A Defining Week For Spurs and AVB

The value of some performances transcends the goals, the points or the league table. Spurs victory at Old Trafford yesterday evening was infused with meaning that runs deep and will resonate long after the celebrations die down, although I suspect those who were fortunate enough to be there floated home rather than requiring any form of transport.

Not just the years since we last won there. I can’t remember how long it is even though the commentator appeared to be contractually obliged to repeat it every 5 minutes. Perhaps the fear and nausea in the pit of my stomach as the ball pinged around our box in the second half dulled my other senses.

Not even the manner of the win, magnificent though that was. Delightful flowing football in the first half as we took the game to United and were by far the better side, followed by desperate dogged defence in the second as we were remorselessly pushed deeper and deeper by United at their best.

Not even showing a skeptical footballing public and a rabid media that we can play. This was the moment when the new Tottenham Hotspur believed it could play. As the self-confidence spreads, the fall-out from this game could be picked up in years to come, like faint radio static from the far reaches of the cosmos.

This is that rare sort of win, one that creates an unshakable resilience that Spurs are doing the right thing, and if the players keep on doing it, they will succeed in the end, whatever the odds. Faith in your own ability, that of your team-mates and your manager, to overcome and prevail. Something we’ve seen in others but has always been beyond our grasp in modern times, almost real but eluding our grasp like a vivid dream fading as we wake and open our eyes.

More about yesterday in a moment, but if we are looking for the signs in the runes, the portents have been excellent all week. It’s not all about 3-2 in Manchester. A goal down and stinking the place out like a parcel of rotting fish nailed under the floorboards, at half-time just 7 days ago the world was a different, bleaker place. Then AVB looked his players in the eye and said, “I’ve made a mistake but together we will put it right.” Superman goes left, Bale pushed forward, 2 goals and 3 points.

A tricky midweek tie in the far flooded north, Carlisle were summarily dispatched. The young men came in without, as I understand it, there being much of a problem, because they play the Tottenham way. In the past, this game could have posed a threat to the well-being of the team. These are ties that expose weakness, as in the hapless away game at Stevenage as recently as last season. Yet this was a comfortable win.

Back to yesterday, and we took the game to United in the first half, boosted by Jan the Man’s second goal in a week, a great run into the heart of the defence and huge deflection. Bale set up this one then scored our second himself with the type of run that makes him unique in the Premier League. Over 6 foot and filled out from boy to man over the summer, there is simply nothing like this fearsome combination of power and pace, physical presence and touch on the ball.

We fully deserved the 2 goal lead at half-time. Sandro was a powerhouse throughout, Dembele dominant in front of him. How I’ve quickly grown to relish his arthritic shuffle on the ball, stiff, head bowed and so effective. A real gem.

One of the issues I’ve identified this season is that Spurs must find the right set-up to get the best from Dempsey, a goalscorer who is not a classic striker. Last week he was wasted stuck out on the left. Now AVB moved him to a more central starting position. He should be able to get on the ball more here. All this stems from the influence exerted by the mighty Sandro, who is playing so well that we can manage with only one defensive midfielder not two, thus freeing options further forward.

He popped up with the third, pouncing on a loose ball to restore our two goal advantage  That was swiftly reduced to one, then it was backs to wall for a sickeningly tense last 30 minutes.

We dropped ever more deep as wave after wave of United attacks swept down on our goal. Partly this was due to an inability to hold onto the ball on the precious few occasions we got hold of it, partly due to the debilitating effects of illness – a couple had suffered a bug during the week. Mainly it was down to the excellence of our opponents, who played the ball into the channels between our back four on endless occasions. It’s hard to believe England never built their team around Paul Scholes.

We defended well but like any team that beats them, we relied on United missing their chances, which obligingly they did.  Ultimately those same cosmic forces tend to balance themselves out. The ball banged against post and bar, skimmed just wide or sunk into Friedel’s all-enveloping grasp. And Chris Foy, always said he knew what he was about when it comes to penalty decisions. After yesterday I like to think that the universe is a more stable place as equilibrium is restored.

Walker’s poor positioning led to problems and sometimes both full-backs were exposed by a lack of cover. However, the grim determination of Vertonghen, Caulker and the steely eyed Gallas epitomised the spirit in the squad. You have to hand to Willy – after a long career and dodgy ankles, he is a winner and you can see why AVB has persisted with him. Caulker will learn so much from him, but did his bit by winning a series of headers.

A word of praise for Defoe, who has not always shown the selfless running and intelligence that helped make a couple of goals yesterday. This is the best form of his career. I’m not this biggest fan but all credit to him.

The unity between team and manager has paid rich dividends on the field this week. The Mirror and Sun are hell-bent on ruining him and our achievements, but the lies of their weaselly snout in the camp were disproved for all to see.

A single win does not mean everything is done and dusted. There will be good times and bad, struggles and wasted energy, but AVB’s Spurs is a team with a future and whatever happens I’m glad I’m coming along for the ride.

18 comments

  1. Peter Domican

    This is a win that is more about the history than just 3 points or the way we played. I got my season ticket the year we won at Old Trafford. All too many times we’ve played well against Utd but not held on or had refereeing decisions went against us. We have to take a lot of confidence away from this but without getting carried away.

