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For QPR fans: Harry Redknapp™ in 11 quotes

Hello QPR fans. Harry Redknapp™ is your new manager. Here, in ascending order, is a list of the top 11 catchphrases that will slowly drive you to hate the man:

11. “Football’s really very simple.”

10. “Fantastic.”

9. "To be fair, people told me we looked good with 4-4-2 in training."

8. “How’s Roy doing?”

7. "Everyone says I need to rest Adel and Esteban, but then they’d get annoyed if I did and we lost. It’s lose-lose."

6. "We need to win our last 4 games to stay up."

5. "This team had four points from 12 games when I arrived."

4. “We need to win our last 3 games to stay up.”

3. “I haven’t got a clue why we’ve been in such bad form if I’m totally honest, Geoff.”

2. "When someone asks you to manage Liverpool Football Club, you can’t say no."

1. “My 6 months at QPR have been terrific. I’m sure they’ll be straight back up next season.”

Sorry for unleashing him.

Good luck.

Notes

Tottering Hotspurs to Tottenham Hotspur via Harry Redknapp – Part 5

Author: Jack Howes

Twitter: @Debaser92

The beginning of the end of our season was our defeat away to Manchester City. A stupid 1-1 draw at home to useless Wolves meant we were five points behind City when we played them at Eastlands in late January. A win, we would be two points off City at the top of the table and be right in contention. A loss and any title hopes would be dashed.

The first half was abysmal. It was a lunchtime kick-off and both teams played as if they were playing in the middle of the night, sleepwalking around the pitch. Adebayor couldn’t play as he was on loan from City, meaning Defoe had to play up front on his own. In the second half though the game got going. Ex-Gooner Samir Nasri scored, then Joleon Lescott headed in from a corner. 2-0 down. Bollocks.

But then Stefan Savic, City’s ropey looking defender, attempts to head away a clearance and all he does is flick it backwards perfectly for Defoe to pick up the ball, round Joe Hart and side-foot home. Then a few minutes later Bale gets the ball 30 yards out and sweetly curls the ball in. Four goals in 15 minutes and it’s 2-2.

The rest of the game was thrilling. Both sides had chances and looked like scoring. City started playing dirty. Lescott did a forearm smash into the back of Kaboul’s head while Mario Balotelli stamped on Scott Parker’s head. Both could have been sent off, neither were.

But that looked like being irrelevant when in injury time Spurs break with Bale running at the City box and Defoe in oceans of space six yards out from goal. It looked an easy goal. An easy pass and tap-in and we would cap a thrilling comeback, win the match, be truly in contention for the title.

Bale’s pass is poor though, too far in front of Defoe. Defoe doesn’t help matters by, in shades of Gazza at Euro 96, stopping his run forward before running again. He stretches for the ball, makes contact but not the solid contact needed to divert the ball home. He misses. An easy chance spurned. Two points dropped.

Make that three points dropped. Benny, in the left back position with time winding down decides to welly it forward rather than keep the ball and waste time. City get the ball, attack quickly, slide the ball in for Balotelli who is taken out by Ledley King. Penalty. Balotelli scores, the whistle goes, we’ve lost a match that we’d looked like winning. We were eight points behind City now, title hopes gone. Ledley’s performances never recovered.

While this was going on our manager ‘Arry Redknapp was in trouble for allegedly avoiding tax. His evidence in court was a God-send to fans of other clubs. He gave off the image of being an illiterate chap unable to read, write, operate technology, keep track of his finances, in fact capable of doing nothing except managing football teams. However embarrassing it was for him, he got off. He was acquitted hours before Fabio Capello jacked in the England manager’s job.

The first game after Harry’s acquittal was a home game against Newcastle. Along with the Redknapp case we’d sold Super Pav after having enough of ineffective laziness punctuated with the odd super strike and signed Louis Saha on a free. Saha started up front with Adebayor and led a steamrollering. Against a good Newcastle side we were 4-0 up at half time, and won 5-0. Harry was cheered vociferously. The title may have gone, but 3rd place looked guaranteed. We were 10 points ahead of a recovering Arsenal.

And Arsenal were our next opponents. They were in 4th on a good run of form but were ludicrously pessimistic about their chances. All their fans talked of defeat. None of them in the week before the match seemed to have any confidence. They were talking of not being able to watch Tottenham win on their territory. As someone used to a lifetime of Arsenal pummellings I was confused.

Gooner pessimism looked well founded though after half an hour. We were 2-0 up, a Saha deflected shot and a dubious penalty ‘won’ by Bale and converted by Arsenal bête noire Adebayor. We were provisionally 13 points clear of Arsenal near the end of February and looking like doing the double over the bastards. Magic.

Then Arsenal started to attack. Friedel made some great saves and last ditch blocks were flying in all over the place. Then Bacary Sagna, a right back for God’s sake, heads in for a goal. Van Persie then with equalises on the verge of half time. I had the horrible sense a collapse was looming.

I wasn’t wrong. Rosicky quickly gave Arsenal the lead. Our defence was a shambles. Harry had put on Sandro and Van der Vaart at half time but this seemed to just confuse things. Then Theo Walcott, dropped for the match comes on a sub and twice ran past Ledley like he wasn’t there and twice side-footed past Friedel. We were 5-2 down. We’d conceded five goals in less than thirty minutes of play with defending that would shame the French Army circa 1940. We were lucky Arsenal didn’t score more.

Losing like that was humiliating. Shameful. Disastrous. And the precursor to an almighty collapse. The next week we were home to Manchester United. We never beat United. We played quite well this time but still managed to lose 3-1.  The week after that we were away to Everton. We rarely beat Everton. This time we lost 1-0 in a tight game where we hit the bar, worked the keeper but knew we could play all night and never score.

Our next game though was horrible but for different reasons. We were home to Bolton in the FA Cup quarter-final. We’d been rubbish in the FA Cup, beating Cheltenham at home, being outplayed by Watford but still winning, drawing 0-0 away at Stevenage and then in the replay going 1-0 down to a side that had been non-league two years previously. We won 3-1 but it was a nervous, tetchy win.

The Bolton game was on ESPN, a channel me and one of my friends have. I was keeping abreast of the score through occasional checks of my iPod. During this particular game I was checking a Spurs forum so I’d get some analysis (however stupid the analysis of football is on a forum). At 1-1 I checked the forum for the half-time score. All I saw though were posts wishing Fabrice Muamba a quick recovery.

I presumed he’d broken a leg or something. I went on to the BBC website to see what it was. It wasn’t a broken leg. The BBC live feed said the match was abandoned, that he’d collapsed with no one near him and that he’d stopped breathing. ‘Oh no, oh no’ I thought. This had happened before with Marc Vivien-Foe, Dani Jarque and others. They’d died. I thought Muamba was dead.

The thought of a young footballer with a fiancée and a child dying at White Hart Lane, a place I associate with love, warmth and fondness was too horrible to contemplate. The rest of the evening was spent on Twitter checking for updates on his condition. I thought he was dead. Twitter was at its best and worst that night. Many people writing with real warmth and sadness. Others were making jokes about ‘heart stopping action’ at White Hart Lane.

