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Sunday, 23 December 2012

Didier's AVB Apology

Rivers upon rivers were flooded. It was reportedly the worst flooding Lyon had seen since the great flood of '01. Yet, it wasn't rain water that caused them. Tears filled with a mix of distraught and bitterness followed Hugo Lloris' footsteps to Tottenham. The French golden boy choosing to "move on" and leave a league that can only offer so much.

Of course, Deschamps felt Lloris "shouldn't have joined Tottenham". We're a country's length away from challenging the league title and find ourselves odds-on to finish outside the top 4. Why would a player that has these things choose to cross the water for the minnows that are Tottenham Hotspur? We'll get more of a feel of the level the French are at when we face Lyon in the next round of Europa League in February. It's too easy to dismiss the league as inferior to the Premier League - although, a league in which Chamakh and Giroud can thrive in does bring its' credibility into question.

Lloris admitted himself that he needed the move to Spurs to further his career. Evidently he doesn't fully agree with what the French boss said regarding the move. Deschamps almost reminds me of the friend that slags off their friend's ex after they move on to someone else. His ghastly face popping up just when it's not needed. It all got a little embarrassing. You'd have thought Lloris was his son. He spoke as if our number 1 had no legs in which to stand on.

I did have initial fears. We had a fantastic goalkeeper in our squad yet wasn't playing. Friedel's a brilliant keeper but Lloris just has that edge on him. Do you play a very good goalkeeper or the slightly better goalkeeper? My fears were derived from the seeming reality that a lack of playing time for Lloris as January emerged would leave him unsettled. A bid from a big club may have just done enough to unsettle him.

Interestingly, Lloris recently came out and felt he "feels stronger after time on the bench". Deschamps has yet to say a word. It's reported that he went all Liam Ridgewell and used the article a toilet paper for the day. He'll soon start commenting that Hugo said that whilst at gun point from Levy. There's no way a player could feel stronger after watching the games from half-way, in Deschamps' eyes anyway.

It's fair to say that until Hugo joined, the position of sweeper-keeper was something almost unheard of at White Hart Lane. You only have to watch Lloris over the course of 90 minutes to fully appreciate what else he can bring to a position that seemed incredibly linear. For me, the commanding of the area and quick distribution is something we've lacked in the goalkeeping department. For a side that likes to press high up the pitch, a keeper that can come quickly off of his line is essential.

AVB's played the goalkeeping situation just right. He's remained calm despite calls from abroad to instate Lloris as our immediate number 1 and managed, seemingly, to keep 2 very good goalkeepers happy. He's gone someway to ensuring that Hugo's feet are kept purely on the ground and has made him work to earn his position, something any player should be having to do. Lloris has made a bright start to life in London. Some fantastic stops and numerous clean sheets have lived up to the weighted expectation placed on his shoulders because of his reputation in France. A handful of errors have been forgiven. Had Hugo not been slowly acclimatised to the league, the small handful of errors may well have been 2 hands-full of errors.

Maybe Deschamps has a letter of apology in the post, but I wouldn't hold my breath. AVB may have just made France's number 1 goalkeeper even 'stronger'.


Monday, 10 December 2012

Leaders Needed.

My optimism upon arriving at Goodison even gave me a surprise. I mentioned in the build-up that I saw a 1-1 on the cards. A credible draw. A ground out point and one that would see us go unbeaten for our 4th consecutive game. My gut feeling told me we'd steal it. I was quietly confident we'd leave Liverpool with three more points than we'd started with and prepared my ears for pleasant renditions of 'Glory Glory' upon returning to London.

We were butter in the first half. Everton calved us open time and time again. Dempsey struggled to track Coleman's onslaught of our left with Vertonghen's early ball watching not doing the defence much good. Lloris was also forced to come to the rescue and, once more, highlighted in yellow ink why his name is rightly found in the first 11.

We survived a slightly edgy first half and, in all, a rather poor game of football; our fans still half asleep after what I can only think was an early wake up call Sunday morning. Dembele and Sandro battled well in midfield with the creative spark evidently lacking and Adebayor failing to be as influential as we know he can. This lead to Defoe often being marked out the game or forcing himself to come wide to get involved. The movement was shambolic. No one filled in for anyone else. It was obvious Thursday night had well and truly caught up with us.

So what happens?

We fluke a goal. From nothing. Dempsey's enjoyed more luck in the side of late. He's one of the few in which his work ethic vastly goes un-noted. We remember the negative and not the positives of the American. Maybe I'm digging for excuses, but I do feel as he grows more and more into our side his membership in the team - and squad especially - will become more affluent. In all honesty we didn't really look like conceding. Everton knocked a few balls into the box as they had done for large periods of the game but we had a handle on everything. We swept everything up and left no dust in our path.

Then we changed it. Players started to look tired and fatigued. I didn't have many complaints about those coming on, it was more those going off I questioned. The introduction of Falque, in theory, would've been a lively player late on in a game which could've proven a handful. As the opposition tire and look to push for an equaliser, a quality ball through could've finished it off for us. What I struggled to justify was the withdrawl of Defoe. In fairness he'd struggled to get into the game, but he's the sort that just needs a yard and he'll hit the target. He presses the last man and gives the opposition defender reason to keep checking their shoulder for him. Withdrawing him and leaving Adebayor to continue to drop deep allowed for Everton to press.

We get nervy and anxious when we sit. Top sides continue to push for a second. Attack being the best form of defence and all that. Put the pressure back onto the opposition and don't allow them to pick passes. We play a lottery every time we sit off. We hope we have enough to win every header, make every tackle and clear at every opportunity.

It's gutting that errors allowed for the equaliser. But we're still learning as a team, and as individuals. We will learn from this, in the long run. We'll highlight the need to press and grab games by the scruff of the neck when we're ahead. Leaders are key in these instances. Kaboul and Parker are two that can calm a side in key areas of the pitch.

Our issue is addressing the final 10 minutes of games. Arguably, the Europa League has affected us here but we'll learn, and there's no doubt it isn't top of AVB's agenda.


Saturday, 8 December 2012

AVB can't win - Everton away.

So after a seemingly slow start out of the blocks under AVB, we're approaching January with more smug content then looks of disapproval and smacked arses. Results change. Opinions change. We're used to how this all works now. Revelling in the past under Harry, although understandable from some in AVB's early reign, is now utterly redundant. Comparisons between the two are unjust but inevitable. Let's live with the times and move on, as most have grown to do so in the last 6 weeks.

I sincerely expect I lack the number of fingers and toes to count the probable number of times I've repeated the statement "we face a strong Everton side at Goodison". Moyes has always built a bullish side who play without fear, especially at home, regardless of who stands in front of them. The game comes at a time that could really prove a milestone under AVB's tenure of how far we've come since August. We're slowly settling into what we regard as our best 11, with the odd nit-picking and moan regarding one American player or another.  In the past I've arrived away from home with more anxiety and doubt than I have this season. It's almost as if the tables have turned. We're living in a mirror of our former-selves. We seem at ease away from home, we play without fear or weight on our shoulders. We're more relaxed on the ball and the players seem to express themselves far more than they have at White Hart Lane this season.

For me, the most interesting battle will fall between Fellaini & Sandro/Dembele. I'd expect Sandro to drop deeper and almost man-mark the Belgian who seems to thrive going forward. With Pienaar also likley to cut inside and Baines pushing joining in with every attack, our midfield will have a handful to contend with. I'd encourage Lennon to start more advance in the hope that this may restrict Baines from having the freedom of attacking our right. Our best opportunities may be that of breaking at pace.

I'd love to see both Ade & JD starting. Although what may initially appear as 4-4-2 on paper, it is unlikely to stick. Adebayor naturally enjoys coming deep and getting involved as almost a third centre-midfielder, proving a useful intermediary when linking midfield and attack. I continue to stay torn between starting Dempsey or Sigurdsson in place of Bale. I feel Dempsey is really starting to look more the player we were accustomed to last season and I put this down to hard-work on Dempsey's behalf and faith from AVB. This, for me, would edge the American into the starting 11. Despite this, I still feel we've barely seen the tip of the iceberg with Sigurdsson with chances proving limited.

A similar performance to last week against Fulham wouldn't go a miss, but I'm not holding my breath. It's these sort of games in which grinding out a result would be taken with great delight. It's easy to forget we're still in transition with recent events proving very positive. Although, I get the impression AVB is still seen as someone fighting to prove critics and doubters wrong and this will - unfortunately- forever outweigh the credit he's due. Only time will tell. Let's continue getting behind him, as more of us are starting to do.