  2. Ashley Collie

    Still in pleasant shock/wonderland over here in La-la-land, Alan, nice, warm and fuzzy. A couple of observations about Brad and JD. With solid Brad at the back and Deuce at the front, we’re an American Band as Grand Funk Railroad once sang! As much as we Iove their commitment to the cause, both Brad & JD have limitations. As any ball is crossed into our area, we hear Brad shouting “away” as he stands at attention on his line. He’s a leader and makes many of those close saves. But…because he can’t come off his line to grab those crosses like a Lloris will do, our defenders head or hoof the ball out when we’re under pressure, and the ball comes right back. Constantly — against ManU or those other home draws. With a goalie that sometimes grabs the ball, we can slow down play, force them to back off and try to keep possession. But…at the other end. JD played a huge part in Bale and Dempsey’s goals, he is a Yiddo and is working much harder. But his physical size means he cannot head the ball or hold it up. Remember Berbasulk awhile back (our 10-men vs maybe Charlton or someone) putting on a master class in heading and hold up play, kept us in the game, just one man up there with the power and guile to keep possession. We are so missing that outlet, especially when under the cosh. Don’t know if Dempsey could do that, or Ade (where is he BTW?). One last thought, we were under the cosh for 35 minutes, fair enough, but isn’t that what Chelsea did vs Barca & Bayern? Only difference, it helps when you have a strong, tall striker like a Drogba up there!…Portents indeed, of something wickedly good this way comes! COYS!

    • TMWNN

      Great point about Friedel and Defoe. I think the game you’re talking about, regarding the vulgarian, was against City. I’m not sure Adebayor (he’s out with a pulled hamstring I think) is the answer, but definitely has more presence than Defoe. It would be tough on Friedel if he were dropped for Lloris (Is it just me, or does he look like a Lego man?), but I think it needs to be done for the greater cause.

      • wise

        It’s getting so obvious that even if Defoe kept scoring goals and went on to be highest goal striker some of you would still come here and post your ridiculous comments, if adebayo wasn’t injured AVB would still prefer to play Defoe based on performance, I’m sure fans like you would be quick to criticize Ade if he doesn’t score but team wins , similarly even if messi was in your team and performing really well your myopic minds set will never look at his contributions to team success but just your biased or maybe crazy view if Not racist will say you want someone else.

      • TMWNN

        Yeah, that’s probably the one, but he was also brilliant away at City in the Carling Cup. Zokora was sent off after 20 minutes, but we hung on for a 2-0 win due to Berbatov’s magical control and hold up play. Technically, Adebayor is nowhere near Berbatov, but he’d definitely be better than Defoe in the big games, especially away from home.

  3. TMWNN

    Missed it. Had to go to a wedding. I can’t remember the last time I hadn’t seen this fixture, but I think if I had seen the game yesterday, we wouldn’t have won. Therefore you all have me to thank for the tremendous result.

  4. Pingback: Spurs & AVB – From Turmoil to Triumph? | TOKNOWTHEGAME.COM
  5. JimmyG2

    The Daily Mail repeated the Sun rubbish about problems at Spurs almost verbatim.
    Great result so who cares today that we were lucky, and about time too.
    But on Monday at the training ground there are matters to be addressed.
    Whatever happened to that ‘high line’ thingy that AVB was keen on.
    We ended up with four centre halves on the edge of the six yard box.
    We got away with it at last but it’s no way to run a railway for a full timetable.
    Ok for a one off day excursion.

  6. TommyHarmer

    Thought we dug deep and I LOVED it! Well done everybody, even those who could do better. One gripe ……. AVB must get this team to stop allowing themselves to be pushed back under pressure, and I am sure he will be talking about that back at Bulls Cross . We must practice ‘out balls’ to designated places, be ready to stream forward, and learn to have wide men ready to take the ball into corners, and win position through ‘place kicks’. When we were being pushed back everything was coming at us through Scholes, but no one was put on him to slow him down and, if necessary ‘rough him up’. If the boot had been on the other foot, this is exactly what Man U would have done. This is the next development we need to make, but we are progressing very nicely! COYS!!

  7. IKnowAlanGilzean

    I agree it should be an important win in terms of confidence and belief and in giving AVB and the players some breathing space from the hounds. Although a little of the gloss for me was taken off by just how much we retreated and how cheaply we gave possession back to them in the second half and had little to offer to break out.

    I accept it’s a mental thing, the never getting anything up there (and oh so rarely at home to them either) and Man Utd were always going to come back at us. But I was surprised at the extent of the changearound. Still, I was and am very very happy and proud of them and we showed a dynamism and control in the first half that was wonderful to see.

    We remain a curate’s egg for me.

  8. IKnowAlanGilzean

    I don’t think I mean curate’s egg as that means something that is essentially bad but has some redeeming features. About AVB’s Spurs, I mean something essentially good with parts that still need serious attending to. It’s a shame as I love the term curate’s egg, though I don’t use it well, so will stop.

    We are on the right road. I think we’ve played well in all the away games in the league so far, but struggled at times at home. There’s something in that, we look suited to the counter and patient control of the ball in midfield and less able of overwhelming deeper lying sides looking to counter us at the Lane.

  9. tottenham forever Steve

    Fantastic achievement lads and AVB and everyone at Tottenham.Just when i was foreseeing doom and gloom this season eveything looks rosy again…Tottenham forever Steve

  10. Chris Caddey

    I am still on cloud nine. What a great win. As I have said before, we still need the tall striker to start for our quick wingers to target. When Ade is fit play him with JD running off him. I love Sandro and Dembele plating together.COYS

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