Eventually, to shock, amazement, relief and happiness Muamba pulled through. The reaction from football was silly and occasionally unsavoury (as an atheist the ‘pray for Muamba’ movement made me feel distinctly uneasy; doctors, nurses and the cardiologist who ran on the pitch saved him, not God) but on the whole warm and loving. For all of the corruption, racism, homophobia, hooliganism that exists in football to some extent, I still like to believe football is mostly a force for good, played by good people. The tributes paid to Fabrice Muamba reflected that.

The game after that was home to Stoke. News of Muamba’s recovery was seemingly enough to soothe the nerves of understandably anguished players who had seen Muamba fight for his life on the White Hart Lane pitch and allow the match to go ahead.

Stoke in twenty one away games to the top four had only garnered one point. 1 point from a possible 63. Make that 2 points from a possible 66. We dominated, couldn’t score, let in the sort of soft, scrappy goal Stoke always score and needed an injury time equaliser for a point. Next up we drew 0-0 at a Chelsea side in the middle of a worryingly good Champions League run. We should have won really but couldn’t finish.

Still our performance was OK. When we beat Swansea 3-1 we looked like we were playing well again. We were down to fourth but 3rd place looked back on again.

Next up though was as bad a 0-0 draw with Sunderland as you’d ever want to see. Sunderland ran, tackled and nibbled at our ankles without threatening our goal. We barely got near their goal either. Two days later, on Bank Holiday Monday we were home to Norwich. A cinch win seemingly. Norwich had been dismal when we played them earlier in the season.

This game saw Spurs worst performance of the season. We conceded early, equalised, saw two obvious Norwich penalties not given, then had Elliot Bennett (whoever he is) thump one in from 35 yards. We’d lost. What was sad was not just our performance but Ledley, our one-legged defender supreme, be bullied by lumbering lump of lummox Grant Holt.

The weekend after this was an FA Cup semi-final against Chelsea at the preposterous kick-off time of six o’clock on a Sunday evening. We’d beaten Bolton in an emotional replay to reach this stage. Chelsea were in the middle of their amazing Champions League run. In the league they had more or less given up on 4th place. I was desperate for a Spurs win. I’d never seen them in a FA Cup final. All I’d seen were numerous semi-final defeats. To Newcastle, to Arsenal, to Portsmouth, to Arsenal and Everton before I was old enough to remember.

The game was another disaster. We played quite well in the first half, shaded the play. Then Didier Drogba with an amazing turn and shot Yeboahed the ball into the top corner for 1-0. Again, bollocks. Then after half-time came the feeling of robbery, of unluckiness, that Spurs were somehow cursed. From a Chelsea corner we don’t clear our lines, Juan Mata turns the ball towards the goal-line and the ref gives a goal.

Spurs players protested. The way they protested gave away the fact it wasn’t a goal. Usually you can tell what was a foul, what was a yellow card, what was goal, from a player’s reaction. Here you could see how the Spurs players knew the ball had never crossed the line. The ITV replays showed the ball not even touching the goal line (later replays showed the ball on the line but not over).

We got a goal back shortly afterwards but we always looked panicky and indisciplined, playing with too much anger and not enough brain. Chelsea scored again, then when Lampard scored a sensational free kick I’d had enough. I didn’t watch the last ten minutes, too angry and upset to look. I felt robbed. The FA Cup had gone, the hated Chelsea had mullered us and the top four looked like it was gone. I came back home and locked myself in my bedroom for two hours.

The week after was QPR away. They were fighting to stay up and were in excellent home form. Mark Hughes had them playing aggressive, ‘physical’, niggly football. Spurs don’t do well against sides like that. We didn’t on that day. A Taarabt free kick and a spineless, pathetic performance saw us lose 1-0. Awful. Six points in nine league games, starting with the humiliation by Arsenal.

After this our form picked up. We won three of our last four games against obliging Blackburn, Bolton and Fulham sides. Between those games though was a stupid 1-1 draw with Villa. Villa were the worst side on form in the league, had seven defenders in their side and lacked ambition on a mind-lowing scale. Yet a deflected goal for them, missed chances for us and a baffling introduction of a half fit Scott Parker when we needed a goal and had Saha and Defoe unused on the bench led to a 1-1 draw when a win would have taken us to 3rd.

Arsenal had slipped up. Newcastle who threatened to nick 4th lost to Wigan and Man City. Chelsea had stopped bothering with the league. On the final day a win against Fulham and an Arsenal draw or loss would have given us 3rd. We did our job, winning 2-0 comfortably. Arsenal would have lost but for West Brom keeper Marton Fulop. He let in three goals, two of them howlers for a fortunate Arsenal win.

Spurs had finished 4th. Enough for Champions League qualification in any other season, but not necessarily in this one. Chelsea had made the Champions League final with an astonishing win over two legs against Barcelona. They’d finished 6th but would nick our Champions League place if they beat Bayern Munich in the final.

Fuck.

Jack’s writing can also be found at, amongst others, theFCF.co.uk.

Notes

Tottering Hotspurs to Tottenham Hotspur via Harry Redknapp – Part 4

Author: Jack Howes

Twitter: @Debaser92

The poor finish to the previous season carried on to the start of the next season. After a summer of the little genius Modric wanting to leave and the papers carrying stories of his imminent departure every day, our first game was called off due to the riots. Only our game out of all the Premiership fixtures was postponed and now our season would start against Manchester United and Manchester City. Crap.

Crap summed up neatly the first two games of our season. Two defeats by an aggregate of 8-1. Losing 3-0 away to United was a bit harsh given that for the first hour we gave them a good game with a central midfield pairing of Krancjar (slower than ‘an asthmatic ant carrying some heavy shopping’) and Jake Livermore who’d never started a Premiership match before. Losing 5-1 at home to City was just embarrassing. Only Arsenal losing 8-2 to United and giving everyone a laugh on the same day saved our bacon.

From this piss-poor state of affairs though, Tottenham entered a purple patch. Spurs had their best run of form in decades with an astonishing run of 31 points in 11 games. This run started with a 2-0 win away to Wolves who had got 7 points from the first 3 games. Before the game we had signed Scott Parker from West Ham and got Emmanuel Adebayor on loan from Man City. They made an immediate difference. Wolves only garnered 18 points from the remaining 34 games of the season.

Next up was Liverpool at home. I missed most of this game as this was the day I moved in on campus at university to ‘study’ (there isn’t much ‘studying’ at university). I missed a sending off and the first two Spurs goals. I managed to see another Liverpool sending off and two more goals. 4-0, thank you very much, as we contributed to Kenny Dalglish’s short lived time as Liverpool manager. Not as short though as my time at university. I left after a term being possibly the only person in the history of civilization to thoroughly hate my time as a student.

Still my miserable time as a student was helped by Spurs’s great form. We didn’t stop winning. The whole side just oozed class. Brad Friedel was consistently excellent in goal and a far more reassuring presence than Gomes. Ledley King has scandalously scarcely been mentioned in this review – that’s only because he’s so classy you’d barely notice his superb positioning and reading of games. Kyle Walker and Benny Assou-Ekotto provided the perfect balance of defence and attack at full back.

