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Blackburn Rovers  (Home)

Premier League

Sunday 15th May 2005

The season appears to have gone so quickly and here we are facing our perennial last day opponents Blackburn Rovers and for the first time in living memory, we have something still to play for.  Only a win by Manchester City over Bolton wanderers and a win for Spurs by two more goals than City win by will see Spurs into Europe.  As we said a while back, the Boro game was the crucial one and while there is still something at stake, it would be better to sit back and enjoy the last game for a change.

Blackburn's 4-5-1 is not a favourite system for Spurs to play against and it tends to cause our midfield to struggle to break it down.  With the limited options in midfield because of injuries, it may be our Reid-Carrick-Davis-Davies midfield that takes the field and they might not be able to cope with a competitive Rovers middle line.  The missing Michael Brown had an outstanding game at Ewood Park earlier in the season and he will be missed.  The Blackburn line-up of Morten Gamst Pedersen, Steven Reid, Robbie Savage, Brett Emerton and Aaron Mokeona will be hard working and difficult to get by.  Pedersen was a winger tipped to have Spurs interested when he left his home country, but he went to the North-West and has scored eight goals since his arrival.  Mokeona is a South African, who plays the destroyer role in team and has been doing it very well, while Aussie Emerton was another Tottenham looked at, but passed over.  His pace is now starting to bother defenders after a year and a half and his presence might give Spurs a run for their money.  Yet another linked with us was Steven Reid, who, before he left Millwall, was watched by Spurs scouts.  A Republic of Ireland midfielder, Reid has been injured a fair amount and currently has a foot injury, so might not play.  His all action style is what attracted Tottenham to look at him, but opted not to go for him nor his colleague Tim Cahill.  Reid's impetuosity can get him into trouble and he saw red early on in his Rovers career.  Robbie Savage ?  Need I say more ?

Thank goodness Tugay and Flitcroft are out of favour !

Ex-Gooner Paul Dickov is a lonely man.  Sorry, is the lone man up front.  As welcome as a dose of scabies and about as likely to get under your skin, he is an irritant of the highest order.  Has scored ten goals this season and has scored ten from the judges for some of the wonderful dives he has produced.  Not the sort of person you would want to take home and introduce to the parents ... even if it was on Match of the Day !!  But one thing is guaranteed with Dickov ... a booking - for him or his marker.  His competition for the front man role comes from youngster Paul Gallagher, who is a Scotland Under-21 player and from John Stead, who was signed from Huddersfield, but has had a tough season this time around, but does look a good prospect.

At the back, Rovers don't give much away ... apart from their line-up.  Four out of the following five of Lucas Neill, Andy Todd, Ryan Nelsen, Dominic Matteo and Nils-Jon JohanssonThe latter is said to be off to Wigan in the summer, while Everton have been sniffing around Kiwi captain Nelsen.  Don't know much about Nelsen apart from he is the size of a Christchurch dunnie and alongside the streak of Norwegian piece, they make a tall pairing, so Fredi will have his work cut out trying to chest the ball down without being knocked into the middle of next season.  Andy Todd has an unfair reputation ... or should that be a reputation for being unfair.  Another who sees red more often than a colour blind greenkeeper, someone playing against him will need to be prepared to be hit hard ... like a truck.  Matteo is from the Liverpool old school.  And via Leeds at that, so he will be ready to run through walls, while Neill is more likely to run through players, although he only seems to have that reserved for Liverpool players, so we might be alright.

You have the feeling that Keano or Defoe might be too flimsy against the heavyweight back four of Blackburn, so maybe, at some stage, we might see the dream ticket of Kanoute and Mido together.  It won't be pretty !!

Brad Friedel is still keeping them out behind the men in front of him, but it has been a long hard season for the Yank, who is another ex-Scouser.  Having fallen behind Keller and Howard in the US national picks, he is still trying to show he can do the business between the sticks.  But hopefully, his ability will count for nix on Sunday.  Tall and a good shot-stopper, for once, we need him to become a belly-flopper.

Can Spurs do the impossible and get into the UEFA Cup ?

Well, maybe not on the day, but there is always the Fair Play league ... somewhere that Blackburn are further down than their Premier League placing.

