NORMAN GILLER’S SPURS ODYSSEY BLOG No 291
Submitted by Norman Giller
I will be astonished if Son Heung-min plays against Red Star in Belgrade on Wednesday after the freak, horrifying incident that led to him being sent off against Everton at Goodison yesterday. Ed:- (Overturned on appeal by The Premier League)
In more than 70 years watching football I have never seen a footballer so distraught as Sonny, when his reckless tackle was partly to blame for Portuguese international striker Andre Gomes fracturing an ankle.
Gomes caught his studs in the turf as Serge Aurier also challenged to double the impact. It was so horrific that Sky Sports wisely decided not to show action replays, but the way other players reacted quickly signalled that this was a career-threatening injury.
Our guru Paul H. Smith gives his eye witness account of the ghastly moment HERE. It threw a dark shadow over a match in which Spurs – without virus-hit Harry Kane – dug deep to try to get their first away Premier League victory since far-off January.
Dele Alli had lifted our spirits with a superbly taken goal in his old flamboyant style to give Tottenham a 63rd minute lead after a goalless first-half that reflected the lack of confidence and inspiration of both sides.
Six minutes later hero Dele feared he may have become the villain as VAR was summoned to check whether he had handled the ball in the Everton box. After a ridiculously long investigation he was found not guilty, but by then the frustrated Goodison crowd – kept in the dark – had been reduced to screaming insults at the time it had taken.
The officials should study just two action replays and if it is not beyond reasonable doubt dismiss the challenge. There were two other incidents in both penalty areas when VAR was consulted on disputed tackles. The system is being abused rather than used intelligently, and it is leaving a scar on the face of the Beautiful Game.
Most important of all, the paying spectators must be informed throughout the judging procedure exactly what is going on, as happens in rugby matches. I would also like to see the ‘intentional’ word restored to the handball rule. If the ball did brush Alli’s arm – and nobody was totally convinced – we could all see he definitely didn’t do it on purpose. Another thing – bring in an experienced former player to sit alongside the referee in charge of the judging team. He would know how to instinctively read the situation.
Dele was clearly relieved and gave a wonderfully eloquent interview after the dramatic match, responding firmly when the Sky Sports interviewer asked him if he had been concerned by the criticism he had been receiving. He said:
“When certain people say something, it really hurts, when other people say things it’s in one ear and out of the other. But coming from League One to the Premier League, you have to have a strong mentality and I’ll keep showing that.
“I accept I didn’t have a great season last season, I had injuries, but I’ll put that behind me. I didn’t play well against Liverpool but in other games I have.
“I don’t want to get back to where I was, I want to surpass that. Some people say things not to help, just to say it for the sake of it. My manager, team-mates and family, I’ll keep listening to them.”
Asked about the incident involving Sonny, he responded:
“It’s not nice, I didn’t want to look too much at what happened but I just want to send him (Gomes) our best wishes. He is an amazing footballer.
“I just went into the changing-room and he [Son Heung-min] is devastated. He is in tears but it’s not his fault. He is one of the nicest people you will ever meet and he would never mean to do something like that.
“He cannot even pick his head up, he is crying that much. It does play on your mind but you have to stay professional, focused and switched on. Unfortunately we switched off for a split second and they scored. But there are a lot of positives to take from the game and that is what we must concentrate on.”
There were many people who considered Sonny should not have been sent off, but the law clearly states that you cannot tackle from behind. Only he knows if he was still seeing red after being elbowed by Gomes two minutes earlier. Then he saw real red when Martin Atkinson pocketed an initially intended yellow and brought out the ‘off’ card.
My sympathy is with Sonny, who we all know is not a physically nasty player, but even more so with Gomes, who will do well to make a comeback from his awful injury.
Now manager Mauricio Pochettino must try to get Sonny mentally right for Wednesday’s Champions’ League match, while also worrying whether Our Harry has recovered from his family illness.
Poch will have to become a psychiatrist, but I think Sonny will choose to sit this one out. He needs careful observation.
A scrappy game that would quickly have been forgotten is now seared into the memory, particularly that of Sonny who is certain to receive specialised counselling. It’s a cruel old game.
Question No 14 in this 2019-20 SOQL season:
Who has captained Spurs, won 50 international caps, once played for Viborg in Denmark and from which club did he join Tottenham in 2014?
Please email your answer to me at SOQL14@normangillerbooks.com. Deadline: midnight this Friday. I will respond to all who take part.
The rules are the same as in previous seasons. I ask a two-pronged question with three points at stake. In the closing weeks of the competition I break the logjam of all-knowing Spurs-history experts with a tie-breaking poser that is based on opinion rather than fact.
Last week’s SOQL question: Who won 63 international caps, scored in the 1982 World Cup finals and which Tottenham manager sold him to Watford?
The answer: Gerry Armstrong, who was sold to Watford before representing Northern Ireland in the 1982 World Cup finals by the ever-popular Keith Birkinshaw.
This year’s prizes for the champion: a Harry Kane framed and signed photo, two books from my Spurs collection with autographs from Jimmy Greaves, Steve Perryman and Dave Mackay, and, most important of all, a framed certificate announcing the winner as SOQL champion.
You will be better informed if you buy my SHOOTING SPURS book that features every player who has scored 50 or more goals for Tottenham since the club was formed in 1882, with special in-depth features on Jimmy Greaves and Harry Kane, plus focus on exceptional managers John Cameron, Arthur Rowe, Bill Nicholson and current master, Mauricio Pochettino.
Cliff ‘159 goals’ Jones has provided the introduction, and profits go to the Tottenham Tribute Trust to help our old heroes who missed the gravy train and now have to pay medical and care bills.
It costs just £9.99 and I will send a signed copy to anybody buying direct from me at www.normangillerbooks.com. There is also a screen version for £4.99.
I hope you will support this great cause.
See you back here same time, same place next week. COYS!
Top of page | Spurs Odyssey Home Page