Saturday, 28 February 2009

From the horses mouth: Spurs players are thick

Anyone catch that paragon of comedy genius Soccer AM this morning? There's a segment on it called Team Mates that has questions posed to a player or players from the same club asking them who the club joker is, the biggest moaner, most skilful etc etc.

Darren Bent and Michael Dawson answered the questions today, which included 'Chimbonda' when both were asked to inform us of the 'Worst trainer' at the club. He has apparently got worse than he was prior to his move to Sunderland. Lovely stuff. He's also the biggest cock at the club. No need to stand next to him in the shower to know that.

Robbie Keane is the biggest moaner believe it or not. Palacios the club hard man (who tackles as hard in training as he does in a proper match) and Adel the most skilful. Woody is the club joker, which is surprising because I've always found that Zokora in the middle of the park makes me laugh till my sides split.

The most telling moment however came when the question "Who is the most intelligent?" was asked. Darren Bent responded with the gem:

"We're a little bit of a thick team so I can't think of too many people that are intelligent!"

And on that bombshell.......

Friday, 27 February 2009

Encore? Not likely - Phantom UEFA dream is over

I didn't watch the game on Thursday evening. Instead, I found myself sat at Her Majesty's Theatre in row B (there is no row A by the way, the orchestra is sandwiched between us and the stage). The Phantom of the Opera (two and a half hours including the interval) was endured by my good self and my partner thanks largely to, well me, after purchasing tickets for her as a present at Xmas. I didn't consider checking the fixture list prior to the booking. A lapse that didn't bother me as much as I would have hoped.

As I watched the tragic tale of the opera ghost unfold I couldn't help draw parallels between his existence and Tottenham's.

The Phantom is a genius composer. A magician, who hides behind a white mask.
Spurs have had their moments of genius. And a magician or two. But we too are always hiding. Behind past glories.

I'm pushing it a little with this parallel angle, aren't I? Work with me. I'm low on creative juice at the minute.

In Act II there's a jolly old sing-a-long by the name of Masquerade.

Masquerade! Hide your face, so the world will never find you!

I half expected David Bentley to swan across the stage floor with a can of Red Bull in his hand.

The Phantom himself is a grim, depressive and manic nut-job, which best describes most of our fans. I'm joking guys, just joking. Apart from you-lot-in-the-you-know-what stand. You guys kill me.

His (the Phantom) erraticness does interestingly enough have some rather Jenasesque qualities (our very own phantom of the Lane), especially some of the shrugs and head in hand holding towards the end of the show. I almost stood up and yelled 'believe in yourself lad', but thankfully this played out only in my head.

One of the set-pieces during the show involved a chandelier that comes crashing down to earth. A nice visual analogy for our hopes and ambitions which sit high up in the rafters, illuminating, before sabotage makes gravity's life easy. Waiting for it to be restored it to its original grandeur has been the bane of our lives.

No phone reception inside the theatre so it wasn't until the conclusion of Act II and a swift exit outside into the cold London night that I got the chance to browse to the final scores on my trusted Nokia.

1-1 FT. Not the most exciting scoreline.

Wasn't disappointed because my expectations were never high. But this morning, having now regained a rather nifty 8Mb connection at my new residence, I had a gander at one or two write-up's and from the sounds of it the cello-taped together side fielded by our chief in command came pretty close to causing an upset.

Gio scored a belter. O'Hara industrious. Obika a rugged force up-front. Apparently Gilberto was very good (although I'll need more than 5 people to confirm this before I believe it). Huddlestone spaying balls about. Bale a revelation in midfield. The referee a git all over the field. The man with the whistle disallowing a penalty that would have surely inspired the young side to push on.

But you know this already, as you've seen the game/highlights whilst as I'm still humming The Music of the Night and skipping around the flat on my toes.

However other reports suggest that the performance was far from great. Huddlestone, pedestrian. Bale not looking out of place alongside academy players. Chimbonda, a bit rubbish. All a bit low key apparently.

So was the game worth the effort for the fans who did attend? Please do share your insight. The Sun seemed to like our performance, so who am I to question their integrity? Rhetorical, don't answer.

I'm still relatively busy with unpacking boxes and at the minute patiently waiting for the Sky engineer to come round and do his thing, so I'm still part-time blogging. Sunday is now in everyone's mind and I'm looking forward to dislocating myself from the shoulder of league football as we (hope) to do our bestest against the Man Utd reserves with special guest appearances from a few superstar first teamers, I'm sure . I'll pop it back in after the final whistle. Hopefully won't be too painful.

Fingers crossed Spurs can remove their mask to reveal no disfigurement. Just a pure unmarked face of beauty. What I mean is, I hope we turn up, turn it on and dick 'em. A bit like last time out against Chelsea. No disappearing into nothingness thank you very much.

Berbatov is not in the squad for the final. But Vidic, Ferdinand, Nani, Ronaldo, Giggs, Carrick, Scholes, Tevez and Rooney all are. Along with one or two other first team players.

No Keane or Wilson for us and Frazier Campbell can't play due to the loan agreement. Bet you're gutted about that last one. Darren Bent is available and in the squad. If he scores the winner, I'll stick him in my good books until the next league game where, believe me, I'll go back to slating him. The good for nothing no spark no creative juice one dimensional Raziak clone. I hate you Darren ya hear me? I hate you and your self-satisfying goal ratio!

Predictions? It's a one off, so the game is likely to be far closer than most might expect. Then again, depends on the team Fergie starts with and how our lot react to it. We do love these types of occasions. Players find it more comfortable to raise their game and perform in a Cup final than let's say a six-pointer at the depths of the Premier League.

So COYS, up the Spurs, let's do it again etc etc. Write us up another glorious page for the next revision of the Opus.

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Spurs overhull City to claim Cup final victory

Woodgate header, 2-1, winning goal. We've been here before haven't we? No fireworks at the final whistle this time round, but the importance of claiming the three points practically pushes this result into open bus parade territory.

Spurs have been to Hull and back. No glory football here. First half performance was gash, only highlight a rather deliciously curled opening goal from Lennon who had all the time in the world to blast it in, but preferred instead to add a little gloss to proceedings and show off some of that end product he has plucked from the frustrating realm of eternal potential. He remains our one bright spark in the dark gloomy basement that the past year has been. Hull's equaliser was assisted by Calamity Cudicini (Gomes must be jealous) who fumbled the ball, allowing for an easy slot to make it 1 a piece.

Dodgy at set pieces, less than confident goal-keeping. Here we go again, right? No, wrong. Rather than losing the game in the final moments, Woody planted his head on the ball to give us one of those rare moments. An away win. Fantasy football. School boys own stuff. Jumpers for goalposts.

Thoughts and prayers for Hull City who haven't won for 10 league games. Their dizzying holiday towards the top of the table nothing more than a distant memory. They can now consider themselves invited to the relegation party down at the bottom.

Thankfully as Hull walk through the front door with a bottle of cheap wine, we've managed to escape from the prank that saw us locked in the downstairs toilet to standing a little easier in the kitchen, which everyone knows is the best place to be at a party....even a party as depressing as this one. We need to focus now and try to flirt with the attractive lass giving us the eye. She's leaning up against the middle of the table, showing us a bit of leg. Boy would we like to climb up that leg. She's no babe, not like some of those top class European birds at the party up the road, but she'll do. Beggars can't be choosers. Aim to impress her with a little charm and slick moves and we'll be out the front door, into a taxi, and back at hers for a coffee leaving this party of losers behind. Now and again, it's ok to play ugly if it gets the right result.

We've now got the interference of the second leg of the UEFA Cup game on Thursday to look forward to. Which is a bit like going on a blind date and finding out your 'date' at the bar with the bow in her dress is your sister. It's inconvenient.

To be fair to Harry, it is a tad ludicrous the way the fixture list scoffs at us. And it's a crying shame the UEFA Cup has been relegated to insignificance thanks to our Premiership predicament. There's been much talk of how Harry has disgraced this clubs great traditions in Europe and how ironic it is that Spurs strive to get into Europe, something taken very seriously a couple of seasons back, to complete dismissiveness this term. Fact is, we have been crap all season long and attempting to win the UEFA Cup when our Prem survival is yet to be guaranteed is arrogance we can not afford. Arrogance probably too strong of a word there. What I mean is, we have by default devalued everything other than the league games thanks to our lack of consistency and form so pretending we can afford to play full strength teams in games that are not important in the grand scheme of things is misplaced. We could play a strong side and win, and take that confidence forward. Its agreeable logic, but the history of this season has served up one certainty: Spurs hardly ever turn up. I'd rather go out of the UEFA Cup, not lose any players to injury, and try to salvage some pride in the league.

I expect another reserve/youth team combo and a sharp exit out of the competition, but this being Spurs, I wouldn't be surprised if the complete opposite happened. Just for larks.

Sunday is now the new priority for the remaining week with Hull decimated. Utd, who we all hope get dicked by Inter this evening, will not be fielding a super-strength line-up at Wembley if they are a goal or two down by the final whistle tonight. Their second leg game at OT is obviously always going to be far more important than the Milk Cup. So amazingly, form aside, we do have a lickle chance of surprising Fergie on Sunday. Although their reserves are not going to be push-overs. And even with the Inter game sandwiching the Cup final, I still expect to see a superstar or two grace the field against us.

I'll be praying for some joy in what has been a joyless season. Fireworks in our favour please. Could even handle an Orish jig or two.

I'm still 'offline' and without internet access and will be travelling on Wednesday/Thursday so will resurface at some point on Friday.

