NORMAN GILLER’S SPURS ODYSSEY BLOG No 422
Submitted by Norman Giller
As I was saying before being rudely (and I have to say spectacularly) interrupted by the World Cup finals in Qatar, Tottenham must find a consistency to go with their obvious class if they want to maintain their top four challenge in the Premier League.
Antonio Conte and his back-up team will need to treat both Harry Kane and club captain Hugo Lloris with great care after their psychologically-scarring experiences in the greatest soccer show on earth.
Thank goodness, we could not have two players better able to handle the penalty nightmares suffered in Qatar. Harry's skied spot-kick against, of all people, Tottenham team-mate Lloris, was a gut-wrenching blow. But then the French skipper had the ultimate agony of losing yesterday's shoot-out in the dramatic final against Argentina. For a goalkeeper, it must be like being lined up against an execution squad.
I don't expect to see either Harry or Hugo in Wednesday's warm-up friendly against Nice before the season gets back under way with the Boxing Day visit to Brentford.
Definitely missing will be Cristian Romero, who will still be celebrating his prominent part in clinching the World Cup for Argentina. Veteran utility winger Ivan Perišic can also walk tall back into the Tottenham team at Brentford after his third place medal with Croatia.
It is Harry's reaction to his missed penalty against France in the quarter-final that must concern us most of all. He is just six goals off equalling the all-time club record set by my old chum Jimmy Greaves, and the last thing we want is for his World Cup penalty miss to send him into an introverted mood.
Confidence is a key to Harry's game. We need to see him firing on all cylinders as Tottenham go into the second half of the disrupted domestic season, with the Champions League and FA Cup on our plate along with the Premier League.
Hindsight tells us that Harry should not have taken that second penalty against France, having already plonked one past his pal Hugo, who knows his spot-kick technique better than anybody from their training sessions.
But Harry is not the type to duck responsibility, and just imagine the dung that would have been dropped on Gareth Southgate if he'd handed the responsibility to another player who may have missed.
I have confidence that on the surface Harry will take the shattering miss in his stride, but for the rest of his life in his quiet moments he will be haunted by the memory of the ball vanishing over the bar.
A couple of years ago he took part in a spoof film in which Jonny Wilkinson showed him how a penalty should be taken, thumping the ball high over the bar as he did in the last minute to win the 2003 Rugby World Cup for England. I think Harry will try to convert Johnny next time he sees him!
I will be back here next TUESDAY, and I would like to take this opportunity on behalf of our Spurs Odyssey webmaster Paul H. Smith and I to wish you all a wonderful Christmas, and a 2023 that brings you only good news … and silverware for Tottenham.
Oh yes, and no more penalty misses for Our Harry. Let’s make him feel our love, and not just for Christmas.
Week 16 of our ninth year of Spurs Odyssey Quiz League challenges:
Which former Spurs captain was a World Cup winner, won 67 caps, scored 20 international goals, and with which Yorkshire club did he finish his career as player-coach and then, briefly, manager?
Please email your answer to me at email@example.com with Quiz Week 16 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 – 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 lose the few friends that I have. But, hey, it's fun. Please join in.
This year’s 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 … Week 15: Who played 32 times for his country (his last cap a 6-3 defeat), was a World Cup winner and from which south coast club did he join Tottenham?
Answer: Alf Ramsey, who joined Spurs from Southampton and helped them win in back to back seasons under Arthur Rowe the Second and First Division titles (a feat he later repeated as manager of Ipswich Town before the ultimate of lifting the World Cup in 1966 and becoming Sir Alf). The 6-3 defeat was, of course, against Hungary at Wembley in 1953.
See you back here next TUESDAY, the day after Boxing Day. COYS!
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