NORMAN GILLER’S SPURS ODYSSEY BLOG No 153
Submitted by Norman Giller
Dele Alli, one of the most gifted home-grown footballers to emerge in recent years, is the talk of football for all the wrong reasons following Tottenham’s emphatic 5-0 thumping of sub-standard Swansea. Let’s face it, the Swans were very ugly ducklings, but even uglier was Alli’s dying swan act that conned referee Jon Moss into awarding Spurs the penalty that gave Spurs a grip on the match.
Old hack moan alert: I am from the traditional school that believes in winning fairly and squarely. Cheating has never been and must never be the Spurs way. The ultra competitive players like Mackay, Mullery, Perryman and Ledley King would go to extremes to win a match but always within the laws of the game.
I am hoping that Mauricio Pochettino plans to have a quiet word in Alli’s shell-like advising him to leave the theatrics to the thespians. My concern is that he is going to become a marked man as more accomplished cheats make him the target for red cards, but MoPo seems unperturbed by the incident.
The Alli dive against Swansea has got such magnified attention on TV and the social network that he will come under close scrutiny of all referees, and you can bet your boots we will now see legitimate penalty and free-kick claims dismissed simply because of his reputation.
Those arguing the case for the persecution of the critics of Alli should stop and ask themselves how they would have reacted had that penalty been given against Spurs because of an obvious dive by a Swansea player. There would have been a lynch mob wanting to hang Mr Moss from the crossbar.
Our webmaster Paul Smith’s match report here tells us all we need to know about Tottenham’s total dominance on Saturday, and it just did not need any contempt of the rules to get the better of a Swansea side that will need a miracle to avoid the drop.
In a relaxed mood after the thumping victory over Swansea, Pochettino explained that he did not have a good view of the Alli incident. “Dele is how he is,” he said with a Latin shrug. “I didn't talk with him and I need to speak with him to know what happened in that situation.
"Maybe he will say, 'okay I fell down but I didn't mean to dive but the referee believed it was a penalty', or it wasn't his intention, but it's difficult now.”
There was a time when diving was considered exclusive to foreign players but Pochettino could not help smiling when recalling his alleged foul on Michael Owen at the 2002 World Cup, which gave England a crucial penalty against Argentina.
"It was 15 years ago when Owen dived," said the man who did not believe in taking prisoners when an iron-hard defender. "Don't believe that English football is fair play always, because Owen jumped like he was in a swimming pool. Come on. I didn't touch him. I promise you. It's true.
"I think today football is more global. England is more like European football. Now we have the influence of the Latin people that try to cheat always.
"Maybe you were more pure here in England 20, 25, 30 years ago. Now you are like us.”
I can tell Mauricio that there were con men operating in our game more than 50 years ago. Back in the 60s and 70s I was right at the heart of the football scene as a reporter when there was an unofficial cheats charter. That was when Leeds kicked anything that moved, and Francis Lee at Man City earned the nickname Won Pen Lee as he conned a procession of referees with his cleverly disguised diving.
Possibly I am out of step with modern football, but I just hope that Alli will be persuaded to beat opponents with his skill rather than by cheating. I am old fashioned enough to think that cheats never prosper.
Now we come to Wednesday’s hollow showdown with CSKA Moscow at Wembley, with apparent mixed feelings on how seriously to approach the game. We need only a point to take us into what has become the Marmite Cup, the Europa League that some see as an unwanted encumbrance.
I am in the camp that believes being IN the Europa League is a far more compelling prospect than on the outside looking on. Let me quote the saintly ‘Sir’ Bill Nicholson: “If you’re not in Europe, you are nothing … nothing.”
It’s almost as if we need a Brexit-style Referendum. Those in favour of staying in European football raise your hands. Hopefully a forest of hands will go up among wise Spurs Odyssey readers.
I bet Mauricio will lose sleep worrying about which team to select against the Russians. He will have one eye on Sunday’s crucial game at Old Trafford, and wondering just when to relaunch Toby after his knee injury.
Whatever he decides, I hope we win fair and square.
COMMERCIAL BREAK TIME! I hope you have on your Christmas wish list my two books for the price of one: Headlines and Deadlines All My Life, plus July 30 1966, Football’s Longest Day.
They are the stories of my adventures as a globetrotting sportswriter and working with the likes of Muhammad Ali and Eric Morecambe, and an hour-by-hour reconstruction of the greatest day in English football history, when I was the only reporter to get into the England dressing-room after the 1966 World Cup win. Lots of Spurs interest with the drama involving Jimmy Greaves and another Tottenham legend, Alf Ramsey.
Both books are available post-free and for the price of one here: http://www.normangillerbooks.com/the-bung/4591562026.
Spurs Odyssey Quiz League, week 17
This week’s mystery player:
“I scored 63 goals in 197 games for Spurs, 29 in 23 international appearances and captained two Olympic winning teams. With which club was I a player when wartime injuries hurried my retirement?”
Email your answers, please, to SOQL17@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 16th teaser was:
“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?”
All of you got this one right, Wilson Palacios, who moved on to Stoke. He was combative in the mould of Victor Wanyama but not quite so commanding as the Kenyan warrior. Wilson lost a lot of his competitive appetite following the kidnapping and murder of his 14-year-old brother at home in Honduras. He is now winding down his playing career in the North American Soccer League.
First name drawn at random from the correct answers is Pete Woodhams, who lives in Poole and has been a dedicated follower of Tottenham since 1962. I will be emailing Pete a screen version of one of my Tottenham-themed books.
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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