15th May 2005
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 Johansson.
The 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.
: - Tottenham Hotspur 4 Blackburn Rovers
For more information on
the opponents and their history, including full result history of
matches between the two teams, click here.
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
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.
Noe Pamarot (knee); Pedro Mendes (toe); Michael
Brown (fractured foot); Anthony Gardner (foot); Noureddine Naybet (ankle); - (-)
: Steven Reid (leg); Jay Bothroyd (thigh); Craig Short
(suspended); Paul Dickov (groin and knee); - (-)
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Hotspur 0 Blackburn Rovers 0
(Half-time score : 0-0)
||Venue : White Hart
|Sunday 15th May 2005
||Kick Off : 15.00 p.m.
|Crowd : 35,797
||Referee : Alan Wiley (Burntwood)
|Weather : Hot,
Davis (Marney 71)
Reid (Defoe 61)
|Blackburn Rovers :
Stead (Johnson 61)
: - (kits courtesy of http://www.colours-of-football.com)
Neill (pushing in the wall)
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
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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
|This match was contested between
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
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.
|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
this weekend :
|West Bromwich Albion