Saturday, September 19, 2009
VIEW FROM THE PARK LANE... by Mark Mizzi
Deflated is an understatement. I am penning this piece the day after our first defeat of the season which came against champions Manchester United and I am not in the happiest of moods.
A series of 5 wins out of five in all competitions came to a shuddering halt at the Lane as the Red Devils came from behind to beat us 3-1 even though they had Paul Scholes sent off in the second half.
By the time you read this we will have also played Chelsea at Stamford Bridge and that is definitely going to be another tough test. Stamford Bridge is not the happiest of hunting grounds for us and Chelsea are really on song at the moment. If you ask me, Ancelotti's side is even more difficult to beat than Manchester United.
But back to the Manchester United game. Was it that bad? A defeat is a defeat and there is nothing good about it. But should we panic? I don't think so. We started the game on a high and that Defoe opener will be contender for goal of the month, if not the season.
If there was a bad thing about that goal it was that it came too early. Manchester United being Manchester United, they clawed their way back into the game and equalised trough a marvelous Ryan Giggs freekick.
A half clearance from our defence found its way to Anderson's feet and he fired a rasping shot which beat Cudicini. I think the Italian goalkeeper did not have a good view of the ball and I am convinced that had his sight not been obstructed, he would have saved it.
At 2-1 down we did come back into the game and Jenas coming on for Palacios gave us a new thrust. Ben Foster performed a top notch save on Jermaine while Crouchy was denied by the cross bar. At that point Manchester United were with 10 men but, as so often happens, this made it more difficult for us to find a way through their crowded defence.
Their third goal was no surprise really. With Spurs desperately searching for an equaliser and our defence exposed, the ground for Rooney to score one of his trademark goals was fertile.
Put this way it does not seem that bad does it? But it does not mean that there are no problems to be addressed. Losing the flair and creativity of Luka Modric is one of them. But we cannot do anything about that except pray for a quick recovery.
The Manchester United game also showed that, despite all the talk of a big squad and strength in depth, we are very dependent on one player and I am not referring to Modric. This player is Wilson Palacios. Against Manchester United he was a shadow of his usual self. Maybe his travels to fulfill his international commitments with Honduras had something to do with it but the fact is that the midfield battle was lost.
On the other hand Tom Huddlestone is one of our most skilful players but everybody knows he is not fast. Yes he has made great progress under Harry's guidance but he is still not up there and he was found out against Sir Alex's boys.
Hindsight is a commodity Harry did not enjoy before the game. But I think if this game made one thing clear it was that Keane is not a winger. Maybe he can fill in there against mid-to-bottom teams but surely not against the top four.
Maybe Harry's plan was for Keane to help the midfield and attack with Ekotto covering the wing. But this was Manchester United and every time Keane left the wing Ekotto was exposed. Keane ended up uncertain of what to do and slowly but surely became anonymous.
With Crouch in attack I think Modric's role should have been given to a proper winger. Maybe David Bentley should have been given the chance to claw himself back into Harry’s reckoning. That would have at least given us another source of creativity. In my opinion Jermaine Jenas should also have been considered for that role. Ok he is not a proper winger but neither is Keane. Jenas would have at least helped Huddlestone and Palacios against the overwhelming United midfield
Lennon was wisely cut out of the game by Fergie and that meant that we had no outlet of creativity. With Ekotto not free to attack at will, Keane ineffective, and Lennon marked by three players, it is fair to say that our opportunities ratio was reduced by 75%.
Jenas, Gomes, Dawson and Woodgate are back to full fitness now and this will give us more strength in depth. But Modric's problem is still there. For it to be solved, creativity has to be replaced by creativity. A winger should be replaced by a winger. Avoiding square pegs in round holes will go a long way towards alleviating, if not solving, the problem.
On a positive note, having successfully completed all of the pre-development conditions and preparatory works, Spurs announced that works to build a world-class facility in Enfield to house our first team, development and academy squads have started.
Let's hope that this project will prove to be another step towards returning Tottenham Hotspur FC to its' former glories.
13 September 2009
(Look out for Spurs Malta on Facebook)
Wednesday, August 05, 2009
Saturday, July 11, 2009
On the initiative of Ms Carly Barnes and Tottenham Hotspur Malta, and with the support of Air Malta, Ramla Bay Hotel, Herbies, Jewellery and Wembley’s Car Hire Service Ardiles will be in Malta between the 3rd and 10th of August.
As a youngster, Ardiles played football in the streets and was given the nickname "Pitón" (python) by his brother because of his snake-like dribbling skills. He began his professional career in Argentina with Instituto de Córdoba, playing also for Club Atlético Belgrano and Huracán.
After the 1978 World Cup he joined Tottenham where he spent four seasons.
He helped Spurs win the FA Cup in his third season (1980-81) and collaborated with pop duo Chas and Dave as well as the rest of the Tottenham players for a song - "Ossie's Dream" - in which he famously pronounced Tottenham as "Tottingham".
He played a big part in another FA Cup triumph the following year, but did not play in the final. He also helped Tottenham win the UEFA Cup in 1984, leaving shortly afterwards to sign for Paris Saint Germain in France
After just one season in Paris, he returned to Tottenham, where he stayed until 1988. In the autumn of 1987, he was caretaker manager of Tottenham between the resignation of David Pleat and the appointment of Terry Venables He then played for Blackburn Rovers, Queens Park Rangers and Swindon Town, before being appointed as manager of Swindon Town in July 1989.
He returned to Spurs as manager between 1993 and 1994 where he famously played several matches utilizing a formation that had five forwards, a formation that hadn't been used in English football since the 1950’s.
On 7 February 2008 Ossie Ardiles, along with his fellow countryman Ricky Villa, was inducted into the Tottenham Hotspur Hall of Fame
Tottenham Hotspur Malta will be organising a number of activities for the Spurs supporters and football followers. A bar-b-q is planned for Friday 7th August at Ramla Bay Hotel while a visit to Gozo is scheduled for Saturday 8th August. On Sunday 9th August Ardiles will visit the premises of Tottenham Hotspur Malta in St. Frederick Street, Valletta to meet the Members and supporters.
