Tottenham Hotspur Football Club: Its Birth And Progress 1882–1946 by G. Wagstaffe Simmons

29 Dec

The future can change a History.  It can be hard to look back  with unbiased eyes, to give a period its proper due knowing cataclysmic events are just around the corner.

For spurs fans I’d argue there are two such events: the arrival of the modern/ ‘Sky’ era (which affected Football as a whole) and the emergence of Bill Nick and the ’61 double winning team (with its roots in Arthur Rowe’s push-and-run side). Thus one of the many delights of Hunter Davies’ The glory game was how it captured a time before the game dived, kamikaze-like, into money. Greville Wagstaffe Simmons 1947 history of the club has a similar charm.

History of Tottenham football club

Written just after the war its perspective will seem fresh and a little innocent with no inkling of what was soon to come. It is rare now and rather expensive – though the value of those most expensive copies surely lies in the signatures they contain, including Baily, Burgess, Ditchburn… and Nicholson.

Tottenham Hotspur Football Club: Its Birth And Progress at AbeBooks, copies from £120-£900

Huddlestone out for 5-6 Months

29 Sep

Whilst this is a shame for Huddlestone, and the more cerebral fans, it isn’t the blow it might have been.  What with the swift integration of Parker, the return to fitness of Sandro, the return to fold of Modric, the emergence of Carroll and Livermore, and the ‘in-a-pinch’ability of Krancjar and Pienaar; we shouldn’t find ourselves light in midfield.  It might even be a blessing.

We’ve always been the most nervous, the most mentally fragile club in the division.  It was obvious, for example, that someone like ‘Uncle ‘Arry would be a better fit with our squad than the latest saveur du mois from across the channel.  similarly, a period of enforced stability, of a settled first team, usually results in the most intense fecundity.

That said, this might have been the time we saw Huddlestone transcend into a truly great player this year.  Since becoming a fixture in the side two seasons ago, he’s been mightily effective yet not always playing at the level we might expect. Overall his hollywood passing has been average, his defensive work has been middling and the expected barrage of long range shots has all but fallen silent.  Yet we’ve seen enough to know these skills are there and waiting.

It might be that where Huddlestone really needs to progress is his head.  For someone like him – not quite a general, more a field marshal back in the war room – he needs to dominate.  He needs to own that area of the pitch, the cerebellum, from where he needs to direct the rest of the team.  It’s probably not easy for a young player to take on that role when he’s surrounded by expensive, older and more decorated players; especially when he’s not been schooled in the art of arrogance like Fabregas.  But he mustn’t, for example, let Jenas drop back and pick the ball up from defence, nor must he let Van der Vaart roam as deep has done recently.  He has to take a grip on the team.

tom huddlestone midfielderThe signs were good.  In the home game against Inter last year, he gave a real captain’s performance; perhaps, barring Ledley’s lead-by-example masterclasses, the most impressive/important we’ve seen in years.  He coupled the discipline of a Spartan with the rabid attention to detail of a Star Wars fan.  He held the team together in the midst of a maelstrom of ecstasy – the falcon heard the falconer and the centre held.  Then there was the hearts game.  Recently Tom Carroll has said how Huddlestone gave him encouragement – which is obviously an important step in transitioning to a senior player –  but more than that, you could see how Huddlestone was allowing space for Carroll to come inside from the left and get involved in the game, or how he was willingly covering at left back, allowing Townsend to get forward.

There wasn’t a lot we could take from that damp squib of a game but Huddlestone’s subtle machinations suggested a rare awareness of what he should do in the circumstances – essentially nurture the younger players.  Maybe these are strange stages of evolution to look for in a player, but Huddlestone is an interesting player.  The next few months are sure to be exciting and stimulating but a little less now than they might have been.

The worst thing about the match…

22 Aug

Manchester United away.  Depressingly predictable.  What’s to say?

Not a lot – although it is worth noting that we are the premier league club with the worst record at Old Trafford.  For a team that is now operating in and around the top four that is almost farcical.   It reveals, I think, a staggering mental weakness.  Few clubs with our aspirations could simultaneously find themselves in such a rut.  Yes, we have been cheated by referees, injuries and timing but it’s the two contrasting psychological profiles that’s the real problem, that ultimately casts one club as the abuser and the other as the abused.

But the past is the past, even if it’s still playing on Sky Sports +1, and we don’t have to worry about going there again until next season.What I’d rather talk about are crowds.  Specifically the bumbling heard of marks they’ve managed to corral into Old Trafford.

Roy Keane complained about the prawn sandwich brigade, but he only had to contend with them munching and slurping away whilst he plied his savage craft.  These days, thanks to specially produced infomercials featuring Simon Callow, they understand the concept of half-time – like the intermission!  This is the theatre of dreams after all.

Now they’ve put away their snacks they can devote their full attention to the show and to those quaint mummers toiling below;  ye olde  mis-shapen lumpen-proles perspiring and cursing in the limelight.  A rumour goes around that Johnny Evans drives a horse drawn cart to training.

What oohing and ahhing.  What premature excitement!  Look Daddy, Wayne (Wayne?) Rooney just did a back heel in the centre circle.  By Jove, he did, cheer son, cheer or Roy Keane will get you.

There’s something soul destroying about watching your team capitulate to mindless shrieks of a typical Take That crowd.

And this is not just a Manchester United problem.  Arsenal supporters (or at least the ones they let into the Emirates) cannot differentiate between a meaningful attack and a wild clearence that goes slightly near that pensive man of letters Theodore Walcott.

