Mood Swings at Spurs

One of the finest Spurs strikers of modern times tips a bucket of cold water over a man in a chicken suit. Another Glory Glory night at White Hart Lane. For those of you who missed it, the half-time entertainment against Limassol was Chirpy doing the ice bucket challenge, having been nominated by Goonersauraus. People videoed it or rather videoed the video on the big screen. Not quite sure what they expected – Chirpy’s expression didn’t change, surprisingly.

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The match itself was decidedly ordinary, just the way I like it when it comes to these early rounds of the Europa League. Get through it, bit of decent football along the way, no other expectations. And that’s praise by the way – the team were confident, kept their shape and maintained the pressure throughout. Kane scored one but missed several – he seems better when he doesn’t have too much to think, his one and two touch play is better than when he has time on the ball. Developing well but not yet ready to lead the line.

Slightly bizarre to see the AVB attacking set-up with Lennon and Townsend as inverted wingers and Paulinho in the centre. Poch now knows it’s not effective but he could have asked me and saved himself the trouble. My only gripe was that this was a match crying out for width and wingers taking defenders on. In the end our goals came from exerting pressure – twice the Cypriots gave the ball away, the third a penalty – but we created that pressure and well-taken by Kane and Paulinho.

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Good to see so many children with their families, benefiting from reasonable prices in the school holidays. To me a routine win, to them a special occasion that could mean they are fans for life. Spurs are keeping prices down for the Forest cup tie too – I’d designate an area that is even cheaper, just for families. WHam get stick for not filling their ground but they do kids for a quid for some games. It’s an investment that will pay off in the long-term.

When Spurs played Keflavik in the early seventies, I bumped into several pupils from my school, not regulars like me or even Tottenham fans as far as I could tell, who had travelled from west London in the hope of a goal avalanche. No live football on TV in those days, of course, so this was the only way to see the Spurs stars and europe held some magic even if the opposition were part-timers. They weren’t disappointed – Spurs won 9-0. Times have changed. Sides with limited skills like Limassol are impressively well-drilled and dangerous from set pieces but we broke them down without being at our most fluent.

The game may linger in the memory, however, as the final time we see several players who once, not so long ago, represented our future and a healthy one at that. Sandro the beast bossing midfield and terrorising his opposite numbers into submission. He did well enough on Thursday night and let’s not be too presumptuous but the feeling persists that a succession of injuries have permanently deprived him of that precious half a yard that makes the difference between the average and the good, the good and the great. The manager has had a good look at his new charges now and placed Capoue higher up the pecking order with other more mobile players alongside him. Levy will be excited by the fee so that may be that. A shame – I really thought he could be one of our best buys, powerful, skilled and committed. DM for a decade.

We’ve barely got to know Chiriches but rumours of his departure are rife. A ball-playing defender able to turn defence into attack as well as time a tackle perfectly, centre-forwards can out-muscle him too easily when the ball is in the air. I worry though that Kaboul is not fit enough for a season. He’s lost the supple pace that made him stand out. Welcome Favio but with Daws gone we still look short there so maybe Vlad the Paler will stay.

Holtby too – he must know his time is up if he can’t get into the EL home leg starting line-up. He could do with thinking more and running around less but he’s seldom played. I’ve remarked before that in his first year with us, he played only 4 games for 90 full minutes. He came with a good reputation and looked like he had a place in the squad at least but interesting that 4 managers, including Magath at Fulham, were unimpressed. Whether there’s a place for both Lennon and Townsend I’m not sure.

Spurs have gone old school when it comes to transfers – players we know little or nothing about arriving with little or no warning. It’s refreshing to look forward to judging Stambouli, who signed today, on his merits and on the evidence of our own eyes.

It does feel as if he and Favio were not first choices, if the rumours about Schneiderlin and Musacchio have any substance. That’s no bad thing. Pochettino has a clear idea of the type of player he wants. If we can’t get our first choice, try hard then move on. It is an approach that largely seems to have been accepted by the fans and this marks a singifcant change of mood. Since Pochettino took over, I have seen very few comments from supporters along the lines of ‘where are the big signings, Levy get your cheque book out, we need stars to take us to the next level.’ In that respect I can’t recall a transfer window like it and it’s all for the good. There’s a willingness to have realistic expectations and allow an able manager to mould a team where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Fans are prepared to buy into that, which has not been the case recently.

Perhaps it’s relief and gratitude after Sherwood’s caretakership. It’s gone well so far but the mood may darken if results turn against us. I do sense however that many are looking beyond just the next result. The problem is that with all the upheavals, yet again the manager has to rebuild the side with new players who need time to get to know each other. Let’s get the window out of the way and get on with it. I’m looking forward to it.

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A fond farewell to Michael Dawson, our warrior with a heart. Dawson was a much better defender than most give him credit for. His finest hours were in Europe, backs to the wall and penned deep inside the box versus Milan, he refused to give ground and marked Zlatan out of the game. One late late tackle saved the game.

