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.

B-Rave

Much has been made of Poch’s use of the B-word. On 14th May, our manager had this to say before the transfer window had opened:

“I think Daniel is going to listen to me. But you know me and sometimes I have some crazy ideas,” said Pochettino.

“You need to be brave. In this type of situation, with a club with our unbelievable fans, being brave is the most important, and to take risks.

“I think it’s a moment the club needs to take risks and if possible work harder than the previous season to be competitive again.”

Then after the window had closed, Poch had this to say on the matter of bravity or bravedom or whatever the fack it’s called.

“I am responsible for what I told you [in May] or what I tell you, but I cannot be responsible for what you believe that I wanted to tell you,” he said.

“I don’t want to be sarcastic and ironic. What the club is doing, is showing, it is so brave.

“Building a new training ground, then finishing the lodge this summer was a massive investment. [So is] building a stadium that is nearly £1 billion — that is true, don’t believe £400 million.

“With Brexit it is worse because the cost is 30 percent more — that is a drama, I feel sorry for the English people — and then keeping the best players, for me [that] is to be brave.

“Maybe in the mind of everyone they will say ‘oh Tottenham didn’t sign anyone’, but to sign for the sake of signing? It is better to keep [what you have].

“It maybe looks bad [not to sign anyone] because of the perception and because of the history of football, but that is our decision — to keep the best players and to keep the squad. It’s a brave decision.”

We hear that we maybe had 1 or 2 targets and when it became clear that they weren’t available, we didn’t look any further. No more Sissokos. Talking of which, if he heads off to Fenerbache and Toby and Rosey to PSG or wherever, Poch is going to have to show some bravery in team selections at some point. Tori Amos in CM anyone? KWP as a LWB? I applaud the principle but what’s it going to end up looking like in the hour of need:

This?

Or This?

Trust your eyes.

 

Dele Alli is our best player so far this season. Our two wins may have been team efforts, squad efforts even, but Dele is the standout performer according to these lot:

https://twelve.football/analytics?analysisId=1cf82b4984754fd5a2e1c3f940e2a961&viewType=total

I’m afraid I’m still a bit too spaced out to be delving too far into these stats and exactly how they’re gathered, so perhaps some kind souls on here will have a look through and give an opinion as to whether they are really worth anything.

Unk was asking before whether there were any stat sites out there…after the OptaGate farce of yesteryear, I’m often more inclined to trust my eyes as to whether a player is contributing, and in what ways.

So what have yours been telling you? And do they tally with this lot of pseudo-science?

Shut yer gob, J****

It’s no coincidence that Judas and J**** have the same amount of letters:

https://www.express.co.uk/sport/football/1004833/Man-Utd-news-Mauricio-Pochettino-Tottenham-Jose-Mourinho-Jermaine-Jenas

Why do former Liverpool players who end up as pundits bend over backwards to support them, yet this no-mark former Spur is selling off our best manager in years to the opposition.

It’s emblamatic of the kind of distinctly average player we used to have at the club, and their mentality. Losers who won nothing of note yet seem to think their opinion on non-football tactics etc carry some weight.

Shut your fackin gob, J****. You don’t speak for Poch or have a direct line to him. You’re just trying to build a media profile, based on a below-par career, and now at the expense of the fine Club who were kind enough to give you a living.

You twat.

Perception problems

A workmanlike 3 points in a tricky opening fixture. The type of game would have either drawn, or even lost, from that position a few years back. A sign that the slow starts of previous seasons are a thing of the past. Cautious optimism that this settled squad will kick on again this year.

A lucky win that demonstrates how close we are to imploding. Knackered World Cup stars woefully short of form. A load of junk, bought from the bargain basements of Europe, filling in to no good effect. Indications that it’ll be a long, hard season scraping results from bottom feeders and getting eviscerated by our nearest rivals.

In truth, we’ll only find out what this season is likely to hold for us in about 5 months’ time. Whether you approach this oscillating between fury and pessimism is your business.

