Saturday, 21 January 2012

The wisdom of Jim Royle and the future of Spurs

In one of the heart string-tugging Christmas episodes of The Royle Family, Denise is pregnant, they all watch a bit of telly, then her waters break.

It famously ends with Jim and his daughter alone, upstairs. The drama of the moment heightened by the unfamiliarity of the surroundings and their rare removal from their emotional and actual comfort zone. He talks to her movingly about the joys of parenthood and what she's meant to him over the years, before checking: 'Are you sure it's not just a bloody great p*ss?'

The same question applies to Spurs: Have we made a significant breakthrough, or have we just been on a bloody great run?

Since losing, heavily to Man Utd and Man City, we have, basically, won games we should have (yes, I'm pleased to say that includes Arsenal), failed to beat Chelsea at home, failed to beat Wolves at home, lost to Stoke, conceded late equalisers to Newcastle and Swansea...

Look, it's been great, obviously. We've played some fantastic stuff. And to baldly state we've 'won games we should have' dismisses just how many of them we've won and how hard it is to actually do that.

But, it is a very real possibility that we're about to not win a whole load of games that we shouldn't, get overtaken by Chelsea and find ourselves in a scrap for 4th with Arsenal which, really, isn't that far from where we've been, on and off, for a few years now.

You see, against Wolves, we apparently, 'wobbled', or 'showed signs of feeling the pressure', or even 'reverted to type'.

But I think we played more or less as we did against West Brom and Sunderland, only without the odd bounce of the ball/favourable decision.

The media fitted the result to a narrative that casts us as title challengers who bottled it a bit. But it looked an awful lot to me like Spurs. Has there been what marketing types might call 'a paradigm shift'?

If we win away to City tomorrow, the answer's going to have to shift from 'probably not' to 'quite possibly'. Which is ridiculous in itself, because winning away at City used to be a matter of routine.

So, are Redknapp and Levy birthing a glorious new era at White Hart Lane, or have we just been having a bloody great p*ss? Cross your fingers - and your legs - because we might be about to find out...

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Tiresome media hysteria and rival fans' wilful idiocy

Media (when Spurs are doing quite well): Harry, is it possible for Spurs to win the league?

Harry: It's 'possible', yes.

Headline: 'We can win title, roars Spurs boss'.

Other teams' fans: Ha, look at them getting carried away

Media (when Spurs inevitably drop points): So, Harry, do you still think you're going to win the league?

Harry: I never said I thought we were going to win the league! You asked me if I thought it was possible and, to avoid lying, I said yes!

Headline: 'Harry cools Spurs title talk!'

Other teams' fans: Ha, what an embarrassing climbdown.

Reality: We were never likely to win the league, but it remains 'possible', I suppose. What's probable is a battle for third and fourth with Arsenal and Chelsea (worse news for them than us) and, it seems, most of the Premier League officials. (Sorry, can only be rational for so long)

Thursday, 12 January 2012

The Coming Second - a nightmare scenario

Such Small Portions: Hello Such Small Portions from 2006.

Such Small Portions from 2006: Hello Such Small Portions. How are you?

SSP: Huh?

SSPF2006: Sorry, how am I?

SSP: Yeah, not bad thanks.

SSPF2006: Did that rash clear up?

SSP: Let's talk about that later.

SSPF2006: Yeah, all right, no problem, it's just that...

SSP: Look, aren't you going to ask me about Spurs?

SSPF2006: Well, hang on, I might want to start with my wife, my kids, their health, their welfare, how did they do in their exams, are we all still happy together...


SSPF2006: Ha, just messing with ya. So, go on, how are we doing?

SSP: Well, in the season 2011/12, we have just finished above Chelsea...

SSPF2006: You're kidding?!

SSP: Above Arsenal...

SSPF2006: Oh thank the Lord for that.

SSP: Above Liverpool...

SSPF2006: Well, duh.

SSP: And... above Man Utd.

SSPF2006: We won the league!

SSP: No, we didn't. We came second...

SSPF2006: But that's not possible. How can? Who can? What can?

SSP: Man City

SSPFF2006: Oh come on. I'm prepared to go with the time travel thing, with you/me existing in two different places at the same time, or two different times at the same place or whatever. I'm even prepared to believe that rash cleared up. But Man City?! We finished above all of The Big Four...

SSP: *Makes aggressive 'wrong answer' buzzer noise* No such thing anymore.

SSPF2006: Okay: We finished above Man Utd, Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool, and we still didn't win the league? Because of Man City?

SSP: Well, it's true I'm afraid.

SSPF2006: Whatever. You'll be telling me next that Simon Cowell's gay

SSP: Ah, awkward, I'm SSP from 2012, you want SSP from 2013 for that gag.

SSPF2006: Oops, sorry.

SSP: One more thing, you've got six years to think of a punchline, or at least an elegant ending for this little skit.

SSPF2006: Six years; punchline; elegant; got ya.

SSP: And?

SSPF2006: Eh?

Friday, 6 January 2012

A stupid and ungrateful Spurs fan writes...

This is utterly churlish and wholly unreasonable, I know. But now and again, when I'm feeling especially idiotic, I do wish we hadn't just written off the first two games of the season.

If you measured the league over of the top three's last 17 games, the top three would look like this:

Tottenham 42
Man City 39
Man Utd 36

The reality's not quite as awesome. Pretty damn good, but not 'oh my god we might actually win this thing' good.

And the reason is those first two games - games we didn't just lose, we sacrificed.

Now, obviously, they were pretty tough fixtures, and we may have lost them both anyway. But we just wrote them off. We didn't give ourselves a chance.

Harry clearly decided that he wouldn't have the players he wanted until the end of August, that Modric wouldn't be 'in the right frame of mind' until the window shut, etc. So we went in half-hearted and patched-up.

Could we have sorted these issue out sooner? Did the start of the season sneak up on us? Did no one on the coaching staff buy the Sunday papers on August 7th? They all very prominently displayed the entire 11/12 fixtures...

Could Proper Spurs, the Spurs we've come to know and love since then, have done better than no points and a goal difference of -7? You'd hope so, wouldn't you? Even two points would have made all the difference. And when I say 'all', I mean this much:

Man City 46 from 20
Tottenham 44 from 19
Man Utd 43 from 20

Which would mean we'd need to beat Everton at home next week to go top with more than half the season gone.

So, yeah, nice one Tottenham; thanks very much. Honestly, I don't know why I bother sometimes.