Looking Forward

 

BLACKBURN ROVERS

Cardiff Millennium Stadium

Worthington Cup Final

                          Sunday 24th February 2002

With the two teams already having won one each at home in the League, this tie on neutral ground will be the decider between the two sides.  It is one in which the winner takes all and how the two sides line up could decide how they play the match.  While Blackburn have some problems with suspension, Spurs have concerns with injuries to Gardner, King and Anderton.

The Blackburn side are managed by former Spur Graeme Souness, who has added reason to win the match.  Since leaving Tottenham in the early 1970's he has been keen to put one over the club who never gave him a chance to show what he could do.  The links between the two sides are balanced out by Tim Sherwood, who captained Rovers to the Premier League title in 1995, before leaving for Spurs.  Should the injuries rule out those players for Tottenham, that could even the absentees out.

Kasey Keller's competitor for the national goalkeeping spot is also the one who will face Tottenham.  Brad Friedel has done well for Rovers this season after establishing himself between the posts last year.  A tall keeper, he is good in the air and can make athletic stops, but his positioning and kicking are his weak spots and these can be exploited.  In reserve, Blackburn have had to recall Alan Miller from his loan spell at St. Johnstone, as Alan Kelly (who nearly joined Spurs instead of Keller) got an injury that has ruled him out of the match.

In defence, Rovers will be without big centre-half Craig Short, who was sent off in injury time at Fulham to bring about a suspension that means he will miss the Final, as could Stig Inge Bjornbye, who has a viral infection.  With full back Lucas Neill cup-tied from a previous round having played for Millwall, that leaves defensive options somewhat limited.

Former Manchester United defender, Henning Berg will be a cert to play and could be partnered in the centre of the back four by young Martin Taylor, who has made a big impression with his height and cool play.  He's also very dangerous at set-pieces too.  Swede Nil-Eric Johansson could feature in the middle, in which case, Berg would move out to full back.  Johansson has not played that often, but he has managed to get two goals in eighteen games.  Another player comfortable on the ball, but may be caught out by Tottenham's movement off the ball.  If Bjornbye doesn't make it, then another Manc, John Curtis would step in at full back.  A talented youngster who never really made the breakthrough into the first team at Old Trafford, Curtis moved on to Barnsley then Rovers.  Useful in their promotion season in the First Division, but not a regular at Ewood Park lately.

Midfield is another area where Rovers will miss out on some of their more experienced players, with Flitcroft and Tugay both suspended.  Young star David Dunn will be their main hope as he drives on from midfield, but he cannot do it all alone.  Alan Mahon might be fit again after a virus and will add some skill to this area of the side, as would Keith Gillespie on the wing, but Craig Hignett will be needed to provide some of the leg work for the more creative players.  Hignett has some big match experience, so will add that to the energy of the newer stars, but he needs to be watched if he breaks forward, as he has a good shot on him.  Damien Johnson looks likely to leave the club in the summer as he is not often included in Souness' plans and seeks a regular first team start.  Because of circumstances here, he might find a place on the bench.

The forward department has just been strengthened by the loan signing of Real Zaragoza's "Jordi" Gonzalez, who goes straight into the match as part of the squad.  He has been brought in as cover for Andy Cole and Matt Jansen, now that Marcus Bent, Nathan Blake and Corrado Grabbi have left Ewood Park.  Cole is the clubs big signing to stop them going down, but he has yet to settle in after his New Year move.  Cole has done it at the top level in the club game, so needs to be watched for the whole match, despite what Hoddle said about him needing five chances for each goal he gets.  He can turn players well, but his ability in the air could cause problems, as his height makes most defenders think he is not a threat.  Jansen on the other hand, is a class act all round.  He makes and scores goals and looks like a player who can operate best playing slightly behind a main striker.  He has good dribbling skills and has bags of confidence in trying shots from all angles, taking keepers by surprise.

Irishman Damien Duff is capable of turning many a full back inside out and it will be necessary to stop him progressing too far forward, as he can provide a supply for the front two.  Old Welshmen, Mark Hughes and Dean Saunders are both on the books at Blackburn, so could be called upon.  More likely to feature would be Egil Ostenstad, who has been a bit of a regular sub this season.  He's only played in seven games this season, so Souness might go with the old battering ram of Hughes on the subs bench, just to shake Spurs up if things are not going to plan.

