NORMAN GILLER’S SPURS ODYSSEY BLOG No 30
Submitted by Norman Giller
Well – regardless of what anybody at Tottenham might say – Saturday’s strut against the Celtic Colts was a pretty pointless exercise. Never has a 6-1 Spurs victory left me so underwhelmed! I am sure if Mauricio Pochettino had known the Glasgow giants were going to send their third team for the friendly in Finland he would have asked for a stiffer test without the travel, say down the road against Stevenage or Barnet.
There was little that Pochettino could have learned from a match in which it was all too easy for Spurs to trick and taunt inexperienced Celtic defenders, who ran around like headless chickens and suffering hell in Helsinki.
The only thing you could read into the six-goal slaughter is that Spurs are approaching the new season with good morale and a clear appetite to battle and graft for their new manager.
I just wonder if MoPo (a fitting nickname, don’t you think?) is any closer to knowing what his best team is. Not once on the undefeated North American tour and the walkabout in Finland has he been able to select all 11 players that will kick off the season at West Ham on August 16.
Hugo Lloris, fresh from World Cup duty for France, will soon be brought back into the fold to work with his back line, which will include newcomer Ben Davies, carrying on the great tradition of Welsh defenders. His predecessors include magnificent dragons like Ron Burgess, Mel Hopkins, Mike England, Terry Yorath and a player Ben names as his idol, Gareth Bale.
On the evidence of the pre-season matches, Pochettino is going to follow the attacking policy that served him so well at Southampton, encouraging the pressing game so high up the pitch that Hugo’s sweeper-keeper skills will be vital. It’s going to lead to a lot of heart-in-the-mouth moments for we Spurs observers.
There’s just one match left for MoPo to tighten and tickle his tactics before the muck and nettles of the Premier League, and Schalke are sure to provide more challenging competition than Celtic at the Lane next Saturday (kick-off 5.30pm).
They finished third in the Bundesliga last season behind champions Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund, and include players of the quality of Dutch striker Klaas-Jan Huntelaar and German World Cup squad members Benedikt Howedes and Julian Draxler.
A familiar Schalke face for Tottenham fans will be Kevin Prince-Boateng, who made the headlines for the wrong reasons during World Cup 2014 in Brazil. He was sent home during the tournament after a bust-up with the Ghanaian management, describing them as amateurish and not knowing what they were doing. He made little impact in his two years at Spurs, spending much of his time out on loan to Borussia Dortmund.
We are into the lull before the storm. It’s not until that match at West Ham when we will be able to start judging MoPo. I hope you all come into the new season armed with plenty of patience, positivity and, for me, pills!
For the record, these were the match facts against Celtic in Helsinki:
Tottenham: Friedel, Naughton, Dawson, Kaboul, Davies, Mason, Capoue, Holtby, Kane, Townsend, Soldado.
Substitutes: McGee, Fredericks, Fryers, Rose, Veljkovic, Bentaleb, Eriksen, Lamela, Lennon, Sandro, Adebayor.
Scorers: Harry Kane, Roberto Soldado, Lewis Holtby, Erik Lamela, Christian Eriksen, Adebayor (penalty).
THE Tottenham decision to offer Danny Rose a five-year contract triggered an extraordinary reaction from Spurs followers at their most insulting and crude.
I could not believe the barrage of criticism I read on line, and it brought out the Victor Meldrew in me.
How can people call themselves supporters when they turn on one of their own players as if he is their worst enemy?
The keyboard warriors gave Rose a roasting, and all he’d done was be rewarded with a confidence-boosting long-term contract. Goodness knows what they are going to write about him when he actually plays.
Rose is as good if not better a player than many of those pre-Premier League Lilywhites who are now looked on as legends. He is one of the few English-born players who has held his own in the face of the foreign invasion, and all he gets from so-called supporters is disgraceful mocking and ridicule.
I will fight for the right for anybody to make constructive criticism of Spurs players, but I will be gunning for those who are purely destructive.
As you will often hear me say in my best Victor Meldrew voice: “Get behind the team, NOT in its way.”
Congratulations, Danny Rose, on your contract. You deserve it, and I know I speak for all balanced, fair-minded Spurs supporters when I wish you success and satisfaction in the Lilywhite shirt that we know you will wear with pride.
MY regular reader will know I have been keeping count of the players the KnowItAlls on Twitter and Facebook say Mauricio Pochettino is planning to buy. Last week the count had reached 49.
I am now going to stop counting with the score at 54. The only two that have come off – Ben Davies and Michel Vorm – were revealed in the local Swansea evening newspaper, so the ITKs could not claim them, and the Eric Dier transfer story broke in a Lisbon newspaper.
And it was first mentioned in Spanish sports newspaper Marca that Spurs are interested in Villarreal central defender Mateo Musacchio, who was on Pochettino’s radar when he was at Southampton. But the know-alls are shouting on line as if they discovered him.
MoPo was first attracted to the skills of Musacchio when he was a team-mate of Erik Lamela's in the River Plate youth team. He plays with a similar dominating style that marked Pochettino's game when he was Argentina's No 5.
So the ITKs cannot claim Muscacchio, which means they gave us 54 bum steers during the summer. Why waste our time with invented gossip?
I shall shut up.
THE GILLER TEASER
Each week here in my Spurs Odyssey home I test your knowledge of Tottenham. Last week I asked: Which Sunderland-born midfielder started and finished his career with Tottenham and also played for Chelsea?
Yes, of course, it was the vastly under-rated Micky Hazard, who was unlucky to have to live in the shadow of the midfield maestros Glen Hoddle and Ossie Ardiles. Another time, another place Micky would have won a bundle of England caps. He began and ended his League playing career with Spurs and is warmly remembered for his skill and enthusiasm, a true Lilywhite
The first name chosen at random from the correct entries: Brian Gilmore, of Hemel Hemstead, who wins a signed hard-back copy of Bill Nicholson Revisited.
This was the last of the hardback copies of Bill Nicholson Revisited, but you can still get it in paperback at www.normangillerbooks.com. Or perhaps you would like me to deliver it direct to your screen? If so, send me an email and I will reply with a file. If you like it, all I ask in return is a £5 donation to the Tottenham Tribute Trust to help our old heroes who have hit difficult times. If you have Spurs in your soul, you will want to support this great cause.
This week’s teaser features another Spurs golden oldie: Who was the Russian-speaking Irish international who won back-to-back FA Cup winners’ medals with Spurs?
I have a copy of my best-selling Lane of Dreams book – including the autographs of Jimmy Greaves and Steve Perryman – for the sender of the correct answer whose name is randomly drawn first. Email your answer please to firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you would like a downloaded copy of Lane of Dreams for just £5, please email me at Laneofdreams@normangillerbooks.com
Thanks for your company. COYS!
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