We Suffer With Spurs, Now Go Again


Random thoughts. Not incoherent but no coherence. Chaotic floods of emotion on the day, the aftershocks still carooming around my head the morning after. It’s a semi-final, I was there so don’t ask me what happened. To the uncommitted, one of the best semi-finals of recent years. To us, 90 minutes of Everest peaks and ocean-bottom troughs. Some order may emerge later. Who knows? Maybe there is none, none of the messages we like to take away from key matches. We’ll see.

The noise when Dele equalised. Overpowering waves of sound and joy crashing into the stadium.

Two moments of stunned silence. Toby’s early foul. Not you Toby. Toby the best in the league. Not you, not there, not then. Not seen a replay, so maybe not, but he did not have to do that. Subsequently he was characteristically brave and impeccable but it smacked of momentary uncertainty and fear. He soon regained his composure, a confidence that spread through the team, but from then on, always uphill. The match had not been lost but it became much harder to win.

Pull up the rocking chair and put me in a home – one of the naff ones kids, don’t waste your money because if I ever get this gaga I’m not worth the expense –  the day the sight of Wembley Way from the top of the tube stairs fails to move me. Bumping into old friends on the way. It’s Spurs, it’s football, always the human touch in a sea of humanity.

Am I the only one convinced the barcode ticket will fail and chuck me out? We’re in. The teams, oh yeah, teams. Attacking take them on take it to them.

Pause.

Said at the time Son on the left was an unnecessary risk. Everything from the keeper’s waterbottle in the back of the net is about moving the ball forward. At the time, attack Moses as a weak link. Now it seems Davies isn’t fully fit. Son has become a willing defender, like Lamela before him, but he’s no good at it. Just as he had worked out his role going forward too.

No Walker either, although perhaps this was about Trippier exploiting a supposed Chels weakness on crosses. If Davies not fit, play 60 minutes and see how it goes, or not have him on the bench at all. The flow, the familiar patterns, homespun and comfortable like a hand-knitted jumper, all gone. Don’t hold back for the rest of the season. Games are tough but this is about winning something. Pochettino’s fatal ambivalence towards the cups held sway.

It was a mistake waiting to happen. Right place, wrong choice. Son flopped down a fraction too early, Moses had time to rub his hands with glee and offer up a few words of thanks to the gods of his choice before picking his spot, in this case just around Son’s knee. Over he went. Every ref is going to give that. Davies knew that, Son didn’t.

Two set piece giveaways. Against this lot of all people. Uphill just got steeper. Sisyphus had nothing on us. Can’t get back from that.

And yet Spurs did. Twice. I’m taking this away with me. Turned the game after a tough first fifteen or twenty. Looked tentative at first, then we kept the ball and made Kane’s equaliser, a deft header, diving forward and guided into the far corner. It wasn’t a good cross but Kane made it so. Fabulous improvisation from a man who stood up to be counted throughout.

Again in the second half. Fought to get on top. Pushed them back. All Spurs. Eriksen’s the pass of Wembley’s decade. At our end. Watched it all the way, shining, spinning in the beams of the setting sun shining through the roof girders. Peace amid the tumult while it flew, stayed with it all the way onto Dele’s boot, and in.

The better team. Undaunted in adversity. Running up that hill.

We have Moussa Dembele, a performance that myths are made of. Feeling the power from pitch to high in the stands. The Hercules of Spurs’ midfield. He would not give ground, not give way. Never hiding. The best of the best when the pressure is at its highest.

Semi-finals the worst and the best of football. Hope and expectation. Fear and dread. A sense of achievement to get there. Achieving nothing. Teetering on the watershed of exultation and crushing disappointment. I’ve never felt more alive.

Not what many of their post-Roman fans want from the game. Tickets still available on Tuesday. Uncertainty isn’t part of their deal with the game.

