Looking Forward

 

BLACKBURN ROVERS (Home)

Premier League

Saturday 8th May 2004

Harking back to last year's loss to Blackburn at home, it was the game that probably should have got Glenn Hoddle the sack rather than the one against SCBC six games in this season.  Perhaps it will signal the last game under David Pleat that we see at the Lane.

With rumours flying round faster than Concorde about who will take over, the players should be out to impress whoever that will be, because they will watch videos of the games.   However, there has been little energy put into some of the away games lately and only the second half performance in the last home match against Arsenal came close to what Spurs fans expect every week.

With Freidel out injured, former Villa keeper Peter Enkelmann looks set to make his Rovers debut in goal.  Best known for his howler against Birmingham at St. Andrews, where he touched the ball on it's way in from a colleague's throw-in, he has had little first team action since O'Deary arrived at Villa.

The established defence of Lucas Neill, Nils-Eric Johannsen, Marcus Babbel and Andy Todd or Craig Short will feature to stop Spurs getting through to Enkelmann.  The Aussie Neill has had his fair share of red cards and is often rash in his tackling, but likes to get forward up the line too, so it might provide Spurs an opportunity to get at them especially with Todd and Short both lacking the pace that Defoe has and Keane might employ to get past and away from them.  Without the towering presence of Amoruso, the lanky Johanssen will be left to challenge Kanoute in the air or win everything that is booted high up to Keane and Defoe.  Vratislav Gresko, who hit the shot that deflected past Keller in the away game could provide an attacking option and Michael Gray, joining from Celtic on a free, also gives experience at the back with an ability to cross for Stead in the area.

Tottenham have made the mistake of handing the midfield over to Tugay and Garry Flitcroft in the past.  With Michael Brown looking to mix it with his former Man City team-mate, Spurs might gain some ground here, but they will need a 90 minutes of the type of display demonstrated in the second half of the Arsenal match.  Steven Reid, who was touted as a Tottenham target when he left Millwall, has struggled to fit into the Premiership side, but always gives 100% and covers a lot of ground from box to box, while Brett Emerton is a rangy Australian winger, who has found the physical side of our league hard to come to terms with.

Up front the pairing of Jonathan Stead and Andy Cole has hit it off and the former Huddersfield forward has hit the Premiership as left did the Third Division with a stream of goals, including his late winner against Man U last week.  Cole still gets on the scoresheet and knows how to take a goal, with his desire to do well against Spurs even though the maker of the derogatory comments about him - Hoddle - has now gone.  Matt Jansen has been on loan at Coventry after he attempted to come back from his Mediterranean motor-bike crash a year or more ago, while youngster Paul Gallagher has stepped up to make his goal-scoring mark in the first team. Nippy and mobile, he could pull defenders away, before drifting into a dangerous position, something Dwight Yorke used to do, but he fell out with Souness and has been out of favour since.

With safety guaranteed now for both sides, the match has little meaning other than to obtain the points to get a place and £500,000 more in prize money.  Tottenham need to regain some pride and in front of their own fans for the last time this season and before the new incumbent takes over, hopefully, they might put together a winning performance ...

PREDICTION : -   Tottenham Hotspur  2     Blackburn Rovers   1

For more information on the opponents and their history, including full result history of matches between the two teams, click here.

VIEW FROM THE OTHER SIDE

How do you think Rovers have played this season? 

Its been a disappointing season, following the highs of last season we have had to take far too many lows this campaign. We are now the only Premiership team to ever lose 10 home games and not get relegated. Our away form has not been a problem and if we had only had an average home form we would have been challenging for Europe. Our main problem has been at the back, we have not been able to field the same back four for more than three games in a row. At times our back line really looked like they didnít know each other. On a brighter note things seem to be coming together now, we have won four games in a row and the team is looking much more settled.

 

Were you relieved when you finally were safe from relegation?

Definitely, after the home defeats to Portsmouth and Leeds there was a real feeling around Ewood Park that we would be relegated. We didnít look like we could buy a win. We went to Fulham desperate for a result and battled hard to win 4-3. The finances at the club are not bad but Iím sure relegation would have caused us some serious problems. The financial gulf between the Nationwide League and the Premiership is massive.

 

What is the view of Rovers fans on the manager ?

