Saturday, 12 February 2011
Reserves of strength
And so we return to our theme of 'Who are those strange men in white shirts?'
Only this time, with that line-up, it was a perfectly reasonable question (but in light blue shirts, not white, obviously). Our entire first choice midfield was missing. Plus, you could argue, our first choice centre backs and first choice forwards. Eight outfield players. Just the two full backs in place. And they're not the best.
(I do like Corluka, but sweet Jesus he's slow. It's sometimes actually hard to tell if he's running or not. When at 'full throttle' he does that sort of scuttling fast-walk thing that people do when they're trying to catch a bus but don't want to look as if they're actually rushing just in case they miss it. For a man nicknamed 'Charlie' he's got fuck all to do with speed)
So, before kick off, at kick off and 30 minutes after kick off, I couldn't see a win. I couldn't see a side or an attitude capable of winning.
And when Gallas skipped off to get his nail polish buffed up, and Dawson continued to resemble a piece of shingle compared to the rock he was last year, well of course they scored. They'd read the script as well.
But then, those strange men in white (light blue) shirts re-appeared. We rallied, we improved, we girded out collective loin and we worked hard. We didn't play particularly brilliantly, but we found a win, somewhere, somehow.
This was Spurs. Away. Away at a Northern team. Away at a North Eastern team. 1-0 down. Hugely depleted. With a game against AC Milan just three days away. Strange.
The goal that got us the win was totally out of keeping with our performance but totally typical of wonderful, wonderful Niko Kranjcar. Everyone is, quite rightly, raving about Rooney's derby-winning scissor kick. But in terms of technique, our man's volley was equally exquisite. Such a sweet strike, and such a great player to have as cover for every single midfield position. Top, top man.
In the giddy aftermath I declared it our best and biggest win of the year. Well, we've played a lot better and we've beaten bigger teams. But in terms of defining what our season's about, this was surely pivotal. If we'd lost we'd have have spent the next few weeks checking for Liverpool's and, yes, Sunderland's results. As it is, we're right in the mix for fourth, or even third, and it's Chelsea and Man City we'll be worrying about - and, make no mistake, they'll be worrying about us.
For a dose of morning after the night before reality, let's remember that our strikers still didn't score, our defence continues to wobble and Gomes, silly, silly Gomes, once again crumpled like a thundering great Jessie after having his tummy tickled. Good God he's the cowardly lion of goalkeepers that lad. Even Harry was laughing at him. Oh, and AC Milan won 4-0. Arsenal also looked excellent. Irrelevant but depressing.
I get the feeling, though, that none of that will worry these strange men.
The team news that emerges over the next two or three days will be crucial. If we can get two out of our big three back, we're in business. Or at least we're applying for a start-up loan.
Let's worry about that tomorrow and Tuesday, though. For now, let's enjoy our third straight weird, wonderful win. And thank the Lord for Niko Kranjcar and Sky Plus...