With Blackburn sitting in 18th place in the Premiership, they have other things on their mind, but will be determined to win something, as this is their first final for 42 years and they haven't won a major knock-out trophy for 74 years.  Having got there, they will give it a good go.  Souness will only have a shadow squad to choose from and that might not worry him too much, as it leaves them fit for the challenge of fighting to stay up.  What he will do, is try to scuffle Spurs out of their stride and stifle the pattern of play that Hoddle would like to impose.  For Tottenham, they will need to make the most of the possession and any space they get.  Most of all they will need to put away any chances that come their way, as if the older players start to tire, the advantage we have will need to be protected.  Younger legs on the bench will be required and the team need to concentrate to ensure that Rovers don't hit on the break, as they are fully capable of.

I do not think it will be a classic, but in a tight game, it will end ...

PREDICTION : -  Blackburn Rovers  1   Tottenham   2

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

 

 

Blackburn Rovers  2   Tottenham  1                                  (Half time score: 1-2)
WORTHINGTON CUP FINAL
Sunday 24th February 2002
Venue :  Millennium Stadium, Cardiff
Kick Off : 3.00 p.m.
Weather : -  Rainy, but it didn't matter as the roof on the stadium was closed
Crowd : -   72,500
Referee : -   Mr. G. Poll (Tring)

Scorers : -   Blackburn Rovers  -  Jansen 25, Cole 68
                  Tottenham  -  Ziege 32

CARDS

Blackburn Rovers :  None

Tottenham :   Sherwood (foul) 28, Taricco (foul) 77, Ziege (foul) 79

TEAMS 

Blackburn Rovers :  Friedel; Bjornbye, Berg, Johansson, Taylor; Dunn, M. Hughes, Duff, Gillespie (Hignett 76); Jansen (Yordi 73), Cole. 
Unused Subs : -  Miller, Curtis, Mahon

Tottenham : Sullivan; Perry, King, Thatcher; Taricco (Davies 78), Ziege, Anderton, Sherwood, Poyet (Iversen 83); Ferdinand, Sheringham  
Unused Subs : - Keller, Gardner, Rebrov

COLOURS

Blackburn :  Blue and White halved shirts, white shorts, white socks.

Tottenham :  Yellow shirts with navy blue arms and white and navy blue trim around neck, navy blue shorts, navy blue socks.

The first fifteen minutes set the tone for this game.  A lack of cohesion from both sides meant that it was dis-jointed and neither side could pass the ball under the closed roof of the Millennium Stadium.  In fact, it was about the only thing that was closed, as both defences were open to being exploited by the other side's attack. And it was a game filled with luck, mistakes and graft rather than craft and skill.  The only skill exhibited was that of Blackburn seizing on half-chances, while Spurs couldn't score if they had played all night.

Blackburn were sent out in an attacking formation, which set Spurs back a bit, although Ziege had the first decent effort of the match, curling a shot just wide of the post.  Les was fouled down the left wing by Berg and the referee let him off with a talking to, while Spurs' players were booked for their first offence in the game; Berg later committing a bad foul and was still not carded.  Neither side was putting much together and the game turned on a shot that hit Thatcher on the leg and fell for Jansen on the edge of the area.  His instinctive shot flew between Sullivan's legs and gave Rovers the lead.

When Duff cut in from the left wing shortly after, his low shot was palmed out by Sully, but it was heading straight to Jansen, when Thatcher put in a fine tackle to deny him the chance to stick the ball into an open goal.  At 2-0, the game might have been beyond Spurs.  As it was, they carved out an opportunity, when Poyet played a ball into the right hand side of the box and Les made it his.  He put Berg on his backside and slipped the ball through Johansson's legs for Ziege to race in at the far post and beat Friedel, who had done well to cover the ground form the other post, but could not get a hand to the wing-back's shot.

Shortly after, Sullivan's foot stopped Cole regaining the lead for his side and a long shot flew just over the bar, but the Spurs keeper had it covered.  As the half drew to a close, Ferdinand got his head to Ziege's cross, but was unable to direct it away from the goalie and he managed to keep it out of the net.