Score prediction: Everton 1-1 Spurs


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Saturday, 24 November 2012

Stab City '12

Wednesday Night

A 7am flight to Rome meant that we got to see the City in its fullest before one too many beers would ensure that our mind was fully on supporting Spurs, not that it ever wasn't. We just got to be proper tourists for the day. I'd describe Rome as a weirdly mind-blowing place. The others I were with were sick of hearing me say this but in all honesty pictures do it no justice. It's just a shame the City is full of crooks. We'd been informed that the main city centre was heavily Roma fans with the outskirts being that of Lazio. It was comforting, for a second, then we only had to remember what had happened to past English fans by Roma fans in Rome in the past.

At around 11pm we headed to Camp de'Fiori, a popular tourist square surrounded by bars. As we approached we bumped into a large group of Spurs fans in good spirits, enjoying a few beers a few songs with everyone happy to see everyone else. We headed into the adjacent bar, bemusing the waitress as we ordered a pitcher of beer each. Bless. We grabbed a table and starting chatting to an American girl, asking what any tourist would. She said that both the "Drunken Ship" and "Skullers" were two very good, lively places to drink. We decided that we'd head to the "Drunken Ship" after finishing off in our present bar as it was 20 yards down the way. Luckily, one of our friends is more of a cider man and so was taking a little longer to finish up. Soon enough we started hearing Spurs fans talk of Lazio fans clashing with Spurs just down the square with a group soon leaving the pub. Whether they headed towards the violence we'll never know. Spurs fans soon started stumbling into our bar with cuts and gash wounds to the head, blood pouring all over their face. No ambulances or police were to be seen or heard yet. It was obvious that the injuries were from weapons and not fists. As more came in, two waitresses burst into tears, rushing after the injured Spurs fans to help them. They soon started barricading the entrances and we were stuck as to what to do. Leave and try to make it home. Or stay and hope for everything to clear up then move off. Of course, we were unaware of the severity of the attacks.

We were soon chucked on to the square and met with a heavy police and ambulance presence (eventually).  About 15 of us headed towards the main centre with everyone on edge and trying to keep a hush. We only realised the severity of the attacks in the morning. Lucky for us we didn't head to the "Drunken Ship" to begin with or earlier. We weren't in the direct firing line yet it was a scary place to be stuck in. Praying those injured make a full recovery and I can't begin to imagine the fear that those victims went through.

The game

We were escorted to the ground at 5om local time and arrived within good time before Kick Off. One of the few things I did enjoy was being able to drink in the stands throughout the game. It's definitely something I think myself, and definitely a few others, could get used to. It was pleasing to see Tom Carroll starting. A place that would always prove hostile with an intimidating atmosphere, Tom proved a surprisingly rare gem in a fairly bleak game. A game which just emphasised more and more that Lloris needs to be finding his place between the sticks at the weekend, not just weekday's. A fantastic ball from Carroll to Bale in the first 5 gave us a brief cheer before, of course, the goal was disallowed. Are Lazio the equivalent of United or Chelsea in terms of favourable decisions in Italy? Decisions have ruined both games and hopefully we can overcome Panathinaikos in our final game to qualify.

Adebayor had one of his poorer games for us and we looked uncomfortable keeping the ball on a pitch that looked as though Formula one had taken place on it. Lennon failed to show up and we largely relied on our defence and goalkeeper to ensure we didn't leave Rome empty handed. Lloris deserves his chance against West Ham. It was positive to see us, seemingly, leave Italy without any injuries (to players) and the return of Dembele was always a welcome site. Seeing Gazza attend was also a pleasant sight even if the game was not one of our greatest.

The end of the game saw us kept behind for around an hour. After about 45 minutes, fans became more and more frustrated and crowds were swarming into the riot police blocking the exits. The police retaliated to the swarm by battering anyone in front of them. Bins and bottles were soon being thrown at them before order being restored.

Onwards and upwards we move. It's hard to judge what side will turn up on Sunday. With West Ham barely scoring at White Hart Lane in the last 5 seasons I can see this one being a bit of a goal-fest. It was also good to meet both Dan and Tim (from Away Days) and if you haven't seen any of their videos then check out Dan's page here.

Check out our escort from the pub to Stadio Olimpico below.


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Sunday, 4 November 2012

Guest Post: The things AVB has to do.

This season has been okay for us at the moment – we lost to Newcastle, away, we drew twice at home, got 4 victories (including our massive win against Manchester United at Old Trafford) and now we've been beaten by Wigan at home, currently standing in fourth place and with a + 5 goal difference. Yet still, some things have to be done and improved by both Levy and AVB to gain our football back, and I am here to present them to you.

First of all, Levy has to stop with the deadline day negotiations. We sold van der Vaart on it and presumably that would’ve been a good move… if we had bought Moutinho before. Because of how late our Chairman went to negotiate with Porto, the deal for the talented creative midfielder fell through. AVB, in the meanwhile, must urge Levy to start his talks with other clubs as soon as possible.

Talking about transfer deals, we need to complete our squad. The injuries of Benny, Kaboul, Parker, Dembélé and Adebayor really blew us, and we need to be ready to substitute them effectively in case of an injury or suspension. The way to complete our team is buying a striker, a creative midfielder
and a defender.

Why a striker? We cannot handle only two strikers, if one gets injured, we have to rely on another one that might be short of form. Why a creative midfielder? As we didn’t get Moutinho in, and Dembélé got injured,
we’ve had to rely on Sigurdsson and Dempsey, which have not shown much confidence for us, but that is another discussion. Why another defender? Gallas isn’t the same as he was. At the age of 35, it’s time for
him to retire. I don’t trust Dawson so much, and we always have injury concerns.

Another great reason our team isn’t performing the way we would like to is because of the support. Our stadium capacity is 36,500 supporters, of which many choose to boo the team, because of their hatred of AVB, or they think the team selection is not the right one - the selection of Friedel instead of Lloris or Defoe instead of Adebayor. But it doesn’t matter what the reasons are, the fact that they boo the
team at half-time instead of encouraging them is depressing. Hopefully, with the construction of our new ground, more supporters, who are really supporters, will come to the game, and we will regain the atmosphere we are used to having on a match day at the Lane.

I am thirteen years old, and these are my opinions: If AVB and Levy sort these topics out, we can be a massive club, and regain the football that was once called by many the “most beautiful football in England”,
whilst at the same time restoring the confidence of our supporters in our team. With a full squad, cheering supporters in a new ground and the end of deadline day negotiations, we will easily get to the Champions League, and maybe get some silverware for our trophy cabinet.

Raphael Harris - Follow Raphael on Twitter here

Monday, 29 October 2012

We've changed.

"We had enough of the ball and enough chances - I don't think Brad Friedel has had a save to make in all honesty, we just couldn't score.
"We just couldn't get the break, we just needed a bit of luck in front of goal today."
That was the post-match comment from Redknapp after we'd just lost 1-0 away at QPR last season. A newly promoted side away from home. The side we put out had 'the likes' of Modric, Rafa, Parker and King as well as Bale, Defoe and Sandro. 
It's not the hardest spot to notice that we've been lacking the free-flowing attractive football that we'd become accustomed to last season. We seem more lacklustre on the break, more conservative when in possession and, at times, seem as though we look backwards instead of forwards for a pass. This, of course, is what comes part & parcel with selling your strongest players. Players that are unlikely to be replaced like for like - in the short run anyway. 
What we have been doing under AVB, though, is winning when we've been poor. We've seen ourselves become more resilient as the season has progressed and taken our chances when presented with them. If this Southampton game was played last season, you could almost have envisaged the hosts nicking an equaliser with one of the final touches of the game. I anticipated a struggle yesterday. I saw Ricky Lambert waving his genitalia in front of our back 4, much like Lukaku did when he came on for West Brom earlier on in the season. 
In previous games we'd struggled when a long ball was hit up to the forward man. As good as Gallas has been this season, this is still something he'd fallen short on. Not winning the first header. It was almost like primary school again as the bigger forward would bully him into mistakes. This was my primary concern. Although, come full-time, I was exceptionally pleased with his performance. We still have a tendency to sit off teams in the second half which is something that needs to be addressed and eradicated. We pressed Southampton in the first half and they barely got a sniff of Friedel's 18 yard box. We sat off in the second and we conceded. Of course, a pressing game is a tough nut to keep up for 90 minutes but we need to work on bringing it into the second half as well as the first. 
Southampton will be content with survival this year. Newly promoted sides are never always easy pickings to go away to. We've yet to put out a full strength side, we're not playing at our best but we're picking up points and this, arguably, is something we struggled to do for a large part of last season. We've yet to encounter a situation in which "a bit more luck was needed in front of goal".

