NORMAN GILLER’S SPURS ODYSSEY BLOG No 162
Submitted by Norman Giller
It will be fascinating to see what team Mauricio Pochettino picks for Thursday’s jaunt to Ghent. This is no longer time for second string selections. We need the full orchestra and everybody playing from the same song sheet.
The Europa League suddenly becomes the No 1 pot for Spurs after Saturday’s capitulation at Anfield virtually rubber stamped Chelsea as Premier League champions.
Between you, me and the goalpost, I have harboured doubts about the true championship class of this current Tottenham team ever since the surrender at Newcastle at the close of last season.
We are one or two top-drawer players short of the superior class status that is the difference between champions and runners-up. I am ashamed to admit that I quietly gave up on our hopes of salvaging anything at Liverpool after the worst opening 20 minutes of the season.
Our defence, so dependable for much of this campaign, was into headless chickens mode, and only a mix of desperate tackling and the usual stunning stops from Hugo Lloris saved us from being 5-0 down at half-time.
If you are feeling masochistic, you can revisit the torture here in our webmaster Paul Smith’s gloomy but honest report of the Anfield debacle. It should carry a health warning.
How different would it have been had Jan Vertonghen and Danny Rose been fit to play? We will never know, but there is no question that without them our back line was nowhere near as confident and cohesive.
And we continue our lament for Lamela. Until Erik returns after his hip injury, we have an attack that struggles to produce the unexpected. As against Middlesbrough the previous week, Tottenham did little to surprise a Liverpool defence that has been rocky all season.
I went into one of my old git rants during the build-up to the match at Liverpool when I stumbled into an on-line debate where people were making comparisons with today’s side and the Double team.
“Pochettino’s team is every bit as good as that 60s side,” opined one blinkered keyboard coach. “Players like Dele Alli, Harry Kane and Hugo Lloris would have strolled into the Double team.”
I struggled to see the screen for the steam coming out of my ears. I would just about concede a goalkeeping place to Lloris ahead of Bill Brown, whose judgement on crosses was too often suspect to warrant complete confidence.
But there is no way I would have selected Alli ahead of, say, Danny Blanchflower, John White and Dave Mackay, and Harry would have struggled to shift Bobby Smith and Les Allen, who between them banged in 59 goals that 1960-61 season. Then a phenomenon called Jimmy Greaves came in to fill Les Allen’s boots.
I am determined to defend my golden age generation from people trying in any way to belittle their achievements, and I again make the point that you cannot mention today’s team in the same breath as Bill Nicholson’s giants until they get some silverware on the table.
Trophies seemed a long long way off during that 20 minute landslide at Liverpool, and now it’s all eyes on the prize of the Europa League and the FA Cup.
Talking FA Cup, I am putting my Spurs ’67 book to bed this week, so this is your last chance to get your memories included. Email me, please, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
It’s nice living in the past. We were actually winning things!
Spurs Odyssey Quiz League, week 26
Spurs Odyssey Quiz League, week 26
This week’s mystery player:
“I have played 11 times for my country and was a regular in the Spurs side for 95 Premier League matches between 2008 and 2014. Which Tottenham manager signed me from PSV?”
Email your answers, please, to SOQL26@normangillerbooks.com. Give your name, the district where you live and how long you’ve supported Spurs. I will respond, and will email a screen version of one of my Tottenham-themed books to the sender of the first all-correct answer drawn at random. Deadline is midnight on Friday.
Please keep a check on your points tally, because the contestant topping the SOQL table at the end of the season will receive a framed certificate announcing the winner as the 2016-17 Spurs Odyssey Quiz League champion. And the first three in the final table will win an autographed, hardback copy of my Bill Nicholson Revisited tribute book, PLUS a souvenir card signed by Spurs legends Jimmy Greaves and Steve Perryman.
The 25th teaser was:
“I won 53 caps for my country and wore the No 2 shirt in a World Cup final. What number shirt did I wear when helping Spurs win the FA Cup for the sixth time?”
A maximum three points in the SOQL table to those who answered Osvaldo Ardiles, Our Ossie, who wore the number 7 shirt in the two 1981 FA final matches against Manchester City (when his compatriot Ricky Villa put us all into seventh heaven).
First name drawn at random from the correct answers is Ian Banfield, a Spurs supporter from Bushey, Herts, who has been following Tottenham since that magical 1967 season 50 years ago. I will be emailing Ian a screen version of one of my Tottenham-themed books.
As regular contestants will know, the SOQL League table is decided on facts up until the final weeks of the season. Then I introduce tie breaks based on opinions, which is when I lose friends and fail to influence people with my views.
But please remember, it is just for fun and helps us all refresh our knowledge on the history and the heroes of our great club.
Thanks for your company. See you same time, same place next week. COYS!
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