Lil’ Mal heading our way?

There’s a reason Barca paid £36m for Malcom. Just because he hasn’t made it in half a season, doesn’t mean he’s become a crap player. What’s not to like? He can dribble, pass and he’s got a great long-range shot on him, plus he likes to get stuck in. On top of all of that he looks like he’s got a good attitude: a bit ‘umble an all that.

Word is that he might be available on a loan, with a view to a permanent in the summer. Now I hear you shouting that we really need a top CM, all the more so now that Moussa has moved on but….but….Poch can easily slide Dele or CE a bit further back to accommodate a firecracker like this one. The only possible downside is he looks a bit Moura-ish.

Having said that, with Kaneinho out we could revert to using Nando a bit more, which would require more balls in the box. Lil’ Mal can play as AM or as a winger, so fits the bill.

I think we’ll be bringing in at least one reinforcement this January. I know you all have your favourites, but who do you actually think it WILL be?

Interesting Poch presser

https://www.skysports.com/watch/video/sports/football/11601417/pochettino-spurs-need-to-change-transfer-policy

I’m sure many of you have seen this clip by now, and doubtless the Bedwetters will be in full stream flowing a mixture of piss and vinegar at Levy and the Flat Earthers.

However, it won’t surprise you that there was one comment which I heard as being as strong as indication of Poch’s long-term commitment to the Club and his ‘project’ as one could possibly want:

“At the moment it’s fantastic, so far so good, but we’ll see if it’s enough to challenge and be consistent in the next five years operating this way, if we’re capable to fight with the big sides in the same way that we’ve fought in the last four or five years.”

There’s a lot more in this presser and some heartening stuff. It’s all here:

https://www.football.london/tottenham-hotspur-fc/fixtures-results/spurs-press-conference-live-mauricio-15639573

In short, he’s going nowhere.

The magic of the FA Cup under the lights

Plenty say that much of the gloss has been scuffed off the oldest football competition in the world, and it’s easy to understand why…but for the old romantics amongst us, there’s nothing quite like an FA Cup tie against lower league opposition to get the blood racing. Pitches like ploughed fields. Blood and thunder tackles. Players smeared head to toe in mud. Facials, massages and colonics.

In the absence of Dan-O giving us the lowdown of our encounters with mere Tranny Rovers, I’ll just say that this looks like a strongish side, with a weighty bench to boot.

Poch ain’t throwing this one, like he has all the previous competitions we’ve played in. No, Sireee. We’re in it to win it.

COYS!

Title Decider

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As we approach one of *the most important encounters in the history of mankind*, I thought it incumbent on this bloeugger to pose the important question that any sane, logical-thinking, rational human would ask:

Who is going to win this 2nd/3rd place play off decider?

Liverpool are flying high but only one defeat from a full-on Bindipper implosion the likes of which we haven’t seen since, well, the last one. Klopp is the anointed one who shall not be criticised, because he’s such fun with his quirky teutonic accent and his rock ‘n’ rolliness and his sexy gang-pushing, or whatever it translates as. Additionally, Liverpool should have won every title since 89/90 but were cruelly robbed by everyone playing, sorry “being”, against them.

Citeh are the heirs apparent: the unbeatables, populated by the untouchables, led by the unmentionable. They totally deserve the title this year, because they won it last year. There’s no way they’re going to go backwards, because Lord Pep Almighty is a genius to whom we should all generously gregariously genuflect as that is what they merit. Except they’re  wobbling. They’ve got Second Album Syndrome.

Bearing in mind the above, whatever the result we win…although a draw will do nicely, fanks very mucho.

Delicious Dele by Shelfy

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Dedicated to Dele

Spurs don’t play for a couple of days so its a bit early for the pre match bloeug and with so many great comments post match on the last bloeug it hardly seemed worth recapping the foxes game, though an away victory against recent Premier League Champs and nouveaux bitter rivals surely does deserve some crowing by the Cockerel that out foxed the foxes.

However today’s offering is dedicated to Dele to mark the occasion of his fiftieth (yes 50th) goal for the mighty Totteringhams of Hotspurland. He’s the best player called Jermaine that we’ve had at Spurs since…. well he’s the best player called Jermaine we had and we’ve had some good runs and some not so good!

One of the greatest managers of all time (well certainly recent time) Sir Alex Ferguson said of Dele, in March 2016 and I quote:

“He is probably the best young midfielder I have seen in many years, probably going back as far as Gascoigne”

and more recently he reiterated his point by saying,

“This guy can be one of the best midfielders in Europe”,

I believe SAF had a good eye for young talent and his opinion on such matters should be highly valued.

