Spurs and Wembley. Nice Day, Shame About The Football

I’ve known worse times as a Spurs fan. Forgive me if for the moment I can’t quite name them. An afternoon so utterly dispiriting, the fans, the decisions, the outcome, that heart and soul are thoroughly drained. Not anger, though there’s just cause – the referee, the way we just slipped away without enough of a fight. Instead, a cloud of gloom and doom that like a moorland mist seeps through the layers and into the marrow, leaving aching bones and weary muscle.

A feeble attempt at coherence in this particular post. I hope the points make sense even if they don’t exactly fit together. It’s not a good morning, and anyway I still have a headache from the man behind me banging his crutch on the metal roof of the stand.

As ever the comedown is worse when the expectations are raised. Not so much a heightened anticipation that we would win, I hoped we would and believed we certainly could, but any day at Wembley starts off being a good day. Never take for granted the walk up Wembley Way, the childlike thrill as you exit the station. I used to watch the Cup Final as a kid and dream of being able to make that walk, to be part of it, part of history, and despite the dampening effect of this ludicrous kick-off time, as soon as the stadium came into view I was grinning absurdly. We took the photos, even though we’ve taken them before. I saw Jackie who sits in front of us and her brother and wanted to say hallo but lost them in the crowd, wanted to share my joy at just being there.

As the players gathered in the centre circle, people around me were still singing. I and many others asked for quiet, and quiet we had. Many of us remember the Leppings Lane crush at the 1981 semi-final when better crowd control and allowing people onto the pitch prevented a tragedy. In the event, it was only postponed and Liverpool fans lost their lives, not us. By the end of that semi, I had been pushed down to below pitch level. If the police had dealt with this as they did for Liverpool fans, there’s a high probability that I would have been killed.

So when a substantial group of Ch****a fans sing through a commemorative silence, deliberately provocatively sing, it’s deeply personal. It’s beyond me. It’s not the majority of their fans, who are decent people. Rather, it’s a group who feel that because their club buys success, because the club defends its captain’s actions regardless, because their club’s preferred option when confronting alleged racism is to delay the judicial process so he may fulfil fixtures, they themselves are not bound by the unspoken but powerful values of other fans. Shameful.

The expectations of a good day out were further dulled by a stilted opening from both sides. Each made and missed chances, each had their fair share of possession without being able to take control. We were a side searching for shape and pattern and never established that natural rhythm and tempo that has characterised much of our season. For every good move. Luka’s pass inside the full-back to a rampaging Bale, Lennon underused but bright, there was an untidy unnecessary loss of possession. Bale on Bosingwa could have swung the match our way but there weren’t enough bodies in the box to get on the end of the crosses. Adebayor couldn’t hold it and Walker’s error nearly let in Mata. He lost the ball but Cudicini, who had a good game, did well to stand up rather than commit as many keepers would have done.

It’s difficult to have a balanced view of a performance in such a highly charged atmosphere. What I’m really saying is that my emotions were all over the place. Anyway, knowing we now know, there’s nothing but doom but actually, that’s not accurate. Although we never played to our potential, we had two cracking chances. I’ve not seen any replays, but the slightest touch from Manu could have converted Rafa’s ball that hit the post, then Rafa’s header that was cleared off the line. John Terry’s knee has a lot to answer for this season. It saved a certain goal both here and in the league fixture at the Lane.

Then goals that were and goals that weren’t. Credit where it’s due – Gallas may have been able to do more before Drogba’s shot but in truth I’m not sure what. Sometimes you have to say that the forward is better than the defender. A fine goal, damn him. Gallas should not have been left isolated, however.

And then the goal that wasn’t. Again I’ve not seen a replay but have seen a photo. At the time, and I’m right up the other end of course, it looked implausible as there was a scrum of bodies, so why should they be behind the line. I saw the ref pointing and said out loud, “Our free-kick.”

A Blues fan from another office just happened to be in reception this morning. Coincidence, it works in strange ways… I made him a cup of tea and placed it 2 foot away from him. “There you are, mate, it’s in your hand. Looks that way…”

Then Manu is through, a rare moment when he looked threatening. A clear foul in my eyes (I’m happy to be corrected). The keeper should have gone despite Bale being on hand to touch it in. The keeper prevented a goal-scoring opportunity. the fact that the ball rolled loose is immaterial. Anyway, even so Cech should have been booked.

Look – I’m under no illusions. We never imposed ourselves on this match and after a brief period of hope we melted away, tired and listless. Neither is this blog in the habit of banging on about poor refereeing. However, these were two crucial match-turning moments.

I’d say this took the stuffing from us but twenty minutes from the end we looked dog tired. It’s been a long season. Key men have been out of shape since around the Stevenage game and even the incentive of a cup final couldn’t enliven them. Parker was late for 4 tackles before being booked and substituted. Rafa never got on the ball often enough. Usually he rises to the pressure, yesterday he disappointed. As I commented for the Norwich game, Modric looked decent on the ball but didn’t work to get on it as often as he should.

