Welcome To The Pleasure Dome

Building for the new stadium has not yet begun but already it looks as if they are moving ahead on the naming rights. White Hart Lane has become the Pleasure Dome, a place of euphoria and delight. Last night Spurs overwhelmed a weakened Inter Milan side with 90 minutes of sustained flowing football that simply brushed one of the top Italian teams aside as if they barely existed.

Lovely stuff and the fans responded, a wonderful celebratory atmosphere less for the tie itself and more for the football Tottenham are playing, for the manager whose efforts are deeply appreciated by an initially wary Spurs crowd and for the growing belief that promise will be fulfilled.

Measuring my anxiety levels is a complex undertaking, admittedly not quite on a par with the Hadron Collider’s calibrations but a nevertheless complicated cluster of interacting variables. There’s gum-chewing of course, subdivided into intensity of bite and chews per minute, glances at the clock in the second half and that odd hand-wringing thing that I do. The details aren’t important but if blood is drawn, things are going badly.

Yesterday, levels veered crazily into the positive, at times they were off the scale. What a revelation to watch an anxiety-free Spurs game. All-round good performances, an early goal, silky passing, cracking atmosphere throughout. Inter even went so far as to miss the obligatory chance out of nothing, the forward shooting straight at Friedel when clean through. No Spurs cock-up! I did look at the clock but only in the hope that we could have more time.

Once again Villas-Boas selected a very strong team, as he has throughout the competition. Inter? Not so much. I’m no authority on the reserve league in Italy, no really, I’m not, but I’m certain half of this lot don’t see much first team action. By the end they were bringing on players who looked as if they had come for the Beat the Deckchair competition.

Unfair – they had a sprinkling of experienced players and it was a shame to see them in such reduced circumstances. The motivation, organisation and application of Our Andre’s Spurs has been a feature of last few months but nowhere has it been more obvious than in the stark contrast between these two sides. From the kick-off Spurs were willing and eager, pinging it around and by-passing their lacklustre opponents with inventive pass and move football. They know what they are supposed to do and where they are supposed to be.

Parker and Dembele were the pick. Both had an extra yard or so available and they plundered this rare freedom to great effect. Parker’s problem this season has been his release of the ball. At his best when he can win it and lay it off or drive forward ten or fifteen yards and then let it go, he’s forgotten the simplicity of his game or not been able to pick out a man amidst a packed defence. Either way, he ends up holding onto it longer than he has to.

Last night, he had the space to move and his teammates could get into space to be found. Similarly, Dembele had more room to roam. Some of his play was delightful. Lennon was energetic excellence throughout, dashing back to cover as well as whizzing at the Inter backline. It’s good to see Siggy have some gametime. His miss on Sunday, passing when clean through, betrayed his lack of confidence. At Swansea and Reading, his trademark was goals from midfield. With us he’s developing a knack for the alert tap-in, following up Defoe’s shot to tap in the rebound off the keeper. It should help him overcome a lingering inferiority complex – I suspect he’s still coming to terms with this step up in class.

Vertonghen was imperious at the back, Gallas had enough time to charge forward in the second half. Brad was a spectator. The only disappointment was Defoe’s failure to score. He knows goals are the only thing that feed his confidence and his pre-injury instinct for the corners of the goal deserted him. His efforts to hold it and shoot rather than pass to a better placed team-mates became increasingly absurd. They just rolled their eyes and looked to the heavens.

No matter. Bale put us one up after five minutes with a header, because he can do EVERYTHING, and missed another similar opportunity. Siggy next, then Vertonghen with a header. Three and could, should, have been more but no one really cared about what might have been. Fans right across the spectrum came together to experience the pleasure of watching Spurs play good quality football. The guy next to me wore a baseball cap pulled down almost over his eyes and his scarf covered his face. When the ball nearly hit us, he ducked down for fear of the cameras catching a glimpse. I suspect that guy’s been banned…

To my right, a three or four year old with eyes as bright as his new white Spurs woolly hat. His first game and the memory will live long. Glad to share it with him.