In midfield, Modric (once the transfer window closed and we’d refused to sell him) provided guile and ball retention skills good enough to make you bend at the knees, Parker provided midfield bite, Lennon pace, Bale pace and power while Adebayor’s movement and ability to hold the ball up added another dimension. Van der Vaart flitted around the pitch doing everything with skill, grace, intelligence and an almost endearing lack of pace.

In amongst our run of 31 points from a possible 33 was a home win against Arsenal (always lovely to beat the Scum), a win away at Fulham when we spent the entire second half under siege in our penalty area conceding only one goal when we conceivably could have conceded 10, and the sort of tough, hard fought away win at West Brom Spurs just don’t do. Modric was missing due to some lurgy or other, we conceded early and were playing poorly. But we get a penalty, put that away then in the second half dominate, get a goal then get another on the counter to seal the win. Spurs just don’t do those sort of wins.

From staring at the abyss after two games there was talk of a tilt at the title after fifteen. As a Spurs fan it was odd to be completely content with things. Arsenal were having a rotten season while Spurs were playing sensational football, both to watch and in terms of results. As Huw Richards says in the ‘My Favourite Year’ anthology of football writing I nicked from my school library, nothing beats your side getting great results with style and flair.

Perhaps sadly, it’s impossible to really write dramatic reviews of games from our winning sequence. Most of our wins were ho-hum, unspectacular and with few hiccups. For two or three months we were a top quality side, as good as any in the Premier League. Then we played Stoke and at that dive of a stadium we had as frustrating a game as its possible to have. We go 2-0 down in the first half, playing abysmally and conceding soft goals against an irritating, pesky, hairy-arsed blighter of a team.

Then Harry transforms into a tactical mastermind and switches from 4-4-2 to 3-5-2. We dominate the second half and convert a penalty. But we’re denied at least one, probably two, other clear penalties, have Younes Kaboul sent off for two soft bookings, hit the wood work. What should have been a thrilling comeback win was a frustrating as hell 2-1 loss.

However, this loss didn’t stop us. The Spurs bandwagon kept rolling on. We drew annoyingly at home to Chelsea and fortunately at Swansea, but there were four other wins over the Christmas period. Tough 1-0 wins home to Sunderland and West Brom (‘tough 1-0 wins’ is usually a concept anathema to Spurs) and on boxing day at Norwich as easy a 2-0 away win as you’ll see. Then at home to Everton was the zenith of our season. This was the game we should have played on the opening day but which was postponed. Win this, we’d be only three points off the top of the table, in mid-January and without having played more games than anyone else. We’d be in genuine, proper title contention.

We were nervy and against Everton who we never beat easily. But then Lennon, having had a shocker, runs into the Everton box, mishits a shot and it goes in for 1-0. We’re playing soundly in the second half, when the coolest motherfucker in the universe, Benoit Assou-Ekotto, with the aid of a slight deflection, thumps one in from 35 yards. 2-0, thank you and goodnight. 45 points from 20 games, three points off the top of the table with over half our games played.

This was the highpoint of our season, as high as we’ve been in the table since the mid-1980’s. This was heaven. The end to our season was to be pure, unadulterated hell.

Jack’s writing can also be found at, amongst other, theFCF.co.uk.

Notes

Tottering Hotspurs to Tottenham Hotspur via Harry Redknapp – Part 3

Author: Jack Howes

Twitter: @Debaser92

Following on from ‘That Night’, the last two Champions League games were by comparison a doddle. Werder Bremen turned up in awful league form, had an injury list longer than Eric Pickles food bill and didnt remotely threaten the Spurs goal. It was as lazy and subdued a 3-0 win as Ive ever seen.

The last game away to Twente finished 3-3, notable for the Twente goalkeeper Paul Robinson-ing an attempted clearance to gift Spurs their first goal. Inters surprise loss to Bremen that night meant we won the group. Tottenham Hotspur, beating some of the finest sides in Europe. We did it by scoring an amazing 18 goals in 6 group games, scoring at least twice in every match. Pure fantasy football.

In the league we were going strong. Liverpool were unluckily beaten 2-1 the week after we beat the Arse when in injury time Paul Konchesky played a perfect through ball for Lennon to run on and score, the only problem being Konchesky was Liverpools much derided left-back famed for his mother insulting Liverpool fans on Twitter for criticising her son.

Chelsea should have been beaten two weeks after that, but for Gomes letting in a Drogba shot that though powerful enough to demolish a large building was aimed right at the Brazilian and eminently saveable. Then in injury time our ‘keeper haplessly gave away a penalty, only to save it.  Gomes won us one point having lost us two points, all in the same match.

With the Champions League on its winter hiatus, we set about finishing in the top four again. With the exception of a loss away to Everton (one of those tough games we always lose) and a frustrating 0-0 home draw to the worst United side in years (they still won the title mind) we got 20 points from 9 games between late December and mid-February, six wins, a 90th minute equaliser away at Newcastle and the aforementioned draw to United. By the time we played Blackpool in late February, a win would have taken us to 3rd place.

The game was a disaster. We conceded early, conceded just before half-time and though we had enough good chances to win three matches we spurned them so badly we didnt score until the 90th minute. By this time we were 3-0 down. It was the most one-sided 3-1 match in the history of football. In the losing sides favour.

The Blackpool defeat though came after possibly the greatest night for Tottenham in 27 years. Tottenham, back at the San Siro, this time playing AC Milan. This was a Proper European tie. Away to AC Milan in one of the cathedrals of football. We were unlucky to draw them in a way having won our group they were the toughest side we could have drawn. But it wouldnt have felt the same playing FC Copenhagen. Playing AC Milan, though, thats Proper Football.

Spurs had an injury crisis before the match Modric was recovering from a burst appendix, Bale was injured, Huddlestone was injured while Jenas (thank god) was suspended. This meant a midfield pairing of Sgt. Palacios and new signing the Brazilian Sandro, whos only appearance was in a League Cup tie and who, in an earlier European game, had travelled to the airport only to be told he wasnt in the squad.

In retrospect this helped us. Palacios and Sandro, defensive midfielders to the core ran, harried, bit the arses of the Milan players who seemed surprised by Spurs energy, and were lethargic the whole evening. Clarence Seedorf was given such a tackling he was taken off at half time. The first half was very good Spurs came closest to scoring with a superbly inventive Van der Vaart chip, Milans keeper went off with a head injury which endless TV replays couldnt find the cause of.

The second half was different. Milan attacked with vim and vigour and started to play like the scary, exotic team which I expected to see. This exotic vibe was enhanced by Ray Wilkins making one of his appearances in the Sky commentary box, with his strangely polite, 1950s style of delivery which you suspect hides a maniacal Begbie-esque psychopath.

For all the exoticism their best chance was a Mario Yepes bullet header, met by one of the best pure reaction saves Ive seen by Gomes. Shortly afterwards, another Yepes header was met by another great Gomes save. Milan were getting nervous. They started diving and play acting to ridiculous levels. The bearded, looks-like-he-should-be-an-extra-in-a-mob-film Gattuso slapped more than one player.

Then Mathieu Flamini, ex of Arsenal attempted to kick one of Corlukas legs out of the San Siro and almost succeeded. For a vicious tackle he was only booked. While Corluka was counting how many bones were still functioning in his leg, the Milan players said he wasnt getting off the pitch quickly enough. By now youd almost forgotten this was a Champions League tie. You just wanted to beat these cheating bastards.

