NORMAN GILLER’S SPURS ODYSSEY BLOG No 58
Submitted by Norman Giller
Positive noises coming out of The Lane
Right, we’ve had our brief breather. Now back into the cauldron as Tottenham face four matches in eleven days that could define not only the season but also Mario Pochettino’s reign. Coming up are the two legs of the Europa League battle with Fiorentina, a home Premier League match with West Ham on Sunday, and – on March 1 – the League Cup final showdown with Chelski at Wembley. I’m exhausted just thinking about it.
What I like are the positive noises coming out of the Lane. The narrow defeat at Liverpool has not been allowed to dent the confidence built up by that annihilation of Arsenal, and the mood is buoyant going into Thursday’s first leg duel with Fiorentina.
It was French author Alexandre Dumas who gave the Three Musketeers their motto of Un pour tous, tous pour un (All for one, and one for all). And that is the battle cry coming from Tottenham’s French captain Hugo Lloris.
He talks about the importance of team spirit, and everybody playing for everybody else. There is no ‘I’ in team work, and huge egos will not be allowed to get in the way of the camaraderie that has gathered strength under the baton of young generalissimo Pochettino.
I am grateful to an old friend (mon ami) on the sports desk of the premier French sports paper L’Equipe for this quote from an interview with Hugo when asked how he has settled to football in England:
“I have been made to feel very welcome at Tottenham, both by the players and the supporters. It is taking us time to play exactly the way we want under the enthusiastic and visionary coaching of Mario Pochettino, but we are getting there and I feel privileged to have been made captain for many important Premier League games. It is a big responsibility on which I thrive. It is every bit as challenging to me as when I captain France. The coach has his own firm ideas about how the game should be played, and he is gradually getting his message across. We feel we are improving every time we go out to play.”
Asked about Harry Kane, Lloris said: “He is an exceptional prospect and we just don’t know where his limit is. He seems to improve with every game, and defenders find him very difficult to mark. It is exciting for me to watch his progress, as it is also with Christian Eriksen. And what I like about both of them is that they continue to work very hard in training to make themselves better players. We have developed a special team spirit, and we are all in this for each other. The best of this Tottenham team is yet to come and I am thrilled to be part of it.”
There is a superior mind at work when Lloris is revealing his magic on the goal-line. His father is a French lawyer, and there is intelligence shining through in the way he approaches his football, but there is also character and courage which comes to the surface when he makes saves that demand bravery beyond the call of duty.
What frightens all we Spurs supporters is that he is so good that a Real Madrid could come head hunting for Hugo The Boss. But he insists he is happy with us, and we are more than happy with him!
The same can be said of the master playmaker Christian Eriksen, who celebrated his 23rd birthday on Saturday. Christian is from Middlefart in Denmark, and he is certainly kicking up a stink in the Premier League with the accuracy and venom of his free-kicks and his controlled passing. He is filling that gap left by Luka Modric, and as his confidence grows so does his impact on each match.
All is looking good at Tottenham.
The eleven days from Thursday will tell us whether it is a mirage.
It baffles me why there is so much naked hatred for Tim Sherwood being poured on line from Tottenham supporters following his appointment as Aston Villa manager.
What on earth did he do that was so bad at White Hart Lane to inspire such vitriolic stuff? The morons firing the worst of the insults should take a long hard look at themselves in the mirror and ask: “What do I really know about the game? Have I ever played it professionally? Do I really know Tim Sherwood?”
I bet that 90 per cent of the people kicking him in the unmentionables have never met the man, and are just feeding on the gossip masquerading as fact as to how he got the Spurs job.
I have heard so many scandalous things said and even more libelous things written that it could give m’learned friends lucrative business if Tim wanted to pursue the perpetrators.
Talk to the likes of Harry Kane, Ryan Mason and Nabil Bentaleb and ask how important Tim was in their development as young professionals who benefitted from his coaching. A lot of nonsense is talked about his lack of certificates.
He is a football man from head to toe, and anybody who saw him leading Blackburn Rovers to the Premiership title as an inspiring captain will know he is a born competitor who never knows when he is beaten.
Yes, he has a tongue that sometimes runs away with him and he shoots from the lip when silence might be a wiser tactic.
But that never stopped the likes of Brian Clough, Bill Shankly, Tommy Docherty and Malcolm Allison from leaving their mark as outstanding managers.
I thought Sherwood performed admirably as short-term Spurs manager and his record stands up to the closest scrutiny.
A lot of the baloney written about him was because he started out as a Gooner. Are the idiots making an issue of that going to say the same about ‘One of Ours’, Harry Kane? And as I recall, Harry Redknapp was first attracted to the Nomads. People who make anything of boyhood affiliations need to grow up and get the Lilywhite dust out of their eyes.
I for one wish Tim all the best at Villa. He could be just the man to put the pride back into that great old club that has a past every bit as proud as ours. That fact might hurt those who are one-eyed fans, but if you study your football history you will realize it is the truth.
It’s Tim Time at Villa Park, and we who are looking in from the outside are going to get a lot of entertainment while it lasts. And just suppose he goes and wins the FA Cup!
THE SPURS ODYSSEY QUIZ LEAGUE
We are now coming up to our SEVENTH week of the League, and the logjam at the top of the table continues. More than 100 of you share first place! But as I keep reminding you, I have a super tie-breaker for later in the season that will sort the men from the boys. Meantime, please keep playing along. It’s all about having fun while testing your Tottenham knowledge.
Most of you were again correct with the answers to last week’s questions: For three points, who played for Liverpool between two spells at Tottenham and has won more international caps than Peter Shilton? And for a bonus point, with which club did he start his League career?
Yes, of course it was the have-boots-will-travel goal gourmet Robbie Keane, who has won an astonishing 138 caps with the Republic of Ireland. He started his career with Wolves not, as quite a few of you thought, Coventry City.
First name drawn from the senders of the correct answers is Eric Appleby, a Lilywhite since the Glory-Glory 1960s and a season ticket holder for more than 30 years. I will be emailing him a screen version of my Bill Nicholson Revisited book.
This week’s challenge is triggered by next Sunday’s Premier League match against West Ham: For three points, who scored a hat-trick for Tottenham against the Hammers at White Hart Lane on February 2 1987? And for a bonus point, who was in goal for Spurs in that match and kept a clean sheet?
Email your answers please to SOQL7@normangillerbooks.com Add your name, the district where you live and how long you’ve supported Spurs. I will do my best to respond.
A screen version of one of my Tottenham-themed books to the sender of the first correct answers drawn at random.
If you wish to support the Tottenham Tribute Trust by buying one of my books (all profits to the Trust to help our old heroes), please go here: www.normangillerbooks.com
Thanks for your company. COYS
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