Saturday, 27 October 2012

The experiment.

I'll jump right into the sea of beyond doubt here and state merely at what a fantastic season Jermain Defoe is having this year. Having ended 2011/2012 with more questions than answers raised, his status at the club remained on a knife edge. His future hung on a cliff edge as many clubs tempted him to let go. Then AVB was appointed Spurs' Head Coach. He flung a rope to Defoe and convinced him that grabbing on to it was the best for both parties. He fuelled him with a confidence, brought back that spark, that hunger, and gave him a new two-year deal. Neither have looked back since.

Although, amongst our ranks is a forward that contributed 29 Premier League goals last season. A forward we managed to bring in from Manchester City's Poundland in the summer and one in which expectations were amongst the highest. There's no doubting that without Adebayor leading the line last season we'd have struggled to get into the top 6. The guy slotted into our system proving the final jigsaw piece to paint a magnificent portrait that was our quality side. A side that brought both flair and, ahem, "swagger" to the Premier League, and football that we really couldn't get enough of. 

Things haven't been quite so bright as yet this season for Adebayor. The forward arrived back at Spurs Lodge (eventually) apparently overweight but, ironically, has lacked the hunger he had last season. This only brings back memories of the Mido situation all over again. Despite this, Ade's quality isn't lost over a summer. He looked his usual self when arriving onto the scene at home to Aston Villa and it's clear that he is a player that would bring more to the side when in the starting 11. AVB has recently said that Ade has to wait for Spurs to switch their formation for his chance. I understand that playing the same formation every week will enable the players to understand both their roles and that of their team mates', although, I do feel that changing it up every now and then leaves us far more unpredictable and offers us a different approach. 

The following is undoubtly hypothetical, but just what I personally would like to see be given a go (apologies for the poor layout).  [25 - Lloris; 5 - JV, 13 - Gallas, 33 - Caulker, 28 - Walker; 19 - Dembele, 30 - Sandro, 7 - Lennon; 11 - Bale, 10 - Ade, 18 Defoe]

1. 4-3-3 - We have an incredibly quick and powerful side, so why not play to those strengths? Pushing high up the pitch will give us the chance to press the ball and keep it in opposition territory. We also have stability with Dembele dropping back in alongside Sandro when defending. This also leaves us in a great position to counter-attack. My decision to put Lennon slightly wide of centre midfield is to give him the chance to pick up the ball early and drive. He'd also only have to look up and see both Adebayor & Defoe in front with Bale offering an option on the other flank.

2. 4-2-3-1 - This becomes a more natural line-up. Although, I would have Defoe almost playing off of Adebayor. There are two issues that I have with this formation. Firstly, the amount of space in front of both Sandro and Dembele. One would most likely have to sit in front of the other. Secondly, with two players almost sitting in front of the defence -arguably Dembele could pick up the ball and start off certain plays - it restricts the defence from playing a high line and pushing up. We've always looked nervous when we've sat off and allowed the opposition to play in front of us. In my opinion we seem far more comfortable playing higher up the pitch and pressing the play. 
3. 4-1-3-2 - This has sought to go some way in highlighting the potential issues from the second line-up and amend them. I feel this formation offers more stability. When we defend we have both wingers and 2 CM's that can drop in and revert to a 4-4-2 yet we'd have the pace in midfield and the attack up front to break quickly if need be. 

I'm not suggesting this is the answer to accommodating Adebayor. I'm merely offering a suggestion as to what I'd like to see be given a try. We should seek to fit Adebayor into a system that suits both him and the other 10 players comfortably. Defoe doesn't and shouldn't be dropped. Our plan B can lye with Dempsey and Sigurdsson.

At our disposal we have two very good forwards. Two different types of forward. Two forwards that can both score goals and create them. We have a very strong starting 11, despite having big pieces of our jigsaw sold abroad this summer. We've sought to fill these gaps with slightly different types of players and bring them into a new system under a new manager. At times we've looked close to clicking as a team but we're yet to fully find our feet as a unit. Every game is a another step in the learning process and trying different things is all part of this process. We know what Adebayor can bring and, in my opinion for what it's worth, involving him would be one step closer to making us click.


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Sunday, 21 October 2012

We are an embarrassment.

Chelsea at home. What was previously called 3-point lane from the away support had become memories. Mutterings of what was. We'd derailed a highly powered steam train at White Hart Lane and kept it off the tracks for 6 years. In those 6 years, we've experienced immense progression. We've matched the top sides, beating them in some years and established ourselves as one of the top sides in the country.

With great success comes great expectation. Fans become more expectant. We no longer enter these big derby games in the hope of not being embarrassed, but in the hope of finishing with three points more than we started the day with. We expect free-flowing attractive football. We've evolved from our previous eye-sore that we'd put up with for years in the past. We expect to win, every game.

Inevitably, with great success also comes a higher demand for match tickets, Spurs branded items and the like. More fans want to see the side play. Fans are happier to pay out more as their expectation to win grows. Many now visit White Hart Lane for the entertainment, supporting the side comes second to the day out. Criticism is easier to give than praise.

Standing in Park Lane yesterday cemented my belief that we can no longer talk of the fantastic support we offer at games. In the past we'd be used to experiencing defeat at the hands of Arsenal, Chelsea and United but atleast we'd stand there and back our boys until the end; singing relentlessly for 90 minutes. We're never going to compete financially with some clubs, but this is no reason why we can't win the game off the pitch. Our job as fans is to support the side. Support the side when we win, draw and lose. I almost felt embarrassed on Saturday. Chelsea fans, at one point, even coming out with "It's so quiet, it's so quiet at the Lane." This coming from supporters renowned for their lack of vocal support - or so I'd perceived.

We've moved on from times in which starting a chant in the stands was publicly supported through thousands of others joining in. We're now at a time when starting a chant is met with irritated looks. It's easy to sing and praise the side when we're winning. It's easy to sing "AVB's blue and white army" when we're ahead. But the moment we go a goal behind, at any stage of the match, I get the impression the majority are already checking for when the next train is departing White Hart Lane. The flood gates open and we swarm out.

Picture having your boss looking over your shoulder at work. You instantly feel nervous, tense. You worry so much about making a mistake that you don't excel or work to your best. The moment we go a goal behind the atmosphere gets tense and edgy. We find publicly criticising the side a far easier feat to accomplish than supporting them. What good does it bring? More often than not now I believe that many fans would rather sing "I know I am I'm sure I am I'm Tottenahm 'til we lose." It would have more truth in it than any other song.

I still remember being at Fratton Park under Ramos, being 2-0 down and singing Super Tottenham for about 8 minutes. Long gone are those days and long gone is my initial perception that we one of the best groups of supporters in the Premier League. I continue to question why we've become something we hate.


Thursday, 4 October 2012

Lazy day.

We all love them. After work is more preferable. During a working day both your manager and customers are more than less likely to appreciate a half-hearted lazy attempt at doing something productive. Spurs failed to get out of 2nd gear and spent most of the evening in Athens strolling around in neutral. Of course, this was nothing on the part of the Greeks - they were predictably woeful - we just seemed failed to light any sort of spark and get going last night.

Somehow I struggle to envisage AVB telling the boys they'd walk this one. "Don't try tonight lads, the result will come." "You've beaten United so it's a certainty you'll smash this lot." Naa, don't buy that at all. The players themselves just seemed lacklustre, undeterred by the opposition and complacent. The only positive from this is that hopefully any signs of a growing ego would've been rattled and knocked a little. Villa themselves are proving a little unpredictable and turning up to that as we had last night will see all three points heading back up to Birmingham.

Contrary to what AVB says I think fatigue had little to do with last night. Of course, I know our squad's levels of fitness far better than that of our head coach. We find ourselves in the early part of October and have played the same number of games as the clubs we're directly competing with. Have we been on the pies again or have all these double training sessions left the squad tarnished? AVB could hardly admit the players weren't bothered and already had one mind on playing as themselves in the Fifa 13 Spurs Cup post-game last night; It's a little like the Emirates trophy but with a little more prestige. It's also not held at the Emirates. Results to follow.

Complacency is the last thing that should wiggle its way into a side that are still yet to hit their peak. If we genuinely want to have a real good go at the Europa League then AVB has to pass his belief onto the squad.