10 thoughts on “Welcome To The Pleasure Dome

  1. It wasn’t really a weakened Inter side. There were 2-3 differences from the sides they have put out in the last 2 league games (Catania away and the Milan derby – games seen as representing a change in Inter’s recent fortunes). Guarin was nursing an injury hence he came on late yesterday, and Palacio has been starting, but starting these two and playing Nagatomo and Schelotto really wouldn’t have made Inter too much stronger or changed anything. Milito is out for the season and Samuel injured, too, but then all clubs have injuries, even to key players. Sneijder sold in Jan, but wasn’t playing anyhow.

    That they are in transition from the recent cash-doped glory years and a new financially straightened future built on younger players is true but we are simply much stronger than them at present, however big the name Inter is, and I fully expected us to beat them with a bit, if not quite as much, to spare.

    We simply had two much pace, power and pass and move ability and desire for them. It was lovely.

    Enjoyable writing as ever Alan. Thanks


    • I was hoping that you would comment – knew TOMM readers could be brought bang up to date from our Italy correspondant. If this is a decent Inter side, then more power to Spurs for dealing with them so effectively and over the whole 90 minutes. We were excellent.

      Almost as exciting as the moment I saw Andy Townsend outside the East Stand on the way in…




      • Haha. I didn’t say it was a decent Inter side, Alan, but there wasn’t much more in the pantry than what was on the pitch over the match last night. They are fourth in serie A, mind, and capable of more than we saw at the Lane. Milito is a big miss of course and Samuel too, though the latter, like Zanetti and Cambiasso, isn’t the player he was. The transition is proving a generally painful one for them, though the young ones like Ricky, Guarin and Jesus have real talent. The bar I was in last night was a happy one, though on reflection that was just me!

        The Italian media were very impressed with Spurs power, pace and general play, if aghast at Inter being supine. Though I and some scribes here put most of the onus on us, we were just too much for them. We might have to face it soon, we are a ruddy good side at the moment, and things might not go wrong before May. I’ve jinxed it now! Up the Spurs.


    • Welcome to the Spiral of negativity guys! Yes i’m a Gooner so I have no business to be on here. Couldn’t resist. When we are finally rid of the mad Frenchman we will be a force to be reckoned with once again. You are going nowhere! Class is permanent. Form is temporary. Sixty-one, never again!!


  2. Wonderful to watch and my most enjoyable night at Spurs for many a year. We looked so comfortable. After the second goal, one of the Inter players pulled up his shirt collar and hid his head for a couple of seconds. He knew it was going to be a long night.
    The Parker, Dembele partnership is now working well. Dembele has come back a little bit and Parker is making more runs forward. It’s proving effective. Siggy has had two great games now and I’m finally beginning to see why we bought him.
    Lennon was my man of the match. Whereas once he used to be a spectator if he didn’t have the ball, he now puts in an enormous amount of work.
    My only gripe of the night was that Inter didn’t wear their proper kit. Unless there’s a clash, I want to see teams turning up in their real strip not their second kit or some gruesome fluorescent 3rd strip. That I’d even notice or be bothered by that says a lot about the way we’re playing. I’m just hoping we continue as we left off on Sunday.


    • Yes, I thought Lennon man of the match too. He’s like a force of nature at times this season, attacking and defending.

      Pleased for Parker too, really coming into his own again.

      There has been a massive hooha and no little rage among Inter’s fans about the use of an all red change kit, which obviously is a major colour used by Milan their nearest and less than dearest. Nike and Moratti talked of wanting a bold colour etc etc, but it’s inception last summer coincides very closely with serious Chinese investment in Inter, which has financially doped itself to eyeballs in recent years and is fretting a great deal about satisfying FFP. See the unseemly happenings at Malaysia Cardiff Dragons! Asia loves red it seems.

      I know Juve had a deal with one of their sponsors last season, which meant they had to wear their pink change shirt 15 times that season. Which saw them don it in home league games too, shamefully.

      That may explain why Inter wore it last night.


  3. We beat Inter 3-0 and you want more. Shades of Oliver Twist.
    Best performance of the season even against a team in transition.
    I thought that was us but never mind.
    No passengers apart from Defoe to an extent. A 10 man team at least.
    Let’s see how we do without You Know Who in Milan.
    An away goal in the first minute would be nice just to settle the ‘anxieties’.
    Yours not mine of course.


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