The Wembley experience. Plenty of trains eased the journey home. Why can’t you buy a portion of chips? Chips with burger only. The montage was naff. Hold up a plastic bag – anyone know why? What did it show in the end? The Spurs family yeah. Bloke to our left spent 30 minutes threatening women with violence, plus the blokes two rows behind him, because someone said something about standing up. Red-faced, veins bulging like his eyes. 5.15 kick-off means plenty of drinking time. Beyond me. Bloke behind us fell over the seats when Dele scored. Big bloke, I mean big, lifting him back did little for my hernia but made me laugh. Good on you, my friend, a goal worthy of a tumble.

I seldom complain about referees on Tottenham On My Mind. Yesterday Martin Atkinson tried to re-write the tackle from behind interpretation of the law, as well as refereeing Dele on his reputation rather than the fouls. I can’t be bothered to check this, but did he give us a penalty earlier this season when Dele went over? He was dreadful.

Self-inflicted wounds are painful and take longer to heal. Two avoidable errors, one sadly all too predictable. It still hurts, writing this on Sunday evening. A game we should not have lost. For long periods Spurs were the better team, the game going at our pace. Another chance slipped through our fingers. Seventh straight SF loss. There’s a pattern.

Or is there? Look beneath the surface and this one was different, less about the past and more about where we are now. More about the vagaries of fortune, high-quality opponents and a couple of unforced errors that did for us. One unstoppable goal, to Matic I say fair play and move on. Otherwise, Spurs have a set-up that’s different from the past. A better team, more focussed ethos. There’s some truth in saying the lack of a winning mentality is part of the Tottenham DNA but it’s too glib to say this was the main cause of yesterday’s defeat. Conceding a free-kick and a soft penalty were severe knock-backs to the players, never mind rocking the stands, yet they picked themselves up to create two excellent goals, both the product of skill and audaciousness when under pressure to score. Both were part of extended periods where we controlled the game. Several players gave no ground in their efforts to get us back in it – Kane, Dembele and the back three. Eriksen ceaselessly tried to make things happen, Dele too. We took back the midfield and the initiative, it wasn’t gifted to us, far from it. This is precisely what will carry us onwards and upwards. Only Hugo looked off the pace but he had so little to do, such was the ebb and flow of the match.

Mistakes we can erase. It’s not as if Toby has made many this season. Creating and sustaining football the Pochettino way is harder. Despite the errors, that’s embedded. This season-defining week is one third over. Go again at Palace and confront the Arsenal, then we’ll see about mentality.

The delight on my 12-year-old granddaughter’s face as we kicked off, singing, laughing, jumping up and down. The delight at being there and being Spurs.

29 thoughts on “We Suffer With Spurs, Now Go Again

  1. Thanks Alan,

    After the 91 semi we went to Selhurst to play Palace in midweek. We were very poor and lost 1-0 that night after a brilliant Sunday then. Hoping for better this week after what I thought was a very good performance yesterday.

    We seemed to be punished for every sloppiness. That may show ruthlessness on their part, but just as much it shows the rub of the green.

    I do think new chelsea’s ongoing pact with the devil is quite something. I am willing to believe Atkinson is simply poor, rather than biased, but from the ghost goal in 2012 to the cowardly tapping of his watch instead of booking new chelsea’s players at Anfield a couple of years back to yesterday there is much to ponder. It wasn’t why we lost, but his weakness is galling.

    Mind, he’s far from the only ref who thinks it perfectly okay for defenders to kick Kane from pillar to post without blowing for a foul. Booting or barging Kane from behind is a subplot of so many games.

    Nonetheless, we showed we are every bit as good as anyone in the country (I still think we are the best at the moment) and I look forward to a strong end to a fine season.

    Liked by 2 people

    • As you know I don’t habitually moan about refs but certainly lost it early when no booking for a tackle and when Kane was fouled late on. Not given, enough was enough. But in the end, self-inflicted wounds. And now I’m worried about Palace!

