Our world looks odd from the outside. I follow comedian Simon Evans on twitter because he’s funny, not for his perspective on sport. This weekend, he’s more involved with football because he wants Leicester to win the league. His conclusion after checking all the results, predictions and permutations was this: “It must be bloody exhausting to genuinely give a sh*t.”
My life at the moment, right there. On the same day Spurs had one of their easiest wins of the season against an ailing Villa side. By the end, I was knackered. I’ll tell you how bad it got. Of the many dire cliches in football, the worst of the worst is “2-0 is the most dangerous scoreline.” No, it isn’t. 1-0 is worse because you have one goal fewer. 0-0 is worse because you do not have the lead. And I’ve not even mentioned losing 4-0, which I would venture is more dangerous still. But for one terrible moment in the second half, I found myself solemnly evaluating the merits of something as self-evidently wrong as marmite and custard (don’t try that at home kids). Then there’s always “One of those days when the keeper saves everything….” don’t get me going.
This clammy fear was compounded by Peter Drury, the commentator on the stream I was watching. He had Spurs as winners as soon as we were two up and spent the rest of the match talking about all the possibilities at the top, all with his commentary trademark of using ten inappropriate words when one simple one might do. The computer screen was several times in danger but survived, as did I.
Villa and Bournmouth are two winnable matches and we have to take maximum from them. Spurs took the right approach and in truth I could not have asked for more. With a full-strength side, we took the game to our opponents from the start. The tempo was self-generated because our opponents were as shapeless as a woollen jumper left out in the rain. Kane chipped onto the bar, Lamela the post and the keeper saved everything thrown his way. Guzan has been dropped recently because he has been so shaky but yesterday for twenty minutes he played us on his own.
Despite the setbacks we kept going, undeterred and largely untroubled. As everyone was winding down for half-time, Deli Alli was wide awake. He was fouled after making yet another little burst through midfield. He picked himself up, took the kick quickly and placed a perefect ball at Kane’s feet. He rolled the ball across the keeper into the far corner.
The second came just afer half-time. Villa lost the ball in a tight spot 60 yards from their goal. 5 passes and 8 touches later the ball was in the back of the net. Alli, Lamela and Kane made it, Kane finished it, Alli and Kane both touching the ball twice in a flowing, effortless piece of football.
Along with Kane, Walker and Alli stood out. Refreshed after a rest this week, Alli had both assists and his combination play with Kane posed a constant threat while took advantage of the freedom of the right wing. Villa don’t bother with all this covering back malarky – Walker could operate as a winger most of the time. Lamela did well, linking up in and around the box. His early pass split the defence but Kane lobbed the keeper and onto the bar.
I genuinely feel for the Villa fans, cruelly treated by unknowing and uncaring owners and management, who reward failure by creating jobs and fat contracts for themselves. How can people do these things to any football club?
A good win but there are no new lessons to be learned from this week. All season Spurs have been a match for anyone if the best nine from eleven play, perform to their best and are all fit. Of the side that played yesterday, Wimmer is a very able replacement for Vertonghen, otherwise it’s only Lamela in my view about whom there’s any selection debate. Maybe Mason to allow Dembele to come forward. The problem with the Dortmund game was that our squad is not deep enough to offer rotation that maintains quality. Lamela is far more effective if he has an extra half a yard of space and Villa were much more generous. All this we know.
My main worry at the back is our comparitive weakness in the air at set pieces, which we’ve seen a lot since Christmas. Gested missed two good chances that he should never have been allowed.
Spurs have to go flat out for the rest of the season. Don’t think of rotation. Clear heads of all doubt, the only thing left is to give everything, every game. Banish fear and doubt -all we have left this season are opportunities. Same approach for every match, leave nothing behind. Opportunities we can take.
8 thoughts on “Exhausted. Just Me, Spurs Were Fine.”
I’ve got the script written, just in case, Alan. We don’t overtake Leicester until the last game of the season when we turn over the Toon Army and the Blues pound the Foxes and we just nip it…trukke, trukke! PS Well, we can dream, eh?! COYS!