The story of Dele as it is unfolding before our very eyes bares testimony to SAF’s prophecy. The landmark fiftieth goal in not much over 100 starts for Spurs speaks for itself in terms of goal scoring prowess but I think there is so much more to this young man than goal scoring.

Yesterday for example in the absence of Eriksen I watched as Dele produced a command performance. He seemed to take on more responsibility for bringing teammates into play, more passing and less flicks (though his little cameo in the box where he tricked his way through the foxes defense was sublime). Similarly against MK Dons when he was given the armband he produced a more mature performance than usual. In fact I think his trajectory has been toward more solid team play than previous seasons, hard graft as well as fancy footwork.

The game against Chelsea was a masterclass of man marking one of the best passers of the ball out of the game. It will hardly show up in stats and isn’t what he is known for but it was a huge part of why we won and something none of us (to my knowledge) had ever expected from him based on our comments and banter.

He is fast becoming a team leader and I think that shows more when he is the main man. Without Kane and Eriksen yesterday, Dele stepped up, showed leadership and maturity, took responsibility and was in my mind the key difference maker. He still was able to showcase some of his outrageous abilities, he still scored, he still made a number of penetrating darts into the box but in addition he involved his teammates more than usual and drove the side forward, in my opinion it was a more rounded performance than normal and more productive.

I love his attitude, I love that he cried in the locker room when he got sent off, I love some of his quotes, especially about competitiveness:

“I’d love to play for Spurs and play at White Hart Lane. It won’t be easy, and I’ll have fight for my place in the team, but I’ll work hard to do that”

“I have always had confidence in my ability; I knew I’d get a chance coming here. That’s one of the main reasons why I signed for Tottenham”.

“Steven Gerrard was someone I looked up to massively. I’d always try to copy him, right down to the boots he was wearing. It was his attitude on the pitch that stood out – you could really see how much he hated losing”

“Do you need an aggressive streak to thrive? You could say that. A lot of the great players have that mentality”.

“I’m not going to lie: I’m a competitive player. I think there’s no point playing football if you’re not competitive and you don’t want to win games”.

“Aggression is something that is a part of me, and I’m never going to take that out of my game”.

“I have made a few mistakes with my temper, I know. But I have learned from that”.

Of course its not all about aggression and competitiveness:

“I like to enjoy the game and to have fun and express myself as much as I can”

Sure we missed CE’s vision and range of incisive passing to a certain extent yesterday, and boy would I hate to see him leave, but in Dele I see a creative successor and/or complement to CE and as Dele’s game evolves and if the unthinkable should happen that CE decides the lure of the Spanish lucre is just too much to resist I think Dele will be able to fill the void.

A final thought: My daughter was a little disappointed in me, when I went to Wembley last month because I was supposed to take a sign saying ‘Dele, please marry my daughter’. She doesn’t know much about football other than:

Spurs are the greatest team in the world,

Harry Kane #10 the greatest striker on Earth plays for Spurs and England,

Son – he’s so cute he always looks happy,

Harry Winks he’s cute too, and

Dele – he’s my boyfriend, he just doesn’t know it yet.

What else does she need to know? What more does a father need to teach his girl?!

Through, not Threw

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So this is what happens when a Manager instils Belief in a squad.  Some of our fan base, including on here (Shelfy, others?) dared to dream or make predictions that we would get the result that we needed and things would pan out well in the other tie (or over the whole group), but…..but, these lads had to actually go out and do it on the night.  No giving up until the 90+ET minute.  Keep playing our game.  Calm.  Focussed.  Trusting teammates.

We started well.  First 5 minutes I remember thinking; “We’re up for this tonight” and then BAM!  Sucker punched again.  FFS! Another big game, another individual error gifting a tough opponent an early goal.  I’m not digging KWP out specifically, Dembele was on him in a flash, but the reality is that we too often cause our own problems in these games.  Luckily this time, we had the minerals, the BELIEF, to turn it round.

As the first half ebbed and flowed we rode our luck a little, whilst also creating our own chances.  Apart from the goal, I’d say it was honours even, without having looked at any stats at all.

Second half:  ‘We are Tottenham, we’re in the Camp Nou, and we are here to kick your collective arses.’

Moussa smashing around.

Danny Rose finally, FINALLY! looking like the player he used to be.  Taking on players and beating them.  So good to see.  If we can get Serge back and improving, and Rosey carrying on on this trajectory, we can have two properly effective wing/full backs with good enough back up for lesser games.  Harsh on Tripps and Davies but you suddenly see what we’ve been missing when our full backs are actually providing a threat.

