NORMAN GILLER’S SPURS ODYSSEY BLOG No 63
Submitted by Norman Giller
We hoped for Harry Kane. We got hari-kari.
We were hoping for Harry Kane and all we got at Old Trafford yesterday was hara-kari. Tottenham took their own life in a disastrous first-half when the balance of their defence was disturbed.
Wayne Rooney, showing Mickey Rooney humour, acted as if he had been knocked out after he scored United’s third goal to make it a 3-0 rout. In truth, it was Spurs who were flattened, and you could almost see the confidence seeping from Tottenham like blood from a deep wound.
We – players, management, directors and supporters – must now hold our nerve for the run-in to the end of the season that, on paper at least, does not look too daunting. Just to remind you, the last nine Premier League matches are:
March 21: Leicester City (h)
April 5: Burnley (a)
April 11: Aston Villa (h)
April 19: Newcastle (a)
April 25: Southampton (a)
May 2: Man City (h)
May 9: Stoke City (a)
May 16: Hull City (h)
May 24: Everton (a)
Hardly any points can be dropped if Spurs are to cling to their slim chances of a top-four place, and Mauricio Pochettino’s tactics will come under microscopic examination after yesterday’s first-half shambles.
Tottenham’s defence – or lack of it – managed to make Fellaini look more like Fellini enjoying La Dolce Vita. He was given the freedom of the park, and his linking with Danny Blind and Rooney raised all sorts of question marks about the right corner of the Tottenham rearguard.
I always get shouted down when I say I do not like Hugo Lloris wearing the captain’s armband. What was desperately needed as United sliced through the defence was a leader who could holler and shout and put things right. It was obvious even to novice onlookers that Spurs required reinforcements shifted to the right to help the hopelessly outplayed Kyle Walker.
Old Git alert: I was weaned on watching a Spurs team in which Danny Blanchflower played a real captain’s role. He used to change tactics in the heat of battle and not wait for the after-match inquests when it was too late. And dear, recently departed Dave Mackay would physically get involved to help any team-mate under pressure with a brandished fist and thunderous tackles that made the turf shudder. Okay, I’m exaggerating, but it was certainly the impression he used to give and team-mates responded to his atomic energy by raising their game.
Then there was the baby face assassin Steve Perryman, who covered more yardage for Spurs than any other player in history (a record 866 games and all played with perpetual motion), and, of course, there was the great Welsh motivator Ron Burgess, who captained the famous Push and Run team with his heart on his sleeve.
Whatever happened to the old style captains who lead from the front? One of the few I see operating in the Premier League is John Terry. Like him or loathe him, he always plays with total commitment and is there to support any team-mate under pressure.
Hugo had his hands too full (and sometimes empty) to give orders to team-mates to cover for the outgunned Walker. But somebody should have taken responsibility to go to Kyle’s aid as United continually targeted him in that depressing first-half, arguably the worst 45 minutes we have had to suffer this season.
Harry Kane had Tottenham’s only meaningful shot on target in the closing minutes. He was policed out of it by a United defence showing defiance after recent dodgy performances, and Our Harry suffered for lack of support. I actually saw so-called Spurs fans abusing him on line for his lack of involvement. Such short memories.
The true fans were those who travelled to Old Trafford and kept up non-stop support even when the team was shattered by those three first-half goals. They did the club and themselves proud.
Time for us all to follow their lead and lift our heads. There is still that vital fourth place to play for. It is going to need total commitment by everybody, including those of us supporting from the sidelines. Remember, pessimism is contagious.
Let’s all adopt the three Ps: positivity, positivity, positivity.
Braveheart Dave Mackay will be laid to rest in Edinburgh on Tuesday March 24, a funeral that will attract the great and the good of football. Such is the demand from people who want to pay their last respects that the family has had to make it an invitation-only event. Spurs will be opening a book of condolences at the Lane on the day of the final farewell to a footballing legend.
My friends on Facebook, Twitter and here at Spurs Odyssey have so far helped raise £900 in memory of the indomitable Mackay. All the money goes to the Tottenham Tribute Trust to help our old heroes pay their medical bills. Please help take the total up to £1,000.
These were the former players who gave us our Glory-Glory years, and few of them enjoyed many seasons earning more than £20 a week. It was not until 1961 that the maximum wage was kicked out and the players released from their ‘soccer slave’ shackles.
Tottenham were champions and Cup holders when the wage barrier was lifted, and for that first season all regular first-team players were put on a £65-a-week contract. Now there are plenty of players in the Premier League who are taking home £65,000+ a week. Yes, the world has gone barmy.
What would the likes of Dave Mackay command today?
You can leave a message in praise of Dave when making a donation of any amount to the Tottenham Tribute Trust https://www.justgiving.com/thettt.
THE SPURS ODYSSEY QUIZ LEAGUE
We are now into our ELEVENTH week of the League. The winner at the end of the season will get a huge, personally autographed photograph of Jimmy Greaves holding the FA Cup in 1967, plus a signed, framed certificate announcing you (if you’re the winner) as the inaugural Spurs Odyssey Quiz League champion.
Terry Baker, entrepreneurial manager of Jimmy Greaves, is kindly providing the exclusive signed photograph, and reminds me that Jimmy will be appearing with Sir Geoff Hurst and Gordon Banks at a special legends event next month. Full details here:
Many of you are on a maximum 46 points for the questions asked to date, but don’t worry because there will be a tiebreaker introduced next month that will stretch your minds and knowledge.
Most of you were again correct with the answers to last week’s questions: For three points, who scored the winning goal when Spurs last won a First Division match Old Trafford? And for a bonus point, for which club did he score 95 League goals? Yes, it was that crisp finisher Gary Lineker, who scored those 95 goals for his hometown club Leicester City.
First name drawn from the senders of the correct answers is Greg Roblin, of Chelmsford, Essex, who has been following the fortunes of Spurs since the mid-1970s. I will be emailing him a screen version of my Bill Nicholson Revisited book.
This week’s challenge is triggered by Saturday’s Premier League match against relegation-haunted Leicester City at the Lane: For three points, who started his career as a winger with Spurs, later scored 37 goals in 262 games for Leicester and won four England caps? And for a bonus point, with which club did he collect a European Cup Winners’ Cup medal in 1971?
Email your answers please to SOQL11@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
The "Giller Index" - listing all Norman's articles for Spurs Odyssey
Top of page | Spurs Odyssey Home Page