Watching football can be a burden.  The TV commentary and analysis is atrocious.  Newspaper reporting has been shown up and taken refuge in the gutter.  Now the plastic fans are conquering our grounds.  Why can’t they be better, why can’t they be like us?  Will we become like them?

Think about Stefan Freund.  Is the age of being able to enjoy a player ironically coming to a close?

Great De-Presh 2000 and e-lev Round-up

24 Apr

We all thought it would be alright when Huddlestone got here. We all thought that once he rinsed parliament (by which I mean his body) of Disraeli and the Tory filth (by which I mean his injury) all would be right in the Kingdom. Alas strife is a squatter.

On the face of it the return of Huddlestone has restored us to form. The games against Stoke, Real Madrid, Arsenal and West Brom saw some of our best performances of recent weeks as well as a fair return of goals. 2.7 per game in the league to be exact. If we’d maintained that over the season so far we’d have scored 88. A marked improvement.

On the other hand we’ve conceded 2.3 goals a game in that period. Extend that for the season so far and we’d have let in 77. A marked decline. However, that total includes an inordinate number of howlers (cataclysmic errors from Huddlestone, Bale, Gallas plus Benoit Assou-Ekotto’s pulled hamstring) and an inordinate number of near-wonder strikers (Etherington, Jones, Cox) . It’s simply not feasible that that ratio could be kept up over the course of a season – whilst our performances and number of shots suggest the goals tally is no fluke.

The point of the blog is optimism and I think there’s reason to be optimistic and yet…

Above these impressive displays lies aura of chaos. The frequent sucker punches reveal a team playing under massive pressure. Until Defoe goal against West Brom we were desperate; commanding and fluent but desperate when it came to the final ball. Redknapp’s tactics, despite what you have heard, are coherent in theory but unstable over the course of a game. Van der Vaart was widely judged Man of the Match against Arsenal but for significant portions of the game his contribution dwindled to nothing and, worse, his lenient interpretation of ‘right midfield’ left us woefully exposed.

The functionality of the team is fuzzy; too many elements are unpredictable, from how players operate on any given day, to the selection. Rather than things coming together for the grand finale, we’re still winging it. Despite Redknapp showing a degree of faith in Pavlyuchenko, it has not been fully vindicated so we cannot assume it will continue. Despite Huddlestone having a positive impact, it’s not been so overwhelmingly positive to guarantee a settled centre of midfield.

The rain may be easing off but it’s getting perilously close to tea-time.

Crouchometre Mania!

11 Apr

Given Redknapp had been saving Crouch for Europe (at least he’ll be champing at the bit… oh shi-) I didn’t have much hope for the big man but perhaps now he’ll be playing regularly and roboto dancing his way to the top of the Crouchometre.

Carroll did his part tonight, though there seems to be some doubt he even got a touch for his second. Could this be an asterix in the superscript of their goals tally? Add it to Suarez’s dubiously attributed first Liverpool goal and the Crouchster could be outscoring them 2 to 1.

One crouch to rule them all

The Great Depression of 2011: Wigan (away)

2 Apr

The worst thing about watching football is that it can make you feel so powerless. It’s hard to imagine another scenario where we tie our happiness to something we have absolutely no control over – At least they let you choose your lottery numbers.

Watching Tottenham in the league these days is like entering the lottery with an out of date ticket, with numbers somene else has chosen. But you go to check them anyway, just for the sake of it, only to realise that someone has cut off your hands and replaced them with Betamax players. Welcome to the great depression of 2011.

This blog was supposed to be all about positivity but this is a bad time. It’s bad chiefly because things are so good. The squad is great, overflowing with interesting players and we’re having a jolly old european adventure, being praised an lauded the world over. But it’s hard to enjoy these things knowing they’re liable to be taken away in the near future, and it’s hard to endure these dismal league performances knowing that we’re capable of so much more.

I don’t want to analyse the Wigan, it’s best to look ahead, but there is one thing I’ll mention:

Jenas – I found it hard to understand what his role was meant to play today. It’s a common problem with him. Against Arsenal, when he was alongside Modric, he was notionally the more defensive of the two yet when we conceded the second goal he’d pushed up into an excellent but innappropriate attacking position, leaving us over exposed when they counter attacked. The improvement in the second half was in part due to Gallas encouraging him to stay put in front of the defence.

Today, alongside Sandro in a narrow midfield, was surely a great opportunity for him to play on the front foot where he’s best. Yet I recall a passage of play in the first half where Modric was on the attack. He was looking in vain for options and movement from our somnambulistic strikeforce but Jenas, who had pushed forward, decided to casually jog back and reassume a position behind play. I can’t believe it was per Redknapp’s instructions and it didn’t make a lot of sense.

Jenas isn’t playing badly, he’s a relatively consistant performer, but he’s rarely ever in the right place and never at the right time – in contrast to his first couple of seasons with us. Too often he forms a a midfield axis that is less than the sum of its parts. Literally, it’s as if we’ve got two men doing the job of one.

Crouchometre Update

21 Mar

A sad day in the long and glorious history of the Crouchometre, the chasing pack of gnashers, lashers and manic pixie dream Spaniards have drawn level.

Although with Redknapp playing Crouch solely in the Champions league and Carroll staggering back to fitness it can’t be much of a surprise. Too bad I wasn’t craven enough to include Pavlyuchenko and Defoe on the Crouch team – they’d be romping it.

crouch outscores all