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Norman Giller's Spurs Odyssey Blog (No. 70) (04.05.15)

NORMAN GILLER’S SPURS ODYSSEY BLOG No 70
Submitted by Norman Giller

Norman Giller writes for Spurs Odyssey

In the week that many of us will put our cross on the General Election ballot paper, we approach the last couple of laps of the Spurs Odyssey Quiz League race with two contestants sharing first place. They have become the Cameron and Miliband of our competition, and the prime place remains as difficult to call as the battle for No 10. I hereby warn that there will be instant disqualification for anybody trying to do a deal with the SNP.

Just one of you agreed with my selection of five foreign-born players who have represented Tottenham in the Premier League, plus a British substitute.

This is the side I selected after studying the stats and balancing the facts and figures with my feelings:


                       Hugo Lloris
                      Jan Vertonghen
             Luka Modric    Rafael van der Vaart
                    Jurgen Klinsmann

             Substitute: Teddy Sheringham

I will wait for the cries of anguish and annoyance to die down before I salute the one person who was completely on my wavelength. Take a bow Edward Benson, a lawyer based in Westchester County, New York, and formerly of Southgate in London N14.

Edward has been a Spurs disciple since 1969, and managed to make me laugh out loud with the comment: “This phase of the competition reminds me of a boss long ago who advised that my continued success at the firm would depend on my ability to read his mind! As he was an alcoholic megalomaniac, the thought of delving into his grey matter was an unappetizing prospect.”

Well, I am teetotal – and maniacal only when it comes to the subject of Tottenham Hotspur. Trying to read my mind is about as easy as finding your way around a maze while wearing a blindfold. Even I don’t know what I’m going to do or think next. Therein lies madness, but I’m glad you have all come along for the ride.

Congratulations Edward on being the only contestant who picks up a maximum 20 points, three each for agreeing with the overseas players and a five-point bonus for naming the hugely talented Teddy Sheringham as the British substitute.

You are now on 101 points, neck and neck with last week’s leader Ian Landeryou, of Basildon, Essex, who clocked up 15 points.

Ian will be kicking himself. He picked the same five foreign players as Edward but plumped for Ledley King as substitute, adding: “If Ledley is not allowed because you picked him last week, then I will choose Teddy Sheringham.”

Ledley WAS allowed, and many of you picked him as your British-born substitute. I went for Teddy because I rate him one of the best touch players of the Premier League era, and with a football brain as sharp as any in the game. I used to think when Sheringham was on the ball he was like a virtuoso violinist who knew all the orchestrations without looking at the sheet music. A true thoroughbred.

If I had made this a vote rather than a competition, the most popular combination was:


                        Hugo Lloris
                        Stephen Carr
                   Luka Modric   David Ginola   
                     Jurgen Klinsmann

Once again entries have come from as far and wide as the United States, Australia, Hong Kong, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, India and Hungary, and many of you commented on how difficult it was to find an outstanding overseas defender to play in front of Hugo.

I have gone for Vertonghen because I rate him far and away the best of our current defenders, and he has developed a good understanding of the sweeper-keeper style of Hugo. The Flying Frenchman got most selections of any player, with Erik ‘The Viking’ Thorstvedt receiving solid support.

Luka Modric was the next most popular player. I teamed him with van der Vaart because they were the twin pistons that drove my favourite Tottenham side of modern times, the Redknapp Raiders. VDV was a class act and I would loved to have seen him paired with goal gourmet Klinsmann when both were at their peak. I selected Rafael ahead of Ginola because in my opinion ‘Daveed’ tended to decorate rather than decide matches.

Other players well supported included Dimitar Berbatov, Steffend Freund, Sandro, William Gallas, Younes Kaboul, and – for substitute – several of you went for ‘He Who Should Not Be Named,’ Sol Campbell. For my money, Campbell was one of the finest England defenders to pull on any shirt, and I think people who refuse to recognise this are very blinkered. Anyway, I chose Teddy ahead of him because I wanted his goal touch.

Edward Benson and Ian Landeryou hold a three-point lead over a chasing pack on 98 points, and on their heels the main bunch on 95 points. Still all to play for.

