NORMAN GILLER’S SPURS ODYSSEY BLOG No 342
Submitted by Norman Giller
Here we are – Tottenham top of the table – and from the moans and groans on line a lot of Spurs supporters are unhappy with the style in which the team has clambered to the mountain peak. To paraphrase Abraham Lincoln, ‘You can please some of the fans some of the time, but not all of the fans all of the time.’
Let’s be honest, it was not a pretty sight watching Spurs grind out a goalless, soulless draw at Chelsea yesterday. But it’s make your mind up time, folks. Do you want to win (or draw) ugly, or miss out on silverware with smiles on our faces, as has been the story for many seasons now?
There are plenty coming round to the José Mourinho way of thinking and to his first commandment: ‘Thou shalt not get past.’ He wants to see more clean sheets than there are in the Savoy Hotel.
For those of us brought up on the tradition of free-flowing, Spurs-style football, you can forget it while Mourinho is in charge. His impressive CV shows he knows how to win trophies, and it has always been with caution as his watchword.
The muscular game of chess against Chelsea was a hard watch, and I just wonder what we would all have been saying had Blues substitute, Olivier Giroud, beaten his countryman Hugo Lloris in stoppage time. Thank goodness, the ex-Gooner fluffed his chance after one of two errors by new boy Joe Rodon, who otherwise made a solid full Premier League debut alongside the rock-steady Eric Dier. Big Joe had a satisfactory game, brushing off the minor inconvenience of an elbow in the face that left him spitting blood. He’s got the strength and tough mentality of a Welsh second row forward.
Can you imagine how we would have been dancing around our locked-down homes if moments after the Giroud let-off Spurs substitute Giovani Lo Celso had not squandered a gift of a chance to snatch a winner that, in truth, would have been undeserved. Yes, a funny old game.
It was a match that neither team deserved to lose, but only Chelsea were trying to win it. Spurs seemed to settle for a point at half-time.
This is the way we’ve got to expect our football to be played under Mourinho, miserly defensive performances and then striking on the break. The three Cs: Contain, Counter, Conquer.
José has become the crafty old silver fox. Not so much the Special One, as the Cunning One. He shrugged off suggestions of a title challenge after the sterile draw – captured HERE by our Spurs guru Paul H. Smith.
Asked about Tottenham’s chances of winning the championship, he said with tongue buried in his cheek: “We are not even in the race, so we are not a horse. We are just a pony. You see the difference – Joe Rodon was at Swansea ... [whereas Chelsea’s] Thiago Silva is one of the best centre-backs in the world. Maybe a month of Thiago’s salary pays Joe one year of salary. I am happy to report that my players in the dressing-room are not happy with the point. That is what I want to see, my players coming to a place like Stamford Bridge and being upset that they did not get all three points.”
He signed off by saying: “I think Chelsea respected us. I don’t like the word ‘fear.’ Maybe the word is “respect.’” Maybe there was that respect of not wanting to lose. I am very happy with my team and with this mentality that we come here, get a point, go top of the league and we are not happy.”
Well I’ve got news for José, there are a lot of supporters also not happy. They disliked the mass withdrawal in the second half. That is strange to many of us who have never thought of Tottenham as a park-the-bus team.
Think of old wrecks like me who have seen the cream of players like the Push-and-Run masters, the Double team under the wand of Blanchflower, White and Mackay, the Gazzas, the Sheringhams, the Gillys, the Berbatovs and, above all, Greavsie … It is heartbreaking to think we are going to put up shop and pinch points by sweat as much as skill.
Is it all worth it provided we win silverware? Sell our soul to the devil for thirty pieces of silver in the shape of a trophy?
I am being Mr Glum. Sorry. There were good things about the performance, particularly the first-half generalship of Tanguy Ndombele, and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg once again showed he is ready to run and tackle all day in the team cause. What a signing that man is.
So lift your heads everybody. Spurs are on top of the world. Take your seats in José’s parked bus and enjoy the view.
Arsenal at home on Saturday. The wheels seem to have come off their bus. Famous last words?
Contain, counter, conquer. COYS!
Many of you comment on how you like to see the upcoming fixtures listed here (I know, better than my waffling words) … so I will repeat them here every week as we tick off the matches on the way (fingers crossed) to silverware in what is the Centenary of the 1921 FA Cup win, the Platinum celebration of the 1951 Push and Run title, the Diamond Jubilee of the 1961 Double Year, and, of course, Pearl anniversary of the last time Spurs won the FA Cup in 1991.
This is the mountain of fixtures facing Spurs just in December …
Thur 3 Dec Lask (away, 5.55, Europa League)
Sat 5 Dec Arsenal (home, 4.30, Premier League)
Thur 10 Dec Antwerp (home, 8.00, Europa League)
Sun 13 Dec C. Palace (home, 2.15, Premier League)
Wed 16 Dec Liverpool (away, 8.00, Premier League)
Sun 20 Dec Leicester (home, 2.15, Premier League)
Wed 23 Dec Stoke (away, 5.30, League Cup quarter-final)
Sun 27 Dec Wolves (away, 7.15, Premier League)
Wed 30 Dec Fulham (home, 6.00, Premier League)
Wonder if Spurs will still be top of the tree after this little lot? If so, we can then start actually having title dreams. Even José might concede we are in the race. Stay safe. COYS!
The 13th week of season seven of the Spurs Odyssey Quiz League challenge, and the question is:
The rules are the same as in previous seasons. I ask a two-pronged question with three points at stake – two for identifying the player and one for the supplementary question. 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.
This year’s prizes for the champion: a Harry Kane framed and signed photo two, books from my Greavsie 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.
Last week’s SOQL question: Who has won ten international caps, had a loan spell with Cheltenham Town in 2018, and for which player did he come on as a substitute in his Premier League debut for Tottenham at Burnley?
The answer: Joe Rodon, and an injury-time substitute for Son-Heung Min against Burnley. Big Joe made a satisfactory full debut yesterday, brushing off the minor incovenience of an elbow in the face that left him spitting blood. He’s a big, strong boy!
See you back here same time, same place next week. COYS!