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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)

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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. 

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