NORMAN GILLER’S SPURS ODYSSEY BLOG No 157
Submitted by Norman Giller
Strictly between you, me and the goalpost, I have a strong fancy that Spurs will win the FA Cup as a fitting farewell to their last season at ‘old’ White Hart Lane. I won’t say it too loudly in case I put the mockers on them.
Coming out first and Drawing Wycombe Wanderers at home in the fourth round has strengthened my feeling that this could be Tottenham’s year. It looks easy on paper, but in the FA Cup you never know what is going to happen on the pitch. This is a match that Pochettino's Pups will relish as they try to get silverware to accompany their enormous potential. Only when skipper Hugo Lloris holds up a trophy will they be able to face the ghosts of Tottenham's glory-glory past.
It was 50 years ago that Tottenham won the first Cockney Cup final at Wembley when they beat Chelsea 2-1, and the Mystic Meg bursting to get out of me wonders if we could get a repeat this year.
The game is fresh in my mind because I am currently writing a book about it, with an introduction by Alan Gilzean and Ron ‘Chopper’ Harris. I will be asking you to give me your memories for the book. Watch this space.
Meantime, back in the present, Spurs did what they had to do yesterday against a negative Aston Villa side that parked the bus, and deserved to get clamped. Tottenham did not wake up until Mauricio Pochettino sent on boy-of-the-moment Dele Alli to change the tempo and trajectory of the Spurs attacks. Along with the injection of pace from fleet-of-foot Frenchman Nkoudou, the substitutions made all the difference.
While second-choice full-backs Davies and Trippier were outstanding (they would walk into most Premier League teams), I thought Harry ‘Tiddly’ Winks deserved the man of the match vote. His passing was always accurate and thoughtful, and he played with a maturity beyond his years as he competed for every ball in the congested midfield.
Our webmaster Paul Smith gives his balanced version of the match here, and I did not envy him trying to make any noteworthy comments on a first-half that was about as exciting as a Dispatch Box exchange between Jeremy Corbyn and Theresa May.
The major talking point was yet another goalless contribution from Vincent Janssen, the son of one of Holland’s greatest ever women Olympic swimmers. He is now looking completely out of his depth and in danger of drowning.
I just wonder if Spurs will cut their losses and let him go during the transfer window. His confidence is visibly draining away, and it seems the harder he works the more ponderous he looks. Like Bobby Soldado before him, he has plenty of pluck but very little luck. Perhaps it could all change for the Dutchman against Wycombe?
Nothing would please me more than to see Vincent prove all the critics wrong by showing he can make an impact in English football, but if he struggles against an average Villa defence then the odds seem stacked against him. I bet Our Harry Kane would have collected a bagful of goals if he’d played, but he was busy becoming a father for the first time. Who's the daddy?!
We could see a repeat of the match at the Lane on Saturday when West Brom are the visitors. Miser-of-a-manager Tony Pulis is certain to pull down the shutters, and Mauricio will be putting out his strongest side to try to continue the exciting run that now stretches to six wins, five in the Premier League.
I had to be scraped off the ceiling after watching the dismantling of Chelsea on Wednesday. For me, it was one of the most impressive Tottenham performances of modern times. I felt privileged to be a spectator. Spurs played the game in the right spirit, in the right style and with the right motives.
We’re very lucky. The Mighty MoPo has built a great team ethic, with humour stitched into the foundations. Did you see Dele winding Eric Dier up in the after-match interview?
I recently spent a day with them and Alli is like a terrible two-year-old, full of fun and mischief, the sort you would worry about letting off the reins. But on the football field he is proving himself a master of the game. One of his dummies yesterday, when he didn’t touch the ball, had several Villa defenders having to pay to get back into the ground.
Yes, we’ve very lucky. Enjoy it while we have him. Even I would not be able to turn down a £1-million a week from the Chinese! I would write a Take Away column for them. (“Norm, kindly leave the page …”)
Spurs Odyssey Quiz League, week 21
This week’s mystery player:
“I am one of only nine players to have scored Premier League goals for six different clubs, including Tottenham. I played 23 times for England. Which North-East club did I join from Spurs in 1995?”
Email your answers, please, to SOQL21@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 week.
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 20th teaser was:
“I followed my father as a Spurs first-team player and appeared in more than 100 League and cup matches before joining a Midlands club in 2003. Who am I and for which club did I sign from Tottenham?”
A couple of you tried your luck with Clive Allen (Les Allen), but the answer as most of you said is Stephen Clemence, an accomplished but injury-prone midfielder, and son of former England, Liverpool and Tottenham goalkeeper Ray Clemence. Stephen moved to Birmingham City in 2003, and is back in the Midlands (as we saw yesterday) in the role of coach to Steve Bruce’s Aston Villa. He has another ex-Spur, Colin Calderwood, as his deputy. Steve is a huge admirer of Spurs and wants to introduce Tottenham style and discipline at Villa Park. If you are going to copy, copy the best!
First name drawn at random from the correct answers is George Ellis, an Enfield-born Spurs supporter since the mid-60s and who still follows them from his retirement home in Devonshire. I will be emailing George 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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