Ten minutes from the end, happy with 0-0, we defend a corner. Woodgate heads it out to Sandro, who nods it to Modric whod come on as a substitute. Modric does a superb little through-ball to Lennon. He legs it down the pitch and suddenly you realise theres only two defenders back for Milan with a lurking Crouch.

Lennon runs and runs and runs. After a sixty yard run the Milan defender finally dives in for a tackle. Lennon steps round him, draws the other defender, and side-foots it to Crouch’ who also side-foots it, and at first I think hes dragged it wide. Crouch missing easy chances wasnt an unknown phenomenon. But the shot doesnt go wide. It goes past the keeper and nestles snugly in the back corner of the net.

At the friends house where I watched most of the matches Ive written about, there was enough jumping up and down to cause a minor earthquake. No one could quite believe Spurs were away to AC Milan in the Champions League and winning! Winning! Redknapp, the all-conquering hero!

The last ten minutes were largely fine. Milan hardly threatened. Thats until, in the last minute of injury time, they get a corner and the up to that point church mouse-quiet Zlatan volleys in an equaliser. Gutted. But no! The ref rules it out for a clear push. Given how lenient the ref had been on Milan up until then I was surprised but incredibly relieved. Wed won! Beaten AC Milan at the San Siro. Wow. Not even Gattuso head-butting our 60 year old coach Joe Jordan could take the gloss off a magnificent nigh;  possibly Spurss greatest European night since the 1984 UEFA Cup final victory over Anderlecht.

Several weeks later (UEFA staggered the fixtures to suit TV audiences) we played Milan at home. We played nervously and unsure of whether to attack or defend. Seedorf was magnificent for Milan and ran the show. Spurs were outclassed in all honesty. But we clung on in very un-Spurs like fashion to 0-0. The ex-Arsenal but now proudly Spurs William Gallas cleared a Robinho deflected shot heroically off the line.

Near the end Pato nearly scored a wonderful goal for Milan. But they couldnt score. After ninety minutes of agony we were through. The crowd chanted are you watching Arsenal in recognition of their defeat to Barcelona the previous evening. To be a Spurs fan that night was very heaven.

Drawing Real Madrid in the quarter-finals was triffic. They were glamorous enough for our tastes but also fallible enough to be beatable. Playing Barcelona would have been nice but wed have been annihilated. Playing Madrid, we thought we would have a chance.

We may have done had it not been for a nightmare at the Bernabeu. In shades of Ronaldo at the 1998 World Cup final, Lennon was on the team sheet, warmed up, but was then replaced minutes before the match by a useless Jermaine Jenas, and said afterwards he was never fit to start in the first place. Whatever, this was a bad start exacerbated by Madrid scoring after five minutes. Then Peter good in Europe Crouch did two silly sliding tackles on Madrid defenders, and twelve minutes in was sent off.

The rest of the match was horrible, with our only tactic appearing to be hoofing long balls to Gareth Bale on the left wing. We clung on to 1-0 for a while, but then Madrid scored twice in the second half and a Gomes blunder made it 4-0. Id been saying before that to people that I wasnt bothered if we lost 5-0. Well wed lost 4-0 and it was so frustrating. A fit Lennon and un-sent off Crouch and we might have done something. At home, another Gomes howler meant we lost 1-0. A great European campaign ended in a whimper.

By now our league form was dreadful. The Blackpool loss was the start of a run of nine points from ten league games which ended our chances of finishing in the top four. We drew 3-3 against Wolves when Jermain Defoe scored two stunning goals but we defended uselessly. At home to loathed West Ham we battered them but couldnt score despite peppering the woodwork like a woodpecker to a tree.

In the middle of this run was perhaps the best pure match of football Ive seen Spurs partake in. At home to Arsenal who needed to win to keep their faltering title hopes alive while we needed to win to keep faltering Champions League qualification hopes alive.

The first half was sensational. Arsenal scored, then we equalised, then they scored, then scored again. Then Tommy Huddlestone with his left foot that could open a tin of peas scored with a gorgeous, sensuous twenty-five yard strike. In the second half we slowly got on top, equalised with a penalty and then Modric had a sitter to make it 4-3. If he scored Im convinced this game would have been remembered as another Liverpool-Newcastle. As it is he missed and the match ended 3-3.

The match was a feast of football. Both sides attacked with abandon and attacked with beautiful passing football, backed by a noisy, fervent crowd. The match was so good there was only nagging disappointment at not winning. I remember the Guardian post match blogs were full of Spurs and Arsenal fans congratulating each other on a fantastic match.

This Corinthian spirit didnt extend to Stamford Bridge. Only a win would keep our hopes of a top four finish alive. We scored early with a Sandro thunder-bastard from thirty yards. Then they equalised when Gomes let a tame Lampard shot through his legs, kept the ball from going behind the goal-line but the small matter of all of the ball having to go over the line not stopping the officials awarding a goal. Chelseas winner being offside just made things worse.

We ended the season with a laughable 1-1 draw at home to Blackpool (Gomes saved a penalty then straight from the rebound conceded another) followed by wins against Liverpool and Birmingham. Finishing 5th was underwhelming.

But wins against Inter Milan? AC Milan? Away to Arsenal? What a season!

Jack’s writing can also be found at, amongst others, theFCF.co.uk.

1 Notes

Tottering Hotspurs to Tottenham Hotspur via Harry Redknapp – Part 2

Author: Jack Howes

Twitter: @Debaser92

In the moment of triumph of qualifying for the Champions League the seeds of Harry’s downfall were sown. We now know in the summer after we had qualified for the that he had been close to leaving Spurs for petro-millions in Dubai. He may well have left had Levy not demanded a king’s ransom in compensation. Of course at the time this was not known. We were busy watching Harry taking the BBC shilling to give his views on England’s disastrous World Cup campaign.

I say Spurs qualified for the Champions League. Well we almost didn’t. After the season started with a 0-0 draw at home to Manchester City when we could have scored 5 or 6 and instead scored none due to Joe Hart morphing into Lev Yashin, we played Young Boys of Berne in a Champions League qualifier.

All we knew about Young Boys was that they had a plastic pitch and that it elicited a chuckle from people to ask what their youth team was called. No one took them particularly serious.

And neither, it seemed, did Harry, who said later ‘I played two up front because our scout said they weren’t very good’, or words to that effect. We were 3-0 down after half an hour. Each goal was a further tightening and crushing of the bollocks. The first goal was worrying but not fatal. When they scored the second it was apparent Spurs weren’t at the races. The third goal was awful. Spurs were going out of the Champions League in the qualifying round against a team no one had heard of with a silly name.

Then just before half-time Sebastien Bassong scored with a thunder-bastard of a header. Still at 3-1 down in the 2nd half we were hammered. They missed two open goals. Young Boys battered us. But we clung on to 3-1, then, in the 83rd minute, Pavlyuchenko, from nowhere, smashed one past the keeper for 3-2. With the minimum of backlift ‘Super Pav’ did a very Super-Pavvish thing and scored a goal so good you forgot for a short while his lack of pace, ball control and interest in any match he played in.

