NORMAN GILLERíS SPURS ODYSSEY BLOG No 416
Submitted by Norman Giller
It was glory and grief for Tottenham on their day trip to Brighton, and they surfed to victory on a tide of tears. The three points were dedicated to fitness coach Gian Piero Ventrone, whose death from leukaemia on Thursday dropped a huge cloud of gloom on everybody at the club. They had lost a treasured member of their family.
Antonio Conte returns today from Gian Piero's funeral in Naples to try to lift the players for Wednesday's Champions League return with Eintracht Frankfurt. I have faith that this master tactician will come up with the right formation to stifle the Germans, but he must be careful of his own health. He was often distraught on the touchline at Brighton following the passing of Gian Piero, his friend for more than three decades.
I am sure Daniel Levy, who accompanied his coach to yesterday's funeral, will keep a careful eye on a man who has brought new belief and confidence not only to Tottenham players but to we supporters, too. In Antonio, we all trust.
But he is human, and the death of Ventrone has clearly cut deeply into him. I still find myself having a sudden sob over the loss of my dear pal Jimmy Greaves, and that is now over a year ago.
Grief is unforgiving and I just implore everybody to go gentle on Antonio.
His cautious but necessary switch to a 3-5-2 formation on Saturday gave Spurs more bite and presence in midfield, where they have been tending to be overrun. Brighton are a side packed with talented ball players and it was a triumph for Conte's tactics that they were not able to turn their dribbling runs to goals.
Harry Kane's crucial headed goal from a sort-of cross by his old sidekick Son pumped belief into a Tottenham team clearly determined to win this one for Gian Piero.
There was a lovely cameo when Eric Dier suddenly hugged Matt Doherty after he had made a do-or-die tackle to prevent a threatened Brighton goal.
That is what you call team spirit.
'Professor' Gian Piero would have been so proud. Rest in peace, mio amico.
Week ten (somebody please hold back the clock) of our ninth year of Spurs Odyssey Quiz League challenges:
Which Spurs player has won 28 international caps, made his Premier League debut on the first day of the 2018-19 season before joining Tottenham, and which number Spurs shirt does he wear?
Please email your answer to me at firstname.lastname@example.org with Quiz Week 10 as the subject heading. 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 Ė 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. Thatís when I lose the few friends that I have. But, hey, it's fun. Please join in.
This yearís prizes for the champion will be announced later in the season, but most important of all, they will include a framed certificate announcing the winner as 2023 SOQL champion.
Last week Ö Week 9: Which former Spurs skipper had a spell with Portsmouth before returning to Tottenham, and against which club did he score an injury-time goal to force a 4-4 draw in a Premier League match?
The enigmatic but often excellent Younes Kaboul, who scored that dramatic equaliser against Aston Villa as Spurs came back from 4-1 down. Sorry I had to send automated replies last week. I am up to my eyes chasing a deadline on my next Spurs book for Christmas. Watch this space!
See you back here next Monday, same time, same place. COYS!
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