NORMAN GILLER’S SPURS ODYSSEY BLOG No 256
Submitted by Norman Giller
In the week Spurs are geared up for another North London Derby it is difficult to give full attention to the Groundhog Day Uefa Champions’ League draw that has again paired Tottenham with Borussia Dortmund in the last 16. Last season we played the German side in the Group Stage, whilst they eliminated us in the 2015-16 Europa League tie in the Round of 16.
But take it from me, it is the Borussia challenge that will be occupying Mauricio Pochettino’s thoughts, even as he prepares for Wednesday’s visit to the Emirates in the quarter-final of the League Cup.
The Champions’ League trophy is No 1 on his wish list, and he will be plotting for Spurs not to make a Brexit from Europe in Dortmund.
He out-thought and Spurs outfought Borussia in last season’s group stage, but Poch is fully aware that this is a much-improved German side.
They are runaway leaders in the Bundesliga, unbeaten with 12 wins and three draws from their 15 matches. Borussia will have the advantage of enjoying a mid-winter break before coming to London for a possible baptism in Tottenham’s much-admired new ground … IF it is ready in time.
Dortmund boast the exciting skills of British-born prodigy Jadon Sancho, who Manchester City managed to let slip through their net. Our England international brigade of Harry Kane, Dele Alli, Danny Rose, Kieran Trippier, Eric Dier and Harry Winks know all about his jet-pace raids and so he will not come as a surprise package.
The first leg of the tie against Borussia will be at home on Wednesday 13th February, with the return at the Westfalenstadion on Tuesday 5th March.
Borussia were level on points with Atletico Madrid in Group A of qualifying, winning four of their six games. They topped the group on goal difference, while Spurs were scrambling qualification with that memorable 1-1 draw in Barcelona.
How ironic and fitting that our Prince of Denmark Christian Eriksen snatched Tottenham’s winning goal against Burnley in the extra minutes added for the Turf Moor side’s frustrating time-wasting tactics, as reported here by our guru Paul H. Smith. It is cheating the paying public and the football authorities should give stern notice that they will heavily fine any team that deliberately holds up play.
The first thing that must go is slow-motion substitutions in the last five minutes, and goalkeepers coming the Joe Hart delaying tricks should be shown a red card.
You wait months for a North London Derby and then two come along at once. It will be fascinating to see the team that Pochettino selects following the recent drubbing at the Emirates.
He will have one eye on Dortmund and avoiding that brexit from Europe.
I had an emotional and rewarding reunion with the legend that is Jimmy Greaves this week. He remains seriously unwell following his stroke, but is surrounded by the love of his family and, in particular, his child bride Irene.
He manages to keep in touch with the sporting scene through long hours of TV watching from his wheelchair, but is happier following cricket and rugby than the football world to which he gave so many magical moments.
Jimmy has met and admires Harry Kane, and would be delighted to see him break all his goal-scoring records. He was` never one for counting his goals because he was too busy scoring them. When I used to tell him he had passed a milestone, he would shrug and say, “It’s what I’m paid for.”
He has no idea of the love and admiration that is out there for him. I have stressed how much he is idolised, particularly by a certain generation who were lucky to see him in flowing action. His long-time manager Terry Baker will be conveying many of the messages left on line to him. I know Jimmy will be grateful but reserved. His next boast will be his first.
I am passing on his best wishes to all supporters everywhere. He can no longer express himself the way he used to, but he is happy he made people happy.
He looks forward to visiting the new stadium at some stage. Spurs must be careful. His disciples will roar the state-of-the-art roof off.
There will never be another like him. King James the First.
Question No 18 in this 2018-19 SOQL season:
Who joined Spurs from Liverpool, played five times for England and with which London club did he make his League debut in 1979?
Please email your answer to me at SOQL18@normangillerbooks.com. Deadline: midnight this Friday. I will respond to all who take part.
This year’s prizes for the champion: A framed Harry Kane autographed picture, two books from my Spurs collection with autographs from Jimmy Greaves, Steve Perryman and Dave Mackay, and (most precious of all) a framed certificate announcing the winner as SOQL champion.
Last week I asked: Who has been capped 84 times, has played in Holland and Spain, and against which team did he score his first goal for Tottenham in a 4-1 victory?
All the main contenders – 60+ of you – got the correct three-point answer: Toby Alderweireld, who scored in the thrilling 4-1 victory over Manchester City. It is strongly tipped that Toby will be going to Manchester next month … to prop up the United defence. We would love to keep him, but he is looking for one more major pay day while he can. Money is the international language that dominates football.
Please keep a check on your scores. I will be trusting you to count your points as I do not have faith in my email server.
Thank you for taking part. See you back here same time, same place next week. Keep the faith. COYS!
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