*** army?

We seem increasingly worried as a society about whether people take offence rather than whether offence was intended.

I understand something of the history of the ‘y-word’. I understand that it can cause offence, and I understand that the offence caused is genuine. People are free to be offended. I’m offended that I feel pressured into writing the “y-word – something must be done! But people should be free to offend unless their behaviour is illegal.

When Tottenham fans chant “y** army” the intent is not to offend members of the Jewish community. Obviously some are offended, some are not. I don’t actively want to offend people but nor do I want “not offending people” to be the main driver for how I should act. Let’s have a debate about whether Spurs fans should moderate their behaviour by all means. Let’s agree to disagree if we must. But please leave talk of arrest, prosecution and of banning words out of it.

Instead, enforce the existing legislation so that racists using offensive language are prosecuted. Leave people who clearly do not intend to cause offence from having to moderate their own behaviour to stay within the law, or a football stadium.

As for the suggestion that Spurs fans promote a ‘call and response’ culture in which others feel “legitimised” to hurl the “y-word” back with added vitriol – nothing legitimises racism.  Do we ban behaviours now because disgusting racists might respond in a disgustingly racist way? By all means people are free to not like that Spurs fans chant the y-word, but we do not shoulder the responsibility for other people. If rival fans use the word “y**” “back” at Spurs fans without realising that it can be offensive, then educate them. I really don’t believe many (say) Chelsea or (say) West Ham fans who use the word aggressively in reference to Spurs fans don’t know something of what it means, or that they don’t get a kick for that very reason. They’ll be the same fans making the hissing noises and singing their jolly songs about Hitler and Auschwitz on the tube or in the pub. They know.

Then there is the argument that “we wouldn’t accept this if e.g. a mostly white crowd in Brixton used the n-word”. It seems hard to understand how such behaviour could be acceptable but that’s precisely because it doesn’t happen – because there is no context. Context is all here. It means we can look at things in a different light and it would be reprehensible if we didn’t do that. People might not like that non-Jewish people are using the y-word but they are, and so the theoretical set of fans in Brixton is not a fair comparison. The history, the context – they matter. If the hypothetical fans in Brixton had been singing their songs for decades – it might seem less hard to get our head around.

People should not be free to act in a bone-headed way as soon as they get through the turnstile. Threatening and racist behaviour is unacceptable anywhere. I have challenged it on a number of occasions – at Birmingham City I was made to feel by a steward that I was a trouble-maker for complaining about the hissing from the home stand. I challenged fellow Spurs fans on a number of occasions for the use of homophobic, racist chanting against Sol Campbell (I would have preferred a consultation and more action from the club on that issue as opposed to this one, incidentally).

But on those occasions language was used to intimidate and offend either a group or an individual.  Spurs fans using the y-word is clearly intended as a joyful, positive thing and whilst people are free to find it a less than joyful thing, or to wish that they would stop using it or to think they don’t have the ‘moral right’ to use it – they shouldn’t have the right to ban it.

Let’s use the law against the thugs and racists. Let’s enforce bans on thuggish or racist behaviour. I’m not a thug or racist. Leave me alone.

cold turkey (part II)

This is part II of my look forward to the summer transfer window. Part I can be found here: http://wp.me/p116Ss-3K

The who?

 You know, the guy you know you should have heard of but haven’t. The one Wenger knows all about. That guy who’s tearing up the Greek second division. The third leading scorer at Le Havre. The 24 year old Peruvian fella turning it on for Newell’s Old Boys. I’m making these up, but you know the kind of player I mean, or more to the point, you don’t. Someone who can come from nowhere, or even just from leftfield – Hernandez made his mark in the world cup before he made his United debut but he wasn’t an obvious spot. There must be others out there. Problem is, I reckon ‘Arry has about as much of a clue where as I do. Let’s hope whoever spotted Sandro still has some influence, and we could yet save a hell of a lot of money. Risky, though…

 The young guns?

