NORMAN GILLER’S SPURS ODYSSEY BLOG No 147
Submitted by Norman Giller
Erik Lamela has become the Marmite Man of Tottenham, either liked or loathed, and there is a small but noisy lynch mob who seem to have the agenda of booing and jeering him out of White Hart Lane
They just might get their way in the January transfer window, with Inter Milan heading a cluster of Italian clubs who would willingly take him back on to the Serie A stage, where he was a popular performer with Roma before joining Spurs.
But you can bet your boots that Mauricio Pochettino will want to keep Lamela at the Lane, and Erik’s father and agent Jose insists that his son sees his long-term future at Tottenham. But he will not be deaf to the growing criticism of a player known at home in Argentina as Coco because of his ball juggling skills. Erik is a long way from home and would like a little love.
There was a barrage of abuse of Lamela on the social network during the goalless draw at Bournemouth in a game played at a frenetic, frantic pace that left spectators as breathless as the players.
Our webmaster Paul Smith was among those disappointed in the Tottenham performance to the point where he sank into a pit of pessimism, triggering the conclusion that Spurs are not good enough to win the Premier League title.
Yet his measured match report contradicts his gloom by listing at least four occasions when Tottenham could and should have scored the goal that would have taken them, briefly, to the top of the table. They remain the only unbeaten team in the Premier League, their best start since that famous 11-match winning streak back in the Double year of 1960-61.
Gissa smile, Paul. I am sure the picture is not as black as you have painted it. As Bill Shankly always used to say: “The League championship is a marathon, not a sprint.”
A long long way to go, and Spurs are sitting comfortably in joint fourth place and within striking distance of the leaders.
I have thought from day one that Manchester City are the likely champions, despite their stuttering show against Southampton yesterday. A Tottenham title triumph would be an unexpected bonus.
The Premier League has become about as predictable as an Ed Balls paso doble. Everybody is treading on everybody’s toes! Let’s not write Spurs off just yet, while they have still to be bettered in a League match and with a defensive record second to none.
Not nearly enough credit was given on Saturday to young Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe for the way he plotted to take the press out of Spurs by getting his players to press even harder. I was weaned on push and run. Now it’s press and run, all very hectic and demanding super fitness. I get exhausted watching it. But better on the eye? I don't think so, and neither will anybody else of a certain age who can recall flying wingers (Walters and Medley … Jones and Dyson), and target men who knew how to bang the ball into the net (Len ‘The Duke’ Duquemin … bulldozing Bobby Smith).
At least our guru Paul Smith restrained himself from writing with a poisoned pen about the contribution from the enigmatic Lamela. The keyboard warriors did not hold back on Twitter, and among those that made me cringe was one calling for Erik to die and another saying he must be the illegitimate son of Mauricio Pochettino (I have left out the offensive language).
It baffles and bewilders me how so-called Spurs supporters can be so vicious against their own players. Unlike most of them, I’ve actually talked to Tottenham team members about Erik, and they are unanimous in calling him one of the most skilful footballers they’ve ever played with or against.
While in Argentina I saw him as a prodigious teenager playing for River Plate, and they were calling him the new Maradona. His compatriot Pochettino knows better than any of us his range of ability, and if he thinks he should be in his team that is good enough for me.
Mauricio’s management and coaching is going to be put to the test as he juggles his squad through the following minefield of matches leading up to the huge NLD showdown …
Tomorrow: Liverpool away (EFL Cup)
Saturday: Home to champions Leicester
Wed 2 Nov: Wembley for Bayer Leverkusen (Champions League)
Sun 6 Nov: Arsenal at the Emirates
One likelihood is that Sissoko will be given the elbow for his apparent assault on Bournemouth’s all-action man Harry Arter, who was sporting enough in post-match interviews to try to get Moussa off the hook. But the retro disciplinary judges are unlikely to be as generous in their judgement and a suspension seems certain. Sissoko must be told that this is not the Spurs way.
We can expect to see Tottenham’s shadow squad in action at Anfield tomorrow, and I am sure Herr Klopp will also call on his fringe players. He is proving himself very precise as Liverpool manager, and will not want a Herr out of place (sorry … a joke stolen from my old pal Peter Corrigan, a genius of a sportswriter who recently departed for the great press box in the sky).
The Football League Cup has been a favourite piece of Tottenham silverware, and Mauricio will be wanting Spurs to make a statement of intent at Anfield. It would not surprise me to see the two shadow sides having a penalty shoot-out to decide which of them goes into the next round.
My apologies that my Blog this week is a bit like Strictly Come Dancing: A load of Balls.
Spurs Odyssey Quiz League, week 11
This week’s mystery player:
“I scored 42 goals in 185 first-team games for Tottenham before moving to Manchester City in 1982. Who am I and on which island was I born in 1956?”
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. 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 tenth teaser was:
“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?”
Yes, of course, Luka Modric, who was signed during the brief, breathless reign of Juande Ramos. Imagine if we had Luka and Gareth back from Real Madrid! I think even Paul Smith would then be optimistic of Tottenham’s chances of winning the championship (lol).
First name drawn at random from the correct answers is Geoff Batty from Colchester, Essex, who has been a “fanatical” Spurs supporter for 38 years. I will be emailing Geoff 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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