Harry finding a way to influence the game, even if he was having an off-night in front of goal (involved in 16 goals in 16 CL games – 13 goals, 3 assists).  Dele classy as always.

Lamela and Moura on at just the right time.

All in all, a great night, one to remember and draw to confidence from.  We can take anyone on.  The Flat Oeufers, that is.

No fear.

Belief.

 

Shelfy’s Pre-Match Postulations

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Foxes and Chickens

Next stop the King Power where the Cockerels visit the Foxes; let’s hope our feathers don’t get ruffled.

I sometimes wonder if we Spurs fans would have a soft(er) spot for LCFC’s title winning team if it hadn’t been our boys doing the chasing? Would we take heart that perhaps one day we too could overcome the odds? That they pushed and pulled and generally cheated their way to the title would probably be all forgiven if it had been Arsenal that had stumbled at the last minute rather than us (not that we really stumbled until it was all over). To be fair it was due to Leicester that we were entertained by the game now known as the Battle of the Bridge. I imagine were it not for chasing them, that game would have been a tame affair and would be long since forgotten.

Back to the present day and LCFC have had a run of draws recently: Burnley, Brighton, Southampton and Fulham, punctuated by a 2 – 0 win against Watford. Their fans will will no doubt taunt ours with chants of ‘Tottenham Hotspur we’re waiting for you’ a little reminder and some salt in the old wound.

Our boys on the other hand have had a terrible run of form and it looks like the wheels have fallen off and the world is about to end. Long ago in the distant past there were wins against Inter and Chelsea but fresh in the mind is the horror show at the library. Even the ritual sacrificing of the Saints wasn’t enough to placate the naysayers especially as the victims had the temerity to mount a bit of a fight back even after all hope had been lost.

More “woe is us material” as injuries are mounting up, somehow proving how terrible our owner was not buying any new players last summer. The sick room is full to overflowing, when was it ever any different? The defense is sparsely manned, my goodness how we are missing young Davinson, and so with Juan Foyth being injured we might have to play Toby and Jan despite having a potentially season defining game a few days later against the giants from Spain.
At least the Foxes own talisman, Jamie Vardy, is also out but nevertheless they always offer a counterattacking threat. I can’t see us keeping a clean sheet so hopefully we will simply outscore them. Wouldn’t it be nice to go three nil up early in the second half and be able to coast through the rest of the game…. perhaps not!

Finally don’t forget the unusual kick off time, quarter of an hour early for some reason.

SHELFY’s N.L.D. Bloeug

SHELFY WRITES:

Going Inter the Library with Momentum

Last up Inter at Wembley. The result? Never in doubt. Our boys outplayed, outfought, out scored and now have an outside chance of progressing in the CL, their destiny back in their own hands. (I love that word… Destiny), Winning that game was probably even more important than just keeping our CL hopes alive, much more important than that; it provided a confidence boost, rather than a feeling of deflation, a momentum boost as we are on a good solid unbeaten run.

Next up Arsenal, the result, shouldn’t be in doubt. Our boys can outplay, outfight, outmuscle, outrun and outscore Arsenal and give themselves an outside chance of winning the league, their destiny (that word agin but now in my best Darth Vader voice) is to be a force to be reckoned with, champions in the making. I don’t even mind if some of the dark side, dark arts are used in this game, whatever it takes (sorry Unk).

So which Spurs will show up? The ones who ran their hearts out against Inter or the ones who played too much like fancy Dans and blew a lead a few weeks earlier against Inter (and Watford, and PSV away). Being a derby my money, which is admittedly a scarce commodity, is on the former.

I think we all expect a game of blood and thunder. Blood for sure if Coco Lamela is playing; thunder, well I haven’t looked at the weather forecast. I am sure both sets of players will be ‘well up for it’ because a slow start could be a disaster.

They have momentum too, a long unbeaten run going, but really apart from the draw with Scousehampton who have they played? Leicester, Palace, Bournemouth, Wolves and a bunch of second tier European clubs, and they even haven’t won all of those games. I think they will be confident to begin with, but the stuffing could be quickly knocked out of them if we bully them like I think we can. We will need to do that anyway to win, like Poch says our boys need to be warriors, winning their duels needs to be a matter of honor.

So the busy period starts, who can the coach rest?

Lloris, not likely and really no need. He has been playing a lot better recently and his distribution in particular has improved. I like that he sprinkles in a lot more long balls for HK to fight for rather than poncing about with it at the back.