There are mixed views, I think the majority appreciate the job Souness has done. Promotion followed by the Worthington Cup ;-) , and 6th in the league is a great achievement for a small club. I think the main concern is the internal arguments that have been well documented. Souness has fallen out with Cole, Yorke, Todd, and probably a couple of others throughout the season. Sometimes he comes across as tactically naÔve, we have played players out of position all season and it has cost us dearly. The manager needs to learn that a Centre Half cannot play on the left wing just because he has a left foot. I also feel he needs to improve on his man management skills, some players have come in for a game, played excellently and then been dropped for the next game.

 

Who do you think is your best player at the moment ?

Without a doubt itís the young lad Stead (Aka Steadinho). If your not aware he is the striker we picked up from Huddersfield for £1m, he has come in and scored six goals in 11 games and steered us to safety. All of his goals have been vital, non more so than his late winner against the Scum last week. Ask any Rovers fan who they think should be on the plane to Portugal and Iím sure they feel he should get a place ahead of Defoe. Iíd rather have six Steadinhoís than one Defoe, definitely the bargain of the season.

 

Which one isn't playing as well in recent games ?

We thought we had got the summer steal when we picked up Emerton for £2m. He had been chased by Manchester United, Newcastle and Arsenal, but signed for Rovers. I, for one, was ecstatic when we signed him and things were looking good with Emo on the right and Duffer on the left, unfortunately we hadnít banked on one Mr. Abramovich taking a shine to our Duffer. The stats for Emo look good this season, no player in the Premier League has had more assists than him but unfortunately statistics donít tell the whole story. When he was nominated for the UEFA team of the year whilst at Feyenoord he was playing as a right wing back, this highlighted the defensive side of his game and he looked excellent. As a right winger he doesnít have the pace to get past his man. The term Ďone trick ponyí was definitely coined with Emo in mind.

 

Any exciting new names in the squad that we should look out for ?

A lot of the Rovers fans are keen to see some of our younger players given a chance. We have some exciting young talent coming out of Brockhall. I suppose the main ones would be Cieron Donnely (England under 20 midfielder who once scored 4 goals in a 5-0 win for England) and Jemel Johnson (Young lad we got from Man U who has been playing very well in the reserves). There are a number of others who look like they will be able to make the step up, hopefully we will get to see a few of them next season.

 

Any of the Rovers staff due to be shipped out in the summer ?

On the playing side of things I would expect to see Yorke move on, Jordan has been telling anyone who will listen that Dwight is going to be playing football in Dubai next year. Its disappointing really as he has all of the natural ability in the world but doesnít seem to want to work for the club. Another big name that may be sold is Matt Jansen, it breaks my heart to say it but I donít think we will ever see the Matt Jansen of old again. Since he had his accident the club have been behind him 100% and I personally would love to see him back to his old self but there comes a time when the club has to cut its losses, its been 2 years now and there have been a few glimmers of hope but not enough to continue paying Premiership wages to a player who may never be up to Premiership standard again. Andy Todd will also move on in the summer, in a current vote for player of the season Todd is in third place. He has been one of the plus points in a season of negatives. He has been solid at the back and seems to have calmed down a bit with age, he fell out with Souness (surprise surprise) after being told he was in the team to face Leeds and then being dropped for Amoruso at the last minute.

 

What is the Rovers line-up expected to be ?

For our last four games we have played a solid midfield of Douglas, Tugay, Andresen, and Flitcroft. Up front I would expect to see Cole and Steadinho. At the back it will probably be Gray, Amoruso, Short, and Neill (although I would rather see Johansson as one of the CB to deal with the pace you have up front). With Brad injured it will be Enckelman in goal, this will be his debut for Rovers after joining us at the end of last year as cover for Brad.

 

Which Spurs player do you think will cause you most problems ?

I would guess most problems will be caused by your pacy front line. Defoe and Keane are both very fast strikers and Kanoute is no slouch either. I personally think the game will be won or lost in midfield, hopefully our midfield can shackle the supply to the front two.

 

What do you reckon the score will be ?

Iíd take a repeat of the 4-0 drubbing we gave you last season, itís quite comical seeing Spurs fans throwing their season tickets on the pitch at the end of a game. Otherwise Iíd also take a repeat of the 2-1 at Cardiff, when Hoddle made the mistake of being far too cocky in the pre match interviews talking about how good it was for Spurs to be back in Europe. Anyway as we are both safe now I suppose I would settle for an entertaining 2-2 draw.