A charity event will take place on Thursday 6th August. The former Spurs hero will attend the screening of the epic movie “Escape to Victory” in which he stars along with other football icons such as Pele and Bobby Moore.
All proceeds will go to Inspire Foundation
A short interview and a presentation will precede the screening. This event is being made possible through the help of KRS and Warner Brothers, Embassy Cinema Complex, Tottenham Hotspur Malta and Kick Off.
More details about the Ossie Ardiles’ visit to Malta will be published next month.
Sunday, June 14, 2009
Wednesday, June 03, 2009
Fil-jiem li ghaddew attendejt ghal-loghoba tal-Premier League bejn Tottenham u West Bromich Albion f’White Hart Lane. Ma kinitx xi loghoba klassika u ecitanti. West Bromich Albion riedu l-punti biex jippruvaw jevitaw ir-relegazzjoni filwaqt li Tottenham ghadhom bic-cans li jispiccaw fis-7 post u hekk jikkwalifikaw ghall-Europa Cup li se tiehu post it-Tazza UEFA.
Izda matul id-90 minuta deher car fejn kienet l-akbar motivazzjoni. Tottenham, minkejja li rebhu b’gowl wahdani ta’ Jermaine Jenas, laqtu l-lasta u kellhom gowl imhassar ghal offside dubjuz, fl-ebda hin ma wrew xi entuzjazmu specjali.
Min naha taghhom WBA ghamlu dak kollu li setghu biex jiehdu l-punti u wiehed jista’ jghid li kienu sfortunati li ma hadu xejn mil-loghoba. Wahda mir-ragunijiet li zammet lil WBA milli jiehdu xi haga kienet bla dubju ta’ xejn il-wirja brillanti tal-gowlkiper Brazilan ta’ Tottenham Heurelho Gomes. Wara bidu inkonsisatenti u mimli paprati, dan il-gowlkiper qed juri l-potenzjal veru tieghu.
Propju ftit wara li ntemmet il-loghoba, grazzi ghall-agent tal-futbol Carly Barnes, gejt mistieden biex niltaqa’ mal-maniger ta’ Tottenham Harry Redknapp u nehodlu xi kummenti.
Mal-wasla tieghu fid-dressing-room fejn iltqajna Redknapp laqatni ghal kemm hu "approachable" u kemm hu facli titkellem mieghu. Redknapp huwa maniger li jmur tajjeb hafna mal-midja u fil-hin li ltqajt mieghu ikkonfermajt dan. Ma jiddejjaqx jitkellem, fl-ebda hin ma jtik l-impressjoni li jixtieq qieghed x’imkien iehor u kultant donnu ma jiddejjaqx jisvela affarijiet li manigers ohra jiddejqu jkitkellmu dwarhom.
Tkellimna dwar id-decizioni tieghu li jhalli lil Portsmouth biex jinghaqad ma’ Tottenham. Qabel mar Londra huwa kellu offerta minghand Newcastle li rrifjuta. Dakinhar kien qal li ma hassx li kellu jhalli lil Portsmouth anki b'rispett lejn il-plejers li hu kien ikkonvinca jiffirmaw ma' Pompey. Ma' Tottenham mexa b'mod differenti u l-offerta giet accettata.
"Tottenham huwa klabb specjali. Meta giet l-opportunita ma stajtx inhalliha tghaddi. Ghalija kien difficli hafna nhalli lil Portsmouth pero din kienet l-okkazjoni ta' hajjti...naf l-istorja tal-klabb, kont naf uhud mill-plejers...kien prattikament impossibbli nirrifjuta".
Staqsejtu jekk id-decizjoni tieghu tfissirx li ghalih Tottenham ghandom potenzjal akbar minn Newcastle. Qbilna li Newcastle huwa klabb kbir, izda ghal Redknapp, ir-risposta qieghda fil-klassifika.
"Jekk tara fejn qeghdin Tottenham illum u fejn qeghdin Newcastle, ir-risposta hija ovvja. Newcastle qeghdin f'inkwiet kbir". Redknapp jahseb li finalment ha l-ahjar decizjoni. "Irrifjutajt lil Newcastle u bqajt ma' Portsmouth fejn irbaht l-FA Cup. Imbaghad hassejt li wassalt lil Portsmouth sa fejn nista' nwassalhom. Kien wasal iz-zmien li niccaqlaq".
Min jaf kieku Redknapp ma qalx le lil Magpeis is-sitwazzjoni kinitx tkun bil-kontra?
Taht Redknapp ir-rizultati ta' Tottenham tjiebu mil-lejl ghan-nhar. Bhal f'hafna kazijiet ohra fejn kien hemm bidla fil-maniger hafna kritici ikkumentaw li l-bidla fir-rizultati kienet sempliciment rizultat tal-bidla tal-maniger infisha. Donnu l-maniger il-gdid ma jkollu ebda mertu hlief il-fatt li hu gdid. Ghamiltha cara li ma naqbilx ma’ din it-teorija u nemmen li la r-rizultati jkunu nbidlu, xi haga differenti tkun qed issir.
Redknapp qal li l-kunfidenza tilghab parti importanti hafna fl-andament tat-tim. Huwa stqarr li meta ha t-tim f'idejh sab grupp ta' plejers b'moral baxx u minghajr ebda kunfidenza fihom infushom.
Biex dahhlilhom il-fiducja fihom infushom ghamel xi haga li tista' tidher semplici u elementari. "Naf li tinstema' stupida izda hafna plejers ma kienux qed jilghabu fil-pozizzjoni taghhom. Tottenham kienu tim mimli plejers jilghabu f'pozizzjonijiet li m'humiex komdi fihom. Minhabba f'hekk qatt ma setghu ikunu kunfidenti u jaghtu l-ahjar taghhom. Tkellimt maghhom u biddilt il-pozizzjonijiet ta' certu plejers. Dawn mill-ewwwel irrispondew u r-rizultati bdew gejjin".