Monday, 23 February 2009

Spurs need a bit of Viagra

I'm still 'Out of the Office'. Posting via a mobile phone.

Either this has worked and technology deserves a warm hug of affection or it hasn't and this submission has been lost somewhere in cyberspace, forever drifting like the Littlest Hobo, never quite finding a home. You'll probably be hoping for the latter.

No such luck for you then.

Talking of home, I've spent the past three days moving residence (I have a huge collection of Levy effigies) and will be without a broadband connection until Friday as long as the BT engineer turns up and my Simultaneous Provide goes according to plan.

I'm also getting Sky installed, which is something I haven't had for a year due to my last property sitting in front of very tall and very annoying trees meaning reception was non-existent. I've been streaming football and going to the pub in its absence and tbh it's been a refreshing sabbatical not to watch Richard Keyes and Jamie Redknapp fabricate controversy and hype. However, I've always enjoyed the pantomime and will be glad for the coverage simply because I've grown tired of delayed coverage on the streams. That and Chinese John Motson styled commentary is far too excitable for my likening.

Football on ITV is also a joke and I as much as I don't actually mind the Beeb, I find myself screaming abuse at Adrian Chiles and his yo-yo voice which annoyingly increases and decreases in volume. Adrian, word of advice, whispering doesn't go down too well on television. Speak up, stick a bit of oomph into it man. Having him host Match of the Day with those two paragons of personality, Lee Dixon and the caveman, must surely be proof of the BBC experimenting in subliminal mind control. How else do you manage to get through it without falling into a coma?

So normal blogging service to be resumed over the weekend. Although will be out on Sunday for the best part of it. Got a ticket for a show. Will also be making some changes, not directly with this blog but more so with my online activity. I've decided for various reasons to exile myself from Its a sacrifice for the greater good and one that will benefit both parties. I've become far too accustomed to the culture of posting there to the point where its become too much of an influence on my blogging over here.

As for little old Tottenham, results over the weekend went in our favour and a win tonight away to Hull will see a much needed gap between us and the free fallers below appear.

Not read any papers or websites, so don't know what Redknapp has been telling the press this week - although I'd hazard a guess it has something to do with the congested fixture list. All I know is, we should have all our first-teamers back and ready for action. If the UEFA Cup cock-up (down) was limp, then this evening must be nothing more than rock hard for the full 90 minutes. No more last minute premature accidents which have embarrassed us on the past four Prem occasions away from the Lane thank you very much.

I've been posting articles best described at 'Battle Cries' for the best part of the season, proclaiming the importance of the game and how imperative it is to claim all points. I'm now quite bored of doing this because we always seem to falter and fail. So I'm not going to say anything more on the subject. It's now over to Tottenham to do the talking on the pitch.

Friday, 20 February 2009

Glory Glory for Tottenham: Flashback to Carling Cup win

I'm about to disappear on a hiatus of sorts. I'll sporadically post when I can but the next week or so you'll have to make do with Harry and loads of action. I'm sure you'll survive without my inane rants. But if you have become accustomed to them and need a fix to get you by, the boys and girls over at the hellmouth will help you with your addiction. You'll find them to be of a special type of crazy there. Otherwise, if you fancy your own hiatus, try something different.

But enough of the blatant advertising. Time for that flux capacitor to do it's thing.

Date: 25th Febuary 2008
Place: Back pages of the Evening Standard

Dicking Chelsea the day before was wonderful. Unfortunately, the quotes haven't aged too well.

"This just goes to show what he has done in a short amount of time. It's no fluke because he did it at Sevilla as well so he must have something really special. Certain managers have that luck about them. He has certainly done a tremendous job. To have a trophy after a few months is an incredible achievement" - Robbie Keane on 'Our Special Juan'

"The way Tottenham stood up to Chelsea gives supporters a real hope that a new era of sustained success is finally about to begin at White Hart Lane" - Michael Hart, Chief Football Correspondent, Evening Standard

"We have a very good manager and he has proved it by winning the final. There was no pressure on Ramos, but this is a wonderful achievement for him and the players" - Daniel Levy

"I have a lot of football to come and will stay with the team. I'm confident there are more trophies to follow" - Ledley King

"I am here, I want to win things and hopefully this is the first of many for me. It means a lot to beat Chelsea, they are a fantastic team. When the final whistle blew it was an indescribable feeling. Everyone was happy and it was great to see so many smiles. It's a major trophy and we wanted European football again. This is our moment, but on Tuesday we start again. We have important games ahead of us. We have big goals ahead of us. The manager is a winner and he knows how to win things. This is his first trophy and I hope it's the first of many" - Dimitar Berbatov

"The team has been improving in terms of security and confidence and yesterday's win reaffirmed that. The players have shown they can concentrate and fight with the best of them" - Juande Ramos

"In the dressing room afterwards, the players were all saying 'now let's win the UEFA Cup'" - Robbie Keane

Back to the future and I can happily live (if we win it) with reading the quotes from Redknapp about how monumental it was to beat Utd in the final, proper David and Goliath stuff, because, you know...we're down to the bare bones. I'll even look the other way when Levy sanctions the release of the Carling Cup Double special edition DVD.

Coys, let's be 'aving you. I fancy starting the month of March with a big fat smile on my face.

Spurs lose and it doesn't matter.......does it?

The UEFA Cup doesn't matter. That's what we keep telling ourselves. At least that's what I keep repeating to myself as I rock back and forth very slowly, crawled up in the corner of the room as I hear the expert analysts on Channel 5 point out that Aston Villa are doing just dandy with a smaller squad, having played far more games than us. But Villa are settled and confident. We are nothing of the sort.

I some how manage to drag myself up from the floor and slump onto the sofa, only to suffer a relapse when I'm reminded of our crazy schedule under Ramos, who managed just fine with all the fixtures through out the UEFA Cup run. As I lay on my back mumbling something in tongues, I wonder if Redknapp is simply setting expectations so low that the simplicity of Premiership survival will be heralded as a miracle.

Did I get it all wrong? Did Harry get it wrong? Playing a mish-mashed team of youngsters, reserve players and out of form first teamers? Did we show contempt to the presitage of the UEFA Cup and its history and our history? And to our club? Was I wrong to dis-credit this competition, to agree with the sacrifice?

I black out.

I hear a voice. Is it in my head? Or is it the voice of reason?

We are in a relegation scrap....
Cup football doesn't matter.....
We need to keep our best players fit for the league....
There is no detrimental effect in losing 2-0. Our reserves lost 2-0....

I then hear another voice.

What about continuity?
Why can't we play our strongest team in every game and build on our confidence?
A win would breed a winning mentality....

I black out again.

I wake up, dizzy and confused, and ask myself the question, "Was it worth it? Was it worth accepting defeat before we even took the field of play?"

I pick myself up, and remember something I once read about how its better to fail aiming high than to succeed aiming low. There is no echo of glory this morning. Just the sound of regret as I whisper quietly for forgiveness.

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Time to terminate Darren Bent

Yesterday I read some quotes from Darren Bent about how Harry should play his strongest side possible in the UEFA Cup and that the benefit to the team would be to aim to carry the (hopefully) winning momentum into the next league game. That’s all well and good Dazza, but we've already had plenty of opportunity to carry forward the momentum in important league games and have got nowhere, so there’s no logic to the suggestion, based on the inconsistency of our players and their failure to put a decent run together. We never win when we should be forcing the issue.

Bent has been very vocal in the past week or so and according to Setanta Sports is back at it again today in what looks like a reprise of his comments from last week:

“I’ve got a point to prove in that I want to show the gaffer what I can do and I want to be starting games. At the same time, I don’t think I’ve got anything to prove because I’ve scored goals this season. If I hadn’t done then I would – but I’m the top goal scorer at this football club so I feel like I can just go out there and relax. I don’t feel the pressure at all, I just go out there and enjoy it” - Darren Bent (allegedly)

For the time being I’m going to assume this is a direct quote from the mouth of Darren Bent and not a representative or an overly creative and bored journalist mish-mashing a mis-quote alphabet soup together. Until the player states he has been misquoted I’m going to assume the above quote is word-for-word what Darren believes and stated.

So, let’s break down his statement of intent.

Dazza has a point to prove to the gaffer, but hold onto ya hats, no he doesn’t because he’s scored a few goals this season and if he hadn’t he would have a point to prove which is what he said in the first place regardless of scoring those goals but he’s top goal scorer at Spurs so he can contradict himself as many times as he wishes.

That’s set that straight then.

And because he’s top 'club' goal scorer (worth mentioning again) he can take the field of play and relax. That’s right, Dazza feels no pressure at all. Because he has nothing to prove. It’s all just a walk in the park for the £15M poacher. He can take the field and chill out because that's just the type of player he is.


Firstly someone needs to take him aside and explain to him that we are in a relegation scrap. Secondly, he needs to watch extended highlights of his apologetic on the field mannerisms and rabbit in the headlights stature, all teary eyed and scared as glances motionless in the box holding onto his comfort blanket waiting for a ball to hit his shin and go in.

So you go out there and enjoy it do you Darren? Enjoy what exactly? The ambience of the stadium? The weather? Bit of fresh air and half time cup of tea? The melodic chants of the Park Lane? You’re not meant to enjoy it. There is nothing enjoyable about our dismal form and lack of consistent cutting edge as a team from one game to the next (consolation goals do not count). Not that you are to blame for it, but as an individual, you're not impressing anyone.

