This is addictive. I’m not sure that’s a good thing, because there will inevitably come a time where I can’t get a fix. But what a beautiful high. As I count my blessings on a scab train heading south I feel the tiredness seeping through my body. The swoosh of adrenaline fades but the memories will remain.
I can’t be doing with a traditional match report this evening. Bale is a freak. Modric in the last few games has become a midfield lynchpin. Simple graceful turns and feints, linking and connecting, give and go. Push and run. Lennon was of course our second best winger by a country mile and yet he gave Chivu and co a torrid time. Kaboul and Tottenham hero (they all are tonight) William Gallas were solid and disciplined. Huddlestone kept the shape beautifully when Inter attacked and distributed the ball calmly and efficiently when we won it back. Vfondevfoort scored at home. Apparently the stadium falls down if he ever registers a blank, but don’t worry it won’t happen. Alan Hutton didn’t do enough wrong to ruin it, thank you Alan. He was the best right back on the night. I’d love to see him up against Bale in training.
But you know all this. You know what this meant tonight. All of Europe watching and – as with every game so far in this tortuous torturous group stage – we were glorious entertainment. Every neutral – and even lots of those who don’t like Tottenham (or perhaps more to the point don’t like the fans) seems to be loving our big adventure this year. We are a breath of fresh air, an English team not bored to death by a slow waltz through the opening six games, and not willing (or able) to bore everyone to death on our way.
I think I’ve made it pretty clear I’m not Redknapp’s greatest fan in many respects but listening to his post match interview (enjoy them while you can – like he could stay away) you realised what a good fit he is for this club in so many ways. Emotional nearly to the point of tears, blown away by the knowledge that a team of his had gone out and put on a performance that will be remembered for years. For me, tonight was not about ‘beating the European champions’ or ‘showing we’ve arrived’, although it’s nice to dwell on those points.
It was about putting on a hell of a show and about a link to our past. On the way back I was talking to Gilly, a fan who’s WHL memories go all the way back to the 60’s. The joy she felt was not just about being there for a fantastic performance, it was about seeing a team live up to what we all love to think Tottenham can be. What we all know they can be, even though we know they hardly ever are. 1961 was a long time ago, as gooners love to point out. We know that more than anyone. That’s kind of the point. I know the emotions that the respected elders of the Tottenham clan must have felt last night – Gilly, the Oogfather, thousands of others, and for one night and perhaps one night only, this current crop – of the silly premiership muppet age – were able to give the faithful a thrill that harks back to a long gone time and will itself echo down through the years. This is why we love Tottenham. Not because they actually give you nights like this very often, but because it’s the spiel we all fell for in the first place. Some of us have seen it before, some of us for the very first time, but it’s inside every one of us.
Otherwise we’d support Chelsea.
Enough blarney. Three players deserve special mention.
Assou-Ekotto. His best performance in a Spurs shirt. It’s a measure of how far we’ve come that one of our three ‘weak links’ is also one of the best left backs in the premiership. A self declared mercenary he may be, but it was a nice touch to throw his shirt into the crowd at the end. I guess he knows it means everything to us even if it means not that much to him.
Cudicini. This blog is not afraid to admit when it’s wrong. Finished? Being a fan is all about making snap judgements, and Cudicini did everything he needed to do in a match that must have had special resonance for someone who grew up with an AC Milan legend as his dad. Thank you Carlo. Sorry Carlo.
Bale had a pretty good game. Oh ok, the man is a phenomenon. Tonight was supernova hyperbale. Forgive the hyperbale. To think people questioned Harry’s tactical acumen at the outset of this competition. He had a masterplan all along. Get ball. Give Bale. Goal. It’s a pretty simple game really, or it is when you have someone who can do something clearly very very hard – control the ball at full pace and still deliver quality ball after quality ball – so seemingly effortlessly. Maicon was Bale’s bunny and at times it felt like having Jonah Lomu in our team. It’s almost cheating.
Ok, back to reality. Can we make this the template for the rest of the season? Not that I think we can always perform this well, but from now on if we get beat I want it to be how Chelsea or Man Utd get beat – hearts in mouths for the opposition fans, taking it to the wire, never accepting we’re anything less than a team that can operate at the highest level. What a glorious, ridiculous thing it is to be a Tottenham fan, more confident we can beat the champions of Europe than get a result at Bolton.
Actually, sod ‘back to reality’. Last night was reality. I think I’m gonna cry.