      Thanks IKAG

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  2. Typically fair report Alan, as ever. 24 hours on, still feel a bit numb but I said to everyone before the game it was 50-50, could go either way, and so it proved. They took their chances, two of them gifted by our errors, we didn’t. Harry’s last minute free kick spinning agonizingly back from the same line that Atkinson disgracefully guessed the ball had crossed 5 years ago, though it was too late to save the game, typified our luck.
    Palace and that lot will be lifted by their results today as much as we were deflated yesterday, but in the next 7 days we have to show the spirit of Swansea and keep our fantastic season going.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Good to hear from you Bernie. We were right in line with the free kick, you know it’s not our day when that happens. I do recall the goal that never was, although didn’t know it was at the same end, recall showing a photo round an incredulous tube carriage after the game.
      See what we are made of on Wednesday and Sunday, and I think we’ll do fine.

      Warm regards, Alan

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  3. Thank you, Al. Still disappointed but not quite as deflated as I was yesterday.

    Was wonderful to be part of the atmosphere at Wembley, especially when Dele’s equaliser went in. I was nearly knocked several rows in front by the guys behind me. A good laugh tho I am getting too old for this.

    I’m not going to find fault with Poch or the players. Guillem Balague Tweeted yesterday:

    “Whatever the final result, we are watching in Wembley the best English team in terms of collective football with and without the ball #Spurs”

    Spurs are still an excellent team with an excellent manager. If Poch or any of the players were on the market they would be snapped up in an instant by the best teams in the world.

    So what was the difference? It came down to the ruthlessness that comes from experience of winning trophies – from Conte to their squad. The conundrum for Spurs is how to get that. Once we win the first trophy the rest will flow. Maybe we should buy some players who have it – like Jurgen and Davids back in the day.

    And regardless of this or any result I’d rather support Spurs than that disgrace of a football club built on money stolen from the Russian people. Horrible club, horrible fans. Always have been, always will be.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Agree Russ, wouldn’t want it any other way. This is our way and we carry on. I think the wins will come and that we are developing the right mentality. Too much read in this one match by the media, I reckon. We’ll find out this week for sure.

      Regards, Al

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  4. It’s been a grey Sunday for me. More than a bit numb because we were , we are, better than Chelsea and we still lost. Last week we were Swashbuckling like Tottenham Globetrotters and so I too was a bit concerned at the omission of Ben Davies. The shape was perfect and I thought Poch had tried to shoehorn Wanyama and Son both in at the expense of Davies. Only reading your blog was I aware Davies may have an injury, another part of me thought he was being saved for Wednesday, along with Kyle Walker.

    The Matic strike aside, three other goals were so preventable. So absolutely disappointing and Arsenal progressing to the final hasn’t helped! And Crystal Palace also have recovered their mojo, so this is a nerve wrecking week indeed. My Room 101 semi final defeat was the Portsmouth debacle but from memory (far from reliable) we recorded two great wins that next week , including 2-1 at home to Arse, to bring us out of our stupor. Let’s hope this happens again , it would be a shame if we let a cruel/preventable defeat derail our season.

    I too thought Chelsea , Luiz especially, got away with foul after foul, though nothing necessarily game changing.
    DB

    Liked by 1 person

    • Pompey a real low – Saturday had nothing on that. Can still see Dawson slipping on that divot. Arsenal a chance for redemption.

      cheers Danny

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    • We should complain too much about the fouling, we do a lot of tactical fouling ourselves, no? And, I recall we may’ve been #1 at it last season (with Lamela leading the way)…

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  5. Three ghastly errors – don’t give away a free kick on the edge of the box. Don’t slide in in the box, unless you have Bobby Moore style timing. Don’t concede from a corner. Three tiny lapses in concentration, punished by the Punishers, who will always take their chances. So much of where the team is has come from Son and Anderweireld this season. What a shame for them as well as us. What I take from it, is at no stage did the team fold, and that’s better. Bad as it is, that is better. Now for the league…..

    Liked by 2 people

    • that’s what I take – we didn’t fold. All of the Spurs sides I’ve covered in this blog would have collapsed. We refused to lie down and take it. That attitude will stay with us and we will prosper.