We are the ones who are meant to be enjoying it and when you see us doing so you can then take a slice of satisfaction from it. I don’t believe for a second that you’re half as confident as you’re making out to be, mouthing off to the press every other day. So unless you are pulling some kind of Joaquin Phoenix method acting publicity stunt and you're not really a complete messy paradox of a player you need to be doing more on the the pitch and less of the talking off it to prove your worth.

I don’t care about your goal ratio. I don't care that you are the top scorer at Spurs. It's not enough to think that minimal effort is satisfactory because minimal effort equates to 14 goals. I want to see more effort and more willingness. I want to see you develop your game. I want to see you adapt to the formation and tactics of the team. I want to see you score more goals.

But no. That's too much for you isn't it? We don't ever see any of that extra effort. All I ever see from you is ah-da-da-dah like this in the background holding your head missing a sitter. What the f*ck is it with you? What don’t you understand? You got any f*cking idea? It’s f*cking counter-productive having somebody that does nothing in front of the midfield during a game? Give me a f*cking answer! What don’t you get about your lack of effort?

Ohhhhhh, gooooood for you, you scored a couple of goals up at Bolton. I hope it was f*cking good, because it’s useless now, isn’t it?

F*cks sake man, you’re amateur. Harry, you got f*cking something to say to this dud other than comparing him to your wife? No? Well somebody should be f*cking watching and keeping an eye on him.

He doesn’t give a f*ck about what is going on around him. I’m trying to support the team here and I am going “What the f*ck does Darren Bent do exactly? What is he doing here?” Do you understand my mind is not on the game when you're out on the pitch?

Stay the f*ck away from the media. For f*cks sake.

You are trashing my club.

You mouth off one more f*cking time and I ain't going back to the Spurs Shop and spending money on merchandise if you're still playing shit. I'm f*cking serious. You're a nice guy. You're a nice guy, but that don't f*cking cut it when you're f*cking around like this on the pitch and doing nothing much and then giving it the big billy bollocks in the press.

Seriously, you and me, we’re f*cking down, professionally.

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Let There Be Love

And there I was thinking it’s been a slow week for news.

Noel Gallagher has launched an amazing rant against Tottenham Hotspur (amazing and rant are not my words, but the words the press are going with. I'd prefer to describe the rant as acquiesce):

"I've told him (his son) he can support his local team down here if that's what he wants - but he can't support Man Utd or Tottenham. I have an irrational loathing of Spurs, their fans and everything about that club"

Really? Do you? You and half the country you absolute melter.

So you've banned your 17 month old son from ever following the club? Cognisant already at such a young age? What a perceptive young lad you’ve got there. How about giving our kid a crayon and some paper and get him to pen the next Oasis album. Just get him to rhyme as many words as possible with shine and you can’t go wrong.

If any cockney Darth Vaders out there want to bring their Oasis LP's and CD's to the next Tottenham home game please do. Martin Chivers will be burning them in the centre circle.

RAUL: The pasta was over-cooked and Juande spilt wine on his shirt

Raul admits to Tottenham interest
Spurs almost sign Raul
How I almost joined Tottenham
Almost a Spur

You’d think we nearly signed him if you don’t look beyond the overly dramatic headlines. Fact is all Raul did was have lunch with Ramos (whilst still Spurs boss) along with Gines Carvajal who is agent to both. Raul claims that they called him to discuss English football, as he was interested in hearing Juandes experience of Tottenham and the Premier League. Apparently he likes the English game. Hidden away in some of these reports (not all) is another Raul quote about ‘interpretations’ relating to the fact that Ramos was then sacked by Spurs and appointed Madrid boss. Sounds like Raul/Carvajal are trying to dismiss more local rumours (back in Spain) about Raul tapping up the then Spurs boss.

Here’s a better headline for this story: Nothing to see here, please move along, slow-news day.

Elsewhere, Darko Lazovic has had a successful trial at Spurs, impressing in the past month. The 18-year old playmaker is currently at FK Borac Cacak and is valued at a lowly 500k (expect imminent £15M offer soon then). Reports suggest he will sign for us, even though nothing is directly mentioned other than the player saying he is in no rush to make a decision.

We don’t have the greatest track record at the minute when purchasing hyped kids. Gio, Adel, Kevin Prince Boateng – all have been bit part players in their time at Spurs. KPB has gone back to Germany on loan. Gio is nowhere near the first team squad and rumours continue to persist about a summer departure (almost joined Pompey back in January). And as for Adel……great talent (was buzzing on international duty for Morocco mid-week) needs development on decision making. Harry fancies him a bit and we’ll probably see a lot more of his magic feet in the coming weeks (play him from the start in the UEFA Cup rather than a late cameo appearance where he tries to hard to impress). As for Gareth Bale (another kid), he’ll reclaim his past form for us (he looks class for Wales) soon enough. He just needs to find the voodoo doll and remove the last few remaining pins.

edit: Adel isn't in the UEFA Cup squad. Gutted. We'll have to stick with the cameos until next season then.

As for Darko, sign him up if the kid is a genuine talent rather than hype. Sounds like he might have enough about him to knock on the first team door sooner rather than later. ComolliVision no longer a concern.

And Spurs are doing something right at the moment with the academy team who are exceptional (thanks to Alex Inglethorpe). As long as the experienced first teamers get it together, bringing the younger players into the fold won’t be so daunting and morale crushing. Maybe the likes of Gio and KPB (who was never a Young German Player of the Year no matter how many times the newspapers tell you) were the wrong type of signings for us.

Not much else to report on at the moment. International week followed by Cup weekend has bored me to tears. UEFA Cup? Oh yeah. Not sure you can count the Shakhtar Donetsk game as important. I always want Spurs to win. But I can’t say this weeks UEFA Cup first leg in the Ukraine is something I’m excited about. We can’t win the competition with so many players cup-tied (Corluka, Keane, Pavlyuchenko) and not risked (King) along with the fact that we’re a bit shit. Three points in the next league match is the only priority for us - that and Wembley, I guess.

I’ll be watching the game on Thursday hoping to see some of the ‘kids’ perhaps get a baptism of fire (not so daunting and moral crushing if we lose as Shakhtar are no mugs and there is little expectation for this game). Won’t lost any sleep if it goes pear-shaped. Hull, sandwiched between the two legs (ooh matron), is the one to win. Don’t see us risking too many players considering that winning at Wembley would also be quite nice. I could do with a smile. We could all do with a smile. Doesn’t mean the players who are selected to play in the Ukraine don’t give it 110%. Even if the game is not a priority, they should still aim to impress.

Cheeky 2-1 win then to us?

And finally, Roman Pavyluchenko is struggling to come to terms with the English language, women and food. To be perfectly honest, it sounds like he’s settled in just fine. Welcome to England. You’re one of us now.

Monday, 16 February 2009

What does Darren Bent do exactly? Part II

Darren Bent. So what does he do exactly again?

14 goals
9 in Prem
4 in UEFA Cup
1 in CC

Quite a bit apparently. If you've not read part one, click here. I'm following up that article with, well to be honest, more of the same.

One of the main arguments put forward in favour of Darren has been related to stats. He scores goals, so what else do we want from him? The counter-argument is that because of his lack of team-play quality (he doesn't hold up the ball well, support team mates, create or assist, not great at heading, woeful positioning) we only benefit from his goal-poaching when we play a certain type of formation or when away from home.

He's therefore one dimensional according to those who believe he doesn't bring anything else of value to the side. He just feeds off the scraps. Instinctively, but not as busy as a Greaves or Lineker who both, arguably goal-hanged, although both were very much capable of scoring goals out of nothing. But even though Greaves could go 85 minutes without doing much, then bang in a couple of goals, comparing Bent to Jimmy is borderline ridiculous. Is it not?

If one dimensional gets you a better goal ratio than a player who possesses more tricks in his locker, should we simply be playing to his 'strengths'? If your answer is yes, then what formation/team structure would we need to play? Perhaps kick random balls into the box and hope Bent gets on the end of some of them? Tottenham's play will have to be basic to cater for Bent upfront. Basic in the sense that nine outfield players link-up and get involved in build up play, with Bent waiting in the shadows alone for a ball to roll within proximity to his feet.


So what about those pesky statistics then? Here's a quick glance at the club stats from this season (thanks to CAS over at GG for the numbers which I've blatantly copy and pasted):
  • Bent has played 1995 minutes for us so far this season which equates to 22.17 full games and in those games he has scored 14 goals
  • Pav has played 1752 minutes for us which is 19.47 games and scored 12 goals
  • Defoe has played 2414 minutes or 26.82 games and scored 12 goals (Pompey and Spurs)
  • Keane has played 1860 minutes or 20.67 games and scored 7 goals (Liverpool and Spurs)
So the goal ratios stand us follows:
  • Bent 1 goal every 1.58 games
  • Pav 1 goal every 1.62 games
  • Defoe 1 goal every 2.23 games
  • Keane 1 goal every 2.95 games

And here's a run-down of when Bent's goals were notched up:

  • 1 (A) PREM Chelsea 1-1 D Bent equaliser
  • 2 (H) PREM Aston Villa 1-2 L Bent consolation
  • 3 (H) UEFA Wisla Krakow 2-1 W Bent winner
  • 4 (A) PREM Stoke City 2-1 L Bent consolation
  • 5 (H) PREM Bolton 2-0 W Bent penalty
  • 6 (A) PREM Arsenal 4-4 D Bent scores our second goal
  • 9 (H) UEFA Dinamo Zagreb 4-0 W Bent hat-trick
  • 11 (A) PREM Man City 2-1 W Bent brace
  • 12 (A) CC Watford 2-1 W Bent winner
  • 14 (A) PREM Bolton 3-2 L Bent brace

How many of the above were scraps/rebounds/plain lucky? How many were created after a sweeping move or out of absolutely nothing? How many saw Bent link-up with the midfield before sweeping forward to complete the move and bury the ball in the back of the net?