An unspectacular draw reflected a rare positive for the Greeks to bask in with the highlight of my night being the anticipation at 5pm of finishing work and watching Spurs play.

For it's a bland old team to play for... 


Sunday, 30 September 2012

Spurs Crisis Continues.

Oh deary me, is it that time? United already? At Old Trafford? Upon approaching October it was inevitably going to be that time, we'd have to pit ourselves against one of the 'bigger boys' (no homo). Spurs have become incredibly hard to figure out this year. We've played well and dropped points, we've played poorly and won. So a dyer performance in Manchester may see us escape with a draw? Naa, that was never going to happen.

After an obvious Spurs mutiny was set to take place (again) due to mythological double training sessions and athletes that are already tiring 5 games into the Premier League season, this game was one that I'm sure very few were eagerly anticipating. A fixture usually flooded with controversy, I was just hoping we kept it tight. Play fairly high up the pitch and press. Give their midfield little space to hit their forward players. Of course, a dodgy offside goal always looked to be on the agenda with this system; but it's our system, and a system we're slowly adapting too.

In typical AVB style we went for it. Ekotto's injury may prove to be but a blessing with Vertonghen at left back looking incredibly useful. It's evident already that the Belgian plays without fear and enjoys the ball at his feet. Although grafted with the luck of a deflection, his break into the box just shows the versatility of a player quickly setting up camp in the heart of many of us. His understanding with Bale looked years ahead of its' time.

Our second epitomises what Spurs are all about - breaking with pace. This by no means was all Bale's doing. Sandro cuts out United as they move into our final third and gives the ball to Dembélé. His intelligence and quick turn of pace is something that brings a lot to us in the now forever absence of Modric. Bale's run was Norwich all over. I'm not a fan of him breaking through the centre as I find he gets stuck out there and struggles to cover left back when we're having to defend. Although, mixing it up every now and then clearly may be something that can bring more to our attack. Defoe's movement to take Evans out the game and leave Bale to give Rio more of a burning than my hungover toast this morning was fantastic.

Defoe this year has definitely brought more to his game. He's really pushing to take his chances in the absence of Adebayor. From a player that looked disillusioned towards the end of the season and over the summer, he looks refreshed. A new signing. There's definitely more to him as a forward now. He understands his role up front alone, he keeps his head up more than down and looks for a killer pass. He finally looks hungry. I'm one that hates being hungry, but Defoe's thriving on it.

Defoe was efficacious in our third. I was almost lost for words when Sandro knocked a hopefully long ball to Jermain but Defoe did fantastic to take it out the air and hold off Ferdinand. His killer ball to Bale mirrors what I've mentioned above in that, in the past, Defoe may have ignored Bale's overlap and looked to shoot at first sight. Admittedly, Bale naively shot when the decision to pull the ball back to Dempsey looked the best one. An unfamiliar slice of luck ensured the ball landed at the American's feet who slotted home for his first in a Spurs shirt. 

Maybe it would be our day. Maybe we can hold on. 

The second half was more than a predictable one. United would come out of the blocks. The bench holding Rooney, Welbeck and Hernandez was tipped onto the pitch and it was two different sides in the second half. I knew we'd be on the back-foot in the second 45 but I didn't think we'd almost redefine the word. We stuck 11 behind the ball and sat and sat and sat. The character of the side to concede early, then to respond immediately for then to only concede again but hold out cannot be faulted. The mental resilience of the side to hold on for half an hour was a blessing. We had a fair slice of luck that has been lacking in this fixture previously and the win was long overdue. 

We seem to be taking our chances more this year. We had few against United yet took 3. We seem more dangerous in front of goal and always look like scoring. Mentally, this should do wonders for the players. It should go some-way to cement AVB's feet into the managerial position and ease the haters off his back. He'll never do enough to satisfy everyone, but we'll live with it. A fantastic performance all round from a side that are obviously unhappy, tired and have little faith in AVB. Caulker, despite being at fault for United's second, was almost a new signing. His partnership with Gallas looked at ease throughout. Vertonghen, Bale, Defoe, Sandro and Dembélé were all brilliant. It's already clear that second guessing Tottenham will be harder than predicting who will win the League. Let's hope this crisis we're in can continue.

Paul Jiggins' position at the Sun is now untenable. 

Would you keep Defoe over a fit Adebayor? Vote in the poll on the right!

Ben (InsideN17)

Follow me on Twitter - click here.

Monday, 24 September 2012


It wouldn't have taken a lot to notice that most of us could've done with an Ark to get to Spurs on Sunday but it's safe to say our performance was just as miserable as the down pour that met us arriving into N17.
How did I expect the game to go? Tough call. I find QPR a tough side to figure out. They'd turn up to some games whilst in others look as though they were still on the beaches, mellowing in the summer sun that has just proceeded them.

It's safe to say Rangers were well on top. We gave them far to much respect in midfield and found ourselves pegged back. Uncharacteristically deep. With 3 centre midfielders this really baffled me. All of them seemed a little lost and, without the ball, we struggled to track, tackle and our positioning was woeful. Sigurdsson in particular for me looked lost. I'd be surprised if he found his way home okay; hopefully he did. The only vague positive I took from the opening half hour was I enjoyed the little give & go's, the one-two's and quick passing in triangles. Although, despite this, we didn't undertake them anywhere near as often as we should've and class was severely lacking throughout.

What also shocked me was no one looked for the ball. Players should always have atleast two options given to them. We made it incredibly hard for ourselves. At half time, it wasn't just the change from AVB that I loved but also the obvious talking to he'd had with the players. Changing it up at the first sign of players not hitting their best is something we'd arguably lacked last season. The flair was in full throttle second half. The players looked to fight more and we pressed more than we had in the first half.

Chances in the game for us were few and far between, but we took two and won. We've played better in previous games and not left with maximum points. Good sides win even when they're poor and I can only see this as positive. Mentally it should do the players wonders. They know they can come from a goal down to win. Depending on whether you're a half empty/ half full person, I do see that as 5 unbeaten regardless of the opposition. We also seem to have quite a player in the making in Jan Vertonghen. Comfortable on the ball, fantastic when one-vs-one against a forward and intelligent with his positioning and tackling.

This obviously wasn't our best performance but we'll play better and lose in the future. I'm happy for AVB to get his first home win and with Old Trafford beckoning this weekend, I just hope we give a god account of ourselves.


Sunday, 2 September 2012

Guest Post: Rafa.

Well, without doubt Rafa was influential. He was a talisman, a fan favourite, a real hero.
Since joining us from Real Madrid back in August 2010, he really impacted and enhanced the team’s performance. It won’t be the same without him now that he's departed us for what was obviously his second him in Germany. Believe it or not, I've seen those calling him a traitor. But I don’t – I am very thankful for everything he has done in these two years with us and I hope he is happy there in Germany, close to his wife, with the team he used to play for a few years ago.

Rafa is a remarkable player. We all liked him; his goals, his assists and his obvious passion and desire to play for Spurs; he was a playmaker of his own nature. He had his fair memorable moments that we all enjoyed. The goal against Inter Milan in the 3-1 win at the Lane, his many goals against Arsenal and his passion when celebrating. So where I'm going with this is that - for the few that tarnish him with disgust for leaving - we shouldn’t. He served our team well, we all know that. On twitter I keep seeing these ridiculous attacks directed to van der Vaart, and it angers me.

Appreciate the class we've witnessed at White Hart Lane. Players such as him don't come along very often in the lilywhite but when they do we should enjoy them. So I hope you are all grateful for a player that leave Spurs with many memories. Players are like soldiers – They don’t always give the same effort, but in the end, every single one of them helps the group become what it is, and all of them should be recognised.

Written by: 

Raphael Harris (@Harrishotspur)

If you wish to write for this blog then email your piece in a word document to

Saturday, 1 September 2012

AVB's faults.

Pressue. I noted last week to a few pals o' mine that this particular game was causing me some concern. After a few jeers at full-time of the West Brom game, it was always likely to be the case that if Spurs weren't trouncing Norwich 3-0 at half time you'd get the fickle bunch emerging with a roar.

In truth, AVB's team selection was one to cause quite a surprise from my side of things. I don't like seeing two holding players sitting in front of the back four, especially at home. This just comes across as far to negative. What contradicts this is that these two players were both charging forward to try and win the ball then play it into the advanced midfielders; i.e. doing what a creative midfielder is there to do. This left a monumental gap in front of the back 4. One holding player with Sigurdsson sitting alongside would've made more sense with possibly Dembele behind the forward. We lacked fluidity. No player looking to play football. We were far to predictable and played into Norwich's hands. They packed the midfield, forced us out wide knowing that we'd have no target man to aim for. 

