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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