NORMAN GILLER’S SPURS ODYSSEY BLOG No 101
Submitted by Norman Giller
Hugo's latest "worldie"
For Hugo ‘The Boss’ Lloris there are just seventeen stopping days to Christmas. I am a stubborn defender of Pat Jennings as being the greatest goalkeeper ever to pull on a Tottenham jersey, but the Flying Frenchman is continually challenging me to change my mind.
I have been looking through my match notes for the season, and there have been all but two games when I have not made reference to at least one world-class save by Tottenham’s captain, who manages to lead and inspire from the back.
His latest ‘worldie’ against West Brom took the wind (ha ha) out of a Baggies bid for all three points, when he somehow managed to push a point-blank shot from Jonas Olsson over the bar. When they put together a sequence of Lloris saves of the season, this one will be near the top.
Dropping two points at the Hawthorns was literally a blow to Spurs, when the swirling, whirling wind at the Premier League’s highest ground cancelled out Tottenham’s superior skill and gave the muscular Baggies the chance to dance to a typical piece of Tony Pulis choreography.
There was a lot of vicious knocking of Spurs on line from the couch coaches, who did not take into account conditions that made ball control a lottery.
For one of the few times this season Jan Vertonghen came off second best, while being given a torrid time by West Brom powerhouse Salomon Rondon. He reminds me of an old Albion hero from the 70s/80s, Cyrille Regis, and proved a real handful for our usually unruffled Belgian centre-back.
Thank goodness (to give him his full name) Tobias Albertine Maurits Alderweireld was again in imperious form alongside his countryman, and took time off from defensive duties to create Tottenham’s only goal.
His 30-yard howitzer pass into the path of Dele Alli in the 15th minute was a thing of beauty, and brought out the best from Tottenham’s shining diamond of a prospect as he tucked it away with an instant shot.
What angered and astonished me was how James McClean – scorer of Albion’s well-worked equaliser – was allowed to stay on the field after his criminal second-half assault on Mousa Dembele, which could easily have wrecked Tottenham’s key midfielder for the season.
I never normally criticise referees because they have an impossible job. But I will make an exception in the case of Jon Moss. All I can say for him is that at least he gave a balanced performance – equally bad for both teams.
But in fairness, he too would have been affected by having to run for 90 minutes into that breath-taking wind.
At least it did not blow Tottenham off course from their club record run of 14 Premier League matches undefeated, but a few wins are now necessary if Spurs are to make a serious championship bid in what is a weird, topsy-turvy season. Perhaps Leicester are not the fluke side all of us thought a few weeks back. They remind me of Alf Ramsey’s League championship-winning Ipswich team of 1961-62, a bits and pieces side with everything slotting into place.
If Tottenham are serious about trying to lift the Premier League trophy they must look to go into the New Year with victories against Newcastle (home, December 13th), Southampton (away, 19th), Norwich City (home, 26th) and Watford (away, 28th). We know Tottenham are better than all these teams on paper, and must prove it on the pitch.
Hopefully, Mauricio will rest several key players on Thursday against Monaco in a Europa League match which does not carry too much pressure, because Spurs have already qualified for the next stage.
Even a defeat would not take the wind out of our sails.
Yes, just 17 shopping days to Christmas. I am sure the discerning among you want my 100th book (Headlines Deadlines All My Life) in your stocking, so drop big hints now and point people towards www.normangillerbooks.com.
SPURS ODYSSEY QUIZ LEAGUE, Week 18
Week EIGHTEEN of our Spurs Odyssey Quiz League, and most of you comfortably worked out last week’s teaser: “I scored 21 goals in 51 international matches and also 21 in 78 Premier League games for Spurs and wore the No 9 Tottenham shirt in a League Cup final. Who am I and from which club did I sign for Tottenham in 2008?”
Yes, it was the Roman who came, saw and did not quite conquer when he arrived from Spartak Moscow, Roman Pavlyuchenko. It gives me the chance to destroy a myth about the Russian striker. He was once called on as substitute for Tottenham, and after the match Harry Redknapp was asked at the press conference what he said to him through an interpreter before sending him on. Harry replied: “I just told the interpreter to tell him to run about a bit.”
This was a Harry joke, and anybody who has ever kept his company will know he is always dropping in quips that should not be taken seriously. Harry’s army of detractors seized on his joke and turned it into fact and beat him around the head with it when they became a lynch mob determined to get him out of the Lane, just because he’d been honest enough to say he would be proud to manage his country. Hopefully that will put it to bed.
This week’s teaser: “I scored 16 goals in 98 games for Spurs between 1976 and 1980, and won 63 international caps. Who am I, and against which host country did I score a winning goal in a World Cup finals match?”
You get two points for identifying the player, and a bonus point for naming the team against which he scored a winning World Cup finals goal.
Keep a check on your points tally, because the contestant topping the SOQL table at the end of the season will receive a huge, personally autographed photograph of Spurs legend Jimmy Greaves, plus a signed, framed certificate announcing the winner as the 2015-16 Spurs Odyssey Quiz League champion.
Email your answers, please, to SOQL18@normangillerbooks.com Give your name, the district where you live and how long you’ve supported Spurs. I will respond, and will email a screen version of one of my Tottenham-themed books to the sender of the first all-correct answer drawn at random. Closing date for entries: midnight this Friday.
First name drawn at random from the correct answers last week is Dick Robertson, of Shrewsbury. I will email a screen version of one of my Tottenham-themed books to Edmonton-born Dick, who has been a Spurs supporter since what he calls “the golden years of the early 1960s.”
Thanks for your company. See you same time, same place next week. COYS!
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