Friday, 30 September 2011

Bucket of blood


I watched Carrie last night.

This isn't the start of some sort of 'horror show' metaphor. I actually watched Carrie.

When it finished, I turned straight to Channel 5 to see Jermain Defoe celebrating a goal with rather too much gusto. Surely, over an hour in, we should be looking apologetic after scoring, not relieved?

The commentary soon explained. And then I had to explain - to my bemused family.

It was when they laughed out loud when I said the words 'Shamrock Rovers' that I realised the depth and darkness of the hole we'd just dragged ourselves out of.

'You're playing a team called Shamrock Rovers?!'.

I had to admit, it did sound made up.

'And you were losing?!'

I had to admit, it sounded all too believable.

So, a freakish game, but a win, some more game time for a group that will soon be registering the official brand name 'Spurs Kids' (better than Fergie's fucking Fledglings) and some sharpening for JD and Aaron (who really fucking needs it). Plus glimpses from Dos Santos.

The main thing is, it's out the way and now the only thing to think about is Sunday. Sunday, bloody Sunday.

(Carrie was as weird and excellent as I remembered it, by the way. It was actually my daughters that wanted to watch it. It's okay, they're teenagers who can genuinely fall asleep in front of the Saw series. They found the phrase 'I can see your dirty pillows' especially hilarious).

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Sofa so good



Right, as ever, no point in rehashing a match you almost certainly all saw, so, instead, a few points of 'interest'.

1) The right way to win

Not right as in perfect, or even hugely impressive, but just what we needed: a good result with built-in reminders and warnings, perfect ahead of next Sunday.

If we'd spent a full four halves playing like world-beaters, we might have started expecting to win. Arsenal beating Bolton might not be a bad thing, either. If they hadn't they would surely have found some passion from somewhere and torn into us.

As it is, they've probably rediscovered their never-far-from-the-surface feeling of superiority (historically down to them being superior), while we've been reminded that we're not the finished article; that we have to work fucking hard to play really fucking well.

Three points and a reality check. Just right.

2) Benny bashing

The BAE mistake led to some Twitter lunacy. He got a bit of a caning from some - which in turn provoked passionate and expletive-riddled defence from others.

Such extremes took me by surprise. I'd say most Spurs fans rate him as one of their three or four favourite players at the club, but that most also shook their heads and muttered 'oh for fuck sake', when he dithered and dallied to give a goal away.

Surely it's possible to hold those two thoughts in your head at the same time without being considered crazy: he's been a great player for us - but that was shit; every defender makes mistakes, and quite often they result in goals - but that was shit; maybe, having not been well during the week, he either shouldn't have played or can be cut a bit of slack - but Jesus, that was shit.

The important thing, surely, is that no one has any qualms about him starting our next game, or any game. Everyone's totally behind him, still - he just made a silly mistake and probably got a bit of a bollocking. No drama.

3) A not too terrible Match of the Day joke

Match of the Day's awful these days, isn't it? I mean the core concept of showing the best bits from Saturday's games remains unbeatable.

But fuck me the BBC are doing their best to suck all the life and excitement out of it. Hansen and Lawrenson add precisely nothing. They deal exclusively in cliches. They even look bored: with each other, with themselves, with the show, with their ramblings and, quite reasonably, with Lineker.

There's nothing wrong with dissecting a few incidents and chatting about the game, but to what end? Presumably to tell people with less insight and experience something they might have missed.

My cat could enlighten me more than those two. My poor dead cat.

So why not just get rid? I don't mean replace them with younger models, I mean show the matches, maybe some highlights of interviews with the managers and players, if they say anything of interest, - and then just move on to the next match. I bet there wouldn't be many complaints.

Anyway, I was watching it on Saturday night and Tweeted, hilariously, that Hansen and Lawrenson are like cushions: they're always on the sofa, but no man can see the point of them.

And if you plunge a knife into them, feathers fly out. Although I'm not sure about that last bit.