 Connor Wickham. Lukaku (again). The next big thing. You have to give them time which is not a luxury we have. Added to that, it’s not a luxury Redknapp really has given that next year will surely be his final season with us. So whilst I’d love to see us invest in youth, I’d prefer we go for Modric style youth. 22 and ready to burst fully fledged on to the world stage. By all means buy the next Bale if you spot him, but unless he’s preternaturally ready for the big time it won’t help us next year. The word is Lukaku might be.

 We need to think carefully this summer. Identify targets who will keep us in the hunt. Next season looks all the world like being a mini-league of five at the top. Do we want to take risks to make it a six or do we drop down a level? I would suggest that Defoe and Pav should be operating at that lower level. I would hope we could get £20m for the pair of them. Any bottom-half premiership team would snap them up and we’ve seen the premium on strikers with Darren Bent recently. Add that to £15m or whatever we get for Jenas / Keane / Bentley / Kranjcar plus some good old fashioned investment and is it so outlandish to think we could spend £45-£50m on a big gun and a one more contract-or?

 Based on last summer, it probably is. My big fear is that our targets this summer might be in a fifth category. The why. I really do not want us to be chasing Scott Parker, not unless he’s on the cheap and doesn’t prevent us signing top quality in the areas where we need it. Nor do I want to sign anyone because they are ‘premiership quality’. Odemwingie, to name a random player, is Premiership quality. But so is Defoe. We need top mini-league quality. Harry needs to resist any temptation to sign players just because he knew their granddad or because he’s a lovely lad he had him at West Ham / Pompey triffic triffic triffic.

 Sadly, I am now at the point where I also think we need a top quality goalkeeper. I still love you Heurelho, but I also still love Paul Robinson and I don’t want him to be my number 1 either. I want the Gomes of the final two thirds of last season back, but I don’t know where he is and I’d rather end it cleanly than to see a once beautiful relationship fizzle out in acrimony.

There are two main reasons put forward to replace him. One is that it’s affecting our defenders’ game: I’m not so sure about this. I reckon that in general it’s not knowing what your keeper will do that affects  your game. With Gomes, he tends to come for everything and, mad minute against Blackpool aside, by and large it’s effective in a wobbly heart murmur kind of way. Do defenders really change their game when they know their keeper might spill a shot they should be trying to block anyway? I don’t think so. For me, it’s simply that the balance has tilted. The ratio of amazing saves to gaffes has altered and it’s just not worth persevering with any more. Replacing a keeper is a tricky business. You can’t really rotate, and if you get it wrong it’s easy to move backwards. But as with the strikers, there must be a few improvements available on the market this summer, and we don’t have to aim for the best in the world. We just need someone better. Let it be said though – at his best, there is… was… no-one better.

 I’d also like a new right back and if we can get the lone frontman right I might think about giving Fvondefvoort a bit of competition, but I’m not fussy. I’d take two good quality strikers and nothing more if it was on offer.

 And that’s it. Let the idle speculation flow. Let the rumour mill spring into action. Let us look to the future, because the present is just a bit too depressing.

 The four most important months of next season have already begun. We simply have to get it right.

cold turkey (part I)

In a season that has rapidly tailed off, for Spurs and for this blog, perhaps now is the time to put down some thoughts about next season.

 Last night’s was a game against a team headed for the stratosphere. Good luck to them, or at least to their fans. For the next couple of years they get to live the dream, before becoming just another oil rich set of supporters with a sense of entitlement. Soon they will yawn at the carling cup. Second will be below their level. The Champions League group stages becomes a chore to be endured. You can see it already – their celebrations last night lacking the wild-eyed delirium of ours last year. Passion dulled by expectation. I’m not knocking them. It’s human nature and my own feelings about qualifying (or not) for the Europa Cup would no doubt seem similarly curmudgeonly to a Stoke City fan. But the CL has got into my system and I’d rather go cold turkey than be placed on the Europa methadone program. At least I can still gorge upon a feast of metaphor. Over the last couple of years there’s been a seismic shift in the way the Champions League spots are contested.  This summer is going to be all about whether we can stay in the mix once the plates stop moving.

