NORMAN GILLER’S SPURS ODYSSEY BLOG No 139
Submitted by Norman Giller
My sympathy is with Mauricio Pochettino as the international break interrupts a Tottenham season that has not even begun to get into its stride. Just as the Poch needs all his players around him for fitness and tactical sessions, he loses 70 per cent of them to the call of country-before-club.
“It’s c-r-a-z-y,” he said, managing to sound like Manuel from Fawlty Towers after Spurs had snatched a draw from the jaws of defeat against a lively Liverpool. “We need time – maybe a few months – to put all the players on the same level. We have so many of our squad on international duties and it makes it very difficult for us.”
Five of Tottenham’s key players were included last night in Sam Allardyce’s first England squad for the World Cup qualifier against Slovakia next Sunday: Danny Rose, Kyle Walker, Eric Dier, Dele Alli and Harry Kane.
Big Sam selected Walker after checking on his condition following his departure after 30 minutes from the match against Liverpool. The giddy Walker reluctantly exited looking as if he might have been hit by the virus that sidelined team-mate Alli a week before. Lasagnegate came immediately to mind.
What baffled me is why Flying Dutchman Vincent Janssen was ordered on as substitute when it would have made more sense to send on a defender. From the moment Mauricio made the controversial change Spurs lacked their usual balance and unity.
I was castigated on line for suggesting that Liverpool deserved all three points, but webmaster Paul Smith’s eyewitness report supports my view that the Scousers created more chances, and Sadio Mane’s disallowed goal looked good to my ancient eyes. Mind you, I also think the hugely competitive Mane was lucky not to collect a red card with his reckless challenges.
It’s a tell-tale sign of Tottenham’s at times desperate performance that second string goalkeeper Michel Vorm was the man of the match for Spurs. He performed his sweeper-keeper duties with the style and safety of Hugo ‘The Boss’ Lloris. There can be no higher praise.
If you believe all the newspapers and know-alls on line there will be a queue of players coming through the transfer window before it closes on Wednesday.
That will be good, because Pochettino is going to be in need of company!
On the way OUT of the window are two fringe-squad favourites Nacer Chadli (West Brom, £13m) and Ryan Mason (Sunderland or Hull, £12m). Both have performed with pride and often good end-product in the Spurs shirt.
It will be fascinating to see if the money collected for them is quickly invested in new talent. The strongest and most believable of all the stories doing the rounds is that Spurs are going to sign on loan Real Madrid’s Francisco Suarez, a silky-smooth attacking midfielder better known as Isco. They are also trying to complete the long-running transfer business with Marseille for winger Georges-Kevin N’Koudou.
These would be two top-flight signings to strengthen the squad ready for the Champions League group challenges from CSKA Moscow, Bayern Leverkusen and Monaco. But only believe it when they are wearing the Lilywhite shirt.
If you are in the mood to help a hungry writer, I am offering two books for the price of one: July 30 1966 Football’s Longest Day and Headlines Deadlines All My Life, my 100th book and the story of my life as a sportswriter. They are now both available post-free and for the price of one at http://www.normangillerbooks.com/july-30-1966/4591562026.
Spurs Odyssey Quiz League, week 3
This week’s mystery player:
“I have won 59 international caps and have scored four goals for Spurs since arriving at the Lane in 2015. Who am I … and against which country did I play in the 2014 World Cup quarter-finals?”
Email your answers, please, to SOQL3@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. Deadline is midnight on Friday.
Please keep a check on your points tally, because the contestant topping the SOQL table at the end of the season will receive a framed certificate announcing the winner as the 2016-17 Spurs Odyssey Quiz League champion. And the first three in the final table will win an autographed, hardback copy of my Bill Nicholson Revisited tribute book, PLUS a souvenir card signed by Spurs legends Jimmy Greaves and Steve Perryman.
The second teaser was:
“I joined Tottenham from Middlesbrough and was an FA Cup winner in 1967. Who am I … and with which Midlands club was my younger brother a prolific goal scorer?”
Most of you came up with the right answer to collect three points: ‘Nice One’ Cyril Knowles, whose brother Peter played for Wolves before he gave up the game at his peak to become a Jehovah’s Witness. Cyril was a smashing bloke, one of my favourite people in the game who was always full of mischief and used to give manager Bill Nicholson heart attacks with his dribbling clearances on the goal-line. This lovely, friendly and talented man did not deserve the terrible luck that cursed him later in life. He was was the victim of brain cancer at the age of 47. Late in his 13-year career with Spurs he suffered the nightmare of seeing his young son killed in a freak accident when a stone smashed through the screen of their car. We remember Cyril at Tottenham with great warmth.
First name drawn at random from the correct answers is Howard Waterman from Potters Bar, who has been a Spurs supporter since the mid-60s. I will be emailing Howard a screen version of one of my Tottenham-themed books.
As regular contestants will know, the League table is decided on facts up until the final weeks of the season. Then I introduce tie breaks based on opinions, which is when I lose friends and fail to influence people with my views.
But please remember, it is just for fun and helps us all refresh our knowledge on the history and the heroes of our great club.
Thanks for your company. See you same time, same place next week. COYS!
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