NORMAN GILLER’S SPURS ODYSSEY BLOG No 383
Submitted by Norman Giller
Antonio Conte may have banned ketchup for his Tottenham players but he still likes dollops of icing on the Spurs cake … if his reaction to last night’s victory over Leeds is any barometer. I have never seen passion from any previous Spurs manager to match his victory celebrations.
He hugged so many people as the final whistle blew that I felt left out of it, and I was miles away at home behind my sofa breathing huge sighs of relief that at last Tottenham’s goals constipation was over.
Let’s face it, Spurs won ugly but the three points were so precious that we Tottenham disciples welcomed them as if they were the work of a Beethoven or a Banksy. Goodness knows how Antonio will behave if he ever wins silverware with Spurs. I suppose self combustion could be on the cards (and I will blow up with him).
Conte’s passion is just what the doctor ordered. During the brief reigns of Mourinho and Nuno we forgot what it was to jump about and reach for the sky. Now Antonio has got us dancing again … strictly come scoring as he plays catch up after banning the ketchup because his nutritionist advises that it is not good for athletes. What a sauce.
He has even reached the Harry Kane chord. Aitch had no luck yesterday but at least you could see he cared and played with his heart that has seemed elsewhere in recent soulless performances in a Spurs shirt.
Now we want to see him scoring goals again, England-style, starting with Mura on Thursday in the Euro Conference League and then on Sunday at Turf Moor.
Our Spurs guru Paul H. Smith reports on Tottenham’s victory HERE, and will be relieved to have actually had goals to describe after that shot-shy run that was a challenge for any reporter’s vocabulary. There are only so many ways you can write about goalless performances before resorting to obscenities. Paul, of course, never sank to those depths, I swear.
Conte is such a breath of fresh air that he has put a bounce in everybody’s steps, but for all his passion and romanticism he is a realist at heart and knows there are huge changes on the horizon if he is to whip this Tottenham team into trophy-winning mood.
That first-half display was close to appalling, and lively Leeds thoroughly deserved their 1-0 lead at the interval during which Conte worked his magic. He simply instructed his players to match the cramping Leeds man-for-man marking system. Suddenly, it was an even playing field and Spurs dug deep to come from behind to take the spoils.
I know I have been going on about this like a broken record, but Spurs will not challenge for a top four place unless they can find a player who can give the team direction. In my 70-plus years as a Spurs watcher, I have seen the likes of Eddie Baily, Danny Blanchflower, Glenn Hoddle, Van der Vaart, Luka Modric and Christian Eriksen unlocking the way to goal with their precise passing.
Harry Kane is one of the greatest finishers of all time, but even he cannot operate without the ball. Conte knows that his priority is to get a midfield orchestrator into the squad. The January transfer window will be fascinating.
Meantime, the run-up to Christmas does not look that intimidating. We could see lots of Conte dancing on the touchline. Strictly Come Conte …
Tottenham’s matches on the way to the festive holiday …
Mura (away, Euro Conference), Thursday November 25, kick-off 5.45
Burnley (away, Premier League), Sunday November 28, kick-off 2.00
Brentford (home, Premier League), Thursday December 2, kick-off 7.30
Norwich City (home, Premier League), Sunday December 5, kick-off 2.00
Rennes (home, Euro Conference), Thursday December 9, kick-off 8.00
Brighton (away, Premier League), Sunday December 12, kick-off 2.00
Leicester City (away, Premier League), Thursday December 16, kick-off 7.30
Liverpool (home, Premier League), Sunday December 19, kick-off 4.30
West Ham (home, Carabao Cup quarter-final), Wednesday, December 22, kick-off 7.45
Yes, interesting times ahead, friends. In Conte, I trust!
Ps There were two Tottenham winners last night. Adele was a smash hit in An Audience With on ITV. The Tottenham-born songstress would jam-pack the new Lane if she gave a concert at the club she supports. Now that would really bring harmony to Spurs.
The 15th week of season eight of the Spurs Odyssey Quiz League challenge, and the question is:
Who scored two goals against England in a 2008 Euro qualifying match before signing for Tottenham and which team did he join from Spurs in 2012?
Please email your answer to me at email@example.com and make the subject heading Quiz Week 15. Deadline: midnight this Friday. I will do my best to respond to all who take part.
The rules are the same as in the previous seven 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. That’s when I become as popular as Sol Campbell in an Arsenal shirt.
This year’s prizes for the champion: A rare out-of-print book from my now very special Greavsie collection with autographs from the late, great Jimmy Greaves, Dave Mackay and Steve Perryman, and, most important of all, a framed certificate announcing the winner as SOQL champion 2022. Plus a signed copy of My 70 Years of Spurs book AND a special bonus prize, the Eighty At Eighty book that I have written in harness with Sir Geoff Hurst, still the only man to score a World Cup final hat-trick.
Answer to question No 14: Which Yorkshireman has won 65 caps, and for which Midlands club did he score a goal while on loan from Tottenham in 2011?
Kyle Walker, who scored for Aston Villa while on loan at Villa Park.
See you back here same time, same place next week. COYS!
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