NORMAN GILLER’S SPURS ODYSSEY BLOG No 172
Submitted by Norman Giller
Football has been my mistress for 70 years, and she always knows how to hurt and humble me just when I feel I have her under control. This past weekend has been as bad as it gets, and I wonder if the time has come to walk away from her and find something else to tease and tantalise me.
The FA Cup semi-final defeat by Chelsea I could just about take, but what wrecks my appetite is people playing the blame game rather than accepting that the rouble boys from the Bridge won because of the oldest adage in football: “It’s goals that count.”
To pick on Mauricio Pochettino and his team selection – as many did, including our webmaster Paul Smith here in his match report – is putting the boot in on the man mainly responsible for getting us to the semi-final in the first place.
It is no secret that Mauricio is on the ‘much admired’ list of several major clubs. I would hate our own fans to make him think perhaps he would be better off chasing silverware at a club where he is appreciated, and not only in victory.
Then, to make my misery complete, the Woolwich Nomads go and clinch a place in the FA Cup final with their extra-time victory over favourites Manchester City. I’m sure the Great Scriptwriter in the Sky is preparing a storyline that gives Arsenal the Cup again and makes them mess up our race for the championship in next Sunday’s vital NLD. It’s the Wenger factor. Never ever count that man out. He’s made more comebacks than Frank Sinatra and is still not ready for his curtain call.
Back to our semi-final nightmare. Was Pochettino wrong in playing Son Heung-min at wing-back? Possibly. But I am sure if you spoke face to face with Mauricio he would give an explanation for his selection that makes complete sense.
I can promise you his thinking was not, “Oh I know, let me weaken the team by playing Son out of position.” He would have thought it through and will have been convinced he was making the right decision.
And all we amateur selectors would have nodded that, as usual, he knew what he was talking about.
I heard on the gossip vine that the obvious choice Ben Davies had been below par during the week. Whether that is true does not matter. What matters is that Pochettino had his reasons for playing Son at wing-back, and if we really mean it when we say ‘in Poch we trust’ then we have to go along with his judgement.
To pitch into Pochettino with abusive criticism – Paul Smith did not sink to that level – starts to spread a mood of pessimism and negativity when there is still everything to play for in this extraordinary season. So many couch coaches have 20/20 hindsight, and think because they win their computer games are better able to manage than Mauricio.
Seven successive semi-final defeats is a record of failure that leaves us with a king-size complex, and just as bad are the growing murmurs that Wembley has become some sort of hoodoo ground. Perhaps we will be better off next season playing our home matches at Orient’s Brisbane Road, and that is a joke by the way.
Once the pain of Saturday’s defeat wears off, we will recognise that this was one of the great FA Cup semi-finals and Spurs did not deserve to come second. Eleven corners to one told the story of Tottenham’s territorial superiority, and some of our sweeping movements were exceptional.
Christian Eriksen’s delivery for Dele Alli's goal was a candidate for Pass of the Season, and some of Mousa Dembele’s midfield choreography was out of his dance master class. And on a happy note, well done Dele in winning the Young Footballer of the Year award. Now onwards and upwards.
Now everybody has to pull themselves together as Tottenham continue the chase for the Premier League title in Chelsea’s slipstream. The No 1 prize is still just about within reach provided the King’s Road crew stumble on the run-in.
We must all get behind Pochettino, starting against Palace at Selhurst Park on Wednesday and then next Sunday with the last ever North London Derby at the Lane. Here is what is left of the Premier League campaign:
Wednesday: Crystal Palace, away 8.00
Sunday, April 30: Arsenal, home 4.30
Friday, May 5: West Ham, away 8.00
Sunday, May 14: Man United, home 4.30
Thursday, May 18: Leicester, away 7.45
Sunday, May 21: Hull City, away 3.00
Oh yes, and the FA Cup final is set for Wembley on Saturday May 27. The fact that it includes the Woolwich Nomads proves that my life-long mistress can be cruel beyond imagination.
Please don’t just skip the following item …
I have managed to persuade just six Spurs Odyssey followers to buy the SPURS ’67 book that tells the story of a Tottenham victory over Chelsea in the first Cockney FA Cup Final at Wembley in 1967.
All profits are going to the Tottenham Tribute Trust that helps our old heroes who have hit difficult times. So far I have raised just over £2,000 to go into the Fund, which is very disappointing. I am sure you will want to get behind this great cause. The Trust helps players pay for operations and medical care, the price they pay for the entertainment they gave us in the summertime of their lives.
You can order a signed copy here http://www.normangillerbooks.com/spurs-67/4554925859. It is the perfect present for Dads and (definitely) Granddads, who remember the days when Spurs were FA Cup kings.
Please reach into your Spurs soul (and pocket) and help our old heroes. Thank you.
Spurs Odyssey Quiz League, week 36
Spurs Odyssey Quiz League, week 36
This week’s mystery player:
“I won 24 international caps and David Pleat signed me for Spurs from Aston Villa. Who am I and against which team did I score two goals for Tottenham in an FA Cup semi-final?”
Email your answers, please, to SOQL36@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 35th teaser was:
“I have won 12 international caps and joined Spurs from Valencia for a then club record £26m. Who am I and against which team did I score a match-winning penalty in my Spurs debut in 2013?”
A maximum three points in the SOQL table to those who answered Roberto Soldado, who scored against Crystal Palace in his Tottenham debut. He was a crowd favourite but his shooting boots continually turned to cement when he was in the penalty area.
First name drawn at random from the correct answers is Jim McDonald, from Edinburgh, who has been a Spurs supporter “from the great days of my all-time idol Dave Mackay.” I will be emailing Jim 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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