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Spurs Odyssey Preview - Spurs v Wimbledon, 22.04.2000

ˇ Last season's game - Spurs 0 Wimbledon 0, 16.01.99
ˇ This season's away game - Wimbledon 1 Spurs 1, 26.09.99
ˇ See the current injury list for all Premier League Teams
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This article was written by Brian Judson

Full League Record of Spurs v Wimbledon

Premier       Pl   W   D   L   For-Ag  Pts
Home           7   2   4   1     6-5   10
Away           8   3   2   3    13-11  11
Total (Prem)  15   5   6   4    19-16  21
Football Lge   
Home (Div 1)   6   3   0   3    11-12   9
Away (Div 1)   6   2   1   3    10-15   7
Total (Div 1) 12   5   1   6    21-27  16
Total (Prem)  15   5   6   4    19-16  21
Total (Div 1) 12   5   1   6    21-27  16
Grand Total   27  10   7  10    40-43  37

The glory days of the Crazy Gang have long since disappeared. Since Joe Kinnear sustained a heart attack moments before a game at Sheffield Wednesday in January 1999, Wimbledon have been in complete free-fall. Indeed, it is only the poor form of the bottom three that has prevented them from sliding into a relegation position. At the moment, they have a five-point cushion but should Sheffield Wednesday beat Sunderland and Wimbledon lose at Tottenham, that would put a very different complexion on the relegation picture.

Most of the Crazy Gang have left Wimbledon. Robbie Earle is still there but has been playing in the Reserves recently. He was kicked in the chest in a recent match and had to be rushed to hospital as a blood clot developed on his chest and he had to have a massive blood transfusion to save his life. That is typical of the luck that Wimbledon have had this season. Their injury list has been longer than Tottenham have ever had. Worse, from their point of view, is that so many of their squad will be free agents this summer as their contracts expire. The departure of Sam Hammam from the control of the boardroom has not helped matters there, either. All in all, it is a very depressing time to be a Wimbledon supporter.

Past encounters between Tottenham and Wimbledon have not been pleasant affairs. Gary Stevens sustained a serious injury in 1986-87 when he clashed with Vinny Jones in a game against Wimbledon. A couple of season's later Stevens was again badly injured in a game against Wimbledon. The tackles were often crude and it was a rare occasion that anyone did not need any physiotherapy after a match.

Wimbledon's tactics in the past have not been popular. Their type of football has been described as aerial tennis or Route 1 football. Even today there are still signs of it as Neil Sullivan, their Scottish international goalkeeper, takes a long punt upfield in the direction of whoever is their main striker. These tactics were largely honed in the days of Dave Bassett as Wimbledon climbed from the Southern League to the top of the pyramid. But Bobby Gould did not introduce any subtle tactics, although he did refine some of Bassett's ideas. These were good enough to take Wimbledon to Wembley and win the FA Cup by beating Liverpool, 1-0. The Crazy Gang had thus created a very rare record of winning both the FA Cup and the FA Amateur Cup. Ray Harford and Peter Withe had very brief spells in charge before Joe Kinnear took over in 1992. Kinnear made Wimbledon a very effective side, which threatened to qualify for the UEFA Cup on a number of occasions but the squad was already beginning to age when Kinnear sustained his heart attack, largely because he was overweight.

Kinnear himself admitted afterwards that he had been eating too many quick snacks and not enough of the food that he should have been eating. He said it was surprising that more managers did not have heart attacks because most were like him in snatching at meals and not take a careful look at their lifestyle. He said that he had spent too much time in motorway cafés, eating the wrong type of food.

Part of Wimbledon's problems have been the ongoing dispute with the London Borough of Merton. Their ground at Plough Lane is incapable of being upgraded to Premier Division standards and the council have so far rejected every attempt to build on various other sites within the London Borough of Wimbledon. The council is giving the impression that it does not want the football club in its neck of the woods. There have been no further discussions since Hammam's departure from the boardroom at Wimbledon, as far as I am aware.

Tottenham stopped their recent run of depressing results on Wednesday evening by winning 1-0 against Leicester City, at Filbert Street. Whilst most Spurs fans have suffered a disappointing season in silence and frustration, there is an increasing vocal minority who have been demanding changes at Tottenham. Manager George Graham has said he understands these frustrations but that it takes time to turn a football club around. One has to remember how close Manchester United came to sacking Alex Ferguson before they started to win trophies back in 1990. Graham has recently made it clear from his most recent signings that he is making long range plans for the future. He has gone on record as saying he feels the club has made too many short term buys in the past that have not worked out. When one considers players like Les Ferdinand, Dumitrescu, Popescu and some of the others we have had over the last few years, one can concede Graham is right about that.

So, how will today's match go? Predicting the outcome of a match between these two sides is never easy. But, given the size of Wimbledon's problems at the moment, it should not be beyond Spurs to beat Wimbledon and increase their anxieties at the bottom of the table. Spurs need to win a few more games in order to ensure they finish in the top half of the table even though there is no chance of our qualifying for Europe. I think they will win and the chances are that we will have to be patient before Armstrong or Iversen hits the vital goal that unlocks the Wimbledon defence.


Cheers, Brian

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