Tottenham lost in the final minutes at Everton when former player, Steven Pienaar, scored a late equaliser just as the ninety minute mark was reached. His goal left the Spurs players dejected in a match where they had looked to be taking the three points to secure fourth position and create a gap over the other clubs hoping for a top four finish. Worse was to occur as Pienaar’s goal spurred Everton on to snatch a winning goal 88 seconds later. The former player jinx, of a past player scoring or excelling when playing against a former club, had struck once again and deprived Tottenham of a win that they had looked quite capable of achieving.
Last weekend, the London derby at Craven Cottage was just another example where there has been an incentive for players to put in that extra effort when facing their former club. Clint Dempsey and Mousa Dembele were returning to play against Fulham for the first time since their summer transfer to White Hart Lane. The match threw up other close former acquaintances as Spurs met up with former Tottenham manager Martin Jol who spent four seasons at Tottenham before being removed in October, 2007. One of Jol’s summer acquisitions was former Tottenham striker, Dimitar Berbatov who spent three seasons with Spurs before his transfer to Manchester United. Stephen Kelly, a former Spurs full back made an appearance as a first half substitute while Jan Vertonghen was coming up against his former manager at Ajax, Martin Jol. Each person mentioned had that extra desire to do well but it appeared that it was Dempsey who had the greater incentive following a less than harmonious departure from Fulham in the summer. His every touch of the ball was jeered by the home supporters, while Dembele received a warm round of applause on leaving the field late in the the second half. Dempsey’s desire to perform was rewarded with one of his better Tottenham performances as he provided the pass for Defoe’s second goal and was involved in the build up to final goal.
At White Hart Lane, the previous Sunday, it was Defoe who was up against his former club, West Ham United, and responded with an outstanding individual goal to break the deadlock just before half-time and added a second to seal the victory.
We’ve Met Before
Such connections and links between players, managers and clubs have been a constant presence in most of Tottenham’s games this season, creating a desire to put in a performance. Sometimes it can have a very positive effective but on other occasions there can be negative consequences. Andre Villas-Boas acknowledged as much when speaking of Emmanuel Adebayor returning to the Emirates to play against Arsenal. It was his hope that Adebayor’s determination to prove a point to his former club would create an advantage for Spurs.
“It is an important game for the club and I suggest to make the most of it, we can use individuals’ motivations and that is why we used Adebayor also in the game versus City last weekend. These are things that you have to count on. But hopefully, it can have a positive effect, even if it can also have a negative effect.”
On that occasion, it unfortunately had a negative effect for Tottenham as Adebayor was sent off after seventeen minutes having put Spurs ahead in the match which was to end in a 5 – 2 defeat. The previous match had also presented Adebayor the opportunity to face his former team Manchester City. Selected to start his first game of the season, Adebayor was a constant threat to his former colleagues, especially in the first half when the City defenders were struggling to cope against him and signs of frustration were obvious.
There has been an extra incentive or pressure in most of Tottenham’s matches this season.
Newcastle (a) The incentive to do well came from the match being Andre Villas-Boas’ first game as manager of Tottenham. The players put in a commendable display but lost to a late penalty at St. James’ Park.
West Bromwich Albion (h) Villas-Boas came up again Steve Clarke the new Albion manager with whom he had worked at Stamford Bridge while Jose Mourinho was in charge at Stamford Bridge. A player in the Albion squad was Romelu Lukaka who had signed for Chelsea when Villas-Boas was manager but only had a few opportunities to play for the young manager. Clarke’s team was very competitive and when Lukaka was introduced as a substitute with thirty minutes to play, he had a major impact on the game, causing the Spurs defence innumerable problems.
Norwich City (h) Managed by former Tottenham player and Assistant Manager, Chris Hughton and with Sebastien Bassong newly signed from Tottenham, Norwich played well and deserved their late equaliser. Bassong who for his final eighteen months with Spurs had appeared so lacking in confidence had an excellent game giving Tottenham no chance to take the three points that everyone had assumed would be coming their way.
Reading (a) Gylfi Sigurdsson was facing the club where his career in England had started when he arrived from Iceland as a sixteen year old.
Q.P.R. (h) Spurs faced Bobby Zamora and Ryan Nelsen who both had short periods at White Hart Lane.
Manchester United (a) Tottenham’s extra incentive came from their appalling record at Old Trafford which they took the opportunity to end with their 3 – 2 win over a United team which included former Spur, Michael Carrick.
Aston Villa (h) Darren Bent is always fired up against Spurs following the unfortunate comments made by Harry Redknapp. He didn’t start the match but within a minute of his introduction Spurs had doubled their lead.
Chelsea (h) The incentives against Chelsea were numerous but it was always to do with Villas-Boas against his former club. William Gallas scored his first Spurs goal against his former club and while it revitalised Spurs at the start of the second half, the day ultimately ended in defeat and disappointment.
Southampton (h) Gareth Bale returned to St Mary’s for the first time since his transfer to Tottenham and provided the first goal in a 2 – 1 win.
The Wigan game offered no additional incentive other than for the visitors to avoid a humiliation similar to that suffered in 2009 and they achieved that admirably with their single goal success. The Liverpool match inspired Clint Dempsey as it had been his intention to move to Anfield during the summer but negotiations were never brought to a conclusion by Liverpool. It was from a free-kick for a foul on Dempsey that Bale scored Spurs’ second goal early in the match.
The jinx of facing former players in nothing new as past White Hart Lane ‘heroes’ often took great delight in inflicting defeat on their former club. Sadly, it was Steven Pienaar who had the last celebration at Goodison Park as his goal sparked Everton into the belief that they could win a match which appeared to have slipped away from them.
Next up is Swansea when Sigurdsson and Steven Caulker will be facing the team they played so well for last season. In the Swansea team is Wayne Routledge who had a disappointing time at Spurs but has rebuilt his career with the Welsh team. A difficult encounter can be expected but which of the players will have the greatest desire to win next weekend?