knee Beats Liverpool

What the new ground needs, wherever we may end up, is a statue. It’s the thing these days, dignifying our improvised chaotic representation of beauty with the use of an art-form that stretches back beyond antiquity. Wolves and Wembley have had one for a while but there’s been a spate in the last few years. Bremner outside Elland Road, grinning wildly whereas to make it lifelike he should be scowling into the eyes of opponents spreading fear and loathing.  Jimmy Armfield stands outside Blackpool’s ground, all fitting tributes to true club greats and then at Fulham there’s Michael Jackson.

Outside the New Lane fans will gather pre-match to worship. Children will clamber over the plinth and pose for photos. Their parents’ stories of past glory days and the legend behind the bronze will pass down the love of the club through the generations as the kids rush off to the club shop. Only one symbol from the modern era can truly represent Tottenham Hotspur’s heart and soul: Ledley King’s knee. Shiny metal, each ligament, bone and cartilage in detailed relief, sadly more solid in perpetuity than in life. If only.

Written off by many, although not by this blog, even I had almost given up hope that we would ever see him play again. Dignity in retirement seemed the future

Ledleys Knee. An Artists Impression

rather than a series of limping comebacks. Barely a flicker’s difference in the expression as he trudges off but the slumped shoulders betray the agony of failure that for this dedicated Spur outweighs the pain in his leg. Yesterday he’s back as if he had never been gone, like he’s had a couple of weeks break in the sun. The familiar scuttling run, feet low to the ground to save precious energy and minimise impact. Running on empty, he conserves what’s left for short bursts over 5 and 10 yards, that’s all you need in the box. Above all, the mind is keen and alert, match sharp like he’s played every game he’s missed in his head. Perfect positioning, a refusal to be shifted out of place by dummy runs, uncanny anticipation born of years of experience.

A quiet man on the field, he has no need for conspicuous fist-pumping or bellowed vocal encouragement. True leaders inspire by other means. He lifted Dawson in particular, the two of them a solid central barrier to an attack fast becoming one of the most feared in the league. Danny Rose once again slotted into an unfamiliar role with aplomb and he and Kaboul stayed tighter in defence, close to the regal reassurance of their leader and master. Sandro patrolled in front of them, diligent and tough.

A couple of Spurs sites are doing their ‘Best Ever’ polls at the moment. Too young to see Norman at his mightiest, I was brought up on England, a giant in the middle with Beal sweeping up around him. Mabbutt and Gough, the latter teasing us with what have been if he stayed for longer. A few votes for Miller, but not mine. Since 67 I’ve seen them all and Ledley King is the first name that goes down. His injury has cruelly robbed us of the finest centre half in the last 40 years, so let us relish what we have.

I’ve been critical of some of Redknapp’s recent tactical decisions and player choices but full credit for what was a brave option, plunging King back into action in the game that could save our season sliding into oblivion. Also, Rose at full-back is a fine piece of player potential judgement. Yesterday the team was balanced throughout. Sandro and Modric once more showed that they are a formidable combination in centre midfield. Sandro’s progress is astonishing, as is Luka’s consistency. Everything flowed through and around him: selfless work, the touches, he holds it when it needs to be held and gives it when it needs to go. He does penalties too, apparently.

Unfortunately my opportunities for more detailed comments, and indeed for my enjoyment of the bloody game, were severely hampered by a stream so dodgy I may as well have drawn stickmen on the corners of a notebook’s pages and flicked through them. Try it – it’s like having Peter Crouch right there in your living room. Liverpool may have had some dangerous moments but my screen was frozen in anticipation for so long, I wondered if I had stumbled on a photo site by mistake. ‘This has been withdrawn through possible copyright violation’ – well, copyright violation is the whole point, isn’t it?

As the teams played the best game of statues ever (I’m not inviting you lot to my kids party at Christmas), attention wanders to the message stream in the sidebar. Correspondents named ‘lovespurskillgooners’, ‘parklane007’ and ‘spursbigboy’ readily share their views not just on the game but on life itself with ‘redtildead’ and ‘nukemancs100’. Presumably the number is to helpfully distinguish him from the 99 other ‘nukemancs’ out there.