Still a 3-2 loss was a miracle. A week later, with the aid of free flags handed out to fans before kick- off, the phalanx of officials you see in European games not spotting a blatant Defoe handball and, amazingly, a Peter Crouch hat-trick we beat Young Boys 4-0. We’d qualified – phew.

Then we were drawn with Dutch champions Twente, Inter Milan and Werder Bremen for what would be an amazing campaign. We also then signed Rafael van der Vaart on transfer deadline day. From Real Madrid. Spurs signing a Real Madrid player felt strange. It made a change from when you’d get excited over a newspaper article suggesting John Hartson may be signing.

In the league though we had a rubbish start. We lost at home to Wigan who had lost their opening game 4-0 at home Blackpool and lost 9-1 at the Lane the season before. We lost to West Ham who went on to be relegated. We lost at Old Trafford with Nani scoring the stupidest, silliest goal I’ve ever seen Spurs concede. Resident clown Gomes decided to argue with the referee as to whether he had a goal kick or a free kick. While he was doing this Nani apologetically sidefooted it into the net which, to general astonishment, was given as a goal. Unbelievable. Well, not unbelievable actually. At Old Trafford that sort of misfortune/terrible football always happens.

By November we were barely in the top 6. We were even below Bolton. And we were at the Emirates to play Arsenal. We hadn’t won there since 1993. And that barely counted because Arsenal put out their reserve team. Our record away to Arsenal was terrible, disgraceful.

And so was our performance in the first half. We were 2-0 down but 12-0 wouldn’t have, been outrageous such was the Gooner dominance. Spurs were awful, Arsenal rampant. At half time Harry took off Lennon and bunged on Defoe. A striker for a winger when 2-0 down and being outplayed in midfield didn’t cheer me up. While watching the game I was hoping we weren’t going to lose 5-0.

Then the second half starts, Spurs counter from an Arsenal corner, 5 ft 5 Defoe overcomes a height disadvantage of about half a foot to win a header against Laurent Koscielny and flick it to Van der Vaart, who touches it on to Bale and its 2-1. We’re still not playing very well but cling on to 2-1. Then we get a free kick 25 yards out. In Spurs fashion it’s over hit and going out for a goal kick.

At least, it would have been a goal kick had Cesc Fabregas not inexplicably raised his arm to block the ball. He was like a kid in an under-eight match too scared to head it. Whatever, we had a penalty, Rafa scored and its 2-2. Jubilation. Surprise. And the feeling we’ve got away with not just robbery but a mass murdering spree.

Arsenal respond by battering us. They score a goal that’s ruled out for offside, Koscielny misses a sitter, Gomes makes some good saves. With five minutes to go we’re delighted with 2-2. We get a free kick just inside the Arsenal half, which we use as a vehicle to time-waste. In the box there were three Spurs attackers and eight Arsenal defenders.

But Rafa’s delivery is superb, Younes Kaboul jumps in front of Koscielny and Gilzeans it into the goal. 3-2 from 2-0 down. The celebrations were manic. Arsenal, in shock probably, did nothing the last five minutes. They were totally bemused at how dominating a game and leading 2-0 ends up in a 3-2 defeat and Arsene Wenger chucking bottles of water around the dugout.

A 3-2 win at the Emirates from 2-0 down? Spurs Nirvana.

While that was going on, our Champions League campaign was taking shape. And what a campaign it was. It started off away to Werder Bremen. We were 2-0 up after 15 minutes with Crouch eliciting an own goal for the first and heading in the second. But then they score a couple of minutes either side of half-time, dominate the second half and we’re relieved to finish 2-2. Home to Twente, we miss a penalty, miss chances my Nan could have tucked away, get two more penalties, score a couple more, see Rafa sent off, concede one in the middle and end up 4-1 victors.

Then The Big One. Inter Milan (or Internazionale which makes them sound slightly more fearsome), champions of Europe, playing Tottenham Hotspur at the San Siro. In a meaningful match. Wow.

'Wow' was what you would have said if you were a neutral and turned on the telly 40 minutes after kick off. Inter were 4-0 and a man up. What was a dream had become a nightmare. Inter scored after a minute, and a few minutes later Gomes brings down Eto’o for a red card, an Inter penalty and another goal. Two more goals quickly followed. Away to the European champions, a 5-0 defeat would have been a positive outcome at that point. Things were that bad.

Thankfully Inter put the brakes on and hardly bothered second half. Gareth Bale was bothered though, slaloming through the Inter defence with pace and skill and then fizzing the ball past the ‘keeper to score a wonderful goal. Inter sat back even more after that, and at 4-1 down after 89 minutes I was very relieved.

Then suddenly, Bale picks up the ball à la the first goal, runs past a few Inter players (à la the first goal), powers through to the edge of the area (à la the first goal) then with a cracking strike along the ground across the ‘keeper, scores another amazing goal (à la the first goal). Then from the kick off we win the ball, pass it about, set up Bale who, again with his left foot, strikes it across the goalie for an incredible hat-trick. From hoping we wouldn’t lose about 8-0 I was jumping up and down at home for the last minute thinking we might get a draw. At the end, never had a 4-3 defeat felt so good.

Two weeks later we played Inter at The Lane. This would be quite possibly the best match of the Redknapp Era. It remains to this day the best performance I’ve seen from a Spurs side.

From the start we attacked with verve, pace, skill and panache. Whenever Inter got the ball we pressured them, pressed them, harassed them. And when we got the ball we passed it beautifully across the slick White Hart Lane turf. Modric, with a lovely stepover and through ball, set up the first goal for Rafa. Crouch missed a sitter (a recurring theme throughout these articles) a couple of minutes later. Bale continued to give Maicon a torrid time. Inter’s only shots were long range efforts.

Second half, Bale gave Maicon the mother of all beatings. Sweet Gareth, with his mummy’s boy haircut and endearing awkwardness in front of a TV camera, just running around the best right back in the world like he was an arthritic septuagenarian. I remember the day after this game at school someone who didn’t know much about football saying ‘all he did was kick it past the defender and run after it’. Well, on that night this simple approach was devastating.

The second goal saw Bale burst past Inter winger Coutinho then deliver the sort of delicious cross that can’t fail to be gobbled up by greedy strikers. Even Peter Crouch, who tapped in from a few yards out. We score again when Bale in a five yards space between him and the byline somehow squeezes past Maicon to cross to the lurking Crouch but it’s

ruled out because Bale used six yards instead and the ball was out of play. Then, with Inter’s only shot in the penalty area of the entire match Samuel Eto’o is allowed to get a shot in through Alan Hutton standing off him (another recurring theme) and scores.

No bother. Bale promptly gets the ball, rampages down the left wing and delivers another sumptuous cross to Pav who puts it in. Tottenham, in the Champions League, crushing the European Champions 3-1 at the Lane.

Bloody marvellous. 

Jack’s writing can also be found at, amongst others, theFCF.co.uk.

Notes

Games to be Forgotten - Arsenal 5 - 2 Tottenham, or ‘Not Enough Fairy Liquid in the World’.