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Peering at Wigan


I have never been to Wigan.

I am reasonably certain that I will never go to Wigan.

I have nothing against Wigan. Why would I? Why would anyone?

When I think of Wigan (not often, I must admit), I think of The Road to Wigan Pier, Wigan Casino and Stuart Maconie. All excellent things (albeit things that I have never read/been to/met. I just instinctively approve). And, of course, I think of pies. But that's not necessarily to do with Wigan. I just quite often find myself thinking of pies. I'm doing it now.

Right, sorry, yes, I like their football team, as well. Again, why wouldn't you? Completely devoid of pretension or agenda (or, quite often, fans), they couldn't offend if they ran out with the word 'CUNT' on their shirts.

And there go my last remaining hopes of a NewsNow listing... Ah well, fuck 'em.

Wigan had a weird start to the season, playing all the promoted sides in their first three fixtures. They drew with Swansea and Norwich and beat QPR - but that was Old QPR, not Bright Shiny New QPR. So, not a great return.

Since then they've lost to City, Palace and Everton and, well... look, I'm not going to predict a win, of course I'm not, but if you look at their run of results, then you watch the MotD highlights for the 27th time, and you knock back, say, half a bottle of red, put on something especially stirring by Ralph Vaughan Williams, squint a bit... well, you can maybe see a score draw, right?

Monday, 19 September 2011

KISS CHICKEN BADGE!


I don't often enjoy watching Spurs. I never really relax.

If I'm at the ground I literally sit on the edge of my seat, my dogged concentration broken only by occasionally muttering dark forebodings to m'colleague.

If I'm up the pub, I get intensely irritated at anyone who wants to talk, or eat crisps, or ask me what I want to drink; anyone who isn't simply staring at the screen, fearing the worst and making silent deals with God in order to secure one or three points just isn't on my wavelength.

On Sunday, however, even I... well, okay, maybe I didn't 'enjoy' it, but I certainly didn't suffer the usual agonies, question the point of existence etc.

We just got better and better, shifting up a gear at exactly the right times, until eventually even I knew we were going to win. Actually knew. That is such a rare and wonderful feeling to experience in a match of any significance or difficulty.

We started well. But so what. We almost always start well. And then fail to score and fade away.

And, indeed, we missed a couple of chances, one absolutely gilt-edged.

Then, we scored. He scored. Lovely little Luka. "KISS CHICKEN BADGE! KISS CHICKEN BADGE!", I screamed. He didn't. And just as well. He seemed to enjoy the moment, though.

But, of course, we do score first sometimes. And then we defend too deeply, we abandon all the tactics and tempo that got us our lead and wait for it to be taken away from us.

But, no, we kept attacking and kept creating chances. We just couldn't convert any.

Then Adam got sent off. And at half time we were 1-0 up, playing brilliantly against 10 men. I know: recipe for disaster, right?

But, again, no. We carried on playing brilliantly, creating chances - and missing them. We were now heading towards 'one of those days' territory, sharing a border with 'those misses will come back to haunt us'ville.

Then they went down to nine men. A draw would now officially be humiliating.

But thrice no. We went 2-0 up, then three, then four. Both our strikers scored. For the second week in a row. A striker scored more than once. We beat Liverpool for the fifth year in a row. We're officially better than them. Much better, it seems.

The last time I got my mate to check the odds for a draw on Paddy Power, they were 500-1. 83 minutes had ticked by - and I was beginning to enjoy myself.

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Tottenham v Liverpool: a litmus test match


It's straightforward enough: we're not as good as Man Utd or Man City, we're better than Wolves, but are we as good as Liverpool?

It's what pundits call 'a litmus test', I believe. It certainly was in 2009/10 when we beat them in blazing sunshine on the opening day and went on to finish fourth. We were, simply, better than them - that day and that season.

Same last year, when we smash and grabbed the points at the Lane with a late Lennon winner and then put in a fantastically professional performance at Anfield to complete the double. Again, we were just better than them. And finished above them. It was starting to feel quite natural.

