The shame of it
Where do you start?
Do you start with the fact that yesterday’s FA Cup defeat at Craven Cottage was our worst ever defeat against this team since both teams have been in the Football League? It’s Fulham’s biggest win over Spurs since February 1965, when they won 4-1 at The Cottage. Spurs finished top six, and Fulham were bottom three, but they weren’t relegated until 1968, when they finished bottom of Division One.
You have to go back to January 1905 for a bigger victory by Fulham against Tottenham. That wasn’t even in both teams’ main league – The Southern League, in which Spurs did lose both games 1-0 – but in the Western League, in which Fulham did manage a 5-0 win.
Do you start with the fact that this was Spurs’ worst defeat in any game since losing by the same margin at home to Manchester United in February 2007? As a matter of interest, two weeks later we beat Fulham by the same margin at their place in the fifth round of the cup we now have not won for 20 years. This is the same cup we used to cherish, and used to brag about winning so often and “when the year ends in one”
Do you start with the fact that Spurs are starting to make a habit of having players sent off, often for stupid undisciplined and unnecessary reasons? Michael Dawson became the fifth Spurs player to be sent off this season (so far of course), and will miss just one game for his offence. We’ve suffered enough with injuries to key players, without having to cope with absences caused through either stupidity, or genuine foul play. In fairness to Spurs, the term foul play rarely applies to this team we love through thick and thin.
Do you start with the fact that Harry Redknapp’s Spurs teams seem to be making a habit of embarrassing and/or limp exits from domestic cup competitions. This season we’ve managed to beat only a team two divisions below us (Charlton), and that only happened after Luka Modric came on at half-time and inspired us to a 3-0 win.
We failed to compete against our arch-rivals, who will be visiting Wembley in the Carling Cup Final, in a lame home league cup defeat, and, you know, I think we should start with Harry Redknapp’s team selection and tactics for yesterday’s game.
On paper, we started with a strong team, considering the enforced absence of Gareth Bale. Other key players such as Tom Huddlestone and Ledley King have been out for ages now, so it is not relevant to include them in any injury-related excuse.
Now, I thought one of the reasons for signing Steven Pienaar was to offer some cover for Bale, and despite the fact we knew he can play right across the midfield, Harry thought he’d be best played in the middle, with Lennon on the left and VDV on the right, although perhaps he had more freedom to play “in the hole” and try and link up with Jermain Defoe. Lennon is surely best used on the right – right?
The game was effectively lost in those disastrous early minutes, when we conceded two penalties (scored by former Spur Danny Murphy to add to the shame), and lost our Captain, but I am saying that Harry didn’t set the team up right in the first place.
To be honest, it’s not the first time in a domestic cup game under Harry’s leadership that I’ve felt a lack of commitment to the cause by the team. Last season’s quarter-final exit at Old Trafford in the League Cup, and that weird semi-final defeat against Portsmouth, of all teams, in the FA Cup are amongst examples I would offer.
So, where we do start, and finish, is with my suggestion that domestic cups currently hold much less importance to Spurs than they hold for us fans. Last year, we forgave that semi-final defeat on the night we beat Manchester City to gain the right to qualify for a place at Europe’s top table. Now we have fifteen Premier League “Cup Finals” in which to secure that right again, plus at least two games in the Champions League.
Only if Harry Redknapp does lead us back into the Champions League can I forgive him for the shame of yesterday’s FA Cup defeat.
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