Saturday, 12 May 2012

The Time Has Come

So this is what it’s come to. 90 minutes at White Hart Lane. Win and we’re guaranteed fourth. Anything less and we’re hoping Newcastle don’t win at Everton. But we could draw, Arsenal and Newcastle could lose, and we could finish third. If we lose, well that’s just not an option.

Martin Jol will be back in the dugout at The Lane for the first time since he was sacked in October 2007. It’s horribly ironic that the man standing in our way of Champions League qualification should be our ex-manager, who was ninety minutes away from guiding us to a first top four finish in May ’06. Jol will come with an almighty will to prove Daniel Levy wrong. Could that be our downfall?

Arsenal, a point ahead of us in third, with a goal difference just one better than our own, travel to The Hawthornes to face Roy Hodgson’s West Bromwich Albion. It’ll be Roy’s last game before he takes the reins with the England national team and every Spurs supporter will be hoping that WBA give him a send off to remember and win their last game of the season.

I’m not sure whether they have the ability to win, but the astonishing stat that Arsenal haven’t won without Mikel Arteta in the team this season gives us hope. I think they’ll manage a draw, 2-2, with a late West Brom goal breaking Arsenal hearts everywhere.

Newcastle have the tough task of needing a result at Goodison Park against Everton to stand a chance of finishing in the top four. My girlfriend’s dad is a Magpie, so I’ve seen quite a lot of their games the past two seasons. The improvement this year has been astonishing. I didn’t predict it, and he certainly didn’t.

Mike Ashley gets a lot of stick, but he has to get credit for how he has run the club since their relegation. Everybody questioned his decisions to let Carroll, Nolan and Barton go. But the players he’s brought in; Ba, Cisse, Cabaye and going back a bit earlier, Tiote, have all been great successes.
I don’t think they’ll get a result at Goodison. And I think that’s better for the club in the long term than qualifying for the Champions League. The squad lacks depth and they probably will get more from playing in the Europa League, reacquainting themselves with European football and building a strong Premier League team again for next season.

I was interested to read Pardew say this week they might struggle to keep their best players. Ba was someone I wanted to see Spurs go for last summer. There was doubts over his knee, but we seem to have mastered something similar before. On a free transfer it was a gamble that was worth taking, and it’s worked for them. £7m was the free touted by Redknapp earlier this season.
Cisse is a conundrum to me. Or at least how he came to the PL is. He was on plenty of clubs radars. How he was not picked up by one of the ‘top four’ is beyond me.
Tiote I like a lot. But think he is too similar, and in all honesty, slightly inferior to both Scott Parker and Sandro. His usual midfield partner, Yohan Cabaye, is someone I would like us to look at if Modric wants to leave again this summer. Having thought more about this in the past few days, with Defoe telling the red tops he’s hoping for a move away from the club.

I love Tottenham. I like the players. I don’t like players that don’t want to play for my club. If anyone wants to leave, and I mean anyone, let them. If they don’t want to wear our shirt, don’t let them.

Jermain Defoe loves the club, allegedly. He lets us know often enough. He’s had to sit on the bench a lot this season. He’s complained about it. Not always in an obvious way. There’s been the occasional snide comment on twitter. But it’s hard to sympathise with him. When he’s on the pitch, he’s the definition of frustrating.

He spends the majority of the game being caught offside, shooting when it’s clearly the wrong option, or complaining at the rest of the team. But then, there’s the odd moment of magic. He’ll shoot when we’re begging him not to, and the ball will almost burst the net as he beats the ‘keeper.
Adebayor has been the perfect foil for van der Vaart this season. He works hard for the team, holds the ball up, and scores goals. Defoe has had to be patient. He’s worked hard with fitness coaches so he can’t say he’s not fresh. But when he’s had his opportunity, like at QPR, he hasn’t taken it. To me, he’s an excellent impact player. But nothing more for a club with ambitions like ours. If he wants to go, so be it. Thanks for the memories JD. All the best.
I’m a big fan of Louise Saha. He’s got a lot of stick since he signed but I think he’s a better, more rounded player than Defoe. He can hold the ball up, head it, shoot from distance, link play, and score inside the box. I’m one of the few that hopes he’s still at the Club next season.
So, Fulham. I went to see them play in Belfast against Crusaders in July. Being a big Martin Jol fan it was a chance to see him, and not many Premier League teams travel to Northern Ireland for pre-season. I wonder why.
They’re a far different side than they were that day. Ruiz, Dembele and Pogrebnyak are three of my favourite PL players. Dempsey too, but he’s been confirmed as missing the game. As I’ve said before, Jol has a point to prove and we’re without a left back. Jol’s coming back, should we call for Lee Young-Pyo?

Parker is likely to miss the game, so I’ll have to change my prediction of Redknapp moving Modric to the left. He still could, and play Jake Livermore in CM with Sandro, but I don’t think he will. I’m going to guess William Gallas will play there, despite his own hesitation to do so. Meaning Ryan Nelsen, or if fit, Ledley King will play alongside Younes Kaboul in the centre of defence.

Could this be King’s final appearance in the famous lilywhite shirt? As much as it pains me to say so, I think it will be. We’ve all seen him digress to the shell of a player we’ve seen in recent weeks. It’s been hard to watch one of the true greats struggle like he has. My hope is that he’ll be part of the coaching staff next season. He’s a defensively knowledgeable as anyone at the Club given the amount of time he’s spent watching other teams and players when he’s been injured and had to adapt his game.

Okay, predictions. Fulham will start strongly, take the lead and we’ll all panic. We’ll score before half-time and take them by storm in the second half. 4-1 Tottenham. Given my prediction that Arsenal will only draw and Newcastle will lose; Spurs take third. Arsenal fourth. Newcastle fifth.

I’m also going to predict Chelsea will beat Bayern next week. I don’t want them to, but I think they’ll fluke it, possibly on penalties.

It won’t matter if we get third. That’s the aim. Bring it home boys.

Come on you Spurs.

It is better to fail aiming high than succeeding aiming low. And we at Spurs have set our sights very high, so high in fact that even failure will have in it an echo of glory” Bill Nicholson.

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