For those of us who first started following football in the '70s or '80s, this was quite something. A psychological breakthrough of mammoth proportions. Liverpool were Man Utd before Man Utd were Man Utd: virtually unbeatable, relentlessly successful, and a fixture you more or less wrote off - home and away.

To be demonstrably better and regularly above them was some going - even if their decline played as much a part as our rise.

The consensus now seems to be that Liverpool are 'back'. Certainly Kenny Dalglish is back - and the media love him, especially in harness with "his beloved Liverpool", blah, blah, blah.

Yet they've had a stuttering start (all things are relative: if there's has been stuttering, ours has been more or less mute).

Their most impressive result was a 0-2 win at The Emirates, but that's subsequently been dimmed by context. It's like hearing someone's shagged Brigitte Bardot - and then finding out it was last week.

(For a second there I just had to check to make sure the Woman that God Created hadn't died. But then I thought, well, the point would still stand, right?)

Apart from that they've lost to Stoke, beaten Bolton and drawn with Sunderland. Ho fucking hum.

And their recruitment campaign has seen them fill their ranks with players from poor teams who certainly didn't frighten us last year: Henderson, Adam, Enrique, Downing, Carroll. Quake ye not, mighty Spurs, they wear red shirts but they are beige players.

So, Parker and Modric to continue in midfield, Adebayor and Defoe to be given a chance to form an actual partnership up front, Ledley and whoever's fit at the back.

It's taken most of my life for Spurs to become better than Liverpool, let's not throw it away in an afternoon.

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Spurs are basically Andy Murray


I'm beginning to develop a theory that if Ledley King had been fully fit for the last three or four years, we'd have qualified for the Champions League more often than not, and maybe even challenged for the title.

Far-fetched, I know, but ye Gods we love that man.

Certainly the centre back pairing is the foundation for any great side, and if you offered me King and Woodgate, with Modric and Sandro as the central midfield two, all fit and happy and aged 25-28, I'd be very unlikely to swap them with any combination that didn't involve players in Barcelona shirts.

And maybe we now have another partnership, this time up front. In truth, Adebayor and Defoe didn't play brilliantly as individuals or combine particularly prodigiously, but they did both score and they do seem to be a 'fit'. They certainly give us more cause for optimism than any pairing since Keane and Berbatov.

There's certainly something encouraging about a scoreline that reads 0:2 - striker a; striker b. It reads like a job well done and a proper performance.

So, we're up and running, we've beaten the unbeaten Wolves and we've won, comfortably if not spectacularly, at a ground where you'd think no more than five other teams will come away with maximum points.

Looking at the City and United scores though, you can't help but feel there's something of the Andy Murrays about us. We're good, no doubt about it, and we'll win matches. But when we come up against one of the big boys, there's a frustrating gulf in class - and a massive barrier between us and any of the truly grand prizes.

I also think that probably makes Harry Redknapp Judy Murray, and for some reason that pleases me.

Saturday, 10 September 2011

Harry Redknapp: the man who knew too little


I read this morning that Harry Redknapp knew nothing about Sandro signing an extension to his contract until he saw it on SSN.

This is worrying. I mean, is he not even on Twitter? Or Twitcher?

It is,of course, just the latest in a long line of really important things, affecting the club he manages, about which he knows nothing.

Maybe it's become a stock answer because of his dealings with the Revenue: 'Yeah, sorry, don't know about that; nope, can't tell you anything about that; ooh, hang on, now that one I do know happens to be for... no, sorry, it's gone again."

Let's review what he doesn't know about Spurs:

He doesn't (or didn't) know that Sandro has signed a new five year deal with the club.

He doesn't know what Luka Modric's current state of mind is.

He doesn't (or didn't) know anything about any bids Chelsea made for Modric ("only what the chairman's said").

He doesn't know if we've made any enquiry about David Beckham.

He doesn't know anything about any transfers, in or out, ever.

