Saturday 23rd October 2004
Sam Allardyce, Bolton have not just become a side who are established
in the Premiership, but have pushed up the table and finished 7th at
the end of last season. Gone has the title of cup upset side to
one of determined collection of freebies and experienced stars from
across the world who have been melded together to make a formidable
obstacle to even the top clubs.
Spurs have found Bolton a side that is difficult to beat in the recent past, although there was that one year where we beat them at home in both of the Cups and the League by big margins. Since then, Allardyce has formed a side in his own image as a tough central defender who hated people getting past him. Having said all that, Bolton arrive with only one win in the last five games and Spurs, although the amount of goals per game is alien to all Tottenham fans, are picking up points with a combination of a tight defence, a hard-working midfield and an attack who are able to survive on a meagre supply.
For Bolton, one of their leading players is the goalkeeper Jaari Jaaskelainen, who has recently been tipped as a possible target for Manchester United. An agile shot stopper, he is not the biggest (in build) of keepers and struggles to take crosses as he has not the weight to throw around. not that Spurs will offer much in an aerial sense with Atouba out and Kanoute not often on the end of crosses.
In the Trotters defence there are a few big names and some I know little about. Coming through the youth ranks Nicky Hunt is a highly rated full back, playing alongside some experienced defenders in Fernando Hierro and Bruno N'Gotty, he will learn his trade well. However, the Spanish legend is only just coming into the side now and he replaces fellow countryman Ivan Campo, who is missing with a facial injury (broken eye socket). Hierro was classy in his day and it will be interesting to see how he matches up in the Premier League. Tunisian central defender Radhi Jaidi has been more noted so far for a goal he scored rather than the ones he has been stopping. His equaliser against Arsenal took the headlines, but he has been shoring up a defence that has needed a commanding presence for a while. Good in the air and a firm tackler on the floor, he is a real find for Allardyce. Long time Bolton player Anthony Barness is another option should Sam need a dependable, but slightly slow full back.
The midfield contains European Championship winner Stelios Giannakopoulos, who has made more of a splash for his country than he has done for his club. A hard working midfielder, Giannakopolous makes things difficult for opponents, but has a limited repertoire when it comes to making things work for his own side. Kevin Nolan is also in a similar mould, but has a trick or two, although he has not developed quite as well as his early promise offered. Unlike Jay Jay Okocha, who is a king to the Bolton fans and is an entertainer to boot. Tricks are his middle name and he has put them to good use rather than just being a ball-juggler with no end product. Deadly from free-kicks, he is a danger man alright. Gary Speed might have retired from international football with Wales, but he can still do a job for Bolton with a vast experience of playing the most Premier League games ever, he can still influence a game and still makes those late runs into the box to finish well. Our midfielders will need to track his runs. Another newcomer is Khalif Fadiga, the Sengalese midfielder who has only played one match after taking a while to get fit, but who might want to prove a point to his manager with a good performance. Jamaican international wide-man Ricardo Gardner has failed to live up to his early form when he first arrived at the Reebok too. A flighty winger, he has the pace to be troublesome, but he often gets lost on mazy runs and fails to deliver the final ball required to his forwards.
And they include a familiar face. Les Ferdinand returns to the Lane and he is still knocking them in, having just scored for his sixth Premiership side recently. Big, strong and he's played for a very, very long time, but could still give Ledley a tough time if he gets out on the turf. Kevin Davies has had a little bit of a renaissance with Wanderers, scoring the odd goal and making others, but he is not cut out for the PL now after his years in the wilderness with SCBC and Blackburn. Brought in on loan for a season is Liverpool reject El-Hadji Diouf, who had his troubles at Anfield. He never lived up to expectations and it will take a while for Bolton to see the best of him with him as his aggressive nature has brought three yellow cards in five games so far. He has skill, but he needs to sort out his attitude before he will be a regular for the Whitemen and maybe the Reds at some stage, although that looks very unlikely. Henrik Pedersen, of the floppy "birdie" celebration has been knocking them in (four in seven games) and although not a typical goal-getter, he appears in the right places.
