Looking Forward

 

Blackburn Rovers (Home)

Premier League

Sunday 11th May 2003

Another season comes to an end and another year passes with no discernable improvement in our position.  We still lose too many games away from home, we still have too many players injured, we still wait for a new striker ...

So Blackburn Rovers come to town and as the team that put us out of a UEFA Cup pace last season by beating Tottenham in the Worthington Cup final, the players should have some gripe to gee themselves up.  But how often have we thought that this season ??  How often have the players left their minds elsewhere.  With Teddy making his last Spurs appearance, will he want to go out with a bang or like he has been playing lately ... with a whimper ?  Redknapp is back and should show us what we have been missing.  Surely, some of the youngsters will get a look in at some stage on Sunday ?  If not, what have we got to look forward to ?

It will be hard enough to get past Friedel anyway, without some strong running midfield to support Keane, there is little hope to the wee man doing it all himself.  The defence of Lucas Neill, Henning Berg, Martin Taylor, and McEveley are not infallible.  Neill likes to get forward and can be caught with players getting in behind him, Berg is still strong, but lacks the pace he had when he was younger (and that wasn't that quick), Taylor is tall, but might find Keano a handful on the grass, while James McEveley has been getting good reviews although he is a raw youth at 17.  Spurs might be able to take the ball further forward on the floor to cause problems, but could have trouble winning anything in the air in the opposition box.  Falling into the same category as Taylor and McEveley is Nils-Eric Johansson, while Andy Todd and Craig Short are more traditional English central defenders, who would make it even more difficult to get through.  They will miss Vratislav Gresko, who has been playing well while on loan, as a serious injury rules him out of this match.

The midfield area is strong in the Rovers side.  David Dunn mixes strength on the ball and in the tackle with good skill and a neat finishing ability, but he has had his moments with Souness this season and might be suffering because of that in the background.  While Turkish international Tugay is effective, he often seems to drift out of matches, leaving the likes of the workmanlike Gary Flitcroft and Craig Hignett to make up the running he doesn't always do.  The artistry comes from Irishman Damien Duff, who has a lightning turn of pace, all the tricks in the book and he knows how to get the ball into the onion bag.  His impact on the game and how he is marked will have the defining influence on the game.  Former Liverpool winger David Thompson and ex-Newcastle wide-man Keith Gillespie are both available on the flanks in midfield to push forward and support the front two.

Upfront, the former Manchester United pairing of Yorke and Cole has blown hot and cold.  Yorke has fallen foul of Souness and Cole had a spat with the manager too, but they are back in harness, mostly because Rovers have missed the talents of Matt Jansen all season after a motorbike crash in the Greek Islands last summer, which nearly cost him his life.  The two are fairly mobile, but the comments about Cole's finishing came back to haunt us last year and he might want to end the season with a flourish at Hoddle's expense.  Hakan Sukur has come into the side and might make an impact after his first goals against Fulham the other week.  He had a 'mare of a World Cup and we hope he does the same at the Lane.  Norwegian Egil Ostenstad could play in midfield or in attack, but he might not be used as he has been a regular on the bench lately.  Italian misfit Corrado Grabbi might take a bench position too, but that will be the most he will hope for. 

For no other reason than I think we will score and let some in, I predict that our season will finish with

PREDICTION : -   Tottenham  2    Blackburn Rovers  2

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

How do you think your team have played this season ?
It
's
been a funny season, if we had managed to get results against the bottom teams we would be in a champions league spot. If you look at our points taken against the top 4 teams compared with our results against the bottom four teams it just doesnít seem to make sense. We did the double over Arsenal J, beat , beat Man United, beat Newcastle and Chelsea , giving us 15 points. Whereas against Sunderland, West Brom, West Ham and Bolton we only managed 8 points. When we get the ball down and play we look  like a quality outfit but we are far to inconsistent to be challenging the top teams.

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

Duff, Duff, Duff and DuffÖ..

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

Yorke
, he really doesnít seem to be arsed. He is our top scorer this season but really hasnít been up to much

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

We are very lucky as we have one of the best academyís in the country. A number of quality players are coming through including McEveley (recently capped for England U21 at the age of 17), Gallagher (very promising striker made his first prem appearance against arsenal), Donnelly (recently scored 4 goals for England U18ís in a game, not bad for a midfielder). To be honest there are quite a few who I would expect to see coming through next season.

What is the line-up expected to be ?

Friedel

Neill, Berg, Taylor, McEveley
Dunn, Tugay, Flitcroft, Duff

Yorke
, Cole

What do you
Blackburn Rovers fans think of Tottenham ?
I donít want to get myself in trouble here, but I donít think Rovers were happy with the way Spurs handled the build up to the Worthy Cup final last season. Fans and Staff of the club were quoted as saying how good it was going to be to play in Europe and Glenda Hoddle seemed to treat us with a complete lack of respect. Which made it extra special when we lifted the cup ;)

Which Spurs player do you like ?
I think Keane would be the one player I have been impressed with at Spurs.

What do you reckon the score will be ?
If we play like we did against West Brom you will probably beat us 2-0, if we play like we are capable of we may be able to nick a win. Itís a massive game for us as we need the win to push for 6th in the league and another season in the UEFA Cup.