Our very own Harts has an excellent quote to sum it up. To paraphrase: ‘It’ll be what it’ll be and there’s sweet FA any of us can do about it.’

That is, unless you want to look like an utter twonk by staging a solo walkout on the 61st minute of the first game at the New White Hart Lane.

Ask yourself, “What would Harts do?”

NOTHING.

I’ve got nothing to add to the enormous amount of nothing being spouted in the papers and on social media.

Nothing has happened until it’s happened.  Nothing is happening until we’re told it was happening and only then when it’s announced as having happened.  In which case, it was something.

Just call me the anti-Jim White.

HornDoeug’s Invasion Bloeug

HD, Ron, UFP

Horndog writes:

“I still remember the feeling I had when Ronwol responded to me, via email, that he would be interested taking a trip to London, so that I could witness a Spurs match at White Hart Lane. Oh, The Lane.

My love, for Spurs, from afar had started decades ago but that is another story. This is about White Hart Lane, what it meant to me, what I saw, what I remember, what I will miss.

Most of you know the story. Ronnie and I met on the TBH blog, developed a friendship that evolved into on blog chatting, exchanging emails, real life phone conversations and trip planning. When the dust settled a trip was in the works for the two of us to travel to London on Nov 30, 2016 and hook up with UFP and a number of other bloggers to see Spurs vs. Swansea City on 12-2-16. It was going to happen, I was going to get to see a match at The Lane.

I digress. The reason I am writing this is because as our club gets set to move into our new home I find myself thinking more and more about our old home. I can’t recall exactly when I became aware of WHL because I am obviously not from the UK. As we could get match coverage I was always impressed by what appeared to be a very intimate stadium with rabid fans. Win or lose the place always seemed to be on fire. News accounts that were available that discussed home results always seemed to address the presence of WHL. When more consistent coverage evolved during our first CL years and subsequent campaigns I became intrigued with the impact our home stadium had on results. I knew it was old, that it been upgraded over the years and that the players seemed to love the place and had a close relationship with fans. I also knew that the field was extremely close to the stands.

Prior to the match due to the diligence and thoughtfulness of others Ronnie and I had been able to meet a number of blog regulars who I now call friends. Still Nil Nil, Fofty, DAVID, CaSpurs, SpurAndy, MysteriousStranger, Real Fan, Spurstacus, Bruxie, Spursy, Dillenberg, Poxy, McG, 61SpursNut, Smozzie and of course UFP. Every one of them top notch. Anyway on match day afternoon a bunch of us stumbled out of The Bull Pub and hopped  a train at Liverpool Station and headed for White Hart Lane Station.

Upon arrival at White Hart Lane Station we got off and ambled to The Antwerp Arms and it was packed to the rafters. Squeeze room only, too crowded for beer, not crowded enough for some of us too hit the loo however. We retreated from there and started hoofing to The Lane. The rising new stadium dominated the skyline as we approached and then a slight turn to the right and there it was, White Hart Lane. As we approached there was a pause as some had to pick up tickets at Stub Hub. I couldn’t take my eyes off of old girl. Brick and steel, painted blue and white, old, majestic, it smelled of football. Ronnie, UFP and I walked around the south end and started up the east side and got to the entrance where we could find our way to Section J. The entrance was small, we got thru security, handed our tickets and turned left and started climbing stairs. Climbing stairs was old school and I loved it. The stadium was old school but rustic and beautiful. We got to our seats and I was there, sitting in The Lane, looking around, transfixed, taking it all in. Almost breathless. I listened intently as Ronnie and UFP pointed to where they used to sit, growing up, coming to matches with their fathers. I swear I saw the ghosts of players past warming up. The seats were close, the aisles narrow, no leg room and I could have cared less. There was a huge chunk of the stadium gone, in the northwest corner, making room for the New Lane. That did not seem to matter and the place filled rapidly as kick off approached.

