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Norman Giller's Spurs Odyssey Blog (No. 148) (31.10.16)

NORMAN GILLER’S SPURS ODYSSEY BLOG No 148
Submitted by Norman Giller

Vincent needs a Starry, Starry Night at Wembley

Vincent Janssen feels as frustrated as Hillary Clinton so near to the keys to the White House as he searches for his first goal in open play for Tottenham. He has done everything but put the ball into the net, and it has taken three penalties to prove that he has a potent and accurate left foot that can hammer the ball between the posts.

I am told that Mauricio Pochettino has had several quiet one-to-one chats with Vincent, assuring him that he has his full trust and that he must continue to play his natural game and not let his lack of goals weigh on him.

If ever Vincent needs a starry starry night as a Lilywhite it is at Wembley on Wednesday, when Spurs face the first of what could prove two of the most vital matches of the season.

First come Bayer Leverkusen in the Champions League, and then on Sunday the great North London Derby at the Emirates that has title race written all over it.

The Slow-Flying Dutchman needs to make us stop mentioning him and Bobby Soldado in the same breath. We all loved Bobby, but he was too often a constipated Spaniard in the works, failing to find the net after doing all the right things in the approach play.

Janssen is like a throw back to a Scottish striker of the 70s and 80s called John O’Hare, who older readers may remember continually bulged the net for Cloughie’s Derby County and Nottingham Forest sides. He was similar in physique and style, built like a brick outhouse and able to torment defenders with his holding play, clever turns when in possession and determined and intelligent running off the ball.

Like Vincent, he was not the quickest thing on two feet, but he could bring team-mates into play and his positioning made spaces for others to explore and exploit.

Vince can do all these things, and he proved in the Dutch league that – like O’Hare – he can bang the ball into the net. But it has just not been happening for him since he arrived at the Lane after scoring 27 goals in 34 appearances for Alkmaar, drawing comparisons with the prolific Ruud van Nistelrooy.

Janssen’s mother – Annemarie Verstappen – was one of the great heroines of Dutch sport as a world champion swimmer. I just hope he does not sink without trace at Tottenham, where everybody is willing him to start scoring freely.

Harry Kane is on the verge of a comeback after his injury, but he is going to need several games before he can get back into the groove. So we want Vincent firing on all cylinders, not just as a holding player but scoring with the same flair that he consistently showed in Holland. He and Harry could form the sort of twin partnership John O’Hare had with Kevin Hector, and then hopefully the goals will start flowing.

I immaturely lost my rag on line on Saturday with Spurs supporters who were using the word ‘pathetic’ when describing a Tottenham team that is still unbeaten after ten Premier League matches, with five victories and five draws. To describe that as ‘pathetic’ is in itself pathetic.

The only thing missing is goals. Over to you, Vincent! Hillary (I hope) can open the door to the White House in November. You (I hope) can unlock the way to goal

One thing we learned against Leicester – as webmaster Paul Smith’s match report exposes – is that the Tottenham squad is still one or two top-quality players short, and this must be addressed in the January transfer window if Spurs want to be taken seriously as challengers for the major prizes.

The bench looked lightweight with Toby and Harry injured, Lamela unwell and Sissoko banned, and it was not until late in the game that Pochettino turned to the pace of Nkoudou to bring fire and width to the attack.

It will be fascinating to see the team Mauricio selects against Leverkusen, a match for which I understand Lamela will be fit. Erik’s father and agent is close to agreeing a new contract for Coco to remain at the Lane. We should be keeping our fingers crossed for that to happen instead of knocking an artist who any of the Tottenham players will tell you is one of the most skilful in the Premier League.

One thing for certain, Erik's new contract will bring him a fraction of the eye-watering £600,000 a week that has been negotiated for ex-Spur Gareth Bale at Real Madrid.

That is crazy money, but good luck to Gareth who is laughing all the way to the bank. I wonder if the groans that used to greet the announcement of his name in his early barren years at Tottenham still echo in his ears at a time when he was considered a jinx player after going 24 games without a win in a Lilywhite shirt. (Ed:- I personally do not remember Bale’s name ever being greeted by dissent from Spurs fans)

It will be incentive for the likes of Lamela and Janssen to show they can overcome the doubters, and hopefully everybody gives 100 per cent support to the team as we come into the hugely challenging month of November.

I repeat my rallying call: Get behind Pochettino and the team, not in its way.


Spurs Odyssey Quiz League, week 12

The Spurs Odyssey Quiz League

This week’s mystery player:

“Born in Hertfordshire, I played for Tottenham in both 1982 FA Cup final matches and won 25 caps. Who am I and to which League club did I move in 1984?”

Email your answers, please, to SOQL12@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 eleventh teaser was:

“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?”

You were nearly all correct by naming Jersey-born Chris Jones, who when first arriving at the Lane was made to feel at home by old hero Len Duquemin, the first Channel Islander to make an impact with Spurs. He was from Guernsey, and some of you may remember him as the landlord at the Haunch of Venison in Cheshunt. Len, the battering ram goal striker of the Push and Run team, passed on in 2003, aged 78. Chris has been heavily involved in youth football both in Jersey and Kent since winding down his playing career with Orient in 1986.

First name drawn at random from the correct answers is George Renton from Gateshead, who has been a Spurs supporter since the Gazza days. I will be emailing George 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!

The "Giller Index" - listing all Norman's articles for Spurs Odyssey

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