RICKY CLARKE
www.brfcs.com

COVERAGE : 
TV :  Highlights - The Premiership - ITV  Sunday night.
Radio :  BBC London (94.9 FM) - London area      Live coverage
Internet :  www.spurs.co.uk   Live webcast    

 

 

Tottenham   0      Blackburn Rovers    4     (Half-time score : 0-2)
Premier League
Sunday 11th May 2003
Venue : -  White Hart Lane
Kick Off : -  15.00 p.m.
Weather : -  Bright, with some persistent drizzle throughout.
Referee : -  A. D'Urso (Billericay)
Crowd : -  36,036
Teams : -  
Tottenham : -  Keller; Taricco (Ziege 62), King, Perry; Carr, Davies, Poyet, Redknapp (Toda 70), Etherington; Sheringham, Keane
Unused Subs : - Sullivan, Bunjevcevic, Acimovic

Blackburn Rovers : -  Friedel; Neill, Todd, Taylor, McEveley (Johansson 63); Flitcroft (Dunn  46), Tugay, Hignett (Jansen 76), Duff; Cole, Yorke
Unused Subs : - Kelly, Suker

Colours : -  
Tottenham  -  All light blue

Blackburn Rovers -  Red shirts, black shorts, red socks with black turnover

Scorers : -  
Tottenham  -  None

Blackburn Rovers -  Yorke 4, Hignett 45, Duff 48, Cole 60

Cards : -  
Tottenham  -  Poyet (foul) 33, Taricco (foul) 36

Blackburn Rovers - Neill (foul) 24

Well, what an end to the season.  Another run of two games with players sent off.  Two games losing by four goal margins.  And the end of an era.

It al started to go wrong as early as the fourth minute, when Duff played a low pass in to the edge of our box to Cole.  His back-heel sold Perry and left Yorke clean through to put his low shot past Keller.

Spurs did fight back a bit, with Keane weaving his way past McEveley on the right wing goal-line and smashing a shot that Friedel saved for a corner, but Keano might have done better pulling the ball back for someone else.  Only a very well-timed Todd tackle denied Etherington an opportunity to get in a shot coming in onto Teddy's pass, but, from the corner, only the attention of a Blackburn challenge stopped Perry getting his header on target.  Sheringham also got free at a corner, but, like his defensive colleague, failed to get the ball to hit the target and the chance was lost.

Up to this point, the ref had pulled up only Lucas Neill for a booking.  Gary Flitcroft had been rampaging through players with late and studs up challenges without so much as a word from D'Urso.  So, it came as somewhat of a surprise when he reached directly for the red card, when Gus went in to a tackle with the Rovers captain.  Yes, Poyet did have his studs showing and caught his opponent on the knee, but his feet were low and there was no "going over the top", which Flitcroft had been guilty of previously in the match.

The game effectively ended there for Tottenham.  The game started to be played at testimonial pace, with Blackburn knocking the ball about well, but surprisingly creating few chances against the lethargic Spurs side.  In fact, the goal from Hignett volleying home Perry's header that went straight up in the air, was one of the few direct efforts at Keller in the rest of that half.  

Coming at the end of the first half, it made things worse for Tottenham.  But two minutes after the break, Duff got on the end of a low cross from Yorke and as the ball got away from Carr, was left with an open goal to score.  Lots of people left at this stage, but it wasn't the end of the torment for those Spurs fans who stayed.  

Cole headed wide when he should have scored, Neill struck a fierce volley at the far post narrowly over the top and on the hour, Yorke went wide to return the compliment for his fellow striker to scuff home the fourth goal.

While Blackburn played OK, they still managed to pass the ball off the pitch, even with a man advantage.  Friedel also had to be on his toes, when Keane broke free and hit a hard shot at the keeper, with Redknapp and Teddy both hitting shots straight at the lanky Yank.  The other American net-minder produced a good save when Perry daydreamed and left Yorke through on goal, but Kasey did well to get strong hands to a low drive and beat it away.

There is little that I can say about this Tottenham performance that would do it justice.  There was little to say about the style or pattern or effort in Spurs' game.  The shouts of "Hoddle Out" might be a bit premature, but there needs to be some acute analysis of what has gone on since Christmas at THFC, with injuries only part of the problem.  Sherwood has had his say, but there needs to be some soul searching from within.

It's gonna be a long, lonely summer.

MEHSTG TOP MAN : - ROBBIE KEANE 

The Polyphant

 

THANK GOD IT'S ALL OVER

 

No star names
Too many injuries
Too few players showing any passion
Too few players putting in enough effort
Too few players who should be in the team

And that's only a start !!

We need to replace about five and bring in a total of about ten players if we are to do anything better than this season.

This loss was just one of many that Tottenham have committed, without putting up much of a fight.  With one of the older players sent off, it could have been worse if it had been a Davies or Keane.  It is hard enough playing a match with the likes of Poyet and Sheringham starting, but to lose another player through a sending off, just makes it impossible to contest a match with the current line-up.