Aurrier and Davies, not likely as Trips is injured and though Rose has ‘form’ in this game he may not be fit enough to start, midweek next may be a better time for his reintroduction, though Poch surprised us all (and our Danny) last year by playing him against Madrid.

Will Jan and Toby form the central defensive partnership? I think so. Jan is famed for his ability as a natural athlete, to be able to run all day, so I think the young gun Juan will have to wait for the midweek game for his next start.

Sissoko, isn’t he undroppable right now? Who ever thought they would read that?

Winks – sadly I think he will be rested and the bigger lads will play, enter Dier, not too shabby a replacement for this type of game

Up front I can’t see anything other than the DESK starting this game. D, E and S are relatively fresh having had time out due to injuries and K, well he isn’t sitting this one out unless hell freezes over.

Maybe Son gets rested and used as an impact sub and one of Lucas or Lamela starts. I wouldn’t mind either way, all three bring plenty of positives.

Tactically I think we will be back to our normal formation 4231 with Dele in a freer role than he was against the racist scum. Arsenal haven’t had a dangerous deep lying playmaker since Fabregas took the Russian oil money so need to man mark like he did against Georgie Porgie.

Just 4 more hours until the early kick off. Anticipation anyone? Exited much?

Shelfy’s Debut!

Esteemed bloeugger OTS84 writes:

Next up Inter Milan, who are like Spurs sitting third in their domestic league and enjoying a decent run of form. They had a comfortable 3-0 win at the weekend against struggling Frosione, and based on the highlights I saw, didn’t really look too extended during the game, and even rested a few of their players.

Their game seems to be based on a 433 with the front 3 willing to press. The goals at the weekend came from winning the ball near halfway and pushing on fairly quickly. Though in fairness all of the goals were probably ones that a better opposition could and should have defended.

So what do we need? A win of course but not any old win, it needs to be better than the 2-1 reversal we suffered at their place. Just like in the knockout stages, away goals are important so a 1 nil to us or a two clear goal advantage is needed. Almost nothing else will do.

The Milanese know this of course and so they may treat us to an old fashioned Italian defensive masterclass, though honestly I don’t think they can bolt the door as tightly shut as Juventus and it seems more likely they will have a go and try and get the away goal. Poch and his backroom team will have done a darn better good of scouting them than the ten minutes of internet research I did and our boys should be ready for whatever tactics are thrown at them.

Our boys are in the midst of a busy period, eight thousand games in six days in December with an injury depleted squad, having just dispatched the Chavs and next up the Gooners what could be more exciting! The coaches will need to rotate carefully to make sure we don’t overplay a few stars and end up with an even busier physio.

How much rotation will Poch do? We used to be able to predict the likely starting eleven reasonably easy, after all we always rotated full backs and always started DESK as the front four, then play Moussa, no not Sissoko, the other one, Dembele every other game rotating him with Winks or Wanyama alongside the ever-present Dier.

Now we can’t rotate full backs because Trips and Rose are injured though I suppose KWP maybe given a shot. It is up front that a lot has changed with the emergence of Lucas and the reemergence of the very much invigorated Lamela. Can we really drop Son after Saturday for Lucas, can we find a spot for Lamela given his nous and experience against Italian teams? Dele has found some sparkling form and we know CE makes us tick. Hey its a good problem for Poch to have, and its a long time since we had such an abundance of riches up front.

So I don’t do predictions other than we will win – I always think we will win. I always have even during the dark days when we usually didn’t but I still thought we would. Will we win well enough? Will we be able to follow it up with a win against Barca in Spain or should I say the Basque country? If we beat Inter we will need to at least match their last group game result, and they have PSV who quite frankly were lucky to be on the same pitch as us (great game and thanks again Flatty for the ticket), so in all probability we will have to beat Barca as well or face Thursday night trips to far flung destinations.

Whatever the result I hope the fans get behind our boys from the first minute to the last and the boys on the pitch give us a glory glory night to remember.

COYS

Predicting Spurs Victory?

Times have changed. After the defeats to Inter, then Barça, followed by the lame draw against PSV, the talk was of hoping we would come last in the Group and drop out of European competition altogether for the rest of the year. Solely on the basis of not christening NWHL with a Ropey League match, I saw the logic.

But since then, we’ve started playing a bit. We’ve exhibited some expansionism, demonstrated derrring-do, showcased some swashbuckling. We’ve become more Spurs and less spursy.

I never do predictions. They ruin the game for me. I’ve got enough nerves without thinking I’ve jinxed it. So Peter Predictor, what do you think? Are we going to show up or fizzle out?