The second half was very open and both sides had opportunities to score.  Only one was taken by Cole, when King headed the ball and was about to clear, but it fell between him and Thatcher.  Cole nipped in and hit it softly with his wrong foot to guide it past Sullivan.  It was a soft goal in more ways than one and it would be him who scored for a number of reasons (the 1:5 ratio Hoddle made comment on and the fact that he is a former Gooner too).

Gus had a shot that hit the crossbar, but he was stretching to get the ball as he went pasta  defender on the edge of the box and was not properly set for the shot that followed, meaning he could not control it as he would have wanted.  as it came down, there was no Spurs player running on to it to finish it off.  Poyet also had another shot, when the ball was laid back to him by Ziege, but again man of the match Friedel managed to push it away at full length.

Ziege managed to get in at the back post unmarked and had a free volley, but he could not direct it into the net and it flashed across the goal with no-one there to apply the final touch.  Teddy floated a shot-cum-cross to the far post and again the goalie got there before it dropped inside the post and just before Ferdinand could get on the end of it.  Davies, who came on far too late, but still made some things happen, had a shot that was blocked and in the last few minutes Spurs had a good claim for a penalty turned down as Sheringham went to ground and Ferdinand's header from Iversen's knock back only found Friedel again.  A yard either side and it would have been a goal.

And so, when the final whistle went for a free kick, but Mr. Poll didn't have the bottle to play on, the day was over for Spurs, while it just started for Blackburn.  

The team did not perform to the standard they have set themselves.  A shadow of the side that trounced Chelsea and even the one that got three points off Leicester recently, Tottenham ceded possession too often and unnecessarily to be an effective attacking unit today.  Ziege was happy going forward, but rarely got back to defend, while Taricco on the other side of the pitch, was clearly over-awed by the whole occasion.  His reckless challenge that lead to his booking saw the end of his involvement before he got dismissed.

Sheringham looked as though he was too eager to impress with a flick and a feint, but none of it came off today and he looked faintly ridiculous for most of the game.  Perry did OK, getting in the way when required and covering well, while Thatcher was probably the pick of the bunch, because he was the one who did what was required of him.  Nothing fancy, just an example of a player doing what he is paid to do.

Anderton was well out of it.  he didn't do very much of note at all and he, Teddy and Ledley must all be ruing the fact they did they not perform at the top of their game in the show piece final, no doubt watched by Eriksson.  Sherwood in his first final alongside Darren, also failed to do what he has been doing so well recently.  Winning the ball and knocking it sensibly.  Everyone seemed to think they had to do something special with the ball and that it would come off.  They didn't and it didn't.

For Les, you have to say that he got into good goal-scoring opportunities, but at this level that is not enough.  You have to score from them.  Credit to him for making Ziege's goal and working hard all game, but as with players like Greaves and Clive Allen, where you want them to do their work is in the six yard box.

Sullivan looked nervous today and seemed reluctant to come off his line on more than one occasion.  This seemed to cause a little panic among our defenders, which didn't help things.  He should have dominated his box and that would have let the back three know that they could rely on him coming to claim the ball.

Blackburn were a unit.  They played for each other and too often did what Tottenham did not and that was find space for the man with the ball to deliver an accurate pass.  They didn't do it for ninety minutes, but did it often enough to overcome Spurs.  On the day, when we couldn't convert our chances into goals, that was enough. 

MEHSTG TOP MAN : -  BEN THATCHER

Pete Stachio

 

PARALLEL LINES

 

With the defeat came reflection.  Did we deserve to win ?  No.  Did we come out as the best team on the day ?  No.  Did we play as well as we can ?  No.

That is not to say we are not a better team than Blackburn Rovers nor that we do not have better players, just that on the day, they played better than we did.

This made the game reminiscent of those from our past and other matches in the recent past.  Last year's Final, when Birmingham were denied a certain penalty and went on to lose.  The 1987 FA Cup Final, when we were undone by a team who were terrier-like and fought to stop us playing our flowing football as favourites for the Cup.  The 1999 FA Cup semi-final and another un-awarded penalty and a lack of chances taken to finish the game off.