      Regards, Alan

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  6. One of those awful tragic things in a Spurs fan’s world.
    But at least there was some Glory in our semi final defeat this time,
    as opposed to the six other SF defeats since 1991.
    All were strange goals to concede ..3 defensive errors and a goal from the Heavens did for us, as an ambivalent God came to the rescue of the besieged Chelsea battalions. 10 corners for Tottenham, with nothing to show, and then 1st corner for Chelsea in the 75th minute, goal! Ignore Hazard at our peril ..the great spoiler of our dreams, both last season and this (so far). I can’t stand the man (moreso because he flirted with us before deciding Chelsea was better for his ‘career’, and would pay him more) but no doubt he’s a hell of a player. A double 1st whammy of an Alderwereld (rare) error and Lloris’ poor positioning for the resultant free kick ..a Son crazily mistimed sliding tackle in an area he should never have been near, let alone in (did we really go back to the square peg/round hole days yesterday?). And a great player left all by himself on the edge of the penalty area as we briefly forgot how to defend a corner (it had been that long since conceding one)! All this and a goal that seemed to reverberate with laughs and gasps of amazement around the world ..echoes of last season as we tried to hunt down a Leicester side that was carried to the title on a tsunami of world wide wishes, divine fortune and, of course, bloody good play. Yes Alan, in between that we scored two fine open play goals as we manfully (again and again, like Sisyphus) went back to the bottom of the hill to retrieve that boulder and start pushing it up the hill. Getting always just inches short of the tantalising summit before the bloody great thing slipped all the way back down, and we had to start again. Still, it’s not our punishment for eternity (even though it sometimes feels like it) and now, as you say, we forget it and ‘go again’ …and this side will! Poch will also learn from yesterday. Our great coach was out-thought by Conte. The latter’s team did their job and his substitutions were awesome. The Son choice left us unbalanced while our subs couldn’t change things. Yet we played well enough to win, so there is much to play for still and much to look forward to, even though …WE NEED TO WIN A TROPHY AGAIN, SOONER THAN LATER!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well, Chelsea did their job in taking their chances but they made precious few and even with Hazard and Costa on the pitch, it didn’t significantly alter the balance of play. This was self-inflicted. Poch made an error of judgement on the day. Interesting snippet from Poch I read today. Clearly does not value winning trophies as much as we do. league position the thing for him.

      regards, Al

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  7. Thanks for being there, Alan. A win and getting to final to win again would’ve added so much lustre to Poch’s project — naming rights, other sponsor deals, more cachet for the club with the move coming up
    — and this loss may slow potential, hoped-for progress, and I hate to say it, but I wonder if any players might jump ship. We have to win something next year or that will happen…so close yet so far! Damn, Damn, Damn!

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    • Very frustrating Ashley, really thought this would be our day even after their goals. As to winning something, probably the sponsors prefer the CL. Good teams can do it all of course 🙂

      All the best, Alan

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Ive watched the match again and whilst i can understand Poch detractors, I think his main mistake has been maintaing Dier in the defense. im sorry but Ive watched Dier over and over; he is not good
    enough.he ducked out of the way for Hazard goal. A real defender would be blocking any goalbound shot.
    Another point, wasnt Davies in our team when Moses scored the winner at stamford Bridge?
    The Referee and his asssitants cannot be left of the blame. How Kante got to the 90th minute before getting a yellow card beats my imaginationI almost all the major decisions did not go our way, we should have carried our own knockout punch by shooting ala the Watford match.
    OVER ALL, VERY PROUD TO BE A SPURS FAN AT THIS MOMENT. WE PLAYED FOOTBALL[[[

    Liked by 1 person

  9. No, no, no, no, no, no – seven times woe. When we needed Frank Saul, who got our winner in the Chelsea Final (I still have my rosette) in ’67 we got Frankie Howerd in our defence. Look away if you won’t hear a word against Poch. He’s not exactly learning from his mistakes when playing at Wembley, is he? Demolishing Watford and Bournemouth’s at home is one thing but Wembley and the best team in the country is not the venue for unveiling our defensive masterstroke, Son. Clearly a pattern has been established and we now have another game to pick apart where we were the better team yet still contrived to lose, even against a team minus three of its best players for the most part. After underestimating some decent European teams and paying the price, we still look two or three quality players short of teams like Chelsea who have been efficient and ruthless in exposing opposing mistakes. You can look back again now: I’d still take a champions league spot than a cup final and Poch will give us that, or more, if we can turn over Arsenal and United while Chelsea may get distracted over the next month. Thanks for giving us the chance to dream Poch.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Still dreaming. In 67 we had Mackay, now he would have made all the difference on Saturday.

