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.

A change is gonna come

FIFA has finally decided that the business (and I use the word specifically) of buying and then loaning out young players needs to be regulated. The principle is that players should be bought and then loaned out only if it aids their development.

Numbers have yet to be decided, but somewhere around the 6-8 maximum loans per Club is being talked about. This would mean Chelsea having to sell around 30+ of their current squad. Spurs currently have 2 senior players out on loan: CCV and Josh Onomah.

There has been plenty of sneering at the Academy, in terms of players breaking into and making it in the first team (as though this is a piss-easy affair). What we haven’t done at Hotspur Way is turn it into a talent abattoir, hoovering up the best young prospects and then never giving them a whiff of even an early-rounds Milk Cup substitute appearance.

As we saw in pre-season, Poch is actively trying to bring our Academy players through, to give them honest chances to show where they are in their progression and whether they will be able to take the steps up in class necessary to hold their own in the first XI. Skipp and Amos looked good and continue to play week in, week out in the U23s. KWP is only being held back by the fact that we’ve got a seldom injured Trippier and Aurier to call on (some would say he deserves the chance now).

What we haven’t done is be the slayer of youthful hope and expectation by bunging money at good players and then offsetting the wages by passing them on to the lower leagues. I’m happy about that.

https://www.skysports.com/football/news/11095/11508440/fifa-transfer-reform-will-regulate-loan-system

SYD’s DEBUT

DON’T PANIC! I’m here to help if you need me Poch!

There is nothing wrong with Poch’s tactics. As a matter of fact he should win everything with the formation of 3 at the back, 2 attacking wing backs, a DM and a AM and 3 up front is fantastic. This is his preferred formation I believe.

With a strong wall in the back providing unyielding defence and feeding to either of 3 directions, one of the MF’s, one of the wing backs and then in turn either a diagonal ball, a ball down the line or a ball through the middle for the deeper lying runner behind the oppositions back 3 or 4.

So what’s wrong with Poch’s tactics – NOTHING. NOTHING AT ALL.

Well how come our displays in the last two weeks (some might say longer which I can understand) have been ‘tres ordinaire’?

Here comes the rub –

To carry these tactics out you need the right player for the right position. For example – you might say our best back 3 is Toby, Sanchez and Vert’s in which case I would agree, so let’s agree these 3 should be capable to perform the first part of our tactic’s.

This is most important if you chose to play out of the back as opposed to hoofing it which is what Poch is demanding at this point.

They need to fulfill the next requirement of getting the ball to our wing backs or link with either the AM or DM.

Let’s look at the qualities of a good wing back – I would suggest the following certainly come in handy:

Positioning

Calmness on the ball

Speed

Ability to control the ball and pass

Ability to cross accurately

Ability to get back

Well let’s look at our so called WB’s and see who has all of these – In my opinion only Trippier comes close. Davies is terrible and who knows if the old Rose will return. The only trouble with Trips is he is not very good at defending when required. Aurier is a hit and miss and fringe players don’t rate at the moment.

Now let’s look at the AM’s and DM’s. What qualities do they need:

Positioning

Calmness on the ball

Ability to pass

Ability to read the game

In our squad, the only real AM is Ericksen (who can either player AM or more up front but I believe this is where Poch wants him – just behind the front 3). Who else fits the bill? (fringe players are not there yet).

In the DM’s department, we have a plethora but I would suggest only the ageing Mousa plays this role with any aplomb and even he is erratic. Dier is out of position, terrible at passing and also at defending set pieces and seems to be regressing. Winks is not coming on like we hoped. Wanyama could provide hope but injury is slowing down his progress and Sissoko has a good engine but little else and that’s even if you place him in this category.

Again, none of the fringe players fit the bill – yet.

Playing 3 up front should work very well with this formation behind them ‘IF’ the players behind are decent at their individual roles.

I think in Sonny, Lucas, Lamela, Dele and Kane we have quality in abundance.

In theory – a terrific formation.

It may take time but we need to build 2 or 3 players each window to get where Poch’s tactics and formation show quality. We need fast, ball controlling, calm wing backs. We need another AM to back up Ericksen and we certainly need much better quality in the MF.

In summary (and thanks for reading if you got this far), we are reasonably well off at the back and at the front, however almost everything else in the middle of the sandwich needs more seasoning.

We simply do not have the quality to carry out Poch’s instructions.

Here is my one hope – ‘Juan Foyth’ to play in front of the back 3 (something to consider anyway).