And that was the story of this match.  Spurs created better chances than Blackburn, but failed to take them.  So full credit to Rovers for cashing in on what came their way.  Neither of their goals was created from the textbook, but they turned them into goals and that is what Tottenham failed to do.  The lack of a real clinical striker cost us, as Les had three good opportunities and Friedel denied him thrice.  The first was when Les was through and never looked confident in rounding the keeper, with his touch letting him down, when he might have done better trying to blast it past the goalie.  His second was a header too near the keeper and the last, in the last minute was well saved, but he didn't put it anywhere other than straight at the Rovers goalie.

The penalty looked like a foul, but Teddy's acrobatic tumble probably counted against him.  Nothing to do with Poll being a Chelsea fan then ?

Ziege's volley flashed across goal and Gus mis-hit his shot that came back off the bar to fall just behind the on-rushing Sheringham. When he did hit one right, Friedel was equal to it.

Too many players were not playing as they can and that resulted in the team mis-firing when it came to passing the ball around.  The fact that we didn't play as we can was the most disappointing feature of the game.  All the good things that have been said about the team faded into the distance as once again, hard work overcame the beautiful game.

With Hughes bossing the midfield, Duff and Gillespie running at our wing backs and little to directly trouble their back four, Blackburn were relatively comfortable.  

This was our best chance to win something.  Against a team in the bottom three, with four key players out through suspension and being cup-tied, we should have made our passing tell.  Instead, there was a lot to talk about in our performance.  Few came out with any credit.  Davies shone in his cameo role, while Thatcher was solid.  Ledley only made the one mistake, but it did cost us, while Perry did well.  Ziege looked like the match-winner for us, but in the second half withdrew into his shell, while Dazza was clearly not recovered from his injury (so why was he playing ?) and Teddy failed to make the trip (to Cardiff not in the box).

We have been getting away with it for a few games now without playing well and our usual failing of not converting our chances cost us dearly this time.  Will the board rectify this mistake now and show their commitment to making Tottenham great again.  It will cost money though and is that money there to spend ?

The whole day was supposed to be special, but only for one set of fans and players.  The day belonged to Blackburn.

Wyart Lane

What you thought of it ...
Well when is Glenn gonna realise you need to make changes earlier in the game ? Teddy let himself and the side down I'm sad to say - We were a sorry outfit - but that said lets get behind the boys and hopefully progress in the FA Cup .

Lal Hardy

One word ......... GUTTED.......

Brooksy

Well, what an absolute load of rubbish we are.  We have got massive problems.  Starting up front Sheringham and Ferdinand quite simply are past their sell by date.  In midfield we have no vision or pace, and in defence we cannot keep a clean sheet.  We have had Terry Venables, Gerry Francis, George Graham and now Glenn Hoddle and I just can't see were we will ever challenge for the Premiership.  

Today against a poor Blackburn team, we showed just what we really are and that is RUBBISH.  I've supported Spurs for over 20 years and we'll never have what it takes.

 
Thanks, 
Damian
A really Pissed off spurs fan.
Wyart
 
I feel a bit of a tit! Clearly I was wrong in my prediction (see Post Box) and here's why...
 
1) Blackburn played well. Fair play to them, they didn't perform like a team in the bottom three, and for me I did at least feel pleased for Mark Hughes, who is an honest professional and deserves a last bit of glory.
 
2) Teddy, while he may be one of the great English forwards at the moment, and still should certainly be going to the World Cup, had a definite off-day today.
 
3) Les Ferdinand....on that showing he couldn't hit a cows arse with a banjo (although to be fair he did work hard). Let's get a decent finisher in.
 
4) I hate to whinge like Wenger, but that has to be one of the most blatant penalties I have ever seen. OK, maybe it would have gone to extra time and Blackburn would still have won, but to make a decision like that makes me very worried...is Graham Poll really this country's best ref?
 
5) Christian Ziege...For the first ten minutes he terrorised Blackburn and looked like an early certainty for man of the match, but after that he faded (admittedly partly due to good defending from Blackburn.) He, in my view, was the man who could win us the Cup and proved it with his equaliser (to be fair, well played Les there). But Christian faded out for a long time, which was a shame.
 
6) Andy Cole. He had four chances against us in the League game and failed to score, which meant that using the Sir Glenn law of averages, he was always going to score today.
 
Spurs fans, team and management, let's learn from this. We almost have the players, we have the management, so let's go on and win the FA Cup instead. 