In my preview for When Saturday Comes  I felt certain that we would revert to 4-2-3-1 after the Norwich debacle. Redknapp himself acknowledged it was wrong. Yesterday was 4-4-1-1 but the significant problems caused by that midfield four remained. We were too open. Bale and Lennon did not work back enough to cover and when they did, they did not pick up the opponents. On two occasions Bale stood 2 yards from an unmarked Lampard, loitering at the edge of our box, but did not move to mark him. Parker and Modric had to both defend and attack.

As a result our creaking back four was unprotected. As the game went on, our opponents took grateful advantage. Gallas had his worst match for us, left cruelly exposed with no cover and nothing in his locker. King was pulled out of defence because there was no one in front of him and the ball was popped into the resulting gap for at least one goal and there could have been more.

Both Gallas and King made goal-saving challenges but they are not fully fit and Redknapp knows that. He should have nurtured them and allowed them to  defend where they do their best work, in the box itself rather than being stranded.

Similar comments for the midfield. He asked too much of Parker and Modric, knowing that neither is as bouncy as earlier in the season. Livermore or Sandro’s legs could have helped out. As it was, as mind and legs went, we were cut to shreds. As Lampard shaped to take his free kick, the 5 year old boy near me covered his eyes with his hands, hardly daring to peek. That sums it up, from those of us who were left by then. It was a defeat that’s hard to take but the swathes of empty seats with ten minutes left paints a picture of Spurs fans to the watching TV audience that is at odds with our loyalty. I understand the emotions but it looked bad.

Redknapp’s a vastly experienced manager but this is virgin territory for him. He’s never before been challenging at the top of the league and for a cup. He’s not managing this well. More on this for another day, but he’s placed too much faith in certain players who are crucial to the side but have not been looked after properly. Parker, Walker, Modric, Bale, the season’s caught up with them. Redknapp doesn’t know about how to save players as does Ferguson the master. His famed powers of motivation will be needed more than ever as the season slips away, but they weren’t in evidence yesterday evening. He’s made some poor choices lately.

On the train home we got seats. Chels still in the ground celebrating, most Spurs had gone already. The modern marvel of twitter brought up a photo of the goal that never was. I showed it around the carriage, incredulity all round. Nearly home and we consoled ourselves with other tales of semi-final gloom. Everton, Newcastle. The 22 hour round trip to Old Trafford, outclassed by Arse**l, the last coach in the car park after two people didn’t come back after the match. I knew there were worst times. Were there?

22 thoughts on “Spurs and Wembley. Nice Day, Shame About The Football

      • I too feel we might have run out of gas, but what a great result by Wigan tonight! 3rd spot back on if Spurs can pick themselves up for the final 5 games? It’s something else to aim for now the cup has gone and could lift us all out of our doldrums.

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  1. No club is moron free, but there is a significant loud minority of C*C fans who are quite vile. Surely they take their lead from the club, a club able to have a court case involving their captain postponed until they can do without him for a few weeks, a club where it’s possible to take a firearm to work and shoot someone without even coming lose to losing your job. Look on and see where we are all headed, when buckets of frothy money have all but washed clean away any remaining stains of common decency, this club seems to lead the way.

    Two things then: If Muamba had collapsed at Stamford Bridge, what would he have heard as he slipped from consciousness?

    Do C*C, frankly a good enough side to beat anyone on their day, really *need*, or as di Matteo implied, *deserve*, the helping hand of a twelfth man in black? Ask us, ask Wigan. That decision ruined the game utterly, a top level game watched by tens of thousands in the ground, hundreds of thousands outside, made this sport a mockery. Tiddlywinks will adopt goal line technology before football does.

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    • These things balance out. So that’s a late disputed winner, two offside versus Wigan, us….bitterness doesn’t suit me but I enjoyed it.

      Regards,

      Al

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  2. This morning was like waking up from a nightmare. Not just a two goal bad dream but five goals worth of chilling humiliation….

    We’ve seemed knackered for months now. When we need that spark to still be there, it’s not – we seem to have used the squad less than other top teams – this is Harry’s decision.

    The England job has caused a ‘disturbance in the force’ – the force that is/was Harry and THFC – and the players are feeling it – I’d rather be put out of our misery by the FA now – at least the certainty of an approach and the psychological shift this would create might kick start a revival that saves our 4th place.

    We’ve got fullbacks who’ve played nearly every game but centre backs who never seem to play two in a row – is this why we’ve shipped more goals in the last two months than the rest of the season combined?

    Completely frustrated.

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  3. It’s the shorts I tell you. The two times we had beaten Cheatski at Wembley in the past, we were wearing an all white kit, don’t these people know their history? As soon we took the field in navy shorts my heart sank

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  4. Both Spurs and Chelsea have been heavy legged in recent weeks (they have more reason than us as they are also in the Cl still). Harry has run key players into the ground. He needs to learn to integrate one or two changes to the team regularly rather than 4 or 5 every now and again. Mind, until he learns the need to properly match up 3 on 3 with the good sides in central midfield we are always going to struggle to make the big time with any consistency. It is also why he is no international manager, though I very much hope recent weeks have not given the FA cold feet.