      Poch doesn’t prioritise the cups, and that’s a shame.

      Regards, Alan

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      • Lads, the fog and the anvil chorus are starting to leave my head and you know what? We got smashed. If you told me on Friday that we’d go into this game without two full backs against the possibility of Hazard, Pedro, Moses, etc. I’d say you were nuts. What on earth would possess Poch to deviate from the game plan that was so successful against Chelsea previously and everyone else this season? And if you told me that we’d ship four goals then I’d rate that a smashing. I don’t care how well we played in parts. They scored four and that’s what matters. Hopefully someone will force Poch to watch Son’s slow motion apology of a tackle and suggest he doesn’t get cute again this season. But I doubt it.

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  10. Devastated that night – convinced Spurs were the entertainers and provided the excitement, win or lose. To me he dived, not a trace of any touch, but you could say he disturbed him from his run. The really bright part was that incredible gliding touch if the back of that wonderful head – never ever seen such a delicate and perfectly place “header” – I am convinced Harry performed it without a thought, because thinking about it would make it impossible. And to keep it out of reach of that giant in goal !!
    Following that, the fierce blow on the run from DA – it was unstoppable and at full speed and stretch.
    The rest is history, albeit fate,but they tried and tried – I stopped looking when the magician came on and delivered his blow.
    Just today I began to read hat happened when Alan’s mail came in.
    It is a season and a team to compare well with any, Spurs or other.

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  11. Yes it’s hard to take having played well. However, these games against the top team are won at the margin. You can’t legislate against two great winning goals but you have to pick the right team from the start and Pochettino got it wrong. Walker is our best right sided defender and Son is not and never will be a wing back. Trippier has played well but we shouldn’t be muddled about a great performance against Watford with playing against a team with the resources and talent of Chelsea. We misssed Walker’s pace right from the start and the unusual line-up created uncertainty for the whole game. Poch has done a great job – we all know that but this is the business end of the season and he has to be judged on what happens now. Last season I felt he was largely culpable for the implosion – his lunch with Ferguson was close to being unforgivable – and I am to say the least nervous about the next six games. We may laugh at Wenger but who got the last laugh this weekend.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Devastated AGAIN but so many reasons to believe that we were not going to do it – among them, the Son experiment (a soon as I saw him back there I, like others obviously did, said NO NO NO) which allowed Moses to begin his dive almost at the half-way line, the disgraceful Atkinson again, the thuggish element of some Chelsea players and, in my perpetual glass half empty mentality, the hordes of my friends who “got on” Spurs as certs in their eyes – always the Kiss Of Death. Like Mark, I fear for the next six games – only the Manchester United game seems to be likely to be bearing maximum points. Spam and the Goons certainly won’t be offering help, Palace and Hull have their own agendas to attend to and the time to play Leicester was a few games back. We’ll see – chins up lads and go for it.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. That’s the spirit. Alan. Gratitude is good for the heart and the soul. This wonderful team has given me a lot of joy, but learning from mistakes is part of the inexorable progression to becoming a top team not only in England but in Europe. Thank goodness we still have six league games to show our mettle and grab second, or push Chelsea to the last day. I will savor each match, watching the team chemistry continue to develop and Harry, Dele, Sonny, and Christian press for the top of the scoring and assist ladders. COYS!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Nobody does the full on emotional stuff like you Alan.
    Still reading and liking (after all these years).
    Think Poch. overthought it, he certainly confused me.
    Chance of redemption this afternoon.
    Win and many years of hurt are behind us.

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