He's no Sandra Redknapp

Does it matter, as long as the end result is 'the ball hitting the back of the net'?

He's scoring so that's surely enough, no? If Robbie Keane scores less goals than Darren Bent per games played, does that make him any less of a player? Of course not. So who would you prefer to have in your starting line-up? Bent's ratio is possibly even better than what Berbatov managed with us - but would you pick Bent over the departed Bulgarian if he was still here? Silly question, right? You wouldn't.

So should you be asking 'why'?

It's OK to refer to the statistics and ratios and state this as evidence enough for his inclusion, but a stat worth looking at perhaps is how many assists come from the feet of Defoe/Pav/Keane etc compared to those of Darren Bent.

Note also that Cudicini has a habit of rolling the ball out to fullbacks when Pav isn't on the pitch, as Bent doesn't win headers. Personally, he should always roll the ball out. Prefer it when we play from the back, keeping the ball on the ground.

At this moment in time - should we not be concerned with anything other than hitting the back of the net, no matter how? Where Bent fails to achieve the link-up work of a Keane or a Pav (who both assist the team into functioning cohesively) he produces the final goods - goals. And in our predicament, surely any scrapes or rebounds will do. Surely goal celebrations are more imperative to a sweeping move involving 5 or 6 players resulting with a forward waving his arms in the air screaming at the ref?

Perhaps that's a simplistic way of looking at it. Bent is not a better footballer than Defoe or Keane. He won't get involved as much as either of them. He won't assist or create. We need to win games, no matter who does the scoring. And having a cohesive hard working Spurs team out on the pitch every week, players working for each other, will make a far greater impact than having a fragmented side with players who don't quite fit in.

(Although some might say, dropping back to link-up is the reason why Robbie's goal ratio isn't as good as Darren's)

In a relegation scrap, we can't afford to miss any opportunity that presents itself in front of goal. Bent still has a part to play in the season. He' still important for certain scenarios. But he's not going to be here come the end of the summer time. Where Spurs will be by the start of August is also up to 11 players rather than just one.

I guess, as ever, all we can do is support the players out on the pitch. Including Darren Bent. And I'll be celebrating one of his goals with the same loopy celebration that would accompany a Keane or Pav goal. If Darren continues to score goals in his limited appearances we won't be complaining.

Saturday, 14 February 2009

What does Darren Bent do exactly?

It’s a question that’s divided Tottenham fans and one that’s been posed ever since he joined Spurs. Thanks to Darren's recent public ultimatum via the red tops where he has suggested he needs to be playing more otherwise he’ll move on, I have to ask myself (much like you might be doing) is he worth keeping? Would we miss him if he’s gone?

Ignoring the £15M price tag (that’s not his fault) you could argue Darren has not had a fair chance, a prolonged run of games, to prove his worth as a first choice striker. Statistically, he has a very decent goal to appearance ratio and has slotted quite a few of them away from home. So based on whether he can put the ball into the back of the net, you’ll find some Spurs fans defending him on the basis that he’s a striker and strikers are there to score goals.

But is football really that simplistic? Can we (or any club) afford the luxury of a player that simply knocks them in without bringing much else to the field of play?

We bought the player on the strength of his consistent performances and goal scoring record when he played for Charlton. A confident finisher who would run onto the ball. Worked a treat there because Charlton played defensive counter attacking football. Bent is far from being creative or inventive and isn’t the type of player you’d expect to see getting involved in build up play or perhaps crossing the ball in for others to feed off. Bent’s success there was down to the style of play Curbishley fashioned. He suited Charlton. So does he suit Tottenham?

If the opposition defend deep and don’t allow the space for Darren to run into, then is he ruled ineffective? You’ll find one or two people answering yes to that. But still, he scores goals, which means he must be doing something right, no?

Which finds us back to the question as to whether scoring goals is enough to warrant a first team place. Pav, Defoe, Keane and Berbatov (bless him) have more than just goal-scoring boots in their locker. All have their particular weakness/faults but arguably all of them have far more in the way of ability to get involved in games rather than become invisible until a goal scoring opportunity becomes available.

Was invisible too harsh of a word to describe him? Does he participate with good movement and solid hold up play? Is he a nuisance to defenders, digging at their heels, taking players away for others to take advantage of the opening spaces ahead?

Bent is more suited for a 4-5-1 formation and (as mentioned earlier) playing away from home where we can counter-attack when the home team are pressing. Logic here is there is more space for him to run into, bit like when he played for Charlton.

So regardless of the fact that he still has a knack of getting in amongst the goals, there are no other tricks in his locker. And even though he has never had the chance to play week in and week out as a first choice striker, even when he’s been scoring, other players have been preferred simply because they are far more involved in the game which means they bring others into it.

'I score, therefore, I am'

So is Bent is a goal-hanger? Feeding off rebounds and goal keeping mistakes. The odd scrap here or there. That’s probably not statistically fair to him, but he isn’t showing us much in the way of developing his overall play. Creating goals from nothing.

Complaining in the press isn’t going to help improve his level of performance. But he obviously believes he is doing enough.

Pavlyuchenko has put him to shame with regards to effort, considering the Russian was not fit when he signed for us, suffering from fatigue and completely alien to the English game and the country. He might not hold the ball up like a Teddy Sheringham, but he is far more convincing a team player than Darren Bent is. And he’ll get better once we get through this season and start afresh (again) next season.

Bent's whinging to the press sums it all up. Pushing aside the stats and the analysis of his all-round game, Darren Bent believes he has done enough to prove his value to the club. He has done his bit therefore believes he is immune to criticism. As far as he is concerned he has done more than enough to prove himself and there’s no need for him to do anything else.

I spoke about the culture of failure at Spurs in a previous blog entry, how losing is OK at White Hart Lane. Michael Carrick famously touched upon this when he joined Manchester United. Players – team-mates –should be competing against each other at the highest possible level they can muster up, because the better they are the better the team is:

“When you do “your bit” you are immune to criticism. A sort of collectively projected performance-socialism, where people are not only encouraged to do nothing more than “his bit” but are in fact discouraged from doing more because it makes team-mates look even worse” – Danish White (Glory

Where is the zest to be a better player, Mr Bent? Why are you the better option out of the group of forwards we have?

Shut up and play up or wave your goodbye.

Of course, the ultimate way to answer the question 'What does Darren Bent do exactly?' is with another question:

Why did we buy him in the first place?

Friday, 13 February 2009

I Love Daniel Levy

Firstly, I’ll apologise in advance for anyone who is browsing into this blog for the first time ever. This is an editorial written especially for the girls and boys of the official Tottenham Hotspur forum. I would have signed up to it myself and posted my response there but unfortunately to sign up you need to include info relating to your season ticket or membership. Which means, if I did, I’d be giving away my identity. The thread that has inspired me to write this article is probably no more than a ploy by Daniel Levy to catch me out. I wasn’t born yesterday Mr Chairman, no sir.

So, don’t judge me on the basis of this vanity enriched rant.

To be honest I don’t care whether people like me or this blog. I write for myself and for people who have followed my letters to the chairman over the past several years. Blogging is a bit like Marmite. My articles range from long winded rants to match reports and caption competitions. It’s not a run of the mill everything in black and white website. You’ll have one reaction from one person for a blog entry and a completely opposite reaction to the same entry by someone else. And I love that. Everyone has a differing opinion. Nothing ground-breaking with that.

Opinions aside, it all depends on how serious you take yourself and whether you have an ability to read between the lines. Ironically, I get it that I’m taking myself too seriously by writing this up. But I can assure it has more to do with the fact that I have ten minutes to spare than it does ego.

So this is my reaction to the thread on the official forum that had one brave chap post and tell everyone he likes my blog. What a mistake to make. The reaction, overwhelmingly, was that (according to the residents there) my blog is utter crap. I’m not going to lie. I felt all warm inside. It’s been called worse.

The thread then turned into a pro/anti Levy ‘discussion’ (which included an invite for one of the members to meet up outside the pub to continue the discussion face to face – I guess moderation isn’t a key element in their community).

There are various sound-bites about Levy being a leader and one that we can be proud of and that he makes mistakes but usually gets it right. And that basing our opinion on our league position and transfers is very childish. Levy is apparently a good businessman and one that has made us profitable and respectable. Blaming him is possibly a kneejerk for wanting to place blame on someone, anyone. Probably because we live in a blame culture.

Talking of which, I don’t blame anyone for thinking I’m loony tunes if they glance quickly at my blog. I guess most will browse off and never return because they take every word literally or simply dislike my style. In fact I've changed my mind and I’m not even going to explain myself on this. People who can be arsed will work it out for themselves. If you don’t or can’t then that’s cool. Plenty of forums and blogs out there that I’m sure are tailored just fine for you. I’m not everyone’s English cup of tea. This whole blog was birthed from Glory Maybe it should have stayed there.

Now to attempt to answer one or two of those sound-bites, I’d like to state that Daniel Levy has made some major errors in judgement. Critical ones.

He has already admitted that the reason he appointed a Director of Football was because he needed to entrust someone to take care of the footballing matters because he knows nothing about football. His words. And it turned out great for him because he could blame the Ramos appointment on Comolli and use him as a scapegoat when it all went tits up and then play the PR game by going back to basics with the Harry appointment.