 So what should our transfer strategy be? Football is a simple game, a wise man once said. Or to put it another way, just get on the pitch and fucking run about.

 How much more can there be to say about something so obvious? It’s getting painfully difficult to find new insight about our failings. I reckon our strikers aren’t up to much.

 The problem with seeing football as a simple game, as Harry does, is that in the end its quite simple. The team with the better players generally wins. Looking at the league now, it’s hard to argue that the order of the top 7 (and perhaps 8 the way Stoke are playing at the moment) doesn’t reflect this completely accurately. We were better than Liverpool. Now they are better than us. Why? Because goals win you games, and we have scored less than West Brom this season.

 We were linked with Carroll and Suarez and it’s now clear that either would have been a great signing for us. We missed a trick, and a rival stole a march. The knock on effect of Torres’ sale to Chelsea inflated the price but last summer, before Liverpool came sniffing, we probably had the buying power necessary to bag at least one of them. Not that a mostly injured Carroll would have made much of a difference this season, but more of one than a mostly fit Defoe.

 How deep into our pockets will we dig, and for who? That’s clearly the key question this summer. It has to be strikers first, right? Otherwise we have a Wenger like blind-spot going on here. Seems to me there are four types of frontmen we can go for.

 The big guns

 There are the strikers we covet along with most of Europe. Cavani. Rossi. Aguero. Lukaku. Some others I’ve forgotten. Some will be snapped up by bigger fish, but some won’t. Those leftovers will have something to prove and will want to increase their reputation at a team like Tottenham, a team crying out for a 20 a season man. These guys still represent a risk, to varying degrees. A big rebrovutation does not guarantee a big return. Some are clearly not at their peak yet (Lukaku is 12, for example). Some may just be flavour of the month. The Belgian Franny Jeffers. The Michael Ricketts of the Mezzogiorno. But none represent a bigger risk than another summer trying to make Joe Cole your marquee signing.

 The one-more-contract crew

 The established marksmen looking for an ego-saving big team to make up for the fact that the even bigger team no longer wants him. Let’s call him Dimitar Drogba. I have no shame. If either of those muppets wants to take a huge two year contract to improve my team, I will live with it. Just as we’ve managed to do with Gallas. Of the two, Drogba would be my preference. Politics plays as much of a role in team selection as performances at Chelsea, and I reckon Drogba still has another year or two in him. All of this depends on so many factors of course. Perhaps his ego doesn’t let him play for a team slightly lower in the pecking order. Perhaps he wants to be top drog at Marseille or Juve instead. Perhaps all those insults about his father being a rapist have put Berba off – how very over-sensitive of him. Milito might be a possibility as well, depending on how his disappointing season at Inter has been viewed. Forlan too. I have one criterion here – if available, do they improve the team? Adebayor is probably a big gun rather than a one more contractor, but the same holds true for him. In fact, I’d love to see it just to put an end to the debate about whether the obviously racist song about him is racist or not.

part II follows VERY soon…

it’s over

My long holiday continues. I hope to spend the Saturday night of my stag do writing the report for Chelsea away however. Apologies in advance…

Thanks to Whatwouldjimbodo? for standing in – sorry its up so late! And if we somehow perform the miracle, let the record show it was Oog who chose the title!

I was asked to write a guest blog by the Oog, I was naturally hesitant, but bribed into it with a free ticket to the match. Before the game I’d put a few sentences together that I thought might sound like I could write a blog. A couple of these were:

Well every game’s a cup final now, and as cup finals go, I prefer mine against West Brom not Arsenal.

The North London derby always seems a little isolated from the goings on in the league, but having escaped with dignity intact, and maybe even a moral victory, it is back to the hunt for 4th.

Unfortunately, although I always saw this as a tricky game, I didn’t really think we wouldn’t win. In fact, Saturday’s game encapsulated much of what we have done wrong this season.

‘Arry has repeated his mantra in recent weeks, “it’s gonna be harder this season than last, what wiv City spending 400 gazillion quid etc”. “Next season will be harder again, what wiv Liverpool gettin better etc”.

