NORMAN GILLER’S SPURS ODYSSEY BLOG No 94
Submitted by Norman Giller
Strictly Tottenham Hotspur!
If Tottenham’s goalless draw with Liverpool on Saturday had been on Strictly Come Dancing we would have been giving the Spurs defence a satisfactory Len Goodman sev-en and the attack a grumpy Craig Revel Horwood three.
For a solo exhibition, Mousa Dembele earned himself a man-of-the-match eight. He certainly led Liverpool a dance with that left foot of his that is as nimble as a thimble and as dexterous as a knitting needle.
Excuse the mixing of metaphors. It captures my confused assessment of that Tottenham performance, like the curate’s egg good in parts. The failure to put the ball into the net was as frustrating for those of us watching as it is becoming for Our Harry Kane, who desperately needs the oxygen of a confidence-boosting goal.
Eric Dier was extremely conspicuous by his absence in that appalling opening 25 minutes, when it screamed out for his ball-winning presence in midfield. It’s amazing how quickly Spurs have come to rely on his power and positivity in a position that he found more by accident than design.
As expected, the Klopp factor played a huge part on Saturday, with all the Liverpool players working twice as hard to try to catch the eye of their new messiah.
What I want to know is where did Jürgen get those teeth? He looks like a cross between Dracula and Ken Dodd, and I can sense some biting performances coming from Liverpool in the months ahead. Klopp is more pleasant than Mourinho, less arrogant than Van Gaal and even more charismatic than our Pochettino. We should feel relieved we got his visit out of the way before he has settled to life at Anfield.
Nacer Chadli’s worrying injury added to Tottenham’s growing casualty list, and the Spurs treatment room is becoming as crowded as an A&E department on a Saturday night. He joins Heung-Min Son, Alex Pritchard, Ryan Mason and Nabil Bentaleb in intensive care.
The early Chadli departure gave us an unexpected longer look at the talents of Clinton N’Jie. There was a lot of carelessness to cause concern, but flashes of genius that suggest he has much to offer from his Cameroonian treasure chest.
Going back to my Strictly Come Dancing theme, Tottenham got into their rhythm after a lot of dodgy footwork under early Liverpool pressure. Spurs were too often tangoing when a quick step was called for. I suggest that for a more illuminating version of what happened you read the all-encompassing eyewitness report from our guru Paul Smith, who always describes it as it is rather than tap dancing through the long grass of imagery like what I do.
The bottom line is that in the Premier League Spurs have still only lost the opening game of the season, and that to an unlucky own goal by Kyle Walker at Old Trafford.
Manager of the Month Pochettino has got the defence brilliantly organised around the Three Scrooges – Hugo Boss, Vert and Toby. Now all he needs do is get a Kane-led trio working equally efficiently in the other penalty area.
This managing lark is dead easy. Ask Tim Sherwood!
We at Tottenham know better than most that Belgium has recently produced a parade of highly talented footballers making names for themselves on the world stage. The latest to grab the attention of the major clubs is 18-year-old “Wonder Kid” Youri Tielemans, who has been taking the eye as an attacking midfielder for Anderlecht. Manchester United are leading the chase for his signature.
It will be fascinating to see if he is pitched into battle against Spurs on Thursday in the Uefa League showdown, and also whether Poch will play all his Belgian-born contingent in their home land.
Mauricio would not be drawn on his plans for Thursday pending fitness tests on his walking wounded, but he and several of his players know that Tielemans could be a threat if he is thrust into action.
I have only seen Youri on screen and he looks an assured young man, who plays with the same naturally graceful style as one of my heroes from way back, Paul Van Himst. He was one of the finest European footballers I reported on back in the golden 60s, yet he rarely gets a mention in the “who was the greatest” debate – unless you are having the discussion in Belgium!
Paul was idolised as a master footballer at Anderlecht, later managed the club and is now the older statesman of Belgian football, who is listened to with respect on all things Anderlecht. “Youri Tielemans,” he says, “is one of the most gifted young footballers I have ever seen. But he still has much to learn about the game and if I were in his boots I would stay at Anderlecht for at least another year.”
Tottenham against Anderlecht kicks off at 6pm (BST) on Thursday. You can catch it live on BT Sport.
For those of you kindly considering purchasing my 100th book (Headlines Deadlines All My Life) you need to order it here if you want a signed copy: http://www.normangillerbooks.com/my-100th-book/4567099727
I shall be spending a day at the printer’s next week when the book rolls (limps?) off the presses, and that is when I will be signing copies for dispatch to my long-suffering readers.
It is a self-published book, and so I fall on my sword if you fail to answer this plea to support a hungry writer (the pun is mightier than the sword).
I know, I know. Kindly leave the page,
SPURS ODYSSEY QUIZ LEAGUE, Week 11
Week ELEVEN of our Spurs Odyssey Quiz League. I failed to beat many of you with last week’s teaser: “I scored 31 goals for Tottenham in 123 League games, won four England caps and briefly managed England in a caretaker capacity. I was once sold by Terry Venables. Who am I and from which London club did I join Tottenham?”
It was, of course, fast, direct winger Peter Taylor, who was sold to Spurs when Terry Venables was managing Crystal Palace. Peter hit his peak with Palace, and was desperately unlucky with injuries at Tottenham. He later switched with mixed results to managing, and is now in charge of a club in India. Several of you mentioned his hilarious mimicking of comedy legend Norman Wisdom. A pity he could not impersonate George Best with the same accuracy!
This week’s challenge is slightly different and will challenge your maths as well as your Spurs knowledge … it might make you get shirty with me:
“Take the shirt number worn by Gazza in the 1991 FA Cup final, add Ricky Villa’s 1981 shirt number in the first match against Man City, multiply by Michael Dawson’s shirt number in the 2009 League Cup final and then add the club record number of League goals Greavsie scored for Spurs. What is the total, and for a bonus point who wore the number 39 shirt in Tottenham’s 2008 League Cup winning team?”
You get two points for getting your maths right, and an extra point for naming Tottenham’s No 39 at Wembley in 2008.
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 SOQL11@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 Bill Squires, of Plymouth. I will email a screen version of one of my Tottenham-themed books to Bill, who says has followed Spurs since the 1960s, when he lived in Hertfordshire.
Thanks for your company. See you same time, same place next week. COYS!
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