NORMAN GILLER’S SPURS ODYSSEY BLOG No 152
Submitted by Norman Giller
Christmas is around the corner and for the first time this season we are discussing a defeat in the Premier League. Judging by the reaction to Chelsea proving a Bridge too far for the umpteenth time you would think Spurs were on the point of relegation and all the promise of recent months was a mirage.
This old hack can remember much more harrowing times, and I feel Mauricio Pochettino’s toughest job is going to be to pump confidence into players who could easily become affected by the pessimism of many of their supporters.
There were several threads and forums on line during the weekend discussing whether Pochettino is the right man to take Tottenham into tomorrow’s world at their state-of-the-art new ground.
How fickle and forgetful can you get! This is the same bright young manager who was being hailed as a hero just a short while ago, and praised throughout the game for the way he had made his boyish squad – Poch’s Pups – into one of the most attractive and powerful teams in the land.
Now the couch coaches who think playing Football Manager on their computer qualifies them to be tacticians are pulling his theories and selections apart.
Read our webmaster Paul Smith’s match report here and you will get confirmation that Spurs were exceptional in the first half against Chelsea, playing the sort of football that those with faith will hope for throughout the rest of the season.
It took all the REAL tactical knowledge of the theatrical Antonio Conte to change the course of the game in the second-half, when Spurs suddenly felt the loss of class defenders Toby Alderweireld and Danny Rose.
I thought it was one of Tottenham’s most impressive performances of the season against the form team that thoroughly deserve their place at the top of the table. With Eden Hazard back to his brilliant best, they can take any defence to the cleaners. Oh how I wish he was among the Belgian contingent at the Lane.
Poch’s Spurs are a work in progress, while Chelsea are nearer the finished article after last season’s hiccup.
It seems that some people have forgotten how to watch both teams in a match. They are so one eyed they could not see that Chelsea were simply the better side in the second-half, and last week in the Champions’ League few gave proper acknowledgement to the attacking brilliance of Monaco, who could cause big shocks in the final stages of the tournament.
I would like to see Nkoudou start against Swansea on Saturday. His pace and trickery could cause problems against a Swans defence that seems brittle under pressure, but I will go along with whatever team Pochettino decides to put out. He is the man who knows the moods, fitness and attitude of his players, and I would not presume to have better knowledge than the former Argentine international.
Four days later comes the final Champions’ League showdown against CSKA Moscow at Wembley, and I have actually heard some Spurs fans hoping for a defeat rather than have a return to Thursday night Europa League football.
These people should get a grip. How many clubs in the country can only dream of these European adventures?
Call me old fashioned, but I like to see Spurs involved in as many competitions as possible.
My message to all Tottenham fans is: Pursue positivity for Pochettino and his players rather than bury them in a pit of pessimism.
And the message from Mauricio himself is even more meaningful. He said after the Chelsea match: “We need to be calm. It’s true we’re out of the Champions League and that was tough. But the way we’re competing, it’s one defeat after 13 games and we’re in a good position in the Premier League. Why be worried? I think we sometimes make problems bigger. We need to stay calm because the answer of the team was fantastic today.”
Spurs Odyssey Quiz League, week 16
This week’s mystery player:
“I have won 97 international caps and joined Tottenham as a midfielder from Wigan. Who am I and for which club did I sign in 2011?”
Email your answers, please, to SOQL16@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 15th teaser was:
“I have won 58 international caps, and made my League debut as a winger with Peterborough in 1997. Who am I and which manager sold me from Spurs to Everton?”
Yes, the Welsh international Simon Davies, who was sold to Everton by Martin Jol. A skilful and thoughtful player, Simon was handicapped by a run of injury problems and did not have the happiest of times at Tottenham.
First name drawn at random from the correct answers is Brian Parker, a North Londoner now living in retirement in Cornwall. He has been a Spurs supporter since the late 1950s. I will be emailing Brian a screen version of one of my Tottenham-themed books.
Incidentally, my apologies to Mike Murning, who was last week’s winner from Johannesburg. I managed to call him Jim, further proof that I have reached that age when I don’t even know my own name. But I DO know that Tottenham are having a fair old season despite all the dismal Johnnies. Or should that be Jimmys?
As regular contestants will know, the SOQL 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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