This brings me to Defoe. He's not a starter. He's a player to introduce when we're chasing a goal. He has a good shot on him and is lively up front, but he's not a starter - not in the system AVB is implementing at Spurs. The issue was when we first went ahead it made sense to me to try and close the game out as we were playing particularly poor and Norwich looked bright; and I'm not just referring to their shirt.

This would've been the time to bring on Sandro or Livermore to shut out the game. I'd much rather have seen Sandro & Livermore sitting in midfield when we were ahead than Livermore and Huddlestone. The second issue was when they equalised we had no plan B as both forwards were already in play. Okay, it can be argued that when you concede in the 85th minute a substitution may be of little effect, but I'd have far rather had seen Defoe come on then instead of starting. 

We look nervous defending set pieces without Kaboul sitting in defence. No one seems to take authority or bully the forwards like he does. 4 months? It'll be a long end to 2012. I'm in no means anti-AVB, in fact, I still think we should give him the season and see what he can do. I just feel today he made a couple of errors that cost us not only a win but a good performance as well. 

It's easy to forget that this same side dominated Newcastle at St. James' and were very unlucky to not leave with anything. I can only assure myself that we'll approach the following games with more positivity. A creative player (Dembele/Sig) alongside one of Livermore or Sandro. Adebayor up front. Mixing up our play. Dropping Gallas and giving Caulker a run. More energy, more confidence. We've made our choices this summer so we stick by them. 3 games shouldn't change that. 

I'm intrigued to know the sort of backing AVB has after today. Please vote in the poll on the right whether you want him out or not.

I welcome this international break. It did wonders for us last year and a repeat of this wouldn't go a miss. 



...Nope. The emotional rollercoaster has finished its prolonged ride. We rode as high as a kite at times, plunged in fear at others and, by the time the coaster's elapsed time had ceased, the majority were satisfied. We had our spine ripped from inside us this summer. Replacing it was key. We signed many great additions to the side, but struggled to bring in that key man in which our play can flow through. A man to take control in midfield and run the show. 

AVB has a system. At both Porto and Chelsea he opted to stick a *que FM quote* "deep-lying playmaker" in front of the back four and carry the ball forward. With Modric turning his nose up at our new under-armour shirt (apparently he liked the colour, just not the badge), AVB chose to stick Sandro & Livermore in CM. He (we) all wanted Moutinho. I estimated about 97.2% of the Twitter guys and gals I follow were on thir knees, crossed fingers and toes praying that he'd be pulled out the bag. I assume the deal collapsed because of either time or a number of factors. I'd even heard it was because of a 15% players rights stake owned by a third party. Levy's not an idiot, he knew the reliance we'd have had on a player such as him. Unfortunately, purchasing players isn't as easy or simple as it is on both FIFA '03 and FM '06. 

But, in the end, it was Dempsey's face who was pulled out. Shock. Yes. Again, another great addition. What we have certainly added -  I hope - are goals from midfield. Easing the reliance on the forwards was a target for this year; well, in my eyes anyway. Although, I do believe Dempsey has been brought in as a forward. The addition of Dembele I think is one we've cried out for, for a while now. Pace, power, technique. He has the attributes to challenge Lennon and the versatility to slot into a number of positions. Like Dempsey, I hope that these two don't end up mirroring Pienaar's short stint at Spurs. A fantastic player, versatile, but just not clicking with us.

What I appreciate is the faith Levy has put into AVB. It was both a shock and an incredible surprise to see this, ahem, "player revolt" not quite take its' due course but for only Rafa to be, arguably, the one player leaving we probably fancied would stay. We've taken a big gamble bringing in AVB, we may as well give him every chance to succeed at Spurs. We've left this transfer window in the green after all and come out of it with a refreshed squad with strength in depth.

We are, in my opinon for what it's worth, a playmaker short. An out-and-out centre midfielder. But, in life (and football) you have to compromise. Only time will tell if we've made the right choices or not. I still see this as a season of transition. On reflection it's been a good window, but times will be tough considering we've lost our best player and one of our most influential. In terms of vdv, my heart speaks of missing him, his passion, his undisputed love for Spurs, but my head tells me it was probably a good deal for both parties. All the best to him.

A club can only get so far without Champions League football and I feel we've adapted well. We've wanted a target man, at a good age with much promise, for years, but we'll struggle to find our perfect fit until we barricade ourselves in and amongst the top 4 positions of the Premier League. 4th may not be a nail on the head, but what is guaranteed is, as ever, we'll be one of the most entertaining sides to watch. The wealth of forward-thinking players we have at our disposal is sublime. 

What we now must focus on is doing what we do best, and support the boys that ARE in lilywhite. I sense there will be a lot of desire in that dressing room to play for the shirt and that's what we want.

Ben Alfrey. 

Follow me on Twitter [@InsideN17]

Sunday, 26 August 2012


I arrived at the Bell and Hare just in time for the weather to make its mark over Tottenham. Standing in pissing down rain with a can of Red Stripe isn't what one would define as enjoyment but West Ham were three down and I was just over an hour from visiting, well, my third home.

It wasn't surprise that hit me when I saw Adebayor was starting alongside the likes of Kane and Townsend on the bench but I was surprised to see Livermore and Sandro partnering one another in midfield. Livermore's progressed at the speed of Usain Bolt over the last year; it almost reminds me of O'Hara under the Ramos 'era'. I have started to really rate Jake. As well as he did last year we all knew he was just a step-in. Pure cover. Slotting in when needed and did a job. But in Newcastle and, particularly, yesterday I feel he's starting to add more value to the side. He comes across as far more disciplined this year. He knows his role thoroughly - when to defend and when to attack - and his passing has upped a level.

My issue is that the partnership between Livermore and Sandro, as much as I've enjoyed it, can't be more than a summer fling. We're entering the back end of August and, as positive I feel we have looked in the two games we've played, we're crying our eyes out for some creativity sitting in centre midfield. Someone to unlock a killer ball, open doors, leave defences on their knees. I'm almost sure we have a player of this calibre in our ranks, somewhere. I've also heard the same player has finalised his move to Madrid for the 63rd time this summer. I was sure Gylfi would start alongside either Sandro or Livermore with Vdv behind Defoe.

Again yesterday, I found it difficult to fault the performance and especially AVB. We pressed the ball, kept it well and West Brom didn't have much of a look in for 70 minutes. We eased off when we scored and their introduction of Lukaku was a game changer. The few that seem intent on jumping on the back of AVB and weighing him down with more pressure than he can handle need to, again, see the bigger picture. Agreed, it was West Brom at home. Agreed, this is a game we'd 'expect' to take full points from. Although this is a side we never give a whipping to. They're organised, no mugs, and evidently play right up until the final whistle. Sloppiness in defence cost us. What I was happy to see was we had more or less every player back defending; I struggle to blame AVB for failing to clear the ball when there were more than enough white shirts there to get it done. We're not finding ourselves unlocked with balls over the top or between our defence as we initially feared. This is the issue that occurred at Chelsea and I see no sign of this being mirrored this season.

Had we taken our chances when they were presented in the first half we'd have been home (but not dry) by half time. Arguably, leaving our key business to the end of the window may have cost us 2 wins but, saying that, it's the players we have got we need to focus on. I don't want to continue echoing what I brought up last week but last year's spine has been non-existent this season. King/Kaboul, Modric/Parker and Adebayor. Without atleast 3 of these we'd have struggled to even get 4th. What we had yesterday was, of course, no King or Kaboul, Modric or Parker and an unfit Adebayor. I feel Parker's role is more than covered through Sandro and Livermore but it's the lack of spark in the centre which is costing us. Modric will not be easy to replace but be replaced he must.

Some may say I'm digging out excuses to protect AVB. But I'd beg to differ. You only have to look at the key players that are missing, our evident need of a fit target man - Adebayor didn't have a pre-season - and our positive performances despite these needs to see that we're not in danger of having a catastrophe of a season and by no means are we the finished article just yet.

180 minutes of a season gone and a minority boo. They're probably the same people that didn't lose a single loyalty point after the deduction came in. Funny that.


Sunday, 19 August 2012

Did we lose in Newcastle?

The sun was an early enemy as I made my trip up. It ensured that the coach up to 'DA NORF' would be a muggy one; I almost felt punished for going up and thinking we may actually steal 3 points from Newcastle. No, I lie. My head told me we'd probably fall short of a point but I was more excited to see our set up at one of the toughest grounds to go to.