 PREDICTION : -  Tottenham Hotspur  4    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 your team have played this season ?
We had an awful start to the season, we were like a 60 year old man (leaky at the back and impotent up front). The only saving grace was Fat Freddy coming and actually paying us for Souness a matter of weeks before he would have had the sack anyway. Don't get me wrong, Souness was a huge success in the early days but he had definitely lost the respect of the players towards the end of last season. Mark Hughes was bought in and after two 4-0 defeats he started to tighten things up, he worked with the players available and improved the general fitness and desire of the team and made us a lot harder to beat. We've not been great to watch this season and the southern press certainly don't like us but I feel we have done what is necessary to keep our place in the Premier League.


Who do you think is your best player at the moment ?
At the moment I would probably go for Ryan Nelsen, this man has been an absolute rock at the back since his 300k transfer from the MLS (did you hear that, 300k !!!) I have no doubt that if he had played the whole season we would be looking at a considerably higher league position.

Who do you think is your best player of the season ?
Probably have to go for Andy Todd.  This is a player who had been told be Souness that he had no future at the club. Hughes came in and after a while bought Toddy into the team and made him skipper.  He hasn't looked back.  He was slated after the FA Cup semi final when the Southern Press decided we were a bunch of thugs after daring to tackle any Arsenal players.  Interesting point is that Vieira has accrued 12 yellow cards and 2 reds this season, Andy Todd has managed 6 yellow cards ... which one is the thug !!!!!!

Which player hasn't playing been up to scratch in recent games ?
Thompson has been shocking recently, he seems to have become the proverbial headless chicken. There is rumour that Wigan may come in for him in the summer, if we get a bit of Dave Whelan's cash I would happily pack Thommo's bags for him.

Savage - hero or villain ?
The jury is still out on that one. I think the main problem is that Sav is only really beneficial to the team when he is 100% fit, at the moment he is playing at about 75% and has looked average.  I still think he has a lot to offer the team and his dead-ball delivery at Birmingham was excellent, just hope we can get him back to his best.  I would like to see him playing alongside a creative midfielder next season.

What did you think about him before he arrived at Ewood though ?
I actually rated him quite highly. He came to Ewood with Birmingham at the start of the season and scored a wonderful goal and created another one. He looked the complete package and I was over the moon when we bought him. I think we paid over the odds for him but I guess Birmingham had to get back some of the money they had splashed out on our crocks and rejects (Dunny, Taylor and Yorke). I still think the funniest thing was Steve Bruce moaning to the press that Sav should honour his contract, that has to be the biggest joke of all coming from a man who did the dirty on Palace as soon as Birmingham came sniffing around ... come to think of it I think he has done the dirty on both Sheffield United and Huddersfield when bigger clubs have come knocking.

How do you rate Mark Hughes as a manager ?
An excellent manager with a lot of new ideas. He saw that we were struggling at the back and addressed it immediately. He was certainly the fans choice when the position became vacant. I also seem to remember him bossing the midfield in a cup final that I'm sure you guys don't need reminding about.  Can I also thank the Spurs fan who said "thanks for coming down to watch the start of the Hoddle revolution" whilst I was travelling down to the final, I never got to see him again.

Rovers have been labelled "physical" this season.  Is that fair ?
I think the physical tag is fair enough, it's just when the press take it further and call us thugs that I start to complain. We have had to play in a physical way as at present we don't seem to have any creative players. If we tried to play neat tidy football we would have been relegated weeks ago.  I just hope that we lose the 4-5-1 formation next season and get a bit of creativity in the midfield.

What is the line-up expected to be ?
We will play 4-5-1 with Friedel in goal, a back four of Neill, Todd (if fit), Nelsen, Matteo/Johansson a midfield which will probably be Pedersen, Reid, Sav, Emerton with Mokeona in the holding role and Stead up front by himself.