For a club that is so financially stable and quite obviously has money to waste, we don’t actually make any progress. In the true sense of the word. I guess that’s fine in some ways. We are not a yo-yo club like West Ham and we are not shambolic politically like Newcastle. We have our soap opera elements that the press love to hate on us for. But so has every club. But is that a good enough excuse to hide the cracks (the ones purely related to football management) that constantly re-appear no matter how many times we plaster over them?

Back in the day, fans on the terraces never spoke that much about the chairman and the board of directors. It's not lost on me that Irving Scholar messed the club up. And it's not lost on me that to be able to compete in the transfer market you need a foundation.

The foundation is here. It’s holding us up with strong ENIC bricks. We just don’t want to turn the bungalow into a high rise. We want to build on the foundation. We talk the talk. We bring in the builders. They just turn out to be cowboys and the roof caves in.

The footballing side of the club is not run with any cohesiveness. Whether there’s a plan in place or a transfer policy (why nobody dared question the ‘buy them young sell them for a massive profit’ tactic employed by Levy still astounds me) it’s always seemed a little superficial. And now it's almost desperate with the Redknapp appointment and his choice in transfer policy.

When I look back at the summer, so blinded by the Berbatov saga, I actually initially supported Levy's stance until it dawned on me pretty quickly that his actions and delays cost us heavily. But that’s ok. Because we can spend £15M a time on any player we wish because we got no debt, innit. So much so, we no await planning permission for a new stadium.

What? You waiting for me to slate him for that too? Hmm. Nope. But the point is one of overall responsibility.

Maybe, in some ways, expectations from the media and fans, pressure the chairman. Maybe our impatience plays a part. Maybe the chairman is weak.

If you look close enough, you’ll understand the in-joke.

Sorry for being pretentious and cryptic. To be honest, I could be writing a blog article about Darren Bent and his latest whinge, and I’d much rather be doing that. But I guess ego does play a part after all.

Thursday, 12 February 2009

The Panther of the Lane

A bullish, battling, determined midfielder bossing the centre of the park. And he's wearing a lilywhite shirt.

It's amazing what they can do with a bit of CGI nowadays.

Thanks to tobjr for the video.

UPDATE: Video is down at the moment, removed by Youtube due to copyright issues, so will re-link once its available.


Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Terry Dixon in astonishing comeback

Remember Terry Dixon? Very highly rated youngster on the books at Spurs a few years back who without making a league appearance (or a reserve one at that), managed to win a call-up to the Republic of Ireland squad for a friendly match against Russia back in 2006. Dixon (probably because of his physical stature and shaved head) was being touted as the Irish Wayne Rooney. Superficial comparisons aside, the kid was a precocious talent and in fact had plenty in common with Rooney. Those who witnessed him in full flight saw a strong, confident young lad with bundles of skill. Irish Rooney? Perhaps. Way ahead in terms of ability of all the other 16 year old players at the time. Which is probably why Ireland took a cheeky look at him.

But, alas, we never got to see him beyond the academy team.

The club released him back in March 2008 (cancelling his contract) due a couple of very serious knee injuries (he managed to repeatedly dislocate his right knee). Once is bad enough, twice is pretty devastating. Several operations and failed comebacks meant Dixon was let go. The suggestion (according to medical staff) was he'd never be able to play top flight football, at least at the competitive level required to make the grade in a first team squad in the Premier League. Which is why he's signed for West Ham.

Sorry, that joke would have worked better if we were ABOVE the Hammers.

In all seriousness, I'm chuffed to bits he is back at a professional level. Shocked, but chuffed. This is a young lad who's dream was retired after almost an age was spent attempting to get him fit and primed for a fulfilling career. Seems a stint in Belgium with a knee-specialist along with further rehabilitation at West Ham has worked a treat. Obviously. Otherwise why would West Ham sign him on a three year contract?

Prodigy (not Carr, he's just a git)

Two years out with a serious injury at a critical stage of his development along with disciplinary issues (mostly off the field) along with the fact that Spurs were amazingly patient for a very lengthy time, working to get him back to fitness - makes it an astonishing comeback. Its a bit unexpected.

I wish him all the best at West Ham and hope he makes a full recovery, as unbelievable as it might have seemed had we discussed the possibility 5 months back. Even if he scores a cracker against us, I'd applaud (quietly in my mind).

If he doesn't make the grade at West Ham, I hope he makes it somewhere else. The lad obviously has a never say die attitude and wants football in his life, regardless of the odds stacked against him.

Spurs and Survival: It's time to get medieval

A regular feature on this blog has been a reoccurring series following a set of fixtures that are meant to provide the much needed impetus (and points) to finally steer us clear of the scary little mire that is the bottom three seats of the Premiership. A place best avoided much like a seedy back room in a pawn shop resembling a dungeon.

When Harry Redknapp joined, I gave him 12 games to get us out of trouble. Results were not too shabby. The 12 games in question made up the fabled Challenge Spurs™ (The Dirty Dozen) series. But when that ended, we failed to capitalise on the points tally acquired and managed to follow it up with a pretty awful run of results, followed by another mixed bag (as chronicled in the V for Victory™ series).

This meant we failed to pull ourselves away from the mix down at the bottom. So these run of fixtures never made a difference win, lose or draw with regards to climbing the table (obviously the points picked up have been all important, otherwise we'd be doomed by now). And the teams around us have also remained fairly constant with poor and inconsistent form. Not a lot has changed in the past few months.

We now find ourselves with the run-in and every game a must-win (not every game is winnable, but that's the attitude required. Deja vu, right?). Which ironically means, that if there was a time to scrutinise our fixture list and welcome back Challenge Spurs™, it’s now. Fail, and there's nothing but Championship fixtures to look forward to.

We have 13 games left - 6 at home and 7 away.

We've already driven the little Honda into Marcellus Wallace. Donuts and coffee hitting the pavement. And arguably, we’ve already stumbled our way into the Mason-Dixie pawn shop. So squeaky-bum time is potentially moments away. Zed will see to that. Get yourself caught up in the moment and you might find it more than just a bit tricky to get out. All tied up and gagged, praying for a miracle. Zed has us in his sights. Relegation. Relegation has us in its sights. The spider has caught itself a fly.

"Bring out The Gimp"
"I think The Gimp is sleepin'"

In this case, the Gimp is not Jermaine Jenas. And neither is it sleeping. The Gimp is the monkey on our back. Nope, not Gareth Bale (he's mostly on the bench nowadays). The Gimp is the persistent match-losing lack of concentration that has seen us defeat ourselves in the last four league away games - all in the final minutes.

It’s a mental block. Lack of concentration, belief. A fundamental lack of self-respect. Confidence, pride...lack of. Tag whatever you wish to it. Its a Spurs trait we always blame when you know what hits the fan.

Last time the Gimp persevered, it cost us Champions League (forget the last game and think back to the amount of points lost in the final minutes both home and away during the course of that season). For it to occur four times on the trot, all away from the Lane this season, is a sure sign that winning is sometimes a task too hard for some of our players. They welcome the Gimp and it's all too familiar hooded face of sadomasochistic defeatism. We need to punch the Gimp in the head several times.

"So, we're cool?"

We are at the point of no second chances now. If you sit down with your calculator or Prem Table predictor website tool, the possibility of us being unsafe and at risk on the final game is possible if you base our final set of games and likely outcomes on prior form. Especially on away form.

We are likely to pick up points at home. Although it’s ominous that we haven't done that amazingly well so far. But the home games are now imperative. No possible excuse could appease us if we don't prove successful at WHL. As for the away games, they can be grouped into two sections:

The 'No Chance in Hell' List

Man Utd
Aston Villa


The 'Doubtful we'll win' List

Hull City
Blackburn Rovers


Lose to Hull away, and the game against Boro at home turns into a Cup final, to follow on from that other Cup final we play out a few days earlier. Sunderland away has yet to be slotted into the schedule having been postponed. So where is the away win(s) going to happen? We have a good record at Everton, don't we?

I prefer to think that Spurs will do what they usually do in such desperate times. Instinctively react and do so positively. Almost nonchalantly. Bit like the goals that came at the end of the semi-final against Burnley. We waited until we were 3-0 down and (practically) out of the Cup before showing a bit of quality and pulling through. It's textbook Spurs. It's eternally frustrating. Back to the home games left to play:

The 'Must Not Drop Points' List


West Ham



Man City

Apart from Chelsea (who might be rejuvenated a little by the time we play them) the other games in this list have to be victories in our favour. Without any disrespect, they are winnable. On paper. That's a fans perspective. The players have to be ruthless and fearless against the lot of them.Whether it's Chelsea or WBA.

The other clubs around us down at the bottom will no doubt struggle till the closing day of the season, but the desperation of needing them to lose to help us out is something I will not embrace.

It’s in our hands. Again. We can't be hoping other results go in our favour. We have to control our own destiny (cringe away).

We are in need for an inspired Butch with a Samurai sword moment to signal our intent for survival.

And we are equipped for it. Palacios, big and strong and inspiring. Keane will rediscover form and the back of the net. Dawson will continue to led in the absence of King. Lennon, who's energy this season has never faltered, will buzz around and torment. Modric possesses the quality that will help unlock a defence or two and allow Pav and Bent to get in amongst the goals. And Harry will make sure it all tick tocks clockwise.

How the Carling Cup final or the UEFA Cup games will affect squad moral is not something I wish to dwell on. It's not quite like last season where the players went to sleep after the 2-1 Wembley win and forgot how to win in the Prem. There's a clear distinction between one off games like the Final and the bread and butter of the Prem this term. And the latter is clearly of more importance in the long run.

