NORMAN GILLER’S SPURS ODYSSEY BLOG No 46
Submitted by Norman Giller
Enjoy a little optimism while we can.
Football can make you look as silly as drink. It seems only a blink of an eye ago I was writing here that Spurs can wave goodbye to any hope of challenging for a top four place. Now – thanks to yesterday’s luck-laced win at Hull – we are only two points behind Man United in fourth position.
Admittedly there are nine clubs above us, but a win against Everton at the Lane next Sunday would lift Spurs right back into the top six mix.
The fact that the following game is against runaway leaders Chelsea at the Bridge brings my feet back on the ground, but let’s try to enjoy a little optimism while we can.
The win against Hull was a real curate’s egg affair, a stinking first-half and then a repeat of the good fortune that marked the victory at Villa Park last month, when a red card reduced the opposition to ten.
Any fair-minded Spurs supporter will agree that it was an appalling decision to send off Hull midfielder Gaston Ramirez on the say-so of a linesman, who would doubtless have fainted had he watched the violence of the Bellew-Cleverly fight.
The show of petulance from Ramirez was worthy of a yellow card at best. If that constitutes violence then the likes of Dave Mackay and Bites Yer Legs Hunter would be sent to the Tower were they dishing it out today.
The dismissal brought an uneven balance to a game that had been fought fairly and squarely until that daft decision by the referee and his assistant. It was their Emily Thornberry white van tweeting moment, and I’d have sympathised if the Hull supporters had called for their resignations.
It was only after the ridiculous red card that Tottenham took control of a game into which ex-Spurs Michael Dawson, Jake Livermore and Tom Huddlestone poured themselves with a physicality that suggested they wanted their presence felt by their old clubmates. They did not lift the points but they left plenty of bruises.
Harry Kane made little impact, but once again showed a true striker’s reactions, scoring the equalizer after a Christian Eriksen free-kick had shaken the goal frame. And it was fittingly man of the match Eriksen who popped up with the late-late winner that was deserved reward for those travelling Tottenham fans who drowned out the Hull City supporters throughout the game.
I wonder what mood we will be in next Monday as this see-saw season continues with a visit from Partizan Belgrade in the Europa League on Thursday followed by Everton, who will be coming off a trip to Wolfsburg in Germany.
All to play for, friends. The Footballing gods are smiling on Spurs. At the moment.
I disagree with Mauricio Pochettino’s decision to make Hugo Lloris the team skipper. The Flying Frenchman has enough to worry about behind that so-shaky defence without the added responsibility of captaincy.
Perhaps it’s the fact that I came heavily under Bill Nicholson’s influence in my reporting days that I am out of his school of thought on captaincy.
Nick always believed the captain should be a player at the thick of things, as his choice of the likes of Danny Blanchflower, Dave Mackay and Alan Mullery showed.
If something happens in midfield or in the opponents’ penalty area that is controversial, perhaps game-changing, the goalkeeper-captain cannot get involved.
And he cannot lift the players around him with a brandished fist or shouted tactical advice and encoiuragement.
There have been several cases of goalkeeper-captains being successful, and three have collected the World Cup – Gianpiero Combi (1934) and Dino Zoff (1982) for Italy, and Iker Casillas (2010) for Spain.
But in the bread and butter battles of domestic football, it’s my belief that an outfield player should take on the leadership role.
My top ten Tottenham captains in post-war football have been (in traditional reverse order):
10. Michael Dawson
9. Martin Peters
8. Sol Campbell
7. Gary Mabbutt
6. Ledley King
5. Alan Mullery
4. Steve Perryman
3. Dave Mackay
2. Ron Burgess
1. Danny Blanchflower
I select Danny Boy as my number one because he was not only an inspirational leader but also a born tactician who made crucial decisions to change things during games and not wait until the after-match inquests, when it was too late.
Double captain Blanchflower or Push and Run skipper Burgess? I guess it's a toss-up.
THE GILLER TEASER
Each week here in my Spurs Odyssey home I test your knowledge of Tottenham. Last week I asked: Who has scored 21 more goals at international level than Jimmy Greaves and netted 93 League goals in two spells with Spurs?
Several of you plumped for Jurgen Klinsmann, others for Teddy Sheringham. But the majority of you were on the ball with Robbie Keane, who made a huge impact either side of an unsatisfactory move to Liverpool.
The first name chosen at random from the correct entries: Tom Drysdale, of Epsom, who wins the autographed copy of Lane of Dreams.
This week’s teaser features another goal-scoring Lane legend: Who scored 12 goals for Spurs in European competition, netted four goals in a Premier League match against Reading and scored from the penalty spot in a League Cup final victory at Wembley?
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
Please note that I am now taking orders for my Spurs IQ book that is half Spurs history and half examination for quizzical Tottenham supporters. The book has a ton of teasers to test your knowledge. How do YOU rate? What is YOUR Spurs IQ?
The book costs just a tenner plus P&P and you can order it now at http://www.normangillerbooks.com/spurs-iq/4554925859 A donation will be made to the Tottenham Tribute Trust on behalf of all those who buy the book. We must do all we can to help our old heroes who have hit difficult times.
Thanks for your company. COYS!
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