I’m up for a bit of football banter as much as the next fan but these boards expose the reality that ‘fan banter’ is in fact rank abuse. ‘Scousers rule’ Spurs provokes the witty rejoinder, ‘no they don’t, Spurs rule scum.’ Terrace wit, this is what the younger generation will never know. U f off, no u f off out of it. And so it goes. It’s the process behind it that gets me. It’s Sunday, there’s football on, I know what I’ll do. I’ll go online and abuse other fans in textspeak. Out of the blue, another voice appears. ‘Grimsby are going nowhere!’ It came from the heart.

The ether cleared suddenly to reveal the penalty in stunning clarity. I say penalty but we all know it wasn’t. If anything Pienaar took the Liverpool’s player’s ground. It sealed the win and from then on we played well but it must have been a difficult moment for all the Spurs Howard Webb conspiracy theorists out there.

Adopting a less gung ho madcap attacking approach, we looked more comfortable and composed, more of a unit. It’s got to be the way to go. Praise for the attitude of the manager and the players. Redknapp has been talking down our prospects, to the point where we might have gone on holiday with two games left. Maybe that’s the way he likes it, comfortable with the underdog role, which in itself does not bode well for a top team but we’ll let that aside go for now. The players lifted themselves, showing determination to finish on a high.

The same attitude next Sunday will see us in Europe, and I’m all in favour of that. I understand but don’t accept the anti-Europa Cup arguments. The tournament itself has been ruined by UEFA’s insistence on the group stages, although to be accurate, it’s the clubs who make up UEFA and want the guaranteed cash that demand it. To be a top club, you fight on all fronts. You can’t turn a proper winning mentality on and off when you feel like it. It’s precisely the art of scraping through games, winning those we have drawn or lost this season when we should have done better, to handle squad rotation without falling apart, that we need to learn. Concentrating on the league isn’t a viable option, it’s a cop out, with no guarantee of any success. It limits us severely in the transfer market, and being out of the CL will be bad enough in that respect anyway.

Above all, I’m old fashioned enough to still believe that winning something is better than coming 4th and having a decent bank balance. Play a weakened team, get through the group and then go for it. Imagine bouncing your grandchildren on your knee. They look up at you with adoring big eyes, moist with emotion. ‘Tell us about the good old days, granddad’.

‘Well kids, I remember the time when our income stream exceeded salaries and other outgoings by 10 or 20%.’

‘20% granddad. Wow, things were so different in the old days…’

With winning comes the memories, and memories last. I know which I would rather have.

20 thoughts on “Ledley’s Knee Beats Liverpool

  1. great read. thanks

    hope we can keep this current squad together (the 18 regulars anyway; some deadwood can leave), and add to it that striker we’ve all been pining for (cheeky bid for drogba, anyone?)

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    • Thanks.

      Yep, I’m not a fan of those who advocate a fire sale. Maintain consistency and team togetherness, only sell when we have a better replacement.

      Alan

      Like

  2. As great as yesterday was it doesnt hide the fact we dont really create enough chances and our strikers are still piss poor, I personally think we need 1 wing wizard who regularly scores and is consistent, Marin would do for me, and 2 strikers.

    Once again midfielder VDV with the first and then a penalty from Luka for the second, which is particularly strange considering he hadnt taken one all season and we had 2 strikers who are suppose to strike a ball the best and score goals not taking it, shows how much faith everyone has in them

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  3. Hear hear! I really want to be in the Europa League and to have a real bash at winning it. If we are smart, we can use it to give more squad players and a few of these talented young’uns we hear so much about some game time and experience. Harry can learn to rotate properly. This would help rather than hinder our league challenge next season. For every Dinamo Tractors there more than enough interesting teams in there. That UEFA Cup is a lovely trophy too as we well know

    Bill Nick said Tottenham Hotspur should always be in Europe. That’s good enough for me.

    Ledley is the best defender I’ve seen in my time watching Spurs. Love that fella. When I have seen him play in the last 3 seasons or so, I always make a special point of watching him, even off the all, as he’s brilliant, and I always worry i might never see him play again.

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  4. Basically with O’Hara, Krancjar, Pav, Defoe (upset with never starting), Keane, Bentley, Gio, Hutton and Bassong all certain to go and Woodgate being released as well as possibly Jenas or Palacios out thats around 10 who I can see going.

