More than a touch of edginess around the old place come kick-off. There’s always something in the air with this lot but the source of this anxiety was closer to home. A poor run capped by the derby defeat last week. Team building and a moment of madness maybe but no excuses today.
Our start dispelled the doubts. Bright, organised and motivated, as a team we took the game to our opponents. By the end, all the doubts had gone. Our best home display for ages. Three goals (one a sparkling gem), hit the bar twice, everyone played well, lovely football for the most part building to a regular series of assaults on their goal. And an appearance at half-time from one of the finest players of the modern era at Tottenham. Lovely indeed.
Amid the attacking brilliance, my eye was drawn to the mighty Sandro and magnificent Michael Dawson. Allardyce has a glint in his stony eye when it comes to Spurs. Many times his Bolton and Blackburn sides have brutally crushed our weedy efforts to play football. In Nolan and Carroll he has the perfect pair to repeat the trick but they were roundly seen off. Nolan, a very handy player in this league by the way, was substituted and before his goal when for once a slip by Caulker left him unattended, Carroll achieved nothing.
Dawson and Sandro were having none of that. This is our patch and they shall not pass. The eastenders were roundly seen off. Daws was our leader – my imagination or has he shed a pound or two? maybe that will give him the mobility his manager wants for all members of his team. I felt his selection over Gallas for this one was crucial and so it proved.
Spine? You want a spine for the team? This is the Age of Hugo. He had little to do in the first half apart from a slightly scary punch. When called into action, he saved, he held it, he came fearlessly into the bodies as the set pieces came in and caught it when he could. All without apparently changing his inscrutable expression by so much as a raised eyebrow.
One striker – play like this and he’ll do. Defoe pretends to adopt a steely determination when it comes to these fixtures but you know inside he can’t control it. Desperately he shot over a couple of times – typically trying too hard to show them. Just let things flow, JD, take their natural course. His first goal will leave an indelible impression on those who saw it. Starting his run from only ten yards inside their half, he began a diagonal run that exposed the defence. Shifting it to his right, his finish was a stunning near post bullet from twenty yards.
And then there was Bale. Unstoppable Bale. The WH fans were disparaging about his features. Less abuse, more information for their team because all they saw of him was a clean pair of heels.
I like to think AVB tries something new every game. Yesterday he allowed Bale more freedom to roam from the wing. It worked a treat. Defenders backed away as if servants retreating in front of their emperor, bowing, scraping and scattering rose petals in his path. He charged through early on, smacked the post and down on the line. Dempsey couldn’t follow up. Slicing along the wing, he was badly fouled. No matter – crosses galore. Cutting inside the shoot or set up a chance. Second half, Dempsey chipped a clever ball – at last he’s sussed us out – and Bale stumbled a finish into the corner.
Dempsey came into the match as time passed. If his second half shot had gone in instead of thumping the crossbar, it would have done so much for his confidence, not to mention his image with the fans. As it was, he helped out with both goals in that period, conspiring with Sandro and Lennon in midfield to set the latter on a goal-bound run. He kept his head and left JD with an open goal.
Playing 4-4-1-1 with Bale free to wander established our superiority, although I would have liked JD and Clint to interchange more. A minor quibble on a day of superiority. Big Sam played an attacking set up but this left Noble outnumbered in centre midfield. Time and again there was a vast hole in front of the back four, not that I’m complaining, and we took full advantage.
Walker had his best game this season. Hud was puzzled about which way we were playing, with several considered and composed passes in the wrong direction but this was a fine team performance all round with many moments of thrilling attacking football.
To finish, rather than dwell on the sour atmosphere, at half time the King of White Hart Lane returned for the first time in nearly forty years. Alan Gilzean was upright and strong with a keen mind. He paid tribute to the crowd and was delighted to be back. he stood with his grandson. Gilly is a modest man so I suspect he’s not boasted about his exploits. I hope the young man understands that his granddad is a truly great footballer. Not great in the modern sense of having three decent games and an inflated transfer fee, but great as in one of the finest footballers the club has ever seen.