Thanks to Ricky Clarke at
www.brfcs.com

PLAYERS UNAVAILABLE

TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR : -  Rob Burch (ankle); Darren Anderton (Achilles)

BLACKBURN ROVERS :  Lorenzo Amoruso (hamstring); James McEveley (dislocated knee cap); Barry Ferguson (broken knee cap); David Thompson (knee); Brad Friedel (thigh)

COVERAGE : 
TV :  No live coverage; Highlights on "The Premiership" on ITV 
Radio :  TalkSport (MW 1089)
Internet :  www.spurs.co.uk   Live webcast  (subscription only)

 

 

Tottenham Hotspur  1      Blackburn Rovers   0     (Half-time score : 1-0)
Premier League
Saturday 8th May 2004
Venue : -  White Hart Lane
Kick Off : -  15.00 p.m.
Weather : -  Dry, but overcast; some light drizzle before the game
Referee : -  A. D'Urso (Billericay)
Crowd : -  35,698
Teams : -  
Tottenham Hotspur : -  Keller; Kelly, Gardner, King, Taricco (Ziege 13); Brown, Redknapp (c) (Poyet 87), Davies, Ricketts (Kanoute 64); Keane, Defoe
Unused Subs : - Hirschfeld, Doherty

Blackburn Rovers : -  Enckleman; Gray, Johansson, Short, Neill (Reid 61); Flitcroft (c) (Gallagher 77), Tugay, Andresen (Emerton 64), Douglas; Cole, Stead 
Unused Subs : - Yelldell, Babbel

Colours : -   (kits courtesy of http://www.colours-of-football.com)
Tottenham Hotspur Blackburn Rovers
Scorers : -  
Tottenham Hotspur  -  Defoe 19

Blackburn Rovers -  None

Cards : -  
Tottenham Hotspur  -  None

Blackburn Rovers -     Neill (foul) 45;     Andresen (foul) 56

A clean sheet and a stunning strike from Jermain Defoe saw Tottenham finish their home campaign on a winning note, although most fans were pleased that the Lane will have to see no more of this poor season.

The customary lap at the end of the last home match of the season was in front of about half the Spurs fans and although this season has possibly been more traumatic than any in the last eight years, less season ticket books made their way onto the pitch than in last season's corresponding match ... perhaps because we didn't lose 0-4 to Blackburn.

But the game today could easily have ended 3-3.  

It started with a skewed shot wide by Blackburn's Douglas and was swiftly followed by Ricketts hitting a low shot after a neat one-two with Keane, forcing Enckleman to a sharp save at the foot of his post.  An early substitution with Ziege replacing Taricco, who seemed to be troubled with cramp again, produced an attacking option through Ziege's crosses from the left.

However, the next chance came on the quarter of an hour, with Kelly delivering a deep cross to the edge of the area, where Brown met the ball, but directed it just wide of the far post.  With the defence coping with the early movement of Stead and Cole, King was picking the ball off and using a long ball through the middle of the Rovers defence, he freed Jermain Defoe in the 19th minute.  Holding off his marker, he struck a left foot shot of unbelievable power that ripped past the Blackburn keeper, who could only react once the ball was past him already.  It was a cracking goal.

However, Tottenham immediately produced a moment when they could have been pegged back level, when a long ball down the middle saw Stead close in on the ball.  Keller had come for it, stopped, then came again, blocking Stead's effort that didn't have the height to get over him, knocking the ball out into midfield.  KK chased it and with Cole coming in for the tackle played the ball, only for the ex-Gooner to hit him in the stomach with his follow-through.  As Kasey lay on the ground, Tottenham tried to play on and did not put the ball out of play !!    Nobody bothered to get back on the line when the keeper went down and Rovers were in possession either !!

The play degenerated a bit into a series of niggling fouls and some inconsistent decisions from D'Urso, who was giving nothing for some incidents and whistling straight away for others, while letting Blackburn take free-kicks from wherever they wanted.  One circumstance to illustrate this came when Stead was plainly pulling King's shirt as they challenged for a bouncing ball, but let play continue, allowing the lanky new signing by Souness to hit a shot out of the blue that flew just (and I mean just) wide of Keller's goal.  As KK indicated that the award of a free-kick should have been given for shirt-pulling, I would have felt more reassured if he had looked like saving the effort.

With half-time approaching, Robbie Keane finally came to life.  Earlier, he had tried to go alone when Ricketts was free to his left, but this time, Rohan played it into Robbie, who wriggled past Short and shot powerfully from 12 yards out, only to see Enckelman get just enough on it to tip it over the top.  With the half-time whistle blowing shortly after, Spurs took a lead into the dressing room, which was a rare advantage. 

