Excerpts from the year’s articles
I’ve been looking back over my articles for HotspurHQ and found it interesting to review what I said as events unfolded. I hope you will enjoy doing the same. Up to date comments are in square brackets.
Liverpool away, the hoodoo broken, let’s keep it that way
Now where was I? Oh yes, Liverpool at Anfield. One of the pleasant bonuses which comes with our steady improvement in recent years is the step by step laying to rest of the taboos that have dogged us for so long in relation to our performance against certain other teams. Every time the next game came along we would hear, “Spurs have not beaten Chelsea for X years. Spurs have not beaten Manchester United at Old Trafford since…Spurs have not won at Anfield in several generations….”
It really used to grate, like being made to eat humble pie 4 or 5 times a season, year after year after year. I effected to shrug it off, make a joke of it but it was so annoying, particularly when in so many games we were winning and then it would slip away with minutes to go. Often against Liverpool. We started to put it right under Harry Redknapp, beating Liverpool in one of his early games. We have done it home and away.
The [1982 League Cup Final] programme contained a few gems including a history of Tottenham’s victories at Anfield entitled “When the cockerel crowed at Anfield”. It also said, “Although 1911-12 saw Tottenham again do the double over the ”Reds” it was to be significant, for the win at Anfield on March 16th was their last on that ground – 70 years ago. ”Thirty years later we have come full circle. With our bright young managers the future looks rosy on the pitch for both clubs.
[Just over 6 months later Liverpool overwhelm us 5-0 at White Hart Lane in the “Match of Shame”. It costs our “bright young manager his job]
The Best Writers
March 2013 continued…for me, the greatest concentration of the best writing is in the Times. Simon Barnes regularly produces articles of high quality. He is not afraid to express an opinion, which whether you agree with it or not, is invariably well argued. He recently wrote a very perceptive and honest piece generated by the recent speculation about Wayne Rooney’s future which for me admirably summed up the England star and how he has been treated over the years. It ends thus,
“Rooney has gone on to be a very good footballer indeed, but always a fag paper shy of greatness. He is, in a favourite phrase of mine (Kipling’s originally), first class of the second class. That is why he got shunted to left midfield when Christiano Ronaldo joined Manchester United. So now, as the transfer talk collects around Rooney, we can look back at a career that peaked early. Sven Goran Eriksson, when England manager, compared Rooney to the young Pele. Pele trained on to become the greatest. Rooney didn’t. No blame attaches to Rooney, to his club manager, to various England managers, even to those of us who admired him not wisely but too well (my underlining). Rooney has brought us some great sport over the years, but the best bit was in Portugal nine years ago.
[Rooney is currently in one of his purple patches but is constantly committing off the ball fouls that our refs are turning a blind eye too – a bad omen for Brazil]
The Times also have Mathew Sayed and Giles Smith. Smith wrote under the heading ‘Don’t stand so close to me…unless your Rio’. “Rio Ferdinand got off lightly after approaching (the referee) after the match and applauding sarcastically, clapping close enough to the referee’s face to have potential consequences for nasal hair. Smith describes it as “such contempt for officialdom, coupled with borderline physical menace”. He finishes with “If you inadvertently brush an opponent’s chest with your passing studs, you can expect the ultimate sanction. If you deliberately brush he referee’s nose with your sarcastically applauding hands, you can expect no sanction at all. That’s one confusing message for Uefa to be sending out” That’s my sort of journalism.
Talking of England selection, would the prospect of facing one of the weakest defences in the world in San Marino have been the ideal opportunity to give a chance to a couple of in-form strikers who are inexperienced at international level? Holt at Norwich and Lambert at Southampton, for example.
It Is NOT A Big Ask, you big A*se. Or is it?
Commentators and presenters have a responsibility to the viewers, in particular the hordes of youngsters who are learning to read and write and copy what they see on TV. The BBC has it written into the charter that it is their job to educate and entertain. Despite this they seem to encourage their presenters to appear semi-literate. This happens on sports programmes in particular (Match of the Day, Football Focus).
There is one phrase that seems to have spread like an epidemic and really grates on me like fingernails scraping down a blackboard. It is ‘a big ask’. It was probably used for the first time on TV by a footballer who didn’t know any better. Whenever they are talking about someone facing a difficult challenge, or a demanding task, they use this phrase instead, the sort of phrase you would expect an uneducated yob to use.
