NORMAN GILLER’S SPURS ODYSSEY BLOG No 262
Submitted by Norman Giller
It was almost disrespectful to Bill Nicholson’s memory for Tottenham to surrender their place in two cup competitions either side of what would have been his 100th birthday. The League Cup semi-final exit against Chelsea was, at least, gallant. The FA Cup defeat by Crystal Palace yesterday was self inflicted.
Our guru Paul H. Smith gives the gory details here of a 2-0 surrender that was signalled almost as soon as the teams were announced. You cannot go into the competitive den that is Selhurst Park with your reserves.
Like so many foreign managers who come into our narrow little football world, Mauricio Pochettino does not understand the carved-into-our-hearts tradition of the FA Cup.
The world’s oldest cup competition deserves full respect, and any Spurs supporter will tell you it means a lot to them in memories and status. But the fact that Mauricio, already with a squad decimated by injuries to the three top scorers, elected to give both Christian Eriksen and Toby Alderweireld the day off because they were “tired” proves he does not have our feel for the FA Cup and all it stands for.
Pochettino has his priorities, and that is his prerogative. But for older Spurs fans the FA Cup will always have a touch of magic about it. Now Spurs must go deep into the Champions’ League race or definitely finish in the top four in the Premier League for this to be remembered as a successful season. It has been hugely devalued in the last four days.
As Spurs aficionado Kev Breslin pointed out on line, it was deja vu for Spurs and also for me. He reproduced a cutting from his 1970 scrapbook featuring my match report for the Daily Express on Tottenham’s 1-0 FA Cup exit against Palace at Selhurst Park almost 39 years ago to the day.. Gerry Queen scored the only goal.
That sparked a crisis at Spurs that saw legendary players Jimmy Greaves, Alan Gilzean, Cyril Knowles and Steve Perryman dropped, and eventually Greavsie leave for West Ham after what was to prove his last first-team game for Tottenham. (Ed:- See my Crystal Palace preview for an account of this event)
The fall-out from yesterday’s debacle will not be so dramatic, but I am sure Poch will be reading the riot act about conceding unnecessary hand balls and not being careless from the penalty spot.
Suddenly, from competing on four fronts, we are down to two, and they are the competitions that mean most to Pochettino – the Champions’ League and the Premier League.
Many fans are calling for investment in the transfer market even at this late stage in the January window if Spurs are to have a squad with the in-depth strength necessary to challenge for two major titles that, let’s be honest, seem beyond Tottenham’s reach.
First things first, Spurs must get back on their toes for Wednesday’s League match against Watford, followed on Saturday by another game at Wembley against Newcastle. Six points have to be the target.
I can see Spurs finishing up with battling just for a top four place to guarantee Tottenham having Champions’ League football at the new stadium next season. Suddenly we are biting our nails down to the elbow.
Centenarian Bill Nicholson will be turning in his grave.
Question No 24 in this 2018-19 SOQL season:
Which Islington-born defender played in both legs of a Uefa Cup final for Spurs, and which London club did he join after appearing in more than 300 matches for Tottenham?
Please email your answer to me at SOQL23@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 won 52 caps, has played for a Scottish team and from which club did he join Spurs?
Most of you were right to name Victor Wanyama, who like Toby Alderweireld followed Pochettino from Southampton. It was good to see him back in action yesterday, even though it was not a happy return to the first-team after injury.
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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