‘I find the carrot infinitely more fascinating than the geranium’. So said uncle Monty, and he may have had more than the horticultural aesthetic in mind when he said it.
But thats for a different blog. There is beauty in humble, old fashioned produce. It can’t all be victory over AC Milan followed by Real Madrid followed by Barcelona followed by victory over Chelsea at Wembley. In fact, let’s face it, none of it can.
The premiership may not be old fashioned. A kick off at 12:45 may still be hard to adjust to (personally I like it – plenty of the day left, no sun in this shelfsider’s eyes until the 88th minute). It’s hardly jumpers for goalposts.
But a proper grudge match against West Ham is. Solid, worthy, traditional fare. As traditional as not moving to Stratford. As traditional as police dogs on the high road and fat men covered in sweat and cheap jewellery screaming obscenities. Unglamorous but not unlovely in it’s own way. Maybe a bit unlovely.
Over the years my opinion has changed more about West Ham than about any other team. As a kid, I quite liked them. They played pretty football, had a nice strip, the occasional glamour player, the occasional nutter. In Frank McAvennie, they had the complete package. From my vantage point, the peaceful footballing backwater of Glasgow, what was not to like?
Moving to London changed all that. We’re their Arsenal. They despise us. They think we despise them back, and we revel in seeing them as little more than an occasional irritant, a fly to be swatted away. They don’t like Harry Redknapp, which to me is, like, SO 2008. They didn’t win the World Cup, either, by the way.
They were my wake-up call. I knew about Arsenal, of course, but this? The world didn’t love Tottenham. We didn’t love the world back.
Today was not, and never will be, the east London derby – thank the Lord Coe. We were glad to grant West Ham that Pyrrhic victory but today the dropped points hurt a lot more.
Coulda woulda shoulda. We came close several times. Dawson early, Bale late. Lennon. Wood was worked. Green too. A couple of stingers late on from Pavlyuchenko.
Modric had the freedom of White Hart Lane in the first half, but wasn’t quite at his sparkling best. It happens. Early on Bale looked like he might give Jacobssen a torrid time, but on the left and on the right this wasn’t his day. Even superheroes need time to play themselves back into form.
Corluka was guilty of too many poorly executed passes that led to promising attacks breaking down. Fvonderfvoort sprayed some nice balls around but we are starting to see that he might not be capable of sustained brilliance. Whether through disruptive injuries or just lack of form, he hasn’t been at his best for some time now. It’s a worry.
And yet – we still created chances against a well organized Hammers, who should be safe on this showing. You just needed one to go in. You just needed your striker to show his quality.
And today he did. Defoe showed his quality. Top 8 quality, in a team riddled with top 4 quality elsewhere on the pitch. I’ve had it with Defoe. More than once, the Hammers’ chant of ‘Jermain Defoe, he’s a c***’ was drowned out by ‘Jermain Defoe, he’s a Yiddo’. I can’t be the only one who was thinking – and let’s be charitable – the truth is actually somewhere in between.
I have nothing personal against him. I don’t think his attitude is wanting. He obviously loves playing. He cares. He just doesn’t have enough quality. He can’t do it. At all, this season. Even in his good years he blows hot and cold. He doesn’t do it at the top level. He just isn’t top level, in the position you need it most. He always needs one too many touches. He lacks composure. When he’s good, he’s very good. But he’s never good enough for very long. He’ll score more this season, and I’ll still be right.
You can point to any number of reasons why this game wasn’t won. I’m not saying Defoe is the only one, and if Gomes hadn’t brought off a couple of excellent saves, one in each half, it could have been worse.
But on a day where all our players weren’t quite at their top level, they still created enough chances to win three or four games. All with a front man who fails to give defenders something to think about for 90 minutes, and who isn’t clinical enough to make it all worthwhile. What does Jermain Defoe do exactly? West Ham don’t irritate me. Tottenham do.
It’s been an odd week. The excitement of the draw with Madrid has to be tempered by the knowledge that it’s probably the end of the Champions League road. And at the end of that road, what happens to this Tottenham team? We have two players who all of Europe would take in a shot. We can surely expect at best only one of them to hang around for long. A striker who can win you scrappy games 1-0 will get you back in to the Champions League spots. That’s the only thing that can keep this team together.
If we had signed a truly top quality striker in the summer or January, it might have been the beginning of something special. Instead this week feels like it might be the beginning of the end.