I'd like to know what he does know:

Daniel Levy's phone number?

The location of the 'ignore' key on his phone when TalkSport call him?

That we're playing Wolves this afternoon?

How to beat Wolves this afternoon?

Where we'll be in six months time?

Where he'll be in six months time?

Answers on a postcard please to: Harry Redknapp, Anywhere The Buck Isn't, OOTK, N17.

Saturday, 3 September 2011

Window gleaning


The transfer window left me slightly underwhelmed, I must say.

I thought we needed two new centre forwards and one new centre back - preferably one who could read the game and play a bit rather than just a 'stopper'.

(I used to think we had more than enough 'stoppers' but after the performances against United and City I now suspect they are, in fact, 'facilitators').

And as a luxury, just maybe, a right-midfielder who could put some pressure on Aaron Lennon (if he carries on like he's started the season I'm going to start singing 'Shit Aaron Lennon, you're just a shit Aaron Lennon' at him. That should mess with his head)

What we got instead was Brad Friedel, Scott Parker and Emmanuel Adebayor - on loan. Plus a couple of youngsters. Oh, and a £19m net profit. Maybe I'll get a shirt with that written on the back of it. That'd be fucking subversive, right?

Friedel: well, yeah, for a goalkeeper who's let in eight goals in two games, he looks pretty good. But he's 84 next March and his arrival says more about Harry's distrust of Gomes than it does about long-term planning.

Parker: again, yeah, fine. I'm not a huge fan, I must admit. But most Spurs fans seem pleased with his capture and at £6m, even though there'll be no sell-on value, he's hardly a risk. I almost wish he was. But he's just a solid English yeoman, to me.

I'm told, however, that he "always gives 100 per cent". Gee, thanks. I also winced a little at a line from the commentary on the England game the other night: "Parker there, getting his body in the way - that's what he's on the pitch for". Great, he's a cone.

No, look, welcome aboard and please feel free to become a Lillywhite legend. No one would be happier than me. He'll do fine, I'm sure. Better than fine, I'm not so sure.

Adebayor: "On his day he's pretty much unplayable". This must be true because everybody says it. What they mean, I think, is that he's a big but athletic and awkward unit who puts himself about but is also comfortable on the ball and a proven finisher. Whether or not that means it's hardly being worth lacing your boots up if you're defending against him, I'm not so sure.

But, he does have one important thing going for him, something that's much easier to define and prove: he's not Peter Crouch.

I'm still not comfortable about us taking players from 'rival' Premier League clubs on loan, though. I'm not sure what it says about us - but I suspect it's not good.

Also, who thinks he'll be here in, say, 18 months? Might not matter, of course, I know that; he'll 'do a job' etc. But for me it still makes it harder to get really excited about him as a 'signing'.

So, yeah, no real complaints, but no real jubilation or heightened expectation, either. We have a big striker who's better than what we had, we have better back up for Sandro (although with Thud, Palacios, Jenas and maybe even Livermore in the ranks, we didn't seem especially short-staffed) and we have an experienced goalkeeper who Harry (and hopefully our defence) feels more comfortable with.

Oh, and we still have Luka, of course. For now. Or at least someone who looks like Luka. Time will tell if he's the real thing.

We don't have Gary Cahill, though. And I'm still not sure why. Did we really stop just shy of £13m and decide we'd rather miss out than feel we'd got the fuzzy end of the deal? Could we not just have said: "You know what, Bolton, you cheeky little imps, £13m is probably about £4m more than market value (especially given the length of time left on his contract) and £2m more than we thought we'd be paying - but fuck it, let's just get this done, let's get a young, talented, English central defender to White Hart Lane while we're in a position to do so and before his contract actually expires and it becomes all about who can offer the highest wages."

That's certainly what I'd have fucking said.

And if we'd got him I think I'd have been happy with the business we'd done. And maybe even looking forward to what I am going to apocalyptically describe as our SEASON-DEFINING fixture - away at Wolves. In early September. Oh brother...