Redknapp qal ukoll li t-tim kien zbilancjat u hu hadem biex jirranga din il-problema. Dan il-bilanc wassal ghal aktar konsistenza u meta r-rizultati jibdew gejjin tibda gejja wkoll il-kunfidenza. "Dahhalt lil Lennon fit-tim, Modric beda jilghab ahjar u Ledley King irritorna minn injury. Meta jilghab King rari nitilfu. Sfortunatament ghandu l-problema ta' rkopptu izda meta ma laghabx emmint f'Dawson u dan irrisponda b'wirjiet kbar"
Ledley King ibati minn injuru f'irkopptu li ma thalliehx jilghab aktar minn loghoba wahda f'gimgha. Fil-fatt dan rari jittrenja u jghaddi l-granet bejn loghoba u ohra fil-pool, fis-sala tat-terapija u fil-gym. Il-mistoqsija fuq mohh kull partitarju ta' Tottenham hija jekk dan jistax jerga' lura ghan-normal.
Skond Redknapp dan mhux se jsehh. "Le. King qatt m'hu se jkun jista' jittrenja regolarment. Il-bierah (lejlet il-loghoba) kienet l-ewwel darba li rajnieh din il-gimgha. Meta johrog fit-training grawnd ikun jista' biss jaghmel fti jogging, stretching u affarijiet zghar ohra". Redknapp spjega kif ikun biss lejlet il-loghoba li jkun jaf jekk King hux se jkun tajjeb ghal-loghob, "...u wara kull loghoba rkopptu tkun id-doppju ta' li hi".
Id-diskors waqa' fuq iz-zewg plejers ta' Tottenham Robbie Keane u Luka Modric. Tkellimna kif dawn jibdlu l-pozizzjoni taghhom kontinwament waqt il-loghoba u kemm huma mportanti ghat-tim.
Redknapp qal li dawn huma, "...zewg plejers intelligenti hafna, jafu l-importanza tal-moviment bla ballun u jikkaverjaw hafna lil xulxin. Emmint li dawn iz-zewg plejers ikunu tajba hafna flimkien u qed ituni ragun".
Minn din id-diskussjoni fuq it-tattika tkellimna dwar il-manigers in generali u esprimejt id-dizappunt tieghi ghal kif il-midja tipprogetta lill-manigers barranin bhala tatticisti kbar fil-waqt li tpoggi lil manigers Inglizi f'qoffa wahda taht it-timbru ta' motivaturi. Hafna drabi il-manigers Inglizi jigu mpingija li jibbazaw il-loghoba fuq il-passjonin aktar milli fuq l-intelligenza tattika.
Redknapp ma jaqbel xejn ma dan u din il-generalizazzjoni ddejqu. Huwa jemmen li hemm hafna manigers Inglizi tajbin filwaqt li fil-parti l-kbira il-manigers barranin kienu fortunati.
"Hafna manigers barranin gew imexxu lit-tmijiet il-kbar li jispiccaw regolarment fl-ewwel erba’ postijiet. Dan jaghmlilhom il-hajja aktar facli. Kieku l-istess manigers titfaghhom fis-sitwazzjoni ta' West Bromich Albion nahseb isibuha difficli hafna u r-rizultati ma jkunux l-istess. Intenni li hawn hafna manigers Inglizi jew Brittanici tajbin u nixtieq li xi darba dawn il-manigers jinghataw cans mal-klabbs il-kbar"
La semmejna l-klabbs il-kbar staqsejtu x'jahseb li jonqoshom Tottenham biex ikunu tassew jistghu jiccalingjaw ghal post ma' ta' fuq. Redknapp jemmen li Tottenham ghandhom bzonn tnejn jew tlett plejers ohra fis-Sajf biex ikunu tassew tim tajjeb.
"Iridu jkunu plejers tajbin. Plejers li jinsabu fl-ahjar taghhom u mhux plejers b'potenzjal. Naf liema setturi irrid insahhah u naf lil min irrid". Bi tbissima Redknapp kompla, "...izda mhux se nghidlek min huma ghax lanqas lic-Chairman ghadni ma ghidt".
Redknapp rega' tkellem dwar il-bilanc fit-tim u qal li din il-problema indirizzaha bl-akkwsit ta' Wilson Palacios minghand Wigan. "Palacios jaghti kollox ghal flokk, huwa f'sahhtu, aggressiv u fl-istess hin kapaci jilghab il-ballun. Ghandu kollox u l-partitarji jhobbuh ghax jarawh jistinka".
Staqsejtu jekk Tottenham ghandhomx jistennew plejers ohra tast-tip ta' Palacios izda r-risposta kienet wahd diplomatika. "Hemm zewg setturi li rrid insahhah. Naf liema huma imma mhux iz-zmien li nisvelahom".
Minn Palacios Redknap mexa ghal plejers ohra u qalli kif fl-opinjoni tieghu il-progress li ghamel id-difensur laterali Assou Ekotto kien, "...inkredibbli... jaf li nemmen fih, nahdem mieghu kuljum, jaf li jekk jaghmel zball mhux bilfors se jitlef postu ghax nemmen fih...dan kollu mlieh bil-kunfidenza u l-fiducja fih innifsu. Ghal plejer m'hemm xejn aghar mill-fatt li jilghab bil-biza' li jekk jaghmel zball se jitlef postu" Redknapp qal ukoll li Ekotto qed jigi meghjun mil-pozizzjoni ta'Modric fuq il-linja.
Redknapp ghalaq billi kkummenta wkoll dwar il-gowlkiper Heurelho Gomes u kif dan rega' ghall-ahjar tieghu. Apparti l-kunfidenza Redknapp attribwixxa hafna mill-mertu lil Tony Parks li gie ngaggat bhala kowc tal-gowlkipers mill-istess Redknapp.
"Tony Parks ghamel bicca xoghol kbira. Jahdem ma' Gomes kuljum, jitkellem mieghu u jibnilu l-fiducja fih innifsu. Ir-rizultati qed jidhru". Il-forma ta' Gomes qed thalli lil Carlo Cudicini fuq il-bank. Redknapp qal li Cudicini mhux kuntent fuq il-bank u hu jiddispjacih hafna ghal dan il-gowlkiper. Izda l-wasla tal-gowlkiper Taljan ma’ Tottenham gabet il-kompetizzjoni ghal Gomes u, ironikament, Cudicini stess ghin lil Gomes isib il-forma tieghu u jzommu barra mit-tim.