Butch, driving into Marcellus, allowed destiny to take them to the pawn shop and perilously close to a humiliating death. The death part was avoided. The humiliation unavoidable. The will to survive saw them through it, bloody in victory and revenge.

Much like the two of them, its down to us that we are in this predicament. We've led ourselves here. Destiny playing its part with comparative ease. We've suffered the humiliation. We now need to stay clear of death. So here's to a quick sharp exit, riding off on a Chopper, with a happy ending.

‘Who’s Relegation?’

‘Relegations dead, baby, Relegations dead’

Monday, 9 February 2009

Spurs 0 Arsenal 0 - Next time, yeah?

144th NLD
Spurs 0 Arsenal 0

So close yet so far. Should have, could have, would have won it yesterday. But alas, our eternal depression against Arsenal (as highlighted by a banner in the away end which disappeared when the Arsenal fans realised they might not actually win) continues that bit longer. We’ll have to wait for next season and hope they are suitably weaker if starved of Champions League before we can finally thrash them 1-0. My back will be waxed for space for the celebratory tattoo cometh that day.

Back to the present and arguably it’s not exclusively just our depression anymore. Rights appear to be subject of a sharing agreement between ourselves and the enemy in red. Both clubs with different immediate goals, and both struggling to get there. Arsenal, dare I say it, are currently closer to ordinary than invincible. We remain frustrating. Decent now and again, mediocre or worse more often than not.

I'm disappointed we didn't win it. More chances more possession. Palacios immense in central midfield, showing some of that much needed determination and spirit we so often lack. Modric pulling the strings, dealing with the physicality with comparative ease. Bit more end product there and you could get away with muttering ‘world class’ when describing the Croatian playmaker. But we'll suck that in for the moment and use it when its geniunely warranted (which won't be too long).

Arsenal (bless ‘em) defended well and retaining two upfront when they had Eboue sent off was rather clever tactics on their part as it stretched us rather than allow us to push forward in numbers had they resorted to all out defending.

For all the chances we had, none of them were clear cut, although Pav should have done better and if Modric had played the ball into the box instinctively rather than waiting a second too long at the death of the game (nice cameo by Taarabt), then Bent would have won the game in the final seconds. So maybe the chances were as good as being clear cut if we managed to get them on target. Close enough though to allow for shaking of heads despondently, and sighing if’s and onlys a couple of hundred times on the journey home.

Arsenal only ever looked dangerous when we allowed them to push forward thanks to the odd mistake here and there and in the final 15 minutes or so when the game opened up. Set-pieces our only other main concern, but all dealt with rather comfortably. One or two scary moments, but otherwise, the South London club lacked anything in the way of the usual textbook swagger that usually sees them score a goal or two against us.

The turning point should have been that Eboue incident that all made us laugh out loud with giddy joy. He got his marching orders for kicking out at Modric, who was booked for his part in the scuffle (and I use that word lightly because Modric didn’t really deserve a yellow anyway).

Arsenal are pretty much accustomed to playing with 10 men regularly so it was never going to be a given that we’d win. We lacked that extra bit of ruthlessness needed for such an occasion.

Robbie Keane was not really involved in the game as much as we'd have liked to see (not surprising considering where he was a few weeks back – he’ll need another game or so to regain full match fitness) and Pav had one of those days where everything went a mile to the side of the goal. Lennon was busy and tenacious but should have had more of a go at Clichey. If he could strike the ball with power and place it to the side of the keeper, we'd all be laughing. End product is also something that needs improving from the little man. Still our best player this season.

Dawson not far behind him with his no-nonsense defending. Bit of revelation is Daws, as not too long ago, one or two fans half expected him to be pushed out of the club (as he only ever played well with a fit King by his side and his form appeared to dip substantially in a Kingless defence). His current form has been outstanding. Jenas appears to have divided opinions. Some say he was not effective at all, others say he gave a lot of effort. Personally, I think he had an off day. Was expecting him to roar as he always fancies these matches. I say stick with him for now, and allow him and Palacios to gel in midfield, with Modric out on the left free to cut in and cause havoc. If Palacios does all the grating, we might finally see JJ smash it up, box-2-box, like he has always promised to do but never quite graps the consistency and belief.

I'm kidding myself, aren't I?

Vot va voad vof Vollocks.

Talking of Wilson. Wow. What a great home debut. Big, strong, hardly gives a free kick away. Tackles superbly well. Is all over the pitch. A player who actually values the concept of winning midfield battles. And probably serves as an inspiration to others around him to up their game and passion levels to match his performance. Proper player? Hell yes. FAO SPURS PLAYERS - This is the type of application required. Not just in Derby games, but in every single game left in this season. Suddenly I’m shrugging at the £14M price tag. Well worth it on this evidence.

So, generally, it was a good performance, with just a bit of the rub of the green missing. Arsenal failing to score against Spurs? Staggering that. Been a while since we've had the pleasure. Cudinici did well, Almunia superb in the oppossite goal.

Obviously, if you witnessed this in WengerVision then you would have seen Arsenal dominate the match, boss the midfield and create an abundance of opportunities including a dead cert goal disallowed and a player sent off when he shouldn't have been (because his first yellow was not deserved). Ah, WengerVision. What would we do without it?

Arsenal never really turned up, plain and simple. Hardly tested Cudicni (who had maybe one or two saves to make, the best from Bendtner) and were very much not Arsenalesque on the day. The 'goal' was not a goal and therefore should not be classed as a disallowed goal. The ref blew his whistle and signalled for a foul before the ball was stroked into the net. It’s irrelevant what you do after the ref has blown. Play no longer exists. Bit different if the ref blows AFTER the ball crosses the line. Yes, I know I'm being pedantic on this, but the little push and trip-over was exactly that, as soft as it looked. And Ekotto appeared to stop playing when the ref blew his whistle, though I can never quite tell with him.

All hail SpookyVision.

Humourous that he (Wenger) managed to watch that incident three times on tv and couldn’t see why it wasn't a goal but didn't bother watching replays of the Eboue incident. That’s Wenger logic for you. You wonder whether he actually believes half the crap he spouts post-match. Was Robbie Keane fouled and denied a penalty? I'm certain if that was a player in red and white going down inside the area, Wenger would have a post-match fit screaming "referee conspiracy!"

Two points dropped? Yes. You do feel that if we had Defoe up front or if Keane was a little more fresh, we would have cracked them. Instead, we're 2 points off the mire instead of 4. Arsenal are 5 points off the Top 4. Disappointment for the both of us then. But it's more likely that we will avoid relegation than they will finish 4th. Unbeaten against the Cartel (Man Utd, Chelsea, Liverpool, Arsenal) this season in the Prem. Shame our record against ‘lesser’ opposition remains shit. One win in nine is still not great, and the home games are the ones we need to be winning.

Laughable that certain quarters are suggesting that Wenger outfoxed Redknapp tactically. Yes, Arsenal retained decent shape when at 10 men. But they gained a point only because of our indecisive finishing. The team might have a bit more about them after this game going into the next league match.

If you don't agree with any of this, and you prefer WengerVision, feel free to pick yourself up a copy of The Standard, that bastion of unbiased journalism, for a more traditional write-up of the game. Or track down Piers Morgan who probably thinks Arsenal won the match.

Friday, 6 February 2009

Made me smile

We probably paid that much for his return.

Audere est facere is in my blood

As a solider of the terraces and voice of the disillusioned fan I constantly place my life at risk for the sake of supporter freedom, highlighting then dismissing the propaganda we are constantly subjected too. The ordinary fan needs enlightenment. It's my job to make sure they are not left in the dark.

Audere est facere is in my blood.

I’ve handcuffed myself naked to the West Stand turnstiles. Been attacked by rouge squirrels when attempting to stall the Berbatov to Utd transfer. Fallen out of a tree overlooking The Lodge. Boycotted the Spurs Shop on countless occasions including the time I replaced items of clothing in the shop with effigies of Daniel Levy and Damien Comolli French kissing. I’ve also organised end of season ‘burning of season ticket’ bonfire events. I’ve been arrested, had restraining orders served, ASBO’s and have had to endure my fair share of community service. All because I dare to protest and demonstrate against Levy and his Napoleonistic quirks.

People question my ethics. Apparently I am a hypocrite because I pay for a season ticket every year. Which means I’m helping to fund Levy’s chairmanship – one that I publicly disagree with. But that’s a sacrifice that’s unavoidable. To be able to protest against a war and do so with unequivocal passion – one must sign up and do a tour of duty. I’m on my fifth tour in the South Stand lower tier. That makes me veteran.

Anyone who barks in my direction telling me how Levy is a great chairman because of the money he generates for the club and for transfers are forgetting that most astute business men would easily make a healthy profit from a club of our stature. It’s not that difficult a task. It’s the footballing side that continues to suffer due to his failings. It's not how you make the money, it's how you spend it. The persistence of the DoF system. The contridiction of the Redknapp appointment. The £15M outlays on superfluous players. The cheapening of the clubs name with the delusions of greatness that in reality is nothing more than a ghost of the once true greatness possessed in a by-gone era. The dumbing down of our Latin motto. The Jol/Ramos/Comolli mess. It’s an endless list.

Supporters unfamiliar with my campaigns might think me a little extreme. I guess a man dressed in black combat gear with a camouflaged face mask and a hands-free NVG Cybereye third generation multi-purpose night vision system with additional camera-adaptable extras, illuminator functionality and advanced recognition range would, I guess, qualify me as a little extreme. But I’d prefer committed.