After persisting for 7 hours with two kids behind me debating whether Newcastle was in fact "in Scotland" or not and informing every passenger on the coach that this was journey was "long blud," I was glad to step off and climb the seemingly endless flights of stairs to get up to our seats; glad probably being an understatement here after the journey.

I felt we'd line up with Sigurdsson and Sandro sitting in CM with Vdv positioned just behind Defoe. England international (yeah, that's right) Jake Livermore, who flourished in pre-season, sat alongside Sandro with Vdv making way - but I was happy knowing that we'd keep things tight with those two sitting. Gallas was a surprise inclusion, although maybe this idea of "easing" in Vertonghen is what AVB feels is the best way forward.

A couple of early bookings could not dishearten me at how disciplined our midfield was; I felt they were unlucky. Calculated pressing, great anticipation and reading of the play; I heard at the half Gallas and Kaboul were looking for spares to stand in the Spurs end as they had so little to do. Despite at times struggling to boss midfield, I felt Gylfi's movement was fantastic. His runs off the ball would always ensure he'd have space around him to bring others into play. I'm also hopeful he hasn't picked up the Spurs set piece curse, I'll put it down to early anxiety "and that." Sandro's performance also needs no justifying. He dominated Tiote and Cabaye, despite this being the first time he's played under AVB. I genuinely feel he will be more than key this season and fits our system down to the ground.

Lennon was fantastic down the wing. He looked eager to take on players more often than he did last season but gave consideration as to when to do it. At times he'd feed balls inside or put in an early cross. I appreciated him adding this variety to his game and I feel that when - yes, when - we bring in a target man up front these balls in will be better utilised. Defoe did all he can up front alone, feeding on scraps for parts, but I was impressed with his contribution. He worked incredibly hard up front and kept Newcastle's back four on their toes.

Two sloppy mistakes cost us here. Newcastle didn't appear to have a game plan but seemed set on trying to pounce on any of our mistakes. They found a rare gap in our midfield which they exploited before Walker mistimed a header away and we were 1 down. Funnily enough, their goal was almost coming. We looked so positive both on and off the ball that going one down is almost imprinted into our DNA.

I felt Vdv had a good game when he came on. He seemed to sit a little deeper than Sigurdsson did and was told to pick out balls to the wings which he did with success. His trip was naive. Vulnerability after scoring is the case more often than not in football and it's a shame to see so much hard-work undone because of sloppiness - but this is football.

I don't think I've ever been so positive about a defeat than I have this one. I struggle to fault the performance and feel that the foundations are there for a great season. It's still evident that a forward is needed and a creative midfielder wouldn't go amiss, despite how comfortable the midfield three of Sig, Sandro and Jake looked yesterday. The spine of our team last season was arguably King/Kaboul, Modric and Adebayor. However you look at it, we were missing atleast two of those players yet bossed large chunks of yesterday's game.

I'm still awaiting this player revolt ( Wasn't it just so evident that every single player wanted to leave after yesterday's performance? Naa, I don't think so either. Consider yourself lucky that on top of our loss you didn't have to sit in front of two kids for another 7 hour journey back. One actually said that Swansea fans going to QPR would've got a ferry to Southampton then driven. The other said that he'd have rather lose 3-0 than 2-1. In fairness the response from his friend was "you on crack blud?"

No word of a lie.


Sunday, 12 August 2012

Are we ready?

We face Newcastle in under a week. Just thought I'd point that out to those that have been OD'ing on the Olympics rendering you unable to remember that you support a football team besides the minimal interest that was taken in Team GB; I also envisage that a tear may roll down the cheek of one or two as the closing ceremony edges nearer. Come Saturday, only one thing matters - 3 points (although a point would be nice).

So we've had a rather twist of a summer. Harry was shown the exit door that both brilliant and abysmal players have seen the front of before telling us that Levy felt we needed "a change of direction" from, you guessed it, the window of his car. We've also brought in two players in the form of Jan Vertonghen and Gylfi Sigurdsson whilst seeing the back of Niko, Corluka and Pienaar. I know, we've made signings before August 31st; AVB must've dropped something in Levy's tea during their first official meeting.

Although, the indifference comes in the shape of Luka still sweating blood and tears to escape Levy's wrath. It appears apparent that the exit door is in sight for Luka but no club has stumped up enough cash to pay for the key. I think the majority of us are resigned to the fact that this "will he won't he" prolonged saga will only come to its' conclusion on deadline day. Depressing, I know. Although how this unproven Lucas Moura can command £38m from PSG yet Modric reportedly barely getting £30m is beyond me. Talk about a distorted market. I trust Levy has Spurs' best interests at heart but it's time to let go. The relationship has hit a brick wall. We've had our fun, our good times, but we should invest our energy into the Portuguese guy from Porto that's fancies us. Times change, let's move on.

I don't think we'll ever be truly ready until the Modric debacle has been killed. We're also a good striker or two short of ideal. Our only senior forward in Defoe leaves us with a real lack of a Plan B should things not be going right. Defoe himself is actaully more of a Plan B than anything. I see Harry Kane as a "oh we're losing, let's chuck on another forward for a holding player and hope he turns this around," type plan. This isn't really an effective Plan B for me. In fact, I wouldn't class it as a plan at all, It reeks of desperation.

Even if we signed a forward or a creative midfielder prior to our trip up North (I know, I can't believe I even suggested that either) I still don't feel we'll be any more ready for Newcastle as we are now. Anyone brought in will need time to adapt to our system and the player's around them. Of course, in the long term it would be ideal and getting our deals done before deadline day would prove beneficial. But, for Newcastle, we will travel up atleast a midfielder and striker short. So, I picture us lining up in one of two ways as shown below.
Possible line-up 1 v Newcastle
The first image shows both Livermore and Sandro starting. I feel it depends whether AVB chooses to be more cautious considering it's his first PL game and a tricky one away at Newcastle. The line-up would ensure that the space between midfield and defence is cut out and would aid our pressing game despite a lack of creativity sitting in front of the back 4.

Possible line-up 2 v Newcastle
The second image shows Sigurdsson sitting alongside Livermore. I felt that when played here in pre-season Sig did well at controlling play, acting as a deeper playmaker. He also has the ability to drive into the box from midfield. My choice of Livermore over Sandro in this picture is because Jake has had a full pre-season with Spurs and would be better prepared than Sandro. Despite Sandro evidently being match fit after featuring for Brazil in the Olympics, he's yet to play our system under AVB.

It's evident that we're still a few players short from having a complete squad. Defoe doesn't seem capable of playing this formation and this is why our need for a target man will become more and more urgent as these games start coming thick and fast. These formations are obviously missing Modric and whether he will make the trip to Newcastle is anyone's guess. In a sense I'm almost "preparing for the worst" and don't expect our Croat to feature at all. I do feel we have enough to get a result at Newcastle but can only see our line-up being almost a stop-gap before we have the targets in that we need.

It's clear that we're not yet ready, but which side completely is for their first game?


Thursday, 2 August 2012

Stekelenburg isn't a striker.

It's a first ever here on the blog. The title cannot be argued with. Sky have reported that we are tracking   Maarten Stekelenburg of Roma, despite the 'keeper moving to Italy just a year ago.  A little surprise was my initial reaction when it first emerged we were chasing a new man between the posts but, on reflection, at most we'd get just another year from Friedel. Hugo Lloris now appears too deep for Levy's pockets and we've seemingly identified the Dutch as an alternative. That, or Levy's pulling another stunt in an attempt to drive down Lloris' asking price - cue expressions of an expectant nature. 

My concern is how keen we seem to be the bring in a new Goalkeeper and the length of time the pursuit seems to be taking. Of course, speculation is speculation, papers make their money by spreading it; we, of course, do little to dampen it. It passes the time between the end of one season and the start of another. It's more than evident that a striker should be a priority; we find ourselves currently with just one senior forward. AVB has reportedly said that we're only looking to bring in one forward, dropping the biggest hint yet that he's keen to offer Harry Kane the chance to prove himself in the Premier League. I've mixed reactions with this. I'm happy that we're willing to give our young players a chance to prove themselves but, at the same time, the lack of depth upfront could cost us. 

Many will argue against this, but I don't yet feel Kane is on our Premier League level. A loan at a club of smaller stature may have been a good option giving him the experience he requires without us personally having to take the risk. With the Adebayor deal stalling more than a learner in his first driving lesson and with Spurs having only two more friendlies before a tough trip away to Newcastle, I can't help but start to worry slightly at the lack of movement up front. 