The truth is: it hasn’t been harder this season. In the last 10 seasons the average points haul needed for 4th place has been 68 points. Last season we scored 70 points. We are simply not going to make those points targets this year, but it has nothing to do with Man City spending gazillions of petrodollars. We thoroughly outplayed City at the Lane, got 4 points from Arsenal, have taken points from Chelsea and United. In the mini table at the top we’ve fared reasonably well.

We’ve failed to beat West Brom, Wigan, Blackpool, Wolves, West Ham.

The Baggies (who thoroughly deserved their point) celebrated as if they’d taken all 3 on Saturday, and the truth is, nearly every side would take a point from an away match with Spurs nowadays. Chelsea and United both sat deep and hung on. We don’t have the strikers to consistently pinch the goals to win those games…….which seems a little unfair as both our strikers scored on Saturday, but we all know it is true.

So, it’s over. Well that’s how it seems to me. We’ve come up short, and in a strange way, not because we weren’t good enough. We have however had an amazing season.

We’ve seen 9 times European Champions grace WHL, we gave them a pretty decent game at the second time of asking. We’ve monstered Milan, which ever flavour you care to mention. We’ve taken 4 points from the ole enemy, and generally been the neutrals team of choice. At times we’ve played some of the best football I’ve ever seen at the Lane. Roll on next season, roll on Spurs.

Unless of course we beat Chelsea, and then…………

loser talk

Oog is on holiday so thanks to the Bagel for stepping up to the plate again. Hopefully there will be another guest contributor for the West Brom game

 There are two things that make football great – high drama and top gameplay. Last night’s North London Derby had them both.

It’s easy to spout superlatives amplified by the headlines in this morning’s papers but I don’t remember seeing such a well contested and evenly matched 90 minutes in a very long time. I might even stretch to “ever”.

It’s a shame that the big ink crowning the column inches seem mainly to have focused on arsenal screwing it up again. That may have been true when our neighbours contrived to gift us a win in their back yard with a serious of ridiculous handballs earlier in the season but it really wasn’t at hot and humid White Hart Lane yesterday evening. The scoreline was dead on and, realistically, those goals could have come in any order and at any time. It just so happened that the way they did flattered our side the better. But merely flattery it was.

While the Wenger Boys’ dropped points might leave them further out of touch from their season’s ambition by a quick glance at the table today, the result was nearly as dream-shattering for the Yid Army – all of whom there in the ground made sure that we voiced just what we thought of the club’s Jumbotron request to cut out the greyer area of racism. This was an “easy” game for us. Sure, the point lifts us to a position behind City where if we win our remaining six fixtures, we will finish in the Champions League positions, but, when those fixtures include trips to Anfield and Stamford Bridge, one has to wonder whether the Manchester Blues will let us get away with a pair of no-pointers of their own.

Perhaps the biggest shame of last night was our attitude – and I’m talking about the players and the fans, if indeed the moods of the two are as inseparable as the pragmatist might have us believe. We let ourselves down three times. The first time was forgiveable. The atmosphere was intense even before the kick off. “Come on you Spurs!” rang out across the stadium as loud as any battle cry ever heard within our four stands and not even Huddlestone’s grave error nor Walcott’s piercing reply could dampen the mood.

“Come on you Spurs!” yet again; crowd on their feet; fans as one – it was almost so easy when Van der Vaart bagged the equaliser moments later. He’d say it was the crowd that carried him through but with all the best will, the most heart, most noise in the world – if there’s one thing we’ve learned playing with the big boys this season, it’s that sometimes that’s just not quite enough. Neither Milan nor Real Madrid gave in to our charms and few could confess that there wasn’t a small voice in their soul that wondered if we could break through Arsenal just as easily as we seemed to any side at the end of last season and the beginning of this one.

With that first netting came the belief. We could do this again and again. It wasn’t going to be a problem tonight. The question was how many times they would do it back to us? But it wasn’t here where we let ourselves down.