Qabel hallejt lil Redknapp jitlaq ghal impenji ohra ma stajtx ma nsemmilux lil Michael Mifsud. Naf li Redknapp kien interessat li jiehu lill-internazzjonali Malti ma' Portsmouth u staqsejtu x'jahseb mic-cansijiet li xi darba naraw lil Mifsud fil-Premier League.
"Huwa plejer tajjeb hafna. Segwejtu meta kien ma' Coventry u nahseb li hu plejer ecitanti. Huwa plejer ta' talent kbir u ghandu l-velocita favur tieghu. Issa ghandu bzonn jghaddi minn fazi ta' konsistenza u minn hemm inkunu nistghu nibdew nitkellmu dwar il-Premier League. Nahseb jista' jghmilha. Kull ma jrid hu li tigi l-opportunita"
U b'dik il-laqta lokali ghalaqna d-diskussjoni taghna u Harry telaq ghal aktar laqghat. Min jaf? Forsi mar jitkellem mac-cermen ta' Tottenham biex itarraflu dawk l-ismijiet li s'issa zamm mistura.
Saturday, May 16, 2009
Luka Modric trots past the training pitch at Spurs Lodge with the air of a man who believes he belongs. His studs casually click-clack along the path. He knows his way around the place, nods to friendly faces, feels comfortable with his game. But it was not always thus.
Rewinding to the beginning of his English adventure, Modric recalls the bewilderment he felt as a new face, a signature signing, in a team that began falling to bits the moment the season kicked off. Tottenham failed to win a league game for the first two months. Mistakes ruled. Morale evaporated. The club – sold to him as a slice of the big time – instead felt crushed with worries.
Modric wondered whether he had made a poor choice in joining this troubled corner of the Premier League. During his final season at Dinamo Zagreb there had been abundant transfer speculation about Barcelona and Chelsea, but Tottenham's persistence, and willingness to spend £16.5m, had won the day. "It was very difficult for me because I didn't expect such a start," he admits. Difficult enough to feel like a mistake? "Soon I had that impression. I was thinking what could I do to improve things, and whether I might be partly to blame."
His waif's physique might suggest otherwise, but in character Modric is deceptively steely. Despite understandable doubts, he hung in there until the storm abated. "In spite of that start I never doubted myself, or that the results would change. Now we can see that it's better, and there is no more pressure. Of course it's much easier since we didn't have to think about relegation."
Tottenham are thinking in a much more positive direction. They are in the shake-up for the remaining Europa Cup slot for next season along with Fulham, West Ham and today's opponents at White Hart Lane, Manchester City. It might look like the clumsiest European competition ever created and prove to be a headache in disguise for managers, but players want to be in Europe. Modric is no exception.
The international stage makes him tick. It is when he talks about his experiences with Croatia that his personality, his passion, breaks out of its shell. His landmark appearance in the red-and-white-chequered shirt occurred in 2007 just a few miles round the North Circular at Wembley. As Croatia beat England, celebrated an historic double and secured their qualification to Euro 2008, it was clear that Modric had the ability to shine outside of his home nation on the biggest of stages.
"That was the game," Modric smiles. "Beforehand the important thing was [the coach] Slaven Bilic came to me and said, 'Luka, you have played so many good games you don't need to prove yourself to anybody today. Just be yourself. Don't feel under pressure and things will turn out the right way.' That's what happened."
The atmosphere in the away dressing room that night has stuck in his mind ever since. "Fenomenalno," he breezes. "It was a great feeling. Playing for Croatia means everything. It's completely different to playing for a club. So much more emotions. Because of all the bad things that were happening in the war we really, really appreciate playing for Croatia and we cannot wait to play another match."
Come the end of the season, Modric will rejoin his compatriots in trying to improve a World Cup qualification campaign that has turned upside down the fortunes. Now it is England who have the upper hand, while Croatia have it all to do.
Naturally, when Fabio Capello's team came away from Zagreb with a devastating 4–1 victory last September it was not so fenomenalno. You can imagine how challenging a time it was for Modric, coming as it did in the midst of Tottenham's blue period.
Modric sums up the transformation in England using only one word: Capello. "The players are more or less the same but the difference is the coach, who gave them the confidence they were missing. He is one of the best in the world who can achieve a lot.
"To be honest, we haven't started the campaign well and England have a big advantage at the moment. The most important game is the next one, in June against Ukraine, who are our main rival for second place. But we are still not giving up the possibility of being first. If we win every game and England have a bad result somewhere, it can happen."
Modric looks forward constantly. It is his reaction to a childhood scarred by the Balkan conflict of the 90s, which came with great personal loss when his grandfather was killed. It is something he is loth to rake over any more. "You can't forget, but you need to look to the future."
Football offered some normality for a boy who pinned posters of his idol, Zvonimir Boban, on his walls, and Modric practised as often as possible. "My parents still took me to training sessions, I played in the schoolyard and also in front of the house where we lived. So no problems," he says. Moving from the seaside at Zadar, where he had grown up, to the capital to join Dinamo Zagreb was a culture shock. But that was nothing compared to his next move, on loan to Zrinjski Mostar in Bosnia. It was a none too subtle manoeuvre by Dinamo designed to toughen the kid up. Suffice to say he went a boy and returned a man.
Modric grins bashfully. "I was 17. It really helped me because it is a very rough, tough league to play in. You get a lot of hits. The referees let many things go. The country is divided into the Serbian, Muslim and Croatian parts, so if you were a Croatian team going into one of the other parts, there was extra pressure from the fans and referees succumbed to that. Nobody was at liberty to break your leg but the tackles were very rough."
Obviously he would prefer his football to be more about technique than physique, but at the end of a season of adaption at Tottenham, Modric has shown the doubters that he can handle it. Only two outfield players have had more minutes on the pitch than him – Jonathan Woodgate and Vedran Corluka.