Inter away

I don’t do predictions.  I’ve got a weird *It’ll jinx us* thing if I say we’re going to win…and I can’t bring myself to say we’re going to lose, or even draw.

As per all my rantings about the Watford and Liverpool games, I just want to see us pick it up A LOT.  This possession-based filopastry is killing our attacking intent.  What I’m witnessing over and again is that when we have possession in our half or the first 10m of the oppo’s half, all our Full backs, AMs and Kaneinho are in position, waiting for the ball to come forward or wide.  I think we’re meant to play it into feet and then have runners going past the ball to receive a clever flick or one-two but, more often than not, there’s nobody running past and/or the flick gets cut out.

What I see other teams do is some slick inter-passing at pace…cutting through midfields and defences.  We’re like Subbuteo players in comparison.

So are we going to be experimental and have our way with Inter, or are they going to royally……it doesn’t bear thinking about.

Team to play Inter: Vorm, Aurier, Sanchez, Vertonghen, Davies, Dier, Dembele, Lamela, Eriksen, Son, Kane

Subs: Gazzaniga, Rose, Walker-Peters, Wanyama, Winks, Lucas, Llorente

The trouble with OneOfOurOwn

Just seen this visual graph of HK10’s Premier League output before and after his injury at the end of last season. The work is by a certain @EFaroh (https://twitter.com/efaroh/status/1038879813157699584?s=21) on The Twitter. He admits himself that the long block between May and July which indicates the off season slightly throws the visual impact of the graph.

What it does seem to demonstrate is that his numbers have measurably changed since the injury in March. This does not even take into consideration any stats during the World Cup.

Our Harry scored a much vaunted 6 goals at Russia 2018, with an impressive 66.67% conversion rate…better than any other striker including MBappe at 60%. Only problem is, that 3 of Kane’s goals came from the penalty spot, which skews his ‘outfield’ data a bit.

There’s no doubt that over time Harry is up there with the very best. His stats are better that Ronaldo’s, for example, over the last 4 seasons, on several metrics:

All the same, as I regularly say, some stats can mask the realities of what you can see if you’re watching the games with your own eyes 👀.

It’s pretty clear that Kaneinho has not been firing on all cylinders despite confounding partisan critics with the way he keeps breaking records, winning awards (WC Golden Boot) and exorcising hoodoos (He does score in August!).

Historically, he’s been the sort of player who’s played himself back into form. Perhaps he’s been asked to change his game a little this term to work with Moura? Or to give defences who’ve had 4 PL seasons to work out a strategy for him/us?

To me, he looks a bit knackered. Or crocked. Hasn’t got the same snap about him. Hope I’m wrong.

danspur’s secret debut blog

Why it wasn’t always Tottenham for me

Just in case you’re not all bored enough by the interlull, I thought I’d bore you with how I came to not be a Tottenham supporter until I was fourteen years old.

Like most things, it wasn’t my fault: At the start of the 1976-1977 season my fourteen-year-old brother sat me down and informed me that, having just turned six, I was now old enough to choose a football team to support for the rest of my life.

Despite what was about to take place, I didn’t think this was going to be a difficult decision for me: I already knew I wanted to be a Tottenham fan. My brother was a Tottenham fan, after all, and so were the very cool family next door.

Plus, being six, I loved the name Hotspur, so even though we didn’t live anywhere near N17, I didn’t need to choose. I was already Spurs, me.

My brother had other ideas, though: I was already sharing (and therefore destroying) the cherished privacy of his own bedroom, running around like a demented little-me in all of his hand-me-down clothes, mucking around with all the toys he hadn’t quite finished mucking around with himself, and, even worse, starting to loiter on the fringes of everything he did with his mates.

I wasn’t ruining another element of his life by being a Tottenham fan as well.

“You can choose any team you like,” he said, producing one of those football league ladders you used to get in magazines like Shoot at the start of every season. “Except Arsenal or Spurs. I’m Spurs. And I’m not having an effing Gooner sharing my bedroom. You disgust me enough as it is.”

There being an eight-year age gap between us, and my brother always being prone to massive fits of rage if I didn’t do whatever he told me, I didn’t have much choice in this. Not having a clue who else to support, though, I couldn’t decide, so my brother made me read every team-name on the Shoot league ladder out-loud, which, at that time in my life – where I hadn’t completely mastered reading out-loud without spraying spit everywhere – proved an almost impossible task.

Finally, though, with my brother correcting every mispronunciation and reinforcing every syllable by administering a friendly little Chinese burn to either one of my wrists, I reached the last but one name on the ladder:

West Brom – (phlegm) – wich… West Brom – (phlegm) – wich… West Brom – (phlegm) – wich Albion.