Coming home from the game, I heard Everton fans saying that Tottenham were a disgrace to lose 1-5 at Boro and 0-4 to Rovers.  This ,mainly stemmed from the fact that they missed out on a UEFA Cup place because of the result today, but it is where you end up over a season that counts.  We are lucky to be where we are, with the results we have achieved since Christmas, but Everton are where they are because they could not beat Tottenham in the two League games this season (how ever bad they think we are).  And they didn't have to play the last hour of each of their last two games with ten men.

With a gap of six points between us and Bolton, we are nearer the bottom than the ten points that separate us from the UEFA Cup spot filled by out opponents.  But it is a thin line either way and which way that will go next season depends on what Hoddle and Levy come up with between now and July.  It's not long and they need to work quickly and work smart.

It was the third goal that signalled a flurry of season ticket books flying onto the pitch.  Not sure they would have been thrown before today, what with the exorbitant cost and other games still to be played.  The main worry about this action was that Christian Ziege might slip on one and be out for another five months.  It was easy to understand the frustration of the fans, as we caved in with ten men again.  I thought you were supposed to make it harder for sides when you had ten men ??  Not us though !!  Blackburn wandered about and scored at will.  Just the four conceded was a bit of a result really.

But the crowd brought out the "You're not fit to wear the shirt" chant, along with some booing every time Matthew Etherington went near the ball after he had put another cross into the crowd and responded to the stick with a gesture.  Probably won't be seeing him in a Spurs shirt again then.  

The "lap of dishonour" at the end took a long time coming.  Maybe Hod was tongue-lashing the team in the changing room ??  Some hope !!  He sent out Taz, Bunjy, Poyet and Ziege to take the crowd's cheers and the others followed a few minutes later.  Sheringham lapped up every second of it, taking it all in for posterity's sake, while Steffen Freund made it a more memorable affair, dishing out number 4 "Freund" shirts to all corners of the ground and having "Thank You All" printed on the front of his own shirt worn over his clothes.  Some players were missing - Blondel for example, but others were there to make up the numbers, such as Bowditch, O' Donoghue, Henry and Burch.

Players like Etherington and Iversen have failed to show continued good form in a Spurs shirt and thus reach their potential, while Sullivan will be fed up playing second fiddle to Keller, Thatcher has dropped out of the picture (even when he is fit), Toda isn't the answer and the mistakes made with Bunjy and Acimovic cannot be repeated.  New players should be young and hungry or more experienced and better than what we already have.

The manager will also need to look at how he wants the side to play.  Hoddle has tinkered with things this season and they have not really worked.  True, he has been hampered by injuries meaning he has been unable to play a settled side, but the squad needs to consist of players who can slot in, should first choice players be unavailable.  His use of substitutes needs reviewing.  From using none, to using two at half-time, to trying to bring on Acimovic when we are 0-4 down and in the last minute does beg questions of what he is trying to achieve with them.

Most crucially, is the non-appearance of any youngsters in the squad for the last four games.  With no hope of getting into Europe, you would have thought he might take the chance to give a few a taste of the Premiership in the final meaningless games.  They might have added a little bit of fight to the side and with something to prove to the manager, actually tried to get things moving on the pitch.  Where does it leave our options when trying to sell the club to young stars, if they are not going to get the opportunity in the first team ??

The only good thing about this match was the new Spurs kit, which is a simple and neat strip.  It did pass my mind that they should have held it back until the first game of next season and that might have encouraged a few more season tickets to be sold !!

STERLING PERFORMANCE

 

 

Other scores this weekend :
Birmingham City 2 West Ham United 2 Sunday
Bolton Wanderers 2 Middlesbrough 1 Sunday
Charlton Athletic 0 Fulham 1 Sunday
Chelsea 2 Liverpool 1 Sunday

Everton

1 Manchester United 2 Sunday
Leeds United 1 Aston Villa 0 Sunday
Manchester City 0 SCBC 1 Sunday
Sunderland 0 Arsenal 4 Sunday
WBA 2 Newcastle United 2 Sunday

 

League Table
 
  P W D L F A Pts
1 Manchester United 38 25 8 5 74 33 84
2 Arsenal 38 23 9 6 85 42 78
3 Newcastle United 38 21 6 11 63 48 69
4 Chelsea 38 19 10 9 68 38 67
5 Liverpool 38 18 10 10 61 41 64
6 Blackburn Rovers 38 16 12 10 52 43 60
7 Everton 38 17 8 13 48 49 59
8 SCBC 38 13 13 12 43 46 52
9 Manchester City 38 15 6 17 47 54 51
10 TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 38 14 8 16 51 62 50
11 Middlesbrough 38 13 10 15 48 44 49
12 Charlton Athletic 38 14 7 17 45 56 49
13 Birmingham City 38 13 9 16 41 49 48
14 Fulham 38 13 9 16 41 50 48
15 Leeds United 38 14 5 19 58 57 47
16 Aston Villa 38 12 9 17 42 47 45
17 Bolton Wanderers 38 10 14 14 41 51 44
18 West Ham United 38 10 12 16 42 59 42
19 WBA 38 6 8 24 29 65 26
20 Sunderland 38 4 7 27 21 65 19

 

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