Our first fall came after the second goal. Whether it was the manner in which it was scored, our breathless support, the heat of the night, it was hard to tell, but we dropped our guard just enough as a crowd for our visitors to gather their courage. But this is to be understood. It’s the way of the game. Ebb and flow. Periods of domination. If we could keep that tempo going every 90 minutes of every game, we’d win the Premier League year after year – but then so would any club whose fans could manage it too.

L’arse found their feet and for once Gallas – or Willy as he is fast becoming known – for once his mind seemed to outstrip his ability when he decided to keep the ball from going out for a corner and instead gifted an easy crossing chance to the Shit Aaron Lennon for Van Persie to tuck home at the second time of asking. At 3-1 the fight was by no means out of us but it took that sweetest of trademarks that is the Huddlestone daisy cutter to get the crowd up to 11 once again.

Thinking about it now, his goals have been sorely missed. No. He has been sorely missed. Until that moment in the game, O Tommy Tommy had been the weak link and probably the only player on the pitch who wasn’t on his game. It’s not surprising that such a fine tuned, talent as his, chipping passes with no margin for error, takes a few games to calibrate itself after a serious operation but it’s been well worth waiting for. Not only does he match a long range Yin to Modric’s short pass Yang but those thunderbolts are like shock troops. Such emphatic strikes charge the fans far more than a simple tap in and to the defenders and their tribe, they’re stakes through the heart. We are the Carthaginians, Redknapp is Hannibal and Huddlestone is his war elephant.

If ever you need a goal to mark a comeback, it’s one like that. At side on, I had no idea how neatly it curled into the corner or how aware VDV had to be to jump out of the way but the sight that will never leave my mind’s eye is that of Szezesney, feet rooted to the spot, head twisting to watch the ball hit home.

There are a few performances that stood out on the night – out ahead of all 22 men who appeared to play at the top of their game. The aforementioned Willy, mistake aside, was superb. Whether it’s knowing his old team mates, the familiarity with that countering style of play or just the presence of mind as a fantastic centre half, I don’t know but he reads the game in a way that I’ve not seen in a Lilywhite shirt before. While Ledley always had the tackling ability and the pace to stop anyone or anything, Gallas has the brain to see it all happening before it actually does. A fantastic cover tackle on Walcott(?) to save an almost certain goal when he already had a man of his own to mark springs to mind.

Bale didn’t have his best ever night but then Sagna might be my pick for best right back in the league. While the Frenchman loses by a nose on pace, he’s just that tiny bit tougher in the air, and our man doesn’t seem to relish those heavier moments when those two duel. If I had to call it, I’d say that Sagna is the full back that plays Bale best.

The other point of personal combat was more gratifying for the Spurs fan. At the core of the teams sat the two most skillful players on the pitch – two of the most gifted in the world. If they weren’t all about attack, they might have cancelled each other out but instead Fabregas and Modric between them set the tempo for every attack on the field. The most glorious moment of all though was when the two came head to head near the touchline in a series scuffles to gain control of the ball and it was our man who won the battle and in everyone else’s minds, the war.

The final mention before the actual final mention – the bit I´ve been trying to get round to – is for Younes Kaboul. I was beginning to think that I was the only person who saw him perform so well at right back for our run in last season. While he might not be quite as canny as Charlie, I still feel that he’s our best player in that position. He’s quick, fantastic in attack, no fool in defence and superb in the air. Sure, he’d rather be a centre half but if you can perform like that against Arsenal, then where’s the problem?

Last of all, man of the match has to be VDV, funnily enough. Yes, he scored two goals, yes he nearly got himself into a heap of trouble, yes, he dives, yes, he is a gamesman and even, yes, he has been something of a frustration of late but, last night he put us all to shame. There was a horrible feeling that came over every single person, to a man, inside that stadium. The most horrible part of all is that no one even realised it. Maybe not everyone admitted it to themselves but, with 10 minutes left to play, the thought lurking in the corner of every single mind was, “We’ll take a draw”. Every single mind but one. Rafael Van der Vaart.

