Following last Sunday’s pleasant stroll all over the soul of poor old Sheffield United, it’s been nice to be distracted by the shenanigans off the pitch by the shenanigans on the pitch for a change.
It’s also been nice to see Jose off the gardening-leave payroll following his appointment at Roma.
And, while not exactly nice, it was somewhat reassuring to have it confirmed that even if Levy had bought Neymar and Mbappe for Pochettino instead of building the stadium (buying and paying these two has cost the French flops about one hundred million shy of a billion, and that will change if the rumours are true that Neymar is about to sign a £26 million a year contract to remain there), we probably still wouldn’t have won a pot worth polishing: Out of Europe and second in Ligue 1 Uber Eats, if Levy and Hitchin dally over the new man much longer, our old boss may well be available for free very shortly: PSG will probably be trying to tempt Tuchel back.
As for us, today’s going to be interesting for Mason as it’s his first PL away game in charge and his first test against a PL side who are closer to the middle of the table than the bottom, just two points off Arteta’s Arsenal in ignominious ninth (following their £76 million summer outlay on the likes of Gabriel and Partey).
Before last weekend’s loss to Brighton, Leeds had been enjoying some decent results: Home draws against Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester United in and around wins over Fulham, Sheffield United and, most impressive of all, Manchester City away.
That doesn’t really disguise the fact that Bielsa’s boys looked terrible against Mourinho’s Spurs back on 2nd January when we cantered merrily to a 3-0 win to end a winless streak of Premier League games that had seen us slip from top following our win over Arsenal in match-week 11 to seventh by the time Leeds rolled over so nicely four games later.
The final scoreline glosses over the fact that we only had 36.7% possession, but the fact we engineered 20 shots with what little time we had on the ball shouldn’t be glossed over either.
The win was also achieved with our less favored wing-back pairing of Doherty and Davies. So far, in all three of his games in charge, Levy has told Mason to go with Aurier and Reguilon. He’s also told him to stick with Alderweireld and Dier in central defence, and I can’t help thinking that if Jose had predominantly stuck with this pairing in the Premier League, he’d still be stalking the corridors of Hotspur Way today. As a pairing, they’re far from perfect, but they’re still by far the best two we have, and in games where lack of pace at the back was likely to hurt us, I’d have preferred adding one of Rodon or Sanchez as a third centre back over the option of disrupting that pair.
The fact Leicester got tonked by the Toon last night and a win would put us within four points of them with a visit to the King Power on the last day of the season suddenly adds some extra weight to this game. With home games against Wolves and Villa for us ahead of that last day fixture and United, Chelsea and the FA Cup Final for them, you really have to think that three wins might just be enough to set us up for the sort of final day Champions League play-off finale Leicester blew against Manchester United last season.
The problem with thinking like that is we’ve had numerous opportunities to take advantage of situations like this over the last three seasons, and haven’t taken a single one: Even in Pochettino’s final season, as the cushion of points we’d built up over the chasing pack through a really strong first half to the season got thinner and thinner, it was Arsenal dropping points that secured us fourth place, not us taking them.
Still, though, new manager, new Bale, Dele like a new signing, and our first trip to Elland Road since Villa-Boas took us there for a Fourth Round FA Cup match in January 2013 and got Neil Warnocked by a club who finished thirteenth in the Championship and crashed out 4-0 to Manchester City in the next round.
Before that, and you have to go back to 2003-04 for our last Premier League visit to Elland Road. Yet another season where Levy found himself in the position of having to fire his manager, Hoddle Levied after six games when his old club Southampton shredded us 1-3 at White Hart Lane.
Rumors that the then thirteen year old Ryan Mason was going to step in for the rest of the season proved to be false despite what a sauce close to The Hairy Hatespur Blog said, and David Pleat got the dreaded Levy nod instead. A Robbie Keane goal in the 56th minute was enough to win us the points and keep Leeds firmly in the relegation spots they never managed to haul themselves out of.
I can’t find any footage of that game on YouTube, but if anyone’s got nothing to do between now and kick-off, here is the whole game of our visit during the 1994/95 Klinsmann / Barmby / Sheringham season, the October match coming two fixtures before Sugar Levied Ardiles.
And here’s some footage from our game up there in 1981/82. There’s a comment underneath from a Spurs fan who was there that says: It was freezing that day. Leeds fans lobbing tomatoes at us with razor blades inside. Got back to the coach after the game, and heard the 3rd round draw for the Cup. Everyone cheered when we got the scum.
Here’s highlights of the FA Cup game he’s referring to:
And here’s highlights of our Fourth Round game at The Lane against Leeds that happy victory over the scum secured us:
And here’s hoping for another Tottenham victory today.
Come on you Spurs!