What I do want is for us to go for it. I want us to try our hardest to qualify from the Group. All that ‘ditch it for this year’ nonsense is for losers. I was one of them off the back of our last 3 CL results, but now I’m a WINNER! Yeah!

The 30 minute man

Dele Alli: A star-shaped peg in an unusually shaped hole

NB Full Article by Football whispers, with graphs here:

https://www.footballwhispers.com/blog/dele-alli-star-peg-square-hole?utm_medium=affiliates&utm_source=spurs-clark

After an impressive first season at White Hart Lane, the midfielder improved in 2015/16. He scored 18 goals and registered seven assists to cement himself as one of the world’s brightest young players.

But in 2017/18 he failed to hit the same heights and dropped back to the level of his debut season at Spurs. So what happened?

For a start, it’s worth mentioning that scoring nine and assisting ten goals – as he did last term and did the reverse in 2015/16 – is an impressive feat. Very few players manage it per season and there are four Premier League campaigns where nobody managed it at all.

So for Alli to get close not once, not twice, but three times in a row, at such a young age, shows what kind of a talent he is. But let’s investigate that drop-off…

The drop-off and a change in role

So why did Alli’s goal output halve from 2016/17 to 2017/18? Basically, he stopped hitting the target as much.

His rate of shots which tested the opposition goalkeeper dropped from 47 per cent to 25 per cent between the two seasons.

The number of chances he was getting per game stayed roughly the same – as well as the quality of them – it’s just that he lost that special ability to find the back of the net.

In terms of his all-round game, Alli played similarly in the two years, as seen by his Football Whispers player persona radar, which looks at how a team or person’s plays stylistically.

But the current campaign, one which has been disrupted by a persistent hamstring injury, is going slightly differently.

Alli hasn’t claimed an assist this term and the numbers suggest that, when he returns to the side, that is unlikely to change anytime soon.

The amount of shots he’s setting up has dropped from 1.6 per 90 minutes last season to 0.5 per 90. Instead, the 22-year-old seems to have taken on extra responsibility in attack and in defence, leaving out the creativity in the middle.

Alli’s defensive activity has absolutely leaped this season, more than double what it has been in the past two campaigns with 4.96 tackles and interceptions per 90 minutes.

His touches inside the opposition box have also jumped, from just under five per 90 minutes in those previous years but nearly seven per 90 this campaign. He’s even receiving more passes inside the box than Harry Kane.

It’s a curious role and not one many players are probably tasked with which, in turn is perhaps why the public enthusiasm around him has died. How are we supposed to measure success in this role that we’ve not really seen before?

The fact that he’s making fewer shot assists and not taking any more shots than last season, despite getting more touches in the opponents’ box, doesn’t seem like a sign of success.

He’s still an important part of Mauricio Pochettino’s side moving the ball up the pitch, but Alli is one of the players where end product is supposed to come from.

With Kane struggling earlier in the season, Spurs fans could reasonably have hoped that the 22-year-old would step up and fill some of that void.

But whether Alli gets back to the eye-catching heights of the past few years, 2016/17 in particular, will depend on whether Pochettino continues to play him in this role.

Such a heavy defensive responsibility, be it relentless pressing or more conventional defensive work, won’t make attacking end product any easier to come by.

But defending is a thankless task, for the most part, and perhaps we should all recognise the task that the midfielder has had to perform this season.

There’s still a lot of time in the campaign and his career for Alli to get back to his best. He’s shown that he can do it before and, if given the opportunity, he’ll be able to do it again.

Grindr

We have become the team that grinds out results…until we don’t.

Our PL “Best Ever Start” masks a slightly different picture, when we start looking across all competitions this season.

Out of our 7 victories in the PL this year, I would say that only those against Manchester United (our finest result) plus Fulham and Huddersfield (2 goal margins) have been comfortable victories, and the last two are debatable as “comfortable”.

Otherwise, we have squeezed past the other 5 by a solitary goal and, for all of the possession, could have conceded and left with 1 point instead of 3.

When you add in the Cups, it looks worse. Inter turned us over from a winning position. Barça beat us fairly soundly if you tally up all of the ‘what ifs’. It took us penalties to get past Watford. Last night we salvaged a draw from what looked like a routine victory.

My point here is that we have been scraping by…but that relying on other teams rolling over or ‘that bit of luck’ is not going to carry us very far in the Premier League, the FA Cup or even the Milk Cup (pick your favourite for us to “focus on”), let alone the Champions League.

We all know the possible reasons why we haven’t hit our straps as yet – and they are absolutely valid. Fatigue, injuries, international duty etc etc. Not easy to balance and continue to keep staying in touch.