Author: Spurred On

Twitter: @Spurred_On (although, you must have known that already)

Will you do something for me? I want you to remember the last hangover you had. Was it the sort where, after lying in bed until 2pm, you finally decide you’re probably OK to get up, inadvertently roll over onto your left side, feel like somebody turned on a wave pool in your stomach, and have to remain prostrate for another hour just to deal with the trauma? I’m really good/bad at those sorts of ones. But then again that’s probably God/Darwin’s way of punishing me for choosing tasty, tasty, girly Bulmers instead of horrible, flat, manly bitter.

So you picture a scene. It’s me, in bed, in my pants, feeling a bit sick. Don’t tell me you come here for metaphysics. It’s also the 12:30 on Sunday, February 26th 2012; 4 days after my 23rd birthday, 17 hours since I started celebrating it, 1 hour before Arsenal v Tottenham kicks off at the Emirates, a mile and a half away from where I currently lie. Next to a mate, dribbling all over my pillows. Spurs were going into this, their 26th game of the season, with 53 points: 10 more than Arsenal, we (Spurs fans) were smug as a dog with two proverbials.

At about 13:10 said mate (Fulham) and I shuffled to my nearest pub, with it’s football room round the back filled with rows of tiny wicker seats so uncomfortable you’d be forgiven for thinking you were in detention at an Austrian convent. Another friend (Exeter City) was already there, with an eye-narrowing freshness about him that belied the hours we’d spent together in a sweaty, hipster-riddled snooker-hall-bar-club the night before. He had his bitter. Mate and I, with our child’s palates and ME-worthy lack of energy, drank coke. Suspiciously watery coke. The aforementioned room was full, obviously, save for one seat right at the back next to an enormous radiator turned up high, despite it being an abnormally mild day for late winter, and it being located in a room full of many, many men. The three of us gently barged our way to the spot. I got the chair on account of it having just been my birthday (4 days ago). The other two sat cheek-to-cheek on the radiator.

As I said up there somewhere, I live fairly close to Highbury, too close for a Spurs fan really, and I pay the price for my stubborn refusal to walk more than 5 minutes to a pub. 95% of the men in that room were Gooners; I know that’s exactly right because the capacity is apparently 100 and I could only make out the faint murmurings of 5 sheepish Spurs fans. Well, 4, and me. One of them, it turned out, would spend a large chunk of the match sitting next to me, facing a wall, and not the one with the screen on it. That is because, despite it only being 13:20, he was already swollen with beer, and thought this was a really, really funny way of sitting. He spent the 10 minutes prior to kick off repeatedly making shocked faces at the fact that I was a fellow a Spurs fan, whilst he flicked dregs of Heineken over his friends, or, at least, the people sitting in front of him. In addition to my hangover, I’d also had a shit haircut the day before, and thus my willingness to suffer fools was waning, at best. But anyway, it was NLD time.

4 minutes. The game started beautifully, Gareth Bale picked the ball up in his own half, chipped it precisely to the feet of Emmanuel Adebayor, who somehow made a simple 20 yard pass through a gaping Arsenal defence to Louis Saha look like an laser beam through a keyhole. Saha dithered for a second on the edge of the box, pushed the ball onto his left foot, and, in trying to nutmeg Thomas Vermaelen and find the bottom corner, inadvertently caught the Belgian’s leg, causing the ball to loop high and over an on-rushing Wojciech Szczęsny and fall into the back of the net. 1-0. Me and the other 4 Spurs fans, including the drunk, stood up, roared ‘YES!’ in unison, and sat back down, smugness fully in tact.

34 minutes. Luka Modrić actually does play a laser-keyhole pass, which a rampaging Bale muscles past Kieran Gibbs to latch onto in the area, before tumbling somewhat histrionically over Szczésny to win a penalty from referee Mike Dean. Adebayor steps up (to resounding jeers from the home fans for some reason) and cooly slots the spot-kick away. 2-0. The 5 of us are getting real cocky now. Laughing openly in the Gooners faces about their hilarious defending and Mr Burns manager. These are good times. They do not last long. Arsenal start attacking ferociously, and we start defending abysmally.

40 minutes. Alex Song collects the ball in the Tottenham half, feeds it to Theo Walcott who deftly back-heals it into the path of an advancing Robin van Persie. He slams the ball against post, but the rebound finds its way to Mikel Arteta, whose cross finds the (big) forehead of an utterly unmarked Bacary Sagna. And he finds the net. 2-1. Everyone else went postal, and the fact that they were that excited despite still being a goal behind suddenly made me feel very uneasy; like they knew something I didn’t.

43 minutes. Yet another Arsenal attack sees the Spurs defenders play a game of ‘who can make the worst clearance’, the ball eventually falling to the commanding van Persie, who has a little dance with said players before swooping a shot round everyone from 20 yards out, and into the goal. 2-2. The Arsenal men picked us Spurs men out and yelled hurtful things at us. I smiled wryly back at them, grinding my teeth and giving pumpkin-face Harry Redknapp mental punches. I got a beer at half-time.

51 minutes. Tomáš Rosicky (TOMÁŠ ROSICKY) storms towards our once again back-tracking defence, plays a short pass out wide to Sagna, who returns a low, bumpy cross to the Czech, who arrives slightly before a lolloping Brad Friedel, to flick the ball in. 3-2. Urrr. Worse felt the hangover. Louder came the yelps of jubilation from the Gooners. Further slumped my frame into that stupid doll’s chair.

65 minutes. Walcott scores. 4-2. I bang my head on the chair which previously supported the now long-absent drunk. Then, much to my retrospective chagrin, I did something I’m not proud of, and left. I made vague excuses to my friends about it being too hot in there, barged not-at-all gently through the horde of cunts, and wandered numbly back in the direction of my house. I made it half-way down the road when I heard an excitable yell from an open window. For a second I played with the idea that we’d pulled one back, then realised if we had, the resulting noise would have been more of a rousing grunt. Sure enough, I checked my phone. Walcott had scored again. 5-2.

For some reason I went home and did the washing up for half an hour in complete silence. I gauged when the game had finished and checked my phone one more time, in futile hope that we’d managed to conjure 4 goals from nothing in the last 25 minutes. You know, I’m sure, that we hadn’t. 5-2 it ended. 5-2 to those awful Gooners. It was, as a bad commentator would say, ignominy. I dragged myself back to the scene of the crime, and my friends made the sort of conversation you’d make with someone you’d just seen stab a pigeon with a flick-knife for no reason. Then Liverpool won the Carling Cup, which didn’t help.

Looking back at that day now, I clearly placed no value in the fact that even after losing to Arsenal, we were still 7 points ahead of them. Up to that point, we’d been so wrapped up in the prospect of actually winning the league, we’d forgotten not to lose it. And holy hell, how wed lose it.


Just in case you wanted to watch it again. I’ve no idea why you would:

Notes

Tottering Hotspurs to Tottenham Hotspur via Harry Redknapp – Part 1 

Author: Jack Howes

Twitter: @Debaser92

Harry’s gone. The most polarising figure I know of in a lifetime of supporting Spurs has exited the stage. His departure was like his other dismissals in his managerial career; controversial, acrimonious and with the end result of not being on his chairman’s Christmas card list.