Regarding the missing maestro in midfield, as Modric's absence from the side is becoming more and more a reality (although, unsurprisingly dragging on), I feel we have adequate, but temporary, cover to fill the void. Playing a three of Vdv, Gylfi and Sandro wouldn't be the most daunting midfield we've ever played. Although, Modric will need to be replaced upon his, seemingly, eventual sale. 

Check out my extensive look at what we've learnt from AVB so far here.


Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Extensive look at what we've learnt from AVB so far.

I wasn't too sure what to expect when this tour of the US kicked off. I blame the appointment of AVB and a couple of early signings for giving me bursts of excitement and a reason to watch all three games. What I have noticed is a vast improvement on how we've adapted to a new style of football; a high line, defence starting from the furthest player forward and working together as a unit. The progression is more than evident, as with each passing game we've looked more and more settled.

We finished off in New York. Many gasps of surprise were heard at around 11.15pm when team news was released and we were lacking a forward. I didn't see this as any wrong doing on behalf of Harry Kane but merely trying something different, while we can. In typical Spurs style, we went in 1-0 down at Half time. Walker, looking as tired as we were watching, found himself sitting a good few yards behind the rest of the defence playing Cahill onside whom went down under a Vertonghen challenge for a penalty.

I noticed that we didn't seem able to keep the ball as well as we're used to. Under Harry we controlled many games in midfield but this wasn't the case, not just in New York, but also in spells vs LA and Liverpool. I put this down to three reasons:

1. We seemed to eager to attack. Instead of being more calculated with our passing, we seemed too keen to feed that 'killer' ball through and subsequently saw it cut out or smothered up by the opposing goalkeeper.

2. The long balls from the back have started to creep back in. I nearly found myself on my knees, hands flat together in hope that this isn't something AVB has insisted on; Dawson annoyingly knocking it long more often than I cared to count. When you have 6 players in midfield and no forward, logic would dictate that you'd try to play through them and work the ball into the box. This brings me on to my final point.

3. We seemed very keen to cross the ball whenever we got the opportunity to. In truth, Bale is the only predominant player with an effective aerial threat. But, again, I feel that playing through the midfield and working the ball into the box or into good shooting opportunities would've been a more effective means of attack.

It brought little surprise to see Bale starting furthest forward. Although his attributes may fit a centre-forward role, the player himself didn't look comfortable in it. He struggled to impose himself on the game and found himself coming deep as the first half wore on to see more of the ball. A fantastic player, but a fantastic player out left. Please stay there.

Pressure from the front.
Although these shots were taken in the first half, the style maintained consistent throughout the game's entirety. The high pressure from the front is evidently something that will be common under AVB. I do believe that we have a squad with the energy to keep this up for large parts of a game; possibly sitting off more if we find ourselves winning with only a small proportion of the game to play. Although, and this will come with time and experience I'm sure, I felt that we needed to be more intelligent with our movement in midfield. We should be looking to move up with play, and as a unit. I often found that when New York's back four had the ball, and there were no Spurs players close to them, we'd get a few players that would sprint 30 yards to catch them; this would also leave a gap between the three front players and the three that were sitting off. Had we moved with play then we wouldn't have found ourselves chasing down a player that's already pick their pass.
One player sitting in front of the defence.

I also noticed that we often had one player sitting in front of the back 4 more often than not. This was almost a saving grace for me. Against Liverpool and LA there was always far to much space between the deepest midfielders and our back 4. With a player, in this shot it's Huddlestone, sitting in front of the defence this ensures that the space is compressed and we are less vulnerable to counter attacks or a ball cutting up our midfield.

Numbers behind the ball.
I was also very happy to see 10 players behind the ball when defending or when the opposition have enjoyed some possession. The success of this new style AVB is trying to implement largely depends on the side playing together as a unit. We have the pace in the side to get numbers behind the ball and counter; we often caught New York in possession which inevitably lead to a shot on goal.  NY set up to restrict us and, bar picking the ball out the net, Gomes was found - to many fans' relief - to be just as much a spectator as the rest of us. I feel that New York's lack of sight of our goal is partly because of the system which does appear to be getting better as each game comes and goes - and this is without many of the first team.

We're learning that the high line isn't just down to the back 4 but the midfield compressing the space together and forcing the opposition into conceding possession. The second half saw us keep the ball far better and we looked much more effective going forward.  Of course it's only friendlies, the real test is in the Premier League. With New York straying offside more as the game wore on my confidence in the players to adapt to a system, which can be difficult to play, grew.

So had we leave the US win-less would it bother me? Not in the slightest. The job was to come out and get the players adapting to a new system, get them fit for the start of the season against sides that are already well under-way in their respective seasons. The tour was a successful one and I feel we got a good clue as to how we can expect to start in Newcastle in just over two weeks. Longer highlights are below.

What did you make of the tour?


Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Guest Post: Brazilian youngsters.

Twitter's a wonderful place. I do invite and encourage those that have yet to sign up to, well, sign up. I have recently been speaking to a Brazilian Spurs fan who, of course, lives in Brazil. With strings of 'ITK' running around every other day or so, another has reported that Spurs have been apparently watching Bernardo. Whether a deal would be pursued I've no idea. But here is brief insight into two promising players, including Bernardo, from someone who knows. The following report below is written by @Harrishotspur Take from it what you will.

-> I've been looking at some players during the Brazilian football season and have made reports on two young lads that I was interested in, and maybe have a chance of going to a top team in Europe. They are called Bernardo and Bernard, ironically. Bernardo plays for Rio de Janeiro side Vasco da Gama and is on loan to Santos and Bernard plays for Atlético Mineiro.

Bernardo is twenty two years old, and has sparkled since joining Vasco da Gama from Cruzeiro, scoring ten goals and assisting fourteen in his first season (when Vasco had finished second in the league). He usually plays at the right wing and often does raids through that side of the pitch, but he can often change sides and play on the left, proving his equality with the left or right foot, but predominantly being a right-footed player.

He is a specialist in dribbling and crossing. Most of his assists came from crosses (high or low) in which he used his flair and skill to beat his opponent and deliver the cross. The crosses are accurate and with a good amount of curve on it, so they are practically perfect. His goals came in attacks through the right and he enjoys cutting in from the left and shooting.

Yet Bernard is younger - only nineteen! - But he is a starting XI player alongside the famous Ronaldinho at Atlético Mineiro, the current team leading the Brazilian League. He has been influential on this sides progress in the league, scoring seven goals and assisting sixteen, but consider the league has only reached its halfway stage. Bernardo was called up to the Brazilian Olympic Team and has impressed the crowd with his appearances.

I'd rate him the "Lennon from Brazil", because his style of play reminds me of Aaron (acrobatic, skillful, agile and quick). I will make more reports on youngsters here in Brazil/South America for you guys to see. <-

As I said, take from it what you will. If you love your South American football then these two maybe two players to keep an eye out for. You can follow @Harrishotspur on Twitter.


Sunday, 29 July 2012

Bale claims Adam went out to injure him, again.

Charlie Adam. Many adjectives spring to mind at the thought of this particular overpaid Scot; I'm still struggling to find a positive one. Adam did little to change the opinions of many, doing his best to ensure Bale will go some-way to starting the season in hospital - a player that Adam wouldn't be fit to lace the boots of, even if found grovelling on his knees, hands together and teary eyed, pleading. I sincerely hope this player experiences a decline that mimics that of former club Rangers and he finds himself where he belongs, 2 divisions below the countries top division - if I'm being kind.

But Bale has spoken out and with true grit and honesty seeping evidently through as he gives the blunt picture of what we've all come to expect of Charlie Adam.

Bale: "I’ve had no apology from him[Adam] and I don’t really want one from him to be honest. That’s what kind of person he is. "Before he snapped all my ankle ­ligaments. I was out for 3 months. One player told me he went out to do the same thing to me again. “From what I’ve seen of him on the pitch, I think he’s a bit of a coward. Seriously, I haven’t ever done anything to him. He’s obviously come for me twice now – and he’s got me twice."

Little will feel Bale is being unreasonable. Those that do will be the minority of Liverpool fans that support the player because of the badge he wears on the front of his shirt; much like the imbeciles caught publicly supporting Terry outside court. I've heard many say they hope to see him pick up a nasty injury when facing us as a result of a challenge. But we're better than that. I don't want us to sink to his level. If he suffers an unfortunate leg break arising from a 50-50 challenge then, well, I guess these things happen.