With options available in all positions, Bolton just have the edge over Spurs at the moment with injuries hitting already. However, the quality in the Tottenham side should win out, if the service from midfield can be improved. Long term this might be possible with Carrick and Davis in the side, but at the moment, it might take a couple of bits of magic to win the match, so I am backing Tottenham to go goal made and win ...
PREDICTION : - Tottenham Hotspur 2 Bolton Wanderers 1
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
It has not been possible to get a Bolton website to take part.
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR : - Thimothee Atouba (ankle); Mauricio Taricco (suspended); Erik Edman (head)
BOLTON WANDERERS : Ivan Campo (face); Jay-Jay Okocha (groin);
|Tottenham Hotspur 1 Bolton Wanderers 2 (Half-time score : 1-1)|
|Premier League||Venue : White Hart Lane|
|Saturday 23rd October 2004||Kick Off : 15.00 p.m.|
|Crowd : 36,025||Referee : C. Foy (St. Helens)|
|Weather : Raining the whole game|
|Teams : -|
Davies (Ziegler 80)
Nolan (Pedersen 72)
|Colours : - (kits courtesy of http://www.colours-of-football.com)|
|Scorers : -|
|Cards : -|
|Match Report : -|
With the sad news of Bill Nicholson's death in the morning, the match result was always going to be secondary. An immaculately observed minute's silence and the rain added to the sad feeling descending over the Lane and that sadness was emphasised by a loss to Bolton in a game that had few clear chances and a fussy referee, who caused the match to stop and start.
The first real action came when Gardner went down in the box under challenge from Gardner, but the Spurs defender got the ball and came away with it. Not so clever was a free-kick conceded on the left wing when Jackson ran through a Bolton player and Speed swung it into an area where Jaidi lost Gardner to head in before Robinson got to the ball. It was a soft goal and one that Spurs could ill-afford to concede, having failed to come from behind to win this season.
Almost from that moment Bolton proceeded to waste as much time as they could over set-pieces and dead balls. Even Okocha, playing after being out injured, appeared to be using the Geoff Hurst 1966 World Cup Final tactic of trying to blast it as far from the pitch as possible every time he fired one in on goal, because they all flew well wide.
Tottenham's first chance came on 24 minutes when a free-kick from Redknapp tempted Jaaskelainen to come for it, but he dropped it and Jackson swung a boot at it finding the diving body of the keeper in front of him to keep it out. The Bolton goalie was in action a few minutes later as Kanoute seized on a poor clearance to hit a low shot that was grabbed at the second attempt. Then, in the next attack Jackson whipped in a cross from a cleared corner and rising at the far post, Anthony Gardner missed the header completely. The makeshift left-back had the next opportunity too, but Hunt got in the way of his shot from another corner.
This was all leading up to a spell of pressure that finally breached the visiting defence in the 42nd minute. Naybet received the ball just inside the Bolton half and played a firm pass into Robbie Keane. As is his want, he stepped over the ball and set off to receive the through pass from Fredi Kanoute, who was behind him. Faced with Jaaskelainen, he drilled the ball low off the wet turf and it shot through his legs for the equaliser.
With the rain falling, it was a slick pitch, but much of Tottenham's play had been in the air and the gap between the front two and the midfield four was making it hard to link the two sections of the side. Some crisp passing on the grass would have done it, but the aiming of balls to Kanoute's head was not paying off.
The second half started with Spurs pushing forward, but with little threat. Okocha was still range finding and twice Spurs were indebted to King as he nipped in to take the ball off Diouf's foot after his initial clearance hit Naybet and then he picked off Okocha's pass that was heading for Stelios' run. The Greek midfielder found himself in a good position when a deep cross landed on his foot and his volley back into the goalmouth went invitingly across the face with nobody there to apply a finish.
Stelios was also involved with an overhead kick which got Noe Pamarot in the head and he came back wearing a white headband of bandage in addition to the the black armband. This did not stop him getting his head to any high ball that came his way and he even tried to get forward on occasion.
Cries for a Spurs penalty died in the throat when Keane was brought down on the edge of the area and as normal with our free-kicks, it amounted to nothing as Redknapp hit the wall. Jacques decided that it was Defoe time and he came on for Jackson, while Bolton introduced Pedersen. It was Bolton who got the better of the changes, when four minutes later, Paul Robinson palmed out a ferocious drive from Okocha, then got in the way of Stelios' follow-up, but even the England number one could not stop Pedersen's effort from close range to give Bolton a winning lead.