Since that whistle was blown, it’s been a world of “what a fight”, “great character”, “amazing comeback”, “the title’s not out of reach” and, frankly, it’s all loser talk. All VDV said was “we could have won”.

He’s not interested in the spectacle, the fairness of the game, whether or not we deserved to win or if he’d had to cheat to do it. It doesn’t matter that arsenal had chances. It’s of no consequence. We had chances and we didn’t take them. It might not have been right but we could have won, and no one will remember or care how good the game was when the season’s out and we’re not in the Champions League. I don’t know how long we’ll have Van der Vaart and I don’t know how long we’ll want to but we need more players like him; not players that don’t know when they’re beaten but those that never entertain the idea in the first place.

facere quatro

I’m tempted not to go tonight. Not that tempted, obviously. I’m going. If you were to try to tempt me not to go, you would fail. So I’m lying through my teeth. I’m finding the prospect of going very tempting.

 What would it take to beat Real Madrid tonight on aggregate? A man sent off? Two? Even then they will just park their severely depleted luxury bus in front of goal, and send Ronaldo out on a sortie to nab them an away goal to relieve a bit of pressure. It just isn’t going to happen, and the tiny little part of me that thinks “maybe it could” is like the tiny little part of me that thinks “maybe there is a god” or “maybe I’ll win the lottery”.

 It couldn’t. There isn’t (to be reviewed if a miracle happens tonight). I won’t.

 So basically I can’t be arsed tonight, but it would be too weird to watch it from my sofa. It’s a duty. Such a chore. I’ll go along to say “well done boys, it’s been a blast”. Pay my respects. I’ve reverted to type. I’m bored of the Champions League and am fixating on coming fourth again. Audere est facere quatro. It’s all about qualifying for the Champions League. I don’t even want to win the Champions League because qualifying isn’t the same unless you get to play in a qualifier. I’m a purist.

 How fixated? This fixated…

 [Why don’t you all join me – I didn’t bother with Chelsea and to be honest I don’t think I needed to bother with Liverpool.

 Send me your predictions and the one who is nearest the mark wins a grudging amount of respect, unless its whatwouldjimbodo in which case we’ll just delete this post and pretend it never happened.]

 From Oog

To: Whatwouldjimbodo /TheBagel /Dave /Croobs

 Date Tue, Apr 12, 2011 at 12:17 PM

Subject: its that time of year…

mailed-bygmail.com

 hide details 12:17 PM (23 hours ago)

 I’ve tried to be realistic and if anything harsh on Tottenham

 LIVERPOOL

 17/4 Arsenal (a) – 0                                                                                                                    23/4 Brum (h) – 3                                                                                                                            1/5 Newc (h) – 3                                                                                                                              9/5 Fulh (a) – 3                                                                                                                              15/5 Spurs (h) – 3                                                                                                                        22/5 villa (a) – 1

 TOTAL – 61 points

 MAN CITY

 25/4 – blackburn (a) – 3                                                                                                               1/5 WHU (h) – 3                                                                                                                              7/5 – everton (a) – 1                                                                                                                         10/5 – Spurs (h) – 1                                                                                                                        14/5 – Stoke (h) – 3                                                                                                                     22/5 – bolton (a) – 1

 TOTAL – 68

 TOTTENHAM

 20/4 Arsenal (h) – 1                                                                                                                  23/4 – WBA (h) – 3                                                                                                                     30/4 – Chelsea (a) – 0                                                                                                                   7/5 – Blackpool (h) – 3                                                                                                                   10/5 – City (a) – 1                                                                                                                             15/5 – Liverpool (a) – 0                                                                                                              22/5 – Brum (h) – 3

 TOTAL 64

 Conclusion – we can’t lose to city, we have to win the games we really should win, and we might need a stupendous couple of results out of the Arsenal / Chelsea / Liverpool games.