However. However. Last night’s performance and result points to a pattern of our own making in which we go ahead, look like we’re going to really press home the advantage with a second or third goal…and then, in the name of controlling the game or whatever, we allow the intensity to drop at what looks like a pivotal moment and we concede. We invite the opposition back into the game.

I’m all for high possession stats but they have to equal a threat. If the other team sense that they’re safe to have a go, then have a go they will. This is a subliminal message we send out time and again.

We did invite pressure last season too, but it was more about not converting chances. This time round we’re not creating the chances in anything like as much quantity or quality.

Again, back to the reasons why. We’re going to have to hope that Dele and Jan bring a lot back to this team because, as things stand, we don’t have much room for manoeuvre in the ‘luck’ stakes. A few percentage points drop in performance will translate to wins becoming draws and draws becoming losses.

That’s what I see with what I’m watching so far this season.

Wembley sell-off off

So Mr. Khan has decided that it’s not such a peachy idea to buy the ‘national treasure’ after all. Seems he was quite surprised by the strength of the backlash amongst, you know, the public. Ex-players have piled in giving the thumbs up to his elegant withdrawal.

One person who must be quite grateful is Daniel Levy. Wasn’t it the Jacksonville Jaguars who were originally mooted to be the franchise to set up residency at NWHL? Things looked quite rosy for ENIC’s investment into making a ground that could accommodate over 400 people in one changing room, or whatever was necessary.

The owner of the Jaguars (And Fulham FC) then switched his focus to Wembley, a move which has now broken down. This leaves Our Dan with the only built-for-purpose stadium ready to host the NFL and with his main rival for a London-based team floundering a little for a venue.

Stroke of luck or just as planned?

Over to you…

They seek him here, they see…oh, there he is.

Chauvelin’s long-awaited debut:

LEST WE FORGET…

I have taken it upon myself to remind everyone that this is October 2018, and we are fast approaching a very important anniversary.

Yes, ’twas on 26 October 2008 that Mr Harold Redknapp was appointed Tottenham manager. I write now as although that date of the month is still some days away, we have just played our eighth league match. Scarred upon our collective memories ten years ago Juande Ramos had received the right royal order of the boot after his eighth game, because Spurs had collected just 2 miserable points out of a possible 24, our worst ever start to a season. We had lost to Middlesbrough, Sunderland, Villa, Portsmouth, Hull and Stoke (you may notice that all of these clubs have hit the skids since, some in a big way, the Curse of the Cockerel strikes!) and drew with Chelsea and Norwich. The final league match for Ramos against Stoke was a real nightmare; Bale and Dawson both saw red, Stoke had received 2 penalties, and a sickening collision between Gomes and Corluka led to Vedran being stretchered off on oxygen. Spurs were rooted at the foot of the table and the joke doing the rounds was ‘what’s the difference between Spurs and a triangle? A triangle has three points.’ Ho blooming ho.

However, out of the gloom came a most unlikely saviour. Daniel Levy turned to that right diamond geezer ‘Arry Redknapp, the darling of the tabloids, to rescue the lilywhites in their hour of need. Even though ‘Arry only spoke to the players briefly (Clive Allen and Alex Ingelthorpe were in charge for one match) and watched on from the stands, Spurs immediately broke their duck with a 2-0 win over Bolton Wanderers. Welcome relief from the incessant sarcasm and more importantly, a possible new start? The sudden dismissal of Martin Jol the year before and the arrival of Ramos had a mixed reception because Jol was a popular figure who had been denied achieving a top four finish only by the ‘lasagnegate’ incident. The news of his sacking breaking during a match was seen as very disrespectful. Despite winning the League Cup our form was patchy at best during Juande’s reign, and Redknapp’s appointment meant that the continental experiment with having a coach overseen by a director of football was over – for the time being at least. Redknapp insisted on being a proper manager, the Boss. Comolli was shown the door as well. Uncertainty was over, there was an old style gaffer back in sole charge. The immediate effect of the new man was dramatic and surprising. After the Bolton win we faced the old enemy at their new palace of varieties, Arsenal. Back then they were still a potent force, a challenger for titles. You couldn’t make the timing up and as if to prove this was being scripted by Hollywood, Spurs came away with an amazing 4-4 draw after two late, late goals. ‘arry had arrived in style, and if anyone was in any doubt that this man could change our fortunes, we then beat eventual runners-up Liverpool at home, and City away. We climbed the table to finish a respectable eighth. Spurs were genuinely on the up, and we’ve been getting better ever since, in my humble opinion. Ten years ago, eh? Seems more like a hundred.