To play to his strengths, he needed protection from the midfield that seldom came. Not an excuse, just fact. Look at how Terry and Kompany are vulnerable when deprived of a midfield shield. Coming as a makeweight in the deal to bring Andy Reid to transform our midfield, he saw his chance and took it rather than just a hefty pay packet, working hard on his game and in the process developing a genuine loyalty to the club that sadly few have matched. I couldn’t believe the criticism he has recently received from some fans because he wanted to stay and fight for his place.

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His time has come. His lack of pace on the turn left him and Spurs exposed too often, although that long cross-field pass he is derided for – 4 managers all encouraged him to do it so I reckon it can’t have been that bad. It’s a shame none of the other players appear to feel the club’s heritage and bond with supporters so deeply. When he made an error, he used to give himself a good talking to and slap his thighs in part punishment, part encouragement. I loved him, never forgotten.

For more tributes, Adam Powley’s love letter, Windy and Martin Cloake have said it more eloquently than I could.



8 thoughts on “Mood Swings at Spurs

  1. What a good article agree with all that you have said. Particularly regarding Dawson much maligned unfairly, at times it has been verging on nasty, when the guy gave his all and loves the club. I hope he comes back to the club when he finishes playing would be a great ambassador and role model for the kids as to the attitude they need to be a top pro.


  2. Was at the game Alan.
    It was good to see my motherland fellow Cypriots having a good time, even though they were loosing,they were on song through out the game.
    Good to see my hero Chivers, who is the reason why I support the mighty Spurs, chuck the ice bucket over chirpy.
    Regarding what you said about Dawson is so true, and some fans who were over the top with him should be ashamed of themselves. I’ve said it all along it was the system we played that did not suit him, even Vertongen who is much younger got caught out many times, but time after time the fans kept on blaming Dawson.
    I wish him all the very best for the future and in my eyes is another Mabbut in the way he conducted himself.

    Good read as usual Alan, keep up the good work.


  3. Nice article, appreciate the comments re: Michael Dawson, loyalty to the club and fans is rare now. Good luck Michael and sincere thanks. You have been appreciated and will be remembered!


  4. What was interesting about thursday was the way the “shadow” 11 kept the same shape throughout as last weekends ‘first team’. Every player is a like for like deputy, as are the substitutions. No more watching Siggy or Chadli or Dembele or Holtby play 2-3 different positions in a single game, let alone from one game to the next. It helps the consistency and teamwork as well as giving a clearer role to each player. Its not rocket science but it shows what happens when you have a coach with a clear philosophy that players understand and buy into. AVBs team didnt understand his systems and Sherwoods team didnt buy into his.


  5. Sad to see Dawson go. Real professional. Fans can always tell when someone gives their all. We’ve had a number of players at WHL with far greater ability who just saw Spurs as a stepping stone to something better. I’ll always be pleased to see him at WHL.


  6. I also agree wholeheartedly with your view on Dawson, the analysis of his game and some of the reaction to him Alan, sadly some (too much) of it from Spurs fans.

    I love him too, not just because he loves Spurs but because he was a bloody good defender for us for a long time.

    I enjoyed the Limassol game and thought we played well second half.


  7. While Holtby is probably going,I cant help but think that he could be a gem. I watched his first game for us at Norwich when he came on as a sub,saw a fantastic through ball that hadnt been seen at Spurs for eons and subsequently watched his play.
    Why do some people call him a headless chicken while others think he is a talent awaiting to explode? I watch him running off the ball and always see him in space but other players dont seem to see him. I think he could be a great player but he needs to take change.Its not the talent.Its the confidence. He has confidence but not enough for a player in such an important position.
    Creativity is a natural talent.I think Holtby has it but the talent calls forr confidence. Silva,Fabregas they also have creativity but they have and as I remember always have had confidence to take control.Holtby asks for it but doesnt take it.
    Another point is his tackling.I think that he is an average,at best tackler.Not a good thing for a Poch man. The other point is I think he is more suited for the Barca type slow build up than the Atletico/Poch quick transitions.
    Its all a shame as Holtby really has got great talent,is an energetic positive worker and has desire but it doesnt add up for this place and time.Its a shame.


    • I agree about Holtby. His commitment and desire is obvious and he has shown real flashes of talent and leadership. But he always tries too hard, maybe because he has always been competing with good players (Eriksen, Dembele and now Lamela) and so each appearance has to be brilliant or he’s out again. They clearly rate him in Germany. Good luck to him.
      Anyway great article as ever from Alan. I agree with every reply about Dawson. Great man and a good servant of the club during the best spell we’ve had for 20 years. Good luck to him too. I actually think it’s a season too early. Too many uncertainties in central defence for me – is he a worse option than Kaboul on current form? I will miss his crossfield oasses. Bale used to love them….


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