Harry doesn’t do organised departures from clubs. If you compare him with bands splitting up he’s not like R.E.M, who after 30 years sat round a table amicably and decided to go their separate ways. He’s more like Oasis, splitting up 30 minutes before a gig due to a big argument in the dressing room. And with Paul Stretford negotiating his pay-off.

His time at Spurs has seen remarkable highs and devastating lows. As a fan it was exhilarating, remarkable at times, but at others simply heart-breaking. I don’t think I ever jumped so high from a sitting-on-the-sofa position as when Aaron Lennon equalised to make it 4-4 in the last minute of injury time against Arsenal in his first match in charge. I’ve never felt so dejected as when Frank Lampard’s free kick made it 4-1 to Chelsea in the FA Cup semi-final and basically confirmed that what had been a great season had crumbled into dust.

There were few expectations when Harry took over. Spurs had the now clichéd two points from eight games and fans were lukewarm about his appointment. Look at the old forum threads of the night he was hired. Fans saying they needed a higher calibre manager. That Harry was a ‘mid-table’ manager. Unhappy that ‘Arry, with his associations with West Ham, was now the manager.

Spurs had splashed the cash that summer on David Bentley, Luka Modric and Darren Bent and been rewarded with a misfiring team, Dimitar Berbatov being a pain in the arse over his proposed transfer to Manchester United, and the prospect of a relegation battle. Juande Ramos and Damien Comolli were fired. Spurs were an absolute shambles. Tottering Hotspurs indeed.

Harry straight away sorted us out. The day he was appointed we had our first win of the season against Bolton. Wednesday night, we were away to Arsenal. Ten minutes in, David Bentley, our expensive new star scores a 40-yard lob against the team that sold him. Still, we’re 4-2 down after 89 minutes, sinking to an expected defeat. Then medicore Jermaine ‘JJ’ Jenas scores. 4-3.

Then in the last minute of injury time Gomes punts in downfield in hope more than expectation. Jonathan Woodgate flicks it on to the head of Gallas (playing for Arsenal) who heads it back to Woodgate. He touches it on to Huddlestone who touches it on to Modric. Luka then shoots from 30 yards, hits a cracking shot that looks at first glance to be deflected, but replays suggest otherwise. It hits the post, bounces out perfectly to Lennon, and bedlam…

That was the start of ‘Arry at Spurs. We beat Liverpool a week later 2-1 when they hit the woodwork four times in the first hour and we didn’t have a shot until we scored midway through the second half. The rest of that season we easily got out of a relegation battle, reached the Carling Cup final and took Man United to penalties, and aside from a dreadful collapse at Old Trafford when a 2-0 lead turned into a 5-2 defeat in the time it took for Howard Webb to give that non-existent penalty, finished the season strongly.

The next season was a treasure from start to finish. We won our first four games and briefly topped the table. We had our usual defeats away to Chelsea and Arsenal and home to Man United but then thrashed Wigan 9-1. 9 (NINE) 1. Spurs don’t win by eight goals in one game. It felt incredible. By November we were ensconced in a battle to finish in the top four.

Twice before we’d been close and not got there. In humiliating style in 2006 we’d let dodgy lasagna, before a must win game away to West Ham, cause our players to have various liquids coming out of both ends. The half time talk consisted of flushing toilets and wretching noises rather than sage tactical advice. Teddy Sheringham even did the decent thing as a Spurs ol’ boy and missed a penalty for West Ham. 

It didn’t matter. They won, we lost and saw our Champions League hopes go quite literally down the toilet. That was under lovely Big Martin Jol. Under Harry that season we never wavered. For every disappointing home loss to Stoke and Wolves we won tough away games at Stoke, as well as at Wigan, Blackburn and Portsmouth. Then came the crunch; in a week we had an FA Cup semi-final against Portsmouth and home league games to hated Arsenal and slightly less hated though still despised Chelsea.

The Portsmouth game was an absolute disaster. Portsmouth were penniless, in administration, and bottom of the Premiership. We were gunning for a Champions League place. Everyone assumed we’d win, no one gave Pompey a prayer. They even had bloody Stan Ogden (sorry, Avram Grant) managing them.

The first half was dreadful, watching a fish finger defrost would have been a more useful and entertaining way to spend the 45 minutes plus injury time. We spent the second half camped in their half but unable to score. Peter Crouch in my memory missed about a dozen golden chances. The longer the match went on, the more I started to feel sick. I could sense where the match was going.

Then in extra-time, Pompey get a corner, Spurs Player of the Season Michael Dawson slips and Pompey score. We quickly equalise but see it ruled out for a non-existent push. We continue to send men forward, get nowhere, get caught on a counter, Sgt Wilson Palacios gives away a penalty, 2-0 defeat, oh the horror of it all. This loss was bad because nobody expected it. Usually in my case I’ve prepared myself for a Spurs loss long before the final whistle, often before the kick-off. Not here. Just shock, embarrassment, shame and this numb, solemn feeling. It was horrible.

Three days later we play Arsenal at home. We hadn’t beaten them in 11 years in the league. They were going for the title. They had just re-signed Sol Campbell who’s presence at White Hart Lane is about as welcome as a bacon sandwich at a bar mitzvah. We just wanted some self-respect. We wanted to Beat The Bastards. Get over the terrible loss to Portsmouth.

The Scummers started well, had a shot cleared off the line. Then ten minutes in we get a corner. The delivery is average, Manuel Almunia in the Arsenal goal confidently punches it out. Danny Rose, on his debut, playing out of position on the right wing and only in the team because of injuries, takes a shot. He almost apologetically falls on his arse while shooting. It looks for all the world like a typical debutant’s nervous shot that will go blazing into the stands nearer the stadium roof than the goal.

But the ball leaves his left foot like a missile. Its aim is true. The ball goes over the astonished Arsenal defence, over the backtracking Almunia, and into the net for the goal of the century. White Hart Lane explodes in shock and joy. No one can believe it. The frenzied celebrations were pure shock and spontaneity. We don’t play very well for the rest of the half but cling on to a 1-0 lead. Then at the start of the second half, Jermain Defoe turns into Wesley Sneijder, plays a majestic pass to Gareth Bale and its 2-0.

About 15 minutes from the end we still lead 2-0 when a barely fit Robin van Persie comes on for Arsenal. He changes the game. Arsenal, from looking down and out, come back resurgent. They fire shot after shot at Heurelho Gomes who in about five minutes makes three Saves of the Season. Finally, Nicklas Bendtner bundles the ball into the net for a goal. But now there’s only five minutes left. We are nervous, terrified. But we hang on. Our first league win over the Scum in 11 years. Marvellous.

On the Saturday we play leaders Chelsea. We batter them. Jermain Defoe gives John Terry the run around, EBJT giving away a penalty then being sent off for two bookings to enormous cheers. We win 2-1 but sit should have been 7 or 8-1. We continue to play well. We win consistently in very un-Spurslike fashion. Then on Wednesday 5th May comes Spurs biggest match in years

We’re in 4th place, one point ahead of Manchester City. We’re away to City in our penultimate game of the season. Win, we’re in the Champions League. Draw, we have to go to relegated Burnley and win there to make the Champions League. Lose, we’ve blown it. Again. Another summer of frustration and mockery from Arsenal fans. Humiliation.