    I have been looking all morning for a piece on TOMM (I enjoyed and agreed with your WSC piece – I am glad you are getting more exposure as you talk the most sense about Spurs I have heard from anyone) to make sense of the footballing quicksand that sucking us in these days.

    I posted it last week, but it is even more apt this time. Turn to Alan for Spurs and Judy Garland to feed the soul.

    The night is bitter
    The stars have lost their glitter
    The winds grow colder
    Suddenly, you’re older
    And all because
    Spurs are bloody spurs ain’t they!

    No more their eager call,
    The writing’s on the wall,
    The dreams you dreamed have all
    Gone astray.

    Mind, I still fancy us for fourth, really I do; though I so wanted to win the FA Cup beating Chelsea and Liverpool on the way.

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    • Wistful melancholy to match my mood better than any match report, better than the 4-2-3-1 debate. Thanks again for posting, my friend,

      Regards,

      Al

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  5. To be honest I couldn’t really care about the cup compared to fourth. I wouldn’t have minded getting beat if we hadn’t lost our nerve or conceded 5 to another big London rival.

    Nice poem and I agree, Alan you write the most sense about Spurs…

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  6. I find it almost as extraordinary that Terry’s airborne lunge which took out Carlo and two other defenders was judged by Atkinson to be legitimate.
    As well as we were doing earlier on in the season, there was always a niggling feeling that Harry was going to run the core players into the ground.
    I would like to see someone else at the helm next season, regardless of whether or not Harry takes the England job.

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  7. A great article as usual maybe because I agree with everything you say! In the great semi-final disasters of recent years this one wasn’t as bad as the others. I was numb after Pompey and shell-shocked after Everton, Newcastle and Arsenal. Maybe the disgraceful jeering during the planned minutes silence and the blatant injustice of the second goal helped or maybe it was a final acceptance that it is in the Spurs DNA that to quote Hansen “Tottenham in the end will always let you down.”
    But reading your points about Rednapp and the contribution by IKnowAlanGilzean has re-inforced by view that Harry has taken us a far as he can, God bless him. This is what got Martin Jol sacked. So I feel the best case scenario is for Harry to get the England job with Levy
    negotiating substantial compensation. But if it doesn’t happen (and I suspect it might not) then Levy needs to bite the bullet even if we qualify for the Champions League. Really top clubs fire managers even when they win trophies.
    Meantime I will be urging Barca and Messi to destroy those charmless Chavskis. And watch Liverpool win the Final while the Kop sing “Justice for the 96”
    PS We got a text two minutes after the “goal” from our friend watching in South America. Video Technology must come- it will take pressure of refs.

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    • Feel free to keep agreeing with me.

      I was livid after the abuse during the minute’s ‘silence’ and have been steaming about it today on twitter – highly therapeutic. Summed it up ok in the para on the blog, doesn’t make it any better but that’s what I wanted to say. I heard today that ITV did not make it clear that only Chels fans broke the silence – furious, just furious.

      Regards, Al

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  8. Harry is to us what Chrissy Hughton was to NUFC… sad but true – not that I’d take Pardew, mind. I’m holding out for Mancini to be given the heave-ho up when the red half of Manchester wins the league and to decide to fly south to us for next season…

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  9. Hi,

    I think that is a really excellent essay/Post. I feel for you, not as a Spurs fan, never that, but as one football fan to another. It is bad enough to be beaten, but in those sort of circumstances, where a referee has such an unfortunate influence on the game, wherever your allegiances might lie, it is very hard to take or not to sympathise.

    All fans, whatever their club, try to rationalise events when their team has had such a cruel set back, and the usual suspects such as individual players, the manager, the officials and pure bad luck figure prominently, but it is a credit to you that you have written such an intelligent, emotional but non-abusive article. I doff my cap to you! 🙂

    And, yes, I am a Gooner —– but I am also a footie fan too, and you guys have played some really good stuff this season.

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    • Very kind, thanks for dropping by. I’ve had a positive mention and many visits from an Arsenal blog.

      I take a balanced view of the club I love – it drives away readers by the minute! You can be passionate without being unnecessarily vindictive. Enjoy the victories, especially against rivals but reserve the bile for things that deserve it – like those Chels fans yesterday.

      I think sometimes Spurs and Arsenal have more in common than we would care to admit, see last week’s post Pay Now and the Club Will Pay Later re ticket prices and the fans’ reaction.

      Regards,

      Al

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  10. My old Granny used to say in answer to a request to wear something new,
    ‘Wear the old ones out first’
    I think Harry’s granny must have had the same attitude.
    He did it last season and he ‘s done it this, driven the same players into the ground.
    They have no spark, no reserves for the final countdown.

    A great read Alan in a depressing sort of of way.
    Roll on next season, sad rather than depressed.
    England would be mad to offer the manager’s job to Harry
    and he would be mad to take it. But I bet and hope he does.

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  11. Pingback: Levy to scoff at £30m bid & Spurs on standby for Bosman deal – Best of THFC | la liga sport news

  12. Pingback: Levy to scoff at £30m bid & Spurs on standby for Bosman deal – Best of THFC | Kickers.IN

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