It’s no coincidence that I find myself in Daniel Levy’s back garden. The sun has long since set. It’s been about a year since my last visit to the mansion. The rose bush is looking delightful. I’ve been hiding out in his shed for around seven hours. Just me and this bin liner which holds my Pièce de résistance. A present for the chairman. Not much room in here to move, with the lawn mower and unopened copies of the Opus stacked up. Daniels wife and his four kids are away for the night. It’s not a window of opportunity that arises often enough, and thus can not be ignored. Just need to wait for the lights to go off. That’s my cue. Breaking and entering won’t be an issue. Alarm code is 19611981. It’s practically an invitation. Not that I plan to steal or damage anything. I’m not a criminal. Literary terrorism is more my style. The pen is mightier than the sword. Although for this evening only, subtly will not be my calling card.

I’m here to send out a clear message to the chairman. His tenure is displaying stress fractures. Tottenham is nothing more than a broken metatarsal. From the sacking of Martin Jol to the present day, accountancy aside, it’s been a titanic tapestry of untruths and mistakes.

I’m inside now. Night vision still active.

Kitchen is a mess. Empty bottles of Dom Perignon. Beluga caviar. How can anyone eat this crap? Need to get the taste out of my mouth. Hello. Half drank bottle of wine. This will have to do. Chateau Mouton-Rothschild Jerobam. Can't pick this up at Asda. Prefer Blossom Hills fruitiness myself. Stack of boxes in the corner. Twenty, maybe twenty five copies of the Opus, all still wrapped up. There's another Opus on the floor. Signed by Didier Zokora. Looks like a door-stop.

Living room is as plush as ever. I like what he's done with the place. Cuban. Possibly West Indian mahogany. I can never tell the difference., is that a La-Z-Boy?

50" plasma, wall mounted. Krell amplifier. Eggleston Works Ivy speakers. Wu-Tang Clan cd’s on the floor. Plenty of DVD’s too. Separated into different racks for each family member. How very OCD. Let's see what Daniel has in his collection. Ishtar. The Adventures of Pluto Nash, Battlefield Earth 2000, Arsenal 49: The Complete Unbeaten Record. Batman and Robin. Hudson Hawk. The Postman, Gigli. Showgirls....The.....hold on a damn minute! You sonofabitch. You son of a......wait till people find out about this. You’ll be finished, finished. Batman and Robin? Are you kidding me Daniel? It’s garbage. It plays out like a ridiculous parody of the tv show for crying out loud! I mean come on. Schwarzenegger ffs! He got paid $25M to stand around and make wisecracks. Scandalous. They should have given the role to Patrick Stewart. And as for that joke of a Batman suit with the nipples. I feel dizzy.......Breathe damn it, breathe. What's the point of having these fancy speakers and HD if you're gonna waste your time watching an absolute mess of a movie?

I can taste vomit in my mouth. Time to move on.

Only other room worth checking out is the study. Door is open. Forty maybe as many as fifty copies of the Opus stacked up against the wall. Framed picture of Joe Lewis. Stuffed squirrels on the desk. Quite a few post-it notes.

‘Freeze season tickets if we stay up. Increase them if we go down’

'Tell Appiah, thanks but not thanks'

'Possible re-work of club badge. Remove the cockerel?'

'Ideas for new stadium name. The Holsten Levy Dome, Levyville Nike Town, The Daniel Levy sponsored by Daniel Levy'

‘Book a new mascot for Sunday - Chirpy has gone missing’

There's also a laptop. Interesting. Wonder if he brings his work home with him. It’s locked. Windows Vista. Needs a password.


I’m in. Wallpaper is....looks like the FTSE100. World of Warcraft shortcut on desktop. One hard drive. Seems to have plenty of encrypted files. Requires another password to view them.


I'm in. Hmm. Just photo-shopped images of Tottenham players superimposed onto pictures of the Champions League and World Cup finals. Mock up newspaper headlines. 'Levy is the best ever'. 'King Daniel of the Lane'.'Sir Daniel Levy arise!'. Self-indulgent nonsense.

Maybe his emails will be of more interest.

Subject: Downing
“Hello Steve. It's that time of year again. £12M for Stewart. Let me know today if you accept. Willing to go up to £15M. You know me, desperate for a left-winger. You can reply to this addy or MSN me. Username is LL-Cool-D. I'm on Twitter if you need to track me down.”

Subject: Hello Mr Washington
“It's me. Mr Drove My Chevy. Need your help again. Things remain a struggle since you left. Damage limitation sucks, no? Haven’t got a clue who to purchase. Suggested to Harry we just buy back players we sold. Saves expenses and costs on scouting abroad. Also thinking I should just bid £15M for any names he mentions in tv interviews and see if we get lucky. Hope all is well with you”

Nothing news-worthy here. Time I get myself upstairs. End game is in sight.

And here we are. The master bedroom. And there he is. The chairman. So at peace, sleeping like a baby. It's a shame he will woke up to a nightmare.

I made you an offer Mr Levy. One that you can’t refuse. Stop humiliating the club with embarrassing DVD releases of score-draws and cheap merchandise and I’ll stop throwing frozen shit pellets at your car. But you ignored my letter. And refused my offer. You've left me with no choice. You have forced my hand.

I'm leaving you with my Pièce de résistance, tucked up beside you. Sweet dreams Daniel. Sweet dreams.

Mission complete. Night vision batteries running low. Exit strategy now in motion. Will be out of the mansion and off the property in 2 minutes and 59 seconds....58 seconds......57 seconds.....

Operation Severed Head over and out.

Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Tim Sherwood? Does anyone care?

Robbie Keane has been back five minutes and he’s already made an impact. Such is the lack of leadership in our squad (and with Ledley King never fit) Harry has opted to make our returning son club captain. No doubt he will point, look up at the sky, wave his arms, shake his fist and shout at everything and anything including the slackers in the side. Whether any of them bother looking up to take note of our Robbie is altogether another thing. Because, you know. The players don’t care, right? What, you haven't heard? Have you not caught up on your weekly reminder about the lack of caring thing? Slacker. Get that Daily Mail delivered to your home, damn it!

It concerns me that we have to listen to people employed by the club, slag the club off. We have Tottenham forums and the tabloid columnists for that sort of lark. Even if the club deserves to be slagged off or be criticised, we do not need to have the main focus of sound-bites coming from manager and coaching staff (yes, I know…..Harry loves to talk, the irony burns).

I’ve never liked Tim Sherwood, and still don’t have much time for him. I’m not sure I understand the logic behind his employment as a part-time coach with us. How anyone can be part-time in football is beyond me considering it’s not exactly the most challenging profession with regards to hours spent in a working day compared to people who stand on their feet for 8 hours or sit in a office staring at a screen falling into a coma.

Whatever it is Sherwood does at the club as a coach is obviously not working, so I almost ignored reading his latest rant. I sucked in the vomit and went ahead with it anyway. What he says is common knowledge to anyone who watches Spurs. Players don’t care enough. You can’t disagree with it. We can see it for ourselves week to week. He cites that we are capable of defeating Arsenal on our day but fail to grind out results when it’s equally important (but not as glamorous as a NLD). Says the reason we looked at Craig Bellamy was because of his attitude towards winning. Keane does have a similar work ethic. So it does make sense to make him captain when our other choice is Jenas (Woodgate would have been my preference).

Finding myself in agreement with his viewpoint (even though its one shared by anyone following Spurs) still makes me ashamed considering he has spent the past few years slating us at every opportunity on TalkSport radio (he’s neither knowledgeable or insightful….so perfect match). Very bitter man. And I'm still not sure what he has to offer us exactly. If anyone knows what he does at Spurs, please let me know. The bloke has no experience as a coach, was not a great midfielder (should our players be inspired by his presence?) and is unprofessional (talks to the press far too much).

So, to reiterate, it's now a common occurrence to slag off our players and highlight their faults, week in week out, publicly. And it's not working as the results are not changing and the players are still not giving it 110%. All it serves is to pass the blame so everyone is in no doubt who should be blamed (at least from the perspective of the one doing the passing).

So how about working all this out behind closed doors rather than giving the red tops more headlines? Its tiresome stuff to see the same complaints repeated over and over again and yet no progress made. The reason we have managers and coaches is to man-manage and coach.

I expect Tim will be happy regardless. If Tottenham sink, he’ll go back to radio full-time and possibly publish his memoirs on the Titanic travesty Tottenham was in season 2009.

Spurs: The Reason they got Relegated by Tim Sherwood

Future bestseller on Green Street that.

Talking of travesty….Darren Bent. No, I’m joking. Look at his record.

It’s something like 14 goals in 30 games from 18 starts. He scored 8 goals last year as a sub. I might be one or two goals off (as I’m attempting to recall from memory) but still, that’s not too shabby, is it? On paper at least. So why is he much maligned? Well, personally, he doesn’t seem to play well when paired up front with another forward and he can go long periods (several games) without doing much in-game in the way of any thing productive on the eye. In a recent match he must of touched the ball 5 times in 45 minutes.

Which is why we tend to remember his misses more so than his performance and application. In a course of a game, he simply doesn’t seem to be involved us much as a Defoe or Keane or Pav. His Bolton cameo was a good one. Do that every week and we’ll go back to rating him much like we did earlier in the season. Fickle bunch we are. If things don’t work out, we can always flog him to Sunderland come the summer. Best moment of the window came after it actually closed from Ricky Sbragia who ‘tapped up’ Bent (yes, he did, according to Sbragia himself who accused Harry of the exact same thing in relation to us being linked with Jones) when he stated ‘we are interested’.

Er, Ricky…..if you’re gonna tap up a player you need to make sure you time it so that you actually stand a chance of signing the player within the window. Doesn’t actually have much of an affect after it.