There are now just two weeks to go, and here’s a third tie-breaker that will have you scratching your heads, searching your memories and wanting to strangle me.

I challenge you to select in order of merit the five Tottenham managers you rate the best since Keith Burkinshaw quit in 1984. Put them in 1-2-3-4-5 order of merit.

You will get three points for each one that agrees with the order that I have placed them. They are not necessarily the most successful, but the managers you thought were the best men for the job.

Then, for a five-point bonus, name any post-1992 Tottenham player you would be happiest to see back at the club as a dream player-manager. This would be somebody who was tactically astute, a motivator and a Spurs loyalist. Remember that he has had to have played for Spurs since 1992, and you must imagine him at his playing peak. One rule, he must have appeared in a minimum 200 Premier League matches for Tottenham. I craftily slip that in to stop everybody bringing back Gareth Bale!

A little trivia question for you: Who was the most successful Tottenham player-manager? Yes, of course, it was John Cameron, who remains the only player-manager to lead a team to an FA Cup final triumph – back in 1901, which was even before my time. Not a lot of people know that.

Email your 1-2-3-4-5 managers and your dream player-manager, please, to SOQL18@normangillerbooks.com Don’t forget to add your name, the district where you live and how long you’ve supported Spurs. Also, tell me how many points you have collected to date. I have your points on record, but want to make sure you agree with my tally. Most regulars are on at least 92 points.

The closing time for entries is midnight on Friday, May 8. I will give an analysis of your selections here at my Spurs Odyssey base next Monday, by which time my partner and I will be aboard a cruise ship in the Med. When I booked it five months ago it seemed like a good idea.

Remember, the final decision on all matters to do with the SOQL is mine and regardless of any arguments you might put up I will not change my mind! There’s democracy for you. Let’s keep this friendly. It’s a fun game, not war.

The eventual winner of the League 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.

Jimmy’s manager, the entrepreneurial Terry Baker, is kindly providing the exclusive signed photograph, and he passes on the information that Jimmy has two personal appearance events coming up following his long-awaited induction to the Tottenham Hall of Fame on May 13. Full details here: http://jimmygreaves.net/2015/04/tickets-now-on-sale-an-evening-with-jimmy-greaves-exclusive-intimate-event/

And a reminder that Spurs-themed books are available at www.normangillerbooks.com. ALL profits to the Tottenham Tribute Trust to help any of our old heroes who have hit difficult times.


How irritating that Spurs always seem to bring the best out of that magnificent Manchester City footballer Aguero. He was the difference between the two teams at the Lane yesterday, a top-quality player who collects goals against Tottenham as if we are his own personal charity.

There was much in our performance that was pleasing, but I have to admit not feeling relaxed when the Ambling Alp Fazio and Belgian stylist Vertonghen are paired together. They are like a Laurel and Hardy act, getting themselves into many a fine mess because too often they are not on each other’s wavelength.

If the thoroughbred Vertonghen can be persuaded that his future is at Tottenham, I think his regular sidekick next season will be Eric Dier, who considers himself just an emergency right-back while waiting for a regular central defender’s assignment..

I hope Danny Rose’s army of critics have now been won over by his consistency and class. The left-back role is his without argument, and I bet he goes on to cement himself in the England defence. VIP spectator Roy Hodgson could only have been impressed by his display yesterday.

Danny boy has had to take appalling stick from a section of the Tottenham fans. He has surely now shut them up.

Just three matches to go to the end of the season:

May 9: Stoke City (a)
May 16: Hull City (h)
May 24: Everton (a)

Rose revealed in after-match interviews yesterday that the team target is a maximum nine points. It will not be easy, but at least it shows there is still ambition running through the side and they are in the mood to play flat out right to the wire.

Then it will be over to Pochettino and his determination to pick the players who will be coming and going as he prepares for next season’s challenge. I hope he is allowed to rebuild the squad with support rather than interference from the direction of the boardroom.

It is going to be an interesting summer (whoever gets in at No 10!).

Thanks for your company. See you same time, same place next week. COYS!

The "Giller Index" - listing all Norman's articles for Spurs Odyssey

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