What is your view of Tottenham this season ?
Had to chuckle at the way your season started, a new manager lasting about 8 games or something daft. Since then I have been impressed with Martin Jol, I think he has done a good job and bought in a decent striker in Mido. I think he has got the team playing well together and a bit of team spirit. One of our members has produced a very tongue in cheek preview which contains his views on the Spurs team. It is quite funny and can be found at
http://www.brfcs.co.uk/mb/index.php?showtopic=11898

Which Spurs player would you have in your side ?
As we are desperately in need of some fire power I would probably have to go for Defoe or Keane (Mido and Kanoute would also walk into our team).

What do you reckon the score will be ?

I'm actually going to predict a Spurs win.  The reason for this is that we seem to have taken our foot off the gas over the last 2 weeks.  We are safe now and the players seem to be on their summer holidays already.  I don't honestly think you will hammer us by enough to get you the European spot that you crave, I think City will get the win that they need and you will beat us 2-0, meaning you miss out on goal difference.
 

Thanks to 
Ricky Clarke
http://www.brfcs.com

PLAYERS UNAVAILABLE

TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR : -  Noe Pamarot (knee); Pedro Mendes (toe); Michael Brown (fractured foot); Anthony Gardner (foot); Noureddine Naybet (ankle); - (-)

BLACKBURN ROVERS :  Steven Reid (leg); Jay Bothroyd (thigh); Craig Short (suspended); Paul Dickov (groin and knee); - (-)

Coverage

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Internet :
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Tottenham Hotspur   0    Blackburn Rovers   0      (Half-time score : 0-0)
Premier League Venue : White Hart Lane  
Sunday 15th May 2005 Kick Off :  15.00 p.m.
Crowd :  35,797 Referee :  Alan Wiley (Burntwood)
Weather :  Hot, sunny
Teams : - 
Tottenham Hotspur :

Cerny

Kelly
Naybet
King
Edman

Davies
Davis (Marney 71)
Carrick
Reid (Defoe 61)

Kanoute
Keane

Unused subs: 
Fulop
Bunjevcevic
Ziegler

Blackburn Rovers :

Friedel

Neill
Nelsen
Todd
McEveley

Emerton
Thompson
Mokoena
Savage
Pedersen

Stead (Johnson 61)

Unused subs: 
Enckelman
Tugay
Johansson
Douglas

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

Tottenham Hotspur

None

Blackburn Rovers

None

Cards : -  
Tottenham Hotspur  

   
Davis (foul) 
Naybet (handball) 
Marney (foul)  

     

Blackburn Rovers

   
Savage (foul)
Neill (pushing in the wall) 

     

Match Report : -  

Blackburn set out their stall with their 4-5-1 formation that came to stymie Spurs in their quest for European football and they succeeded in that.  Both midfields cancelled each other out and Tottenham did not have the ingenuity to break down the massed ranks in front of them, leaving the match as a vaguely entertaining, but disappointing 0-0 draw.

The tale of the game is that Spurs could not get through to the Blackburn goal and beat a dodgy looking Friedel in goal.  With some missing players, perhaps Tottenham could claim that this was not the first choice eleven, but they had done well enough against Villa two weeks previous and would have expected to get the three points, which would have at least guaranteed the eighth spot in the table, but again, it was not to be.  The team seem to lack the "winning mentality" that Jol wants them to develop ... especially in games that are crucial to the team's progression.

Friedel's handling was suspect throughout.  Early on a Keano first time effort from outside the box was spilled and Kanoute was not determined enough to get the rebound, allowing Nelsen to clear and later Davies' swerving low shot was pushed out into the heart of the area, where no Spurs player lurked.  In between, Radek Cerny was called into action, when a corner from the left flew over everyone's heads and Andy Todd drilled the ball goalwards at the far post.  Unfortunately for him, he hit it into the ground, which took the pace off it and it bounced up at a nice height for the Spurs number two goalie to show good reflexes to push it up and over the top.  Edman made a great block to protect Cerny, when Thompson freed Emerton on the right of the box and from the corner, the stocky midfielder Thompson was alone on the far post to head wide, when it looked easier to score.