Before the match City pretended they’d run out of goalkeepers (nonsense, they had plenty of reserve and youth team keepers fit and available). The Premier League scandalously agreed so Marton Fulop signed for them on an emergency-loan deal and played.

This was City in the early stages of their rise to success. They’d already spent massive amounts on Tevez, Adebayor, Kolo Toure and others but were still a team of individuals rather than the cohesive, potent outfit they are now. They’d played for 0-0 away to a faltering Arsenal the previous Saturday when a win would have kept them in 4th. But they were favourites for this match. They were at home with a more expensive and arguably more talented side.

The game was tense and tight. The first half was even. City had slightly more of the play, No-Kneed Magic Man Ledley King scored from a corner but saw it ruled out for a clear though light push. 0-0 at halftime. Second half though, we battered them. Modric controlled the game, Crouch did brilliantly but kept snatching on half chances. At 0-0 after 80 minutes things looked OK – we’d have taken a draw before the game and City didn’t look like scoring.

Then emergency right back Younes Kaboul powers down the right. He runs for the byline and smashes the ball at Fulop. Fulop in surprise palms it out gently to the lurking Crouch’s. Crouch heads it oh so close to the crossbar. But the ball slips under, and goes in for a goal.

Jubilation follows. People jumping up and down, both at Eastlands and in the living room of the friend’s house I watched the game from. The last 10 minutes are nerve-wracking but lacking in incident. City didn’t make one attack, showing a shameful lack of fight. Then finally, the whistle went. We’d won. Won the match, qualified for the Champions League. Harry had done it. He had succeeded where others had failed. His name was sung from the stands. ‘Arry was a managerial genius. Spurs were on a European holiday!

We were no longer Tottering Hotspurs. We were Tottenham Hotspur, the pride of North London. Thanks to Harry.

Jack’s writing can also be found on TheFCF.co.uk

Notes

Spurred On 2.0 - the ‘cool kid’ years.

You know that summer between finishing Sixth Form and starting university? When you suddenly realised that you had carte blanche to reinvent yourself in an effort to evolve from the social larvae you’d been known as at school? Maybe you’d start wearing high-tops, dye your hair blond, or affect a slight Scottish accent? Well that’s what Spurred On is doing. Except not in any of those ways.

In this inter-seasonal period (‘summer’, if you will) Spurs has undergone an almighty shift upside its head; ‘arry Fantastic is gone, AVB is in; we’ve started buying players who can’t remember the Crimean War; and the club feels so fresh it makes your nose water. It’s a bandwagon and we want on.

To that end, Spurred On will now become a blog for Spurs fans around the world to air-and-share their stories and personal experiences of particular games/campaigns/seasons/players/events in the club’s history, both recent and not-so-recent.

So we very much need YOU. If you can write, you know, well, and have a story to tell, get in touch. This won’t be a site for incoherent opinion pieces, and half-baked analysis. This will be a site for fans to document their own takes on the moments that have forged the history of this beautiful club.

4 Notes

Spurs’ Deadline Day Deals - From the shrewd, to the inevitable, to the midly baffling.

January 31st (aka Transfer Deadline Day) was an odd one for Spurs fans, having been told by Harry Redknapp that the club would be doing very few deals during the window, suddenly 4 (arguably) important squad players had disappeared and we’d signed 2 more with a combined age of 77 and lower limbs made of glass. Still, we’ve all got plenty of faith in ‘Arry, especially at the moment, right?

Lets have a quick peruse of all the deals from yesterday;

1. Louis Saha (18 month deal on a free transfer from Everton)

This seemed a real head-scratcher at first. Saha has scored 1 goal in 18 appearances for Everton so far this season, he’s 33 and immensely injury prone, and with stats like that it hard to imagine that Harry sees him as competition for Emmanuel Adebayor in the starting line-up (even if the latter has failed to score in his last 7 games). With Defoe staying, despite rumours of a move to Liverpool, with a 1:2 goals-to-games ratio so far this season, Saha may even have trouble becoming Tottenham’s second choice striker. The most likely reason for his signing, and one that would explain how left-field it was, would be that Roman Pavlyuchenko was so adamant on leaving that cover for the Russian was needed immediately. Still, at least the Frenchman came on a free.

2. Roman Pavlyuchenko (Bought for £14m, sold for £8m to FC Locomotiv Moscow )

Oh Pav, Super Super Pav. Eternally popular with the Spurs faithful despite increasingly lazy, wasteful and unenthusiastic performances towards the end of his time at the club. Arguably too rash a signing in the first place after Russia’s impressive performance in Euro 2008, Pavlyuchenko never seemed to hit top gear during his time at the Lane, despite scoring some key goals, most notably this unbelievable strike in the first leg of our Champions League qualifier against Young Boys in September 2010. Pearler. Word has it the 30-year-old was desperate to move back to his homeland, so a transfer to FC Locomotiv Moscow doesn’t come as much of a surprise. Hopefully he’ll be happy.

3. Steven Pienaar (on loan to Everton until the end of the season)

Near the end of last season I had a vaguely heated debate with a follower on Twitter in which I argued that Pienaar hand’t been a failed signing and was going to provide important cover for our fragile midfield. In hindsight, and I think I’m man enough to admit this, I was wrong. It turns out there’s not much point in signing cover for injury-prone first-teamers if the cover you sign is even more prone to injury to injury than they are. If he gets plenty of game time at Everton now he’s back to full fitness maybe he’ll come back a more useful squad member, but I don’t think he’ll ever be pressing for a first team place.

4. Sébastien Bassong (on loan to Wolves until the end of the season)

With an increasingly marginalised place in the first team thanks to the phenomenal longevity of Ledley King and the impressive performances of Younes Kaboul this season (as well as having both Michael Dawson and William Gallas above him the pecking order) a move away for Seb seemed perfectly likely this January, but a loan appeared slightly harder to justify. On the other hand, if we assume King and Gallas aren’t going to last much longer, perhaps ensuring Bassong gets plenty of playing time for the rest of the season will mean he has the fitness and sharpness to challenge for a starting place next season. He’s only 25 after all.


5. Vedran Corluka (on loan to Bayer Leverkusen until the end of the season)

The Croat has been loaned to Bayer Leverkusen for the rest of the season, meaning we have no recognised cover at right back for Kyle Walker, and if Walker gets injured at any point during this pivotal second half of the season, loaning ‘Charlie’ out could prove to be a massive mistake. Plus, he’s my favourite player with a beard. Bummer.

6. Ryan Nelsen (free transfer from Blackburn Rovers)

Odd. Really odd. The Kiwi centre-back has played just one game this season, back in August, and since then has spent a lot of time with specialists in New Zealand trying to recuperate from an ongoing knee injury. One can only imagine he’s been brought in as emergency cover at centre-back whilst Bassong hopefully improves on loan at Wolves. In support of the deal, we did get him on a free, he does have plenty of experience and, presumably, won’t be causing any unrest in the changing room due to a lack of playing time.

25 Notes

Strangest bunch of scorers today; Kaboul, Corluka and Livermore.
That kit is looking tasty though.

Strangest bunch of scorers today; Kaboul, Corluka and Livermore.

That kit is looking tasty though.