Brute strength was always the burning question with Modric, who admits there were times he feared his size would count against his aspirations. Notably, if you stood him side by side next to Lionel Messi, there is no question one is slighter than the other. Harry Redknapp sends Modric to the gym to develop his stamina, but also reckons he is stronger than he looks. "Luka has been brilliant. He is a special player and he's not a lightweight either. He has shown he can mix it with the big boys." Redknapp has said he wants to build his team around Modric. Next season will be a major one for the both of them.
"Overall I have adjusted very well here but I'm missing very much my friends in Croatia," Modric muses. "At the beginning it was strange coming to such a huge, huge city but I like to play here very much and I am settled here."
The next step is to experience some fenomenalno moments with Tottenham. "I think we are in a good position," he says. "It's difficult to predict if it will take a year or two but I don't think we are too far off. I am really looking forward to next season because I don't believe we can possibly have such a bad start again."
Modric was at the Kickz tournament, put on by Tottenham Hotspur Foundation, in partnership with the Football Foundation and the Home Office's It Doesn't Have To Happen anti-knife crime campaign
Dear gaffer, I do not know whether to laugh or cry when I hear so called experts and (pseudo) football connoisseurs branding you tactically inept, plain lucky and nothing more than a motivator.
Like every other man in the business you will always have your critics. And like every other manager you will also commit mistakes. But those who say you are no tactician are missing the point. I do not have the space to delve deep into this argument but if people took time to analyse the interchanging of positions between Robbie Keane and Luka Modric, just to mention one example, they might change their mind.
The seemingly natural understanding between these two players and their continuous movement between the wing, central midfield and upfront gives us options. The way these two players move and play has given us a large degree of fluency that we did not have before. What we are seeing now is one of the most slick-moving, flexible and non-rigid teams we have seen in years.
Allow me to highlight Modric's intelligence and movement by making an audacious comparison. How many times have we heard that Steven Gerrard's natural position is just behind the striker and how he is “wasted” when played on the wing? This is certainly true. But one thing everyone seems to take for granted is that Gerrard cannot play both roles at the same time. The typically conservative English media does not even consider the concept and never poses the question. The possibility is not even contemplated. Well dear hacks, believe me, it is possible. How? Harry and Luka have the answer.
And what about Robbie Keane? According to Benitez he did not cut it at Liverpool. According to some critics he is now failing at Spurs because he is not producing the goals. Some are even stating that he gives nothing to Spurs and he should not be in the team.
Everyone is entitled to his opinion and here is mine. Benitez and Keane's critics are doing the same mistake. Robbie Keane is not just about goals. Robbie Keane means movement and application. He covers every blade of grass and works tirelessly for 90 minutes. He is there to build play, there to make that final through pass, there to defend and there to mark. No he has no definite position. You know why? Because Harry has asked him to cover every position and, to be honest, I can’t think of a lot of players who can or are willing to do that.
There is one question every Spurs follower should ask himself. Go back to the pre-Keane months and think about how many times we had the ball and the player in possession gave (or had to give) the ball away simply because he had no team mate near him with whom he could exchange and build play. How many times does that happen now? Much less I think. The team is now much better in possession. The reason is simple. Robbie Keane is always there to receive and pass.
Need I say more about Harry? Just a couple of other things. If ever testimony of Harry's impact was needed, just look at Assou Ekotto's improvement and the good link up play between left back and winger on both flanks.
It is of course not mission accomplished. The team needs strengthening and more balance. I am sure Harry has already started planning his summer purchases. In the meantime, thanks again Harry. I am pretty confident that it is now a case of onwards and upwards.
29 April 2009
Thursday, March 26, 2009
Tottenham have proposals for a new stadium adjacent to White Hart Lane, with the full planning application for the Northumberland Development Project due in the next few months.
Spurs have so far been encouraged by the response of local residents to the proposals and there could now be good news over building costs.
"The stadium build cost has come down by about £40m because of a fall in the price of steel and cement," said Collecott. "People who want to do this project have greater availability than they did a year or so ago."
Collecott also feels the new stadium will lead to a positive impact on the surrounding area.
"Nobody else is going to pump £250million into this part of London," he added. "It doesn't take a genius to realise it's not the nicest area. It could be the start of much-needed regeneration for this part of north London."
Meanwhile, preliminary work on a new training complex in Enfiled will commence in April.
SECOND NORTHUMBERLAND PROJECT EXHIBITION
The Club has announced the dates for the second public exhibition as it continues to consult on plans for a world-class new stadium, a new base for the Tottenham Hotspur Foundation and a vibrant mix of other uses including retail, restaurants and homes alongside important new public space.
The Club will be hosting its second public exhibition from the 2nd April to the 7th April 2009. Having received strong support for the plans at the first exhibition in November 2008, this new exhibition will present more detailed information and include new images.
Commenting on the announcement, Daniel Levy, Chairman, Tottenham Hotspur said:
"Over the last few months we have made significant progress with our plans, having had an overwhelmingly positive response to our first consultation.
"We believe these plans will further demonstrate the potential of this scheme to make this area more vibrant for the local community, as well as genuinely acting as a major catalyst for the regeneration of this part of the High Road.
"The second stage of our consultation will be another opportunity for the public to comment on our plans, as we present more detailed images and designs, and I hope many local residents and supporters will take the opportunity to visit the exhibition or view the information on our website."
Spanish defender Berchiche joined the Club in the summer of 2007 from Athletic Bilbao and has represented his country at both Under-17 and Under-18 levels. He has featured in four games for our Reserves this season.
Hutton has been capped by the Republic of Ireland at Under-15, 16, 18 and 19 levels and the winger has appeared on six occasions for our Reserve side this term, scoring once
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
Danny Rose has joined Championship side Watford on loan for the rest of the season.
The attacking midfielder, 18, has recently returned from a long-term knee injury that ruled him out from September until March and has impressed in our last two reserve wins against Chelsea and West Brom.
An England youth regular, Danny joined us from Leeds United in July, 2007 and played 10 games for the reserves last season, scoring once.