Shouts for penalties were ignored by the dithering referee on the day.  A cross from Pedersen hit Kelly on the hand and a free-kick was given outside the box, with Tottenham's appeal being awarded in a similar fashion ,when Neill lunged in on Reid, with the contact seemingly taking place the penalty area side of the line.  With players getting booked if they wore a white shirt for certain misdemeanours and those in red let off with a strong talking to for the same offences, it made for a frustrating afternoon, when our Fair Play ranking was also at stake.  When Savage and Neill did get booked in the second half, they both committed bad fouls within minutes, but the ref knew he would have to bring out a red, so chose to opt for the cosy shit-chat.

Fredi's volley on the turn from the edge fo the area flew into Friedel's arms and then his cross-shot was touched wide by the American keeper.  He was much more flamboyant when David produced a running shot and his dive was exaggerated by the punch he laid on the ball, when most keepers would have simply caught it.  This kept the score blank at half-time and with the sprinklers on the pitch doing their work, it looked as though Spurs would zip the ball about on the grass a bit more in the second half.  However, it didn't work like that.  Rovers played some neat one-touch football, luckily for Spurs, in their own half and Spurs tried to pass the ball around, but ended up taking a pass or a touch too many.

With Thompson still full of running, he hit a drive into Cerny's midriff and then Tottenham's best chance arrived after Savage was cautioned for his foul on Reid, which of course he disputed with our Irishman and the referee.  Why officials put up with the dissent he gives out, I cease to understand.  Anyway, Reid got up to flight a ball to the far post and Naybet snuck around the back to stretch out a leg and touch it just wide.

Robbie Keane had a good game today, harassing the defenders on the ball and also playing the ball to colleagues most of the time.  He did manage to get the ball caught under his feet a bit though and lose the momentum of the move.  But when he did it right, it almost did the trick.  He took a ball in the area and turned back inside three defenders, to curl a shot a foot or so wide of the far post, with the keeper stranded.

After Spurs went to a 4-3-3 formation with Defoe coming on for Reid, the game tended to peter out a bit, with the forwards not getting the service they wanted.  Marney (another sub) hit a free-kick that went under the bar, but into Friedel's hands and that was the last goal threat of the match.  Results from elsewhere meant that we missed out on Europe as Boro got the draw that sees them through and Man. City's point in the same game condemned us to ninth place.  Perhaps it is just as well, as that finish will indicate that there has been progress, but that there is more to be done before Europe is a viable proposition on a regular basis.

The lap by the players at the end was well received by those who stayed behind and Martin Jol and Ledley King said a few words to the assembled fans left in the ground. And then they were gone.  The end of another season.  One that has seen the team improve and have potential to go even further.  The manager and captain echoed the fact that there are still things to work on and that the young side can go far.  It is a summer that leaves Spurs fans hoping that the next step can be taken next season.

While lots of players put in a lot of effort on a very hot day, but for one moment near the end, that got the fans on their feet, the man of the match award goes to Ledley King.  Picking the ball up on the edge of his own area, he strode forward down the left wing in a 50 yard run, before being tackled and a throw-in gained.  His confidence to do that, at a stage in the game when it looked a draw all over, really got the crowd going.  I hope it is something we see more of next season, but, most of all, I hope it is a symptom of the confidence Martin Jol is instilling in the team across the board.  That will bring the "winning mentality" and take Tottenham forward.

 

MEHSTG TOP MAN : - LEDLEY KING

Barry Levington

 

HAVING  A BREAKDOWN

 

This match was contested between two teams.

One who didn't want to play and another who couldn't.

Were the last two matches of the season two too far for Spurs ? Or does the "big match" mean that they are unable to perform ?

While Spurs struggled to overcome a decidedly ordinary Blackburn team, Manchester City were drawing with Middlesbrough, as the other two teams battled it out to see who went through to the European UEFA Cup place of 7th in the league.  And if City had won, as they almost did had Robbie Fowler scored his last minute penalty instead of having it saved, then Spurs needed to win by two more goals.  It was never going to happen, as Tottenham looked lethargic and lacking in ideas to break down the packed midfield that Rovers put out in front of them.  Both sides foundered when they tried to make an attack and the moves broke down on the edge of each penalty area.

