Tuesday, 11 January 2011
A history of the world In 100 inanimate objects
Or, what the fuck is it with Spurs and left backs?
In the beginning there was Chris Hughton. And Chris Hughton was good.
But since then, fucking hell.
The first candidate to succeed the Socialist Workers Party member and honorary Geordie was... Mitchell Thomas; a gangly, awkward mess of limbs and intentions who patrolled the left side with all the confidence of Dean Windass at a MENSA meeting.
Frank Skinner said recently that watching Bruce Forsyth wending his way through a joke towards the punchline is like watching an elderly waiter cross a restaurant floor with a full tray of drinks. You don't want to look but you can't look away. Basically, you're waiting for the crash. That was how we felt when Thomas dribbled. Or, in fact, when he ran somewhere without the ball.
The elderly waiter would have been more effective. Bruce Forsyth would have been more effective.
Then came Pat Van Den Hauwe. He achieved something resembling cult status at the Lane in certain circles, but that's just because he was 'hard'. And to not admire him would have been to more or less admit to being gay. If you didn't like Van Den Hauwe, you probably read books, or watched BBC 2, or had sex with men.
I didn't like him. He looked like he was playing on parole. Or as part of some sort of deeply resented community service. He couldn't half glower, mind you. Not an overused word, 'glower', but if you ever need a definition, just look at a picture of Van Den Hauwe. Also works with 'crap'.
And so we come to the Edinburgh years. In tandem with right back, Dean Austin, Justin Edinburgh was a blight upon the Spurs side for pretty much a decade.
On the plus side, he had classic floppy, '90s indie hair. On the negative side, he played like he was a roadie for Ned's Atomic Dustbin.
He's also remembered for getting sent off in the 1999 League Cup Final, at which point we just about found enough gumption to score the last minute winner in one of the most dire finals of any competition.
Next up: Mauricio Taricco. We signed him from Ipswich where the fans apparently loved him. I think they must have all mistaken him for their sister. I mean, what was to love?
Actually, after he left us, he went to West Ham, tore his hamstring less than half an hour into his debut, knew his career was over and so offered to have his contract canceled. West Ham's then manager Alan Pardew said it was the most honest thing he's ever known a footballer do. All right, that's a bit like winning a least paedoey Catholic priest competition, but nonetheless, full marks.
Christian Ziege, of course, was a good player. He won Euro 96 with Germany and had successful spells at Bayern Munich and AC Milan. He managed to drag himself down to our level in the early noughties, though.
Also, after one game in, well, it must have been in September 2001, as you'll see, he'd scored a very flukey goal (a cross that floated in, basically), and when asked about it in the post match interview he said something like 'It's nice to score, but I'd have happily seen it go past the goal if those planes had gone past the towers'.
When they cut back to the studio this sentiment was immediately hailed as 'apt and touching', rather than monumentally idiotic and really quite life-threateningly embarrassing. Plus, I do also remember thinking, 'Hold on old son, they're not your three points to give away, are they? Let's just weigh things up...'.
Post football he launched a range of skin care products in partnership with the leader of the Scorpions gang in Grease.
Lee Young Pyo was, when we signed him, hailed by many as the best left-back in Europe. And to be fair, he wasn't awful. But he wasn't even one of the three best left backs in London, so, y'know.
Now we have Benoit Assou-Ekotto, who often looks confident and composed, but sometimes looks like he's forgotten where he is. I don't mean in respect to the tactial nuances of a demanding position, I mean in respect of actually being on a football pitch.
There was also the Gareth Bale conundrum: At left back he mostly got injured, looked vulnerable and gained a reputation as an absolute albatross. Then he moved forward 25 yards and became the best player in the world.
So maybe it's the position that's cursed. In which case, welcome aboard, Phil Neville. Yes, Phil Neville: the only man who can walk into a room and elicit the sentence, 'Oh dear, I was hoping it would be Gary Neville'. Just a rumour at the moment, but given the history of this particular position, it seems entirely appropriate.