Almost the biggest cheer of the day came during the fifteen minute break, when Martin Chivers strode out onto the pitch and announced the return to the ground of a fans hero ... Ricky Villa.  Looking slightly thin on top and slightly embarrassed, he came out to acknowledge the chants from the crowd and take the applause.  In his stilted English he told us how he enjoyed his time at Tottenham, that it is in his heart and that the goal that won the 1981 FA Cup for Spurs was a treasured memory (well, not in those words, but we knew what he meant).

Unfortunately, Tottenham must have thought that they had this one won.  They came out for the second half with sleep in their eyes and almost went 1-3 down within seven minutes of the restart.  Firstly, Anthony Gardner, who had a bit of a mare in the second half, dreamily took the ball across the face of his own goal and Cole just managed to nick a foot onto the ball, taking it into Stead's stride.  Perhaps trying to be too clever, he bent the ball around Keller, but also wide of the goal to let Spurs off a punishment of their own making. 

Gardner was caught out in the next Rovers attack, when Stead out-paced him and shot across Keller, but the American turned his effort wide to also save Ant's blushes.  Douglas nodded a free header from a corner over the top before Tottenham made progress towards the visitor's goal.   Ziege made ground down the left and swung in a vicious low cross in an area where the keeper could not come for it, leaving Defoe in front of goal ten yards out.  However, the pace on the cross was too much for Jermain and as he tried to take the ball first time on the volley, he sliced across it without getting a decent contact.  It made you realise that if Ziege was fit and played in midfield every week, that sort of supply could be food and drink to Defoe, Keane and Kanoute.  Unfortunately, he will probably not be retained beyond the summer.

Things got decidedly nervy on the hour, when Cole ran through with King onto a long ball.  Pulling Ledley's shirt and backing into him, Cole held him off, but Keller had nearly come to the edge of his area.  When Cole managed to get a foot onto the ball as it bounced up, he put it over KK and luckily, he hit it wide, otherwise Kasey would have looked very inept.  As it was, his earlier save made him come out of this match better than some others recently and he did make a very good punch from a dangerous in-swinging corner that looked as though it might cause problems.

Spurs brought on Kanoute for Ricketts, who had lost some of the lustre that he displayed in the first period and Fredi looked up for it today, as he tracked back and made space to receive the ball.  He had one header, early after his arrival, go wide and cut inside onto his left foot to hit a shot that was partly blocked, then easily saved by the goalie.  Spurs had a great chance when Defoe made a run in the right wing position and produced a chip from the by-line to the far post, where Keano came in with a header.  As he was at a very narrow angle, it was a fine header that Enckelman managed to get a touch on and take it onto the bar and away from the Spurs players in the box.  That was on 70 minutes.  Shortly after, Davies just failed to get onto the end of Ziege's intelligent ball into the inside left channel, while from the corner, Christian was left alone on the edge of the six yard box.  He threw a leg at it and his goal-bound effort was knocked off the line by Michael Gray.

Just when it looked like Tottenham were going to extend their lead, Kanoute almost let things slip at the other end.  Helping out in defence, he tried to play the ball down the line to Kelly, who had a solid game, but it was directed straight at Gallagher.  The young striker probably could not believe his luck, as he stuck his cross from the edge of the box directly into Keller's grateful midriff.  To round off a decent ten minute spell for Spurs, Davies hit a drive at the keeper and on 78 minutes, Defoe almost replicated his goal, leaving Short in his wake and hitting a rasping shot with no back-lift, but this time Enckelman managed to get enough of a hand on the ball to take it up and over the crossbar.

All that was left for Spurs was to give Gus Poyet and emotional few minutes with the captain's armband as he replaced Redknapp.  In the time available to him, he was in their box and in our box and fouling people.  It was enough to make you think we could get a good five minutes out of him from the bench in future !!

The final whistle was blown on the Premier League action at White Hart Lane this season with fans knowing they will be fortunate to see the Tottenham participate in the same league next season.  They will be holding Daniel Levy to his words in the match programme to make sure the club is not in this position again by appointing a new boss and bringing in some new players.  If not, then we might be here again next season.

The lap at the end of the match saw a few linger as Teddy Sheringham did last season.  Those like Ziege, the last around and Poyet will know that this will be the last time they see Spurs fans chanting their name at WHL.  Some others who did not appear will also be on their way, but who will be new to the team next season and who will be leading it ??  Questions we all want answered and sooner rather than later.