The match itself was brilliant, a 5-0 whitewashing of the Swans. Two for Kane, two from Eriksen and a screamer from Sonny. The south stand was amazing as we looked down on them, standing, singing and carrying on. I was stunned at the atmosphere. I have been to many sporting events in my lifetime, in the states, but never ever witnessed an atmosphere like that. All of fans sitting around us were incredibly knowledgeable and I tried to listen as much as possible to all of their ongoing critique of the match. It was simply amazing. At one point, in the second half, the fellow in front of me turned around and said “you Yanks don’t know a lot about football do you? “ I could only nod, smile and laugh at myself for obviously saying something of no consequence. He was a gent, of course. I didn’t want the match to end because it meant we would have to leave. The three of us hung out for a bit as the stadium emptied and just took it all in. Back to stairs, a brief stop to take care of business in a horse trough and out we went. We walked north and got to get a real close look at the new stadium. No question it was going to be a beauty but I couldn’t help but wonder if it would ever be as intimate and charming as the old girl. No it wouldn’t be as that could never be duplicated.

The three of us stopped at the Spurs merchandise store. UFP and I were in and out quickly and Ronnie shopped for what seemed like an eternity. As we waited patiently for Ronwol I couldn’t take my eyes off of The Lane. I tried to etch into my mind what I had seen and commit it to memory. Eventually UFP and I headed for The Antwerp to meet up with the gang, which we did, and a Ronnie eventually showed up. While we walked to the pub I kept looking back in the darkness trying to catch one last glimpse of the coolest place I had ever been to witness any kind of an event. I had done it, I had been able to witness the old girl in full regalia, see our team put on a display of force and enjoy the company of an amazing group of new friends. It just didn’t get any better than that cool December day.

The three of us committed that we would come back and see a match in the new stadium. That will be great. We will plan it and put it in motion. We will hopefully get to see as many of our new friends as possible and with some luck meet more. It will be memorable but, for me, it will never match the magnificence of the first trip. How could it!, after all I checked off a bucket list item. I got to see Spurs play at White Hart Lane.”

Horndog

 

Latest target?

You will have all seen the reports of us targeting ‘England starlet’ Lewis Cook for around the £30m mark.

To me, this points to 3 possible scenarios.

  1.  He’s our Davinson Sanchez of 2018.  The ITK that nobody even vaguely picked up on.  A target we’ve kept on the quiet.
  2. An alternative and/or smokescreen for the Grealish deal.  Some will say that they are not the same kind of player, Grealish more of a No. 10, Cook more of a No. 8 or No. 4…but they’re identical in terms of profile and homegrown status.
  3. It’s a load of cobblers made up by a Press who have caught on that we need some English players, know Poch likes young prospects and have searched around looking for people that fit the bill.

 

What do you reckon?

 

A Game of Two Halves

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As I was fast asleep for the 4.00am kick off, I’ve had to tap into the wealth of knowledge available to us on this ‘ere bloeug for analysis of the opening 45 mins. I am very reliably informed that we were utterly abject in the First Half, allowing Barça far too much space to run the game.

Our own Ron opined:

“Watch the first, I thought that it was the worst performance I’ve seen in living memory”

…and we’re all aware quite how many first halves that must actually mean.

Sniper put it concisely when he said:

“We look sluggish in transition from defending to attacking. No link from back to front. They shift from back to front in an instant with simple passing and movement.”

The consensus seems to have been that we just weren’t at the races/gave them too much time on the ball/didn’t press them in their half enough.

Cue the Second Half.

O

M

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Bear in mind I was watching this on my phone in bed, so I couldn’t tell Skipp from Son from N’Koudou BUT my point is that there was a fluidity to our play which was lovely to watch.

We moved the ball quickly forward. We moved the ball quickly sideways, in order to go quickly forwards. We moved the ball quickly backwards and quickly sideways, in order to go forwards…quickly.

