I’ve been enjoying one too many mince pies recently and have been neglecting my blog. Dear reader, I’ve been neglecting you.
But I’m back, and I’m cranking through the lower gears, ready for some high speed adventures down the internet super highway in 2011. Amazing things happen to Spurs blogs when the year ends in one, and I’ll be doing my best to set the pace early with trips to St. James’ Park and hopefully Milan to report upon.
But before new year comes Christmas, a time that traditionally Yids do not celebrate. I can’t remember when we last had a successful festive period, which is why the Boxing Day game this year came as such a lovely surprise.
Ah Boxing Day. A bracing walk along snowy Loch Lomond shores. Turkey sandwiches. And, (thanks to a tit-for-tat “if we go to the pub to watch the game, I’ll watch “Love, Actually” with you and not even complain”) Tottenham Hotspur.
It’s because of Boxing Day that we fight for evermore. No-one knows why. Unfortunately Jermain Defoe took the song literally and a stroll in the villa park nearly turned into a mugging by a bunch of teenagers. Jonathan Who?
What is going on at Aston Villa? I understand that the dream (of sixth every season) is over for them, but their policy of only playing wet-behind-the-ears players is turning into a damp squib. Young kids learn to swim through lessons and patience. It also helps if you have experienced swimmers in the pool with them. You don’t just chuck them in the deep end en masse and leave them to work it out.
Or maybe you do. I’ve never taught a child to swim. Or coached a premiership football team, come to think of it. But forget the metaphor – the Aston Villa project is sinking fast.
For twenty five minutes this was as comfortable an away game in the premiership as we can ever hope to have. Of course, we are Tottenham and we reserve our right to nearly concede within the first ten seconds, but that apart it was all very easy-going. The goal came from a well executed move, Modric releasing Hutton on the right and his low cross deflecting nicely into the path of Tottenham Legend Rafa Van der Vaart who sidefooted firmly into Friedel’s near corner.
Perhaps that should have been our second – in an earlier incident I certainly couldn’t see that the ball was out of play. Kaboul – increasingly the man you want six yard half volleys to fall to – was deprived of what was probably a legitimate goal. The three wise men were clearly bestowing gifts upon the lowly Villa.
I’ve got no real arguments about the red card though. I can see that it was unfortunate, and that there was no real intent. I also accept that if you want leverage, its hard to do it without raising your arms. However, if you run full pelt towards your opponent before jumping for the ball, you run the risk of being sent off. I’ve no doubt Defoe feels hard done by but it was a challenge he could and should have avoided making.
After coasting along we were suddenly plunged head first into a white knuckle ride, but it meant that the character of this team came to the fore. On a day when Van der Vaart gave us two moments of real quality, it was nevertheless his fighting spirit that most impressed. The lesser lights of this Tottenham team also showed their mettle. Benoit was superb. A game made for him, really. For someone who doesn’t enjoy playing football, he really seems to enjoy annoying his opponents. He earned his money today… In fact our whole defence was magnificent. Dare I say it, this should now be our first choice back four, give or take the odd cameo in his twilight years from Gallas – and I’m ok with that. If we get to the Champions League final, lets stick Ledley in. Otherwise we need to think like Villa – and look to the future.
In midfield, Wilson did what Wilson does. In fact, Wilson almost did what Wilson hardly ever does when he struck the side netting after a lovely run and one-two with VDV, but he isn’t in the team to score goals. He’s there to break up opposition play and to relieve pressure, and he did it well. Modric is my favourite Tottenham player and for some reason I never really mention him – so lets not hex him by saying he was once again fantastic. The only player who really looked out of sorts was Bale. Apart from one lung-busting 60 yard run to set up the winning goal what did he ever do for us…
Of course, aside from creating the winning goal (and sanitation, and irrigation) Bale has as much fighting spirit as any of the team and played his part in a controlled counter-attacking performance that was as good as I’ve seen from us this season. Just a shame that once again we decided a big win wouldn’t be complete without a hairy last ten minutes. I think Gomes could have reacted quicker. I know he was waiting for a header that never came but I still thought he could have fingertipped it wide. No matter, he was generally superb.
Moment of the match was the spat on the touchline with our former nemesis Bobby Pires. Not so much Harry getting involved – fun though that was, he’s no Martin Jol. But never underestimate the quiet man of the Tottenham bench. He may have fixed his teeth but Joe Jordan has still got it. A step forward and a quick eyeballing of Pires spoke loud and clear. Leave it, son. A lesson to Alan Hutton there. You don’t have to beat up your dad to be a hard Scottish bastard (Oogfather will be so pleased). The strong silent treatment is much more intimidating.
In summary – I can’t say I enjoyed it. For an hour and a half I sat disbelieving in front of the telly, wanting to swear and shout but aware that I had to behave in front of Lady Oog. I couldn’t enjoy the happy ending because I couldn’t get past the previous waves of anger and frustration at how things were panning out. But enough about the stupid movie – Tottenham were magnificent. Love them, actually.