Tag Archives: tottenham hotspur

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

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?

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.

Michael Dawson knows why Birmingham won the CCup

7 Mar

Michael dawson knowsMost football talk is nonsensical, football hyperbole doubly so. When we hear about the competitiveness of the premier league it’s usually someone shouting about how the premier league is the most competitive league in world and every game is difficult! Or else it’s someone screeching about how a club has fielded a weakened team and devalued the competition. Generally no one bothers to look at whether this schizophrenic never-say-die defeatism comes to favour one club or another.

That’s why it was good to hear Michael Dawson talking after our bewildering result at Blackpool the other week. He basically said what a lot of Spurs fans have known for a long time: The premier league is harder for us than for our rivals. The Blackpool game was a clear example. Consider if Man Utd, Arsenal, Chelsea or even Man City had beaten Milan a few days earlier. It probably wouldn’t have been viewed as a shock or even much of a triumph – Man City would have been breaking new ground but with such an expensively assembled squad victory comes with a dull inevitability. It would have had little bearing on the game at Blackpool. In our case we were perceived as plucky heroes who could be taken down a peg or two.

It’s more than that, Dawson explained: ‘It is not just this season. Tottenham are a massive club and teams want to beat us. Maybe our status is going up.’ This is the crux of it. Our status has gone up, we’ve become a choice scalp for opportunistic Braves lurking lower down the table. But, at the same time, unlike our notional rivals, we’ve not perceived as having the hard head necessary to see off such challenges and everyone knows it.

I can recall a time, maybe twenty years ago, when Manchester United fans would claim the league was harder for them because other teams approached their matches like cup finals. That may or may not have been true then, but it certainly isn’t now. The pressures of the premier league and the disparity in resources between top and bottom have meant that teams will essentially write some games off, that they’ll field weakened teams, that they’ll assume they’ll get nothing from certain matches. It’s logical. If you’re Wolves going away to Chelsea it would be pretty daft to count on coming away with some points. So when things start going against you there’s no imperative to dig in and every reason to think about that upcoming game against your fellow relegation battlers where you have to win.

But against Tottenham? Would you field a weakened team? Would you skip over that fixture when you’re plotting where you points will come from? Of course not. You’d be stupid to. History has shown Tottenham are mentally weak (even though this season we’ve toughened up and won a lot more points in the last few minutes), Tottenham are struggling to combine the Champions League and the domestic program (even though the stats say otherwise) etc. etc. There’s a litany of reasons why you should aim to beat Tottenham. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, a vicious circle. Something we have to deal with whereas our rivals, to a large degree, don’t.

This is why I suspected Birmingham would win the Carling Cup. You’ve got a situation that rarely occurs in the Premier League: a ‘lesser’ club up against a ‘bigger’ club where both teams are equally motivated to win. For everything people say about the league, that rarely happens. Professionalism is important but football is a lot more than just professionalism. This was a game that could only be approached on its own terms, where there was nowhere to run, no way for Birmingham to rationalise defeat and say well, even if we’d won we probably have been knocked out in the next round.

They went toe to toe with Arsenal and got the result. It would be nice to think that it could inspire teams when they come up against the Chelseas and Man Utds. Chances are though, it’ll probably inspire teams when they come up against us.

Arsenal (a)

22 Nov

match reportMost things in life are invisible. At least to the human eye. Evolution, ageing, climate change; some thing happen too slowly for us to immediately perceive. Other things, such as cellular or quantum events, are too small. And then, sadly, there are those things that are right before our eyes, of sufficient size and at perfect height, that we nevertheless manage to obscure from ourselves.

Whilst the paper talk centres on Arsenal throwing away a two goal lead, the real story is how Tottenham managed to trash the pristine nil-nil state that footballing entropy so patiently provides. If we can understand that, we’ll see how our miraculous recovery was nothing of the sort, that Redknapp’s masterstroke was merely the realigning of the laws of physics and the outcome inevitable.

For that we’ll need to whip out the Tactics Trunk.

the tactics trunk

Unsurprisingly the game hinged on what happened in the centre of midfield. Before the match we’d all speculated on how Redknapp would line them up. Ideally we’d have started with Huddlestone and Modric in the centre. They’d proved, with a combination of unexpected tenacity and by improving the quantity and quality of our possession, that they are capable of holding their own against anyone. But these are fascinating and quite singular players, over the course of the season we’ve seen how hard it is to refashion that axis with the likes of Jenas, the out of form Palacios or the promising but still skittish Sandro.

In the end Redknapp plumped for Jenas and a five man midfield with both Lennon and Bale hugging either touchline. It could have worked but on the day it didn’t. On the day it was possessed of the most hideous geometry, the kind that would cause H.P. Lovecraft to wake up in a sweat and stagger to his typewriter: The shadow over the emirates.

The mismatch was immediately apparent . Wenger sent out two defensive midfielders in Denilson and Song as well as the sprightly and savage Fabregas and Nasri. The key to Arsenal’s success is how well they are able to zerg over the opposition, how easily they manage to isolate the player with the ball and bring him down with superior numbers. In the first half we offered ourselves up to them. People have criticised Modric but if you look at the majority of times he lost the ball, he was in a pretty dire situation. With Bale and Lennon out wide and Jenas and Van der Vaart roving, options were limited whilst Arsenal were swarming all over him. A visual depiction:

arsenal midfield

If you consider the first goal another problem is obvious. We’d formed a bank of five but high up the pitch and without applying any pressure. This left a great space between defence and midfield allowing Arsenal’s runners to penetrate the back four at will and allowing Fabregas ample time to pick out Nasri’s run.

Equally the second goal was the hellish offspring of a disfunctional midfield. Jenas was notionally our most defensive midfielder. He’s eminently capable of the role and alongside Modric you’d expect him to take on those duties. Yet when Arsenal broke he had pushed up into a centre forward position. Their attack was hardly lightning fast but with only Modric tracking back it didn’t have to be. This isn’t to say that Jenas made a mistake or that he hadn’t taken up a good position. It’s the kind of position we’d like to see him in ordinarily; surging forward, box to box etc. But on the day we needed him in a different role, we were making things too easy for them and by the same token hard for ourselves.

So what was the big change after half-time? Arsenal fans will want to tell you that they switched off but that’s nonsense. They continued to play well and were a constant danger. Some lazy pundits will want to tell you that Redknapp made a tactical masterstroke, bringing on Defoe and narrowing our formation. That has something to do with it but fundamentally what changed was that Jenas and Modric grew into their roles and began operating with a modicum of proficiency. That was all it took. For Jenas to hold back a little and harry Fabregas a little more. I read a telling quote earlier today, Jenas was praising Gallas and said, ‘he was a voice in my ear, especially in that second half when the team needed me to sit a little bit more and graft in front of them and try and get around Cesc.’ This is the crux of it. Frankly it’s a little bonkers that he wasn’t doing this initially. Few teams will give Arsenal such licence. Their success in the first half was down to us. Our victory was down to us correcting mistakes that shouldn’t have been made.

We weren’t even particularly good but then we didn’t need to be. There was an inevitability about our goals, as if things were going down hill. So when you see an arsenal fan saying they can’t believe how they lost, tell them you can’t believe we conceded two and played as poorly as we did in that first half.