We pressed them and harried them to the point the couldn’t get out of their own half…and when they did, we took the ball back off them again….and on the VERY few occasions that they got into our final third, we defended properly and in numbers. They never looked like scoring, even on the break, even when we had 7-8 players in their final third.

We totally overran them. This is what proper fitness levels look like and a few tweaks to personnel/formation/tactics.

Night and Day.

Here’s a little more detail:

https://www.football.london/tottenham-hotspur-fc/fixtures-results/barcelona-tottenham-penalty-shootout-live-14965243

3 *more* New Signings

I know some people get properly savage about this, and also that it’s early days, and also that it was only a pre-season friendly, but…

…based on the performances of Llorente , Lamela and Moura against Roma the other night it looks like we might have 3 refreshed, fit, system-savvy, ready-to-go players on our hands.

Just to preface this by saying that I have not watched the whole match back, so I’m going on highlights and reports written on here and various other media. Nevertheless, here’s a few thoughts on Handsome Fernando, It’s a-Moura and Coco.

I was very happy when we signed Llorente. In my mind, he was exactly the back-up we needed for Kane (based on us needing someone who could come on with 10-15 mins to play and give us a different threat against teams that were defending on the 6-yard box). I never saw him as a replacement in case of injury; he’s so far from a like-for-like that this didn’t make sense. Poch would need to get creative (Son as the false 9) in case of a long Kane lay-off because there is nobody with his ability who could slot straight into the system and produce the same quality – whilst being happy to sit on the bench for 95% of the season. So we were always looking at a reliable goal-scorer with a better aerial threat (one of the reasons for Jansen’s failure). Llorente ticked all the boxes. Problem was that Poch didn’t use him properly. We had a Back 4 with Tripps and Davies either positioned incorrectly or not having the requisite skill to provide the kind of crosses that Llorente thrives on. We saw what he can do with the right service the other night.

Lucas Moura. What more can be said that Ron hasn’t already covered? To me, this guy showed his class last season and I absolutely believe we will see him nicking a starting spot ahead of our other AMs more often than not this time round. Awareness, touch, ingenuity…a willingness to be brave and direct. The bloke can even score with his head for the love of Yahweh. Most expensive teenager back in the day and first choice in a successful PSG side until Neymar and MBappe came along. Plus I love his attitude…which brings me on to:

Coco. Finally seemingly over his injury problems, which must have taken real mental strength to overcome (not least if he’d seen some of the disgusting slurs and vitriol aimed at him), I believe we’ll see a stellar season from him after the faith that’s been shown by the Club in giving him a new 4-year deal. Just for clarity, I don’t just mean the Lamela who motors round the pitch pressing like a demon but being a little bit underwhelming in terms of creativity. I’m expecting to see the player we genuinely thought we were buying for that chunky (att the time) £30m.

So there it is. Yeah, I know Levy-apologist, jam-tomorrow, happy-clapping nonsense. But that’s why you come here, right?

Sniper’s debut

REASONS TO BE CHEERFUL (1-2-3)

There are three distinct Spurs era’s in the lifetime of this particular blog contributor. There’s before Glenn Hoddle, during Glenn Hoddle and after Glenn Hoddle…

Before Glenn Hoddle were the days of my Spurs awakening. You see, I learned my football from my Old Man, much the same as many kids. It was all about The General in those early days. (I was too young to understand the word “Maestro” so “The General” was what it was to be). Being taken to games at Craven Cottage clasping a wooden crate to stand on, lifted over the turnstiles for free ground entry, passed overhead from where the Old Man stood, half way up the side-line terraces and down to the front to peer over the fence. From there I could observe in close-up “The General” aka Johnny Haynes playing the game at a stroll, stroking the ball around with precision. This was football the way I learned it. A debrief in the car on the way was all about Haynes, the passing, the way football should be played.

