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Norman Giller's Spurs Odyssey Blog (No. 300) (06.01.20)

NORMAN GILLER’S SPURS ODYSSEY BLOG No 300
Submitted by Norman Giller

The Great Tottenham Hotspur Mystery

Welcome to my 300th Spurs Odyssey blog, and thank you for keeping me company over the past five years of ups, downs, fun, drama and the occasional controversy, when I didn’t know whether I was on my farce or my elbow. I feel it should be Sherlock Holmes creator Arthur Conan Doyle writing this milestone column, because it’s a complete riddle what has happened to Spurs this season. Let’s call it the Great Tottenham Hotspur Mystery.

Spurs survived in the FA Cup at Middlesbrough yesterday by the skin of their teeth, playing like passing strangers and making a mockery of predictions that the trophy is coming to the new Lane. On recent form, they could not win an egg cup.

Anybody who witnessed the team’s demise at Southampton on New Year’s Day will confirm they have come into 2020 totally lacking in perfect vision and blindly stumbling from one crisis to another.

If you put a gun to the head of new manager José Mourinho I am sure he could not name his best Tottenham team. There has rarely been a Mourinho side that has been so slack and slipshod in defence.

One of the many mysteries that even Sherlock Holmes could not fathom is how two of Tottenham’s all-time great defenders – Belgian buddies Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld – have suddenly become leaden footed and bereft of basic ideas about closing down opponents. Hopefully it is a temporary diversion from their usual high standards of penalty area supremacy.

Christian Eriksen, once the great playmaker, labours in midfield like a man in sinking sand who has forgotten how to play the game, and the deliciously talented Dele Alli blows hot and cold as if he is not sure whether he is Our Dele or his less talented brother.

The many hundreds of you, okay dozens … all right, just you dear reader, know that I am usually balanced with my criticism of Spurs and rarely pick on individuals, but the deteriorating performances this season now merit me hitting them with both barrels.

Our guru Paul H. Smith reveals here in his match report that he agrees with my assessment of Spurs, and he shares my concern that unless there is rapid improvement there is more chance of Donald Trump losing his Twitter membership than hope of silverware coming Tottenham’s way this season.

Things were obviously going pear shaped from the first match of the season when ‘golden boy’ Mauricio Pochettino was for an unfathomable reason showing the body language of somebody who wanted to be elsewhere. He had clearly had a breakdown in relations with players running down their contracts. I am sure Sherlock would have deduced the problem as galloping greed in an era when money is the only language footballers and their agents can speak fluently.

Harry Kane’s hamstring injury means Spurs have lost their main marksman, the one player they could count on to keep shooting regardless of the team’s problems.

Now a major goal scorer is a priority for Mourinho before the January transfer window is even half way open. Moura and Son will both run their legs off for the team, but neither is a central striker.

Perhaps the time has come for José to put his trust at the young feet of Troy Parrott. The Irishman learned his football craft on the same Dublin playing fields as Robbie Keane, who scored bucketloads of goals for Spurs and played a big part yesterday in Tottenham’s near downfall as Jonathan Woodgate’s coach at Middlesbrough.

Woodgate and Keane (sounds like an old music hall double act) are guaranteed a warm welcome ‘home’ when they bring ‘Boro to the new Lane next week for a nuisance third round FA Cup replay. Let’s just hope they don’t return to the Riverside Stadium feeling like the Sunshine Boys.

At least we can all catch our breath with an easy match on Saturday, home to runaway Premier League leaders Liverpool!

All we have to do is get the basics right. Elementary, my dear Watson.


Spurs Odyssey Quiz League

Question No 23 in this 2019-20 SOQL season:

Who scored in his Tottenham debut against Liverpool, played in the 2010 World Cup finals but not for the country of his birth, and which former Tottenham player signed him for Norwich City?

Please email your answer to me at SOQL23@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 scored 48 goals in 78 internationals, joined Tottenham from a German club and which national side did he captain from 2006 to 2010?

The answer: Dimitar Berbatov, the master Bulgarian footballer who is the nearest I have seen in style and skill to Alan ‘King of White Hart Lane’ Gilzean.

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!

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