 Or we hope that city fkk up, which is still a possibility. It’s wrong to wish injury, but I hope the Tevez injury is a niggling little two monther….

in lieu

There’s a go-slow going on at the Coconut Shack at the moment. And not in a relaxing, take it easy, lilt advert way. I’m moving house this weekend, planning a wedding, sunbathing, blah blah blah. Stuff. In addition lady Oog celebrated her birthday weekend in fine style by joining me at the Stoke game.  It certainly made the goal celebrations much more fun than with my usual matchday companion – Dave’s kisses are so bleeeeh. On the other hand, sticking the headphones in and getting the post written on the tube home wasn’t an option. So in lieu of a fully formed post here are a few quickfire observations.

 Pav’s a rum one. I want to say that if he doesn’t score, he does nothing. But in fact, he set up two of our goals and on Saturday at least was a reasonably effective link man. At times, though, he struggled to play even the simplest of balls. I still want to get rid. I don’t trust him as anything other than the fourth striker out of four. Even then you want to bring someone off the bench who can scare a defence with raw pace or with being six foot seven or whatever. “An eye for goal” is so last decade.

 I don’t mind if VDV isn’t always vfontastic – not even wonderboy is perfect every week. I just want him to sublimate his typically tedious Dutch-international ego for the good of the team when he isn’t. On Saturday he worked hard, put in a shift and didn’t moan. Hopefully he will learn – if he can do that then he won’t always be substituted.

 Good to see Huddlestone and Kaboul slip effortlessly back into the team. Kaboul was emerging as a genuine first team pick before his injury. Until the emergence of Sandro he would have been a shoo-in for most improved player of the year (or whatever it is they call it). Huddlestone is back in time for the run-in and we have really missed him. Along with Bale’s brilliance and Pav’s purple streak, it was the Hudd-Mod axis that did the most to take us to fourth last year. Not simply due to the pleasing blend of creative qualities they possess, but also because of how well they worked as a unit to shield the centre backs against Chelsea and Arsenal. If we’re to do something similar this time round, we’ll need them both. We’ll work out how to fit Sandro in and around them over the next seven games (and in time let’s hope that becomes a proper headache for Harry).

 I completely missed the Corluka clash with one of our own, but to be honest it’s a storm in a teacup. He strikes me as a mild mannered sort, and I doubt the same can be said of the fan. I well remember the free kick, which he ballsed up at a time when we were hanging on. I wasn’t particularly mild mannered myself. By all means curse and howl at the sky until you’re blue in the face at the maddening frustration of it all – I do – but if you are in the front couple of rows and comfortably within earshot, keep your personally directed insults to yourself. Supporter – the clue is in the name.

 I’m surprised no-one else picked up on Ricardo Fuller shoving (gently) one of our fans either, but it’s probably a good sign that they didn’t. Not everything needs to be a tabloid outcry a la Rooney. Again, the mug in the crowd probably deserved it and quite possibly realised as much. You could see Delap was getting a load of hassle as well but I got the impression it was good natured – he seemed to take it with a smile. I don’t know much about him but he strikes me as a normal decent bloke who just happens to be a premiership javelin thrower.

 Talking of Delap – how untottenham that we didn’t concede from any of his missiles, especially as it was a day in which he didn’t need a towel to dry the ball.

 I love it when Modric scores.

I want to know if anyone ripped up a winning betting slip when the station announcer at Northumberland Park erroneously informed hundreds of punters that Calgary Bay had won the National.

 As Calgary Bay cannot confirm (too busy eating sugar lumps), a win is a win is a win. That’s all there is to it at this stage of the season. Cue gripe. It’s frustrating that no matter how well we play, we never kill a game off and enjoy a relaxing final twenty minutes. At some point that’s going to catch up with us. For once, it was dodgy defending rather than dodgy defoe-ing (and co) to blame. But a win is a win is a win.

 Ok, apologies for the prosaic prose people. It takes hours (1.5 of ‘em) of loving care to grow a normal quality post so stick with me because the next report is going to be all about the most famous victory in the history of our history. Or anyone else’s. I’m so confident, I’ve already written it.

 Well – you never know……..