Anyone fancy another North London Derby in the semis?

 
Phil Drummond
Bournemouth
What a load of rubbish!

Teddy - Awful
Big Les - Awful
Performance - Awful

Mark Johncock
Spurs originally booked a hotel which is also the lucky hotel. Blackburn then made an enquiry regarding availability and were told that Spurs had already booked it.
Up stepped Mark Hughes (AKA The Welsh team manager), who by coincidence always stay at this hotel, and had words. The hotel manager then rang Spurs and cancelled the booking!
 
So Blackburn had the lucky hotel, lucky end, lucky changing room and more importantly the better team!
 
I think tactically Glenda got it wrong. Simon Davies (Welsh International) is the most experienced player on that pitch by far and should have started.
He is also an excellent crosser of the ball which would have given Ferdy the 20 chances he needed to score 1 goal.
I think Ferdy should have been taken off earlier replaced by Iverson and then Rebrov for the last 10 mins.
 
I always thought that there was a slim chance that Rebrov would stay (Prayed more like!) but after being 2-1 down yesterday Glenda still sat him on the bench. He will defiantly go at the end of the season, which I think is a real shame. There is even a hint in the programme from Gus where he introduces all the squad.
 
Also special mention must go to the smuggest man today, Gary Lineker (See the programme page 31 first paragraph for full details).

Steve White

Just finished reading today's papers and listening to all the inquests in the office.

It seems to me that the focus is wrongly on Andy Cole giving the 'V' sign to Hoddle and Sheringham and 'that' penalty decision.

My view is that Hoddle was right about Cole - one goal (brought about by Ledley King's unforgivable messing about) does not change anything.

Also, yes, it should have been a penalty, what was the referee doing, where was the linesman, etc, etc. etc.

However, let's not miss the point here.

Several (most) players were poor and some of the people who should have stood up and been counted simply did not perform.  Anderton, Sherwood, Sullivan, Sheringham, Ferdinand - can you really look in a mirror and say you gave your all ?  At the end of the day, most teams go mad for a late equaliser if they are losing a cup tie - Schmeichel goes up for corners, etc.  Why weren't Tottenham showing such passion and will to win ?  All I can recall is Sullivan carefully placing the ball before his goal kicks (frightened the wind would blow it through his legs again ??).

Most of all, why did Hoddle not change things when it was obvious we were useless and being over-run in midfield ?

Why did he not bring on Gardner and switch to 3 - 5 - 2 and push play further forward, away from the danger zone ?  Its worked against better teams than Blackburn.  He just seems unable to turn things round when they're going wrong.  Even when they were going well, e.g. against Man Utd, he wasn't capable of changing things at half time and anticipating what the opposition were going to do.

All in all, I am a very bitter and disappointed person this morning.   The team and manager let the supporters down.  The train was badly organised and delayed an hour coming back. The age of the rolling stock must have been a sheer delight to any train-spotters who were out.  We got wet to the bone, the pubs were lousy and expensive, the people unfriendly and the police completely over the top (met by baying dogs, barking and snapping at us as we left the station - I am 48 and really don't look like a hooligan and I had my dad with me !!!).  There were beggars and street collectors  everywhere, even in the pubs after we lost (great reception they got!) and my top price £60 seat was behind the goal with a rotten view - why do I have an expensive season ticket and ask for the highest price cup final ticket...because I hate being behind the goal !! 

A day rotten day and back to square one, wondering if things will ever get better.  I thought there was light at the end of the tunnel, but I think it was just the bottom of the toilet bowl as hopes were flushed away.

Regards
Steve Gediking

In my opinion there were two reasons we lost to Blackburn.

One:   Of the two managers Souness, with a depleted squad, succeeded in getting more effort and commitment from his players whereas Glenn, with riches to select from, selected badly and we paid the price.

Two:   The Blackburn keeper was inspired whereas Sullivan was poor – the first goal passing through his legs.

I am sure that Glenn must know that he needs at least 4/5 good players to replace Sullivan, Taricco, Sherwood, Thatcher and Perry.  Taricco must go, because he is a head case and always likely to be sent off.

Sheringham, Ferdinand and Poyet are very much on borrowed time. 

