Consent Preferences Spurs Odyssey (Brian Judson) match report - Spurs v Middlesbrough, 13.09.98
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Spurs v Middlesbrough, 13.09.98 (Brian Judson's view)

Brian Judson wrote this additional report

Sunday, September 13th, 1998
FA Carling Premiership
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR (0) 0 MIDDLESBROUGH (2) 3.

Tottenham Hotspur : Baardsen; Calderwood, S Campbell, Tramezzani; Carr, Fox (sub Sinton, 55), Nielsen (sub Saib, 50), Berti, Clemence (sub Armstrong, 46); Ginola, Ferdinand.

Substitutes *NOT* used : Segars, Vega.

Booked : Carr, Ginola.

Middlesbrough : Schwarzer; Gordon, Vickers, Pallister, Cooper; Festa, Mustoe, Gascoigne (sub Kinder, 84), Townsend; Ricard (sub Branca, 65), Beck (sub A Campbell, 89).

Substitutes *NOT* used : Beresford, Stockdale.

Goalscorers : Rickard 25, 32; Kinder, 87.

Referee : Mr S Dunn (Avon).

Attendance : 30,437.

At the outset, I must declare this report comes courtesy of Sky, which enabled me to witness yet another depressing afternoon in the death of Tottenham Hotspur. I had hoped through the throes of my traumatic summer that this season would finally see the renaissance of Tottenham Hotspur, particularly as I had seen for myself the promise of Moussa Saib prior to my untimely admission to hospital. All that was lacking in this game was the advent of the witch that used to precede Frankie Howerd's revelations from Rome in his 70's hit TV show.

For in truth Tottenham were awful. They seemed to be incapable of stringing two consecutive intelligent passes together. And, much as I admire Baardsen, I fear he has to be blamed for two of the three goals conceded. But the defenders in front of him cannot snigger : they were equally woeful.

Middlesbrough need not look smug either. If they believe their troubles are over, I am here to say they are not. For Middlesbrough were in truth almost as poor as Tottenham. The Sky Executive who plumped for this match should hang his head in shame and admit the fare on view breached the Trades Description Act as being woefully unentertaining. Even Gazza, whom one would have thought would have been fired up by the thought of his long-awaited return to Tottenham (not counting the Lazio friendly), seemed anonymous in the ping-pong going on around him.

I could not decide whether to laugh or cry when Middlesbrough's Ricard scored their first two goals. Ricard, as regular viewers of Sky and Middlesbrough matches will know, is not the sharpest of goalscorers. He has sometimes taken a pot shot in front of a goal and seen his shot ending up as a throw-in closer to his own goal than the oppositions.

Mikkel Beck had already fired a warning shot by forcing Baardsen to a desperate save even before Spurs collapsed and surrendered. Then, twice in the space of six minutes, Calderwood and Campbell gave passable imitations of Lot's wife as a pillar of salt as they allowed Beck and Hamilton, whose first ball is not the easiest to trap, to swap passes, leaving Rickard to score both goals. I think Baardsen had the second shot covered but allowed it to spin out of his grasp.

Despite a series of desperate substitutions in the second half, Tottenham could not change the pattern of play. Even Ginola seemed unable to produce magic on a very poor afternoon for Tottenham's faithful.

With the exits jammed with Tottenham supporters, Kinder broke through the Tottenham ranks and unleashed a long range shot. Baardsen seemed to have it covered but fluffed it again and the ball ran into the empty goal with the entire Tottenham defence stranded in midfield.

On an afternoon of such indifferent football with no one showing any sort of skills, Sky said that Hamilton Rickard had been voted Man of the Match. When presented with the champagne, Rickard said, "Liverpool, brilliant, pleased" and departed for the dressing room. One wonders how on earth Robson, in his thick Geordie accent, communicates with his striker. Even through an interpreter, his instructions must lose something.

And so to another week of purgatory for Spurs fans. Where do we go from here? I suspect the players are feeling smug with themselves following Herr Gross' departure from Tottenham. They may yet come to look back on those afternoon training sessions with a feeling of regret for what they have lost, particularly if they found themselves breathless in the wake of the opposition because they preferred to play cards and pool instead of keeping fit.

Cheers, Brian

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