NORMAN GILLER’S SPURS ODYSSEY BLOG No 115
Submitted by Norman Giller
"Howay the lads!"
Howay the lads. Today, just today, we are all Newcastle United fans, and we are desperate for new Tyneside boss Rafa Benitez to get off to a winning start against the Leicester City fairytale team who stand between Tottenham and, gulp, the Premier League title.
Am I really typing that, or have I overdosed on my medication? Just imagine if Newcastle can win at the King Power stadium this evening. Leicester will then lead Tottenham by only two points with just eight Premier League matches to go to the end of this topsy-turvy season.
It’s the best chance Spurs have had of capturing the championship since the Premier League was born in 1992-93, and it would end a 55-year wait since Bill Nicholson’s Double team collected the title. Even I was young then. Make us sing a happy toon, Rafa.
As we approach the Ides of March, a stab in the back is on the cards. Can Rafa stick the knife into the Italian charmer Claudio Ranieri?
Then Spurs could get ideas of marching on the path to title glory.
Ok, back to sanity. Perhaps we should beware the ideas of March and concentrate on a game at a time, starting with the return leg of the Europa League tie against Borussia Dortmund on Thursday.
I was disappointed to find even our beloved Spurs Odyssey guru Paul Smith joining in the condemnation of Mauricio Pochettino’s team selection last week. (Ed: and the Spurs Odyssey survey voters!)
We MUST give Pochettino our full trust. He would have had good reasons for his selections and we should go along with them in the respectful acceptance that he knows best. He took brutal criticism on line and from the discerning Mr Robbie Savage on TV for his choice of players.
It was in my opinion totally irresponsible of BT’s co-commentator Mr Savage to continually carry on about: “If I was a Spurs supporter I would be disgusted that he has picked this second rate team …” (Ed: I was and a I paid a few bob for the privilege of watching them in Germany!)
It’s his job to find out WHY Pochettino chose to pick that side, and I am sure he would have come up with perfectly valid reasons.
Mr Savage’s performances as a player are too fresh in the memory for his tactical views to be taken seriously. Pochettino was twice as good a player, and he didn’t take prisoners either.
I am firmly of the opinion that if Poch had put out what he considers his strongest XI they would still have taken a pounding against one of the best club teams these old eyes of mine have seen in recent years.
Imagine what that would have done to our confidence. At least we can still look the German giants in the face and say with a shrug that they only beat our reserves.
But secretly, you know and I know that Borussia would have taken our best side apart.
Now we go into the second leg with pride to play for, but knowing the chances of survival are the equivalent of Ted Cruz beating Donald Trump.
I believe Poch will concede this tie by again playing an under-strength side, and putting all his hopes on winning the real Holy Grail, the Premier League title.
That will entail not risking injuries to key men before Sunday’s showdown with in-form Bournemouth.
That means all our egos in one basket.
Howay the lads.
P.s. One word on yesterday’s relatively comfortable victory over easily vanquished Aston Villa: Well done Our Harry for his two goals, but equal praise please for Dele Alli. His two unselfish assists revealed him to be not only a great individualist but also one who is happy to play for the team. What lucky spectators we are.
SPURS ODYSSEY QUIZ LEAGUE, Week 32
Week THIRTY-TWO of our Spurs Odyssey Quiz League, and many of you fell into my trap last week of slipping Martin Jol into the question as a red herring: “I have won 74 international caps and scored six goals, and I played my early games under Martin Jol. Who am I and against which team was I sent off while playing for Spurs in a Europa League quarter-final?”
Understandably, many of you thought I meant when Jolly Jol was manager at Tottenham. But the answer was our great Belgian defender Jan Vertonghen, who was coached by Martin in his early days at Ajax. Naughty Norman! He was, of course, sent off in the Europa League quarter-final against Basel.
This week’s teaser: “I won 119 international caps and was briefly leading goal scorer for Spurs. Who am I and from which Scottish international did I take over my role in the Tottenham team before moving to another London club?”
You get two points for identifying the player, and a bonus point for naming the Scottish international he replaced in the Tottenham team.
Keep a check on your points tally, because the contestant topping the SOQL table at the end of the season will receive a huge, personally autographed photograph of Spurs legend Jimmy Greaves, plus a signed, framed certificate announcing the winner as the 2015-16 Spurs Odyssey Quiz League champion.
PLEASE NOTE that because my server gave me problems for a couple of weeks I failed to receive some SOQL responses, and so I would like you to tell me if you think you have maximum points. I have discovered three contestants not listed in the recent League table who should have been listed among the leaders.
Email your answers, please, to SOQL32@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. Closing date for entries: midnight this Friday.
First name drawn at random from the correct answers last week is Ian Banfield, of Bushey, Herts. I will email a screen version of one of my Tottenham-themed books to Ian, who has been a Spurs follower since the FA Cup winning year of 1967.
Thanks for your company. See you same time, same place next week. COYS!
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