NORMAN GILLER’S SPURS ODYSSEY BLOG No 41
Submitted by Norman Giller
Strictly Spurs talking
I feel like Strictly Come Dancing judge Len Goodman as I award Spurs a ‘seven’ for their performance at the Etihad on Saturday. That’s the good news. The bad news, Manchester City get a nine, and Sergio Aguero a ten for the way he led Tottenham a dance.
My predictive text keeps trying to make Aguero read Argue. I don’t think there will be any argument among we Tottenham supporters that he is truly a world-class player, and his four goals on Saturday might easily have been six or seven.
Just imagine if he had been in a Spurs shirt. Dream on, baby. He is one of the best finishers I’ve seen bulging British nets since the days of Greavsie. His pulsating, goal-gorged performance exposed massive problems at the heart of the Tottenham defence, and it has taken over as the prime cause of concern for Mauricio Pochettino.
There were times when you could have driven a bus through the middle of the Spurs defence, and Hugo ‘Boss’ Lloris was continually left as exposed as Nigel Farage in a mosque.
For those of you who did not see him play, let me tell you that Pochettino was one of the most competitive and commanding central defenders of his generation. It must have made him seethe to see how easily his countryman Aguero took Spurs apart.
We now know that when the transfer window opens in the New Year Daniel Levy must dip into the treasure chest not only for a much-needed goal scorer but also a centre back to shore up the defence. There are plenty of players Spurs can let go to help pay for a top-quality defender, who is at least going to be able to get within tackling distance of the likes of Aguero.
I found a lot of Spurs fans in denial after the thumping 4-1 defeat at the Etihad. Too many of them blamed the referee and refused to accept that City were clearly the superior side.
Perhaps those supporters who claimed referee Jon Moss was biased in favour of City can explain to me why he awarded Spurs a penalty that should have been a free-kick? The fact is he was equally bad for both teams.
If Soldado had put his spot-kick away we might have been painting a different picture, but poor old Bobby cannot hit the side of a barn at the moment. He had arguably his most impressive Premier League match for Tottenham, showing exquisite timing and touch whenever in possession.
But he is there primarily to score goals and again failed to find the net. Those of us who used to watch him scoring week in and week out in La Liga cannot understand how such a talented footballer has managed to lose his way in the penalty area.
The comforting thought is that it is not every week that Spurs are going to come up against a team as talented as City and with a player of Aguero’s quality. Pochettino likened him before the match to Mozart. I think he is more Beethoven with a bite worse than his Bach (Mauricio started it).
It is clear that it is going to be a two horse race for the championship between City and runaway leaders Chelski. Spurs are going to have to dig deep to get into shooting distance for a top four place, starting against Newcastle at home next Sunday.
If they cannot beat the Geordies then – back to Strictly Come Dancing lingo – it will be a dis-ars-ter.
THE worst moment for me on Saturday was not the mauling at the Etihad (the pessimist lurking inside me expected it), but even more painful was the injury-time equaliser gifted to the Woolwich Nomads by Hull City.
It lifted the Gooners above Tottenham, and that is a huge psychological blow. Until the late face-saving goal, the social networks were alive with the sound of fury against Arsene Wenger, with ace Gooner Piers Morgan once again leading the calls for his head.
I made the point to my old Fleet Street colleague Piers that Wenger has earned the right to decide the timing of when he stands down. His record as manager of the Arse is remarkable, leading them to 17 successive seasons of Champions League football.
It got me thinking how many managers Tottenham have had during his 18-year rule at Highbury and the Emirates.
These are the White Hart Lane managers Wenger has seen off (stats from the always-fascinating http://www.myfootballfacts.com):
Born Chiswick West London 6 December 1951
Appointed 15 November 1994
Resigned 16 November 1997
TOTAL MATCHES: P146 W56 D42 L48 F204 A188 Win%38.35
Christian Gross (1997-98)
Born Zurich Switzerland 14 August 1954
Appointed 25 November 1997
Resigned 5 September 1998
P29 W10 D8 L11 F40 A45 Win%34.48
Born Bargeddie Scotland 30 November 1944
Appointed 5 October 1998
Sacked 16 March 2001
P125 W49 D35 L41 F177 A152 Win%39.29
Born Hayes Middlesex 27 Octoer 1957
Appointed 30 March 2001
Sacked 21 September 2003
P61 W29 D10 L22 F102 A73 Win48%
David Pleat had a second spell as caretaker manager before handing the reins to … Jacques Santini, who quit on “personal” grounds after only 13 League matches
Born The Hague Netherlands 16 January 1956
Appointed 8 November 2004
Sacked 25 October 2007
P149 W67 D38 L44 F242 A184 Win%44.96
Born Ciudad Real Spain 25 September 1954
Appointed 29 October 2007
Sacked 25 October 2008
P54 W21 D16 L17 F84 A69 W%38.88
Born Poplar East London 2 March 1947
Appointed 26 October 2008
Sacked 13 June 2012
P144 W71 D37 L36 F228 A161Win%49.31
Born Porto, Portugal 17 October 1977
Appointed 3 July 2012
Sacked 16 December 2013
P54 W29 D12 L13 F81 A67 Win%53.70
Born Borehamwood, Herts 6 February 1969
Appointed 16 December 2013
Sacked 13 May 2014
P22 W13 D3 L6 F40 A30 Win%59.09
That’s 11 managers who have been and gone at White Hart Lane since Wenger took over at Arsenal.
Let’s hope the 12th man, Mauricio Pochettino, can see him off in style.
But look, there’s that man Levy lurking in the background. Will he show patience with Pochettino? Or is his trigger finger already itching after Saturday’s set-back at the Etihad?
A win against Greek side Asteras Tripolis on Thursday followed by three points against Newcastle will be on Levy’s wanted list. Otherwise Mauricio could find himself a marked man. And that would be unfair. He needs a full season to get his ideas and intentions accepted by the players, and Levy should guarantee him the required time.
As Pochettino might say to Danny boy in Strictly language: “It takes two to tango.”
THE GILLER TEASER
Each week here in my Spurs Odyssey home I test your knowledge of Tottenham. Last week I asked: Who was born in Edmonton, played for Vicenza and Torino and was on the winning side in the 1963 European Cup Winners’ Cup final?
Yes, it was old-school wing-half Tony Marchi, who in two spells at the Lane understudied first for Bill Nicholson and Ron Burgess and then Danny Blanchflower and Dave Mackay. He will always have hero status for his magnificent performance as last-minute stand-in for injured Dave Mackay in the historic European Cup Winners’ Cup final in Rotterdam in 1963.
The first name chosen at random from the correct entries: Valerie Cole, of Farnborough, who wins an autographed copy of Lane of Dreams that she is passing on to her Spurs-mad son, Terry.
This week’s teaser features a true local hero: Who was born in Tottenham, played on the wing in 193 League and Cup matches and was a member of the 1972 Uefa Cup-winning squad and also the Spurs squad that won the League Cup in 1971 and 1973? Injury forced his retirement at just 28.
I have another 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 email@example.com.
If you would like a paperback copy of Bill Nicholson Revisited or a hard-back version of Danny Blanchflower This WAS His Life, please go to www.normangillerbooks.com. A donation goes to the Tottenham Tribute Trust for every copy sold.
Alternatively you can have either of the books delivered right NOW to your computer screen for NOTHING. If you like it, just please make a donation to the Tottenham Tribute Trust to help our old heroes. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Yes, this is really something for nothing! Thank you
Thanks for your company. COYS!
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