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.
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.