Listening on the radio, one of the commentators mentioned how much bigger and stronger the Spurs midfield looked compared to the puny (my word) Villa midfielders. Whereas against Dormund may I venture with Carroll, Mason and Eriksen, it was our midfield that was puny in comparison.
I feel your pain. As most people know listening on the radio is hell on earth and radio five’ s Conor McNamara did the same as Peter Drury from the second goal until the end – discussing how Spurs had clawed back Leicester to two points. Only when the final whistle sounded did I breathe easily, scarring by years of throwing away so called unassailable leads isn’t going to go away that easily.
The win was a little laboured but having watched the second half of Leicester v Newcastle tonight, so was theirs and I am confident they will drop a good few points.
The problem is though, in contrast to my breezily confident predictions a month or so ago, I’m no longer quite so sure Spurs will be able to capitalize on these slip ups.
I’m beginning to think football was much less of a burden during the worst of the Francis/Gross/Graham/Hoddle/Pleat/Santini years (joke!).
We’re still in there, a win v Bournemouth will keep us in the hunt and the pressure on, so yet another weekend of butterflies , scatterbrained concentration and being accused of ‘not listening to a word I say’ awaits.
Maybe Adebayor will actually earn some of that money Spurs have been wasting on him when Leicester visit Palace on Saturday.
Haha … if it’s down to relying on that useless mercenary we may as well give up now!
We just need to believe and keep being tortured until the end
Thought we could easily have scored a brace, there again a more clinical side than Villa would have been able to equalise.
We may well end the season unbeaten since, as you say Al, our first 11 can beat anyone on their day. They are breathtaking and thrilling to watch. A real joy – and a privilege. The best is yet to come.
The problem is, the title is out of our hands now and Leicester don’t look like faltering any time soon.
You’re bang on about the treatment of the Villa fans. A disgrace. It has always been a ground I have enjoyed going to go. A cathedral to this great game. Hope they come back up quickly though I fear they haven’t sunk to their lowest point yet.
Just as we haven’t reached the high point. This Spurs team will just keep getting better and better.
I, too, was struck by how confident Peter Drury was after 48mins! Obviously, he isn’t a Spurs fan! The last 5 mins when they could have scored a couple shows why we have to kill games off completely. Though I guess if we allow them their couple of goals at the end we can add our two that hit the woodwork, so we still still 4-2 or something. The tortured logic of the football fan.
I’m also sad to see the mess Villa are in, as Russ above says it really is a special football ground, not least because of semi finals past. I was at the 87 one there. I also went to every Villa away game for about a decade from the early 80s to mid 90s as a good friend of mine is a Villa fan, sometimes travelling with the London Lions, a good set of lads.
I don’t know what is going to happen from hereon in, My feelings and predictions are oscillating wildlyi 5 pts is a lot to make up given we need to win most of our games. Whatever, I am proud of Poch and the team. I really believe we will be contenders again in the next few seasons, but may be getting ahead of myself! I’m not worried about the big spending of richer clubs as I truly believe we are seeing a bit if an end to accumulating the best-known/highest rated players = success. Poch is developing a side with necessary and valuable intangibles, that elude the best of predictions/football certainties or truisms.