 

MEHSTG TOP MAN : - LEDLEY KING

Burton Bradstock

 

TREASURE TROVERS

 

11.05.2004

The match was quite good for a change, apart from a few scares (Gardner second half in front of goal), I suppose we did deserve at least one more goal, but must not be greedy three points is very rare lately.  By the way Carr  was seen driving out of the main entrance before the match, so that must tell you something. I will be very surprised if he does pre season training with us, as stated before the sooner he goes the better.

I cannot comment on new arrivals for next season as I have know idea except Robinson but am not totally convinced it will still go through. Van Bommel looks a no- no, Reid or Dawson ? Diego? That's it.

Departures have to be  Carr, Richards Ziege, Poyet Bunjevcevic
Maybes ...Taricco, Anderton, Postiga, Kanoute, Redknapp 
Possibly, Ricketts (although I do not agree)  Keller to be kept for remaining season of his contract.

Eric Penn

12.05.2004

The lap at the end saw some ball-boys carrying boards with "Thank you for your great support this season" or some such message.  Someone suggested it should just have said "Sorry" !!!

The performance turned out good enough for the points, but could have been better.  We seemed to wanted to score the beautiful goal rather than punish Rovers and only a couple of good saves from Enckelman stopped Defoe and Keane.  Sometimes, there was a lack of awareness of when to release the ball when players were in better positions, but the first half energy of Ricketts and the forward play of Defoe give heart for the future.  Ledley had a very good match, although Gardner looked a bit lackadaisical at the back.

High point of the day ?  Well, it must have been when the crowd chanted "Stand Up If you want Pleaty Out !" and the man himself jumped off the bench.  Talk about turkeys voting for Christmas !!

But Christmas might just have arrived for Tottenham supporters.  The programme notes by Levy indicate that he has run out of patience with Pleat, who's showing as manager casts great doubts about his ability to do the Director of Football job.  Lack of man management, lack of motivation of the players and a lack of pattern for the team are the things that appear to me to be weaknesses on what I have seen this season.  For someone who is supposed to give a lead for the pattern of play throughout the whole club as DoF, they might be the things that see him off.  His brusque attitude on the radio after the game, where he said he would only talk about the match and nothing else hinted to me that he was shocked by Levy's comments, even though he said he had seen them before they went out.  He also said that the Board see his programme comments beforehand ... and veto some of them.  He sounded like the proverbial condemned man.

So, all might not be lost.  Well, the match at least !!

Benny The Ball

 

Other scores this weekend :
SCBC 1 Aston Villa 1 Saturday
Birmingham City 0 Liverpool 3 Saturday
Everton 1 Bolton Wanderers 2 Saturday
Leeds United 3 Charlton Athletic 3 Saturday
Leicester City 3 Portsmouth 1 Saturday
Manchester United 1 Chelsea 1 Saturday
Middlesbrough 2 Manchester City 1 Saturday
Fulham 0

Arsenal

1 Sunday
Newcastle United 1 Wolverhampton Wanderers 1 Sunday
SCBC 3 Newcastle United 2 Wednesday

 

League Table
 
  P W D L F A Pts GD
1 Arsenal 37 25 12 0 71 25 87 +46
2 Chelsea 37 23 7 7 66 30 76 +36
3 Manchester United 37 22 6 9 62 35 72 +27
4 Liverpool 37 16 11 10 54 36 59 +18
5 Aston Villa 37 15 11 11 48 42 56 +6
6 Newcastle United 37 13 16 8 51 39 55 +12
7 Bolton Wanderers 37 14 11 12 48 54 53 -6
8 Charlton Athletic 37 13 11 13 49 53 50 -4
9 Fulham 37 13 10 14 50 46 49 +4
10 Birmingham City 37 12 13 12 42 47 49 -5
11 Middlesbrough 37 13 9 15 43 47 48 -4
12 SCBC 37 12 11 14 43 43 47 0
13 Blackburn Rovers 37 12 7 18 50 58 43 -8
14 Portsmouth 37 11 9 17 42 53 42 -11
15 TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 37 12 6 19 45 57 42 -12
16 Everton 37 9 12 16 44 52 39 -8
17 Manchester City 37 8 14 15 50 53 38 -3
18 Leicester City 37 6 15 16 47 63 33 -16
19 Wolverhampton Wanderers 37 7 12 18 38 75 33 -37
20 Leeds United 37 8 9 20 40 78 33 -38

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