The future is not entirely bleak because King, Gardner, Davies, Thelwell are good prospects and hopefully the return of Carr will provide a strong defensive element to the right wing back position.  We have not seen the best of Rebrov or Iversen and never will whilst they play spasmodically.

Of the rest few can rise above the “journeymen” level.  Ziege can cross a ball but much more is required.  His compatriot, Freund is another in the Taricco head case class.  Richards, Leonhardsen, Clemence, Doherty, Keller and Etherington are all useful reserve players. 

It really sickens me to realise how far we have fallen behind Arsenal.  Certainly not Glenn's fault but he is the man in charge now and it is to him that we must look for leadership and good judgement.  Unfortunately on Sunday he failed to deliver on the judgement front.  We pass the ball beautifully, but eventually someone has to take on and beat an opponent.  Apart from Davies, who was introduced too late, and King, who had a couple of good forward runs, no one else was prepared to run at defenders.  It does work – just look how our defence reacts when facing players with speed allied to ball control.  Panic is an understatement! 

Tony Pawson

I cant believe what I saw on Sunday.  Anderton, Poyet, Teddy's passing was crap.  King should be ashamed of himself, if Sven was watching King wont make the England team. 

Spurs played CRAP.  Chelsea will knock us out of the FA Cup.

Where were you TEDDY ?

Teddy, Ferdy, Poyet, Sherwood, Taricco, King, Anderton ... I don't know how you can look at yourselves in the mirror this morning.  You should be ashamed of yourselves.  You played like old, old men. 

I am still hurting like ALL Spurs fans.  What went wrong ?  
Spurs need new men.

Stephen Gregoire

Macker's take on things can be found by clicking here.
Greg Mayer's view from down Under can be found by clicking here.
For Richard Porter's Food For Thought, click here.
There is not much more that can be added to our very poor performance on Sunday.  The plain and simple fact is that we did not show up and play anywhere near our potential.  That's the hard truth ... we have potential, still just lack a little reality.  It will work in the end.
 
 Teddy had probably the worst game I have ever seen him play and I have to say I am Big Les' biggest fan, but he was poor with his finishing to say the least.  The one on one I could understand.  I am more shocked if he scores with one, a la Villa, but the two headers are bread and butter for a man with his record.
 
The midfield was bossed by a 38 year old national manager against two England internationals (Shaggy please come out to play next time, admittedly Sherwood is never going to the handful of caps he has).  Having said all of this we should have still won on the number of clear cut chances created and a spot on cast iron penalty (which given Ted's performance, was you confident he would score ?).  Gus also was off the pace, but you would have expected him to score when clean through.
 
The back line was generally OK considering we gave away two sloppy goals.  Ledley was great up to the mistake and he was still going for it up to the end.  Perry was OK.  Most of his tackles were clean and crisp.  Ben Thatcher had his best game for the club with two outstanding last ditch tackles.  If Hoddle can work on his distribution, we may have a player.  Christian was our biggest threat and could have added to the goal;  Mo was a disappoint for me, lacked the freedom to go forward and not great at the back, hind-sight is a wonderful thing, but how much was his place down to GH loyalty over the greater threat of Simon Davies ?
 
For sure you can almost say that Iversen pepped things up, but not even a three minute solo for Rebrov slams the last nail in is THFC career.
 
Overall we were so disappointing ... the hope, the expectation was so great.  And we do have to have expectations of more days out and more finals.  There will be more disappointments along the way, but we will get there and with the introduction of some younger blood and quality strikers (Kevin Phillips please, on Saturday watch his movement in the box, its a joy), we will get there.  Let's not forget how bitter the taste of defeat is and lets make sure we never taste it again.
 
 Paul Lamoureaux
Thank goodness I've read a decent article about the game !

Agree entirely with your thoughts, but it frightens me that correspondent Macker could see the end of Glenn and Shaun Livingston now hates Rebrov; he hasn't long got over his hate of Iversen !

I agree we didn't play.

I agree tactical changes were left a little late to say the least.

But I wish we could have had these problems last year !

Do you envisage a better future ?
I do !

Even though I am still pissed off like everyone else over a game we should have strolled.

I'm keeping the faith !

Whitehart N17

Shaun Livingston writes as the Team fails in Wales
The Empty Inside - Sterling Performance reviews the aftermath of Sunday's defeat
 

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