FIN.

Thank Yahweh for the interlull

Good Morning Gentlemen and Scholars of the game of foeutball.

I didn’t watch the game live and I haven’t been moved to source a re-run, so I’m able to sit here with the beautifully simplistic view of 3 points gained, no matter how we went about it, being as good as it gets in our current state of squad depletion.

A largeish concern for me is Verts being potentially out until late November and us having a fair few chunky games between now and then. It’s not that we can’t cope in any one game but that, cumulatively, tired legs will lead to mistakes at key moments. I’d like to see Foyth getting some more run outs now…hopefully his Argentina call-up will give him some confidence.

Otherwise, in defence Poch is going to have to be clever with his resources. For instance, I remember he’s used Davies on the left of a Back 3 before, and Dier can always drop into the right of a Back 3 too. This would allow the use of KWP as a wing-back too.

Clearly, its a balance between playing a consistent team and formation to get results, whilst tinkering and rotating to fend off further fatigue and injuries.

How difficult can it be?

Dan’s Friday Feelgood Factorette

Ac felly rydym yn croesawu Caerdydd i Wembley, cartref byd-enwog (dros dro) y Spurs!

Which roughly translated (according to Google Translate, anyway – so it could pretty much be saying anything) means and so we welcome Cardiff to Wembley, the world famous (temporary) home of the Spurs, their first trip to us in the Prem since 2nd March 2014, when we were sitting pretty in fifth and they were squatting ugly in 19th.

That last visit ended in a brilliantly engineered Tim Sherwood victory to us by a whopping 1-0 margin, enhancing Tim’s chances of going down in Tottenham folklore as the manager with the greatest win-percentage of all time despite only having much-of-a-muchness to choose from.

Alas for both clubs, each would drop a position by the end of that season, with us finishing ten points behind Arsenal in fourth (remember when they nearly always used to come fourth, and always – always – above us?) and three points behind Everton in fifth (remember when not finishing above Everton used to be a conceivable thing?). Cardiff ended bottom of the pile, accompanying Fulham and Norwich into the Championship.

Our team that day was Lloris, Naughton, Dawson, Verts, Fryers, Dembele, Paulinho, Lennon, Townsend, Adebayor and Soldado, with Soldado getting the winner in the 28th minute – a really well taken close-range effort following a pretty-slick move between himself, Townsend and Adebayor. According to the BBC match report, ‘Spurs came closest to scoring in an underwhelming second-half when David Marshall saved substitute Harry Kane’s effort’.

This time around, it’s pretty much as you were for Colin’s Cardiff as they’re still squatting ugly in 19th, having taken two points from seven games. Should they lose to us on Saturday – and, really, they should; I’m firing up the VPN and creating an alias on a certain other website to truly wet the bed with some like-minded individuals if they don’t – they’ll have the proverbial two points from eight games, and we all know a manager who can help them with that…

For us, we’re one place better off than we were the last time Cardiff came calling four and a half years ago, which I’m going to use as a spurious link to the fact we’re also one place better off than Cardiff in the ever-important net-spend table for roughly the same period, Enic having diverted £18 million worth of cheese-room supplies towards our somehow competitive first team in that period, roughly £5 million more than Vincent Tan has needed to invest in order to return Cardiff to second from bottom in the Prem.

Just to show that pounds don’t necessarily mean progress, though, Arsenal and Everton spent £221m and £203m respectively across those five years. Man United, £400m. Saturday will see us kick-off on the same points as Arsenal, five points above United and six points above Everton. Although, of course, both Arsenal and United have won trophies in some of those seasons, and both United and Arsenal somehow finished above us in the league in one each of the last three seasons.

And, of course, for any non dumb-dumbs who might be reading, Man City, Chelsea and Liverpool have net-spends of £508m, £242m and £173m across those five years, and all go into Saturday’s round of matches better off than we are – Man City and Liverpool (who, of course, face-off at Anfield this weekend) four points to the good, and Chelsea, who face Saints, two points.

Meaning, should Dippers and City draw and ourselves and Chelsea win, (and should my maths not have screwed this up), we’ll end this weekend two points behind the three teams tied at the top of the Prem.

Other than 16/17, where we were a point behind City and Arsenal, that will be the closest we’ve been to the top spot after eight games in Poch’s time with us. Chelsea, who won the Prem that season, were three points off top spot, lurking behind us and Liverpool in fifth.

Which, given we still haven’t really performed at anything like our best in any competition so far this season, is pretty astounding. Because, points-wise, following last weekend’s trip to the Terriers, we’re still slightly improved on last season’s results – a whopping single point better off following the same number of games, and an even more awe-inspiring three points better off against the same opponents.

