NORMAN GILLER’S SPURS ODYSSEY BLOG No 438
Submitted by Norman Giller
Excuse me if I make less sense than usual. That six-goal drubbing at St James' Park yesterday has left me shell shocked, so goodness knows what it has done to the Tottenham players who seem intent on proving Antonio Conte's parting assessment 100 per cent correct.
He said they lacked hunger (tick), desire (tick), were selfish (tick), devoid of team spirit (tick) and were not competitive (tick). That adds up to the tick-tick-tick of a time bomb that many want to go off under ENIC, who have never pretended they are anything but an investment company out to make profit.
Let me say for the umpteenth time, it is all very well shouting for ENIC to be replaced … but by whom? How many suitable would-be owners are there who could afford the £2billion takeover price? Oil-rich Arabs with human rights records that would make any decent-minded person run a mile? The Glazers? A Russian oligarch? Mike Ashley?
Or how about an American owner with minimal knowledge of football tactics who wanders into the dressing-room and addresses the players? I would love to know what Frank Lampard privately thinks of that.
Some of we older Tottenham followers have known things far worse than now, but it’s fair to describe the situation after that 6-1 humiliation by Newcastle as heading for a serious crisis.
Spurs are virtually managerless, have no director of football following the resignation of scandal-linked Fabio Paratici, club captain Hugo Lloris is blown away, they have lost their rhythm and direction, and goal scoring machine Harry Kane is allegedly bound for Old Trafford.
What a mess, but (sarcasm alert) the matches now become easier. Manchester United, buoyed by yesterday’s fluky FA Cup semi-final victory over Brighton, are Thursday’s visitors, followed by an always comfortable trip to Anfield on Sunday. And if you believe that, I have a London Bridge that I would like to sell you.
Our guru Paul H. Smith reports HERE on Spurs fans’ earthquaking round trip to Tyneside to witness the slaughter of Spurs, and they are surely psychologically damaged by the experience. I can’t recall anything as shocking as those opening 25 minutes in more than 70 years of Spurs watching.
The defenders were running round like, uh, headless cockerels. Acting manager Cristian Stellini’s decision to play four at the back was quickly exposed as both naive and nonsensical against a Newcastle attack at the peak of its power.
If anything, we needed six rather than four defenders marking the mercurial Newcastle forwards, and by the time Stellini made the necessary adjustments the damage had been done, leaving Spurs looking punch drunk.
If I were in Daniel Levy’s shoes, I would go down on bended knee to beg Mauricio Pochettino to return, but it now looks odds-on that the Argentine ace is going to take over at Stamford Bridge. Painful or what. Can you imagine future Tottenham-Chelsea matches with that scenario? Tin hats will be supplied.
It will be early summer before Scott Munn arrives as No 2 in the Spurs boardroom – in charge of all football matters. I have been assured he is an administrator who gets things done, but he is arriving at a club where confidence is on the floor.
To lift spirits, Spurs must simply win all their six remaining Premier League matches. You have belief they can do it? No, neither do I. The sooner the curtain drops on this season the better. Then Mr Munn can hit the reset button, and Mr Levy must concentrate on just the business side of things. And the sooner a new manager is announced the better. But brace yourselves. It is unlikely to be Poch – even if he's magic, y'know.
Perhaps yesterday’s National Alert button can act as an emergency call to arms for Tottenham.
LATE FLASH: Following an emergency board meeting, Stellini - not surprisingly - has been sacked along with Conte’s coaching staff. Ryan Mason will again take over in a temporary capacity. The Tottenham musical chairs continue.
Week 32 of our ninth year of Spurs Odyssey Quiz League challenges:
Which Nigerian-born footballer plays international matches for a country not of his birth, and what squad number shirt does he wear for Spurs?
Please email your answer to me at email@example.com with Quiz Week 32 as the subject heading. Deadline midnight this Friday. I will respond to all who participate, taking time off from writing my next book: The G-Men, an intimate close-up of Greavsie and Gilzean.
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 signed copies of my biographies on Jimmy Greaves and Bobby Smith plus – I promise this is a treat – my hilarious boxing book, The Man Who Put A Curse on Muhammad Ali, including a photo card signed for me by Ali on the night of his world title defence against Yorkshire lionheart Richard Dunn.
But most important of all, the prizes will include a framed certificate announcing the winner as 2023 SOQL champion. A word of warning, previous champions David Guthrie (going for a hat-trick of titles), Peter Lawton in Israel, Graham Eyre from Down Under and our only female champion Emily Hadjinicolaou are among an army of you jostling for the lead.
Week 31: Who played for Scotland, Tottenham and Arsenal, scored a crucial goal for Spurs in an FA Cup final and which 0player was he swapped for when making the controversial move to Highbury?
Answer: Flying Scot Jimmy Robertson, who was inexplicably swapped for Arsenal winger David Jenkins in a baffling transfer deal.
See you back here next Monday. COYS!
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