And that was how my brother decided I was to be a West Brom fan. Because I couldn’t pronounce Bromwich without spraying massive volumes of spit everywhere.

I was always a Spurs fan at heart, though. The first football match I can clearly remember watching highlights of on TV was our 9-0 demolition of Bristol Rovers (back in the day when Division Two matches were sometimes featured prominently alongside Division One games on Match of the Day). I can also remember, as a seven-year-old, listening to match-commentary on a crackly old radio and then running around our back-garden with my brother and our next-door neighbours celebrating the fact we had secured promotion back to the First Division by drawing at The Dell. Surely acting on some sort of natural instinct every non-Gooner shares, I joyously celebrated Arsenal losing two FA cup finals and a European Cup Winners’ Cup final in the late seventies, and, of course, our own FA and EUFA cup triumphs of the early eighties. Also, when I was about twelve, our next-door-neighbour lent me a Jimmy Greaves autobiography (This One’s On Me), and I read that from cover to cover about five times, mesmerised by Jimmy’s sense of awe at the great double-winning side he joined, and his obvious reverence for Bill Nicholson, Dave Mackay, the Glory, Glory Nights at The Lane, the genius and tragedy of John White…

Although I always had to be shifty about it with my brother (who was still very territorial about his right to be the only Spurs fan in the house) I had properly fallen in love with the glorious Spurs by the time I was thirteen, and never paid anything more than lip-service towards my enforced support for West Brom.

Which was ironic, given I could now say their name without spraying spit everywhere.

The situation finally came to a head in late 1984, when I was fourteen. At my dad’s insistence, my brother, then in his early twenties but still living at home, had been taking me with him to games at White Hart Lane since the start of the 84-85 season. Given the age-gap between us and the fact we had virtually nothing in common, the two-hour-plus train and tube journey to and from the ground could be tortuous, but, the more often we went, the more the mutual distrust between us seemed to thaw, which had probably been my dad’s hope all along: Even so, despite my increasing whining about the situation, my brother still insisted I wasn’t anywhere near cool enough to be allowed to support his beloved Spurs.

I can’t remember how many games we’d been to by the time our home game against West Brom came around in early November, but more than enough for me to stand there on the terracing directly beneath The Shelf and realise I knew the name of every single Spurs player by sight but couldn’t name a single West Brom player lining up against us.

That was the day I finally stood up to the tyranny of my brother and told him – and, since then, anyone else who’s ever been bothered to ask – I don’t care what you say; I’m Spurs, me.

You’re still a little twat, though, my brother snapped back, and then got back to belting out Come On You Spurs… a song I finally felt able to legitimately join in with myself.

And, obviously, bloody West Brom turned us over 3-2 that afternoon, the first time my brother and I ever saw us lose in the flesh, and yet another thing he’s always blamed me for since.

Whose Bad?

I’d be interested to hear others’ opinions on yesterday after a night’s sleep.

I came to the game at about 35 mins in and, scanning the blog, saw lots of comments about how we were spreading the ball about well, nice flow etc etc. The first half seemed to peter out a little and if anything Watford looked to be gaining a little energy.

Out we came for the second and, although predominantly on top, we didn’t really look like we were in full control…and this appeared to get even worse after we scored. Watford played a great spoiling game, scrapping for (and winning) everything. Suddenly we looked soft as a freshly laid turd. Our defending at the set pieces was unforgivable. Deeney unmarked for the first. No clear call for the second. Not good enough. Not by a long chalk.

Well before this game, the idea of Dembele as a solitary DM with a Back 3 had been discussed on this blog. The idea was that it could make us that bit more expansive or creative (Taff disagrees as we’re all aware) Dier does what he does so well but it’s often so completely unfussy that I find it a touch stifling. All the more so when it’s him and Dembele/Sissoko (!) next to each other. Seems it worked for 30 mins but then he dropped off and we lost control and bite in the middle there. It’s pretty clear now that Dembele can function at a great level for <30 mins to add control. He’s a bench player now.

So Poch didn’t rectify that developing deteriorating situation and it cost us.

On the other hand, too many others didn’t show up either. Watford fought hard to defend, but we should have scored 2 more and definitely not conceded more than 1.

We move on, but will we learn? It’s rather early in the season to have used up the ‘It was just an off-day’ card. Doesn’t leave us much room for manoeuvre when tired legs kick in after a big CL night.