If we’re going to maintain these superior stats, though, nothing short of a win will do against Cardiff, as we beat Bournemouth 1-0 at home in this round of matches last season and scuppered Stoke – who finished second from bottom and are therefore the team I’m swapping results against Cardiff with – 5-1 at Wembley.

Irrespective of what we do against Cardiff, though, cups add context, and this time last season we’d beaten Barnsley one-nil, Borussia Dortmund three-one and APEOL three-nil. However, as weird as it sounds, none of those games left me feeling quite as optimistic as Wednesday’s defeat against Barca. The fact an out-of-sorts Spurs team without Verts, Eriksen and Alli – and, perhaps to a lesser extent, Dembele – could gift Barca that opener, concede that second, see Messi strike the same post twice within a matter of minutes, and yet still be one late blocking tackle away from a three-three draw after subbing on Sissoko says there’s still a lot about this Tottenham team that is very, very right.

If anything, there’s no reason why Poch can’t sell this to the squad as a glorious defeat and inspire them to go on a run the way Redknapp did in 2010 after Bale’s hat-trick in that 4-3 defeat at the San Siro, when, other than that obvious blip in the return at The Lane a fortnight later, ‘Arry inspired us to a one-one draw away to Everton, our customary two-nil defeat away to Manchester United, a four-two defeat away to Bolton, and a brave one-one draw at home to Sunderland.

Hmmmm. Or maybe, hopefully, not. Because, following next weekend’s interlull, it’s Pikey’s away and City at ‘home’, so if we’re going to continue to keep pace with the spenders, we’re going to have to cut out the stupid mistakes at the back and build on the attacking verve we sporadically displayed against Barca. I think we’ve got us in it to do it. But I’m a Flat Oeufer, me.

Barçelona indoors. COYFS!

Not much to say about this really except Fortune favours the Brave. Audrey est Facere etc etc

Will it be another wonderful Wembley night washed with tears of wonderment under the twinkling floodlights? Or will we be left sobbing into our scarves under the harsh glare of the spotlight?

My take is that Poch wants whoever is out there to play with confidence, flair and zest. Some say the system kills much of the individuality that many of these magnificently talented maestros have, but we’ve all seen us when it clicks…those moments, even whole games, where we’re irrepressible.

The manager has talked a good game. ‘We’re not victims’. ‘We are Tottenham and we believe we can win’.

Well, he needs to show that belief in how he sets us up. No stodgy 4-3-3 with Dier, Wanyama and Sissoko à la Watford or Liverpool.

We have to provide Kaneinho with some chances. Or if he’s keeping 2 defenders busy, exploit the space for Lucas, Sonny or Pamela. Winks has just begun to show again why he earned the plaudits 2 seasons ago: always looking for a forwards run or pass.

FFS, Poch, tell our defenders to defend. Give us a solid base from which to launch at them. I’m sick of our non-wing-backs pretending to be wingers and leaving gaps behind so that everyone is shitting themselves to lose the ball, even in the oppo’s final third.

Enjoy the game, Oeufers.

Injury Claim Specialists

Good morning my little Devilled Oeufs

It’s not hyperbole to say that we are an injury or two away from being pretty stretchered.

CURRENT INJURY LIST:

Vorm – whatevs, we got Gazza

Lloris – back on the 3rd?

Aurier – quad “not good”

Eriksen – abdominal, back on the 3rd hopefully

Vertonghen – tight hammy, should be ok

Dembélé – ‘knock’, should be ok

Dele – hamstring, no return date

OCTOBER FIXTURE LIST:

3rd October vs Barcelona

6th: October vs Cardiff

12th: Croatia vs England (other internationals are available)

15th: England vs Spain (see above)

20th vs West Ham

24th vs PSV

29th vs Citeh

With Kaneinho, Lamela, Wanyama, Winks all potentially a little fragile (based on only just clambering off the treatment table and/or recent injury records and/or possible fatigue), I have to say I’m beginning to get a little woeurried that we could find ourselves in a bit of hot water…unless you relish the idea of Sissoko becoming a nailed-on starter.

What I see is that this squad definitely still needs upgrading and improving. Why? Because as much as I can get excited about Skippety Skipp and Tori Amos, it is unreasonable to expect them to BE READY NOW if things go a little sideways from here. Poch will *have* to trust them, rather than using them when he actually feels the time is right.

I’m no doom merchant, but it’s not inconceivable that we are heading into the situation where buying nobody in the summer would look to have been a bit foolish.