    I would have Walker, Naughton (may leave), Rose, Townsend, Button, Parrett, Bostock, Kane and Caulker all in the squad and involved in Europa league games

    And then use all the money generated to sign 3 players…Marko Marin, Falcao and Drogba or Anelka

    Possibly goalkeeper replacement Foster for Gomes

    Squad of

    gk Foster/Gomes, Cudicini, Button 3
    rb Corluka, Walker, Naughton 3
    lb Ekotto, Rose 2
    cb King, Gallas, Kaboul, Dawson, Caulker, Khumalo 6
    rm- Lennon, Marin 2
    lm- Bale, Pienaar 2
    cm- Sandro, Hudd, Modric, Palacios 4
    st- VDV, Crouch, Drogba, Falcao

    Townsend, Parrett, Bostock and Kane for Europa League

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    • I’ll be writing about the squad in the next week or so. Sound basis but we might need more strength on certain areas.

      Regards,

      Al

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  5. Good stuff and a fitting tribute to one of our best ever players. Leds is in my all time 11, alongside Gary Mabbutt at the back.

    Like yourself, I don’t really remember Norman, though I imagine he was pretty good to play in that side. England, Beal, Roberts, Gough, C@mb#ll … there have been a few down the years, but King’s all round excellence beats the lot: good in the air, completely two footed, great reading and anticipation, pacy when he needs to be (ask Robben), good range of passing, goal threat at set pieces, strong in the tackle, great influence on those around him, and always plays fair: I believe his career total of yellow cards is still in single figures. To have played through the pain for us for all these years: truly an all-time Spurs great.

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    • Ha! I forgot Campbell! Not deliberate – when I wrote that sentence I had this niggly feeling that there was a name I had missed out. Must have erased him from my mind…

      Henry always said he was the best defender he ever played against, the only one who used skill not muscle to beat him.

      Regards,

      Al

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  6. We don’t need to go foraging for strikers outside the UK. We need to make a serious attempt to sign Demba Ba from relegated WHU. He, imho is the real deal and puts our current strike force in the shade. Strong, quick, inventive, a good header and good sense of positioning. At 22 he has bags of potential and would be a fantastic investment for Levy & Co.

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  7. I see Harry is saying that King didn’t want to play but he (Harry) told him to, neatly taking the credit for King’s excellent performance. Typical Harry.

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  8. Alan, try ‘LiveOnlineFooty.com’ there’s a live link on my blog.
    Best £6 I ‘ve ever spent, including my marriage licence, for two months links to lots of games
    including all Spurs games lately.

    Can we afford to register Ledley for next season as part of our 25
    if he can only play 10/12 games at the most?
    Should we not be blooding Caulker oir another younger buy?
    That’s where the Europa would be handy.,

    Like

    • yeah, I’ve used that site all season but my latest marriage licence, sorry, £6 payment seems to have disappeared…no fault of the site, he says hastily.

      Only the medics know how fit he is but if there is any doubt, play him. I’m interested to see how well Caulker has come on. If he’s under 21, he doesn’t count towards our 25. I don’t know the rules, really.

      Cheers,

      Al

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  9. A glorious performance from start to finish. Even Pienaar impressed me with his workrate and passing – he’s probably going to be the player Jenas never turned in to.

    Wouldn’t mind the Europa League myself. Like IKIG said, use the fringe/youth players. It’s a distracton if you let it be.

    We’re in such a glorious position here. Some conscious and productive tinkering with the squad and we could match the four teams above us. You can’t bleat about how much greater and untouchable these sides are whilst continually failing to outwit teams with far less resources than you. We need to start breaking this cycle and put Birmingham to the sword on the final day.

    I’m really trying not to listen/think about these Modric to United rumours. If he leaves, it really begs the question: “What is the point of it all?”

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  10. I will be bereft if Modric leaves. My Doc says I’ve only just gotten over Waddle going to Marseille! Frankly, it’s the last thing I need.

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  11. If Ledley plays against B’ham this weekend then we will win and secure European football next season. So hopefully it’s not too premature to start thinking about player of the year and who to ship out this summer. Ready when you are, Alan, to start the debate…

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