On the plus side, nice to see Winks back and looking sharp, confident and like he wanted to play. I hope as he believes in his ankle more, he’ll begin to risk the 20-40 yard forward balls that made him look like he could be a starter for us. We all lose when he plays safe.

Finally, 2 points better off than at this point last season. So shoot me.

Match Day

No doubt plenty of you will have been at this game, ferrets in your overcoats, drinking real ale, adorned with flat caps, scarves and rattles.

Sadly, I was in my early teens and sniffing solvents in Churchyards was more appealing to me at the time than most things, including football. No more though.

These days, I prefer the crack of dawn and waking up dreaming of how we could be top of the League by the end of today, if we win by 3 clear goals.

Imagine that. Tottenham Hotspur FC, perennial slow starters who historically have virtually surrendered the league title by the time September is done, have actually started like they mean pwopa business this season. Win 0-3 today lads and the Premier League Cup is in our hands!

In a winning season, every team has a wobble (City last season not so much). We seem to have started each of our CL qualifying seasons under Poch with poor draws and losses during the first quarter or third of the campaign followed by a fantastic run of form throughout the winter that has propelled us to 2nd or 3rd place, but still some way short of actually winning the blimmin’ thing.

We all know the reasons why: Lesta’s dubious fairytale; Chelski’s season out of Europe; Citeh’s 100 point haul. On paper, this season should be even more difficult. Liverpooh strengthened by the pricey keeper with the fancy footwork; Citeh imperious with a winning mentality; Chelski and Ars53nal with renewed energy, new managers and a good pre-season; Yanited with Mourin…oh, wait that doesn’t quite work.

So what about poor old Spurs who DIDN’T SIGN ANYONE?

What we have got is a bunch of fierce, loyal, battle-hardened soldiers. We’ve got a load of players coming back from the World Cup, buzzing at having gone deep into the competition (if not a little disappointed int the Belgian lads’ case). We’ve got familiarity, which in our case seems to breed respect. And we’ve got Lucas Moura, who was bought with this season in mind, whatever anyone says about his ‘slow start’.

Citeh will be fully focussed on the CL, the Holy Grail for them. I can see that affecting their PL results, and with a few slip-ups that veneer of camaraderie could begin to slip away. We’ve seen with Chelski what a bunch of expensive superstars can look like when they’re not playing like a team. Not saying anything as drastic will happen to Citeh, but they could drop off.

As Noel Gallagher beautifully put it: “Liverpool fans are deluded…it’s great watching the meltdowns around about March…”. Again, they have a big shot at the title this year, but will their doubts creep in again when they get close to the summit? They’ve almost become as practised as us at not winning stuff in recent years.

Chelski and the Arse are not going to enjoy those long trips on Thursdays at all. Will the new manager bounce carry either of these far enough? Sarri, maybe. Dick? Not for me fanks…not that there’s anything wrong with it.

In summary, I’m saying we’ve got a good shot at it this year, even if it might look as though it could be tougher than last time out.

But first, let’s do Elton’s lot.

COYS!

ENIC OUT BLAH BLAH

An introductory guest bloeug by Elyid aka El Cid

ENIC OUT BLAH BLAH BLAH

As a way of introduction to the blog.

I have been a supporter of the chicken badge for over 50 years now, it hasn’t always been easy but maybe that is what being a supporter is, enjoying the emotions of the roller coaster ride. I think right now is as good a time for our club as I can remember, we have a great manager who has put together an exciting team, they are giving us something to cheer and something to be proud of but most of all they are giving us a real belief that probably hasn’t been there for a long time.

To win trophies would of course make the whole experience of being a Spurs supporter even more special but if we do not lift a trophy this year I will still love our club next year.

I have long ago accepted that winning in any major sport has just as much to do with the opposition as it has to do with what our team is doing, that may sound strikingly obvious to most but it does seem to bypass the thoughts of many of the ENIC out brigade. For example, Man City have riches beyond our wildest dreams, as a result they have one of the most successful managers of the modern era. Pep is effectively playing fantasy football and has amassed a squad of world class, highly talented individuals, who, on their day and when playing as a team are capable of beating anyone. Should they play to their full potential in every game it is not inconceivable that they would win everything, a bit like Barcelona in their pomp. We, IMO, are as good as any other team in the chasing pack so were they to slip up at any time then we have as good a chance as anyone else of taking advantage.

That for me is how modern sport works, Formula One is the same, should evrything go to plan on the day, either Mercedes or Ferrari will win, everyone else on the grid is simply waiting and hoping that they will slip up. The direct correlation between extreme wealth and sporting success may be distasteful but it is reality.

