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Spurs Odyssey Preview - West Ham v Spurs, 07.08.99

Last season's game - West Ham 2 Spurs , 28.11.98
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This preview was written by Brian Judson

Full Record of Spurs -v- West Ham United

Prem          Pl   W   D   L   For-Ag  Pts
Home           6   3   0   3    7 - 8    6
Away           6   2   1   3   11 -11    7
Total (Prem)  12   5   1   6   18 -19   16
Football Lge
Home (Div 1)  33  17   7   9   65- 51   47
Away (Div 1)  33   9   9  15   45- 54   29
Total(Div 1)  66  26  16  24  110-105   76
Football Lge
Home (Div 2)  10   4   4   2   18-13    12
Away (Div 2)  10   3   3   4   13-12     9
Total(Div 2)  20   7   7   6   31-25    21
Total (Prem)  12   5   1   6   18 -19   16
Total (Div 1) 66  26  16  24  110 -105  76
Total (Div 2) 20   7   7   6   31 -25   21
Grand Total   98  38  24  36  159 -149 113

All too quickly the summer has slipped away. Just a brief two months after Manchester United completed a fantastic treble by winning the Champions' League with two highly improbable goals against Bayern Munich the football season is with us once again. Unfortunately, I will again be unable to join the faithful in their devotions at White Hart Lane due to my continuing health problems so I will only be contributing match previews to the List and reports of matches transmitted live on Sky. I would urge all those who do go to the Lane to contribute reports to the List along the lines Paul Smith, Steffan Chirazi, Bruce Lewis, Ivan Cohen or I compile. We need to have as many objective reports as possible for those of us who cannot be there ....

Most of us had hoped to see a signing to boost our woeful strike force but things haven't worked out for us. There are those of you, I know, who think we should sign just about /any/ donkey that claims to be a striker but we've had too many donkeys in the past. I don't think Chelsea will find Sutton any better than Robert Fleck or Alan Mayes were in the past. Quality strikers and, come to that, quality players are _very thin_ on the ground at the moment. Clubs with the right quality players are not allowing them to move and who can blame them. Quality players who are moving tend to be short term stop gaps but I'm not convinced this is the answer. We've had too much short term-ism in the past. I'm convinced George Graham is trying to build a squad that will eventually be as successful as Arsenal were under his tutelage. He is prepared to wait (as Bill Nicholson and Keith Burkinshaw did) for the right players to become available.

So, to Saturday's fixture. I have been watching West Ham's progress in the Inter-Toto Cup courtesy of Sky. If we have problems up front, the Hammers look to be even shorter of ideas in that direction as well. Wanchope is still settling in and doesn't seem to be sure what he is supposed to be doing. Kitson seems lightweight as a striker and Wright has been on the bench in each of the games so far played without having much of a run out. At his age it takes longer for him to become involved in the game around him.

West Ham have a lively midfield but can be closed down. Once the midfield is closed down, the Hammers tend to come under pressure. They are fortunate that Lomas is reading the game well because I don't think Ferdinand has quite got his act together. Ian Pearce has only just returned to the team after injury whilst Stuart Pearce has yet to make his debut. I imagine Stuart Pearce will be used as a sweeper to allow Lomas to roam more freely. Shaka Hislop has been in good form.

Tottenham have performed fairly well in their pre-season friendlies, although they still have a nasty habit of conceding stupid goals. I suspect that this is because Campbell and Perry are still sorting themselves out and Walker is probably feeling a bit edgy because of that.

As we have effectively only one fit striker in Steffan Iversen, I'm wondering whether we ought to play in a 4-5-1 formation as we did under David Pleat during 1986-87. There's no point in playing an unfit striker and Iversen does seem to be on a 'streak' at the moment, although of course the opposition he has been scoring against are nowhere near the standard of the Premier League.

Looking ahead, it is _imperative_ that Tottenham get off to a good start. We never really recovered from the poor start we made last season. It is true that Tottenham tend to be notoriously slow starters (I still haven't forgotten our dreadful start to the 1968-69 season!) but in these highly competitive days we simply cannot afford to be left on the starting blocks. We cannot allow ourselves to be in the position of Southampton for whom a successful season is finishing in 17th position every season!

So, how do I see the season developing? Whilst it would be nice to do well in Europe, I see that as a distraction from our major target. I do not pretend that we are capable of winning the League but I do feel we are capable of finishing in the top five. If West Ham can do so, we should be able to do so. We are a much bigger club than West Ham will ever be despite their pretensions .... I shall not be sorry if we make an early departure from the UEFA Cup ....

And the outcome of Saturday's match? I think we can nick it at Upton Park. West Ham again demonstrated last night their inability to break down an obdurate defence. We only need to break that defence down once and we should be capable of snatching all three points .... But we will need to be patient (and by that I include the fans who travel to Upton Park) and we will need to concentrate 150 per cent for 90 minutes plus injury time. We cannot afford to relax our vigilance at all ......

Thus, 1-0 to the team coached by a bloke who once used to be loathed and hated when in an earlier incarnation, and a good start to the new season!

Cheers, Brian

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