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Tottenham Hotspur v West Ham United

Filed: Saturday, 21st February 2015
By: Preview Percy

It's been a grim old week whichever way you look at it. Here's Preview Percy, so don't expect the mood to lighten any.....

Next up we go to N17 where our hosts will be Tottenham Hotspur for a breakfast-interrupting midday due to a combination of tv and their involvement in the Thursday Night League.

Anyone thinking of including any part of the District Line east of Aldgate East as part of their travel plans for the weekend should perhaps have another think. Replacement buses are the order of the day thereabouts. The parallel c2c lines are open though if that’s any help. You’re welcome.

Also, be prepared for a somewhat heavy-handed approach from the Met’s finest who often like to show who’s boss by turfing law-abiding citizens off the train at Bruce Grove and forcing them to walk along Tottenham High Road, adding unnecessary extra time to the journey. Perhaps the Borough Commander has an arrangement with the proprietors of all the high-class retail establishments along there. Who knows.

Our hosts have been in the news for reasons only indirectly connected with football over the last 48 hours or so. Archway Sheet Metal Works lost an appeal against the compulsory purchase of their site so Tottenham will no doubt end up buying the place for a fraction of its true value. The site survived a mysterious fire last year in which arson was suspected. Of course the club itself will have had no direct involvement with such events, but it is amazing how many dodgy things happen as a result of the actions of people of whom they have no knowledge, as those who had their ‘phones hacked a while back will attest.

On the pitch they currently sit in 6th spot with 43 points from their 25 matches do far, that’s two places and 5 points ahead of us although, unusually for us at this point in the season, our positive goal-difference is better than theirs (+8 to +5). The reason for their position can be summed up in two words: Harry Kane.

Kane is having the season of his life and, much like they were when Gareth “Christian” Bale was about, Spurs are heavily reliant on him for, well just about everything at the moment. Very much “flavour of the month” in the media at present, it’ll be a major surprise if he doesn’t make the next England squad. If he does have a weakness at the moment it would appear to be something of a lack of ambition, having recently gone into print claiming that he wants to stay at White Hart Lane for the rest of his career. That’s a press cutting to remember when someone decent comes along to snap him up. Real Madrid are already said to have had the player watched on a number of occasions and his future could well depend partly on whether he can maintain his current “on fire” form into next season, and partly on whether Daniel Levy can resist the number of zeros that would follow the first digit on any cheque paid for the player’s services.

Levy’s main activity during the last transfer window seemed to be to waste everyone’s time. His messing about over the Adebayor loan deal to us caused a ripple effect that spread as far as Qatar, with West Brom’s Brown Ideye failing to complete a deal to go out there after the deal for Carlton Cole to go the Hawthorns fell through.

It is said that we were one of three clubs in for Adebayor but that Levy wanted us to pay the full wages for the player, something that would not have been required of Palace or QPR who were the other wo clubs said to be interested. I suppose you can’t blame Levy – I wouldn’t want to lend a player to a better club without them paying for the pleasure either. Perhaps Levy was trying to recoup some of the increased costs that have accrued since former club Man City finished subsidising the player’s wages at the end of last season.

Adebayor is not having the happiest of times at White Hart Lane where he is the “anti-Harry Kane”, seemingly being exactly as unpopular as Kane isn’t. Perhaps the player can be forgiven for not exactly being at the races of late. He was given compassionate leave before Christmas when a close relative was “seriously ill”. He’s also had a few family issues with him allegedly accusing his mother of practising witchcraft. No, honestly. The work experience girl with an inappropriate number of rings through her lips showed me the press reports. I can sympathise with the player to a certain extent, as anyone who has met my ex-wife will attest. Pocchetino did try to show some solidarity with the player by making him skipper for the first leg of the League Cup semi-final a few weeks ago but if the armband was supposed to give the player a boost it didn’t work and the player was booed off when substituted. There’s a thing – booing off your own skipper. What will they think of next? Meanwhile I suspect most of us are as happy that the deal didn’t happen as Spurs fans are as unhappy it didn’t.

It was a case of “nearlies” all round during the January window. They were apparently looking to offload Paulinho with Cruzeiro said to be lined up for the player whose main role seems to involve playing in the Thursday night league. However, the player’s wife’s pregnancy put paid to any move and probably saved them from hours of conversations that began “can you smell petrol?”

The one actual signing that did take place was the £5m arrival of Dele Alli from Milton Keynes. I say “arrival”, they told him not to turn up until the summer so he’s stayed put for the time being.

Their reliance on Kane can be gleaned by the fact that Kane has scored nearly double the number of goals as his nearest rival Christian Eriksen. I haven’t got the stats here – I just sent the work experience girl with an inappropriate number of rings through her lips down to the off-licence for my, er, prescription – but I’d be willing to wager that a large chunk of Eriksen’s 11 in all competitions have been free-kicks. And it wouldn’t surprise me if a similar proportion of those goals came during the last minute or two. This gives defenders what strategists refer to as the “Liverpool dilemma” – do you make a genuine attempt at a challenge in the knowledge that most referees couldn’t tell a dive from a dishwasher or do you hang back and potentially let a player through. Tough one.