Worse still, it often sounds like they are saying “a big a*se”. For example. “Can Wayne Rooney hold on to his first team place at United? It’s a big a*se.”
Well we know it is but a little extra weight in the nether regions is the least of his problems. Whenever I hear a professional pundit use the phrase ‘a big ask’, I think “That’s what you are, a big a*se.” Steve Claridge on the Football League show and Andy Townsend on ITV’s Europa League programme must have both used it 5 times in less than half an hour. Gary Lineker, who is normally an excellent presenter, the presenters on BBC Breakfast, they are all at it.
Isn’t there an executive at any of these stations with the authority, guts and sense of responsibility to get them to ban this awful expression from use by their official representatives? Parents and the education system have been failing our kids for a generation at least. There is no need for the TV companies to rub it in and make things worse.
Laudrup and AVBMichael Laudrup is expected to move on to greater things. If Arsene Wenger were to leave Arsenal after the difficult times he has been subjected to, Laudrup is the only one I can think of who appears to have the combination of talent, personal standards and youth that could take the club onward and upward. I hope he doesn’t go there because it would be bad news for us.
30 March 2013
It would be exciting to see two new dynasties in North London taking each other on in their 75,000 seater stadiums with AVB at the head of one and Laudrup the other.
[This was when Wenger was being heavily criticised with Spurs clear of Arsenal before they went on their end of season run. Now they are top of the league and AVB has gone. Laudrup was one of the favourites to replace him]
Get Well Gary Mabbutt
Gary Mabbutt is one of my biggest Tottenham heroes. When I said in my last blog that Greg Dyke should continue the FA’s policy of using good role models as ambassadors for England, I should have included him in the list of examples. The news bulletin last week to say that he’d undergone emergency bypass surgery after being rushed to hospital came as quite a shock. I had only seen him being interviewed on TV a few days before. The good news was that the club’s official bulletin said that they were delighted to report that he was making a successful recovery. He is however expected to remain in hospital for two weeks, which shows just how serious it must have been.
[Gary has returned to his ambassadorial role and seems to have recovered well]
Keep your Wig on
26 April 2013
Logan has done his usual immaculate job of reviewing this weekend’s game at Wigan. Every one of his memos to Tottenham about this game are spot on and I hope the players get to read it and will take the messages on board. If I was a Spurs player I’d be an avid reader of his stuff.The good news is that against Man City the team and the manager really showed some character in the last 20 minutes. They blew away the worries and doubts that Spurs fans have developed due to the slumps and misfortunes in recent years. It must have done wonders for their confidence and self- belief. It was not just that Bale picked up where he left off but Jermain Defoe looked really sharp again and Tom Huddlestone was imperious. It’s now time for one of your blockbuster goals Tom, everything else in your game is back – then you can get that bl**dy hair cut! Clint Dempsey has that look of the quiet but deadly assassin about him. Ignore him at your peril. Opponents often do, thank goodness.
We Spurs fans are a critical lot and expect much and can be slow to get behind the team. Especially at home we can sit back with the attitude, “right show us what you’ve got” and the tune of “when the Spurs go marching on” often doesn’t roll down the terraces until something significant has happened”. We need to be yelling out constant noisy support in these last five games for 95 minutes.
Given our hard to please approach, I think it’s worth me reminding us all of how far the team has come in recent years. On 21 September 2008 I was at the Wigan game at WHL. At the time, Spurs, not Wigan were bottom of the Premier league. The match was a dull 0-0 draw. I saw plenty of dour matches in the years running up to that too. So remember Spurs fans, those dour performances and seriously dodgy league positions were not that long ago. By and large we have been royally entertained since.
Logan is right though, fighting for their life again, Wigan are a dangerous prospect. Nevertheless, I am optimistic. The media are making much of the fact that they know what they are doing and always go on a run at this time of year. I really like the team, their owner and their manager. They are a real community club and I would like to see them stay up. To keep pulling off a great escape though, you need luck as well as skill and commitment. I just have the feeling that they have used up their share in recent years.
[Got that right]
Spurs players, thanks for the entertainment. You have shown real character. Repeat this over to yourselves, “ We have beaten Arsenal,we have beaten the champions Manchester City, we have beaten the new champions Manchester United. We will beat Wigan, we will win our last five games. It is our turn”.
[We didn’t though, did we? Well, I did my best to gee them up from a distance]
Part 3 of the review of my 2013 blogs will follow soon…