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

The Dream is Over

It's a great shame Andrei Arshavin has signed for Arsenal. I was hoping for a follow-up to his special guest blog but apparently his fitness level is of far more importance and alas, he doesn't have the time to spare.

He is however still able to provide us with a little off-the-cuff entertainment. Interviewed yesterday he managed to drop this wonderful straight-faced gem:

Interviewer: "Have you spoken to Roman Pavlyuchenko about your move yet?"
Arshavin: "No."

Interviewer: "Why not?"

Arshavin: "He's not a friend of mine."

He then followed this quip with something about inviting Pav round to his hotel room now that he's living in London. Don't go Pav. Its blatantly a trap.

So, anyway, as a concluding ode to the little man, let's enjoy his finest moments as complied by DoctorSpur (over at

8th July 2008:

"My dream is Barça," Arshavin said. "But to say that isn't new. The whole world knows that I have dreamed forever about going to Barça. Messi, Arshavin, Henry? Messi is very, very good and to play with him must be a marvel, and the same goes for Henry. What more can I say? I would love it. Barça is a team that can win 7-0 or lose 4-3 because their style of football is going on the attack. As long as I remember it's been like that and all that fills me with enthusiasm. "For that reason I've followed Barça closely for a long time."

8th August 2008:

“My desire to leave is still as strong, but there is nothing more to do now other than hope for a miracle."

"I also like the way Tottenham play, so I agreed in principle to join. A short while later a representative from Spurs arrived to discuss my personal terms and contract. The discussion didn’t take long and we agreed on everything quickly."

18th November 2008:

"Playing for Bayern is a dream."

10th December 2008:

"I can confirm that officials from Zenit have begun preliminary negotiations with Real Madrid about my transfer."

3rd February 2009:

“I am happy to be [here] at Arsenal. It was my dream. “[I chose Arsenal] because I like their style and I like Arsene Wenger as a coach.”

Arshavin, finally achieving his dream at the 5th time of asking.

Thank God we only have players who genuinely want to wear the shirt. You know, like Robbie Keane. And Pascal Chimbonda. And Jermain Defoe.


Did the transfer window make you smile?

I was snowed in yesterday and worked from home. I did take a moment to venture outside. I like the crunchy sound snow makes when you walk around in it. I built a snowman. It stood proud in the garden for all of ten minutes before Harry Redknapp and Daniel Levy drove past and offered me £15M for my creation. I accepted. Apparently he's a perfect replacement for Jermaine Jenas in midfield because he won't melt as fast when the spot light is on him.

Aaaaaaaaaand, I thank you.

Robbie Keane is back, making a mockery of Liverpool, Tottenham’s transfer policy and Keane himself. Yes, I know. We never wanted to sell him in the first place. It’s not been a pretty transfer window, has it? Or has it?

Re-signing someone we sold has been the general trend that Levy and Redknapp have adhered to this month. Financially we’ve written off a lot of debt (and the £8M more we spent to bring back Jermain Defoe cancels out the £8M we got from Liverpool for our Irish loan deal star). The whole sorry state of the Keane affair rests with the politics at Anfield between Rick Parry and Rafa Benitez.

“You want Gareth Barry? He’ll cost us £18M. I'm not bidding £18M for Barry. Let’s sign Robbie Keane instead for £20M. What’s that? You don’t want Robbie Keane? Tough. He’ll have to do”

You can't blame Keane too much. Boyhood dreams are hard to ignore. The obvious downside is that we’ve not had him for the past six months and his form and confidence is shot. Although if we had of kept him in the summer, re-signing Jermain Defoe from Pompey might not have happened. Then again we probably would have signed Defoe regardless. Even though both players don’t exactly have the best working relationship on the pitch, it’s doubtful Harry would have ignored the opportunity even if it doesn't make logical sense. He'll have to work out this particular conundrum in 10 weeks from now.

Defoe picking up a nasty injury (which did not apparently exist prior to him signing for us and occurred during an indoor training session) has more or less forced us into re-signing Keane.

10 weeks without JD means we could not afford to place all hopes on just Pav and Bent. And that Utd kid. Whatshisface. Fact is, as ridiculous as this whole back and forth transfer merry-go-round is and the added risk that Keane might not be the same player he was when teamed up with Berbatov there was no better option out there for us. Better the devil you know. He's scored over 100 goals for us. He has that urgency we need and he’ll hit the ground running, probably with the aim to appease the Spurs fans that are uncertain about his return and more so Liverpool and Benitez for letting him go so soon.

He’s still eligible for a winners medal (under PL Rule 22c) so he won’t be able to play in the game up at Anfield on the final day of the season if Liverpool are still in with a chance to grab the title. Major conflict of interest. But it’s far more likely he will play as Utd will have been crowned champions long before that game. Let’s hope we don’t have to win there to stay up.

Liverpool fan at work was positively beaming this morning, telling me to ‘…have your crap back’. That's £8M worth of crap, thank you very much.

As for the fans that are banging on about how we should have signed Arshavin in the summer. Well yes, possibly but Zenit are an atrocious excuse for a football club when it comes to dealing with payments. And AA along with his agent have managed to whore themselves across Europe waving their knickers and flashing anyone who dares to look in such a shameless and embarrassing way that the positive hype has been drained out of the whole affair.

Arsenal have completed the longest drawn out panic buy in Premiership history. The player is joining the only club that showed an interest in him, he’s that desperate for a big money move. Not that Arsenal are a bad choice if playing in England is 'his dream' for the week. If he reignites their push for 4th spot he’ll be just as happy as Wenger who will be hailed a genius for such an intelligent purchase. Where he fits in once they have all their players back is anyone’s guess, but here’s hoping he flops and Arsenal finish 5th. You know, for a laugh.

The BBC get their knickers in a twist

Class player, complete mercenary. Not convinced he would have been right for us considering we have Modric in the side. It’s bad enough that Pav had 5 months of Russian football behind him when he signed for us and is still not 100% match fit IMO. Arshavin is a player that would need to be bedded in softly softly. Maybe if he was signed in the summer it would have worked out ok. Still, he’s meant to be shit hot right? How many clubs lined up for him? I’ll shut up now. If he plays on Sunday, he’ll probably dick us.

Elsewhere, we tried to offload our £4.5M teenager dos Santos to Portsmouth for £7M (the logic here being a ‘healthy profit’ too good to turn down). The deal fell through due to the fact that dos Santos is not match fit and Adams requires players he can use from the off. I’ve spoken about this before. We have a culture at Spurs of dismissing young players without any respect for patience and development. He can’t be that bad, surely? Does Harry not rate him at all? Is Levy prepared to put this down as another dud buy from our departed friend Comolli? In fact, was he bought as ‘one for the future’? Considering he’s been out injured for a while and thus not match fit, why are we looking to offload him with such casual dismissiveness?

dos Santos was exceptional during his days in the Mexican U17 and U21 teams. He showed promise at Barcelona but in his final season was very hot and cold. They sacrificed him because of the wealth of young talent they have there (Bojan is outstanding and a far better prospect). Or did they know he flattered to deceive? A one-footed forward with no extra dimensions to his game. Maybe Harry simply doesn’t think he is cut out for the fight we have ahead of us. Confidence wise, it can’t be good for the young lad. Another ‘one for the future’ Tomas Pekhart has joined Slavia Prague on loan. And Gunter has gone to Preston for a month. I’m hoping our academy team (that continue to impress in all the world-wide tournaments they compete in) don’t disappear into obscurity when they all turn nineteen.

So. Defoe, Chimbonda, Cudicini, Keane, Palacios. Does Harry now have the proper players he requires to help balance the team and add depth to the squad? Appiah is still with us, and has another month of getting fit and proving his worth before we have to make a decision about offering him a contract. Even though we were meant to give him a decision a week back.

So was this January a success?
  • We needed a quality number two to cover and compete with Gomes. Done.
  • We needed a central midfielder. Preferably a holding or defensive midfielder. Combative is what we ended up with signing Palacios who has a bit of everything. Done, sort of (and it does mean that we might well have to rely on Zokora stepping up in that holding position).
  • We needed defensive cover. Chimbonda. Love him or hate him, we can now play Corluka as centre-back if need be. Pascal can play across the back four if called upon. Done.
  • We needed a striker. We re-signed Defoe. Done, but fate had other ideas.
  • We needed another striker due to DJ's injury. We re-signed Keane. We don’t have to concern ourselves just yet with how we plan to fit JD and RK in a starting line-up. I guess any striker signed would have had to be in the same mould as a Keane and Defoe, so we would have had the same dilemma regardless. So done.
But are we now defensively intelligent in midfield? Is Palacios the answer? What now for Jenas? Is the team (best starting eleven) now balanced from the back to the front? Can a team without a true left-winger work? Do we need a true left-winger? If Zokora is a Harry fav, then are we planning on sticking with the 5 in midfield and one upfront? Should we have signed a Crouchesque type of player (like we did with Kenwyne Jones)? Have we really improved the squad buying the player we need or have we opted for another round of scatter-gun bullet buys? Will Harry stop referring to the ‘we only had 2 points when I got here’ sound-bites?

Compared to some of the other clubs, and regardless of the fact we have re-signed players, we haven't done that badly in terms of bringing in quality. It's whether it all works out, second time around. Will the jigsaw pieces fit alongside the ones already slotted into the puzzle?

So many questions. All could be answered in 90 minutes this Sunday. Selection, formation, tactics, application. Harry takes 50% responsibility. The other 50% is down to the players.

I'm smiling. Nervously.