Saturday, 28 July 2012

The Liverpool Pain.

So after a rather unconvincing draw against LA, we found ourselves playing 'familiar' opposition in terms of Liverpool. They too had found themselves sunning it up in the US with the game likely to have given both FSG and Levy a publicity erection. I use the word familiar tentatively as the sides barely wetted the mouth, let alone anything else, as a mix of youth, fringe and a few first team players started under the heat of the Baltimore sun; but of course this was more than to be expected. 

In truth, the game didn't give much too much away. Liverpool kept the ball well in patches with Spurs' pressure catching them in possession on occasion. The game lacked any real cut chances. Lennon having our best chance with the goal wider open than Pompey's exit door, the ball bouncing just out of reach from his size 3 boots with the winger managing to scramble the ball back onto the post. Turning off at that point would've been the best move. The game dried out quicker than the pitch that was being played on but, of course, hindsight's a wonderful thing.

If I were to take a positive out of a fairly flat and lifeless game it would be that, defensively, we looked more comfortable. We had numbers back and, bar a few lapses in concentration, looked solid. Although I do feel that we remain vulnerable to a nippy winger but the more we practice the better we'll become, I have faith. What did grind my gears a little was the fact we opted to go long on occasion, despite having 5 in midfield. I'm unsure as to weather the heat and the dodgy pitch played some part in this but it's not something I'm keen seeing.

After sweating enough water to ensure a small country never goes thirsty again, we now have a trip to New York to face the Redbulls. The US trip has proven to be a good workout for the squad as our season opener away in Newcastle edges nearer. I know, I can't believe I quoted Family Guy either.


Thursday, 26 July 2012

Fans Caught Crying Over Bale's Exclusion.

It came with little surprise to see a fuss being kicked up concerning Gareth Bale's inclusion in the starting XI to face LA Galaxy the other night. The same player that has missed out on playing for Team GB because of an injury. Ironically, the same fans that deem him 'overrated' seemed to be grabbing Kleenex after Kleenex as they cry around the circumstances in which Bale is not involved in Great Britain's Olympic football team; the absolute pride and joy of the nation now apparently. I know, tragic. Despite, understandably, seemingly incredibly biased, I never felt Bale had a case to answer as to why he wasn't featuring alongside the superstars of Team GB.

Bale was injured right up until and after selection for GB's team was made; he never once actually ruled himself out of being picked despite this. It's similar to any other tournament. It's usually rare that a player is picked for a World Cup or European tournament when they are injured indefinitely during the time of selection. I struggle to understand why this particular circumstance should change for the Olympics. It's a first time people now seem upset that Bale has fully recovered, do they want him injured or what? It seems as  Kyle Walker has also gone missing under the radar, seemingly, as he too found himself missing the Olympics because of injury but started in LA also.

Oh sorry, we're talking about Bale aren't we.

Spurs have recently released a statement regarding the 'issue'

For the avoidance of any doubt and on a point of absolute clarity and transparency - Gareth sustained an injury as he built up his fitness ahead of joining up with Stuart Pearce's side. MRI scan reports were sent to the FA medical team on 29 June (2012).

He was subsequently not selected on the basis of this injury and the inability to predict recovery time.

This decision was not taken lightly and made only after consultation with Team GB's medical team, who were in agreement after seeing the medical reports.

At no time was Gareth made unavailable for selection. Indeed, Gareth made clear publicly on numerous occasions his desire to compete for Team GB and was extremely disappointed on hearing the news he would not be fit to participate.

He is now focused on and determined to get fit for the season ahead and to this end we have brought out an additional member of our medical team on tour, dedicated to Gareth's recovery.

We are dismayed that some have sought to make wrongful assumptions about Gareth's particular situation and that such positive news surrounding his recovery is being highlighted in this manner. We trust that this statement now clarifies this matter once and for all.

I struggle to take any team Stuart Pearce is managing with any sort of enthusiasm and with much seriousness. But, in truth, there's no case to answer here. Scapegoats already being sort after. Let's just get the season under way please.


Wednesday, 25 July 2012

AVB's tough test.

Withdrawal symptoms had more than taken its' toll as I already find myself with itchy feet, eagerly anticipating the start of what should be another interesting season. A dodgy fan underneath my laptop ensured that my chances of watching the LA game fell at about 32%. Nevertheless Tottenham's pull on the heart strings saw me up at 3, just on the off chance I could see the game; I got lucky. Although, I left the match report for @Charlie_Bowsher.

The following match report below is from 


Follow him on Twitter by clicking the link!

With my alarm set and rearing to go I awoke for 3.30am for AVB’s first competitive fixture on the USA tour. With the Modric saga casting a shadow - once again - over the proceedings it was a chance to see how new signings Jan Vertonghen and Gyllfi Siggurdson would impress as well as what formation AVB would adopt. With a starting XI of; Cudicini, Walker, Kaboul, Vertonghen, Bassong, Townsend, Livermore Sigurdsson, VDV, Bale and Defoe, AVB documented what he had made his name with at Porto blending both youth and experience to good effect.

The game started with me head butting my laptop in order to gain connection and I joined just as Gareth Bale led a charging run to the left byline and delivered a low cross to nobody. Bale, described after the match by AVB as “physically a beast,“ looks to have bulked out a bit. Spurs looked to be playing a 4-3-3 with Livermore and Sigurdsson working deeper behind VDV in the middle of the pitch.

Spurs started the brightest with long range effort from Andros Townsend and Jermain Defoe, testing Perk in the Galaxy goal. After 20 minutes it was new signing Sigurdsson who acted as the talisman providing a deep cross which Bale headed home powerfully. This sparked L.A. Galaxy to life who started to keep the ball, playing in the area in front of the defence and behind the midfield which, without Scott Parker or Sandro, looked incredibly vulnerable. It was only when the opposition began to spray balls behind the new high line which AVB has implemented did things start to fall to pieces.

After failing to clear the lines from a corner, the ball was squared to centre back Lopez who had a simple task of slotting in from 10 yards to equalise. A lack of communication between Jan Vertonghen and Younes Kaboul led to poor attempts at playing the offside trap allowing us to be exploited through simple over the top balls. Furthermore Bassong - playing in the position of left back - was absolutely appalling, this meaning Vertonghen had to cover both centre back and left back - something fixed at half time with the arrival of Benoit Assou Ekotto.

Spurs managed to hold on until half time, Kyle Walker saving us repeatedly after Keane was set free one on one. The only other concern was that of VDV being substituted before half time with a groin injury yet replaced by the equally skillful and masterful Jermaine Jenas who faded into obscurity quicker than last years X-factor winners. AVB rang the changes at half time in an effort to overturn our woeful defensive display in the first half. Lennon came on for the impressive Townsend and BAE for Bassong.

The second half was a lot more impressive BAE providing stability to the back line and looking a lot sturdier and less exploitable. Defoe had an early chance set free by a long ball from Kaboul and rolled his shot narrowly wide of the post. Bale was then denied a penalty so blatant the challenge bordered on assault, Martin Atkinson’s American cousin clearly in charge of this one. Bale continued to look dangerous and pulled the ball back for Sigurdsson who missed virtually an open goal.

As the game progressed as did the substitutions; Harry Kane on for Defoe, Kyle Naughton on for the injured Kyle Walker and Michael Dawson on for Younes Kaboul. Spurs continued to press with half chances a plenty however L.A. Galaxy stood firm. Tom Huddlestone came on late on for Livermore, David Bentley for Bale and Tom Carroll on for Sigurdsson. A late deflected Lennon volley was the closest Spurs came to finding a winner with further penalty claims from Kane waved away.

Despite the poor defensive display in the first half, overall, this was a decent display from an off form Spurs side in blistering heat against an on form L.A. Galaxy side. We were lacking some key players as well the likes of Sandro and Parker whom both would’ve had a positive impact on the side as well as Adebayor as Defoe looked isolated at times. The back line can be improved and worked on over the remainder of the pre season fixtures as well as more transfers incoming that would improve the team, the likes of Moutinho, Damaio and Lloris all targets.

Steven Caulker, Sandro, Dos Santos and Danny Rose are all featuring at the Olympics and so could be part of AVB’s plans next season yet were absent last night. On a positive note, Sigurdsson looked threatening and played numerous fantastic balls into the box, something which Spurs lacked last season. Bale looked impressive and Vertonghen looked very comfortable on the ball which would fit in to AVB’s philosophy of a high back line.