NORMAN GILLER’S SPURS ODYSSEY BLOG No 5
Taking goals to Newcastle
Submitted by Norman Giller
While taking goals to Newcastle on Wednesday, Tottenham made this worn old hack happy with something just as important as finding the net … the first clean sheet in eight away matches in the Premier League.
Jan Vertonghen, a quality defender and quality man, was quick to look beyond the Spurs goal scorers and credit our Flying Frenchman Hugo Lloris for his part in the four-goal murder of the Magpies.
He turned to Instagram immediately after the match, posting a picture of himself hugging Hugo and adding the caption: “Great win tonight and what a goalkeeper we have!!! #HugoBoss”
You can see the Jan herogram here: http://instagram.com/p/kVUDM4M74e
Sweeper Keeper Lloris made three crucial saves when Newcastle might have got themselves back into a match that Tottenham monopolised with the sort of smooth, flowing football that will keep them in the hunt for a Champions’ League spot.
Vertonghen’s on-line response proves there is a team spirit developing at Tottenham on which you can warm your hands. I just hope Spurs build a defensive wall around the Belgian master in the transfer market and squash any talk of him being stolen by Barcelona.
I watched the Newcastle game from a pit of pain that anybody who has experienced the agonies of shingles will know is pretty near the closest you will get to hell on earth. Thank you Spurs for at least temporarily making me forget that I was at death’s door. Okay, a slight exaggeration in the hope of getting your sympathy.
Anybody who has had shingles will know what I am talking about. If you are lucky enough to have avoided it, you cannot imagine the pain.
But I lost my self-pity as I became engrossed in a game that revealed a Spurs side firing on all cylinders right from the start. There is a confidence and swagger in the side that is a reflection of the personality of their chief coach Tim Sherwood.
Tim is not everybody’s cuppa because he calls it as he sees it. Any Spurs player who slacks will quickly get an earful from a man who when playing did not know the meaning of giving less than 100 per cent in blood, sweat and tears.
We did not see the best of him as a player at Tottenham because by the time he arrived at the Lane he had driven himself into the ground in the service of Blackburn Rovers while inspiring them to the Premier League championship in 1994-5.
It was Alan Shearer who got the hero headlines that season with his goals, but Big Al will tell you that it was Tiger Tim who was the hidden weapon with his midfield graft.
Sherwood was brought to Tottenham by George Graham, who recognised that it was his work rate that made the Blackburn team tick. But prickly Tim had a huge fall out with Glenn Hoddle when he followed Graham as manager, and it was an open secret among we media snoopers that Glenn told him he would never play for Spurs again.
This was why I knew there was no chance of a Sherwood-Hoddle partnership following AVB’s hurried exit. That rumour was spread by people who clearly did not know their Spurs history.
If he has a fault, Tim is too gung-ho as a coach. I hope Sir Les manages to keep a restraining hand on him when he wants to send in the cavalry rather than the defensive guns. But his attacking philosophy is no bad thing for we spectators, although it could give us ulcers along the way as Spurs battle for that top four spot in the table.
Tim knows the players inside out. Those who have knocked his unbending belief in Bentaleb should recognize that he has watched him on the pitch, in the dressing-room and on the training ground for hours and appreciates the young man’s gifts better than any of us.
Tim has already proved he is a master of man management by somehow getting Emmanuel Adebayor to play with a consistency and enthusiasm that went missing as mysteriously as Shergar.
AVB did not have a clue how to reawaken the Adebayor appetite for action and goals. Tim has done it simply by putting an arm around his shoulder and telling him he is a special player with special talents. It’s called TLC.
How long the reincarnation of Emmanuel will last is as impossible to forecast as the stormy weather … or the pain period of shingles.
But let’s enjoy the artistry and finishing finesse of the Togolese Tornado while we can. Dare I say he has many more goals in his arsenal?
THE GILLER TEASER
Each week here in my Spurs Odyssey home I will be testing your knowledge of Spurs. Last week I challenged you to name the club to which Glenn Hoddle moved as a player. It was of course Monaco, where he teamed up with a certain Mon. Wenger.
The first name chosen at random from the correct entries is Dave Walters, of Bicker, Lincolnshire. He wins a signed copy of Bill Nicholson Revisited.
This week’s teaser:
What number shirt did Steve Perryman wear when he collected the FA Cup as Tottenham’s winning captain against Manchester City in 1981?
A signed Bill Nicholson Revisited book to the sender of the correct answer whose name is randomly drawn first. Email your answer please to firstname.lastname@example.org
If you are among those unlucky not to win the Bill Nicholson Revisited book, perhaps you will consider ordering a copy from www.normangillerbooks.com A fiver for every book sold goes to the Tottenham Tribute Trust to help old heroes who have hit hard times.
Thank you for joining me.
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