Monday, March 23, 2009
No, the score in the heading is not a mistake. Luka Modric's superb goal v Chelsea at the Lane on Saturday did not just give us a sweet tasting win over noveau-riche Chelsea. It did not only seriously dent our rivals' hopes of winning the Premiership. The 50th minute strike did not only put to rest the "Three Point Lane" myth spouted nontheless on Chelsea's official website. No it was not just all of this. Luka's goal was also the tenth goal we put past Chelsea in a week.
On Monday our reserve side beat the Blues 4-0 while on Saturday morning it was the U/18's turn to destroy the Chelsea counterparts 5-0. The stage was set for Saturday evening's senior game and Modric capped what was a marvelous week for the Spurs.
Here we reproduce reports of the three games. The reports are taken from www.spursodyssey.com- a Spurs website we highly reccommend.
Premier Reserve League South, Brisbane Road, Leyton
SPURS v CHELSEA 4(2)-0(0)
It was a chilly evening for the first of three games against London rivals Chelsea this week. Spurs fielded a near complete first team shadow squad led by the players from the bench at Villa.
Spurs lined up with Rocha and Gilberto at the back with Chimbonda at right back and Bale on the left. Huddlestone and Rose started in the centre of midfield with Bentley on the right side and Townsend on the left. Campbell and Pavlyuchenko started up front.
Spurs kicked off the first half attacking the north end using the pace of Townsend backed up by Bale to stretch the inexperienced visitors and provide crosses for the strikers. The young Blues players showed lots of energy to try and close down the Spurs players and Di Santo was put through but he hit his effort over. Spurs won a corner which was partially cleared to Bale who crossed to the far post where Chimbonda had stayed. He took one touch before hitting it low past Taylor in the goal.
Spurs had most of the possession throughout the game as they were stronger and more experienced than the visitors and it was mainly due to some slack play from them that gave Chelsea any chances at all as well as keeping the score down.
Townsend was released down the left and his cross was turned wide of the far post. Huddlestone released Bale and his cross was turned wide at the near post by Campbell. Taylor then saved from Rose before Mineiro tested Alnwick. Bentley took a free kick but hit it well over the bar. Stoch cut inside and fired over. Rose was doing a lot of chasing in the midfield and caught Mellis late shortly after being spoken to by the ref and was duly booked.
Pavlyuchenko held up the ball before playing Campbell in for a run at goal. Campbell out-paced Mancienne and lifted the ball over Taylor to increase the lead. Bale took the next free kick and forced Taylor into a good save. Taylor also saved the next free kick taken by Huddlestone. Alnwick saved from Borini for a corner and when the corner was taken Mancienne connected with a overhead kick which Alnwick saved for another corner. Bridcutt fired wide before Townsend had a chance that was saved.
There were no changes for the start of the second half and Spurs continued to dominate with Bentley firing a free kick from an acute angle that Taylor saved. Campbell set up Pavlyuchenko but he turned it wide of the goal. Mancienne had a long range effort go wide before Rose also went wide at the other end.
After Alnwick saved a free kick by Stoch Clive made two changes. Obika came on for the ineffective Bentley and went to the left side with Townsend crossing to the right. Livermore replaced the tiring Rose in the middle. Campbell was fouled on the edge of the area as he dribbled along the line which gave Huddlestone another Free kick chance. This time he beat the keeper to his right for a 3-0 lead.
Mineiro then got a yellow card for another foul on the lively Campbell. Huddlestone took the free kick and put it to the keepers left but Taylor saved it at the second attempt. Campbell changed places with Obika and got to the line on the left and tried to cross but Mancienne handled to concede a penalty. Pavlyuchenko took the kick and blasted it over the bar much to the relief of the Chelsea faithful in the stand.
After Nouble put his effort over the bar Allen made his last substitution - replacing Townsend with Bostock. Pavlyuchenko put a chance wide and Huddlestone was off target with the next free kick. Campbell drove wide before he won another penalty when he was played through on the right by Chimbonda and tripped by Philliskirk a yard inside the area. This time Campbell took the kick himself and put it to Taylor’s right for 4-0. In the last minute Van Aanholt was the unlucky player to get a yellow for trying to stop Campbell wide on the right. The last chance of the game fell to Nouble but Alnwick saved comfortably.
With such a strong side (Ed: Almost UEFA Cup proportions!)there was only going to be one winner and despite the half-hearted performances by Bentley and Pavlyuchenko the hard work put in by Campbell, Rose, Townsend and Bale had the visitors on the backfoot for much of the time with the rest of the defence having an easy time of it. Huddlestone had plenty of time to pick his passes and even used his weight to dispossess opponents a few times. This side may only have played to keep players sharp for the first team as there are no more midweek games but it did give Bale his first league win in a Spurs shirt. The four goals see Spurs go above Chelsea on goal difference as well. The next Chelsea game is on Saturday morning when the Academy side take them on, and some of the lads were in the crowd tonight. Next week the Reserves play West Brom at the Hawthorns.
Premier Academy League, Chelsea Training ground
CHELSEA v SPURS 0(0) -5(2)
Despite it being a sunny morning, there was a slight chill in the air as I rolled into the plush new Chelsea training ground. I have to say that the pitch that was used today has flood-lighting and also seating for a couple of hundred. Unfortunately they did not supply a teamsheet. This may be of course be because some clubs refuse to provide them for their visitors as they have a tendency to pinch young players. Due to the delay in providing this report I have managed to find out the teams anyway.
Spurs lined up with Butcher and Caulker at the back with Smith on the right and Cox on the left side. Parrett and Kasim started in the centre of midfield with Byrne on the right and Hutton on the left. Mason supported Oyenuga up front.
Spurs defended the south end to our left in the first half and were put under pressure by the home side who closed down quickly, turning over the ball and preventing Spurs from getting their passing game going. Mellis fired into the side netting early on but most of the play was in a congested midfield as both sides fought to get control of the ball.
Spurs first chance fell to Mason who saw his effort saved by Heimann for a corner which he took and Oyenuga headed wide at the far post. Spurs broke the deadlock two minutes later when Oyenuga won the ball and advanced on the keeper hitting a rising drive. Heimann got his hands to the shot but it still found the net.