The anti ENIC brigade like nothing more than to trawl the internet looking for any negative information on any subject that might open another door to heap yet more vulgar critisism upon our owners and further their own cause to insist on the removal of ENIC. Personally I know precious little regarding the decision makers that run our club but then who really does know? We can all respond to the latest rumours and the oh so reliable ITK but the fact is that this is the way most big businesses operate, behind closed doors. What I do know is that they put their money where their mouth is at the appropriate time and they now own the club, like it or loathe it that is how it is. If the Notspurs of this world truly are sooo much smarter than our current owners then how is it that Joe owns the club and not them? Slightly faceciuos I know but he who pays the piper etc etc.

These are indeed interesting times for the Notspurs, the what if’s are looking dangerously ominous. What if in the same year ENIC provide the club with one of the best stadiums in Europe we actually lift a trophy and what if they manage to do this without spending the hundreds of millions that we supposedly needed to do in order to simply keep up? Where does that leave the Notspurs?

I hope every year that we will win something, I also hope each year that we qualify for the CL as this is also a modern measure of success but most of all at this time I hope that we keep this manager and that he in turn continues to steer this great club in the right direction because if he does then surely we can all begin to believe… can’t we?

John P’s CL Bloeug

A debut from John P:

“Cast your minds back to 2010/11, In that CL draw we were in Pot 3, and drew the top-ranked side and reigning champs from Pot 1, Inter Milan. As if that were not bad enough, we also drew the top-ranked team from Pot 2: Werder Bremen. Some relief was obtained when we managed to also get Twente, In spite of the tough draw, we went on to win the group.

Our next attempt was 2016/17. The draw looked a lot kinder to us. Dortmund? Well we knew they were one of the top sides in Europe, but we also had Monaco, who Lamela had personally buried the previous season in the EL, and CSKA. Surely second place looked good! But no! We were relegated to the EL and then dumped out of that comp by Genk.

The following year, it was not so much a draw, as an invitation to a crucifixion. RM, top seeds and reigning champs, as well as Dortmund again. Oh well! Apoel should at least give us an entry into the EL again. But somehow, we failed to follow the script, and not only won our group but had the most points of any team from group games including 10 pts from BD and RM combined.

And so we turn to this years draw. Both Barca and Inter are the top rated sides from their pots with the blow only being softened by drawing PSV.

It may be that there is insufficient evidence to point to any real pattern, but i have noticed that the tougher the draw we get, the better we perform. Conversely, an easy draw tends to make fools of us.

Maybe this was the best possible draw for us?”

Unapologetic gush

Is winning one solitary piece of silverware all it will take to placate the ENIC out brigade?

Everyone wants us to start winning pots. Some think this is the ONLY THING THAT MATTERS. Others believe it is part of a bigger picture in enjoying supporting a club. Do most Chelski and Yanited supporters seem contented to you? They’ve won recently yet moan constantly. It’s never enough. The buzz subsides and they’re left complaining about the manager, the players, the board.

I value what is being built with Poch. Did you see us at the end of that game? Hugo’s hug. Toby’s tweet. Rose’s words. Despite the bumps, this unity is really special. And progress is being made, piece by piece. Win at OT (again): ✔️

I know we’ve had some barren years under ENIC; they’ve taken an age to get us here whilst we’ve had to watch our rivals win and endure the ‘no trophies’ taunts all the while. But these days, those words hardly register because of how proud I am to be Spurs.

We are becoming the envy of the football world, day by day. Our entire XI the other night cost less than Pogba ffs. We’re building a winning team, mentality and stadium brick by brick. We will get there, and soon.

I’m enjoying the ride, with all the ups and downs. COYS! TTID.

Oh when the Spurs, go marching in

Feels like we’re under siege, and a lot of it’s of our own making. The game on Monday begins to take on even more importance. The possibility is that this side could be forged into even more of a steely outfit under the lights at OT.

Fergie used to foster great team spirit with his “they’ve all got it in for us” schtick. Poch needs to use everything that’s gone on with our Club being under attack on stadium delays, stadium leaks, Hugo, CE’s contract talks ‘stalling’, even Durham’s trolling of Dele and get the performance that ends in a win.

Whilst a loss or draw would be able to be spun as understandable, given all the distractions, a win allows us to push all of this shit back on to our detractors…and there’ll be plenty of talk of us ‘coming of age’, being ‘a serious threat’ etc etc.

In the grander scheme of things the result may not matter either way, but in the short term this one has just taken on ‘season-defining’ status.