If City had scored to get a one goal win, a 3-0 victory would have done it for Spurs.  The 5-1 win over Villa showed that the team hit on a side playing poorly as they managed to get their shots on target, with them all flying in.  The few chances created were half-hit or kept out by Brad Friedel.  Mind you, his punching was poor and his shot-stopping saw the ball flying off in all directions ... none of which he meant them to go in.  The opportunities to score three times did arise, but the side looked like they needed a rest and the injuries that have hit the team meant that some players had to be persisted with even though they might not have been in line to play every game at that time.

The youth of the side has been one of the positives, but it also has been one of the drawbacks.  Put into context the last two games showed that other teams have more nous on how to stop Tottenham.  It is no master-plan, but they employ stultifyingly dull tactics and break fast, leaving our midfield breached and the defence having to mop up behind them.  At least Villa came out to try and play ... and that was their downfall.

But the side must learn from this.  And so must Jol.  Some of his choices this season have mystified and his tactics in some away games have left Spurs chasing the game, instead of taking it to the other side.  There are a number of points that Spurs can look back on as why we did not qualify from Europe and most of them occurred on their travels.  Three points lost at Palace, SCBC and Portsmouth.  Two at WBA and Birmingham.  These are points that would have seen us safely into a UEFA Cup place and challenging for a Champions League place.  I am not saying we are ready for that just yet, but it can be done with a little more consistency and a belief that they can beat any team on their day.  Having done well against the top teams, we have slipped up against the strugglers.

On the day we were unlucky not to get a penalty when Reid was brought down and lucky not to give one away when Edman elbowed a ball away in the box.  Cerny made a very good save from Todd as his shot bounced up towards the Czech keeper and both Thompson and Naybet missed from more or less the same position at the Paxton end from dead ball situations.

In the end, it was a disappointment to end such a promising season like this, but the hope is there.  I am looking forward to the new season and didn't walk out thinking that the players were going to be off and the new season would see a huge turnover of staff - on and off the pitch - will greet us in August.

I look forward to seeing them all there next season (bar one or two no doubt), but the experience gained this season must be utilised to push the team on.  We all want it to be right and the pieces are in place now.  With a couple of additions, the side could make it all come right.

Will it happen ?

We will see.

Keep the faith.

Bruce Castle

I must say it was a good turnout with the fans wearing white.  I reckon 75% were decked out in something white and it had a very good impact.

As my son said, it was all white until you got to the suits in the West Stand !!

The Funky Phantom

 

Other scores this weekend :
Birmingham City 2 Arsenal 1 Sunday
Bolton Wanderers 3 Everton 2 Sunday
Charlton Athletic 2 Crystal Palace 2 Sunday
Fulham 6 Norwich City 0 Sunday
Liverpool 2 Aston Villa 1 Sunday
Manchester City 1 Middlesbrough 1 Sunday
Newcastle United 1 Chelsea 1 Sunday
SCBC 1 Manchester United 2 Sunday
West Bromwich Albion 2 Portsmouth 0 Sunday

 

 

League Table
 
  P W D L F A Pts GD
1 Chelsea 38 29 8 1 72 15 95 +57
2 Arsenal 38 25 8 5 87 36 83 +51
3 Manchester United 38 22 11 5 58 26 77 +32
4 Everton 38 18 7 13 45 46 61 -1
5 Liverpool 38 17 7 14 52 41 58 +11
6 Bolton Wanderers 38 16 10 12 49 44 58 +5
7 Middlesbrough 38 14 13 11 53 46 55 +7
8 Manchester City 38 13 13 12 47 39 52 +8
9 TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 38 14 10 14 48 42 52 +6
10 Aston Villa 38 12 11 15 45 52 47 -7
11 Charlton Athletic 38 12 10 16 42 58 46 -16
12 Birmingham City 38 11 12 15 40 46 45 -6
13 Newcastle United 38 10 14 14 47 57 44 -10
14 Fulham 38 12 8 18 52 60 44 -8
15 Blackburn Rovers 38 9 15 14 31 43 42 -12
16 Portsmouth 38 10 9 19 43 59 39 -16
17 West Bromwich Albion 38 6 16 16 36 61 34 -25
18 Crystal Palace 38 7 12 19 41 62 33 -21
19 Norwich City 38 7 12 19 42 77 33 -35
20 SCBC 38 6 14 18 45 66 32 -21

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