NORMAN GILLER’S SPURS ODYSSEY BLOG No 53
Submitted by Norman Giller
It's not too late to join the Spurs Odyssey Quiz League!
What a difference a week makes for we Spurs addicts. There we were last Monday after the conquest of Chelsea up on Cloud Nine, and now here we are down in the dungeons of despair following a defeat by Crystal Palace that arrived like a kick in the unmentionables.
A non-football friend had a pop at me for being so involved on line with the topic of football in general and Spurs in particular at a time when the world is going potty. I pointed out that we need sport to help divorce ourselves from the real world, otherwise we will all go down the madness road. Je Suis Charlie, also Je Suis Sport.
Now, wearing my sanity hat, to important things …
We will know at season’s end the cost of the three points dropped at Selhurst Park, but the immediate effect is a knock of confidence that had shot sky high after six Premier League matches without a defeat and that dismantling of the Mourinho machine.
In this old hack’s opinion too many have made too much of the Palace spot-kick that swung the game. My instant reaction was that Stambouli had made a reckless challenge and that it was a penalty, a case of Big Ben striking out of time.
After looking at least a dozen replays I still think my first instinct was right, and what I know for certain is that if it had been at the other end of the pitch Tottenham fans would have been looking to lynch referee Tony Taylor had he not pointed to the spot.
Every TV pundit came down on the side of a penalty after the benefit of watching action replays. Mr. Taylor was five yards from the incendiary incident and had no hesitation in giving a penalty. We have to shrug and accept it, otherwise what is the point in having referees? If it were left to one-eyed supporters you would rarely get a correct decision.
Up to that point Tottenham had clearly been the superior side against a nervous Palace team playing as if they were away, with their park-the-bus attitude suddenly changing after yet another eagerly plundered goal by Our Harry Kane that might easily have been flagged off-side.
Then the new-manager-enthusiasm effect kicked in, and the Palace fans – always among the noisiest and most infectious in the League – lifted their team as Spurs lost their way in a maze of their own making.
Equal claims for a Tottenham penalty could have been made when Our Harry went crashing, but too theatrically in the eyes of neutrals.
The Eagles landed their winner with considerable assistance from a Spurs side that had lost its early rhythm and supremacy. From the half-hearted challenges by Eriksen, the ineffectiveness of Walker, the feebleness of Fazio to the timid turning away of Dembele, they all aided and abetted Jason Puncheon’s 80th minute shot.
Alan Pardew left the pitch blowing kisses to the Palace fans, while Mauricio Pochettino was spitting blood over THAT penalty.
But I suggest Mauricio has much more to concern him, not least of which is a fixture logjam that is going to test the in-depth strength of his squad. Between now and the arrival of April Spurs could be involved in the little matter of 21 matches, starting on Wednesday with the irritating third round FA Cup replay against a suddenly buoyant Burnley.
Tottenham continue to battle across the board for four prized targets: Premier League fourth place, FA Cup, League Cup, Uefa League.
So much could depend on what Daniel Levy decides to do during this January transfer window. He is keeping his plans as close to his chest as Nigel Farage guarding his secrets of transferring MPs. All sorts of rumours fly about comings and goings, with the likes of Lennon, Naughton, Paulinho, Capoue, the enigmatic Adebayor and goal-constipated Bobby Soldado being suggested as makeweights for incoming transfers.
You don’t have to be an economist like Gideon Osborne or Ed Balls to know that Levy needs to bring down Tottenham’s ginormous wage bill.
All the Spurs players live the good life, nicely cushioned by huge salaries. It is going to take a lot of conniving and convincing to get them out of the door. Only the avaricious agents are laughing, all the way to the bank.
Tottenham have players in abundance. You can’t move at the luxurious Enfield training ground without tripping over a midfielder. Yes, there’s quantity, but a huge question mark about the quality.
The Palace match revealed for all to see that Spurs need a top quality central defender, a controlling midfield playmaker and a central striker who can help bring out the best in Our Harry.
That’s three players in and at least six out. Over to you Mr Levy.
We have an interesting few weeks coming up at the Lane
THE SPURS ODYSSEY QUIZ LEAGUE
We are up and running! It is truly an international, global league, with supporters taking part from all points, including the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malta, Cyprus, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Slovakia and right across Europe. It shows just what a great job our Spurs Odyssey guru Paul Smith has done in spreading the Spurs word across the world.
Now I have the little job of trying to control the League table. And Pochettino thinks he’s got problems! At the moment there are more than 100 of you locked together at the top of the table on six points!
Gradually, over the coming weeks, I will drop in questions that will hopefully help separate you know-alls, so that I can publish here on line a Spurs Odyssey Quiz League table.
It is not too late to join in the fun. I will find a way of working out averages so that Spurs fans can join in despite missing the start, but obviously those who take part every week have the best chance of winning what will be a suitable prize. Remember the old adage, it’s not the winning that matters so much as the taking part.
You flooded me with correct answers on the first SOQL question: Who scored two goals for Spurs in an FA Cup semi-final replay and another in the final at Wembley? He joined Spurs from Stoke. That’s for three points, and your bonus challenge: With which club did he have a loan spell while on Tottenham’s books?
Of course, it was Garth Crooks, who had a short loan spell at Manchester United. Who can forget that semi-final replay at Highbury, when Garth’s two goals against Wolves set up the trip to Wembley and the eventual classic winning goal by Ricky Villa in the 1981 FA Cup final.
First name drawn is Michael Cassidy, originally from Essex, a Tottenham fan since 1982 and now claiming to be the only Spurs supporter in Slovakia. I will be emailing him a screen version of my Bill Nicholson Revisited book.
This week’s challenge: For three points, identify the player who started his career with West Ham, played more than 300 matches for Spurs and scored 23 League goals. For a bonus extra point: Which club did he move to in 1993?
Email your answers please to SOQL2@normangillerbooks.com Give your name, the district where you live and how long you’ve supported Spurs. I will respond.
A screen version of one of my Tottenham-themed books to the sender of the first correct answers drawn at random. My books are available at www.normangillerbooks.com, with ALL profits going to the Tottenham Tribute Trust. You can see the result of supporting my books and the Trust here: https://www.justgiving.com/thettt
Ok, now all eyes on the Lane on Wednesday and that difficult replay against Burnley! Peace. COYS
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