My piece on the great man is here, and buy Jay Morgan’s book for Christmas, In Search of Alan Gilzean.
15 thoughts on “Sandro and Dawson Lead From the Back”
Enjoyable write-up Alan, a fine all-round performance, indeed. Every man Jack did well. I’m especially pleased for Dempsey, and it’s good news for us as when playing well he offers a big goal threat. One quibble, the ball inside the full back for Lennon to run onto seems to have disappeared recently, he’s the poorer for it. I think he’s retreating a little into his shell, not taking on his man enough. I’m a huge fan of his and he made the third excellently, but there’s more to be untapped. Still, he’s generally been very good this season. Also, good to see Daws back, he’s been there a long time, and it’s good to see Spurs men like Daws and Lennon still in there in these days of transient footballers.
Which brings me on to one of our finest as you say. All together now, I know Alan Gilzean, Alan Gilzean knows me… I wish I could have been there.
Great article. We spurs fans are great winners
and this was a good game for us.
We still need a ball player in the middle and I am sure this will happen in the next window.
I still think the tall striker up front with JD running off him is the way to go. Hope Ade comes back from suspension fired up.
I’d bring Ade straight back. It’s not just big man little man with him and JD, Manu can go wide and drop deeper. Chop and change, unsettles the defence.
Your man cut a fine figure. He looks very well and paid heartfelt tribute to the club and the fans. Paul Coyte did the interview well, a couple of prompts and allowed the man to talk. A truly wonderful footballer. A tear? In my eye? Surely not…
I can imagine, a real the way we were moment. Paul Coyte was on this week’s The Spurs Show talking about Gilly at the Lane on Sunday. Well worth a listen. Finding Gilly had become a Spurs fans’ Holy Grail it seems in recent years, in lieu of the out of reach league title!!!
Great article, if somewhat romantic. I concur with you on Dawson, sadly missed until yesterday. Must go on now to cement this Spurs team. He’s the new King. Also delighted for Dempsey, always had it in him, just needs to break his duck.
Romantic – yes, that’s the idea! Sometimes our football lifts the spirits and deserves a little romanticism. Make the most of it.
I remember the man “born the King Of White Hart Lane”, the most skillful header of the ball the game has seen. Great to see him back.
Great win and fantastic to see Alan Gilzean. My only quibble is that he wasn’t asked about his incredible on field relationship with Jimmy Greaves- the G Men! They both scored in my first game at the Lane.
Happy days. Sorry silverfox, I bet I wasn’t the only one with a moist eye at half time.
Well done AVB and the lads.
Let’s start a winning run now continuing with Liverpool.
Glad to see I wasn’t the only one with a tear…real men can cry…
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Totally agree with your sentiments about Alan Gilzean. In my opinion, one of the most delightful players i’ve ever seen in a Spurs shirt. The partnerships he formed firstly with Jimmy Greaves and subsequently with Martin Chivers gave us the most potent strike force of the late sixties and early seventies. Was it my eyesight, or did he appear to have more hair now than he had back then. Thanks Gilly, you brought back some happy memories for me.
He was unique – the way he jumped and sort of twisted in mid air to get just the perfect contact on the ball. As I said in my article about him last year, I was brought up on that play and it sets the benchmark for every centre forward since then. few have matched him.
My stepfather died, aged 92 recently, and you couldn’t shut him up about Alan Gilzean.
‘Better with his head than most players are with their feet’ he always used to say.
Fancy someone accusing you of being a romantic Alan. Whatever next.
Definitly better on Sunday and that will do for now.
Daws on Suarez tomorrow?
Sorry for your loss, Jim. That will be me in my old age, romanticising about Gilly and Bale…
Think Gallas may come in. As you said on your blog, I’d be keen on Vertonghen in the centre but don’t fancy Naughton at left back. Gallas and Daws always an option, much as I rate Caulker.