The Blues responded and Jansson saved from Taiwo's drive. Byrne provided a good cross for Oyenuga, but he could not get his effort on target. Jansson saved from Sala and Ahamed drove wide before Spurs increased their lead when Mason was played in by Kasim and fired the ball past Heimann. The keeper saved Mason’s next effort and Kasim fired over minutes later.
Chelsea had a chance to get back into the game when Taiwo and Gordon combined on the left to put in a cross that Clifford put over the bar from less than 6 yards. Ahamed fouled Mason just outside the area to be shown a yellow card but Mason fired the free kick wide of the goal. Oyenuga got through in the last minute of the half but the keeper saved his effort at the second attempt.
The home side started the second half strongly with Jansson saving from Sala and Taiwo drove wide coming in from the left and followed that by skewing the ball wide from the right side. After Mason hit the post, Spurs put the result beyond Chelsea reach by getting a third. Hutton dribbled into the area and was tripped by Ince to win a penalty. Mason took the kick and placed it to the keeper's right.
It had been a tough battle for most of the game and the ref began clamping down more as a frustrated Sala got booked for a challenge on Mason. Saville jumped highest to head wide from a free kick before the visitors increased their lead. Hutton got down the left and pulled the ball back for Parrett to drive low into the net from 25yards.
Oyenuga went into the book for a two footed tackle on Sala who then kicked him where it hurts! Taiwo followed him into the book when he stopped Smith’s run from deep. Smith did go down the flank and provide a good deep cross that Hutton failed to connect with at the far post.
Inglethorpe replaced Oyenuga with fit again M’Poku as he took a knock and also replaced Mason for the same reason with Kane. Parrett drove wide from distance before he gave way to Ekim. Phillip saw his effort saved by Jansson before Spurs put the icing on the cake with a fifth goal on 90 minutes. Kane supplied M’Poku who slipped a challenge and poked the ball passed the advancing keeper. Heimann still had to save from Hutton before the final whistle.
This was a good result after a shaky start as sides now try to knock Spurs out of their stride with a more physical approach that in the past would have seen them cave in. (Not this side though!) It may take them a little time, but they will continue to play a passing game. This was the second of a triple header against the Blues in a week and I had to get my skates on to see the last part at White Hart Lane. Next week the Academy side return to south London when they visit Fulham at Motspur Park. It will be interesting to see what side Clive puts out at the Hawthorns on Monday evening as only Bostock was missing from the academy line-up. He may continue to use players from the first team squad if they are not away on international duty.
BARCLAYS PREMIER LEAGUE
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 1 (0) CHELSEA 0 (0)
Attendance; - 36,034
Referee: - Mike Dean
Teams:-Spurs (4-4-2):- Gomes; Corluka, Woodgate, King, Ekotto; Lennon (sub Zokora, 90), Jenas, Palacios, Modric (sub O’Hara, 86); Keane (Capt.), Bent
Subs not used: - Cudicini; Dawson; Huddlestone, Bentley; Pavlyuchenko
Booked: - Palacios, Modric
Chelsea (4-3-2-1):- Cech; Bosingwa, Alex, Terry (Capt.), Cole; Belletti (sub Quaresma, 61), Ballack, Lampard; Essien (sub Malouda, 76), Anelka; Drogba
Subs not used: - Hilario; Ivanovic, Mancienne; Di Santo, Kalou
Booked: - Belletti, Ballack
Spurs fans walked away from The Lane with their heads held high and broad grins on their faces, after their team beat Chelsea once again, and deservedly too! This was a magnificent team performance where every team member gave 100% effort, Aaron Lennon set up a great goal by Luka Modric, and Heurelho Gomes ensured the points were secured with some heroic saves towards the end of the game.
The win put Spurs into an overnight position of ninth in the Premier League, and also puts them on top of the form table after their last six games, in which they have won 4 and drawn 2 league games. Fears of relegation can surely be cast aside now, and Spurs can legitimately chase seventh place which might be enough to ensure a fourth consecutive season of European football. This week, Spurs have achieved a clean sweep over Chelsea at Reserve, Academy and Premier League level. The reserves won 4-0 on Monday night, and the Academy side won 5-0 at Cobham this morning. The chances of the first team getting the “treble” seemed remote, but the icing on the cake was obtained in style.
The game was delayed for half an hour due to a security alert, but Harry Redknapp fielded the same starting line-up as last week, with the exception of Vedran Corluka replacing Didier Zokora. There were some terrific individual performances worthy of mention, such as Jenas playing his best game of the season, tracking and nullifying Frank Lampard for the first hour of the game but also finding time to create and support attacking moves. Robbie Keane’s return to Spurs has surely been integral to our recent successes, and today, without scoring he played in the zone between Darren Bent and the midfield to brilliant effect, making many successful and skilful passes. Lennon tested Ashley Cole to the full, and after a tentative start, Luka Modric was at his awesome best, with the ball sticking to his feet as he weaved his way down the left channels, and sparked many attacks.
Chelsea’s midfield was set up with Ballack behind the driving force of Essien, with Belletti on the right, and Lampard towards the left. Anelka and Drogba took it in turns to play on the left flank or as the target man.
Spurs were more than holding their own from the outset, playing towards the vocal Park Lane supporters. Gomes made the first meaningful save though, getting down well to Essien’s drive, before stretching to prevent Belletti following up. Jenas responded for Spurs within a minute, after a Corluka cross was partly cleared and fell to his feet 25 yards out on the right side. Jenas let rip with a powerful shot that passed only just over the corner of Cech’s goal. After 17 minutes, Darren Bent headed on a long ball into the path of Robbie Keane, who tried a left foot shot to the narrow side of Cech’s goal. Cech was on guard though, but still had to concede a corner, from which Ledley King headed over.
After 24 minutes, Corluka picked up a Jenas interception, carried the ball forward passing to Keane who this time hit a shot from the right side of the box with his right foot – saved by Cech. A Chelsea ball crossed from the far left reached Belletti on the other side of the pitch, and the full back turned winger cut the ball back to Anelka, whose shot was pushed round by Gomes for a corner. Five minutes later, Modric took the ball out of defence, passing quickly to Palacios who also showed speed of thought and action, sending a quick ball to Robbie Keane who found Cech his equal again.