But there was Greaves. The Old Man loved ‘Greavsie.’ I would settle in front of the telly to watch England and the mood was always optimistic when Greaves was playing. I took notice. He scored. Indeed, he scored whenever I watched him on telly. The Old Man reluctantly (supposedly) took me to see Greaves at WHL. He scored. He came with Spurs to Fulham. He scored. I was now Spurs. The Old Man didn’t seem to mind, besides, Spurs played nice football. That was the era of the sixties, when Spurs were the club that would buy the best available and played the kind of football even the Old Man enjoyed (even without the benefit of Johnny Haynes). England won the World Cup ’66. Bill Nicholson. Dave MacKay, FA Cup win ’67. Spurs started to rebuild late 60’s and signed Martin Chivers to partner Greaves up front instead of Gilly. The Old Man got us tickets for the ’71 League Cup Final against Villa. Chivers scored twice. We won! The inaugural UEFA Cup in ’72, we won. In ’73 we again won the League Cup again against Norwich, but duty called and instead, I was stood in the Holte End for Villa v Fulham. (Fulham won!) In ’74 we lost the UEFA Cup Final against Feyenord. Rioting ensued, history was made and a disillusioned and affected Bill Nicholson resigned early in the following season. The end of an era…

Then came Glenn Hoddle. As one genius departs, another arrives! I was a regular at The ‘Lane by now, alternating between attending Spurs and Fulham’s third and second division home games with the Old Man. I was gushing in my praise for Hoddle. What a player! I assured the Old Man that he was a better passer of the ball than Haynes. He scoffed at the suggestion. (Even Greaves said Haynes was the finest passer of the ball ever. This sentiment was echoed by Pele and several others, so I was clearly on a loser! My defence has always been based on the fact that these footballing greats never got to play with Hoddle.) I encourage the next generation, including my son; go to YouTube and watch Hoddle highlight reels. Note the other players making runs as soon as they see the ball going to Hoddle. Look at the balance, the touch, the passing. Watch some of the goals!

Commencement of the Hoddle era saw us relegated in ’77, straight back up in ’78 then win the FA Cup in ’81 and ’82, lose in the League Cup Final of ’82 and win the UEFA Cup in ’84 all of which coincided with Keith Burkinshaw’s tenure as manager between ’76 and ’84. Hoddle also led us to an FA Cup Final loss in ’87. The England national side during this era only used him 44 times. He was not used effectively nor consistently, much to my chagrin, and was forced to watch the ball sail over his head after being punted forward from the back. A complete waste of a player who should have had the team built around him, in my view. My interest in following England has never fully recovered from this period.

Following our Cup Final loss in ’87, a certain foreign coach with an eye for a decent player coaxed Hoddle to Monaco with the lure of European football, which was denied all English clubs following the Heysel Stadium disaster. The end of the Hoddle era was upon us…

After Glenn Hoddle, many failed attempts have been made to lead us to the Promised Land. Gasgcoigne arrived. In came Alan Sugar, Venables, Lineker, FA Cup win in ‘91, the introduction of the Premier League. Ginola, Klinnsman, Redknapp. Winning a League Cup in ’99 followed by losses in two other League Cup Finals in ’02 and ’09 interspersed with a win in ’08 are all we have to show for it. ENIC took over from Alan Sugar in ’01 and we got Levy. Spurs have developed an amazing training facility and youth academy and the club are about to complete the construction and opening of a new stadium. Disregarding any architectural brochure sketches depicting folk dressed in best bib and tucker at home games or advertised back of house facilities not entirely in keeping with what we are used to at a football stadium; this new home of Tottenham Hotspur FC is going to be simply magnificent! When full, the atmosphere within the stadium bowl will most likely be incredible.

We have qualified for European competitions every year since 2001, missing out only once in the 2009/10 season. We have a coach that statistically may be compared to Nicholson and Burkinshaw. I get the feeling that the after Hoddle era is about to end.

A new era is going to begin. The Pochettino era? The Tottenham Hotspur Stadium era? Maybe even the Grealish era?

All I can say is; I believe we have reasons to be cheerful 1-2-3 and now coming up….4!

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