I’m going all Spursy with this one. Even if Leicester drop points, we’ve got tougher matches to come, and I just can’t see us having the strength to get our young bodies over the finishing line before them. It’s been a wonderful effort all season but we suffered too many draws early on that should have been victories, considering our high pressing, inventive, fresh and intense play (remember all those missed chances by Harry, bless him, early on in the season?). But teams have fought like hell against us too. Leicester, likewise, raise their game against everyone they play, but not all teams have raised their game against Leicester this season, and that’s a valid point ..not sour grapes. I believe, even until recently, teams that have played Leicester (including us) saw them as there for pegging back from their ‘slightly fortuitous’ run of success. Other teams’ ‘strengths’ would simply overcome the Foxes’ ‘weaknesses’ ..not the philosophy of ‘let’s beware of, and counter, the Foxes’ strengths’, and If Leicester had been treated more seriously by most clubs (particularly the so called top teams) when they first hit the summit back in the autumn, I doubt they’d be even on the cusp of top four now. The elephant in the room that was more gently nudged than budged, has now taken over the whole room. Newcastle, Norwich and Watford could all have gotten something from their 1-0 defeats by the Foxes, but it’s like the footballing gods have already chosen their victor. I don’t blame them, considering how bloated and fat the top teams had become. From a neutral aspect it’s incredible and fantastic for the game that lowly Leicester (the best team, results wise, of the last 12 months or so) should win the PL, and I really don’t want to detract from what has been a fabulous effort on their part. From a Spurs point of view, however, it’s heartbreaking, even though it was never expected we could win the PL this season. We should have been the neutrals’ choice (not Leicester) for the PL, however, and would we have ever got a better chance?! The top clubs won’t be this shoddy again …and their money will target our manager and unsettle our best players even more. Pep will rejuvenate City. Chelsea will come back stronger. Man U will eventually get it right on spending their way out of trouble. Liverpool will grow in Klopp’s image, and Arsenal will just be, er, Arsenal (possibly sans Wenger). I grew up in a time when lots of different clubs won the top tier, or finished 2nd and 3rd etc., but those days are unfortunately gone (Leicester are simply an exception that proves the rule). Ipswich, as with us in 1951 when we’d come up from the 2nd tier the previous season, won it in 1962 ..so too Derby Co in the early 70s (and then again a few years later).. Then there was Leeds, who rose from nowhere in the mid 1960s to become a true giant by the mid 70s, and were one of the last teams outside the soon-to-be familiar top four to win the League 1 title in the early 90s. Was it really only circa 35 years back when Nottingham Forest and Aston Villa (both league winners) won the European Cup, thereby emulating Liverpool & Man U?! But with the inception of the PL (Blackburn apart, over 20 years ago) it has all been about Man U, Arsenal, Liverpool, Chelsea and more recently Man City. It’s like a pattern set in 20 years ago, and with the ever increasing mercenary aspect of football as it is, it has all contrived to compound these clubs’ influence and position around the world, to the extent that apart from us picking up scraps on a couple of occasions (4ths) along with a few other clubs’ minor successes too, it seemed this was to be the case forever. Leicester have certainly, and thank goodness, kicked that into touch …but I do wonder if they will ever be treated so lightly again, or have the financial clout to maintain their heady status. I don’t foresee Leicester coming remotely close to doing what Forest and Villa did all those years ago, and I believe they’ll struggle to be in the top 7 or 8 in the PL next term. In an ideal world the bloated giants will continue to expand like dying stars while Spurs and Leicester (and even West Ham and Southampton etc) challenge hard for the PL title next year ..but spending and focus will once more be resumed by the powerhouses. I only hope that Tottenham can keep this happy crew and make a few very important additions to maintain a top four level of play, do well in the CL, increase our influence around the world etc., all the while we look forward to our beautiful new stadium. I know it’s not over yet, and we can still dream over the next few weeks …but Leicester have had greatness thrust upon them, and I can’t see them shrugging it off.
Remi Garde should have gone ‘Full Diego’ on Brad Guzan and have gummed him to death after the match. Spurs could easily have finished the first half 5-0 up but poor finishing and inspired ‘keeping kept it closer. If those goals had gone in Garde would currently be ‘spending more time with the family’, but as it is he’s still in a job and living on death row believing in better things to come. Once a Gunner, always a Gunner.
To heck with the Europa Cup. Keep the main ingredients fresh for Bournemouth, even if it means a tactical withdrawal against Dortmund this week. We’ll probably meet them in the Big Cup next season anyway, knowing our luck. I hope Poch is smart enough not to attempt any second leg heroics of Alf Tupper proportions and field the Villa team, (but maybe Poch has no idea who Alf Tupper is!)
No. Poch knows he’s entering a tricky run in. We don’t want to stumble at the last and end up in fourth spot – after wild celebrations we suddenly realize there are qualifying matches to play in far flung Albania or wherever, which is just what we don’t want, in what is effectively pre-season when our boys will be knackered from the Euro finals. The end game is what matters and Poch is assembling his resources with the long term in mind.