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Norman Giller's Spurs Odyssey Blog (No. 274) (22.04.19)

NORMAN GILLER’S SPURS ODYSSEY BLOG No 274
Submitted by Norman Giller

Pochettino must clean Ajax from the mind

Somehow, Mauricio Pochettino must morph into a sort of Svengali and erase all thoughts of the Champions’ League semi-final against Ajax from the minds of his players. He has to convince them that the next two Premier League matches are the most important fixtures of the season.

First up, Brighton tomorrow and followed by West Ham on Saturday, both games at the new Lane where Spurs have yet to concede a goal or fail to win a match. Okay, that’s only three matches, but it’s a huge psychological factor at this business end of an extraordinary campaign when a top 4 finish for Spurs is imperative..

I am still tingling from last Wednesday’s breath-taking, unbelievable quarter-final showdown with Manchester City. If I live to be 100 (and I’m nearly there :-) I am sure I will never see another match quite like it. I gladly accepted the triumph as a 79th birthday present. Thank you Spurs (and VAR) for making an old man very happy..

It was one of the most astonishing (and heart-stopping) games I've witnessed in more than 70 years watching the Beautiful Game. Saturday’s Premier League showdown could only be an anticlimax, and our lads walked away with their heads held high knowing that not once in the three-match serial were they ever outclassed by moneybags City, as our guru Paul H. Smith confirms here.

Now Pochettino’s Limping Army must give full focus to taking maximum points from their home encounters with Brighton and the Hammers. Then, and only then, can they give concentration to an Ajax semi-final that is the biggest date in Tottenham’s history since those of us of a certain vintage saw Super Spurs pipped by Benfica in the 1962 European Cup semi-final.

To this day, my old mucker Jimmy Greaves insists he was robbed by the referee of two goals in the two legs against the eventual champions, who went on to retain their title by beating mighty Real Madrid in the final.

I wonder how many know just how strong Tottenham links are with Ajax, not least them being the ‘Yids’ of Holland and three of our key players – Christian Eriksen, Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld – having first made their names at the Amsterdam club.

It was Jack Kirwan, who played in Spurs' famous 1901 FA Cup win and kept the match ball till his dying day, who was the first professional manager at Ajax and he took the Tottenham way of playing the game to Holland in their formative years. Then another former Tottenham stylist, Vic Buckingham, carried the pollen of Arthur Rowe’s push and run to Ajax and coached young players like Johan Cruyff and Johan Neeskens before moving on to Barcelona and introducing Tottenham’s give-it-and-go tradition.

Vic was a flamboyant, large-than-life character whose playing career with Spurs bridged the War. His greatest days came as a distinguished manager as he spread the gospel of push and run across Europe.

It’s 1949 and master tactician Arthur Rowe swaps ideas with Vic Buckingham before his switch to management

It’s 1949 and master tactician Arthur Rowe swaps ideas with Vic Buckingham before his switch to management

He was a man of great style that was mirrored in the smooth way that his teams played, and he turned any ground where he lay his manager’s jaunty hat into a footballing palace. A Buckingham palace.

His greatest achievement in domestic football was to steer West Bromwich Albion to the FA Cup in 1954. The Baggies finished runners-up in the First Division, narrowly missing the League and Cup Double. Buckingham’s sides always played the Spurs way, with neat, along-the-ground passing and with the emphasis on method over muscle.

He started his coaching career in charge of the great Oxbridge amateur team Pegasus, as good if not better than most professional teams in the mid to late 1950s. Before an FA Amateur Cup final against Bishop Auckland in front of a capacity 100,000 crowd at Wembley, Buckingham received a telegram from Arthur Rowe: “Make it simple, make it quick.” It was the Spurs way.

The exceptional Ajax side of the ‘70s, propelled by the passes of Neeskens and the finishing finesse of Cruyff, played a Total Football style that had push and run at its heart, and it will be fascinating to see if the tradition remains when they face today’s Tottenham over two crucial legs.

But first there are two Premier League assignments that take priority, starting tomorrow with Brighton. Pochettino must get his fit players and the walking wounded all singing from the same song sheet …"Oh when the Spurs go marching in …"

We’re back to the Glory Glory days! COYS.


Spurs Odyssey Quiz League

Question No 36 in this 2018-19 SOQL season, the last one before the dreaded decider – based on opinion rather than fact – to break the log jam at the top of the table:

Who played 200 times for Tottenham, was signed by Martin Jol before joining QPR on loan, and with which country (not of his birth) did he win 24 caps?

Please email your answer to me at SOQL36@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 is the Geordie who started and finished his playing career in Wales, netted 48 League goals for Spurs and against which team did he score two League Cup quarter-final goals?

All the leaders in the SOQL title race came up with the right answer: Newcastle-born, Welsh-raised Chris Armstrong, whose two goals against Manchester United lifted Tottenham into the 1998-99 League Cup semi-final.

Please, when responding this week, tell me how many points you have amassed to see if it tallies with my records. Maximum points to date: 105.

Thank you for taking part. See you back here same time, same place next week. COYS!

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

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