Ekotto was fouled and Modric took the Spurs free kick which Ledley headed to Cech. Ekotto picked up a poor Chelsea clearance following a Spurs corner, sending the ball down the line to Modric, whose cross was met by Darren Bent. Bent’s shot was outside the target, but Cech was unsure of his ground and dived to save anyway. Bent was subject to a late challenge from Belletti as he broke away, and Belletti got a yellow card for his trouble. The teams went in level at half-time, but Spurs had clearly been the better of the two sides, with Chelsea rarely threatening.
Within five minutes of the break, Spurs had a precious lead. Bosingwa has to take some of the blame, as he should have just shepherded a ball out of play when up against Modric. However, the right back chose to take the ball inside along the bye-line, before hitting a random clearance that was soon headed back by Woodgate towards Aaron Lennon. Lennon quickly cut the ball back for Modric who was now on the edge of the area towards the right side. Modric drilled a superb low shot that beat Cech low to his left leading to great celebrations in front of the North-east corner of the ground.
Spurs did still create a few openings, and it was inevitable that Chelsea were going to come after us, but I did feel that we sat back and allowed that to happen too much, rather than carry on playing with the confidence and panache that had been so present until the goal. Soon after we took the lead, Darren Bent raced onto a long ball, and took a little too long making his mind up what to do, before picking out a pass to Jenas, who shot wide. Ledley had another headed chance from a corner that had been won through the efforts of Keane and Modric. Keane then hit a fantastic long cross-field pass to Lennon, who crossed for Modric, when the Croatian hit his shot into the ground and up into the arms of Cech.
Belletti was replaced by Quaresma, and Lampard started to have a bit more influence on the game. He picked out Drogba, whose shot was saved for a corner. Jenas made a rare error in the middle and this allowed Anelka to pick up the ball and feed it to Lampard, whose shot was well wide and received laughter from the Spurs crowd. Going the other way though, Jenas made an incisive run through the middle, passing to Bent. Bent tried a pass to his right and the ball was blocked running back to Keane who tried a right foot curler that was only just wide.
Jenas conceded a free kick about 25 yards out, which was taken by Lampard. The kick was blocked by the wall, and then put wide by the Chelsea number 8. With fifteen minutes to go, Chelsea skipper John Terry was getting forward more and more, and was being allowed too much space. He hit a ball to Drogba, whose shot went wide across the goalmouth. Now Essien was replaced by Malouda. Palacios and Modric took bookings as the pressure mounted upon Spurs. After Modric’s yellow card Terry got on the end of the free kick, and his header was well saved by Gomes. Spurs broke down the right and Aaron Lennon had team-mates waiting for a killer ball, only to see the little winger sky his attempt to cross or shoot.
With ten minutes to go, Woodgate was harshly penalised just outside the box, but Ballack hit a kick over the goal by a distance. Ballack then saw yellow for a late challenge on Modric who had received a good ball from Keane. Modric was then replaced by Jamie O’Hara, and received a deserved standing ovation as he went off. Gomes patted out a header by Alex that had come down off the underside of the bar and in the dying seconds of four added minutes, the Spurs keeper also thwarted Malouda.
It is difficult to relay in words the great feeling of ecstasy that pervaded the stadium and its environs for a long time after the game. The fact is that Spurs have now put the old Chelsea hoodoo well behind them, and have beaten them in two of our last four meetings. Harry Redknapp has got the team playing as a unit in these last five games, and they are playing with skill and confidence. Magnificent Spurs need fear no-one!
Saturday, February 21, 2009
It was a home debut that stirred the fans. Energetic yet composed in possession, aggressive but disciplined; Wilson Palacios was the clear man-of-the-match against Arsenal and is already a favourite with the White Hart Lane faithful.
Harry Redknapp gave our Honduran recruit from Wigan Athletic quite a build-up and Palacios certainly delivered in his first home appearance. He bossed central midfield and did all the things his new boss said he would, with some extra things beside.
His hunger to win the ball is breath of fresh air in a team that has failed to screen the back four properly since Michael Carrick left the club in 2006. Palacios hunts the opponent with the ball down with such intensity that an easy pass is usually denied.
It is often said that tackling is a dying art form in the modern game, which is why Palacios is such a welcome addition. He is an expert in judging and timing tackles, conceding just four free kicks against Arsenal, although Harry will be keen to preserve his dynamism and aggression – the fact Palacios was suspended when we bought him endeared him to a manager frustrated by the soft centre of his squad.
However, Palacios is much more than a defensive midfielder who hassles opponents: his use of the ball on Sunday was excellent, misplacing just four of his 34 passes. He also tested Manuel Almunia with a rasping drive that suggests his shooting prowess is a league above that of his fellow midfield engine, Didier Zokora.
Palacios’ ease on the ball was surpassed by Jermaine Jenas, who found a white shirt with 41 of his 43 passes, the highest success rate of any midfielder on the pitch.
Unfortunately the two he misplaced, a simple five yard ball to Lennon after a first half burst into the Arsenal half and an ambitious floated cross-field switch to the same player in the closing stages, will stick in the fans’ minds.
It is this inconsistency at crucial stages with which Jenas frustrates, but it is clear that he know has the ideal foil to improve his own game and I hope Harry persists with the midfield axis he started the derby match with. Two games into his Tottenham career and Wilson Palacios is already a crowd favourite.
Written by Philip Oliver, a Tottenham Hotspur fan and a professional sports writer who blogs about football betting at Betfair.
Saturday 4 April - Blackburn Rovers (A) - will now kick-off at 1.45pm
Wednesday, January 07, 2009
"It's great to be back," he said. "I'm looking forward to the challenge. It's hard to put it in words – it's brilliant. I had been looking forward to it all day.
"A number of things made me return. Obviously everyone knows the manager was a major factor; my family still live in London and the fans were a factor, too – you can tell by the reception I got.
"I never wanted to leave, but as a professional there comes a time when you think you need to move on. I did, in order to improve my England career. But I didn't want to go in the first place."