Elsewhere, it’s been a dispiriting week all round hasn’t it? We had the depressing sight of some Chelsea supporters racially abusing a Frenchman who, poor bloke, has now been invited to attend the second leg. No doubt they’ll introduce the poor chap to John Terry. You couldn’t, as I believe the phrase goes, make it up.

And us. Last weekend saw a perfect storm occur within the ranks, all of which conspired to produce the result we got. We had a combination of poor selection, bad performances and exhausted players all happening at once.

I’ve criticised the manager in the past for his selecting Nolan ahead of Downing in that diamond tip position, when sticking Downing out on the wing is clearly a waste. However, in making that point I didn’t anticipate the boss selecting the same two players and simply swapping them around. Whatever one thinks of Nolan he’s not a wide player by any stretch of the imagination. Somewhat unsurprisingly he was somewhat less than effective in that slot and he failed to make any meaningful contribution to the game.

The poor selection extended to the substitutions. I can’t have been alone in scratching my head when Song and Sakho were replaced by O’Brien and Cole. One explanation was that by that time the game had gone and the changes were made to give Song and Sakho a break in advance of this weekend. Which is all well and laudable but if you start with the premise that you’re going to throw in the towel where would have the harm have been in sticking on Lee or Henry – two players with something to prove? Perhaps going into print about how “sophisticated” he is wasn’t our manager’s wisest of moves, given his later claims that he knew how tough three games in a week was going to be.

Bad performances? Well they were all over the park really. For all the verve we had against Salford and for all the guts we showed against Southampton when down to ten (effectively 9) we showed nothing at the Hawthorns. Yes it was clear that there were tired legs about but that performance lacked more than just Lucozade, and a few backsides need kicking for that one – including Amalfitano whose moment of complete madness hopefully got him a deserved fine.

There were even some poor performances amongst a small number of fans. I was as fed up with events as the next man and, had David Sullivan wandered into my view I might have had a few words to say. However, in my opinion, the mob, for that’s what it was, who surrounded the co-chairman went beyond what was acceptable. It would be nice to think that, having had time to sober up a bit, one or two of those involved might have seen the error of their ways and quietly contacted Sullivan to apologise but in this day and age nobody seems to take responsibility for anything so I don’t suppose that they did.

Before I leave the subject of last weekend, has anyone else noticed how many times plyers in identical positions to that which Nolan found himself at Old Trafford have been given the benefit of the doubt and had goals allowed to stand? You can add last weekend’s first, which was also handball, to that burgeoning list. So, manager, players, (a few) supporters and (as usual) the officials. A bad weekend all round.

So let’s move on. The good news is that, Carroll apart, we have a clean bill of health on the injury front. This will mean that Winston Reid will be available once more. Reid has been linked in the press with a move to White Hart Lane– no doubt by people of whom Tottenham have no knowledge so no question of tapping-up then. But really, Winston? Don’t you want to better yourself?

Prediction? Well quite apart from all the shenanigans at the Hawthorns, Chadwell Heath hasn’t exactly been the most harmonious of training grounds this week either and this week’s opponents will probably find this an ideal time to be playing us. They traditionally raise their game against their betters and sadly, such is the atmosphere around the place at the moment it wouldn’t surprise me in the least if we were to be on the wrong end of another shock.

So the Avram Grant Olympic Rest Home For The Bewildered’s fund to start a campaign to fine referees who don’t do their job rather than those who complain about them (£2.50) on us to lose 2-1 to Harry Kane, with the proviso that I can reverse the scores if Kane is absent for any reason.

Enjoy the game!

When last we met at White Hart Lane: Won 2-1 (League Cup) December 2013Adebayor opened the scoring for the home side but Jarvis and Maiga efforts saw us through to the semi-final. This followed a 3-0 win a couple of months earlier when one of the manger’s more “sophisticated” tactical moments confused the home side as much as their perennially intellectually challenged support. Morrison’s goal was a tantalising glimpse of how good the player could be when he wasn’t being an arse.

Danger Man: Harry Kane – has netted 11 in his last 10 league matches. “He’s one of our own” they chant. Of course he is. He couldn’t get in at Arsenal either.

Referee: Jonathan Moss With the home support’s reputation for not exactly being the full shilling brains-wise, the former drummer with Culture Club can probably expect to be added to Olympic cyclist Sir Christopher Hoy and an American woman with the initials AVB on the list of people getting semi-literate abuse from N17, should he give a throw in the wrong way.

Daft Fact Of The Week: In the 1960’s, the Dave Clark Five had a few top ten hits with a style of music known as the “Tottenham Sound”. This basically involved the stamping of feet loudly on the floor, something that got the records banned from nightclubs (or discotheques as we used to call them) up and down the country due to the damage caused to their nice wooden floors. Aptly enough, despite claims that this was the biggest thing ever, it never quite managed to eclipse the less gimmicky stuff of the era that relied on talent, and these days only Crystal Palace supporters have any love for the likes of “Glad All Over”.

Please note that the opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, nor should be attributed to, KUMB.com.

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