NORMAN GILLER’S SPURS ODYSSEY BLOG No 146
Submitted by Norman Giller
Toby or not Toby … that is the question on the lips of all Tottenham supporters today as we await the results of medical checks on one of the most vital players in the Spurs team.
We all held our breath as Toby – Tobias Albertine Maurits Alderweireld to give him his glorious full name – was stretchered off against West Brom on Saturday.
As he tumbled heavily to the floor after colliding with countryman Jan Vertonghen, I immediately said: “Ouch … that’s a cartilage …” I’ve seen similar incidents over many years watching and reporting the Beautiful Game, and that is always one of the ugliest sights when a knee twists on falling. I hope Dr Giller’s prognosis is wrong, but if it is a cartilage we can wave bye bye to Toby for six to eight weeks.
I was heartened last night to hear that Toby had been spotted walking without need of a knee brace, so perhaps I am being unnecessarily gloomy, The one certainty is that his injury is going to put him out of tomorrow’s Champions League match against Bayer Leverkusen. And before flying to Germany today, Pochettino said: "We still await the result of the scan, but we believe it is not a big issue."
How fortunate Tottenham are to have a utility player of Eric Dier’s quality to slot in alongside Toby’s sidekick Vertonghen, and also waiting in the wings are the Austrian Alp Kevin Wimmer and the hugely promising youngster Cameron Carter-Vickers.
Wimmer has now recovered from the hamstring injury that handicapped him at the start of the season, and Carter-Vickers is a player Pochettino rates as a prospect ready for promotion to the first-team stage.
But that does not lighten the gloom of possibly losing Alderweireld for a lengthy time. The Belgian has been a lion at the heart of the defence since signing for Spurs in the summer of 2015, and he is now admired and appreciated as one of the most dependable defenders in Europe.
As graphically captured in webmaster Paul Smith’s match report, Tottenham dominated the match at the Hawthorns, where Tony Pulis is a master at pick-pocketing points but a miser when it comes to providing any form of entertainment for the Albion fans. Fancy watching them every week! Like having a regular seat at the dentists.
There was an avalanche of on-line criticism when Pochettino preferred to leave form-man Son on the bench. I stupidly got myself involved in arguments defending his decision, and people decided to show me animosity as if I were their enemy rather than a fellow supporter.
Why do sit-at-home keyboard couch coaches seem to think they know more than the manager about a player’s state of mind, physical and mental fitness, desire and mood? Son had been away playing for South Korea in a different time zone, and Pochettino had to balance that with the fact that he would be needed for tomorrow’s Champions’ League assignment.
It is now a squad rather than a team game, and with the fixture rush facing Spurs Mauricio must juggle his troops like a general planning a war campaign. He is there in the front line and must make his decisions based on knowing the strengths and weaknesses of the opposition as well as the fitness, form and foibles of his own players. It amazes and amuses me that people who never get near the players seem to think they know better. As Bill Nicholson famously said to me many years ago: “The hardest thing about my job is being told how to do it by people who cannot trap a bag of cement.”
In Pochettino we must trust. We remain the only unbeaten team in the Premier League, are within shooting range of the leaders, and are playing some of the finest football I have seen from a Tottenham team since the Glory-Glory days of the 60s.
Goodness knows what sort of criticism Mauricio will get if (when) Tottenham actually lose a Premier League match. I will continue to stand up for him because negative thoughts are contagious and quickly spread like wild fire.
Get behind Pochettino, not in his way.
Here’s a photo featuring two famous footballing names that used to go together like bacon and eggs in the 1960s … Greaves and Hunt. That’s the great Liverpool legend Roger Hunt on the right, and in the centre Andy Greaves, chip-off-the-old-block son of Jimmy. We were together recently at the opening of Sir Alf Ramsey Way at FA HQ at St George’s Park. Andy was representing his Dad, who continues to fight for a decent quality of life while confined to a wheelchair following his severe stroke.
Roger, regular goal plundering partner of Jimmy in the England team, said: “Jimmy was the greatest goal scorer of my time. We had a healthy rivalry and complete respect for each other. I am heartbroken to see what has happened to him. He was a footballing genius.” Roger is now 78 and wears remarkably well. Sorry about the old git on the left!
My latest novel, THE BUNG, is as fresh and topical as today’s disturbing football headlines, focusing on the personalities, passions and pressures that drive the modern game. It reveals the exact mechanism of how bungs change hands at the top level. Could YOU resist a sports hold-all stacked with cash? It is an update of the novel I wrote after collaborating with sacked Arsenal manager George Graham on his book after he had been caught taking a £275,000 kick-back. Please order the novel here for your computer: http://www.normangillerbooks.com/the-bung/4591562026. Just bung me £2.99.
Ends commercial. Thank you.
Spurs Odyssey Quiz League, week 10
This week’s mystery player:
“I am captain of my country for whom I have played 94 times. I scored 13 goals for Spurs, who turned down a £40m bid for me from Chelsea. Who am I and which manager signed me for Tottenham in 2008?”
Email your answers, please, to SOQL10@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 ninth teaser was:
“I made 335 first-team appearances in 12 seasons with Spurs, was in the winning 1991 FA Cup team and later joined Southampton. Who am I and what number shirt did I wear in the final at Wembley?”
Several of you tripped up on this one, going for Paul Allen because he later played for Southampton, but he did not spend 12 seasons at Tottenham like the Lane loyalist David Howells, who wore the number 5 shirt in that memorable 1991 FA Cup final against Nottingham Forest. David was something of an unsung hero, who never gave less than 100 per cent and always played with true Spurs spirit.
First name drawn at random from the correct answers is Bob Beacham from Sutton Coldfield, who has been a Spurs supporter for 48 years. I will be emailing Bob 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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