NORMAN GILLER’S SPURS ODYSSEY BLOG No 222
Submitted by Norman Giller
Spurs took a painful fall on Grand National Day, but must now quickly pick themselves up and ride flat out to the finish line. They need to show Manchester City-style resolve and battling qualities if their so-far excellent season is not to be wrecked in – to continue the racing analogy – the final furlong.
I admired the character Manchester City revealed in their deserved victory, pulling themselves out of their mini-slump and then being handed the title when neighbours Man United went down to a Sunday punch delivered by rock-bottom West Brom. I rate City the finest champions in Premier League history, despite a few recent hiccups.
What a game it would have been against my favourite of all teams, the Tottenham Double side (with Greavsie added)!
But back to Tottenham’s crucial week. Tomorrow’s match at Brighton is every bit as important as the FA Cup semi-final showdown with Manchester United on Saturday. I am sure Mauricio Pochettino will forget about rotation and pick his strongest possible side for both games here at the business end of the season.
I would like to see him give Brazilian winger Lucas Moura a game straight from the kick-off on the south coast against a team suddenly fighting for its Premier League life. He is a box of tricks capable of producing the unexpected and I doubt if Brighton will be able to cope with his unorthodox runs. He is as comfortable on the ball as Dembele, and moves with the speed of the fondly remembered Aaron Lennon. They loved him at PSG and I think he could prove as popular in London as in Paris.
I have been rooting for Brighton to make an impact, because in manager Chris Hughton they have a former son of Tottenham who has always represented football with dignity and style.
But – sorry, Chris – I hope that tomorrow you experience the disappointment of defeat, because your former club still have work to do to guarantee Champions’ League football at their new home next season.
Then it’s on to the FA Cup semi-final, when the red side of Manchester will be hoping to celebrate in the blue footsteps of City. After seven semi-final heartbreaks, Spurs are way overdue an appearance in the final.
Let’s hope the ‘home’ advantage that Jose Mourinho has been moaning about will prove conclusive, but United will be going all out to show that yesterday’s poor performance against West Brom was just a stumble.
As our guru Paul H. Smith reports HERE, Tottenham’s defence came apart all too easily against City despite the usual immaculate display from Jan Vertonghen. He must be hoping to have his sidekick Toby Alderweireld back alongside him regardless of whether he is still going to be a Spurs player next season.
I could not believe the stick Tottenham’s players were taking on social media during Saturday’s set-back. It was their first Premier League defeat in 15 matches, but to read some of the criticism you would think Spurs were down in the cellar of the table.
Even ‘Our Harry’ Kane was picked on because he failed to make an impact against the magnificent marking of Vincent Kompany, without any allowance for the fact that he has made a rapid comeback after his ankle injury. This came on top of a ridiculous deluge of disapproval just because he claimed the goal against Stoke. How dare he – a striker supreme – be greedy for goals!
What sort of support is it to get on the backs of your own players? It baffles me how people (most of whom can’t kick a ball for toffee) think they are helping the cause by making vile comments. We need everybody on side and pulling together for Saturday’s semi-final.
Look away now if you don’t want to read my repeat of what has happened in the last seven semi-final matches involving Spurs:
1993 v Arsenal at Wembley, lost 0-1
1995 v Everton at Elland Road, lost 1-4
1999 v Newcastle at Old Trafford, lost 0-2 after extra-time
2001 v Arsenal at Old Trafford, lost 1-2
2010 v Portsmouth at Wembley, lost 0-2 after extra-time
2012 v Chelsea at Wembley, lost 1-5
2017 v Chelsea at Wembley, lost 2-4
I have good memories of Tottenham’s semi-final victory over Man United in 1962 when goals from Jimmy Greaves, Cliff Jones and Terry Medwin put United to the sword on the way to retaining the Cup with a 3-1 dismantling of Burnley. That’s the way to do it!
Fingers crossed for a repeat on Saturday. In fact, the Moura the merrier (sorry).
WEEK 35 of the Sports Odyssey Quiz League 2017-18. The rules are simple: I ask one Tottenham-related question for which a right answer earns you two points, and then a related teaser that can bring you an extra point.
The questions are always easy, provided you know the answers!
The winner this season will get a framed certificate proclaiming him (or her) the Spurs Odyssey Quiz Champion, plus a no-longer-in-print autographed GOALS book by Spurs idol Jimmy Greaves and another collectors’ item from my Greavsie collection: Football’s Greatest Entertainers, signed by Jimmy and Tottenham’s Mr Loyalty, Steve Perryman.
Now, if you’re sitting comfortably, here comes the 35th question of the 2017-18 SOQL season:
Who scored 23 goals in 39 international games and joined Spurs in 2003? Against which London team did he score a hat-trick for Spurs in an FA Cup tie?
Please email your answers by Friday’s midnight deadline to: email@example.com.
Keep a check on your points score, because I can never rely on my server that often loses emails in the ether. You will (hopefully) receive a response from me.
I test you with Spurs questions until the last few weeks of the season, when I introduce the fiendish tiebreaker teasers that call for your opinion as much as your knowledge.
But please remember, we are all in this just for fun, with the common bond of admiring all things Tottenham.
Question 34 was: Who was born in Ystrad and won 34 international caps during 12 years with Spurs? Which number shirt did he usually wear in 240 League and cup appearances for Tottenham?
Ystrad had some of you puzzling over which East European player it was! It was that great club servant from the Rhonda, Mel Hopkins, who usually wore the No 3 shirt. He was a regular for Spurs between the Push and Run and Double triumphs until losing his place to Ron Henry. This was after a sickening collision with Ian St John in the Scotland/Wales match left him with rearranged features and sidelined for months. There are now more than 50 of you jostling for first place as the dreaded tie breaker approaches!
First name drawn from the correct answers: Derek Watts from Hatfield who has supported Spurs since the mid-60s. I will send Derek a screen version of my Spurs ’67 book (I have now sold all copies, and the book raised £4,000 for the Tottenham Tribute Trust to help our old heroes Thank you all those Spurs Odyssey followers who gave their support).
Thanks for your company. See you same time, same place next week. COYS!
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