Defoe almost made his presence felt with a free-kick from 25 yards that arrowed just past the post like a rocket and then a minute later, he did his trademark twist and turn in the box to get a shot in, but the keeper was well placed to take it. IN the next attack, Spurs came even closer as Mendes' cross was headed down by Kanoute and it left us all holding our heads, as it thwacked against the post and away.
For all the huffing and puffing, Tottenham still look a side who need a few players to boost the squad. They will continue to lose games in this fashion without them, but the strategy that Santini and his coaches are taking is obvious to see and while the defensive concentration may be alien to those who have reminiscences of the club playing the "Tottenham Way", but this is practical stuff designed to get us into a position of comfort and then go on from there. Bolton have had the stability to allow them to build and now that is what we seek. There are signs that we could play a more attacking style, but perhaps there is still some work to be done on the reduction in goals conceded before Jacques might let free the attack.
MEHSTG TOP MAN : - PEDRO MENDES
The Funky Phantom
|TEARS FOR A LEGEND|
|The poignancy of the minute's
silence and the tribute on the Jumbotron was therefore in stark
contrast to some of the things I heard in the ground and on the way
The rain seemed to be the tears for the great man, who not only played for and managed the team, but lived Tottenham Hotspur.
Spurs lost the match, but more importantly, they lost a major figurehead for the club. "Sir" Bill Nicholson as he should always be known, was the focus of all that was good about Spurs. he was the man who made Tottenham. For that he will never be forgotten.
Credit to the Spurs staff who put together the video montage, which recalled Sir Bill's greatest moments and which ended with the whole stadium (including the visiting Bolton fans) standing and clapping for minutes. It made many a bottom lip tremble.
So, when I hear people on the radio banging on about how dreadful a player is or how poor a performance it was, they must always be comparing it to the Double side.
Never have a club had such a weight on it's collective shoulders because of the success of one man and his team. We see Forest struggling at the foot of Division Two (as Bill would know it). We see Blackburn trying to emulate Kenny Dalglish's championship winning side. We see Manchester United trying to regain the lustre that they had a couple of seasons back.
Everyone is trying to recapture a more shiny past.
But that Double team ... the greatest ever ... will never be replicated. They were a one off. Like the man who forged that team. Never will we see his like again.
More's the pity.
And when I hear the two jerks behind me prattling on about how Bolton's time wasting is excellent and because they are beating us it is perfectly justifiable ... well, I just give up. Such crap spoken on the day that Sir Bill passed away. The game's about glory. That is what Sir Bill's captain Danny Blanchflower said. And that is what we should aspire to, not what Bolton did for eighty minutes of the match. They were waiting for us to die of boredom.
Although that was in a different age.
Now, we strive to play catch up on a different playing field. There are those in the Champions League and the rest. The monetary gap is one that Bill saw developing way back in the 1970s. One that was acted out in a way he didn't like and one he opted out of.
In the current climate, Santini is left with lesser players to work with and with much catching up to do. Sir Bill started with Spurs near the bottom as manager and turned things around, but the chances of beating anyone 10-4 these days are as slim as Paul Gascoigne.
So, we might have to wait for the big wins played in a flowing football style, but when it comes it will be sweet. The tears that grown men were shedding today were for the memories of someone who brought great joy to their lives. The younger fans will not know of Sir Bill personally, but his legacy has been passed down through words, videos and DVDs.
That legacy is what should keep Tottenham Hotspur striving to be the best.
And although things may not look that rosy at the moment, one day the glory days will return. We need to remember Sir Bill and be patient.
How can a side like Bolton be pleased with their day's work ??
Not only did they spend an eternity over every throw-in, free-kick, goal-kick and corner, but many of their side failed to appear with black armbands in the second half.
A show of lack of respect for the game and one of it's great managers.
|Other scores this weekend :|
|Crystal Palace||3||West Bromwich Albion||0||Saturday|
|Newcastle United||4||Manchester City||3||Sunday|
|16||West Bromwich Albion||10||1||5||4||8||16||8||-8|
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